The average internet bill is around $60 per month, and the cost of renting a router from an internet service provider can run up to $15. That means accessing the world wide web in your home could cost as much as $900 annually. If you have an internet and cable bundle, that cost can run even higher, sometimes as much as $132 per month. With costs like that, if cash is tight in your household, you might be wondering if it’s worth it to have internet at all—even cheap internet?
- 8 Reasons Why Cheap Internet Is Important
- 8 Reasons Why Cheap Internet Is Important
- Low Income Internet
- Low Cost Internet for Everyone
8 Reasons Why Cheap Internet Is Important
- Find a job (apply online)
- Connect with family and friends
- Access medical portals
- Attend virtual doctor office visits during Covid-19
- Education (especially during Covid)
- Get the News
- Work from home
There are a few different kinds of internet. When home internet first came out in the 1990s, it was dial up internet, which meant that internet users would connect to the web over their phone line. This means that they could not use their phone service to talk on the phone or receive calls while they were on the internet. There was an infamous sound that callers would hear if they dialed a residence where someone was online, which was somewhat of a widely regarded source of humor but has since slipped from the cultural consciousness.
Dial up internet has slow speeds, and it can take a while to load even a standard web page. It would be difficult or impossible for most consumers to use dial up internet with ease today, especially considering that the dynamic components of some web pages would make them very slow in terms of loading.
DSL internet is similar in that it allows an internet user to connect to the web through an existing network of phone lines, but someone could use the telephone at the same time someone else is browsing the web. It provides faster speeds than a dial up connection, but there is some inconsistency in its delivery, and it may not be an accessible internet option for rural users.
Cable internet is similar to DSL but it delivers home internet service through television cables instead of phone lines. Television cables tend to have more bandwidth, so the quality of this internet is usually better. Moreover, many companies package internet and cable TV together, since they are using the same delivery method anyway.
Another internet option today is satellite internet, which involves an internet provider using a satellite above earth to deliver broadband service to customers. This internet option can prove especially useful for rural customers, but the actual speeds may be too slow for tasks that require a higher upload and/or download speed like those needed for video streaming and gaming.
Fiber internet works with fiber optic cables, which transmit data through pulses of laser light traveling along the network. This type of cable internet is only available in select areas, but it is probably the best quality internet option out there.
You should consider internet speed when looking at internet package options. But there are other options to consider, such as the price. It seems that every internet provider attempts to attract a new customer with an internet plan that is often optimally priced for the first 12 months, but then increases after that. Also, many of the internet plans can only be implemented if consumers have a modem and router to connect the internet to their computer. At the very least, users need to create a wireless internet cloud in their home for multiple devices to connect wirelessly.
It’s important to consider how you plan to use the internet. For most consumers, checking email, reading articles, performing online banking, and streaming decent-quality videos are sufficient. If you want cheap internet service, you don’t necessarily need to look for a cheap internet service provider. You just need to avoid getting the fastest internet they offer or all the other perks, bells, and whistles offered in their highest priced internet package. An internet provider will often advertise their cheapest package option, but you may be able to get even more cheap internet service by looking at their options for just internet.
In any case, the cost of the internet is not one you’ll want to avoid entirely, because the cost of not having it is so much greater. Here are a few things that you can do online, even with cheap internet service.
8 Reasons Why Cheap Internet Is Important
1. Find a job (apply online)
There used to be a time when people found jobs on an actual bulletin board or in the newspapers. Today, most people find and apply for jobs on websites like Monster, Indeed, or LinkedIn. But in order to access these websites, you need the internet. The internet also makes it possible to network with recruiters and talk directly to potential employers. Imagine trying to find a new job without the internet today: it would be next to impossible, all the more so since many companies only take applications online.
2. Connect with family and friends
The internet makes it easier to stay connected with family and friends. Most Americans today rely more on social media and messaging apps for staying in touch than they do with voice phone calls. Internet access also allows you to share photos, trade emails, and make plans with friends and family members. It can also be easier to stay in touch with relatives in different time zones or countries, especially in comparison to placing a long distance phone call.
