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The price you'll pay for internet service every month depends primarily on the speed you need. Speed matters, especially if you work from home and need the bandwidth for video conference calls and something like three browser windows open with 30 tabs each. If you share the net with family, you may need even more speed. That's likely to require broadband internet service.
How much can you expect to pay for internet each month? A recent study provides a good benchmark as you price-shop for broadband providers and services.
First off, let's make sure we're talking about the same thing.
What is broadband internet?
Broadband internet is high-speed, always-on internet access. In the early days of going online, you would use a phone line to dial into the internet through a modem. You'd hop on, then off. These days, your internet connection is always on and likely feeding all kinds of devices in your home: computers, phones, TVs — maybe even your thermostat, security system and appliances.
Internet service can come into your home in several ways, according to the Federal Communications Commission:
By telephone lines, called DSL.
By a television coaxial cable.
With fiber optic technology.
Less common or emerging methods of delivery are:
Over a power line.
Through a wireless network.
Through a satellite dish.
Compiling data from internet service providers
The 2022 Broadband Pricing Index, issued in June 2022 and published by USTelecom, compiled data from the FCC and other public sources to determine the average national pricing of broadband internet. Internet service providers are required to file this data with the FCC.
The index considers internet prices and speeds from the 14 largest U.S. cable and telecom providers, which account for more than 90% of all residential broadband customers in the country.
How much does internet service cost per month?
The cost of internet is a bright spot in a time of economic challenge. The report concludes that prices have gone down in the past five years, while speeds have increased.
Even after adjusting for inflation, which has decreased consumer spending power by roughly 12% since 2015, the report says prices for the most popular internet service packages have dropped by over 44%, while speeds have increased by more than 127%. (Prices were measured in constant 2015 dollars to allow for an even comparison.)
Specific prices and details depend on the speed you're willing to pay for. If cost is an issue, there are government programs that help low-income families get home internet at a fraction of the cost.
Popular internet packages
The Broadband Pricing Index breaks prices into two groups: the most popular packages consumers buy and the highest-speed services.
For the most popular internet packages, the average price per month in 2022 was $36.33. The download speed provided in this top-selling category was 98 Mbps. Megabits per second, or Mbps, is a standard measure of internet speed.
Highest internet speed services
For the highest-speed internet packages, the average price per month in 2022 was $58.12.
In this category, the service provided downloads of 259 Mbps.
What's your need for speed?
The FCC has developed a Broadband Speed Guide to help consumers determine their bandwidth needs based on typical online activities. The guide details the download speeds required for online tasks such as checking email (1 Mbps), telecommuting (5 to 25 Mbps) and downloading files (10 Mbps).
To determine the overall speed that may be required, multiply each activity by the number of users in a household.
Also, the FCC Household Broadband Guide shows how adequate internet service can depend on light, moderate or high use — in addition to the number of users or devices in use at a time.
This data, along with being aware of prevailing average monthly costs, can help you find a fair price for the internet service you need.