The Best Business Internet Service Providers

The best business internet offers reliable connectivity, excellent customer service, and the right bandwidth for your work volume. Provider availability and plans will vary depending on your location, but if you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the options, we’re here to make things clearer.

The 7 best internet service providers

Most Transparent Pricing
AT&T Internet
AT&T
AT&T stands out for its exceptional customer service and transparency around fees.
Pros
High customer satisfaction ratings
Transparent pricing
Wide range of plans
Cons
Mixed customer service experience
Average contract terms

Why we chose it

High customer satisfaction

AT&T came in right behind Verizon for highest customer satisfaction ratings. While the seven providers altogether averaged 3.2/5 with JD Power and 62.4/100 with the ACSI, AT&T was comfortably above average with both. And though these scores do vary by region, AT&T stood out as one of the only providers to receive a perfect score from JD Power in any region, receiving solid 5/5s in the Midwest.

Transparent pricing

AT&T outshines its competition when it comes to price and plan transparency. The company clearly lays out its fees for equipment, installation, and service, which is rare in an industry known for hedgey language and hidden fees. And while we literally spent hours looking for other providers’ SLAs, we came across AT&T’s in just a few minutes.

Wide range of plans

AT&T offers business internet plans with DSL, Fiber, and IPBB (which is basically higher-speed DSL and Ethernet grouped together under one name). The number of plans and speeds available to you will vary based on location, but the download speeds for business plans range from 6 Mbps (DSL) to 1,000 Mbps (fiber) — so whether it’s just you and a few other workers sending emails or 100 employees video conferencing daily, AT&T has a range of speeds that will likely fit your business’s needs.

Points to consider

Mixed customer service experience

While AT&T has received strong customer satisfaction scores for an internet provider, our experiences were a little mixed. On the one hand, we found the representatives on AT&T’s live chat tool friendly and responsive; on the other, the information we got wasn’t always accurate. When we asked for specifics about its bundling plans, the rep told us that wasn’t possible, and that we’d have to sign up for phone and TV separately and pay three bills per month. However, a little digging proved otherwise — you can bundle phone, TV, or tech services with your business internet, depending on your needs. We’re glad AT&T’s customer service is friendly and responsive, but we don’t love the fact that we were given misinformation, even if in earnest.

Average contract terms

AT&T’s Service Level Agreements guarantee that in the event of downtime, service will be restored within 24 hours, and that customers are entitled to one day’s credit on their next bill if uptime isn’t restored within 24 hours. That isn’t exceptional compensation — especially when compared with CenturyLink, which grants one day’s credit per every half hour of downtime — but the company’s 99.99% expected uptime and 24/7 repair line make us confident that we’ll get the support we need in the event there is an issue. Just keep in mind that if you go with AT&T, you’ll be expected to commit: The 2-year contract charges a hefty 75% of your remaining balance if you switch providers before the contract’s up.

Best Customer Service
Verizon
Verizon
Top customer service ratings, flexible contract terms, a wide range of plans, and extremely reliable speeds.
Pros
Wide range of plans
Reliably fast speeds
Customer service
Contract flexibility
Cons
Unclear SLAs
Availability

Why we chose it

Wide range of plans

With Fios, Business, and High Speed Internet, Verizon offers a trifecta of impressively inclusive services (though we’ll admit that the the plans’ initial names are rather misleading). Verizon Fios (Fiber) is available in 10 Northeastern states, Verizon Business (Copper) in 47, and Verizon High Speed Internet (DSL) in 11 states on the East Coast. Unless your business is in the Northeast, you’ll likely be limited to copper. Copper internet installation may take longer and be more expensive than other types of internet, though it’s a more widely available way to get fiber-level speeds.

Reliably fast speeds

Verizon’s advertised speeds range from 1 to 940 Mbps overall, though the FCC’s most recent 2016 report showed that Verizon’s actual broadband speeds average 109.47% of what the company advertises. Along with Comcast and Spectrum, Verizon is one of the internet providers that’s most likely to maintain the fastest speeds for your business.

