Areas in the U.S. With the Cheapest Internet
The internet is a central part of modern life no matter where you go. As of 2020, 85.8% of U.S. residents had internet access, but not everyone pays the same for it. The areas in the U.S. with the cheapest internet pay significantly less than others.
How much you pay for your internet connection is a crucial consideration. Many people need the internet for work, not to mention the various entertainment services that rely on it. Since prices can vary so widely, it helps to know who has the cheapest connections.
Defining “Cheapest Internet”
Before you determine the areas with the cheapest internet, you need to define what that means. While the most obvious factor to measure may be monthly bills, that can be misleading. The ratio between price and speed changes between plans and locations, so a higher monthly bill often means more data per dollar.
A more practical way to determine internet affordability is to account for speed. Since internet service providers (ISPs) measure speed in Mbps, looking at price per Mbps is the best way to address it. That way, you see what you get for what you pay.
Many areas with higher monthly bills have lower prices per Mbps. So while you’ll pay more each month in these locations, you’ll get a better deal.
Average Internet Costs in the U.S.
Another step you have to take before determining the cheapest internet areas in the U.S. is finding the average. Seeing how much one Mbps costs in each state won’t do you much good if you don’t have a baseline. So let’s look at how much an internet connection costs on average.
According to HighSpeedInternet.com’s State of the Internet in 2020 report, U.S. users pay $3.91 per Mbps. The average download speed is 42.86 Mbps, and people report spending $80 a month on internet bills on average. The report also reveals that most people aren’t satisfied with these figures.
More than half of the internet users in the country think their internet service is overpriced. Most users also say that paying between $20 and $50 a month, far less than the average, would be fair. With all this in mind, let’s take a look at the cheapest internet areas in the U.S.
By far, the area in the U.S. with the cheapest internet is the Northeast. Almost all of the states in this region fall below the national average, including six of the top 10 cheapest areas. Topping this list is Rhode Island, with a staggeringly low $0.63 per Mbps.
The only other area with prices below $1 is Washington, D.C., where it costs $0.84 per Mbps. The Northeast is also home to the third-cheapest area, Massachusetts, at $1.13 per Mbps. Other notably inexpensive states include New York ($1.72/Mbps), Maryland ($1.99/Mbps), and Connecticut ($2.06/Mbps).
These figures may be surprising at first. All of the areas listed here are in the top 10 most expensive states to live in. Speed is the determining factor here. Since the Northeast, especially in more urban areas, has a lot of modern technological infrastructure, users typically get better connections for their money.
Another area with some of the cheapest internet in the U.S. is the South. While plans aren’t quite as affordable as the Northeast and costs aren’t as consistent, several of these states are among the cheapest. Leading the region is Georgia, with $1.65 per Mbps, making it the fourth-cheapest state for internet.
Kentucky isn’t far behind, with $2 per Mbps, and Texas is also close at $2.29 per Mbps. While the South is more rural than some other areas, it’s not as sparse as the Great Plains or Northwest. As a result, more people have broadband access in the South, leading to more infrastructure, higher speeds, and lower costs per Mbps.
There are a few outliers in this region. North Carolina and Alabama, for example, are the eighth and ninth most-expensive states for internet access, respectively.
Other Areas in the U.S. With the Cheapest Internet
Not all of the areas in the U.S. with the cheapest internet are close together. California embodies this idea. All of its bordering states have above-average internet prices, but it’s the sixth-cheapest state. Internet connections in California cost just $1.86 per Mbps on average.
Oklahoma and Kansas make up another isolated pocket of cheap internet. Connections there cost an average of $2.37 and $2.88 per Mbps, respectively. All of their surrounding states, apart from Texas, have higher-than-average prices.
Internet prices can vary within states as well. More rural parts of a state will have less infrastructure and fewer ISPs operating in the area. As a result, speeds and competition will be lower, leading to higher relative costs.
The Cheapest U.S. Internet vs. the Rest of the World
Now you know about the areas with the cheapest internet in the U.S. But what about elsewhere? How do the States stack up against the rest of the world? In general, the cheapest areas in the U.S. are still affordable on a global scale, but the U.S. as a whole falls in the middle.
New America’s Cost of Connectivity Report includes an overview of cost per advertised Mbps across the world. Keep in mind that these numbers will seem much lower than the others in this guide, since advertised speeds rarely reflect reality. For example, by this metric, U.S. consumers pay just $0.14 per advertised Mbps on average.
That figure is $0.04 below the average for North America and $0.05 below Europe. That would seem to make the U.S. broadly affordable. However, Asia, the most populous continent, has an average price of just $0.09 per advertised Mbps. By this metric, most people in the world pay far less per Mbps than U.S. users.
Some areas in the U.S. are still cheap, even compared to Asia. For example, Lafayette, Louisiana, boasts a $0.07 per advertised Mbps average, which is equal to Seoul, South Korea. Chattanooga, Tennessee, falls right behind it, being cheaper than prominent Asian cities like Tokyo and Hong Kong.
Get the Most Affordable Internet You Can
The most affordable internet in the U.S. isn’t always where you’d expect it. Many areas with higher monthly costs will have lower costs per Mbps, thanks to faster speeds. No matter what part of the country you’re in, though, you should be able to find an ISP that doesn’t cost too much and provides the right kind of service.