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Ask the Readers: Frugal internet options?

Today’s question is from Chris:

We have thought about dropping cable and using Netflix instead. However, if we drop the “cable” part of our cable/internet bill, the price only goes down $10 — which is about what Netflix would cost. I’d love to know if there are other cost-effective suggestions for cheaper internet without a cable package. Thanks! -Chris

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  1. Gino says

    This depends on the area you live in as it runs on Clearwire’s and Sprint’s wireless technology. Options are from free for 500 mgs, $20 or so for 2 gigs and $29 for 3 gigs per month with .015 to .02 per mg. overage. Options exist to earn free data.


  2. says

    Steal your neighbor’s.

    Haha. I kid… I kid. Go to a coffee shop when you need to use the Internet. That way it’s free (and legal)…

    • Christy says

      I use the Internet for everything! Paying bills, shopping, communicating, and most importantly work, so I could never rely on a coffee shop!

  3. Cathy Duhm says

    We are with DSLExtreme.com. They are a stand alone internet provider with great intro rates. After the intro it is still reasonable for us. I just turned my Dish off since we rarely watch any shows through it.
    All in all we have:
    DSL Extreme as our internet provider= $23/ mo ($14 on intro)
    Netflix (streaming only)= $7.99/mo
    We rent from Red box every now and then to watch a new release= $2-3/ mo

      • Cathy Duhm says

        I believe you can go onto their website and enter your zip code. It will tell you if it’s available in your area.

        • says

          I just checked and like almost everything, it is not available here since I am down a dirt road. We have used modems that attempt to work off cell phone signals that are too weak. Our current service is $65/mo WildBlue via a dish. We went to a digital antenna for TV and, happily, we haven’t looked back!

          I would love to know if anyone else way out in the rural areas has found a less expensive option that works.

      • Diane says

        I personally don’t think HuluPlus is worth the extra $8. They offer quite a few TV shows for free and the shows you get with HuluPlus you can generally get for free from the stations own websites. That’s what I do.

  4. Melissa says

    At one time we had cable/phone/internet package and were paying $160 per month. We dropped cable/phone and saved $105 per month. We have a roku with Netflix and Amazon Prime. I’m not sure why your bill only went down $10? I would suggest searching around for cheaper internet. Our service is through Time Warner.

  5. says

    I actually have this same problem since it seems that all the local and national internet providers in our area seem to cost about the same or more if you don’t have TV or home phone with them. It seems that since they know you need internet they make it the most expensive part of the bundle.

  6. A says

    call your cable provider and ask them what their least expensive plan is (it isn’t simple to get an answer to this, unfortunately, since they train their staff to sell you the “best deal” instead, but be politely persistent and you’ll find out eventually). We found that we could get internet only for 19.99 per month–of course we were warned that it would be way too slow and we’d hate it, but you know what? we’ve never once had a problem watching any videos, even though we don’t have the “turbo super fast” doubly expensive plan. interesting, right?

  7. Laura says

    I know things vary from place to place, but we just have Charter internet for $34 a month. Typically it seems you can sign up with Charter for just their internet and get a great deal on just their internet. I don’t know if that sounds like a deal or not, but it has worked well for us so far! We use a lot of redbox and library as we don’t have cable or netflix.

  8. august says

    Cable is better than Netflix in my opinion. If you have a flat screen tv, most of them come with built in tuners. We ended up getting the majority of basic cable channels for free thanks to it.

  9. Amie says

    Well, we had Charter internet and cable and every summer our internet went out or our picture got fuzzy and they had to replace the cables. There customer service was not good. I called and asked for a lower rate and was told they were no longer doing that. We switched to Windstream internet w/Dish Network. Dish will be cheaper even after the promotional period ends. Windstream service was terrible. They literally no-showed for 4 schedule appointments. They finally installed a temporary line that runs across my lawn and said they’ll call me in 4-6 weeks to put the permanent one in. We also were given a promotional rate which will be cheaper then Charter even after the promotion ends and we got a landline which lowered the rate another $10. In the end, we’ll pay around $80 per mos after promotions end – which will save about $30. Of course, now that I’ve cancelled with Charter, they keep calling me and offering lower rates. I told them I’d tried to work with them first, but it is too late now.