Customer service

Verizon tops the industry with its customer service ratings: It received the highest scores among all the biggest providers, with 5/5 from JD Power and 71/100 from the ACSI — Verizon Fios, in particular, stole the show with solid 5s across the board.

Contract flexibility

With Verizon, you can choose between a two-year contract or a month-to-month plan. The month-to-month plan is more expensive, but if you cancel your two-year plan early, you’ll need to pay up to 35% of your remaining balance. That’s still significantly less than you would owe in cancellation fees with AT&T or Comcast (who’ll demand 75% of your remaining balance if you leave them before your term’s up).

Points to consider

Unclear SLAs

The only things we can hold against Verizon? We couldn’t find much information on its SLAs. That left us without important information like expected uptime and compensation in case the internet goes down. Because Verizon doesn’t make this easily available to prospective businesses, it’s a lot harder to compare options between providers.

Availability

Although Verizon offers some of the fastest speeds for business internet out there, there’s a good chance you won’t be able to access them. While its fiber-optic network is the largest in the country, it’s currently only available in 10 states — all clustered in the Northeast. Verizon’s DSL plans are more widely available, but speeds top out at 15 Mbps, compared to 75 Mbps for fiber.

Best Downtime Compensation
CenturyLink
CenturyLink
If your internet happens to go down, CenturyLink offers the best downtime compensation of any provider we looked at.
Pros
Generous downtime compensation
Transparent terms
Plans for any business size
Flexible contracts
Cons
Mediocre customer service scores
Slower than advertised

Why we chose it

Generous downtime compensation

It strives for an ambitious uptime between 99.95% and 100%, but don’t be too impressed — most companies claim the same. If your service happens to fail, however, Centurylink does offer a uniquely generous compensation that extends to latency and packet loss. For every 30 minutes of downtime, you’ll be credited for 1 day. That’s a significantly larger amount in comparison to AT&T, which offers an eye-for-an-eye 1 day’s credit for every 24 hours of downtime.

Transparent terms

While our hunt for SLA contract details ended in vain for most ISPs, we found them quickly for both CenturyLink and AT&T. CenturyLink’s contract emerged after a simple Google search and can be found in its legal landing page. This gives businesses easy access to all the information they need to make a decision, without having to interrogate a salesperson.

Plans for any business size

With options for Fiber or DSL business internet, CenturyLink caters to businesses of any size. DSL speeds range from 3 Mbps to 100 Mbps, while Fiber caters to companies that need speeds reaching 1,000 Mbps. Either of these services can be bundled with TV and phone services for consolidated billing, too. If your business reaches several thousand employees, the options expand more generously: You can then bundle cloud storage and network security, making CenturyLink the provider that hosts the most bundling options for big businesses.

Flexible contracts

Along with Verizon, CenturyLink offers some of the most flexible contract options on the market: You can choose between a 2-year contract or month-to-month plan. Keep in mind that the month-to-month plan will be more expensive, and that the two-year plan offers discounted monthly prices. Early termination of either contract will result in a $200 fee, but that may be a smaller dent in your wallet than other providers’ closing statements if you end up cancelling your services earlier on in your contract.

Points to consider

Mediocre customer service scores

In customer service ratings from JD Power and ACSI, CenturyLink came out solidly average in comparison with major ISPs as a whole: 3/5 from J.D. Power and 59/100 from the ASCI, it beat out Frontier (56) and Windstream (57), but were far from Verizon’s top score of 71. We’d recommend that you don’t go in expecting exceptional service — it won’t be terrible, just nothing exceptional compared to most other big ISPs.

Slower than advertised

CenturyLink claims you can get speeds all the way up to 1,000 Mbps on its fiber-optic network, an absurdly fast number. But when the FCC tested every internet provider in 2016, they found CenturyLink to fall slightly below its claims, meeting only 95.87% of its advertised speeds on average.

