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High speed internet service has transformed from a luxury to a must-have for most consumers living in the U.S. Each company and internet plan comes with several variables, so we’ve evaluated five popular options to help you pick the best one.
To help you find the best high speed internet service, our results are based on evaluating customer service, download speeds, wifi hotspot availability, and monthly data caps.
The 5 Best High Speed Internet Service Providers
- AT&T Internet: Best Customer Service
- Verizon Fios: Best Data Cap
- CenturyLink: Best Nationwide Hotspot Access
- Comcast Xfinity: Best Download Speeds
- Cox Communications Internet: Best Plan Variety
|Reviews.com Score||J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction*||Download Speed||Starting Price|
|AT&T Internet||4.2/5||751/1,000||940 Mbps||$35/mo.|
|Verizon Fios||4.2/5||769/1,000||940 Mbps||$39.99/mo.|
|Comcast Xfinity||3.6/5||730/1,000||1,000 Mbps||$39.99/mo.|
|Cox Communications Internet||3.4/5||723/1,000||940 Mbps||$29.99/mo.|
Information accurate as of February, 2021.* Based on J.D. Power’s 2020 Residential Internet Service Provider Satisfaction Study average ratings across all regions.
AT&T – Best Customer Service
Availability of fiber-optic service
✓ Best For: Excellent customer service
✗ Not For: Coverage for nationwide travelers
AT&T provides solid customer support for high speed internet service, with top marks from J.D. Power in the south and west regions of the U.S. On top of that, you can take advantage of fast speeds with its fiber-optic internet plans.
Additionally, there are several other internet plans to choose from, including basic versions for households not needing such quick download speeds and fiber internet connections. The variety of packages enables customers more choices to help find the ideal plan for their needs. Depending on the internet plan you choose, you can expect download speeds ranging anywhere from 0.8 Mbps all the way up to 940 Mbps — with higher speed tiers offering sufficient speeds for multi-person streaming, and gaming. Data caps vary depending on the plan you choose, but most plans have either a 1 TB cap or none at all.
However, AT&T internet is only available in about 21 states across the U.S., which can be a hindrance.
AT&T Internet Further Reading:
Verizon Fios – Unlimited Data
No data caps
Customer service rating
✓ Best For: East Coast residents
✗ Not For: Hotspot users
Like AT&T, Verizon Fios earned five out five stars from J.D. Power for the company’s customer service. Availability spans from New England to the mid-Atlantic region, leaving other large areas of the country without access. However, those living in eligible areas receive unlimited data use every month and some of the fastest data speeds out there.
Unlike other providers with a 1TB cap, Verizon Fios offers unlimited data each month, so you can continuously stream without interruptions or worry of fees. And with fiber internet options, download speeds are up to 940 Mbps, which is on-par with the other best internet service providers.
Verizon Fios Internet Further Reading:
CenturyLink – Price-Lock Guarantee
✓ Best For: Cheap plan options
✗ Not For: Service-focused customers
CenturyLink is available in 36 states and is consistently rolling out more fiber-optic networks. While it offers standard download speeds and data caps, one downside is CenturyLink has one of the lowest customer service scores out of all the providers we evaluated, but still beats out other ISPs on J.D. Power’s study.
Like most providers, CenturyLink provides download speeds up to 940Mbps with its Fiber Gigabit internet service. If you’re not on CenturyLink’s fiber plans, it caps data usage at 1TB before customers must pay for fiber internet service or requests a reduction in your data usage.
CenturyLink Internet Further Reading:
Comcast Xfinity – Fastest Top Speed
Consistent, impressive speed
Plans for every budget
Flexible contract terms
Pricing may vary
✓ Best For: Fast download speeds
✗ Not For: People looking for cheap internet
Xfinity slightly edges out its competitors by offering download speeds of 1,000 Mbps compared to the standard 940 Mbps. While this isn’t a huge difference, it may be worth it for users with large families and multiple devices being used at once.
However, J.D. Power names Xfinity second behind AT&T as the best internet service provider in multiple regions, a drop from its previous standing as No. 1 in the north central region. All Xfinity internet plans come with up to 1.2 TB of data each month, higher than the average average cap. Xfinity also offers unlimited data plans for data-hungry customers.
Xfinity Intern Further Reading:
Cox Communications Internet – Plan Variety
✓ Best For: Easy WiFi control
✗ Not For: Service-focused customers
Cox brings home an average customer service score from J.D. Power along with fast download speeds. It also provides a Panoramic Wifi Gateway, which securely connects all of your devices at home and you can find mobile hotspots across the country.
Depending on the Cox internet plan you choose, download speeds range from 10Mbps to 940Mbps and a 1.25TB data cap. So it’s best if you shell out some extra dough for a higher-tier option for multi-person gaming and streaming if you sign up with Cox.
How Much Is High-Speed Internet?
Technically, high-speed internet is anything that is always running and faster than standard dial-up. That covers a lot of internet speed — and a lot of prices. Getting high-speed internet with a cable connection is much different than getting high-speed internet with fiber optic.
As of 2020, the average cost of cable internet in the U.S. was $58 a month., while for DSL the average rate comes in at $43 a month. For fiber optic, the average monthly rate is $56, while satellite is the most expensive at $96 a month.
Where you live may affect how much you pay. As a general rule, urban areas actually have cheaper internet options, most likely due to lacking infrastructure needed to support high-speed internet connection. Rural areas are likely to have a steeper monthly cost for high-speed internet. For cable internet, going by cost per megabyte, Montana is the most expensive at $1.00 per MB. Meanwhile, users in Texas pay an average of just $0.12 per MB.
How Much Speed Will I Actually Get?
According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), internet must meet the threshold of 25 Mbps download/3 Mbps upload speeds to be considered high-speed internet. Not only does high-speed internet make it faster to download a large file or eliminate buffering on videos, but it can also allow multiple users to remain online at once. Households with multiple users will benefit from speeds up to 100 Mbps.
Now, what will you get for your speeds? You can do everything from stream video, send emails, browse websites, and play video games at once with the right high-speed internet provider.
For telecommuting and studying at home, the FCC recommends a minimum download speed of 25 Mbps. You’ll need at least that much for streaming 4K videos, too. To make a video call, you need just 4 Mbps. Keep in mind that if you have multiple residents logged on at the same time, the required Mbps adds up quickly. More bandwidth translates to faster speeds for all.
Guide to High Speed Internet
Most internet companies are limited in geographic scope and even more so if you’re looking for fiber-option plans. In most cases, it’s easy to find your available options by simply typing in your zip code on a carrier’s website.
Decide how much speed you need
When evaluating plan speeds, think about how frequently you stream and upload content online. However, since speeds can vary based on the amount of traffic (particularly during peak streaming hours), consider the service provider’s reputation as well. While a service provider may provide one speed in one area, its speeds may be different in another.
Most internet carriers come with additional fees on top of your monthly rate, but that doesn’t mean it’s all the same. Compare your local options and compare prices for areas like taxes, equipment, rental fees, and installation fees. Also make sure to check the expiration date on any promotional offers to ensure your savings are maximized.
Many carriers offer an attractive discount if you bundle internet with other available services, such as phone or cable television. Verizon, for example, offers bundling discounts when you pair internet with cell phone service, while you can save with AT&T when you sign up for internet and DIRECTV.
High Speed Internet FAQ
One of the most common ways to get online, cable internet uses an established infrastructure of copper wires to deliver relatively fast speeds to homes across the country.
Like cable, DSL is a popular type of internet access and is widely available throughout the U.S. It utilizes existing telephone lines to bring internet into homes.