Written by Spotloan
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Broadband internet is practically like water and electricity—a utility that just about every household needs. But broadband can be pricey. The average monthly cost of residential broadband globally was $104 in 2016, according to an internet research firm.

Here are seven tips for cutting your monthly broadband internet bill.

1. Find out if you qualify for a broadband subsidy

If you make less than $35,000 a year, live in public housing, or meet other qualifying conditions, you may qualify for a subsidized broadband plan for about $10 a month. Go to EveryoneOn.org to learn more.

2. Scope out the competition

Folks who live in an urban or suburban neighborhood may have multiple broadband providers. Check your options by entering your zip code at BroadbandNow. You’ll see the names of local broadband providers; customer ratings; fastest speeds offered; lowest pricing; and a phone number to call to set up service.

3. Negotiate

When you live in an area with multiple broadband providers, you’ve got more negotiating power. Call your provider, tell the customer service rep you can’t afford your current bill, and ask what the company can do to keep you as a customer. Be polite but firm. If they have nothing attractive to offer, tell them you plan to switch to a competitor. You may be transferred to someone in the customer retention department, who has more freedom to wheel and deal. For more ideas, read BroadbandNow’s “How to Negotiate Your Internet Bill to Get the Best Deals.”

4. Switch to a less-expensive plan

If all else fails, ask your current ISP if you can switch to a broadband plan with slower speeds (and a lower price). Just be sure you can live with those speeds. If you frequently stream video, this strategy may not work for you. (Your broadband plan should support download speeds of 4 megabits per second or more.)

5. Stop renting your router

Is your home network router supplied by your cable company, or another internet service provider? If so, you’re probably paying about $10 a month for the router. That’s $120 a year you could shave off your internet expenses if you stopped renting.

The downside: You’ll need to buy and install your own router. But if you spend, say, $120 on a router, it pays for itself after one year. Start your search by Googling best routers plus the name of your ISP. Example: best routers for Comcast internet. Also, if you get your broadband from a cable TV provider, check out The Wirecutter’s roundups of the best cable modems.

6. Research independent ISPs in your area

In some areas, especially cities, you may be able to get your broadband from an independent ISP. Often, these ISPs offer lower rates (and sometimes lower speeds) than the big boys like Comcast. For example, Monkeybrains.net in San Francisco offers monthly broadband rates of about $30, though residents must have an antenna mounted on their roof. To find independent ISPs, do a Google search on independent ISP and add your city or town name to the search phrase. You could also search Yelp for local ISPs.

7. Use your cell phone as a hot spot

Many current smartphones can turn their cellular wireless connection into a Wi-Fi connection. Any device within range can then use your smartphone as a Wi-Fi hot spot. It’s only a good strategy, however, if you have minimal home network needs, meaning, some email and web browsing. Skip this idea if you frequently stream music or video, make Skype video calls, or do other bandwidth-hogging activities.