Most Reliable Speeds
Comcast Xfinity
Comcast
If stability is what you’re after, Comcast offers the most consistently reliable speeds as reported by the FCC.
Pros
Reliably fast speeds
Bundles with phone
Availability
Cons
Unfavorable contract terms
Poor customer service

Why we chose it

Reliably fast speeds

Comcast Business has some of the fastest advertised speeds that we saw, ranging from 25 to 1,000 Mbps on its fiber network. And the FCC reported Comcast’s actual speeds average 110.23% of its advertised speeds, so if you’re looking for speedy internet, this is one of the best bets out there.

Bundles with phone

All of Comcast Business’s plans come with the option to add a phone line. You can even sync it up with your personal phone, so when someone calls your cell, it automatically rings your office phone. And no matter how many people are using this feature, it’ll only cost an extra $15 per month (although you’ll still have to pay for the actual phones).

Availability

Comcast Business is available across 39 states, making it one of the most widespread business internet providers in the country. While access to its 1,000 Mbps fiber-optic speeds is slightly more limited, it’s more likely than not that you can access Comcast Business’s high-speed internet in your area.

Points to consider

Unfavorable contract terms

We weren’t able to find any information on Comcast Business’s SLAs, but we did find some details on contracts and cancellation fees. Customers are locked into 2-year contracts, and the early cancellation fee will demand 75% of your remaining bill. That’s about on par with AT&T, but still some of the more stringent terms that we saw.

Poor customer service

Comcast performed extremely poorly in customer service scoring. At 2.5/5 with JD Power, and 60/100 from the ACSI, you can expect customer service that’s a little below average in comparison with the other major business internet service providers.

Best Online Resources
Frontier Communications
Frontier
Frontier’s easily-navigable website helps guide you towards the plan that fits your business’s needs.
Pros
Online resources
Shorter contracts
Cons
Poor customer service
Mediocre speeds

Why we chose it

Online resources

Frontier does a great job providing helpful and clear information for potential customers. There’s a side-by-side comparison of different plan offerings, projected price levels for bundled packages, and specific recommendations based on the size and online work volume of your business. We appreciated the transparency with which Frontier lays out its services.

Shorter contracts

Frontier’s plans require a minimum one-year agreement, shorter than those offered by AT&T and Comcast. Combined with lower overall speeds, Frontier is best-suited for small businesses with lower service requirements who may anticipate the volume of their work increasing after one year.

Points to consider

Poor customer service

Frontier has the ignominious distinction of being the internet provider with the worst customer service record in an industry that seems to pride itself on complicated and frustrating customer service. JD Power only rated it 2/5, which tied Windstream for worst out of the major national ISPs. An ACSI rating of 56/60 dropped it to the very bottom of the big ISPs.

Mediocre speeds

For DSL service, Frontier’s maximum download speed ranges from 7-20 Mbps, while the fiber internet option provides faster speeds of 50 to 500 Mbps. These figures are still noticeably lower than what other ISPs offer, especially with fiber — Verizon’s speed starts at 75 Mbps and maxes out at 940 Mbps — and the average actual speeds for Frontier came out to 93.37% of what’s advertised, which means even its fastest offer might not be as fast as you expect.

Most Flexible Contracts
Charter Spectrum
Charter Spectrum
Month-to-month contracts with no cancellation fees make it easy to start or stop service as you will.
Pros
Month-to-month contracts
Accurate advertised speeds
Decent customer service record
Cons
Unclear SLAs

Why we chose it

Month-to-month contracts

Charter Spectrum has some of the most flexible contract policies we saw — it only offers monthly options. With its month-to-month plans and no cancellation fees, it is an attractive option for smaller or growing businesses that aren’t quite ready to commit to a multi-year contract: If you’re not happy, you can walk away at any point.

Accurate advertised speeds

Charter Spectrum’s fiber-optic speeds go all the way up to 940 Mbps, an impressive number. And unlike some internet providers, the company actually underpromises: The FCC reported that in 2016, Spectrum’s actual speeds were 109.1% of advertised. Of all the major business internet providers, only Comcast had a better record.