  10. Nina says

    Here is an idea for you. A few months ago we faced the very the same dilemma. So not only did we drop the cable portion but also our landline to only keep the internet portion. We now watch Hulu which is free -unless you opt to sign up for Hulu plus. Our internet cost $50 a month and we still watch our favorite shows on Hulu.

  11. Gwen says

    No offense, but are you sure it only goes down $10? Usually, the cable/internet are bundled and you get $10 off of the internet. If you don’t bundle, you pay full price for internet, which is usually 40-50. We had internet and basic cable (12 channels, OTA channels and some other HD channels) that cost $12 and our total bill was $55. It would be $90 if we had expanded basic (with no digital channels). It’s at $120 with the digital and 2 premium channels plus internet.

    If you don’t feel like dealing with an antennae for the local channels, it might be worth the $10 or so a month and that would basically cost the amount of the total bundle and save on the internet.

    • Chris says

      Our Cable and Internet are Bundled together and we pay 79.44 a month. When I called to drop the cable, the bill would only drop $10 a month….

    • Merry Jo says

      Our cable and Internet are bundled together, but if we drop our cable (we just have basic cable), our bill would actually go UP. True story. We’d love to have just Internet, but since it’s cheaper to have it with cable, that’s what we’re doing for now. Oh, and Comcast has a monopoly where we live, so there are no other options for us. :(

      • Amy says

        Same problem as Merry Jo & Chris; if we drop cable we still have to pay about the same amount. Once it would go down by about $10- later I called in and would have gone up by $10… I think they must make money off having a certain amount of people subscribed to collect $$ off stations like the food network, Disney channel etc. And so cable is like practically free.

        I’d love to switch but Verizon won’t cover our apartment building and I think Comcast must have a deal or something with our complex because whenever I call other companies no one else will install here. Except Satellite- and they want a huge deposit.

      • Susan says

        We also have COMCAST and tried to get our price down an affordable rate as we are “seniors” and the only income we have is SSD, which does not meet all expenses. Our apartment complex allows only COMCAST, so we are STUCK, and, COMCAST did give us a slightly lower monthly rate, but like I said, slightly, which is good, but still not good enough. If it comes down to my prescriptions or the cable, the cable goes. I hate that because my husband’s entertainment is TV and reading. Period. He is the one who is disabled… I believe the reps at COMCAST are paid based on what they sell, or keeping current customers, and it seems these prices can be different prices for different tenants! They just disgust me because I feel they take advantage. I know the reps must make money, so I would say they do what they need to do. I had asked about the price staying the same and she said yes, for a 2 year minimum UNLESS “COMCAST, the major company decided differently. I know they had done that to us before, yet when I wanted changes, they said no, because we had a contract. I guess when you are in the money, you can step on the little guy all you want with no repercussions!

  12. C says

    Try calling your cable company. We had basic internet before through our cable company (only one option where we live) and it kept going up every year. Then we added cable to watch the Olympics last year and got a good deal through “bundling”. Once that offer was over, we called the cable company, dropped the cable, and asked for a better price for just internet (we mentioned how much the price had been raised every year). They gave us a great deal for the next year! It doesn’t hurt to call and ask.

  13. Jessica W says

    Hi Chris ,

    You just have to decide if saving $120 a year is worth it or if you could just opt for $36.

