Being without Internet access can be more than a little inconvenient. It can mean a harder time staying up on the news, doing research for work and school and, of course, applying for jobs.
If you’re paying through the nose for Internet, or avoiding it altogether because of the cost, here are some basic strategies to get broadband for less — maybe even for free.
If you’re among the millions of Americans struggling to pay your monthly Internet bill, did you know that you can dial up for basically nothing? By doing a search for “free internet dial up” along with your city and state, you’ll find a number of options for free access numbers. It’s an old technology but a perfect option for low-volume surfing with no monthly fee or special software, plug-ins or spyware. Or sign up with Juno or NetZero to get up to 10 hours of free Internet time per month. If you need more hours, they have plans starting at $10 per month.
Sign Up For Low-Cost Programs
If you can’t bear the slow speed of free dial up, some of the country’s largest cable television companies and the FCC have banded together to bring low-cost, high-speed internet to low-income Americans. Depending on where you live, the three primary, competing low-cost Internet access programs are Connect2Compete, Comcast’s Internet Essentials and CenturyLink’s Internet Basics.
“Kiplinger’s research has found that you can get broad-band Internet service for as little as $10 a month if you qualify,” says Janet Bodnar of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. “How do you qualify? Perhaps your children are eligible for the school lunch program or you’re eligible for other types of government support programs.” Bodnar says you may, in fact, even be eligible for a $150 subsidy toward a computer or free Internet and computer training. Check out CheapInternet.com for guidelines and to find the best low-cost options in your area.
Opt For a Bundle
For those of us that don’t qualify for low-cost Internet, take advantage of your local cable provider’s bundling services — and don’t be shy about negotiating your rate. Bodnar says one of Kiplinger’s best money-saving tips is to bundle Internet along with telephone and cable service. “You get it all together for a good price,” she says. “And when that price expires, don’t be hesitant to negotiate with your provider to either continue the deal or perhaps even offer you a better one,” she says.
Reduce Your Speed
Next, consider your usage. If you’re just checking email, surfing the web at home and don’t require a high-speed connection, ask if a lower speed can lower your monthly bill. It’s a difference of about $5 to $10 per billing cycle, but those little savings add up.
Use Your Own Router
Yet another way to save is to purchase your own wireless router. This basic piece of hardware costs about $25 to $50, while many cable companies charge $5 to $10 per month to rent you theirs.
Avoid Installation Fees
“Another way to save… is to do your installation if you’re technically inclined,” says Bodnar. “Your service provider will be happy to provide you with everything you need, the kit and all the directions. And if you pick up the equipment by yourself, you can save on delivery charges too.”
What are some ways you’ve lowered your Internet bill? Connect with me Twitter @Farnoosh, using the hashtag #FinFit.