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Why internet access is expensive, inconsistent for some

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Posted at 12:05 PM, Dec 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-12 14:04:32-05

Consumer Reports reviewed more than 22,000 bills for internet access and found pricing isn’t fair or consistent.

With the federal government shelling out some $65 billion in funding for states to expand broadband internet, there’s increasing scrutiny on the practices of internet service providers.

Jonathan Schwantes was the lead author of the report for Consumer Reports. He explained the three biggest takeaways.

The first is that internet access is expensive - on average, $75 a month. Pricing is also inconsistent.

Another major finding is that there are a lot of junk fees included in internet bills.

“I think the favorite one of my colleagues at Consumer Reports was a deregulated administration fee," he said. "If you read the fine print, it’s to maintain their high-speed fiber network. Sounds like the cost of doing business. What about the $75 I already gave you?”

A third finding was that some internet providers still have data caps and will charge extra for customers who exceed their allotted data amounts. The same provider may have data caps in one part of the country where there is less competition but not in another. The federal government investment in expanding broadband access doesn’t necessarily mean existing customers will get more internet options or better deals.

“We really have to keep an eye on competition and be worried about incumbent ISPs who many not really want to have anybody compete with them,” Schwantes said.

Another nonprofit reporting organization, the Markup, did its own investigation into internet billing. It found that some of the largest providers offered the worst deals to those needing affordable, high-quality, high-speed internet.

Consumer Reports advocates for more government oversight into internet service providers’ practices and all consumers to get the new broadband labels included in their monthly bills.

You can view and sign a petition here.

You can also take a test to see if you’re paying for internet speeds you don’t really need.