    I have not had cable in over a decade. We had Netflix for awhile until they split their services and didn’t offer as many shows that we watch. Once upon a time all shows were free on Hulu so we used that for awhile. When it started to cost something we stopped. We bought an antenna for the TV we get all the local channels, This TV, CW and WHGT (PBS, CREATE, and MHZ)
    we watch other shows online. If we miss something we miss it, if we really have to see it we watch it online before the episode expires. Netflix has a 30 day free membership I’d say try it after the 30 days with an antenna and see if it is worth it. And see how much the quality of life has changed by watching less TV. Though it is possible to still watch a lot of TV without any of the services and just using the Networks site to stream shows.

    ALso I have recently heard about the Roku, not sure how great it is but I’ve seen it mentioned on 2 sites now. If u feel u must have something I’d say look into this. but I’d just save the $120 a year and learn contentment with what is accessible for free.

  14. Paula says

    Did you ask if that is the cheapest internet? With our cable internet I signed up for a contract and internet was cheaper this way. I we ever needed to get out of the contract it was not too expensive and if we moved and the cable company was not in the new area we would not have any cancellation fees. These were questions I asked before signing a contract for my cable internet.

  15. says

    Switch companies and make a lot of phone calls! In our area, there is one cable/internet company that pretty much has a monopoly over the area (Bright House). I made a few phone calls to competitors in nearby areas. One major company (Time Warner) offered me a much lower price for internet only (I’m talking $30/month cheaper!), and while they didn’t provide service to my area, they did have a contract with Bright House to service their customers in areas they couldn’t service. Through this round-a-bout method, we were able to get Time Warner prices through Bright House. You could also just call competitors and then call the company you’re with and see if they’ll match the competitor prices! Good luck!

  16. lynn says

    You could buy a wireless router. My parents have one through Verizon. You buy with a flat rate and then don’t have to pay anything there after. Walmart has a bunch of different ones on their website of varying prices. That might be an option.

    • says

      The wireless router doesn’t get you internet, just how you use it after it comes into your house. It is much cheaper to own your router though than to rent one through your internet service provider.

    • megan m says

      Do you mean a wireless mobile hotspot? I have one through US Cellular. It runs off cell towers; I can hook 4 computers to it at once; I can take it with me when we travel; and 2G / month is $19.95. We live in an extremely rural area where there are still rotary phones and satellite tv can’t always get a signal but this has been great even for watching videos.

  17. says

    Our Time Warner Road Runner (internet only) is $43 a month. At one point it did jump to $48 and I called and ask what was up. The guy said we were notified several months ago via a flier, and I said, “yeah, likely got dumped at junk mail before it came it house if it was a single page glossy flier.” Within a month, our bill had dropped back to the $43. Its always worth calling and talking to them.

    Might be worth looking at canceling it all and restarting with just internet. It may be that dropping cable drops only $10, but if you started clean just internet will be less.

    • says

      We, also, have a roku that we use to stream amazon prime. I love it. We used it with netflix before, and you can set it up to get youtube also, and a slew of other channels (some you pay for, some are free).

  18. says

    We have Roadrunner Lite through Time Warner. It is slower than the standard high speed but only $30. However, if we were to drop Dish and do Netflix or Hulu or something, it would be best to go back to the $50/month one as videos are slow on the Lite.

  19. Sandy says

    We’re in the same boat as Chris. I just got my internet and phone bill 15 minutes ago. Our “introductory 1 year rate” just expired, taking my $60 monthly bill to $89. I called to ask the price if I dropped my home phone (and used a cell phone instead) and they said the rate would only drop $10/month. Why? “The bundled option entitles you to a discount that is not available on individual services.” Baloney. This is Comcast in Maryland. They are the only provider that services my neighborhood and they know I have no choice. It’s pathetic.

  20. LK says

    We have not had pay TV for over 2 years now (we get great local channels in digital with an antenna, and for free!). Our internet is through the phone company (century link in our area) and it is 19.95 a month for their slowest fiber optic. It is plenty fast for us, and we stream video to a Roku and use Amazon Prime, etc. It is pretty reasonable and the total for phone and internet is maybe 60$, even after gobs of taxes and fees.

