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
The Best High Speed Internet Service Providers: Summed Up
|Reviews.com Score||Connection Type||Download Speed up to||WiFi hotspot access||Data Cap|
|AT&T U-verse||3.9/5||DSL, Fiber-optic||940 Mbps||Yes||1TB to unlimited||Shop plans|
|Verizon Fios||3.9/5||Fiber-Optic||940 Mbps||No||Unlimited||Shop plans|
|CenturyLink||1.7/5||DSL, Fiber-optic||940 Mbps||No||1TB||Shop plans|
|Xfinity||4.1/5||Cable, Fiber-optic||1000 Mbps||Yes||1TB||Shop plans|
|Cox||2.8/5||Cable, Fiber-optic||940 Mbps||Yes||1TB to unlimited||Shop plans|
*Data as of March 30, 2020.
AT&T – Best Customer Service
Availability of fiber-optic service
PROVIDER SCORE: 3.9/5
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. The variety of packages enables customers more choices to help find the ideal plan for their needs. However, AT&T internet is only available in about 21 states across the U.S., which can be a hindrance.
✓ Best For: Stellar customer service
✗ Not For: Nationwide customers
- Customer Service: 5/5, AT&T receives high marks for customer service, ranked as the No. 1 internet provider from J.D. Power in the south and west regions.
- Download Speed: 3/5 – Expect the standard download speed of 940 Mbps, which is ideal for streaming and gaming.
- Wifi hotspot: 5/5 – Customers have access to thousands of free wifi hotspots across the country in order to stay connected outside their primary residence.
- Data Cap: 2/5 – Depending on your plan, you can opt for either 1TB of data per month, or unlimited.
Verizon Fios – Unlimited Data
No data caps
Customer service rating
PROVIDER SCORE: 3.9/5
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.
✓ Best For: East Coast residents
✗ Not For: Hotspot users
- Customer Service: 5/5 – Verizon Fios users are pleased with the company’s customer support, according to the J.D. Power studies.
- Download Speed: 3/5 – With fiber-optic, you’ll download speed will be as fast as 940 Mbps, which is comparable to other companies.
- Wifi hotspot: 0/5 – Verizon currently doesn’t offer any wifi hotspots. If you’re traveling and need to connect, you’ll need to find another solution.
- Data Cap: 5/5 – 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.
CenturyLink – Price-Lock Guarantee
PROVIDER SCORE: 1.7/5
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 the lowest customer service score out of all the providers we evaluated.
✓ Best For: Internet service variety
✗ Not For: Service-focused customers
- Customer Service: 2/5, The lowest score in our list, CenturyLink has not achieved a high rating for customer service, according to J.D. Power.
- Download Speed: 3/5 – The standard 940 Mbps is comparable to most of the competition.
- Wifi hotspot: 0/5 – CenturyLink doesn’t offer wifi hotspots, but it does provide online instructions on how to find other options.
Data Cap:3/5 – You’ll get the industry standard of 1TB as your data cap with CenturyLink.
Comcast Xfinity – Fastest Top Speed
Consistent, impressive speed
Plans for every budget
Flexible contract terms
Pricing may vary
PROVIDER SCORE: 4.1/5
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.
✓ Best For: Fast downloads
✗ Not For: Public hotspots
- Customer Service: 4/5 – Xfinity does a solid job in the customer service department, according to J.D. Power. The company ranked first in the north-central region for customer satisfaction.
- Download Speed: 5/5 – Xfinity’s 1,000 Mbps download speed edges out the competition for superior access to high speeds.
- Wifi hotspot: 4/5, One of just two carriers on our list with hotspots available, you automatically get 40 hours of use each month with certain plans or can purchase an on-demand pass.
- Data Cap: 3/5 – Plans include 1TB of data each month, and additional data can be purchased in increments of 50 GB.
Cox Communications Internet – Plan Variety
PROVIDER SCORE: 2.8/5
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.
✓ Best For: Easy wifi management
✗ Not For: Long-term contracts
- Customer Service: 2/5 – Cox is often ranked lower than the typical ratings when it comes to customer service, according to its J.D. Power rating.
- Download Speed: 3/5 – The Gigablast plan comes with a 940 Mbps download speed, while the next plan option drops to 300 Mbps.
- Wifi hotspot: 4/5 – Cox offers prolific wifi clusters providing more security compared to public networks.
- Data Cap: 3/5 – While you can add on unlimited data for an extra fee, Cox provides 1 TB of data before any additional fees.
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
What is fiber-optic internet?
Fiber-optic internet utilizes pulses of light to transmit data faster and over longer distances than the copper wire used for DSL and cable connections.
What is cable internet?
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.
What is DSL?
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.