Decent customer service record

Spectrum’s customer service scores eked out slightly above average, at 3.75/5 for JD Power and 65/100 for the ACSI. That’s not exceptionally impressive, but in an industry that struggles so much with customer service, we like anything that’s above average.

Points to consider

Unclear SLAs

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to find any information on Spectrum’s SLAs, so we can’t say exactly how friendly its contract terms are. But decent customer service ratings and high averaged actual speeds, suggest that downtime is rare and compensated for.

Most Widespread Coverage
Windstream
Windstream
Windstream offers the most comprehensive nationwide coverage, with service available in every state except Alaska.
Pros
Most widely available
High expected uptime
Cons
Poor customer service record
Slower speeds

Why we chose it

Most widely available

In terms of availability, Windstream is close to perfect: coverage can be found in every state except Alaska, more than any other big-name ISP we examined. Unfortunately, it falls pretty short in almost every other area. We’d only recommend choosing WIndstream for your business internet if it’s the only option available in your area.

High expected uptime

Windstream boasts an expected uptime of 99.995%, which means its service, though somewhat vague in terms of specific offerings, should nevertheless be reliable. However, we weren’t able to find SLAs outlining specific compensation for when downtime does occur.

Points to consider

Poor customer service record

Customer service clearly isn’t a priority for Windstream: It’s one of the lowest-rated internet providers by every measure we looked at. It received a paltry 2/5 Customer Service Rating from JD Power, and a 57/100 from the ACSI — both at the bottom of an already notoriously bad barrel.

Slower speeds

Windstream only offers DSL and cable options, which may be sufficient for some customers but won’t provide the faster speeds of copper or fiber internet that many businesses depend on. If your business requires fast upload speeds for activities like video conferencing, Windstream won’t be able to offer the same level of service as providers like AT&T and Verizon. Windstream’s reported actual speeds of 94.59% are far lower than those offered by Spectrum, Comcast, and Verizon, but are generally on par with the rest of our providers.

Guide to Business Internet

How to choose the best business internet for you

Check availability

Unfortunately, when it comes to choosing a business internet provider, you’re usually stuck with what your street address has deemed your inevitable digital destiny. Plans and pricing will also vary depending on your region. To find out what business internet is available for your location, enter your zip code at the top of the page. From there, we’ll guide you through choosing between the remaining options.

Determine your bandwidth needs

To figure out what plans are right for you, note how many people will be using your internet simultaneously and what kind of work they’ll be doing.

Number of Users Light Usage (Email & Web Browsing) Moderate Usage (Downloads, Cloud) Multi-Media (Large Downloads, Confe­rencing) Heavy Usage (Apps, Multiple Devices)
10 Users 2-7 Mbps 4-9 Mbps 7-12 Mbps 14-19 Mbps
15 Users 3-8 Mbps 6-11 Mbps 11-16 Mbps 21-26 Mbps
20 Users 4-9 Mbps 9-14 Mbps 14-19 Mbps 29-34 Mbps
30 Users 6-11 Mbps 13-18 Mbps 21-26 Mbps 43-48 Mbps
40 Users 9-14 Mbps 17-22 Mbps 29-34 Mbps 57-82 Mbps
50 Users 11-16 Mbps 21-26 Mbps 36-41 Mbps 71-96 Mbps

Source: DSLreports.com

Keep in mind that these are ballpark measurements. High-volume tech like cloud storage and video-conferencing are on the rise, so we recommend choosing faster speeds if you expect your business will be using similar tech. Just make sure you consider upload speeds in addition to download speeds, which get more attention. Timothy Platt, VP of IT Business Services at Virtual Operations, told us, “Most any provider can provide sufficient download speed — it’s upload that is a significant differentiator.” If your business backs up a lot of data to cloud storage or makes video calls, you’ll want a more generous upload speed.

Consider higher speeds

If you’re not exactly sure where you fall, err in favor of more generous speeds: Choose a speed that allows for business to continue smoothly even during peak hours, when the maximum amount of people are accessing the internet simultaneously. Trying to save money in the short-term on your monthly internet bill may cost you in the long run if employees are frustrated and hindered by lagging or unreliable speeds.

