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2019’s Best Cheap Internet Packages

AT&T

Best overall

CenturyLink

Best cheap fiber plans

Xfinity

Best cheap cable plans

 

If you’re more interested in the numbers after the $ than the digits before the Mbps, you’re in the market for a cheap internet service provider. But where do you look when the price of everything internet-related keeps going up? Believe it or not, you still have options.

We’ve profiled five of the most widely available Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the US, factoring in price, speed, contract length, and type of connection (DSL, cable, or fiber-optic).

Unfortunately, “widely available” doesn’t always translate to “anywhere near you”; you’ll want to check CableTV.com’s availability map to see which of these providers service your ZIP code.

Best cheap internet plans

PlanStarting priceDownload speedsConnection type
AT&T Internet 100$50/mo. 100 Mbps DSL
CenturyLink Internet 100$65/mo. 100 Mbps DSL
Xfinity Performance Plus$44.99/mo. 100 Mbps Cable
Suddenlink Internet 400$94.99/mo. 400 Mbps Cable
Frontier Vantage
Internet Simply Velocity
$50/mo. 115 Mbps DSL
PlanAT&T Internet 100
Starting price$50/mo.
Download speeds100 Mbps
Connection typeDSL
PlanCenturyLink Internet 100
Starting price$65/mo.
Download speeds100 Mbps
Connection typeDSL
PlanXfinity Performance Plus
Starting price$44.99/mo.
Download speeds100 Mbps
Connection typeCable
PlanSuddenlink Internet 400
Starting price$94.99/mo.
Download speeds400 Mbps
Connection typeCable
PlanFrontier Vantage
Internet Simply Velocity
Starting price$50/mo.
Download speeds115 Mbps
Connection typeDSL

*Data effective 05/17/2019. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change

We’ve chosen ISPs that offer at least 25 Mbps on their less-expensive plans. Bandwidth matters, and a few saved bucks aren’t going to soothe the pain of a connection that buffers or drops Hulu before you find out how Fyre Fraud ends (spoiler: not well).

AT&T

Best overall

The specs

  • Download speeds 5 Mbps–1 Gbps
  • DSL or fiber connections

Pros

  • Inexpensive DSL plans
  • Widely available DSL

Cons

  • Limited fiber availability
  • 12-month contract

Most of AT&T’s internet plans are Digital Subscriber Line (DSL), which delivers high-speed broadband internet via standard copper phone lines.

Fiber internet, which transmits data as light through hair-thin glass threads, is faster but scarcer. For instance, AT&T DSL reaches 120 million homes while AT&T fiber hits just 11 million.

You’re more likely to find AT&T DSL in your area, which still hits download speeds of up to 100 Mbps in some areas. We’ve named AT&T our best overall pick because its DSL plans are fast, inexpensive, and widely available.

On the low end of AT&T’s broadband speedometer is the Internet Basic 5 plan, a DSL offering that clocks in at just 5 Mbps for $40 a month—not a great deal in price or speed. Faster DSL plans start at 50 Mbps for $40 a month; we’d recommend the 100 Mbps package at $50 a month.

AT&T fiber service is advertised at 300 Mbps and 1 Gbps (1,000 Mbps) of download speed for $50 to $90 a month—not inexpensive, but definitely fast. If fiber isn’t available in your area, we recommend signing up for the highest DSL speed you can get locally, which most likely will be 100 Mbps.

CenturyLink

Best cheap fiber plans

The specs

  • Download speeds 20 Mbps–1 Gbps
  • DSL or fiber connections

Pros

  • Price for Life guarantee
  • Inexpensive plans

*Price for Life offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Cons

  • Limited fiber availability
  • No service in California or the Northeast

CenturyLink service is nearly as easy to come across as AT&T’s, and the company has been even more aggressive in growing its fiber service reach, as well as offering inexpensive fiber packages.

CenturyLink’s 1 Gig Fiber (1 Gbps) is currently available in these cities:

  • Austin, TX
  • Columbia, IN
  • Denver, CO
  • Phoenix, AZ
  • La Crosse, WI
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Minneapolis, MN
  • Omaha, NB
  • Orlando, FL
  • Portland, OR
  • Raleigh, NC
  • Salt Lake City, UT
  • Seattle, WA

CenturyLink’s DSL coverage is wider, available in 36 states—notable exceptions being California and most of the Northeast. But, if you’re in a 1 Gig town, you can get 1 Gbps service for only $65 a month, which is one of the lowest fiber price tags around.

The DSL tiers are also priced attractively: $45 a month for 25 Mbps of download speed, $55 a month for 80 Mbps, or $65 a month for 100 Mbps.

Any of these speeds could keep a household surfing happily. We’d recommend the 100 Mbps option—or, of course, 1 Gig Fiber if it’s available near you.

The best part of CenturyLink service: no contracts, which means no early termination fees should you choose to move or change providers. Even better is CenturyLink’s Price for Life guarantee, which locks in the same month-to-month fee, with no increases, for as long as you have the same plan in the same location. No end-of-promotion bill shocks down the line or chasing new deals every year, just the same price every month—pretty sweet.

