Whether you’re looking for an internet service provider after a recent move or just want to scope out other options that might fit better in your budget, finding the cheapest WiFi without sacrificing quality can take some serious sleuthing (and probably several phone calls). That’s why we’ve pulled together some handy tips for finding the perfect balance of price and internet connectivity. From comparing rates to negotiating prices, you’ll learn some new hacks that can help you get the WiFi service you need for a rate you’re comfortable paying.
Selecting Your Ideal Speed and Price Range
Before you delve into a comparison of every WiFi provider around, it’s best to start by figuring out what options are available in your area. This can keep you from finding a great deal only to discover that you’re outside of the provider’s service area.
Consider getting started on search sites like HighSpeedInternet and BroadbandNow. These sites allow you to input your ZIP code and see lists of service providers in that area, along with a few details about the different plans those providers offer.
The next step comes down to knowing the type of service you need and the amount you’re comfortable paying for it. Most providers offer several service tiers based on speed, with higher tiers offering faster internet and costlier pricing. Typically, service providers offer explanations about what each speed is capable of. A lower-tier plan might offer download speeds of 30 Mbps, which is sufficient for basic internet browsing and streaming on a single device. A higher-tier plan, on the other hand, could offer 1,000-Mbps downloading, allowing you to do simultaneous video conferencing and media streaming at lightning speed.
Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily have to spring for the highest service tier unless your household really needs it. You can use a broadband calculator like BroadBandNow’s to determine your usage needs. It asks you a few simple questions about how many devices your household uses, where you’re located, and whether you rely on WiFi for activities like streaming, gaming, and video conferencing. Based on your results, it can tell you the speed you should search for, with several different options based on quality considerations.
What Else Should You Consider?
Once you have a good idea of what you’re looking for, it’s time to start narrowing down your choices even further. Aside from plans and pricing, there are a few other things to consider. While it may be tempting to go for the cheapest possible WiFi rate, don’t forget to factor in the following elements.
Installation and Equipment Costs
Many WiFi service providers offer to let customers rent routers for a monthly fee. This may not seem like a big deal, but keep in mind that it could add up to over $100 extra dollars you’re spending each year. If you can find a reliable router to purchase, it’s a nice way to save money in the long run, no matter which provider you go with.
Finding a great deal on WiFi from a smaller provider may seem like an appealing bargain. But it won’t do you too many favors if the plan you select ends up dropping all your video conference calls for work or stealing the joy out of streaming movies due to slow loading speeds. Check out each provider’s customer satisfaction ratings, and talk to your neighbors to see how well they like the services they use.
Data Caps and Overuse Fees
Another thing you’ll want to check out is whether the plan you’re considering comes with a data cap. A data cap is a limit on the amount of data you can download each month without having to pay overuse fees. If you only plan to use your WiFi to check your email regularly, then a data cap may not be a dealbreaker for you. But if you do a lot of streaming or use your internet to work from home, it’s something to consider.
The Fine Print
If you’ve just moved into a new home, you’ll likely soon begin to enjoy promotional mail offers from every service provider in your area. Just don’t forget to read the fine print. Many of the offers you receive will be for introductory rates that last for the first year of service. Make sure you understand how much the service will cost after the honeymoon period is over, as some may literally double in price.
The Art of Negotiating Your Internet Bill
Feel like your internet bill has gotten a little too pricey? It may be time to see if your WiFi company will work with you to lower it. If you’ve signed a contract, then your success rate may depend on how close you are to the end of it. This is especially true if your contract includes an early termination fee (ETF), as some companies count on these fees to keep users around whether they’re satisfied with the service or not. The closer your commitment is to being over, however, the more bargaining power you may have.
When your contract nears its end, check out the rates your internet company is currently offering new subscribers. Give them a call and explain that you’ve been looking into switching to another company but that, if they could provide you with the introductory rate, you’d be willing to stick around.
Before you move forward with this approach, however, you should also check out the rates from other providers in your area. You may discover that your plan isn’t as highly priced as you thought when you compare it to competitors’ prices. You’ll also want to have a plan if your negotiations with your current provider don’t pan out.
Before using your possible cancelation as a bargaining chip, you should be prepared to go through with canceling with your current provider. Finding out exactly how much money you could save by switching to another provider can also help lessen the anxiety of the negotiation. If your current provider is willing to offer you the same great rate to keep you, that works! If not, that’s okay too. Just explain that you thought you might as well ask, go ahead and cancel your service, and contact your new potential provider to take advantage of the lower rates.