It’s a fact–internet in the United States is expensive The Center for Public Integrity compared five French cities to five comparable US cities and found that internet prices in the US were up to 3.5 times higher than comparable services in France. In addition to this, according to the US National Technology and Information Administration, over 8% of households in the U.S. stated that they could not afford broadband internet and 28 percent of households without internet stated that affordability was their biggest concern.
If you feel it is impossible to gain access to the internet on a limited budget, think again. Whether you’re a student with a tight budget, or a single parent working hard to make ends meet, it is possible to get affordable internet.
- Only Get Exactly What You Need
More likely than not, when you call an Internet Service Provider (ISP), its sales agents will try and sell you faster internet speeds than you actually need. While it’s not a bad idea to have fast internet, it can definitely put a dent in your wallet.
Take the time to assess what speeds you and your family actually need. If you’re a movie-loving family that’s always streaming the latest movies or binge watching shows on Netflix, you shouldn’t need any more than 25Mbps. If you’re the type of person who uses the internet on a casual basis, perhaps to stay connected with friends and family on Facebook, 6Mbps will fit your needs well.
Once you’ve figured out your speed needs, be sure to stand firm with your Internet Service Provider on what your needs are, and which speed you want.
- Switch Your Internet Service Provider
While there aren’t many Internet Service Providers in the United States, chances are that you have at least two in your area. Research current offerings and promotions from other Internet Service Providers to ensure you have some leverage when calling your current ISP to negotiate or cancel your contract.
When you do call your current ISP, you should be forwarded to the customer retention department—whose job it is to keep you as a customer—but if not, be sure to insist on speaking to them as opposed to customer care. This is because only customer retention agents are able to offer you a better deal if they are convinced that you will switch.
- Take Advantage of Programs for Low-Income Families
There are several programs available that offer low-income families who fit specific requirements access to affordable internet. The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) recently added broadband internet as an additional offering in its Lifeline program—the Lifeline program was founded in 1985 as a way to offer discount phone services for low-income Americans.
Even major Internet Service Providers such as AT&T offer programs for low-income customers. In April, 2016, AT&T launched the ‘Access Program from AT&T’ which offers wireline internet services from $10 per month. To apply for the program, you have to meet certain requirements.
We’ve got even more suggestions for getting connected on a limited budget in part 2 of this article tomorrow.
~ Alice Williams.