Tips to Lower Your Internet, Phone Bills

Federal Communications Commission officials are expected to unveil a $15.5 billion plan today to upgrade America's broadband network, making it cheaper and faster to use for consumers at home.

The project aims to bridge the digital divide to make Internet access more available for all Americans. A recent FCC report said approximately 93 million Americans don't have access to home broadband, and most cited high cost as a reason for staying offline.

VIDEO: Slash Your Internet FeesPlay
Tips to Reduce Internet, Phone Bills

So in the meantime, here are five ways to save money on Internet costs right now.

Tip One: Haggle With Your Provider
Try negotiating with your Internet service provider to lower your monthly bill.

CLICK HERE for tips on how to negotiate to get a better deal.

According to the Pew Internet Life Study, The average broadband user pays $39 a month; if you are paying more, then find a different provider.

Try searching for local mom-and-pop Internet providers that can beat the prices bigger companies charge. As a side benefit, these smaller companies may also provide better customer service.

Tip Two: Low Speed vs. High Speed

Many Internet service providers now provide tiers of service: basic broadband, and then more expensive higher-speed access. Also cable Internet access may offer higher speeds than DSL in your area but at a higher price.

While faster is better if you are downloading large video files or have many users simultaneously using the connection, most households do not need the highest Internet speeds for average browsing and video consumption.

Lower tiers of service should suffice for most applications including watching video online. And at prices as low as $20 a month it is certainly an attractive option.

Worst-case scenario – if you just need access to text, e-mail and basic Web sites, dial-up internet access - the old 56K- is still available for as little as $7 a month.

And if you thought you couldn't get cheaper DSL because you've ditched your landline at home, think again. Ask the phone company for something called Naked DSL. Verizon has a $20 plan for just 1 MBPS broadband regardless of whether you have a landline in your home.

Search online to see if other carriers like Verizon may offer it in your area.

Tip Three: Give Up the Extras

Over the past few years, you may have signed up for extra Web services on a subscription and completely forgotten about them. I suggest pulling your last three months of credit card bills and scrutinizing them for any premium gaming services, Web-based magazine, premium content subscriptions that you no longer need, even your ebook bills that may have a recurring newspaper subscription.

How to Save on Your Internet Bill

Tip Four: Mobile Web Access

It's estimated that a third of all adults in the U.S. have a smart phone and many of those devices have hefty data plans associated with them. Many people buy too much cell phone coverage because they are afraid of extra overage charges.

We've recommended in the past to manage out-of-control mobile bills. The service also analyzes your data plan and can recommend plans more suited to your actual usage.

There is a fee associated with the site, but it can save you big in the long run.

Don't be afraid to shop around for a new cell plan just because of your contract. All cell phone companies now prorate termination fees, which makes it less expensive to switch carriers -- do the math and see if a better mobile (and mobile data) plan is worth the termination fee.

Tip Five: Premium Text Messages

Unlimited mobile data plans do not include premium texts -- these are the fees charged to your mobile account when you download a ringtone, sign up for a daily mobile horoscope service, vote on a TV show contestant, or donate to the Haiti relief fund.

Premium text messages can cost a bundle and parents should make sure that these services are blocked on kids phones. Parents can call the cell phone company and instruct it to put limits on premium text messages for their children.

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