Who Has the Cheapest Wi-Fi in My Area?

wifi signal spans across a birds eye view of a city

Internet access has become essential for working, learning, communicating with friends and staying entertained. However, there’s no need to pay too much for it. You may wonder who has the cheapest W-Fi in your area, even if you’ve been with your current provider for a while. 

Maybe you’re not happy with your monthly bill and have heard from friends who say they pay much less for similar service. Alternatively, you might realize it’s time to change to a new provider and want to ensure you get reasonable rates. Here’s how to determine which factors affect whether you have the cheapest Wi-Fi and how to get the best prices.  

Who Has the Cheapest Wi-Fi in My Area? These Factors Matter 

Getting the cheapest Wi-Fi where you live depends on several variables. Not all are within your control. For example, a new provider that enters the market might offer deep discounts on service to lure people from elsewhere.

Bundling your telephone or TV services with the same provider as your Wi-Fi could result in overall lower prices. Similarly, many companies offer bundled packages to specific groups, such as college students.

Where you live can impact Wi-Fi pricing, too. A good starting point is to check out a broadband map and explore which providers serve your area. If your community has several internet services companies, you can research the prices and pick the cheapest option. That’s not possible if you live in a rural community with only one provider or have other complications that make it difficult for you to get online. 

There’s often a tradeoff between provider availability and coverage, too. You can become a Spectrum subscriber while living in any one of 41 states where the company operates. However, it only offers 33% nationwide coverage. EarthLink has 63% national coverage, or the highest of the leading providers. Its service area only covers three-dozen states, though. 

Your relationship with the company could help you get the cheapest Wi-Fi in your area. Perhaps you’ve been with one provider for a decade but are considering switching. A representative might detail a special deal to get you to change your mind.

Who Has the Cheapest Wi-Fi in My Area? An East Coast vs. West Coast Comparison

Maybe the reason why you’re looking for cheap Wi-Fi is that you’re moving to a new area. That situation could change your internet bill, but the difference may not be as massive as you think. 

Let’s ook at the Wi-Fi prices in Charlottesville, Virginia, and San Diego, California, as examples. Xfinity From Comcast is one of the cheapest Wi-Fi options in Charlottesville, with prices starting at $29.99 per month. That’s the same starting price for Cox customers living in San Diego. However, there’s some fluctuation in these prices. A different source showed that Charlottesville internet prices from Xfinity start at $49.

Keep in mind that how much you pay impacts your typical speeds, too. Fortunately, many providers have tools that let you enter specifics like how many devices in your home need to use the Wi-Fi network and how you usually use the internet. It’s then easier to balance your non-pricing needs with cost and strike a good balance between the two. 

Regardless of where you live, pay attention to the fine print before signing up for whatever seems like the cheapest Wi-Fi. Many providers attract customers with low but limited-time prices. That means your low internet bill might go up after a year or two. 

State and Federal Programs May Provide Affordable Internet

There are also state-specific programs for qualifying low-income individuals. These initiatives are often linked to the area’s education system. 

For example, four major internet providers in Michigan offer some of the cheapest Wi-Fi you’ll find, as long as you meet the eligibility requirements. Some plans are as low as $5 per month. If a continual struggle to afford internet is a primary reason you want to find it at prices as low as possible, spend time learning what your state offers. 

At the national level, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has a program associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and related financial hardships. The Emergency Broadband Act gave qualifying households up to $50 off their Wi-Fi bills per month. 

However, this program will transition to the long-term Affordable Connectivity Program. Officials are still working out the details. If you think you might meet the requirements, follow the developments as they unfold. 

Other Avenues for Getting Cheap Wi-Fi

Researching the providers and plans in your area and comparing their prices is an ideal strategy for getting the best rates. However, you don’t have to deal with the traditional internet service providers to get Wi-Fi. 

One alternative is to buy a mobile hotspot. It’s a portable device that lets you connect to the internet as long as the gadget is within range of your computer or tablet. Some hotspots also work internationally, which is ideal for frequent travelers. 

If your smartphone has a mobile data plan, consider using the internet hotspot or tethering feature to get a Wi-Fi connection. Be careful, though. Doing that too often could violate your mobile data provider’s terms or result in overage fees. 

The internet is full of interactive maps that show you the closest free Wi-Fi locations. Using one might mean going into a coffee shop and buying a beverage or going into a train or bus station. However, this method could work in a pinch. 

Start Searching for the Cheapest Wi-Fi in Your Area

You now know several ways to get the cheapest Wi-Fi where you live. Begin applying these strategies the next time you’re shopping for internet access. That way, you can greatly reduce the chances of paying too much.