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How Much Should Your Internet Really Cost? (2024 Analysis)

How Much Should Your Internet Really Cost?

Are you familiar with the saying, “Never judge a book by its cover”? Well, count internet costs in that old adage ... with a slight twist. What you see isn’t always what you get with internet plan prices. Sometimes, the actual prices you pay are very different from the advertised price once miscellaneous fees are added. Some of these internet expenses are entirely unavoidable, and some ... well, not so much.

So, how do you know the appropriate amount to pay for internet service? How do you ensure your bill isn’t too high? We’ll answer these questions and help you discover the true average cost of internet service. You’ll understand why, sometimes, internet service can cost so much. And, you’ll learn practical steps to lower your monthly bill.

What Is the Average Cost of Internet?

If someone threw out a number and said, “This is the average cost of internet,” they wouldn’t necessarily be wrong. However, they would be doing you a bit of a disservice. Internet costs aren’t so cut and dried. It can be helpful to break them down so you have a more complete understanding of what internet service really costs.

Gauging the average cost of internet service is like asking what the average price is for a T-shirt. Are we talking about a T-shirt from Walmart, Old Navy, or Nordstrom? Is this T-shirt made of cotton, polyester, or a combination of fabrics? Is the T-shirt manufactured in the United States, India, China, or elsewhere? These factors influence the overall average cost, and internet plans are no different.

Internet plans come in a variety of shapes, sizes, speeds, and connection types. Some connection types, like cable internet, can be quite affordable and offer decent download speeds, whereas satellite internet can be quite costly. DSL may be relatively cheap monthly due to its low download speed, while the gigabit speeds of fiber could be more expensive but cost less per Mbps.

With these details in mind, we combined data from 20 internet providers to give you a picture of average costs based on internet connection. The following table provides a breakdown of internet provider price ranges by connection type, so you’ll know what to expect to pay based on the service type available in your area:

Average Cost of Internet Based on Connection Type

Connection type

Plan price range (per month)

Download speeds range (up to)

Internet value range (per Mbps)



15 Mbps - 6 Gbps




50 Mbps - 1 Gbps




33 Mbps - 1 Gbps




3-200 Mbps




25-200 Mbps


Fixed wireless


25-100 Mbps


As you can see, which internet connection type you choose can make a major difference in your overall internet bill. With internet costs averaging about $81 per month across all 20 internet providers sampled, your monthly cost could be pretty low compared with cable plans starting at $9.99 per month or relatively high with satellite internet plans reaching up to $299.99 per month.

That said, you won’t get much bang for your buck with DSL internet. With the worst internet value of any connection type (except for satellite), you can pay as much as $13.33 per Mbps for DSL. If you have multiple people in your household, spending a few dollars more each month could mean the difference between streaming Netflix originals with no lag or constant buffering in the middle of season-ending episodes. Compare that to fiber internet, where you get download speeds up to 6 Gbps and internet values as low as $0.04 per Mbps.

Now that we’ve looked at internet costs based on connection types, it’s time for the real meat and potatoes of internet costs: internet provider costs. Internet provider costs can vary not only by connection type but also by connection speeds and data limits. Looking at the costs per provider can give us a better estimate of what to expect when signing up for internet service.

We assembled the following table comprised of 20 well-known internet providers and their ranges according to price, speed, and internet value. You’ll see which providers are higher than the industry average and which providers come in lower than you might expect.

Average Cost of Internet Based on Provider


Monthly plan price range (per month)

Download speeds range (up to)

Internet value range (per Mbps)



25 Mbps - 5 Gbps




15-940 Mbps




100 Mbps - 1 Gbps




100 Mbps - 5 Gbps




9 Mbps - 2 Gbps


Google Fiber


1-2 Gbps




25 Mbps




100 Mbps - 1 Gbps




100 Mbps - 2 Gbps




100 Mbps - 5 Gbps


Rise Broadband


25-100 Mbps




100 Mbps - 1 Gbps




300 Mbps - 1 Gbps




200 Mbps




33-182 Mbps




3 Mbps to 1 Gbps




25-150 Mbps




50 Mbps - 1 Gbps




50 Mbps - 1 Gbps




75 Mbps - 6 Gbps


Why Does Internet Cost So Much?

Internet providers walk a neverending tightrope in offering the best price to their subscribers, paying for new and existing infrastructure, and turning a profit. As such, internet providers attach various fees to your bill, some of which are necessary and some of which are not.

As a consumer, you want to ensure you’re not overpaying for your internet. Therefore, it’s important to understand the fees internet service providers (ISPs) charge. We compiled the following table based on information from 20 internet providers to show you the most common fees you may encounter based on the connection type, as well as how expensive these fees can get:

Maximum Internet Provider Fees by Connection Type

Connection type

Activation fee

Early termination fee

Equipment lease fee

Non-return equipment fee

Installation fee

Data overage fee

Late payment fee




$10 per month








$14 per month








$15 per month








$14.99 per month





Fixed wireless



$11.99 per month













Fees, like plan speeds and prices, can vary based on the connection type. While fiber internet providers may not charge data overage fees, these fees are relatively common with DSL internet plans, sometimes reaching as high as $200 in one monthly payment cycle. Installation fees for cable internet can be low, whereas installation of satellite internet requires a specialized technician, meaning those fees can skyrocket up to $449.99.

