Think about something for a second — how much are you spending to read this article?
Many people will immediately claim they’re not spending any money. They ignore a key fact however, that access to the internet itself isn’t free. It has always come with a cost.
Let’s start by calculating the price for the average U.S. citizen for whom internet services and internet-enabled consumer devices are readily available.
First, you need a device that is capable of accessing the internet. For most this would either be a computer or smartphone. While such devices can easily cost over $1,000, the average smartphone, laptop or desktop falls around $500.
Considering most devices have a lifespan of 3–5 years, this equals an average cost of $10/month payment (roughly) for web browsing or $120/year. Second, you need an actual internet connection. Whether using Ethernet, Wi-Fi or cellular data services, there’s a bill to pay. Regardless of the method, such access is available for the average consumer around $60/month across providers.
This means that one could expect to spend about $70 each month just for the ability to access the internet. While this number might not seem overwhelming at first, it adds up over time — $840 in a year, $2,500 in three, $4,200 in five. We spend immense amounts of money over the course of our lives to access the internet and browse the web. Not to mention, as time goes on that sum will only continue to increase as we’re more and more willing to pay for online amenities.
On top of basic access, think of all the additional online services you subscribe to. Perhaps you need to work online through Microsoft 365. Maybe Stranger Things convinced you to get a Netflix account. It’s likely you’re one of the millions that pay for Amazon Prime in order to access their content library and shipping benefits. Or perchance you fancy spending your money on another service like Spotify, HBO, Hulu, Tidal or the thousands of others available online. That’s another few dozen — or even hundred — dollars a month spent on top of standard internet access.
Consumers are obviously willing to pay for premium online experiences, and corporations are more than willing to offer those services when the demand is high. I expect that we will soon see web browsing itself turned into a premium service — offering a faster, smarter and safer online experience. Given how much consumers are already paying for the internet, it seems certain that such a premium browsing model would succeed.
Only time will tell, but I look forward to seeing how the cost of the internet and our willingness to pay for the online experience will continue to evolve.
President & CEO