In 2013, Princeton Survey Research Associates International announced that a survey conducted by its researchers revealed that 15 percent of American adults weren’t using the Internet. As noted by Pew Research Center, 19 percent of that group cited the cost of a computer and/or subscription Internet access as the main reason that they stayed away from the Web. Several surveys conducted since have shown few changes with an average 13 to 15 percent of adults staying offline. The 2013 survey also revealed that 9 percent of the 85 percent of adults who used the Internet regularly refused to subscribe to an Internet service plan because they were able to receive free or cheap access elsewhere.
Today, the Internet is often a required education and work tool. Many people simply can’t afford to continue to stay offline or travel repeatedly or long distance to their closest Internet access spots, such as libraries, schools, fast food restaurants and parks.
Most Internet Service Providers recognize the problem and have created cheap plans that they usually refer to as “Budget”, “Low Price” or “Economy” plans. These options typically provide the minimum services available. If you aren’t picky about the length of time it takes you to get access or page loading time, several ISPs still offer dial-up Internet access plans where your computer communicates with them via your land line phone and a dial-out number. Plan prices typically range between $8.99 and $12.99 per month.
- Local Options
Non-national, local providers are often the best source for these plans. They can set up a basic service with local access numbers that don’t create long-distance calling charges.
- National Options
There are also a variety of national ISPs that offer these plans: BasicISP has a standard dial-up plan for $8.99 and an accelerated plan for $10.99/month. It also has 46,000 access numbers across North America to help reduce the number of busy signals that users might encounter with smaller, local companies. Copper.net has a standard dial-up plan for $9.99/month and a premium plan for $14.95/month. Several well-known ISPs also offer basic, low-speed broadband plans: CenturyLink has a DSL plan starting at $9.95/month. Time Warner Cable offers a cable option starting at $14.99/month.
- For Consideration
These plans usually don’t include taxes in the initially quoted price. Also, most plans have other requirements. For example, the CenturyLink plan requires each subscriber to agree to a 24-month contract and switch to $14.95/month after the first year. It also only offers speeds up to 1.5 Mbps. Lastly, many ISPs require equipment rental fees after the first six months to a year. On the positive side, some ISPs offer additional products and services to help ease new users into the experience, such as low-cost computers priced under $200, free computer and Internet classes and other incentives.
- Other Methods
Another way to get Internet for $14.99/month or less is by taking advantage of deals and discounts. For example, many ISPs reduce the Internet cost if you agree to sign up for their phone and/or TV services. These “bundled” plans are much lower than standalone services. Most companies also offer one-time discounts for new customers. Some ISPs even offer “loyalty” discounts for existing customers that add Internet service or previous customers that decide to return.