The Best Fiber Internet

Fiber-optic internet is a relatively new technology. As of 2018, there are still only a handful of ISPs that offer fiber service, so we compared the four biggest providers. Keep in mind that the best for you depends on your location — two providers rarely offer fiber in the same place. Enter your zip code above to see which service your city, and we’ll help you compare plans.

The 4 Best Fiber Internet Providers

No Data Limits
Verizon Fios
Verizon
Award-winning customer service, but only available on the East Coast
Pros
No data caps
Promotional value
Award-winning customer service
Cons
Limited double play
State availability

Why we chose it

No data caps

Verizon FiOS smartly pairs its fiber speeds with unlimited data usage. You can upload, download, stream, and surf as you please all month long. Other providers with data caps slow down your service when you’ve used up all your data, rendering your internet virtually useless.

Online forums note if you’re hosting servers and consistently hitting 10 TB a month, you may get a letter of warning from Verizon encouraging you to consider a business internet plan. However, the vast majority of customers will never reach that kind of data usage.

Award-winning customer service

We found Verizon consistently topping customer service rankings from Consumer Reports, the ACSI, and J.D. Power. It was the J.D. Power customer satisfaction award recipient in the East with full points on every metric. Verizon also topped with 70 out of 100 from ACSI and 69 out of 100 from Consumer Reports. These kinds of ratings are the best indicator of customer care. Because of Verizon’s optimistic scores, you can expect reliable performance, reasonable costs, painless communication, and clear billing.

Promotional value

New customers signing up for Verizon are offered several promotional deals that could save you a lot of money. If you happen to be switching services while still under contract with another provider, Verizon will help buyout your contract up to $500.

We appreciate that all of Verizon’s packages come without the obligation of an annual contract. If you even need to stop your service, you won’t have to worry about early termination fees. Verizon will also waive the $99 installation fee if you order online.

Each plan is price-locked for one to three years and comes with varied amounts of Visa gift card (between $50 and $150). Some bundles also come with $200 credit for smart home devices by Google or Nest. To top it all off, Verizon offer a 30-day money back guarantee if you find the service faulty.

Points to consider

Only one TV/Internet bundle

Most ISPs offer the most savings when you bundle your internet, TV, and phone service together. But as of 2018, more than half of U.S. homes are wireless-only — most people aren’t looking to bundle a landline into their internet service.

That said, phone service comes standard with Verizon’s best bundle packages. If you’d like to combine just internet and TV service, there’s just one option, the Verizon Custom TV plan. It’s $80 for 1,000 GB and comes with around 155 channels.

The Custom TV plan should allow the flexibility for most people to get their favorite programs. But if you’d prefer one of its more comprehensive channel plans, you’ll have to add phone service too.

State availability

While Verizon FiOS services just ten states across the East Coast, its population coverage is about 33 million — second only to Comcast. So if you happen to live in one of the few states it reaches (New York in particular), there’s a good chance your neighborhood is equipped.

Flexible TV/Internet Bundles
AT&T Internet
AT&T
Customizable bundling across 21 states
Pros
Widespread availability
Flexible bundling options
Customer service
Cons
Comparatively expensive
1 TB data cap

Why we chose it

Widespread availability

With fiber presence in 21 states (70 of the nation’s largest metro areas), and 9,799 zip codes, AT&T currently boasts the largest fiber network. You’ll find most of its fiber service in the South, Midwest, and California. AT&T also has more exhaustive plans to expand its services to 14 more metro areas in these regions, whereas Verizon’s expansion plans are focused solely on New York state.

Flexible bundling options

AT&T allows you to build and customize your own bundle of TV and internet services. Customers will have an unlimited combination of channel packages and speed ranges. If you want all the speed has to offer, but don’t need many channels, you can pair the 1,000 Mbps internet with a 180+ channel plan. But if you spend more time flipping channels than surfing the web, you can choose the 360+ channel plan and bundle it with the 100 Mbps internet speed.

