Here’s our tried and tested list of the best internet service providers based on factors like speed, affordability, and customer service.
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For most American households, being connected to the internet is as crucial as having electricity and running water. The challenge when comparing the best internet service providers (ISPs) in your area is to find one that meets your household’s needs.
If you want a ‘smart household’ with lots of interconnected devices, then you’ll need fiber internet with 1 gigabit (actually 940 Mbps) download capacity. If your requirements include massive downloads and streaming/gaming in 4K on multiple devices, then it makes sense to pay for high speeds of at least 100-400 Mbps. But if all you need is a reliable connection, then you may want to select a more affordable plan with speeds of 20-60 Mbps.
The other important thing to recognize is that internet services vary from area to area. According to the Federal Communications Commission, around one-third of Americans now have access to high-speed fiber broadband. But most rural areas and many urban and suburban areas are still limited to DSL, cable, or satellite. Therefore a useful starting point would be to search for ‘internet providers in my area’ or use this FCC search tool for a partial list of options where you live.
To help you begin your search, we compiled this list of the 10 top internet providers in America. We assessed the internet-only plans from all the best ISPs and selected the best ones for speed, affordability, and so on. We hope this assists you in making an informed decision!
But when comparing VPN services, what are the most important factors one should look into? We’ve researched and compared a number of VPN providers according to the most essential factors, such as: privacy & security, speed, number of servers and locations, streaming and torrenting, supported software, and pricing plans.
No ISP can claim to be fastest everywhere, but AT&T is probably the fastest in the most locations. AT&T Fiber is now available in most urban and suburban areas in the Midwest, South, and California, with rollouts planned for the rest of the country in the near-future. The ‘Superfast’ 1-gigabit plan is faster than anyone else at the equivalent price.
For $49.99 / month, AT&T Fiber offers maximum 940 Mbps download speeds with unlimited internet data usage and no annual contracts. Best of all, the plan includes HBO Max free of charge – making it the perfect bundle for high-speed internet and binging HBO shows like Game of Thrones, The Sopranos, and Curb Your Enthusiasm in 4K.
Like the biggest railroad operators one century ago, the best internet providers are each conquering different parts of the country today. Verizon Fios is number one for high-speed internet in the North-East, having rolled out its fiber network to major metro areas including New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and DC.
Verizon offers three plans that vary in terms of speeds and add-ons, all of them with no contracts. The $39.99 plan gets you 200 Mbps download speeds and Disney+ as free add-on for the first 12 months. The $79.99 plan gets you 940 Mbps download speeds, plus Disney+ and Hulu for 12 months and free router rental.
If you’re asking yourself, ‘What’s the cheapest way to get internet?’, then this is it. Xfinity, a subsidiary of Comcast, offers the most extensive fiber availability of all the ISPs, but at greater cost. But at the other end, it offers the cheapest basic internet service plan of any provider.
Xfinity has a range of plans starting at a market-beating $24.99 for 25 Mbps through to a 1-gig plan for $84.99 with 1-year contract (or $100/m with no contract). The 25 Mbps doesn’t include any other perks, but if all you need is an internet connection good enough for working and streaming from 1-2 devices – then it does the job.
If you’re looking for the best ISP for speed and affordability, then it’s hard to go past RCN. That’s because this provider offers 100 Mbps download speeds for less than most of its competitors. The downside is that RCN only serves the New York, Boston, Philadelphia, DC, and Chicago metro areas.
RCN offers three plans, the best of which is the 100 Mbps package. This plan costs just $29.99 / month with no contract required, plus enhanced whole home Wi-Fi and enhanced whole home audio thrown in for just $9.95 / month and $5.99 / month respectively. RCN also offers 500 Mbps for $44.99 / month and 940 Mbps (in Boston only) for $54.99 / month.
CenturyLink is another major internet service provider slowly rolling out a fiber gigabit network. However, it makes this list because of its 100 Mbps plan – which costs $49 / month, with no price rises for as long as you keep your plan. This makes it one of the best internet plans if you like thinking long-term.
Frankly, this is a great selling tactic. Most ISPs lure you in with a great price for the first year but gradually raise prices as the years go by. CenturyLink charges the same $49/month flat rate for eternity – as long as you agree to paperless billing (simple!) and don’t change the terms of your plan.