The internet is something we all need. It’s our communication, our source of purchasing, browsing, or even our livelihood. No matter what it costs, we’ll continue to pay the fees so we can access all that is the World Wide Web in a convenient manner. Whether through computer, tablet, or smartphone, we are hooked.
But how much money is too much? Are online companies cashing in on our virtual weakness? Knowing that we need this access, they’re jacking up the speeds along with the monthly prices. But how long will we continue to pay?
In an ideal world, Google will have provided free internet to the world. While this may seem far-fetched, it’s a process that’s already begun to take place. (Google Fiber is currently only available in Kansas City, though expansions are in the plan.)
Second best-case scenario, we share internet with our neighbors, splitting the bills. (But in this case, there would be no “peak hours” to slow service down, and routers can reach all corners of the house.)
Finally, we’re left with the status quo: either paying an outrageous monthly fee, or buying a $4 coffee for a day’s worth of service. And while service is expensive either way, there’s much to be said for the convenience of having internet in your own home.
This, however, is where the companies get us good.
“Because they can”
Take a look at your most recent internet bill and its break down of fees. If you have service for a cell phone provider, chances are you’re paying a monthly “service charge” just for owning a hot spot. Averaging $20+ per month, this fee accounts for no actual internet, just the ability to access it. Other companies may charge a rental price for routers, or a maintenance charge – even if you already own the router. Additional fees can occur from overage charges, sign-up fees, cancellations fees, set-up expenses, or even when accessing at the “wrong” time of day.
Rural living generally offers up the most added fees, whether or not the area is hard to access. Because cable access or broadband isn’t readily available, these residents are subject to strict pricing options and fees. For instance, satellite internet allots a certain amount of usage, half of which can only be used during the middle of the night. Unless a night owl, that means you’re paying for twice of what you can reasonably use.
However, until we find a reasonably priced option (come on, Google, dig faster), internet providers will continue to overcharge for their services. And we will continue to pay.