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If you are moving soon or you are just looking for a change in your Internet Services then you will be interested to know what the best internet provider is for you. Something to keep in mind while searching for Internet Service Providers is that they only operate in certain service areas which means you may be limited in which providers are available to you based on where you live. This doesn't prevent you from choosing the best proxy server for your needs, however. In addition, we suggest that you check our VPNs for Mac reviews if you're not using Windows OS.
There are a variety of qualifications that could be used to determine what the best Internet Service Provider for you would be which is why I’ve sorted and labeled them to show exactly which quality each Internet Service Provider is best for IT administration or home use. Pair the service with a top-quality modem router combo and you'll get the most for your buck.
3 Top Internet Providers
1. AT&T – Best Customer Service
The AT&T Internet Services don’t come in very many options but they are fast and the monthly fee is affordable. The available options from AT&T only come in two options, DSL and Fiber.
The Verizon Fios Internet Service Provider has competitive speeds and pricing but limited availability and those speeds and prices are subject to change based upon where you live.
3. HughesNet – Best Satellite Internet Service Provider
The Internet services provided by HughesNet are solely through Satellite Broadband which means their download, upload, and data speeds aren't going to compare to something like fiber-optic broadband.
Guide to Internet Service Providers
Internet Service providers operate out of certain service areas so you may only have one best internet provider available in your location. This is highly unfortunate but there is nothing that can be done about it besides moving to a new location.
One of the first things to look for when you have a choice between Internet Service Providers is what kind of speeds are available and for what prices. Speed is measured in megabits per second (Mbps) and as a general rule higher is better. That said, there isn’t much point in paying for internet speeds that you don’t need.
The second thing to look for is whether a contract will be required to use their services. Avoiding contracts is a good idea in most cases but it isn’t always possible. If you do have to go with a contract to get your internet service then it is a good idea to read the contract carefully.
You should generally read every paper you sign very carefully, but in this case, it is especially important to understand exactly what you can be charged for. It is a common tactic for an Internet Service Provider to hide outrageous, ridiculous fees in their contracts that you may miss if you aren't reading carefully.
Another thing that bears mentioning is that customer service is universally awful across all Internet Service Providers. The American Customer Satisfaction Index reported on the customer service departments for the year 2018 to 2019 that, as an industry, they scored a 64 out of 100. Nothing to be proud of.
I don't mention to discourage you or any other potential customers, but to keep you informed and prepare you for what you will likely be dealing with. I've found that it is easier to deal with less than stellar customer service if I know about it beforehand and can prepare myself accordingly.
Best Internet Provider Reviews
1. AT&T – Best Customer Service
The AT&T Internet Services don’t come in very many options but they are fast and the monthly fee is affordable. The available options from AT&T only come in two options, DSL and Fiber. Unfortunately, depending on where you live you might only have the DSL option available to you which offers less speed for the same price as the lower-end fiber option.
AT&T’s DSL option will provide you as much download speed as is available in your area up to 100 megabits per second but it is hard to know exactly how much that is without having the service.
If you get the full 100 megabits per second then the pricing is competitive with other Internet Service Providers but unfortunately, there is no guarantee that you will get it and it has the nasty downside of being affected by your neighbors if they are also using the same plan.
If it is possible to sign up for their Fiber service then you should go with that option. For the cheaper deal, you are automatically guaranteed a 300 megabits per second download speed. The lower-end 300 megabits per second plan is the same price as the DSL plan except in this case your speed is guaranteed which is more than competitive with other plans from some of the other Internet Service Providers.
You can also get the 1,000 megabits per second plan which provides a guaranteed 1,000 megabits per second in speed and you don’t have to worry about the speed being affected by other people. This is a very competitive speed for the price they are asking.
Though it isn’t perfectly reliable, the Federal Communications Commission reported that AT&T scored 108.9% on their 2018 report “Measuring Broadband Across America.” This means that they provided a little bit more speed than they said they would that year to their users.
Data capping is when an Internet Service Provider will either slow or sometimes completely stop, your services or charge you fees after using a certain amount of data, usually some kind of arbitrary monthly limit.
It is a ridiculous and transparent attempt to get more money out of their customers and a lot of Internet Service Providers do it. Sadly, Internet Services provided by AT&T do have the unfortunate downside of having data caps except for their highest speed, and most expensive, fiber plan for 1,000 megabits per second which has unlimited data usage.
