The search for a great internet service provider (ISP) can be very simple, very complicated, or some combination of both. It’s very uncommon to run into people who only have one ISP available in their area, though you might also encounter people with multiple choices.
That can turn the decision-making process into one filled with headaches. The choice is easy when you only have one option, but it’s not as simple when you have several on the table. Why not make it easier on yourself and check out our list of the best internet providers in the US.
Things to know before diving into this list
In the list below we focused on the most widely available ISPs. The reality is that your part of the US might not offer any of these, or it may have a smaller local ISP that ends up being a better deal. While our guide is a good starting point, we also recommend checking out sites like highspeedinternet.com and ispprovidersinmyarea.com for a better look at local ISPs in your area.
If you end up finding options that aren’t on this list, simply head to Google Search and look for reviews from actual users. One last thing — if you live very rural area, you may have to resort to fixed wireless internet or even satellite.
Best internet providers:
Editor’s note: We will update this list over time.
With a presence in 41 states across the U.S., chances are Comcast’s Xfinity service is available in your area. That’s certainly not a bad thing — Xfinity’s internet speeds range from 15Mbps to 2Gbps, with monthly prices starting at $29.99 per month. Better yet, Xfinity offers various bundles to offset certain costs.
As a bonus, Xfinity customers are the only ones that can become Xfinity Mobile subscribers. Using Verizon towers, Xfinity Mobile offers unlimited talk, text, and data for $45 per month. If you prefer limited data plans, the 1GB, 3GB, and 10GB plans are available for $12, $30, and $60 per month, respectively.
That said, Xfinity’s customer service is known for its consistent mediocrity. You might also have qualms with Comcast, which has been consistently picked as one of the worst companies in the US over the years.
2. AT&T Internet
One of the oldest U.S. telecom companies, AT&T keeps things simple and offers three plans: Internet 100, Internet 300, and Internet 1000. As the names suggest, Internet 100, 300, and 1000 offer speeds up to 100Mbps, 300Mbps, and 1Gbps, respectively. The two fastest plans use fiber internet, but only the top-tier plan eschews the 1TB data cap.
Starting at $50 for the major plans, AT&T is one of the more expensive options on this list for the speeds that you get. That said, AT&T also offers plans with speeds as low as 5Mbps for those who want to spend a bit less. Also, the company provides generally-reliable internet to 15.7 million people with its broadband service and 3.1 million people with its fiber service
3. Charter Spectrum
Making things very simple, Charter Spectrum only offers one internet-only plan. Costing $44.99 each month, the plan includes a connection with speeds starting at 200Mbps, a modem, and no data caps. Doubling the speed to 400Mbps costs an extra $20 per month, while speeds up to 940Mbps cost an extra $60.
What’s nice about Spectrum is the lack of data caps across all of its plans. Also, Spectrum customers can gain access to Spectrum Mobile. Similar to Xfinity Mobile, Spectrum Mobile uses Verizon towers and offers an unlimited plan for $45 per month. Alternatively, you can pay $14 per GB used.
Spectrum doesn’t have the best reputation for customer service, however. Also, as simple as having just one internet-only plan is, it also means Spectrum is very inflexible if you want faster speeds and don’t want extras.
4. Frontier Communications
The aptly-named Frontier Internet is bravely foraging into rural America. It offers DSL, cable, and fiber internet connections to its customers. It covers regions which typically have few good options.
That said, what you actually get for your money varies greatly. The further you get from urban areas, the harder it is to deliver and maintain a strong connection consistently. That seems to be one of Frontier’s major drawbacks. This is also one of those situations where you’ll want to chat up your neighbors to see how their experience has been.
One of the first services to offer fiber internet to your home, Verizon Fios keeps things simple with three internet-only plans. Costing $39.99, $59.99, and $79.99 per month, the plans include up to 100, 300, and 940Mbps, respectively.
The plans also offer some nice bonuses. For a limited time, the 100 and 300Mbps plans include a $50 Visa prepaid card. The 940Mbps plan throws in either a free Samsung Chromebook 3 or $200 credit toward select Samsung products. It also includes a free three-year router rental.
Apart from surprisingly-competitive pricing and good reliability, Fios is also known for its relatively great customer satisfaction. You can also get various Fios bundles, though Fios TV finished 2018 with fewer subscribers than when it started 2018.
Where Fios struggles most is with availability. Some areas without Fios can still get Verizon’s DSL service, but speeds top out at 15Mbps. At that point, you’re better off with an alternative.
CenturyLink is a relatively inexpensive option. Like others, it heavily relies on bundling with a TV subscription to offer tempting packages. That said, you’re more than welcome to get internet-only plans that top out at 1Gbps.
CenturyLink’s service seems a little inconsistent, depending on your location, and on the whole a little slower than others. There’s also no guarantee you’ll have access to its maximum speeds. For example, CenturyLink tops out at 60Mbps in my neck of the woods.
7. Cox Internet
Cox Internet’s internet-only plans are a bit more complicated than others, but only because there are more of them. $29.99 per month gets you 10Mbps, while an extra $10 gets you 30Mbps. Stepping up to 150Mbps is $59.99 per month, while 300Mbps speeds cost an extra $20. Finally, you can get 1Gbps speeds for $99.99.
Prices are relatively competitive, though availability is an issue — Cox Communications is available in only 18 states. Also an issue is customer satisfaction, with Cox positioned as one of the worst.
Now owned by telecom company Altice, Optimum offers a surprisingly robust internet service, at least when it comes to speed. The base plan costs $44.99 per month and offers speeds up to 200Mbps, with an extra $10 getting you up to 300Mbps speeds. Finally, $64.99 a month get you speeds up to 400Mbps.
Speeds are more than enough for most people, though Optimum doesn’t offer gigabit speeds. Also, availability is extremely limited. Unless you live in New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, or a very small sliver of northeast Pennsylvania, Optimum won’t be available where you are.
With Viasat, we now enter the world of satellite internet. Don’t expect slow speeds of yore, however, with plans featuring speeds up to 100Mbps. You also shouldn’t have an issue with availability, since service is dependent on satellites and not on where you live.
That said, consider Viasat if there’s literally nothing else around you. Every plan has a laughably low data cap, which de-prioritizes your data if you exceed a certain amount of use each month. Also, plans are very expensive, with prices going up after three months. For example, the Unlimited Platinum 100 plan with speeds up to 100Mbps costs $150 per month for the first three months and $200 per month after that.
Our last pick and also a satellite internet provider, HughesNet is set up differently from other ISPs. Instead of paying for different speeds, you’re paying for different data caps. $50 per month gets you a small 10GB data cap, while going up to a 50GB data cap costs an absurd $139.99.
As with Viasat, you’re mostly paying for availability. HughesNet is not for those with a non-satellite internet choice. Rather, it’s for those in areas that don’t have much of a choice. Even then, the prices do a great job of alienating those without money bursting out of their pockets. Consider Viasat and HughesNet as a last resort.
That’s our roundup of the best internet providers in the U.S. Chances are you’re using one if you’re home and reading this, so what do you think of your service? Are there any on here that you think is the best internet provider? Let us know in the comments below!