Read the fine print

Before committing to a provider, you’ll want to go over the Service Level Agreement (SLA) in your contract with a fine-tooth comb. In the SLAs, providers will state their expected uptime and compensation for downtimes. There’s not a lot of transparency about how actual uptimes compare to advertised uptimes, but it’s safe to say you won’t find any contracts guaranteeing 100%.

Downtime is inevitable, and most major ISPs advertise uptimes over 99%, but ISPs may differ in what service or compensation they offer during downtime. The best should compensate you for downtime, work to restore connectivity, and explain the source of the problem if you inquire. For many companies, compensation comes in the form of pro-rating your next billing statement depending on how long your internet was down. But note that compensation won’t always offset revenue losses, and it usually isn’t automatic: You’ll need to contact customer service about arranging it. Trevor Textor, analyst at tech consulting company Textor Corp, told us, “These are nice to see in contracts, but collecting on them is an admin pain on both sides.”

Evaluate technical support

The IT consultants we spoke with agreed that the more choice, the better — particularly for tiered speed plans and support offerings. Millecam told us one of his priorities is “a tiered approach to their support...The best providers will offer support ranging from nothing more than a static route and IP address to dedicated equipment with 4-hour incident response.” Companies with large tech teams may not need as much attention, but tiered options allow businesses to get the right level of support without overspending.

Look for flexible contracts

When you’ve found an ISP you want to get serious about, look at contract requirements. Some providers will require you to sign a contract that locks you into their service for two to three years. You’ll still have the right to end service — but you’ll likely pay a fee if you do. That means long contracts could be an issue if you’re expecting your business to grow dramatically or relocate. And because you’ll need more speed as your business grows, you’ll want an ISP that can accommodate that growth. As Millecam told us, “A good provider will have the option to upgrade bandwidth.”

Bundle services

Smaller companies might benefit from bundling options that package services like email, phone, and web hosting with your internet. Compiling what would be individual bills into one is easier to manage, and generally more cost-effective than paying each service’s bill separately. Timothy Platt, VP of IT Business Services at Virtual Operations, told us it’s especially helpful if a provider has high-quality digital voice phone and fax service, because it “provides for ‘one-stop’ shopping and eliminates the inevitable finger-pointing between vendors when a problem arises.”

Business Internet FAQs

What about regional providers?

We only looked at large providers that offer service across multiple states for our review. However, don’t write off a regional provider that offers speeds to match your bandwidth: There are stars like RCN, a highly-rated regional provider in Chicago and NYC, that can perform just as well, if not better, than the telecom giants.

Why is business internet more expensive than residential?

Put simply, businesses use a lot more bandwidth than the average residential customer. Think of it like a highway: While two lanes might suffice for rush hour traffic in rural Ohio, the same system would be a disaster in a big city like Seattle. Internet operates on the same principle — more users using the same system at once requires different infrastructure, and thus, higher costs for providers.

What type of internet is best for businesses?

Not all internet is created equal: What’s best for your business will depend on the unique size and needs of your office. It’s up to you to decide what you want to prioritize for your business, but several important factors — including overall speed, cost, and reliability — will vary between the type of internet you’re considering. We’ve outlined the major types of internet service — DSL, cable, copper, and fiber — in our glossary below to help you distinguish among your options.

Glossary

DSL: Short for Digital Subscriber Line, DSL works by sending signals through your building’s pre-existing copper telephone lines. It’s slower than cable and fiber, but the most widely available, at 90% nationwide coverage. Business users will want to choose “symmetical” (SDSL), “high-data-rate” (HDSL), or “very-high-data-rate” (VDSL) over “asymmetrical” ADSL, which is slower. One important note: Companies advertise speeds of up to 300 mbps with VDSL, but speeds will range widely depending on your plan and distance from the provider. In fact, FCC data shows that median DSL download speeds are less than 10 Mbps. We dive deep into the DSL landscape in our review of the Best DSL Internet.

