How to Pause Your Internet Service


Peter Christiansen
Researcher & Writer
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Published on December 22, 2020

Most Internet Service Providers (ISPs) offer some way to pause your internet service, but it’s often hard to figure out exactly how to do it. These pauses go by many different names—seasonal suspensions, hibernation plans, temporary suspensions, vacation holds—so it can be difficult to search for your provider’s option if you don’t know what it’s called.

Fear not, because we’ve spent more hours than we'd care to admit tracking down the details of how to actually pause your internet service so that you don't have to. Here’s a roundup of some of the services that major ISPs provide for customers who want to pause their internet service for a few months.

Providers that offer seasonal holds on Internet service

Most ISPs offer some way to pause your service, but the length of these holds and the associated fees vary from provider to provider. You also often need to meet certain conditions, such as requesting a hold far enough in advance or being up to date on your bills. Be sure to plan ahead and read the fine print for your ISP’s plan.

There are also several ISPs that don’t publicly list their fees or the maximum length of hold that they allow. Be sure to talk to an agent to find out this information before pausing your service.

ProviderXfinityVerizonSpectrumAT&TCenturyLinkCoxFrontierOptimumSparklightHughesNetViasat
Max lengthN/A11 mo.9 mo.9 mo.6 mo.9 mo.9 mo.6 mo.N/A6 mo.6 mo.
Fees$8.00-$29.95/mo.One-time feeN/AUp to $7.00/mo.$9.95/mo. and up$9.99/mo.Charges vary$10.00/mo.N/ALease charges only$9.99/mo.

*Restrictions apply. Not available in all areas. Limited to residential customers. Not all services eligible. Pricing varies by location and is subject to change. Prices exclude applicable taxes and fees, including the Broadcast TV Fee of up to $14.95.

Most ISPs will allow you to hold your service for at least 6 months, though some give you much more time. If you have multiple residences, make sure the plan you choose will allow you to pause for as much time as you need. A plan that works for your primary residence might not work for a vacation home that you’re away from longer.

Even if your ISP doesn’t have any information online about temporary holds, it’s worth calling to ask an agent if they have any options that might work for you. Seasonal holds are also available for other services, such as satellite TV.

Why would I want a seasonal hold?

Seasonal holds offer several advantages over simply cancelling your service:

  • Avoiding early cancellation fees for terminating your service before the end of your contract.
  • Avoiding fees associated with reactivating your internet plan when you get home.
  • Reactivating your service quickly when you need it again.

There are also other perks of pausing service rather than canceling it. If you get phone service or an email account through your ISP, a pause will let you keep your phone number and email address. Some ISPs also let you stay connected with a lower bandwidth during this time. This lower bandwidth means that your home security system or other smart devices in your vacation home can keep working, even when your internet is paused.

The trade off is that even when your service is on hold, there’s usually still some kind of fee, although much lower than your usual monthly bill. Some ISPs simply charge you a single fee up front, while others charge on a monthly basis. In either case, it’s still almost always going to save you money compared with keeping your full internet service active when you’re away.

Month-to-month plans can be paused whenever you want

If being away from home is a regular occurrence (maybe you have a second home), you might want to consider a no-contract internet plan. These plans have no cancellation fees, no time limits, and no special requirements. You sign up on a month-to-month basis and can cancel at any time. This can also be helpful for renters who aren’t sure if they’re going to live in the same place for a full year.

Although these plans are usually more expensive per month than plans with a year-long contract, they are incredibly flexible. This is especially important if you want the ability to leave town at the drop of a hat. There’s no need to contact your provider months in advance, and you can stay away as long as you like. This is another good option for homes that are only in use a few months out of the year.

Hotspots are flexible and portable

Perhaps the most flexible option for those on the go are mobile hotspots. Hotspots use cellular networks to connect to the internet, which means that as long as you can get phone reception from your provider, you can take your internet with you. Plus, you won’t need to set up different connections for every new location you travel to. This means you could not only use the same internet plan for both a primary and a secondary residence but also take it on vacation with you.

Although many phones can be set up to serve as a mobile hotspot, there are several advantages to buying a dedicated hotspot. Hotspot plans often have unlimited data or higher data caps than phone plans, which is handy if multiple people are sharing data. Having a dedicated hotspot also means that everyone else in the house doesn’t lose their internet connection when you take your phone with you.

How do I get out of my internet contract?

One way to avoid getting hit with huge termination fees is to find a new ISP that offers contract buyouts to customers who switch to their service. These buyouts mean that your new ISP will either pay your early termination fee or (more often) reimburse you for some or all of the cost of the fee once you sign up with them.

Want to see what other ISPs are available in your area? Enter your zip code below:
Peter Christiansen
Written by
Peter Christiansen
Peter Christiansen is a writer at HighSpeedInternet.com, where he writes about satellite internet, rural connectivity, livestreaming, and parental controls. Peter holds a PhD in communication from the University of Utah and has worked as a computer programmer, game developer, filmmaker, and writer. His writing has been praised by outlets like Wired, Digital Humanities Now, and the New Statesman.