How Much Is Internet per Month?

The most popular plans averaged $41 in 2023, while plans focused on fastest speeds averaged $75.
Tommy Tindall
Hal M. Bundrick, CFP®
By Hal M. Bundrick, CFP® and  Tommy Tindall 
Updated
Edited by Courtney Neidel

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The price you'll pay for internet service every month depends primarily on what internet 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.

A recent study provides a good benchmark as you price-shop for broadband providers and services. But first, 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, you'd hop on the internet using a phone line and a modem and then hop 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.

Think about bandwidth like a water hose. Say you need to fill a 100-gallon tank. If your garden hose puts out 5 gallons of water per minute, you'll be waiting 20 minutes to fill the tank. But a huge firehose that puts out a gallon of water every second will fill the tank in less than two minutes.

Bandwidth is like the size of the hose. The larger it is, the more data you can pull down in a given time.

Internet service can come into your home in several ways, according to the Federal Communications Commission: by telephone lines (called DSL), over a television coaxial cable, or via fiber optic technology. You can also get internet over a power line, through a wireless network or a satellite dish.

How much does internet service cost per month?

The 2023 Broadband Pricing Index, issued in October 2023 and published by industry group USTelecom, compiled data from the FCC and other public sources to find the average national pricing of broadband internet.

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

USTelecom. 2023 Broadband Pricing Index. Accessed Feb 9, 2024.
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After adjusting for inflation 2015-23, the index shows prices for the most popular internet service packages have dropped by nearly 55% during that time, while speeds have increased by more than 141%. (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.

The pricing index breaks prices into two groups: the most popular packages consumers buy and the highest-speed services offered.

Popular plans: For the most popular internet packages, the average price consumers paid per month in 2023 was $41.31.

The download speed provided in this top-selling category was 104 Mbps. Megabits per second, or Mbps, is a standard measure of internet speed.

Best speeds: For the highest-speed internet packages, the average price per month in 2023 was $75.48.

In this category, the service provided downloads of 306 Mbps.

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What internet speed do you need?

Will you look for lower prices on popular internet service packages or spring for the fastest speeds available?

Note that the bandwidth you're allotted is shared among all devices on your connection. How much you need depends on how you use the internet.

If you've got one person downloading a video game, someone else streaming a movie and another person refreshing Instagram on his phone, you'll need enough bandwidth to keep everyone happy.

The FCC has developed a Broadband Speed Guide to help consumers determine needs based on typical online activities. The guide details the download speeds required for online tasks such as checking email (1 Mbps), working from home (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.

Video streaming tends to eat up the most bandwidth, so households running simultaneous streams may want to pony up for higher speeds. For example, Netflix recommends a 3 Mbps connection for a single high-definition stream (720p resolution) and 5 Mbps for a full HD stream (1020p resolution) and 15 Mbps if you want ultra HD, at 4K resolution. Multiply those by the number of simultaneous streams you want to support.

Online video games don't require much bandwidth to play. However, downloading a video game or other huge file takes lots of bandwidth.

Frequent file-sharers and downloaders might opt for higher speeds, although it's easy enough to schedule your downloads when network demand is low and more bandwidth is free, like late at night.

The FCC Household Broadband Guide also 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.

Light use

Moderate use

High use

1 user on 1 device

3-8 Mbps.

3-8 Mbps.

12-25 Mbps.

2 users or devices at a time

3-8 Mbps.

12-25 Mbps.

12-25 Mbps to more than 25 Mbps.

3 users or devices at a time

12-25 Mbps.

12-25 Mbps.

More than 25 Mbps.

4 users or devices at a time

12-25 Mbps.

More than 25 Mbps.

More than 25 Mbps.

This data, along with being aware of prevailing average monthly costs, can help you find a fair price for the internet service you need.