Internet in the US Costs $63 a Month. Here’s How You Can Pay Less (2024)

How much does internet really cost? Between hidden fees, price increases and confusing promotions, that's a harder question to answer than you'd think.

And despite efforts like the US Federal Communications Commission's recently mandated labels for home internet plans, the total you see on your internet bill never seems to be quite what you expected when you signed up.

To find out the real cost of internet in the US, I turned to CNET’s database of internet service providers, which is updated regularly by inputting addresses around the country for 27 of the largest providers.

I found that the median price for internet in the United States is $63 per month for all speeds available, with auto-pay discounts applied. This price doesn’t include the cost to rent equipment, which on average adds another $15 to your monthly bill. That brings the grand total to around $78 per month for home internet -- almost exactly the same as the $75 that Consumer Reports found when it analyzed 18,359 internet bills in 2022.

There's an enormous range of prices available. Astound, Mediacom, Xfinity and Ziply Fiber all offer plans starting at just $20 per month. Ziply also has the most expensive (and fastest) internet plan in the country by a mile: $900 a month for an absurdly over-the-top 50Gbps plan.

Locating local internet providers

For many people, $63 per month probably sounds like a pretty good deal. If you're paying significantly more than that, consider this a wake-up call. There are steps you can take to lower your costs, like negotiating your bill, purchasing your own equipment or downgrading to a cheaper plan. But the best option might be to switch providers altogether. There's been an unprecedented federal investment in internet infrastructure over the past few years, along with new technologies like 5G home internet. If you haven’t evaluated your options in a while, you might be surprised to find some new internet providers on the block.

Internet cost by connection type

How much you pay for internet is heavily impacted by the connection type you're using. This analysis confirms what many rural internet customers have known for years: Rural providers are the most expensive, with the slowest connections around.

DSL and satellite internet -- often the only options in rural areas -- were the slowest connections by far. DSL was particularly sluggish, with median download speeds of just 40Mbps, which doesn’t meet the FCC's minimum definition for broadband internet.

Satellite internet was prohibitively more expensive than other connection types. Satellite providers had a median price of $110 per month for download speeds of 100Mbps.

Prices for cable internet tend to start pretty low, but these providers are most likely to raise your prices after a year or two (or both). Fiber internet was also on the pricier side, but plans don't typically come with price increases. The median price for fiber internet was $75 per month in the first year and $83 in the third -- much less severe than cable’s $28 jump from the first year to the third.

Equipment fees

About half the internet plans I looked at included a monthly fee for equipment, but you always have the option to purchase your own modem and router instead of renting it each month from your ISP. The median equipment fee was $15 per month. Spectrum has the lowest equipment costs, at $7 per month, while Starlink has the highest, with a required up-front equipment purchase of anywhere from $599 to $2,500.

The following providers don’t charge extra for equipment:

  • Comporium
  • Frontier Fiber
  • Google Fiber
  • Optimum
  • Quantum Fiber
  • Starry Internet
  • Suddenlink
  • T-Mobile Home Internet
  • Verizon Fios
  • Verizon 5G Home Internet

Some providers jack up prices after a year or two

Skyrocketing bills are one of the most frustrating parts of being an internet customer, and this analysis revealed just how much your bill will grow in the second (or third) year.

Though the median price in the first year was $63 per month, it rose to $76 in the second year and to $80 in the third year. Some of the providers with the steepest price increases were Mediacom ($50 in the second year), Spectrum ($37 in the second or third year) and Cox ($28 in the third year). Here are the average price increases associated with each provider:

Provider Average monthly increaseWhen it kicks in
Read full review
$50One year
Read full review
$37One or two years
Read full review
$28Two years
Read full review
$26One or two years
Read full review
$25One year
Read full review
$19One year
Read full review
$19One year
Ziply Fiber $14One year
Read full review
$10One year
Read full review
$10One year

Show more (6 items)

Junk fees

These are the extra charges internet providers tack on to your bill for vague purposes like "network maintenance" or "technology service." Thankfully, these are largely a thing of the past. Altice, the company behind Optimum and Suddenlink, was forced to pay $15 million in a class-action lawsuit in 2023 for these kinds of charges. I found only five providers that currently impose junk fees.

Provider Fee nameMonthly cost
Read full review
Network access and maintenance fee$12.97
Read full review
Internet cost recovery fee$3.99
Consolidated Communications Broadband cost recovery fee$2.97
Read full review
Tech assure fee$12.95
Verizon (New York only)
Read full review
NY municipal construction surchargeVaries

Show more (1 item)

That noted, I wouldn't be shocked to hear about internet providers adding on fees after you enroll that weren't listed while you were shopping. Consumer Reports' analysis was in 2022, but it found 13 ISPs that had junk fees in their bills.

How to lower your internet bill

If you're paying too much for internet, there are several steps you can take to reduce your monthly costs. Here's what you can do:

  • Buy your own modem and router: This is the low-hanging fruit of lowering your internet bill. If your provider is charging you for equipment, purchasing your own modem and router will almost always pay for itself within the first year. I learned this myself the hard way when I spent almost $1,000 renting equipment from Xfinity for six years. You can usually get both for a little over $100. CNET's pick for the best Wi-Fi router is currently available for $75, and you can get a decent modem for around $50. Just make sure it's compatible with your internet provider before you pull the trigger. As an added bonus, you might see a nice boost in internet speeds, too.
  • Negotiate with your current provider: Internet providers used to be willing to work with customers when prices got out of control, but that's changed somewhat in recent years. Still, sometimes getting a better price is as simple as calling your ISP and asking for one. Before you call, do some research on what prices they're offering new customers and what plans are available from competitors in the area. And if there's a store in your area, go visit in person. Many customers have had better luck talking face-to-face than trying to get an actual human on the phone.
  • Lower your plan: A lot of us are likely paying for more internet speed than we really need. The median internet plan offers 600Mbps download speeds -- enough to stream Netflix in 4K on 40 TVs at once. The speeds advertised by providers are for a wired connection, and Wi-Fi will slow it down considerably, but you get the point. If you're getting speeds over 500Mbps, I recommend evaluating whether you could get by with a slower plan.
  • Switch providers: If all else fails, the best way to get a better price on internet is to switch ISPs altogether to take advantage of first-year pricing. You can see exactly which providers are available to you by entering your address on the FCC's broadband map. From there, you’ll have to input your address on each provider’s website to find details on their plans and prices.
Internet in the US Costs $63 a Month. Here’s How You Can Pay Less (2024)
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