To help you understand these fees, how they work, and what charges might raise your monthly internet cost, let’s take a deeper dive into each specific fee type.

Activation Fees

Activation fees are one-time charges providers levy at the start of your service. Think of it like paying the tip for service when you eat at a restaurant, except you pay it before you’ve been served the appetizer.

You’ll see the activation fee on your first bill and then – cross your fingers – never again. For example, HughesNet charges one of the most expensive activation fees – $99.99 – which makes sense when you consider the cost of establishing a connection to a satellite located more than 23,000 miles up in the sky. 

Some providers, like those that offer 5G or fixed wireless, don’t impose activation fees. 

Early Termination Fees

Early termination fees (ETFs) are one of the most expensive fees you can incur. Internet providers will charge you an ETF if you cancel your contract before its end date. 

Some internet providers have a flat ETF rate, while some will charge you based on how many months are left in your service period. Rise Broadband charges $10 for each month remaining in your contract, which could be pricey if you have several months remaining in your long-term contract with the company.

If you can secure a great internet plan without signing a contract, you don’t need to worry about ETFs. AT&T, CenturyLink, and Xfinity are just a few ISPs that offer no-contract plans, hence no ETFs.

Equipment Lease Fees

Most connection types require some equipment to conduct an internet connection, such as a modem, satellite dish, or receiver. Customers may lease this equipment for approximately $10 to $15 per month, on average, while others install their own equipment to avoid these fees. Many ISPs have done away with equipment lease fees altogether due to a recent ruling surrounding these charges.

Non-Return Equipment Fees

If you lease equipment and forget to return it when service ends, then you could be responsible for paying a non-return equipment fee, also known as an equipment replacement fee. Internet providers that lease equipment tend to charge a pretty hefty non-return equipment fee. Optimum, for example, charges up to $750 for their 12-port voice-enabled modem if you don’t get the goods back to them in time.

Installation Fees

Another considerable internet cost is the provider’s installation fee. Luckily, like the activation fee, you should only have to pay this on your first bill. AT&T charges $99 to come to your house and install fiber or fixed wireless service

Many internet providers, such as AT&T, CenturyLink, Cox, Frontier, Verizon, and Xfinity, offer self-install options, allowing you to bypass the installation fees altogether. If you’re looking to change providers, many will waive the installation fee if you sign on with them. 

Data Overage Charges

Data caps limit the amount of information you can consume in a billing period. If you have a fiber internet plan or an unlimited data plan, then you won’t have to worry about data caps. Data caps are prevalent with DSL, satellite, and cable internet, meaning you could face data overage charges if you exceed your monthly allotment. 

Data caps vary from provider to provider, so if you have DSL, satellite, or cable internet, know what your provider charges for going over the limit. Cox and Xfinity each charge $10 for every 50 GB that you exceed above your monthly data limit, which can add up quickly if your household has been on a data consumption spree.

Late Payment Fees

If you haven’t signed up for automatic payments with your internet provider, you could incur late payment fees when you miss a payment. Typical late fees range from $10 to $20 per missed payment. CenturyLink charges a flat fee and up to 5 percent of your remaining bill amount, which may be no big deal or a major biggie, depending on just how late you are.

Infrastructure Costs and Other Factors

Internet providers have the difficult job of expanding their infrastructure while simultaneously offering competitive rates. If you live in an area with limited internet options, you know firsthand how much more work there is to be done to connect all of America. While that work occurs, internet providers recoup their costs through the rates they charge consumers. 

Taxes are another area where consumers incur costs, and there isn’t much consumers can do to avoid those costs. While the Internet Tax Freedom Act of 2016 prohibits taxing consumers’ internet access, some states apply a general sales tax to your bill. You may also have to pay specific fees each month, such as the Federal Universal Service Fee

How Can You Lower Your Internet Costs?

Like death and taxes, some internet costs are simply unavoidable. While there’s simply nothing to do about these more essential internet costs, you can take some simple steps to lower your bill as much as possible and keep it there.

Bundle Your Internet With Other Services 

Providers often advertise a price break if you bundle your home services into one package. If you combine two services, such as internet and TV or internet and home phone, then that’s called a Double Play. If you bundle three services, including internet, TV, and phone, then you’re creating a Triple Play bundle. 

While this route may not be as alluring for cable cord-cutters, it could be a good option to save money if you already enjoy cable TV or digital phone services from your internet provider.

Take Advantage of Promotional Pricing

Shop around, and you’ll most likely find providers with attractive promotional pricing for the first year or two (sometimes even three years!). Promotional prices vary in terms of their difference from the standard rate, but you could enjoy a discount of up to 25 percent off during the promotional price period. 