  21. Lisa says

    If they are gouging you on an internet only plan it is time to find another company. In my area there were 2 cable companies providing service to my address. I called them both to find the lowest plans, and I compared that to information I found online. I had no trouble getting prices, which are based on download speeds around here, but you might have to be persistent with your companies. The lowest price was $19.95/month, but I chose a better plan for faster internet. For a year I will pay $34.95/month, when it goes up to $54.95. At that time I will look for another deal and switch providers if I have to. I’ve done this for years.

    Don’t rule out DSL, especially if there is only one cable company in your area. It’s not as fast as cable internet, but imho (having used both) it’s worth sending a message to the cable companies that they cannot expect customer loyalty if they don’t offer decent customer service. Research all your options (around here you can almost always find a special price that is good for a year, at least with cable), then call your current company and let them know if they can’t at least match the best deal you found, you’ll take your business elsewhere.

    If you really are stuck with just one cable company and DSL is not an option, I suggest calling your company and asking them to give you a better deal than $10 savings. This can be more effective if you have been with them for a while, or if you are willing to cut off cable entirely if they refuse to do any better. Let them know that you can get free internet at your local library (or wherever). If the first person you talk to won’t do it, ask to speak to their supervisor and keep moving up the chain. You might even bluff if you’re not willing to cut it off entirely. If they won’t give you a better deal and you’ve gone as high up the chain as you can go, order a service cutoff. Schedule it 3 or 4 weeks out and find contact info for someone high up in the company. Write a scathing letter about their lack of customer service. If you don’t hear anything soon enough, you can call back and cancel the cutoff if you really don’t want to turn it off. Good luck!

  22. Sarah N says

    I have it bundled with the landline (total for $67 a month). And I do not have cable and only one prepaid cell phone.

  23. Cris says

    We pay $20 a month for just internet thru Clear. We were paying 30 but we had some issues and when we called to solve them they ended up dropping it to 20 but we supposedly got a slower kind, still it’s fast!

  24. Nawar says

    There is free lunch school program so if you have kids and they have that in school and you are low income you can get internet for $9.95/month from comcast we have that in Utah

  25. Jessica says

    We have Clear for internet and that runs 49.99 a month including taxes with no contract. It isn’t as fast as some of the other companies, but I haven’t had any problems with it. And then we have Netflix and an antenna on the TV, so we get a few stations. You do have to purchase the modem through Clear which ran us $50, but that was our only “surprise” expense with them.

  26. Angela says

    We tried Netflix and were not impressed with selection at all. You would be better to
    get the most basic cable/internet, use the library and redbox for movies.

  27. TwinMamaTeb says

    I was just in the same boat- paying way too much for services I didnt need and could no longer afford . Because of our contract, I can’t cancel everything. I told the CS rep my plight (I cant afford it all!), so we dropped the phone, lowered the cable to the lowest # of channels, and upped the internet a smidge for tv streaming. Apparenlty, keeping 2/3 services does not break my “bundle”. I have verizon, and my bill went from $120 to $53. My rep was amazing…even called me a week later bc she found another deal she could apply & save me even more.

    I have the big HD TV, and couldn’t be happier with Amazon Prime and a Roku (which goes on sale on amazon, keep your eyes peeled). Plenty, plenty! of stuff for me, husband, and my 4 yr old twins to watch. We utilize the library for DVDs as well.

  28. Diane says

    Here’s what I do and have done for four years now. I have a good laptop with HDMI and of course my tv also has HDMI. I use Netflix and Hulu (not Plus) as well as the tv station’s own websites to watch tv shows. There is an excellent website, projectfreetv.com, which has downloaded (and safe/virus free) tv shows, including HBO and Showtime (all seasons mostly) as well as movies. There is no subscription price for this site. My family and I divide up our high speed internet costs which is $60 a month, so my cost for all this is only $20 for the Internet and $7.99 for Netflix. It’s worked splendidly!

