Is it Really Possible for Me to Get Less Expensive Internet?

Yes… if I’m happy with 1.5 Mbps.

Photo credit: jar [0], CC BY 2.0.

So when I did my Friday Estimate and noted that I pay around $180 monthly for smartphone and internet, y’all suggested that I look into less expensive options.

Which… my smartphone is on Credo and costs a little over $90 every month, and that price point has been fairly consistent, with a few “cost of living increases,” for as long as I’ve had a smartphone. This is where having a Gmail archive can come in handy; in 2012, for example, I was paying around $70 per month. That’s an increase of $4 per year.

Internet, however, has gotten more expensive. I was paying $35/month in 2012, $75/month in 2014, and now I’m paying $85/month—or an increase of $10 per year, though it wasn’t a steady increase.

But are there less expensive options that I’m missing out on? When you go to the Seattle subreddit you see this question come up all the time; someone asked it 13 days ago, another person asked one month ago, then four months ago, then six. Everyone who’s moving to Seattle (or who is fed up with their current provider) asks, and the answers are always the same:

  • Atlas Networks
  • CenturyLink
  • Xfinity by Comcast (my current provider)
  • Frontier
  • Wave, which recently acquired Cascadelink and CondoInternet

So let’s run down the list.

Atlas Networks provides service by building, and my apartment isn’t on the list.

When I typed my address into CenturyLink, it told me I was eligible for “download speeds up to 1.5 Mbps,” which, even at $29.95/month, is laughable. I currently get 70 Mbps with Xfinity; 1.5 Mbps would handle what CenturyLink calls “surfing the internet” but probably wouldn’t handle streaming video.

Frontier won’t tell me if I’m eligible—that might come later in the sales funnel—but it will tell me that I can get up to 24 Mbps for $39.99/month for the first year. After that, it’ll jump to $54.99/month. Even at the intro price, Frontier would still cost me more per Mbps than I’m paying with Xfinity.

At this point I should note that 2/3 of my internet costs are tax deductible, since I use the internet for work. (I’M USING THE INTERNET RIGHT NOW.) Also, I want fast download speeds because I need to get a lot of work done—and because my laptop doubles as my television and stereo.

Which brings us to Wave. When I tried to type my address into Wave, it took me to a new page and asked me to re-enter my address so a representative could visit my apartment, or something.

A local Wave representative will be in your area to survey your location to see if you can receive Wave service and will contact you directly with the results within two business days.

Like Atlas, Wave appears to provide internet service per building, and I am very sure my apartment building is not on their list. They do offer Gigabit service, but I can’t get a price quote until I give them my address and have a local Wave representative come to my area, which I am loath to do. I don’t want to be the person who sets my landlord up for a bunch of sales calls.

And now that I’m on the subject of my landlord, I just remembered that a list of available internet providers was included with my lease. The list is one item long, and the internet provider is Comcast.

If I were willing to jump down to 55 Mbps, it looks like I could switch to a Comcast plan that would save me $10 per month. I could also call Comcast and try to negotiate a lower price, but I think I’m supposed to threaten to move to another provider as part of that conversation, and I’m not sure I could do that convincingly.

So… it looks like I’ve answered the question of whether I could save money on internet. I could theoretically save $120 over the next year while paying slightly more per Mbps if I moved to a different Comcast plan. I don’t think that’s worth it—especially because my internet is a tax-deductible work expense—but I look forward to y’all trying to convince me otherwise.

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