The data cap for both the lower-end fiber plan and the DSL plan is 1 terabyte of data usage which is pretty large. After you exceed that cap they will charge you an additional fee for every 50 Gigabytes of data up to a certain amount after which you no longer have access to that service.
No matter what, if you are going with AT&T then you will have to sign a 1-year contract. There's no getting around it, unfortunately, AT&T doesn't offer any plans that don't require a contract.
On the subject of customer service, AT&T did well for an Internet Service Provider. The ASCI report for them was 69 out of 100 last year which places them 5 points above average.
The Verizon Fios Internet Service Provider has competitive speeds and pricing but limited availability and those speeds and prices are subject to change based upon where you live. It also suffers from a lack of options for plans, but much like AT&T, they have good coverage for mid, love, and high tier internet speeds for very good prices for their fiber optics but also for Verizon Business and Verizon Wireless.
The really interesting thing about Verizon Fios Internet services is that they come with almost as much upload speed as they do download speed, which is very rare. Upload speeds are usually much lower than download.
The low-end plan is about 100 megabits per second upload and download. The middle option is 300 megabits per second upload and download. The high-end option is up to 940 megabits per second download and up to 880 megabits per second upload.
As you can see the speed of their Internet service plans is competitive for the lower and middle tiers but the high end falls short a bit in the speed department. Regarding the cost-to-speed ratio of their plans, they are fairly competitive and you will see the most value with their plans from their top-tier plan. It costs more and provides less speed than the AT&T equivalent, but there are no contracts and it is a great option if you need as much upload speed as you do download speed.
But how fast are they really? Well, it turns out that Verizon does pretty well for itself on that front. The Federal Communications Commission reported that they scored 107.9% on their 2018 report “Measuring Broadband Across America.” I have family members that use Verizon FiOS and I can confirm that it is very fast.
Verizon Fios does not cap your data which is a huge plus in my book. No matter which plan you are using you are free to download and stream as much content as you like with no need to worry about greedy fees or limiting your services.
Another huge mark in Verizon Fios' favor is that the prices of their plans are "all-inclusive" which means that you don't have to worry about paying installation fees, if you order online, or renting your equipment. Everything is included in the price of the plan. This is how all Internet Service Providers should operate. Taking this into consideration makes the pricing for each of Verizon's plans much more competitive.
If you choose not to order your internet online then they won’t waive the installation fee which is a hefty sum, I recommend ordering online so you don’t have to deal with this additional charge. If you are getting anything other than the high-tier internet package from them then you do have to pay an additional fee per month to rent one of their routers.
That said, you can avoid that charge from any Internet Service Provider by purchasing your router which really just makes it a one-time fee to your vendor of choice and then you're free to never pay a router rental fee again!
Verizon scored the best of any Internet Service Provider with a score of 70 out of 100 in the American Customer Satisfaction Index report for 2018 to 2019 on Internet Service Provider customer service.
3. HughesNet – Best Satellite Internet Service Provider
The Internet services provided by HughesNet are solely through Satellite Broadband which means their download, upload, and data speeds aren't going to compare to something like fiber-optic broadband. That said, if you are considering HughesNet then you are probably in a rural area where you aren't really spoiled for choices. If that is the case, have no fear, HughesNet can get the job done.
There are a variety of plans offered by HughesNet but, oddly enough, in this case, you aren't paying for speed when you go up in tiers. Every tier of plan with HughesNet offers the same 25 megabits per second internet speed. Instead, what you are paying for when you go up in tiers is a higher data cap.
Yes, unfortunately, HughesNet is a proponent of the dreaded data cap and it gets worse. The data cap for their cheapest option is 10 gigabytes and they max out at 50 gigabytes for a truly outrageous jump in price.
Sadly, this is the nature of satellite internet. The fact of the matter is, it is hard to get internet out to rural areas and that means that it is going to cost more for less than it would have in a metropolitan area.
On the bright side, though, HughesNet is very forgiving with their data caps. You don't have to worry about being charged exorbitant fees for going over your limit or losing your services for the rest of the month. Instead, they will slow your service to a crawl, which isn't much better but at least they aren't gouging your wallet while they do it.
You can also purchase more data each month if you need a little extra in an urgent situation and HughesNet’s option for doing that is cheaper than their primary competitor.