On average, bundling will save you $10 on each service. Bundling your service with TV or phone grants you unlimited data (normally $30) and a $150 rewards card.

Customer service

Like Verizon, AT&T is often recognized for its outstanding customer service. J.D. Power awarded its customer satisfaction in the North Central region, and it scored 68 out of 100 from the ACSI. We’re confident AT&T can quickly resolve issues, communicate accurate billing, provide reliable service, and offer responsive technical support.

Points to consider

Comparatively expensive

AT&T’s fiber prices are about $10 more than the competition on every speed tier. Its 1,000 Mbps and 235+ channel bundle costs about $135 per month. Verizon, by comparison, is $95 per month for 1,000 Mbps, 280+ channels, and home phone service. If you aren’t interested in bundling, you will have to pay $30 per month for unlimited data. The cost is waived when you bundle services, but will be added to the bill once you promotional offer expires (typically one year).

1 TB data cap

As we mentioned before, AT&T enforces a 1 TB data cap. If you choose a 100 Mbps or 500 Mbps internet-only plan, you’ll have to closely monitor your data usage. It should be enough data for most households, but if multiple people are streaming or gaming daily you could go over that limit. You’ll receive a warning if you exceed that amount, and you will be charged $10 for an extra 50 GB if it happens too frequently.

You do have the option of upgrading to unlimited data (for $30 per month), but Verizon FiOS offers unlimited data for free. AT&T customers who purchase the top speed tier (1,000 Mbps) or bundle their services, will have free unlimited data during the duration of the initial contract.

No Contracts
Frontier FiOS
Frontier
The only fiber provider in the PNW
Pros
PNW availability
No limits and great value
Cons
Customer service

Why we chose it

PNW availability

Frontier offers the best fiber-optic availability for the West Coat. You’ll find its fiber service available across several cities in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and California. While CenturyLink also has a presence in some these states, it’s much smaller (one or two cities max).

Meanwhile, fiber service from AT&T and Verizon is nonexistent in the Pacific Northwest, and there are no current plans to expand. For West Coast residents, Frontier is likely your only choice for fiber internet.

No contracts, no data limits

Frontier’s service comes without any contract obligation and no data limits. That means customers are free to shop around and switch services without an early termination fee. You also won’t find any penalty for using data to binge-watch your summer away, video conference on your work-from-home days, or upload to your Youtube channel.

New customers will also receive a two-year price guarantee, free router, and one year of Amazon Prime.

Points to consider

Customer service

Frontier ranked below-average in our round-up of customer satisfaction surveys. The company scored 54 out of 100 from the ASCI and 59 out of 100 from Consumer Reports readers. In every region that Frontier operates, it scored 2 out of 5 power circles from J.D. Power (the lowest score it will publish).

Customer service will vary from person to person, but be prepared for the potential of some frustrating phone calls, billing confusion, or spotty service. If you value attentive customer service over speed, consider another provider in your area.

How to Choose the Best Fiber Internet Plan for You

Check your local options

There’s a 75% chance you live in a region without fiber-optic internet coverage. When looking to purchase internet, your very first step should be seeking your local providers. You can use our zip tool above to see which of our favorite providers have service in your zip code, or search Google for internet providers in your area.

Confirm how much speed you’ll need

Fiber internet will come in tiers of speed ranging from 50 to 1,000 Mbps. Fiber’s max speeds are much faster than the majority of households will need. With 1,000 Mbps, you could download a two-hour movie in less than 10 seconds (a task that could take up to 10 minutes on a 20 Mbps connection). However, if you’re a mega-gamer or host more than 10 people on your Wi-Fi, 1,000 Mbps is likely your best bet.

After speaking to network experts, consulting with online speed guides, and using the FCC’s data on speed — we’ve built a guide to help you find your minimum speed.

