Best Internet for Seniors in 2020
In recent years, seniors have become more tech-savvy than ever. Approximately 73 percent of adults aged 65 and older use the internet regularly.1 As a matter of fact, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we use the internet; many seniors have turned to technology to stay connected to loved ones, safely shop from home and attend virtual medical appointments. As older adults embrace the internet and shatter the stereotype of being bad with technology, they may start to wonder which internet provider offers the best price, speed and reliability. If you’re in that boat, this guide tells you everything there is to know about the best internet for seniors in 2020!
How Seniors Can Stay Safe on the Internet
If you’re new to the internet, you’ll want to take some precautions. It’s been reported that seniors lose $2.9 billion annually from financial scams.2 Like over the phone or through the mail, financial scams and identity theft can happen online, too. Here are some tips to help seniors stay alert and protected while using the internet:
- Make sure you use secure passwords that include numbers, uppercase and lowercase letters and special characters. Keep your passwords stored in a safe place where you can access if needed.
- If possible, set up two-factor authentication for your online accounts. This ensures only you have access to unique access codes that are sent to your phone.
- If you are using social media, set your account to private. Simply go to privacy settings and change it from public to private. Also, take a moment to adjust your notifications, grant permission to certain people who can send you messages and so on.
- Avoid opening suspicious emails or clicking on unknown links. If something looks unfamiliar, it’s most likely a scam.
- If you fall victim to an internet scam, it is important to report the crime to your local police and/or your local adult protective services3. Inform someone you trust, like a close friend or an adult child.
What to Consider When Selecting an Internet Provider
With so many offerings out there, pinning down the best internet provider isn’t easy. For seniors looking to change providers or get connected for the first time, there are some crucial factors to keep in mind when weighing your options.
- Usage: Consider how many individuals in your household will be using the internet. If several of you will be using it simultaneously and streaming videos in HD, make sure your provider has adequate bandwidth.
- Budget: Internet can cost as low as $5 a month and as high as $300 a month depending on which provider and broadband type you choose. Establish a budget ahead of time to help select the right provider.
- Reliability: Some providers have more outages than others. Make sure the provider you select has a reliable connection.
- Speed: Streaming HD videos and online gaming requires higher speeds than simply checking emails and browsing the web. Usually, 25-100 Mbps is adequate for the average user.
- Contracts: Sometimes, you can get a better monthly service rate if you sign a 1-2 year contract. If you don’t plan on living in your current residence for long, you may want to consider a no-contract provider.
- Bundles: For additional savings, some providers offer TV and phone services which you can bundle with your internet. You save more money through bundling than purchasing a standalone internet plan. Plus, you may be able to receive free upgrades to your services.
Everything to Know About Internet Connections
Since the worldwide web’s debut in the early ’90s4, the internet has advanced significantly, so much so that it’s sometimes hard to keep up! Today, there are four main broadband types used to provide internet service. “Broadband” is just a fancy term that refers to a constant high-speed internet connection that is faster than a dial-up connection.
Cable – By using existing coaxial TV cables, cable providers connect users with fast and reliable internet access. It is one of the most common broadband technologies used in the U.S. Speeds are typically faster than DSL internet.
DSL – Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) uses existing phone lines to connect users to the internet. Though not as fast as other broadband types, it offers excellent coverage. If you’re looking for basic internet and affordable prices to match, DSL is the way to go.
Fiber – Fiber-optic is the gold standard of the internet and is 10 times faster than cable internet, with speeds reaching 1,000 Mbps. Most seniors won’t need the performance and speed level of fiber internet. Since fiber internet is relatively new, it is only available in select areas.
Satellite – Best for seniors who live in rural areas and do not have access to any of the three options listed above, satellite internet is often slower with speeds between 25 to 35 Mbps. Most providers employ strict monthly data restrictions. Monthly rates aren’t the most budget-friendly and plans come with expensive installation fees.
Best Internet Providers for Seniors in 2020
Using the metrics listed above, we’ve narrowed down the best five internet providers for seniors. Whether you’re living on a fixed income, in a rural setting or looking for a contract-free provider, we’ve done the heavy lifting so you can easily select the provider that fits your needs.
|Internet Provider||AT&T Internet||Optimum by Altice||HughesNet||CenturyLink||Xfinity|
|Speed||5-1,000 Mbps||300-940 Mbps||25 Mbps||20-940 Mbps||15-2,000 Mbps|
|Installation Fee||Up to $99, waived when you bundle||$99-$149, waived when you order 300 Mbps plan online||$99 if you lease your equipment||Varies, but can be up to $125||$89.99|
|Data Cap||150 GB per month, 1TB per month, or unlimited data||Unlimited data||10-50 GB per month||1024 GB per month or unlimited data||1 TB per month or unlimited data|
|Contract||1-2 year contract or no contract for select plans||No contract||2 year contract||No contract||1-2 year contract|
|Price||Starting at $5 a month||Starting at $39.99 a month||Starting at $59.99 a month*||Starting at $49 a month*||Starting at $39.99 a month*|
|Connection Type||DSL, Fiber, or Fixed Wireless||Cable or Fiber||Satellite||DSL or Fiber||Cable or Fiber|
|Pro||Affordable for seniors on a fixed income||Price for Life guarantee on its 400 Mbps internet option or when you upgrade to 1 Gig||Coverage available even in remote areas||Price for Life so your service cost will not increase||Large variety of speeds and prices|
|Con||Must meet certain eligibility requirements||Limited availability||Slower connection and less data||No Price for Life on Fiber||Monthly rate increases after one year of service|
*Must enroll in paperless billing to receive this price.
