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How to get Affordable Home Internet

How to get Affordable Home Internet
Dec 15 2020
HubSpot Video

Home internet is now an essential in everyone's lives. But the pricing plans and services can be confusing. Are you paying too much? Do you have the right service? We’d like to help you understand Internet plans, navigate your bill, and learn how to negotiate a better deal, if necessary. 

How fast is your internet?

Internet speed is tested in two directions: download speeds and upload speeds. This measures how many Megabits per second (Mbps) can travel to and from your home. 

We spend much of our time online downloading information, viewing websites, sending messages, listening to music and watching movies. We upload information when we send messages, edit cloud documents, or store files. If you’re on a video call, you’re using both at the same time! MANY Internet plans are asymmetric and you pay for a faster download speed and a much slower upload speed.

You can click here to run a Google Speed Test to see your current speeds

What internet speed do you need?


 connected devices

Basic Internet Service Provider, or  ISP, plans usually begin with advertised speeds of 25Mbs down and 20Mbps up. This is usually the TOP speeds, and if you run speed tests both will often be slower. This plan can be good for a small household that only has one to three active Internet users at a time. Zoom suggests that the necessary Internet speed for meetings is just 3.0Mbps (up & down) but this seems much lower than what you really need for optimal performance.  


Your Internet speeds will vary at different times for different reasons. Sometimes it’s not your ISP causing the problem. The site that you're visiting could be slow. Most residential plans have you share your Internet line with your apartment and/or block. This means that your neighbors’ Internet use can affect the quality of your Internet.  It could also be your location (proximity to the servers, or how close you are to the router in the house). Sometimes your Internet Service Provider (ISP) will place data caps on your account. The network can be unstable for many reasons too; it can be fine for hours and then drop out for moments or minutes. 

Are you paying too much?

If your family qualifies for programs like the National School Lunch Program, housing assistance, Medicaid, SNAP, SSI or others, you may be eligible for the Internet Essentials program from Comcast. If you live in specific areas of Oakland, you may be able to take advantage of the Oakland Free WiFi project. OAK WiFi already has live hotspots throughout the City; this initiative will greatly expand the coverage to parts of West Oakland, Downtown Oakland, and East Oakland along the International Blvd corridor to the San Leandro border. 

If you’re paying more than $100 a month for your Internet plan, you’re paying too much. 

Use BroadbandNow.com and your ZIP Code to find out current prices and the best ISPs available in your area. (Skip the top row (ads) and scroll to the list.) We also have a chart below with current prices as of December, 2020. 

Many ISPs will give you a good price for your first year. This is usually a part of a contract that will penalize you if you leave it early.  The prices can increase after the year is up. It’s a good practice to fight that increase by negotiating with your ISP. You can save a lot of money by asking to keep the same rate, or by letting them know you can switch to their competitor. 

Here’s a chart for 3 top ISPs in the East Bay.*





25 Mbps



50 Mbps




100 Mbps




200 Mbps



300 Mbps




400 Mbps



600 Mbps



1000 Mbps




Fiber connection where available*


*Please note the rates listed were advertised as of December 2020. This info is only provided for informative purposes and is not an advertisement or endorsement. 

Local Internet Service Providers and the Tech they use

AT&T - VDSL/ Fiber 

Sonic - VDSL /Fiber 

Comcast /XFINITY - Coax 

How to Negotiate with your Internet Service Provider 

Begin by checking your bill to see if you’re in a contract. Your bill generally goes up when the contract is up. If you ARE under contract and your service isn't cutting it, there's no reason why you can't try and make a change. The worst thing they can say is “no.” 

negotiating cartoon

If your contract is up, take a look at the other ISP's in your area. There might be someone offering faster Internet for less.  Pay attention to both download and upload speeds.  

If your contract is up and you're going to stay with your ISP, that's where things can get tricky. It’s possible that if you call and say “My bill is too high,” they won't do much. The first representative will try to convince you that this is how much things cost. Don't stand for it! Tell them you want to cancel your account, and you can quote another ISP’s plan as your alternative. (You're not going to really cancel. You can stop the process at any time.) The first representative will send you to a retention representative. This new rep’s job is to try and keep you as a customer. The retention representative will likely apply a promotion to your account that will reduce your bill. Most promotional rates are at least similar to your last contract rate.  

Read how to improve your home internet connection and understand internet technology terminology. 

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