Can You Get High Speed Internet for Low Income Earners in the US?

In this day and age, the internet has become an invaluable tool most of us can access at any given time. As of 2016, nearly 290 million users access the internet from the US alone. When you move to worldwide statistics that number gets even more massive. In 2018 the number of people who have access to the internet surpassed the 4 billion mark. Part of this is because of high speed internet for low income earners is made accessible. Other reasons why that number keeps soaring is also because of developing markets getting easier access through initiatives like free Facebook and Google’s Android One. But are truly high speed internet speeds available without compromises?

If you want a definite answer to the question “can you get high speed internet for low income earners in the US?”  The answer is a simple yes. Will it be as good as the more expensive plans and bundles? Unfortunately, no. What you are willing to spend is almost directly tied to the service you get. There is no such thing as the best internet for everyone, especially when we’re working on a budget. There will always be compromises somewhere. However, there are certainly some good options for people depending on what things you value, and where you are planning to take compromises. While you do get what you pay for, some offer more value for your money. Based on information compiled on March 20, 2018, let’s get in depth with some options for high speed internet for low income earners. Take note, these were chosen based on 3 basic factors, namely: coverage, price, and speed.

Before we get into specifics, let’s give a brief description for each factor in order to better understand the basis in which the internet service providers are being judged. Save for some satellite internet providers, all internet service providers in the US have a finite coverage area. Simply put, no one internet service provider can be omnipresent, at least, not with our current technology. A surprising 85% of Americans have access to only one or two internet service provider in their area. This doesn’t give them much of a choice when deciding on which internet service provider to go with. For all intents and purposes, let’s only include the 12 largest providers in the US, since it is more likely you’ll come across at least one or two of them regardless of where you may reside.

Price is the most important factor here, since our target here is to get the most out of your hard earned cash, especially since the target here is low income earners. In this list, each provider has provided quotes on factors such as current prices, installation, and everything else that may play an important role in the decision-making process. The monthly plan pricing you see on their websites don’t tell the whole story as a number of other variables like hidden charges can actually set you back more than you initially thought.

While price is arguably the most important factor with regards to low income earners, it isn’t the only thing to consider. Speed is just as important. If you base your decision on price alone, you may end up with a connection that is, quite frankly, just unusable. Imagine streaming a 360p video in a website that buffers every 12 seconds. Think back to the old days where an old school dial up internet was the only thing available. They still exist today, and not only that, they can be had at relatively inexpensive prices, and sometimes even free! Unfortunately, those worked at the time because of a number of factors like how websites were designed, and even depending on core things like the type of content we actually consumed. In the modern age more websites are designed for faster speeds since nowadays more content is consumed than ever before. More than likely, households will generally be happier with a high speed broadband internet. For this reason, this list will include only options with 25 megabytes per second or more. So let’s get on to specifics!

In terms of fast and affordable DSL, AT&T is a solid option. AT&T is actually the largest DSL provider in the nation and delivers DSL services to at least 120 million people while delivering fiber optics services to an additional 11 million people. Their fiber plans can go as high as 1000 megabytes per second. A good chunk of internet service providers do offer plans at similar prices, but on average, they do tend to be significantly slower. AT&T, on average, delivers about 100 megabytes per second on average with their DSL plans. As an additional bonus, they also include the equipment you require like their router. Most competing internet service providers either rent it to you at a monthly price or give you the option to buy it at a flat rate for a onetime payment. While their DSL services do offer excellent value for money, the same cannot be said for their fiber plans. They are expensive for what they offer, and though it may benefit more users in a household, the DSL packages they offer are more value oriented. Also, their prices tend to shift a lot depending on the time of the year, giving you hit-or-miss options at any given time. They can be good when they work, but that isn’t always the case.

What about low-income citizens who prefer a no contract approach? Fios by Verizon is a good option. Their fiber plans will be the focus here as they offer high value plans without requiring you to sign a contract. For the same amount you pay for 25 to 60 megabytes per second, Verizon gives you 100 megabytes per second, and though underrated, they offer respectable upload speeds as well! We mentioned earlier that AT&T can be volatile in terms of pricing. Verizon seems to put out consistent, reasonably priced promotions that aren’t too hard to find, so that’s a big plus. An added bonus is that, if Verizon is your phone provider, you can get as much as $20 off per month on selected Verizon FiOS Bundles. The downside here is that, in terms of fiber coverage, they are severely lacking. It is excellent when you can get it, but often times you may find yourself in the situation where you simply can’t due to availability issues; and while they do have excellent fiber services, the same cannot be said for their DSL service quality.

That covers people who prefer no contract altogether, now let’s talk about the internet service provider with the best contract buyout offer. You may have guessed by now that we are referring to Spectrum. Depending on the city you’re in, Spectrum offers up to twice as much speed compared to competing companies for a mere additional $5 per month. It costs so little but marginally gives you much more. In its price range it has the highest speed. Spectrum is also the internet service provider included in the ones we mentioned here that offer a modem and router for with ALL their plans. While it isn’t the cheapest, low income earners may want to splurge a bit more for the marginal utility it gives you for so low. This makes it  a legitimate choice if you don’t have that much money to spend for the start-up cost. You can find their value oriented bundles at Hold up, that isn’t even the best part yet. Not only do they require you to sign a contract to avail of their internet, but they’ll even shoulder the expense for the termination fee you will incur if you break your current contract to switch; as much as $500 at least.

Though we said we would include high speed internet only, that is, those that offer 25 megabytes and above, we think Cox deserves an honourable mention here. Cox is another solid option if you’re hurting for money, since they offer a very low sign on cost. This is one of the lowest quotes that the internet service providers chose to disclose. Their standalone internet costs just a hair shy of $30. While you do get just a mere 10 megabytes per second with this plan, this is an affordable and reliable option if things get really tough financially. Between them charging just $20 for self-installation and being just overall reliable, this is a good option for small households who tend to use only a maximum of 3 devices at any given time.

So what’s the takeaway here? Can low income earners afford high speed internet? Yes, they can! It’s just a matter of which compromises you are willing to live with and which perks that other internet service providers you can manage to live without. Naturally, there may and will be offers that will be in your area that can offer value for your money from time to time. All you need is to keep your eyes open, you never know when a life changing internet promotion comes your way!

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11 Nov 2018

By XYZies