With some internet providers, this promotion may come with a catch, like you have to sign up a contract, but this isn’t always the case. That said, once your promotional period is over, you'll need to call in again to make sure you're getting the lowest price possible.

Switch Internet Providers

It never hurts to shop around to see what other providers offer to prospective customers. Many internet providers run special promotions just for customers who have a current ISP. One common deal is for providers to pay any fees and costs from your current high-speed ISP to win your business. Spectrum, for instance, will buy out any internet contract with an ETF up to $500 if you switch to their service.

Self-Install Your Internet

Installation can be a pretty straightforward process with internet connection types like DSL or cable (and sometimes even fiber). Many providers waive installation fees if you install the necessary equipment yourself. If you go this route, make sure you communicate your intention with the internet provider and understand the requirements before moving forward. Sometimes, they may still attempt to charge you an installation fee if they have to assist with the self-installation process.

Use Your Own Equipment

You can eliminate monthly equipment rental fees for modems and routers by using your own equipment. If you don’t have equipment, compare the costs of purchasing hardware with the total monthly equipment rental fee your ISP charges for using theirs throughout your service with them. Many times, equipment lease fees can last years, meaning you’re likely to save hundreds of dollars buying the equipment outright.

Choose the Right Speeds for Your Household

Many subscribers overpay for internet because they choose more speed than they need. Before signing up for a plan, understand what kind of internet user you are. Are you (or is anyone in your house) a YouTuber? Does anyone work from home and upload large files regularly? Do you have a house full of Netflix or Twitch streamers? Or, are you the type who hops on to check some things on the internet, send an email or two, and browse social media? 

If you fall into the latter category, a plan advertising a max download speed of 50-200 Mbps is really all you’ll need. If your house more closely resembles the first examples, then a 500 Mbps or 1 Gbps plan may be more your speed.

Sign Up for Autopay

Optimum, Suddenlink, and Xfinity are just a few internet providers that offer discounts on your monthly bill if you sign up for automatic payments (sometimes up to $10!). Not only will you save by paying automatically, you’ll likely never be charged a late payment fee. Keep checking your monthly statements so no sneaky fees slip through!

Pick a Contract That Fits Your Lifestyle

A contract can either help you or hurt you in the long run, depending on your circumstances. Many providers offer contract-free or month-to-month plans. Some still require a contract in exchange for cheaper internet service. 

If you’re planning on being around for a while at one address, choose a contract plan. Long-term contracts can mean extra savings, better promotions, and sometimes extra perks. If you don’t want to be tied down, go with a month-to-month plan to avoid steep ETFs.

Stay Below Your Data Cap

Data caps may seem scary, but they are typically so high that customers often don’t come close to approaching the monthly limit. Cox plans have a data cap of 1.25 TB, which is more than enough to do just about everything you want to do on the internet, with some data to spare. 

Many providers offer unlimited data on their plans, especially if it’s a fiber internet plan. Avoid data overage charges by knowing what your internet provider’s data cap is, tracking your data usage each month, and choosing a plan that meets your data necessities. If upgrading to the next speed tier for $20 more per month will save you $50 per month in data overage fees, then it’s worth it in the long run.

Our Last Word on Internet Costs

Keeping your internet costs low can be difficult, much like your other monthly utilities. Remembering to turn the lights off when you leave a room, closing the refrigerator door when it’s not in use, or not leaving the water running in the sink are (in many ways) the same as bundling your services, avoiding late payments, and monitoring your data usage. If you follow our techniques and remain alert about the charges on your internet bill, then you can keep your internet costs low and save each month.

Our Methodology

We wouldn’t throw out these statistics about internet costs without giving you background as to how we arrived at these numbers. Here’s how we got our internet cost information:

  • We analyzed 20 total internet providers, including AT&T, CenturyLink, Cox,  EarthLink,  Frontier,  Google Fiber,  HughesNet,  Mediacom,  Metronet,  Optimum,  Rise Broadband,  Sparklight,  Spectrum,  Starlink,  T-Mobile,  Verizon,  Viasat,  Windstream,  WOW!, and Xfinity.
  • We then divided these internet providers into their respective connection types and assessed their costs, download speeds, and internet value based on their 2022 advertised promotional plan prices.
  • We also analyzed 20 prominent internet providers and their maximum fees per connection type and category to create the internet fees table.

Frequently Asked Questions About Internet Costs

How much does internet service cost?

Internet service costs around $81 per month on average based on offerings from the top 20 internet providers. 

How much does DSL internet cost?

DSL internet costs between $19.99 and $55 per month. DSL also has the worst internet value of $13.33 per Mbps.

How much does cable internet cost?

Cable internet costs between $9.99 and $110 per month.

How much does fiber internet cost?

Fiber internet costs between $30 and $299.95 per month, and it delivers the best internet value of $0.04 per Mbps.

How much does satellite internet cost?

Satellite internet costs the most out of all the internet connection types with a range between $49.99 and $299.99 per month.

How much does fixed wireless internet cost?

Fixed wireless internet costs between $45 and $65 per month.