3. Access medical portals
A medical portal or patient portal is an internet-based application that allows patients to connect with healthcare providers like doctors or hospitals and access their medical records. Portals can be used to input information on digital forms that can streamline an in-person visit to a clinic or doctor’s office. Portals allow patients to ask questions, find answers, and even get prescriptions filled or refilled for drugs and prescription eyewear—all through an internet connection.
4. Attend virtual doctor office visits during Covid-19
COVID-19 has closed down a lot of businesses and put a lot of person to person interactions into the space of remote communication. Strange as it may seem, this also includes visits to the doctor. Unfortunately, a visit to the doctor is not really something that should be postponed, as preventative care is important for avoiding both acute and chronic illnesses. The internet makes it possible for patients to see their doctor through a telehealth visit.
Even before the COVID-19 Pandemic, internet availability at home was a serious issue in education. Students without the internet have a harder time completing assignments, and their parents have a harder time staying in touch with teachers and the school. But now with many schools around the country closed because of the pandemic, learning is taking place in a remote format—which is entirely impossible without the internet. This is true not just for college and community college students, but high school, middle school, and even grade school students. Internet connection in a household with children is now a necessity for the continuation of their education.
There is no doubt that the internet facilitates entertainment. True, it’s possible to be entertained by reading printed books and playing board games, but many Americans also (or exclusively) turn to screen-based entertainment like movies, television, and gaming for their enjoyment.
Today, renting movies from Blockbuster is a thing of the past. Even getting a physical DVD from a RedBox at the grocery store or buying one somewhere else is a rarity. Most consumers stream their movie entertainment through a service like Netflix. Television often comes through a cable bundle with an internet service provider. Most games are now played online and not exclusively on platform hardware like the days of old. It all requires the internet.
7. Get the News
Getting the most up to date information on current events both local and global also requires the internet. Print publications have seriously diminished in the digital era, and many of them have transitioned to online dissemination. Even if an individual subscribes to a print publication like a local newspaper or national magazine, these companies often also offer exclusive content online to their subscribers which can complement and enrich the printed material, or keep them up to date between print publications.
8. Work from home
Working from home would also, for most people, be impossible without the internet. Most working Americans require the internet for communicating with their coworkers, employer, or employees via chat and email. Many functionalities like CRM (customer relationship management software) are online, and businesses store data and conduct business operations on a wireless cloud. Without the internet, a person can’t really participate in the 21st-century workforce.
Low Income Internet
As it turns out, there are plenty of options for cheap internet plans out there, especially if a subscriber drops cable out of the bundle. But some low income Americans can still not afford these internet plans or front the initial costs for a modem, router, and installation. These low income households should explore low income internet options. Many companies offer subsidized internet plans to consumers with children enrolled in the National School Lunch Program, or who live in low income zip codes, or who make less than a certain gross annual income. One such option is the Lifeline Program, popularly called Obama Phone, which provides a phone plan and/or free internet to each economically independent household with a gross annual income within 135% of the Federal Poverty Line or that can show proof of receiving government assistance benefits like SNAP, Medicaid, or SSI.
Low Cost Internet for Everyone
Some households, even if cash is tight, will still not qualify for low income internet. These households or individuals should instead explore their options for low cost internet that does not require a certain amount of income or for subscribers to be welfare recipients.
Unfortunately, many renters are tied into the ISP that their landlord recommends, or at least they think they are. The fact of the matter is that in many states and locations, a renter can still choose their internet service provider. If you want to save some money, look at the ISP options near you and see what makes the most sense—because as you’ve hopefully seen, the internet is one expense you should not avoid.
The internet is vital for Americans today for a variety of reasons ranging from education to health to employment to entertainment. It offers so many functionalities that just make life easier and more enjoyable. But if the internet seems like an expense you’d like to avoid, especially if cash is tight in your household, you should still explore your options for getting connected. It might be easier than you think, and the benefits of having internet access far outweigh not having it.