The advertised price of your internet plan isn’t the whole story. Your bill can also include any local taxes, equipment rental fees, installation fees (on your first bill), and penalty charges for stuff like paying late or going over your data cap.
On top of that, you should know that most internet providers give new customers introductory rates—or discounted service for a set period of time (usually 12 months). That’s great, but after that time is up, your bill could go up without notice. Internet companies also tend to roll discounts for paperless billing or automatic payments into their advertised prices too—so if you don’t set those discounts up, you could end up paying $5–$10 more every month.
The amount of taxes and fees on your internet bill depends on where you live, and there’s really no way to wriggle out of paying these. You see taxes and fees on your bill because the government uses the money to fund things like the Federal Communication Commission’s Universal Service Fund, which helps promote phone and broadband access across the country.1
Hot tip: buy your own modem and router. If you rent a gateway from your provider, it can cost you up to $180 every year. Most providers let you use your own equipment and will even set it up for you during a professional install.
The benefits of having your own equipment include (beyond saving money) having more control over your home network, better security features, and taking your equipment with you if you change providers. In fact, owning your own equipment is a great way to save on internet when you move.
The downsides are few but noteworthy. Firstly, not all modems work with all internet connections. So if you’ve just signed a six-month lease and plan to move on after that, renting equipment might be the smarter option.
Secondly, your provider’s tech support probably won’t be as helpful if you run into issues with your own tech. If you rent a gateway and it dies, the company has to replace it. If your own equipment dies, it’s on you.