AT&T Internet — Best Low-Cost Internet Provider
AT&T Internet has a designated program called AT&T Access which provides reliable internet to low-income households for just $10 per month or less. Otherwise, we like that AT&T’s plans are budget-friendly in general for new subscribers, with rates as low as $49.99 per month. Some plans include unlimited data while others have a 1 TB data cap.
What isn’t so great about AT&T is the contract, which ranges between 1-2 years, in order to qualify for promotional rates. After the promotional period, a contract is no longer required. Still, it feels like a test of loyalty so if you’re really set on AT&T, then by all means!
Optimum by Altice — Best No-Contract Internet Provider
Optimum by Altice offers contract-free plans so you can bow out if you need to without early termination fees. Paired with unlimited data, you’re getting the most out of the internet without restrictions. Their lowest cost plan offers adequate speed at just $40 a month.
While they offer cable and fiber internet plans, they have limited coverage. Optimum isn’t as popular as other internet providers like AT&T or Xfinity, so it might be hard to come by.
HughesNet — Best Rural Internet Provider
As the largest satellite provider in the U.S., HughesNet provides excellent coverage in remote areas with plans starting at $59.99 per month. When other internet providers are harder to reach where you live, you can always count on HughesNet to cover your internet needs.
That being said, satellite internet is pretty costly, especially when you add installation fees and equipment rental fees. Professional installation is required and costs $99 while renting the modem with Wi-Fi costs $14.99 per month. Contracts are also required, with a length of two years.
CenturyLink — Best Technical Support
With CenturyLink’s Internet Basics program, seniors can access internet training classes: a computer for $150 and broadband service for $10 per month. We also like that CenturyLink’s Price for Life applies to most of their plans except for their fiber plans. You don’t have to worry about price hikes in the long-run.
On that note, we would’ve liked their fiber plans to be a part of the Price for Life group. Fiber internet is already pricey, so keeping the same rate would help in saving money.
Xfinity — Best High-Speed Internet Provider
Xfinity, the largest cable internet provider in the U.S., offers internet speeds up to 2,000 Mbps. If you enjoy fast speeds, Xfinity might be able to check off that box for you. Starting at $39.99 a month, you can select from a variety of plans with the speed and price that accommodates your usage and budget.
Xfinity does require 1-2 year contracts, so again, if you’re not super committed, then it’s best to steer clear. Their higher-priced plans are also expensive, so we recommend only choosing plans with fast speeds if you feel like it’s worth it. For instance, if you live in a large household with multiple heavy streamers, fast speeds will be everyone’s best friend.
The Bottom Line
Older adults are using the internet more than ever before to stay connected, keep up with the latest news and shop online. If you’re a senior looking for a great deal or desire super fast internet speed, there are plenty of providers out there to choose from. While exploring the world wide web can be great, it is still critical to stay safe and protect your personal information.
Here’s a recap of what you need to know when shopping for the best internet for seniors in 2020:
- For affordable plans, look to providers like AT&T Internet who offer low prices paired with low speeds
- Keep your online accounts secure with complex passwords and two-factor authentication
- If you live in a small household with light internet users, you most likely won’t go over your data usage
- If you’re not looking for blazing fast speeds, avoid fiber internet plans as these tend to be more expensive
- Many providers offer contract-free options if you’re not too keen on signing the dotted line
While we’ve chosen a select few as the best internet providers for seniors, you might have better luck with local providers. Prices, speeds and data caps all vary based on your location, but with our trusted guide, you’ll be able to find the best internet plan for your needs.
What is the cheapest internet provider for seniors?
Access from AT&T offers plans starting at $5 per month. You must meet specific low-income eligibility requirements to receive service. Otherwise, Optimum by Altice and Xfinity offer plans as low as $39.99 per month with various download speeds.
Can veterans get a discount on the internet?
Many providers, including AT&T Internet, Verizon High Speed Internet and Xfinity, offer discounts for U.S. veterans. Ask your customer representative about a veteran discount at your time of purchase. You will need to provide proof of service such as a government-issued veteran ID in order to qualify for a discount.
Do internet providers offer a senior discount?
Most internet providers do not offer a senior discount. However, most providers do have a program for low-income families like A&T Internet’s Access. Since many seniors live on a fixed-income, you may qualify for these programs. You will need to provide proof of eligibility such as a government-issued ID or birth certificate in order to qualify for a discount.
How much do internet plans for seniors cost?
Monthly prices for internet plans range from $5 to $299.99. Pricing includes standalone internet plans and bundles. The monthly rate varies due to many factors, including connection type, speed and geographical location. For example, fiber internet plans, which have higher speeds, tend to be more expensive and are only available in certain regions.
- https://www.statista.com/statistics/266587/percentage-of-internet-users-by-age-groups-in-the-us/ ↩
- https://www.cnbc.com/2019/02/13/older-americans-lose-almost-3-billion-a-year-to-scams.html ↩
- http://www.napsa-now.org/get-help/help-in-your-area/ ↩
- https://webfoundation.org/about/vision/history-of-the-web/ ↩