Another downside to HughesNet services is the fact that no matter which plan you decide to go with, you will have to sign up with them for a 2-year contract. On the upside, you also have to do that with their main competitor, Viasat, and Viasat will jump your price 3 months into your contracted period whereas HughesNet will keep it the same throughout.
At the lower-tier of HughesNet plans this ends up saving you money even though it looks like Viasat has the better deal. If you are looking for higher speeds and data usage then you are better off going with Viasat, though.
For equipment fees, you will be charged for the satellite antenna required for their internet services. In this case, you can either rent it from them or buy it outright. If you are going to be using their services for at least 31 months then it is cheaper to just buy the satellite antenna. Remember to have about 4 hours out of your day prepared for the installation of the antenna and it is best to leave it to the professionals when working with this kind of equipment.
As with any contract-based internet service, there are cancellation fees if you terminate your contract early. HughesNet's cancellation fees are very expensive. If you terminate before your equipment is installed then you get a full refund, but if it is after that then you owe the whole fee. In this case, it is a large amount of money, minus a bit for each month you maintain your service with them up to a certain point.
In the case of customer service, HughesNet did not receive a rating by the American Customer Satisfaction Index, they were instead lumped in with “All Others” which makes it likely that their customer service is less than ideal, which is saying something for Internet Service Provider customer service.
In short, HughesNet is the best option for low-end satellite internet services due to their lack of price jumps mid-contract and consistent speeds no matter where you are in the country.
4. Charter Spectrum – Best for Bundling
Some might remember an Internet Service Provider by the name of Roadrunner which eventually turned into Time Warner Cable. It turns out that Spectrum is a combination of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. Charter Communications purchased the two companies and merged them to create Spectrum.
Some Internet Service Providers will bundle their Internet service with other services like Cable television or landline phone services. Spectrum is one of those Internet Service Providers.
These extra services are usually provided for an extra cost and because Internet Service Providers want you to use all of their services they can sometimes make it difficult to find the only-internet options if that is what you are after.
Spectrum offers a variety of bundles for their internet services that come with television channels or even a landline phone service. If you want to have the convenience of having your Internet, Cable, and phone bills all in one place then Spectrum can provide that service for you.
There are many different Internet speeds offered by Spectrum anywhere from 100 megabits per second to 940 megabits per second. These speeds are fairly respectable and competitive with most other big-name Internet Service Providers.
Spectrum heavily advertises the fact that they have no data caps, which is certainly something to be proud of.
One of the primary draws to signing up with Spectrum is their lack of contracts. If you decide to get your Internet Services provided by Spectrum then you won’t have to sign any contracts which means you can end your service with them at any time and you won’t have to worry about early cancellation fees.
Spectrum’s Internet services are not all good, though. Their services tend to run a bit more expensive than other Internet Service Providers and while the fees they charge you aren’t very pricey, bar one, they are a bit baffling. Spectrum will charge you an installation fee even if you install your internet yourself and they will also charge you a “Wi-Fi Activation Fee” which doesn’t make sense on several levels.
Spectrum’s customer service department scored a 63 out of 100 on the American Customer Satisfaction Index 2018 to 2019 report on ISP customer service. That is just barely below average for ISPs which is telling, not just for Spectrum, but for the industry as a whole.
5. Frontier Communications – Best for Cheap Internet
If you are looking at Frontier Communications for your Internet services then you are spoiled for choice. They have a lot of internet plans available, though which ones you can pick from are limited by the area you live in. Frontier offers two different types of internet service: DSL and Fiber.
Their DSL options are widely available and inexpensive which is a nice plus to working with them. The Fiber options do come with a contract and aren't available in many places, but they are pretty cheap for the speeds they offer except for their gigabit plan.
Another huge bright side to working with Frontier is that there are no data caps. No matter which plan you get from them they will never cap your data in any way. No loss of service, no speed throttling, no extra charges.
If you are going with one of their fiber plans then you will be locked into a 2-year contract, but you don’t have to worry about any price jumping or anything like that. Part of signing the contract is locking in your price which is pretty nice.
Frontier does offer the option to buy or rent your equipment from them but it is a lot better to just buy your modem and router no matter which Internet Service Provider you are working with, it will save you a lot of money over time.
Concerning customer service, there is bad news here. Frontier is ranked extremely low on their customer service. They scored a 55 out of 100 on the American Customer Satisfaction Index's report for Internet Service Provider customer service.