Xfinity

Best cheap cable plans

The specs

  • Download speeds 15 Mbps–2 Gbps
  • Cable or fiber connections

Pros

  • Wide cable availability
  • Inexpensive cable internet plans

Cons

  • Limited fiber availability
  • Few budget plans

Xfinity is available in 40 states, offering affordable cable internet packages and, to a smaller extent, fiber-optic connectivity.

When introduced in the ‘90s, cable internet was a major leap forward in terms of speed, and it’s still one of the fastest options today.

Unlike fiber, however, cable internet speed is affected by your neighbors’ use of the same lines. During peak usage hours, it’s possible for cable internet to slow to DSL levels. Still, cable is a vast improvement over DSL, and Comcast/Xfinity is one of the pioneers of cable internet.

Xfinity offers several low-cost internet plans, both with and without contracts, as well as a couple of fiber Gigabit options.

On the cable side, the basic Performance Starter ($29.99 a month with one-year contract, $39.99 without) gives you 15 Mbps of download speed. We’d recommend spending the extra 10 bucks for the Performance Plus tier ($39.99 a month with one-year contract, $49.99 without), which jumps significantly in speed to 60 Mbps.

Xfinity’s cable internet prices start climbing out of “budget” territory from there. The plans range from 150 Mbps to 400 Mbps priced from $54.99 all the way up to $111.95 a month; somewhat pricey considering that we’re not talking about fiber internet.

If you’re in the right ZIP code, you can get Xfinity’s 1 Gbps Gigabit fiber internet for a still-reasonable (for fiber) $70 a month.

The most insane price bump comes at Xfinity’s Gigabit Pro level, which offers 2 Gbps of speed (cool) for $299.95 a month (not cool). Stick with the cable Performance Plus package, or the fiber 1 Gbps Gigabit fiber plan—they’re much closer to “cheap” territory.

Suddenlink

Best bundle packages

The specs

  • Download speeds 100 Mbps–1 Gbps
  • Cable or fiber connections

Pros

  • Inexpensive cable internet plans
  • Internet/TV bundles

Cons

  • Limited fiber availability
  • Expensive fiber plans

Suddenlink internet service is available in only 15 states, but its low prices on fast broadband are worth a look—especially if you’re in the market for an affordable internet/cable/phone bundle.

Suddenlink services these states:

  • Arkansas
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Idaho
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Missouri
  • Mississippi
  • North Carolina
  • New Mexico
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Texas
  • West Virginia

We’d recommend Suddenlink’s Internet 100 package ($34.99 a month, 100 Mbps), as it offers the best balance of price and performance. For an extra $25 a month, it can be bundled with Suddenlink’s Value TV cable plan (225+ channels for $59.99 a month bundled with internet), if you’re also looking for TV service.

Internet 1 Gig, Suddenlink’s limited-availability fiber internet option, is less of a bargain at $84.99 a month for 1 Gbps of speed.

And all of these prices are set for only a 12-month promotional period, FYI.

Frontier

Best inexpensive DSL plans

The specs

  • Download speeds 25 Mbps–1 Gbps
  • DSL or fiber connections

Pros

  • Inexpensive DSL plans
  • Some inexpensive fiber plans

Cons

  • Limited fiber availability
  • 24-month contract

Like Suddenlink, Frontier is a smaller internet provider with a wide reach: 38 states, with fiber connections available in California, Florida, Indiana, Oregon, Texas, and Washington. Frontier’s fiber internet plans are branded as Frontier FiOS, since the fiber-optic lines were bought from Verizon in 2016. If a Frontier package doesn’t include the FiOS name, it’s DSL.

We’d classify only two of Frontier’s fiber internet plans as “cheap.” Simply FiOS 50/50 at $29.99 a month for 50 Mbps of download speed, and Simply FiOS 200/200 at $39.99 a month are both reasonably priced packages. Fiber prices jump exponentially from there without adding much usable speed.

Note: 50/50 and 200/200 in FiOS’s packages refer to download and upload speed, a down/up consistency only fiber internet, regardless of the brand, can provide. With cable and DSL connections, uploads speeds are typically half or less than download speeds—something to consider if you plan on uploading large or multiple files on a regular basis.

Frontier’s DSL plans are far more budget-friendly than its fiber offerings, starting at $27.99 a month for 25 Mbps of download speed and creeping up slightly for 45 Mbps ($35 a month) and 90 Mbps ($40 a month).

We recommend Frontier’s wordily titled Vantage Internet Simply Velocity DSL plan, which gives you 115 Mbps of download speed for $50 a month. That’s a lot of speed for not much money. But keep in mind that Frontier’s pricing is for a 24-month promotional period, and equipment and fees aren’t included.

The need for speed that won’t bleed (you dry)

Like anything else, you get what you pay for with internet service. That said, even though most US cities have only a couple of providers to choose from, there are deals to be had.

If it’s available in your area, fiber internet is our number one recommendation for optimal speed/price return, followed by cable internet. But if DSL is the only choice on the block, don’t despair: it still works just fine for being “old” tech, and it’s almost always the cheapest option available.

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About the Author

Bill Frost has been a journalist and TV reviewer since the 4:3 aspect ratio ‘90s. His pulse-pounding prose has been featured in The Salt Lake Tribune, Pacific Northwest Inlander, Las Vegas Weekly, and elsewhere. He’s currently a senior writer and streaming TV columnist at SLUGMag.com.

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