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AT&T and Verizon are Reviews.com’s best internet service provider, both earning a 4.2 out of 5 score.
The FCC’s definition of broadband internet service has a minimum benchmark of 25 Mbps download speeds.
The best internet service providers offer affordable pricing, high speed connections, and reliable service.
Staying connected to the internet is a necessity, so finding the best internet service provider for the best price is important. When it comes to picking the best internet companies, there are a handful of features that can really set a company apart from the competition. A provider that offers complete coverage at high speeds while still offering excellent customer service can stand out above the rest. Other features that customers look for are reliability and price. When reviewing the best ISPs, we considered factors like coverage, speed, and customer service.
Will pay early termination fee for switching providers
No contracts required
Bundles available with other services
No data cap
Charter Spectrum Internet Plans
How to Choose the Best Internet Service Provider
You might not have much of a choice when shopping for internet service. The Institute for Local Self-Reliance reports that 129 million Americans (39% of the country) have access to only one broadband internet provider. The best ISPs have nationwide coverage and are available even in rural areas, so research “best internet near me” to compare quotes, speeds, and any possible fees.
The FCC’s definition of broadband internet service has a minimum benchmark of 25 Mbps download speeds, which is enough for simple internet-based tasks like checking emails and light browser surfing. However, activities like streaming or playing video games online requires speeds closer to 100 Mbps or more, depending on the number of devices in use. The best internet providers for gaming offer speeds of 100 Mbps at competitive prices.
Internet providers generally have a reputation for poor customer service — frustrating phone calls, billing disputes, and service interruptions. The best internet providers will have a track record of keeping its customers happy. Review scoring metrics from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) and J.D. Power to determine your future internet provider’s likelihood of offering high-quality customer service.
A growing trend for home internet service is the use of data caps — similar to data caps on smartphone plans. This limits the amount of data used over the course of a month. If you stream lots of content, play games, or do other data-heavy tasks like send or receive large files for work, a data cap may be intrusive and result in fees. When searching for the best internet companies near you, pay special attention to data caps and overage fees.
An internet connection may be a necessity, but it’s also a relatively expensive one. Most internet providers charge around $50 per month for high-speed connections. Households with multiple people in them can expect to pay more if they want decent internet speeds across multiple devices. Plus, many carriers have hidden fees for equipment, installation, and usage. Don’t pay more than you have to for reliable internet.
Cable vs. DSL vs. Fiber vs. Satellite Internet
There are different types of internet connections available to customers. Depending on where you live, not every option will be available near you. But it’s important to understand the difference when choosing the best internet service provider.
Cable:Cable internet uses the same copper cable lines that deliver cable television in your home. If you can get cable TV in your area, there’s a good chance you can get cable internet as well. Spectrum is an example of a provider that offers cable internet.
DSL: DSL stands for digital subscriber line. It’s a type of internet that connects via a telephone network using a phone wall jack. AT&T, Frontier, and CenturyLink all offer DSL internet.
Fiber:Fiber-optic internet is a type of broadband internet that transfers data using fiber optic cables. The fiber refers to the glass wires within a larger cable. Fiber-optic internet provides one of the fastest internet options on the market. AT&T, Fios, Frontier, Spectrum, CenturyLink, and Xfinity all offer fiber internet options.
Satellite: Satellite internet is a type of wireless internet transmitted using satellites. Just like satellite television, the signal is picked up by a satellite dish and transmitted to your home. Then, you can connect to the internet using a modem. HughesNet offers satellite internet.
How Much Internet Do I Need?
It can be easy to assume more is better when it comes to internet speeds, but that isn’t always the case. It depends on how you are planning to use your internet connection. Broadband speeds, fast enough to stream video and play games, are considered to be 25Mbps. If you’re a serious gamer or share an internet connection with multiple people in your household, faster speeds may be necessary. If you’re just planning to use the internet for basic tasks like checking email and browsing the web, you likely don’t need anything approaching gigabit speed.
Number of Devices
Very Heavy Use
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.
Heavy use: multiple devices streaming HD video simultaneously, real-time gaming, video conferencing.
Very heavy use: Multiple devices streaming HD or 4K video simultaneously, large file downloading, real-time gaming, video conferencing.
Search for the internet providers currently available in your area. Ask around, check local forums and communities to see what the experience with each provider is like in your area. Then, compare prices, available speeds, fees, equipment costs, and more to find the cheapest internet for the best speeds.
We evaluated internet service providers based on customer satisfaction, data caps, download speed, plans, and customer support to determine Reviews.com scores and create our best internet service provider reviews. To compare internet service providers with other brands across the board, we calculate each Reviews.com score based on the following:
Top Download Speeds: We awarded higher scores to internet providers with higher download speeds.
Number of Plans: Internet providers with more plan options to choose from scored higher in our methodology.
Data Caps: No one wants to be left without internet for the rest of the month, so we awarded internet providers with higher scores if they had high or no data caps.
Customer Support: We reviewed and compared the number of channels that customers could reach each provider’s customer support representatives. The more channels of contact available, the higher the score.