  29. Meg says

    We use AT&T internet (only) service, which has gone up to $46 per month now.
    We watch free stuff online and from the library, with occasional rentals from Amazon or Redbox.
    Our home phone is a magicJack , which plugs into our computer and operates through the internet for about $30 per YEAR and gives us free long-distance calling nationwide. We also use magicJack’s cheap international calling service for overseas calls.
    DSL can sometimes go out, so it’s good to have cell phones for backup, which many people have anyway.

  30. Meghan Macur says

    We use Century Link. Occasionally they advertise a deal for $14.95 a month if you are a new customer. After that special ended for us, we haggled them down from their regular $40/mo to $20. Not too shabby. It seems like you can always find a better than advertised deal if you talk to the right people–we got our deal after talking to three different people, working our way up the company ladder. They want your business!

  31. says

    a family member who lived on a mountain in North Carolina and could only get dial-up connection for internet switched to a cellphone connection through Verizon. I can’t remember the word for it, but you basically get a smartphone and use that connection for your computer connection. It was faster than their dial up and cheaper. I think they got a smartphone just for that purpose (didn’t use that smartphone for travel and calls) and canceled their internet. Just something to look into.

  32. Krista says

    Over a month ago we dropped our package that included: home phone, internet, security, and cable. It was costing us $165.00 a month. I still needed a home phone because there are things I have to fax every month so I got the Magic Jack. We installed a antenna for cable and we use Clear Internet. So far so good and I LOVE not paying that bill every month!

  33. Amanda says

    My husband and I decided to go with a non DSL – as with other postings we were worried about the slowness….but it didn’t make much of a difference. We had AT&Ts lowest plan, but since moving I will probably have to see what Comcast’s lowest speed/bill will be. Two years ago we started looking for other ways to save without dropping every luxury – like cable and I found out about ROKU. This is a device that works wireless with internet and plugs into your HDMI input on your TV (flat screens). This device has been out for some time and apple has now copied the technology. I paid $50 for the box with remote and it stream HUNDREDS of channels for FREE. I also pay netflix $7.99 a month for streaming with my roku and I will probably resume Glenn Beck TV (The Blaze) for $9.99 when I get a chance. Some channels are paid, but most are free. But even with Hulu Plus at another $9.99 a month….this is a cheaper cable bill and I can choose to back off on a channel if I need to for a while to save even more.

    We also bought Rabbit Ears for the newer TV and picked up 15 local channels for FREE!

    Oh, and my parents recently bought UMA(pronounced ooohma) for phone service….also works wirelessly with your internet provider. I think they paid $180 initially for the box BUT they now pay $15 a month for UNLIMITED home phone, long distance, voice mail and caller ID for LIFE!! And the signal is clear. (We tried vonage in our area but there were disputes with internet providers like Clearwire because it is also wireless.)

    And if you move…just make sure you have internet there. You own ROKU once you buy it and you own UMA (with your phone number)!!!

    Hope this helps. There are some really great options out there.

  34. Audrey says

    Can you call and haggle? We’ve had Comcast for 7 years (we have nothing else available where we live) and they do 6 month or 1 year promotions. After each promotion ends, we get a monstrous bill, I call and ask if they have anything cheaper, they give me something $5 cheaper, I say that’s still too.expensive, they keep going down until it is at a reasonable price. This most recent time, I called and asked if they had any customer loyalty promotions, and they cut my bill in half for the next year. Sometimes to avoid the drawn-out haggling process I will give them a dollar amount and say “My internet budget is $50, I have to come out under that, even after tax” and they are always able to work with me. It might be worth calling and asking if they have any customer loyalty promotions, since you are a loyal customer!

  35. Kristine says

    What about DSL? It’s our only option, and the best speed is only 3 mbps, but we can surf the internet and stream videos. Not in HD, but we only pay $30 a month for our service.

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