Light use Moderate use High use Very high use
1–3 devices
5 – 10 Mbps
15 Mbps
25 Mbps
50 Mbps
4–8 devices
15 Mbps
25 Mbps
50 Mbps
100 Mbps
8–10 devices
25 Mbps
50 Mbps
100 Mbps
150 Mbps
10+ devices
50 Mbps
100 Mbps
150 Mbps
200+ Mbps
  • Light use: emails, web browsing, social media, SD video streaming
  • Moderate use: music streaming, occasional online gaming, streaming HD video on one or two devices.
  • High use: Multiple devices streaming HD video simultaneously, real-time gaming, video conferencing.
  • Very high use: Multiple devices streaming HD or 4K video simultaneously, large file downloading, real-time gaming, video conferencing.

Max fiber speeds exceed the chart because the vast majority of users will never need a full 1,000 Mbps of internet speed. The median household internet speed is 39 Mbps, but as streaming popularizes and more advanced media emerges (4K, Ultra HD), the need for more speed is rising. Keep in mind that devices can add up quickly too. There’s more than just your computer connecting to the WiFi; phones, tablets, TVs, video game consoles, and even smart thermostats can count.

Don’t forget about data

If your internet activity is demanding enough to warrant fiber-optic speeds, there’s a good chance you’re using a lot of data too. You’ll want to enjoy your fiber speeds without throttling your binging habits, so make sure your provider’s plans are offering adequate data. We recommend an unlimited data plan if you prefer streaming in 4K or Ultra HD.

If you’re comparing providers that cap data usage, look for 500 GB or 1 TB. Otherwise, your provider might slow down your connection or hit you with extra fees if you hit the limit. 500 GB will work for a more casual streaming habit, but heavy gamers and marathon binge watchers will need 1 TB. If you have several people streaming daily, work from home, or intensely game, you’ll need an unlimited data plan.

Save by bundling

When choosing the same provider for other telecom service like TV and phone, you’ll always save money on each service bundled. Fiber TV isn’t as common as fiber internet, but it offers the same high quality and reliability. Bundles typically come with extra promotional channels or free equipment too.

If your home will be hosting a few of these services anyways, we recommend acquiring them through the same provider to save some money and consolidate a bill. If your choice of TV provider will influence who you want to purchase your internet from, you can check out our review of the best TV providers.

Fiber Internet FAQ

How fast is fiber internet?

Fiber internet offers next-level speeds, with top tier plans reaching 1,000 Mbps. While traditional cable internet plans range between 10 and 100 Mbps, fiber internet plans start at an impressive 50 Mbps. But the average download speed in the U.S. is only about 39 Mbps. The majority of households won’t need 1,000 Mbps plans, and will be perfectly happy with a starting fiber plan.

What’s the difference between fiber and cable internet?

Cable internet works by transmitting data through coaxial cables. Fiber-optic internet uses glass fibers instead, and is thus much faster, more reliable, and higher quality. You can connect more users on a fiber-optic connection without experiencing lag or latency issues.

Is fiber-optic technology future-proof?

It is for now, but there’s another dark horse in the running. Fiber is extremely expensive to build out and can be quite tedious to acquire the permissions for companies to expand. A cheaper and increasingly more popular option, is the wireless networks our cell phones connect to.

People are using their phones and cell phone plans as personal hotspots for their home internet too. It’s cheaper and more efficient for companies to leverage this kind of internet service. Wireless internet is speeding up too, and the latest 5G networks are racing to capture customers and is rumored to rival traditional broadband. But at this point, a wireless defeat of broadband is still just a pondered possibility. Fiber internet’s undeniable superiority and backing of telecommunication monoliths has secured its future.

The Best Fiber Internet: Summed Up

Verizon
AT&T
Frontier
CenturyLink
States covered
10
21
13
6
Speed
100 – 1,000 Mbps
100 – 1,000 Mbps
50 – 500 Mbps
1,000 Mbps
Data limit
none
1 TB
1 TB
none
ASCI score
70/100
69/100
58/100
54/100
Wi-Fi hotspot access

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