Broadband Pricing Changes: 2016 to 2022

Broadband Pricing Changes: 2016 to 2022

Prices for Ultra-High-Speed Plans Have Decreased by nearly $60 per Month

Written by May 6, 2022 | Published: February 7, 2022

As time goes on, it is typical to see technology become cheaper due to improvements in manufacturing and economies of scale. Examining pricing data from fifty national and regional providers, we’ve found that prices have decreased across all major download speeds (25Mbps up to 1Gbps+) and technologies (cable, fiber, DSL and fixed wireless). This study utilizes average pricing of broadband internet plans for 50 providers since 2016. See full methodology.

Key Findings

  • Prices have fallen since 2016, with the highest speed plans falling the most. When looking at the average price for internet in each speed bucket starting in the first quarter of 2016 compared to the fourth quarter of 2021:
    • The average price decreased by $8.80 or 14% for 25 – 99 Mbps.
    • The average price decreased by $32.35 or 33% for 100 – 199 Mbps.
    • The average price decreased by $34.39 or 35% for 200 – 499 Mbps.
    • The average price decreased by $59.22 or 42% for 500+ Mbps.
  • Fiber tends to be cheaper than cable for most high-speed plans, even as fiber is generally considered to be the most robust and highest quality type of wired internet connection.
  • Local prices are reflective of competition. Every speed type and technology type have plans of $70 somewhere in the U.S., depending on which alternatives are available. See our most recent report looking at affordability and access by state.

Pricing by “Speed Bucket”: 2016 to 2022

The following is a box and whisker plot which shows the price range of internet plans in each speed bucket recorded since 2016, excluding promotional prices. Most plans in each “speed bucket” (Mbps) fall into a narrow range.  The upper and lower limits of the box are the 75th and 25th percentiles, respectively.

Approximate Price Ranges per Speed Bucket

During the last five years, the average price of internet in each speed bucket has decreased (this data set includes all internet technologies and providers for a given three-month period).

Average Price for an Internet Technology

High-Speed Plans: Cable vs. Fiber

Although the FCC defines broadband internet speeds as 25 Mbps or higher, in reality many of the high-speed connections consumers enjoy today are capable of at least 200 Mbps. Only cable and fiber can offer these types of speeds in a wired connection. Despite cable having a considerable head start in terms of deployment, the data shows that fiber internet is consistently cheaper than cable (this data excludes temporary promotional pricing).

Here is a chart of plans between 200 and 499 Mbps from 2016 through 2021.

Average Price Comparison (200 - 499 Mbps)

And here is data on 500+ Mbps plans. Note that there are a few fixed wireless plans offered at these speeds in the U.S., which we have included on this table.

Average Price Comparison (500+ Mbps)

Entry-Level Broadband: 25 Mbss – 99 Mbps

This graph looks at prices for broadband plans with top speeds under 100 Mbps. The average price has dropped by 14% in the last five years.

Average Price Comparison (25 - 99 Mbps)

Methodology

We looked at pricing for four different internet technologies (Cable, DSL, Fiber, and Fixed Wireless) in four different internet speed buckets (25-99 Mbps, 100-199 Mbps, 200-499 Mbps, and 500+ Mbps) to compare the different technologies within each speed bucket.  We grouped all plans by “quarter” (i.e. all plans offered between January 1st and March 31st in a given year are grouped a “Q1”).

The following chart shows all the providers included in our data, as well as which of the four technologies they offered. An “X” indicates that the provider had a standalone internet plan for that technology at some point during the last 5 years.

Provider Name Cable DSL Fiber Fixed Wireless
ACDnet X
Agile Networks X
Alaska Communications X
Armstrong X X
AT&T Fiber X
AT&T Internet X
Atlantic Broadband X
BarrierFree X
Blue Ridge Communications X
C Spire Fiber X
CenturyLink Fiber Gigabit X
Cincinnati Bell X X
Consolidated Communications X
Cox Communications X
Cruzio Internet X
EarthLink Fiber X
En-Touch Systems X
Etheric Networks X
Everywhere Wireless X
Frontier Communications X X
GCI Communication X
Google Fiber X
Grande Communications X
Hawaiian Telcom X X
Mediacom Cable X
Metronet X
Midco X
Nextlink Internet X
Optimum by Altice X X
Phoenix Internet X
Ranch Wireless X
Raw Bandwidth Communications X
RCN X
Service Electric Cable TV X
Shentel X
Sonic X
Sparklight (formerly Cable One) X
Spectrum X
Suddenlink Communications X
SUMOFIBER X
TDS Telecom X X X
TEC X
UnWired Broadband X
Verizon Fios X
Vyve Broadband X
Wave Broadband X
Wisper ISP X
WOW! X
XFINITY from Comcast X
Ziply Fiber X

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