6. CenturyLink – Best for Business
If you are looking at CenturyLink for your Internet services then it looks like you are in good hands. There are no contracts involved in either their DSL or fiber plans.
Much like AT&T's Up to 100 megabits per second plan, CenturyLink offers the same price for their first five tiers of plans and you get whichever speed is available in your area. This means that it could be a competitive price or it could be a very uncompetitive price depending on what speeds you get where you live.
For their one fiber plan, you get 1,000 megabits per second speed for a pretty average price and unlike their DSL plans, this is not a guarantee that you will always keep this price.
CenturyLink kind of has a data cap. They call it a “data limit” and if you go over it they will notify you. That’s it, full stop. They just send you a letter in the mail notifying you that you have surpassed your data limit. The data limit in question is 1 terabyte of data which is a pretty huge amount, most people won’t even approach that much data consumption in a month.
For fees, you are looking at the standard equipment rental fee and installation charges. The equipment rental can be waived just like with any other Internet Service Provider if you buy your own. The installation fee is subject to change depending on where you live but it can go up to a pretty high price. Fortunately, when I’ve used CenturyLink in the past the fee wasn’t very high at all.
CenturyLink scored a 59 out of 100 in the American Customer Satisfaction Index report on Internet Service Provider customer service.
7. Comcast Xfinity – Fastest Top Speed
Comcast is well known for its extremely poor customer service, but their Xfinity Internet Service Provider is the fastest around. Their most expensive and highest speed plan offers 2,000 megabits per second of pure, unrestrained speed. It is a truly ridiculous amount of speed and they are the only ones offering it.
Their prices tend to vary based on location, by a large amount, and they can be rather high, but there are a lot of choices available for different speeds so you can get exactly the one that is right for you and your situation.
On the subject of how fast their internet services are I can say that they are usually what is advertised with a very strange habit of occasionally being unavailable for an hour or two in the very early morning hours, like 2 or 3 o’clock. Not every day, but definitely enough to be noticeable if you are routinely awake and using the internet at those hours.
Xfinity does have data caps, but every plan offers a data cap of 1 terabyte before they start charging you extra.
There are contract-less options available for a minor fee each month. Xfinity does allow you to rent equipment from them and they do charge you an installation fee, but I currently use Xfinity and I was able to get that installation fee waived which was really nice.
On last year’s customer service report from the American Customer Satisfaction Index Xfinity scored a 61 out of 100 which is actually in the middle of the pack for Internet Service Providers.
Types of Internet Services
When looking into an Internet Service Provider you should make sure that you pick one that uses an Internet service that you are satisfied with. Internet Services are available in several different types, including Cable Broadband, Digital Subscriber Line (DSL), Satellite or Mobile Broadband, and Fiber Optic Broadband.
Cable Broadband is the most common type of internet service and runs through hybrid fiber-coaxial wiring and a cable modem that was originally designed for carrying television signals.
Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) operates via the telephone network. Unlike the dial-up service that many may remember it can operate at the same time as an active phone line without interrupting either service.
Satellite Broadband is provided through the use of a satellite antenna dish. Satellite antenna dishes need a clear line of sight to the sky, pointed toward the earth's equator where all geostationary satellites are located, to catch the signal and operate properly. They can be severely hampered by precipitous weather and heavy winds as your service is directly tied to the positioning of this satellite dish.
Mobile Broadband uses mobile phone towers to provide internet access to different devices wirelessly. Some infrastructure can be used to provide internet access to multiple devices using a process called “Tethering”, which is what you are using every time you use your cell phone as a “Mobile Hotspot.”
Fiber Optic Broadband delivers internet services to users through optical fibers. Optical fiber as a delivery system allows for higher speed internet over longer distances.
How We Chose the Best Internet Service Providers
Because there are so many variables to consider when deciding which internet services are the best for any given customer I have decided not to pick just one best service, but instead choose a few based on what they are best at. The categories I am looking at are Customer Service, Bundling, Best for Businesses, Low-cost, Speed, and the best for several different types of internet services.
How Can I Find Internet Providers in My Zip Code?
If you are looking into Internet Service Providers then you may be wondering if there is “high speed internet near me.” Good news there probably is! A simple google search of “internet providers near me” or “Internet providers in my area” will bring up plenty of sites for finding out what Internet Service Providers are available for your area, but the one that I use is highspeedinternet.com. All you have to do is enter your zip code and it will supply a list of available Internet Service Providers in your area.