Updated on 12.01.16

Cutting the Cord? How to Find Cheap High-Speed Internet That Can Handle Streaming Video

By Chris Brantner

One of the things that nearly everyone can agree on is cable and internet packages are way too expensive. That’s why it’s incredibly important to figure out a way to get a great deal on a reliable high-speed internet service.

If you’re a cable cutter who needs a fast connection to handle your live streaming needs, there are a few things you should know in order to get the best deal.

Shop Around

One of the best methods is to look around at all of the offers and options out there. This can be a little daunting, but this tool helps sort through all your options and will help you narrow it down.

By comparing competing offers like that, you can then use the offers as bargaining chips against other providers to hopefully reduce your actual cost. A lot of the time, internet providers will match other deals or try and meet halfway. Even if it’s only a year-long introductory deal, you can always cancel and choose another plan after the deal expires.

Find Out About Download Speeds

One of the key things you should get from the internet provider is what type of download speeds you can expect. Upload speeds are helpful too, but download speed is what will make the difference in streaming quality. Quicker download speeds mean less buffering time when watching YouTube, Netflix, Sling TV, Hulu, or any other streaming service.

The recommended minimum speed for streaming standard-definition video is usually about 5 Mbps (megabytes per second). That means if it’s just you streaming from Netflix, you can probably get by with pretty low-speed internet. But if you’re streaming high-definition video or have multiple people in your home using different services at once, you should basically add an additional 5 Mbps per streaming device.

For reference, the average internet speed throughout the U.S. is about 12 Mbps. But for the 46% of people across the world with internet access, the average is only about 5 Mbps.

Of course, if you want to stream in Ultra High Def 4K, then you’re going to need a much faster connection. For that, Netflix has you covered with its monthly ISP Speed Index rankings. (Spoiler alert: Verizon FiOS is consistently at the top.)

Check for Any Data Caps

Data caps, common on smartphone plans, are now being adopted by cable and internet providers. They’re often used to combat cord cutting, which has eroded the growth in cable subscribers, or to charge people extra if they’re downloading a large amount of content.

Basically, with a data cap, when you go over the limit you have to pay a fee for whatever you download beyond the cap.

This means if you get sucked in one weekend binge-watching every season of “Breaking Bad,” you could get to the point where you actually have to pay an additional fee on top of your monthly bill. Who wants that? Nobody. I highly recommend staying far away from any internet provider with a data cap (we’re looking at you, Comcast).

To Bundle, or Not To Bundle

One reason many people have cable is because it might seem more reasonable for them to just get the bundled internet and cable TV package. They might think it’s worth the extra money, or just don’t want to deal with what they see as the complexity of cutting the cable portion.

This is a decent option for some, but the big thing to remember is that cable cutting really isn’t that expensive or difficult nowadays. Plus, that great introductory bundle price usually shoots through the roof after the initial rate expires. So, what might seem like a decent deal today could be a really bad deal six or 12 months from now.

A lot of times if you choose to avoid the bundle, the cable companies will try to spike up internet prices. But, that’s where the internet comparison tool I mentioned earlier comes into play. You can use it to find better deals or even use it to bargain down your existing provider to a much more reasonable number. In many cases, you’ll certainly be saving money.

Should Customer Service Be a Factor in Choosing Internet for Streaming?

Maybe. But honestly, you’ll be hard pressed to find any ISP that is known for offering stellar customer service.

That being said, some are worse than others. For example, Comcast is well-known for its nightmarish customer service stories. When it comes to customer service, you may end up making a choice between the lesser of two evils.

Cutting cable is a great budgeting decision, especially with all the great options on the market that make it so much easier. But all that money saved won’t do much good if you’re blowing it on an expensive internet package. Hopefully, you’ve got a better idea now on how to search around for the best internet deal and not get taken advantage of by the cable companies.

For more info on choosing an internet service provider, check out our complete guide here.

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