Whether you want to stream TV and movies online, or just check email and browse Facebook, nothing is more frustrating than waiting for a page to load.
Especially if it’s right after you’ve paid your internet service provider somewhere in the ball park of $47/month (source) for internet.
Cheap, fast internet is hard to come by. Cable companies have a stranglehold on the market, and there are trade-offs you’ll have to make if you want to get around them.
There are however, a few options left to those who still want to pursue fast, but relatively cheap internet.
Option #1: Use Your Mobile Phone Plan
My wife and I currently employ this option. I personally love it and I legitimately think this is the best option.
While it’s certainly not lightning speed, it’s plenty fast – even at one signal bar. It’s definitely faster than my previous $60/month internet plan from Comcast. Here’s a speed test to prove it…
Besides the speed, it mainly means that I don’t have an internet or cable bill. I just have a (somewhat) reasonable phone bill at around $120/month after taxes and fees.
That said, however, you’ll need to be willing to give up a few freedoms that broadband cable companies give you.
First, you’ll likely have to budget your internet data usage. Our T-Mobile plan comes with unlimited data for phone usage. If I want to tether my laptop or iPad to my phone, I get 5gb of tethered data per phone.
In other words, I can watch unlimited TV shows and movies on my phone, but if I want to use my laptop or TV, I can only watch about the equivalent of 6 hours of HD content per month (source: USCellular Data Estimator). I know that sounds pretty limiting for someone who writes and edits a site dedicated to TV. But we’ve found it’s actually very sufficient for our needs. If we do want the big screen experience, we mostly watch DVDs rented on RedBox.
Second, you’re limited by the phone’s connectivity. So if you know that you get bad service in your own home for example, you probably won’t be able to use the internet as often as you’d like or at all.
Our main reasoning behind going with our phone plan is our general hatred of Comcast which is the only reliable internet provider in our area. They have screwed us out of so much money in the past, that we have committed never to deal with them again.
Option #2: Get a Separate 4G Home Internet Hotspot
This option isn’t usually that much better than option #1 unless you can offset the cost with a really cheap prepaid cell phone. That said, if you can live with a cheap dumb phone, this option might be worth the trouble.
Getting a separate home internet hotspot is mostly a matter of choosing the best deal on home internet from one of the Big Four telecom companies: Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, or Sprint. In most cases, you should be able to get the speeds you need to stream your shows. Here’s a great article on the topic by Tom’s Hardware.
According to that article, most of what you need to do is research what service providers have towers in your area and then shop around for the best prices.
FreedomPop is the one alternative in this category to the comparatively more expensive telecom plans. It’s a service that provides low cost internet at reasonable speeds but limits the amount of data you can use per month. If you can make some of the sacrifices I mentioned above in option #1, check to see if FreedomPop has a signal around your house. They might be worth it.
Option #3: Keep your Cable Internet but Cancel Cable TV
Your cable provider likely still provides the fastest internet available because they provide what is called broadband. If you absolutely have to have the fastest internet possible, this is really your only option.
I currently don’t know of any cable company out there who won’t charge you less when you eliminate TV service. If it seems reasonable, stick with them and just keep your internet but cancel TV. But if you’ve ever dealt with a cable company on the phone, you’ll know that they’ll try everything in their power to make you pay more than you need to.
There are all kinds of call scripts on the internet that will give you line-by-line the things you need to say to negotiate your bill down to the absolute lowest amount.
Keep in mind that all you really need is 3mbps to stream TV. Don’t let your cable company give you any lines about how you need at least 25mbps to stream video online. It’s not true.
You will however, need to buy their 10mbps option in order to get a minimum of 3mbps. What they really mean by 10mbps is that it is the absolute top speed you can expect. When I bought the 10mbps option with Comcast, it really averaged around 3 mbps.
However you want to negotiate for that is up to you. But whatever the case, buying a 10mbps package of JUST internet should be significantly cheaper than their special TV, Phone and Internet packages.
Have you found a better option for internet? Please let me know in the comments…