Cable: With 89% nationwide coverage, cable is available to most Americans. It works by transmitting data through existing coaxial copper cables (that also deliver analog television signals), which means it’s more affordable than Fiber while still providing high-speed internet — some providers even offer up to 1,000 Mbps, though most will have max speeds ranging between 200-300 Mbps. It’s generally faster than DSL, though susceptible to the same issues: Upload speeds tend to be much slower than download speeds, and your speed will vary depending on your distance from the provider.

Copper: Other technologies (besides Cable and DSL) use copper wiring, primarily T1, T3, and Ethernet over Copper (EOC). These have various pros and cons: They'll typically take longer than other types of internet to set up (potentially weeks or months), and are much more expensive than other types of internet — depending on your distance from the provider, costs can range up to the $1,000s. But If you already have copper wiring and are willing to pay more for higher speeds, these services may be a good alternative if you’re part of the 75% Americans that don’t have access to Fiber.

Fiber: Fiber internet works by transmitting data through light currents, not electricity, in glass or plastic cables. This makes the quality and consistency of your internet much better than with cable or DSL, which can be susceptible to electrical interference from inclement weather. But installing a fiber optic network is a pricey investment and it’s only available to 25% of Americans. Nonetheless, if you’re looking for the fastest and most consistent speeds, Fiber is probably your best bet — speeds range from 10-1000 Mbps, and if future improvements in Fiber tech raise that speed range, your existing Fiber cables will still work.

Speed: How quickly you can expect your internet to process information. Often measured as “download x upload” speeds (for example, 5 x 1 indicates a 5 Mbps download speed, and 1 Mbps upload speed).

Upload: When you send data from your computer to the internet, like an email.

Download: When you receive data to your computer from the internet. Example: Watching a YouTube video.

Uptime: When your internet is working properly.

Downtime: When your internet has crashed and isn’t working.

Bandwidth: How much information your internet can handle at once.

Mbps: Abbreviation for megabits per second. The units used to measure internet speed and bandwidth. One megabit is equivalent to 1/8th of a megabyte (MB), and 1,000 Kilobytes (K). 1,000 Mbps equals 1 Gigabyte (G).

ISP: Abbreviation for Internet Service Provider.

Internet Protocol (IP): How data is sent, in packets, from computer to computer over the internet.

IP Address: A unique number that essentially acts as your computer’s name tag, giving it an identity when it “talks” to other computers. Static IP addresses stay the same over time, while dynamic IP addresses change every time the computer connects to the internet. A static IP address makes it easier for businesses to host servers and websites, connect to other servers, and use other companies’ servers and software.

IPv6: Internet Protocol version 6. It’s the most recent version of IP that’s slowly replacing IPv4. IPv6 improves upon various aspects of IPv4; before IPv6, there was concern that we would run out of IP addresses, but IPv6 addresses are longer and allow for many more configurations.

Packet: Units of data sent across the internet.

Packet Loss: Happens when at least one packet of data doesn’t reach its destination, usually because of a network congestion. Packet loss can increase latency. The lower this number, the better.

Latency: The length of time that passes between when a packet is sent and when it’s received. The shorter, the better.

SLA: Short for “Service-level agreement,” an official agreement on service between a provider and user.

The best business internet providers: Summed up

Best For
Connection Type
Download Speeds (Mbps)
Contract Requirement
J.D. Power Customer Service Rating
AT&T
Transparent Pricing
DSL, Fiber
6-1,000
2 years
4.3/5
Verizon
Customer Service
Copper, DSL, Fiber
1-940
2 years or 1 month
5/5
CenturyLink
Downtime Compensation
DSL, Fiber
3-1,000
2 years or 1 month
3/5
Comcast Business
Reliable Speeds
Cable, Fiber
25-1,000
2 years
2.25/5
Frontier Communications
Online Resources
DSL, Fiber
7-500
None listed
2/5
Charter Spectrum
Flexible Contracts
Cable, Fiber
100-1,000
1 month
3.75/5
Windstream
Widespread Coverage
DSL, Cable
Up to 1,000
None listed
2/5