The 9 Best Internet Service Providers of 2021

From gaming to business needs, there's a provider for you

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Comcast Xfinity

"The most well-rounded package: hyper-fast download speeds, flexible bundle options, and a large network."

Best Budget: Frontier Communications

"Even as the price increases, its services tend to be cheaper than other leading providers."

Best Value: Spectrum Internet

"With simple plan choices, easy installation, no contracts, and no hidden fees, Spectrum is a great value."

Best for TV and Internet: Mediacom

"You can create your ideal TV/internet bundle."

Best for Gaming: Verizon Fios

"Boasts having low latency, which leads to a seamless gaming experience."

Best for Business: AT&T

"Maximum download speeds of 1,000 Mbps, AT&T's business internet packages leave its competitors in the dust."

Best Satellite: HughesNet

"Among satellite providers, HughesNet is regarded as the top pick."

Best for Rural Areas: Viasat

"Viasat's deals are much cheaper than its competitors, allowing for a bit more buffer room within your budget."

Best Customer Service: RCN

"Seems to understand how to maintain customer satisfaction, which is evident in its 4-star and 5-star reviews."

Best Overall: Comcast Xfinity

Comcast Xfinity

Comcast Xfinity

Out of all the major internet providers, we found that Comcast Xfinity offers the most well-rounded package: hyper-fast download speeds, flexible bundle options, and a widespread network. Its plans range from $19.99 per month to $299.95 per month for the first year, depending on your area, offering download speeds from 25 to 2,000 Mbps. For small households, a standard package of 100 Mbps offers plenty of data (unless someone wants to download an HD movie).

For budget-conscious families, Comcast also sells $9.95 monthly plans with 50 Mbps data speeds; you won't win any track medals with this package, but it'll suit your low-energy web-browsing needs, and it's great for a home office.

All of Xfinity's plans come equipped with Constant Guard, which includes Norton Security Online, allowing you to browse the internet safely. Additionally, Xfinity offers a generous amount of freedom, in terms of data usage, with a data cap once you reach 1.2 TB. Unless you live in a household full of professional gamers, 1.2 TB offers plenty of buffer room, so it's unlikely that you'll come close to exceeding that limit.

Comcast Xfinity also offers several package deals for your TV and phone, so you can bundle all your media-related needs under one network.

Best Budget: Frontier Communications

Frontier Communications

Frontier Communications

Frontier is a lesser-known brand that has made its name by venturing into rural areas where other internet providers haven't explored. If you happen to live in one of its serviced locations, you should look into one of these packages.

Frontier's plans offer truly unlimited data usage, while some other internet providers sneakily use soft data caps. This decreases download speeds once you reach a certain threshold, but Frontier's service is much more upfront.

It offers two types of internet plans: broadband and FiberOptic. The FiberOptic internet packages tend to be cheaper and more widely available. Alternatively, Frontier's broadband network offers ultra-fast data speeds that easily match those offered by its top competitors, but they come with a higher price tag and are limited to metropolitan areas. Still, if you do live in an area that offers Frontier's services, the network offers a cheaper alternative to top brands like Comcast or Verizon, without compromising on speed and performance.

Frontier's base plan for their FiberOptic internet service costs around $50 per month, delivering a modest download rate of 50 Mbps. For those who need a more substantial data package, however, Frontier also offers a faster speed of 500 Mbps for around $59.99 per month, and a $79.99 plan with download speeds up to 940 Mbps.

You may also be interested in our guide to the best routers for under $50.

Best Value: Spectrum Internet

Spectrum Internet

Charter Communications

Spectrum Internet has its limitations, but overall it is the most reasonably priced option we've seen so far. Depending on location or availability, you may be able to get up to 200 Mbps for $49.99, up to 400 Mbps for $69.99, or 1 Gbps for $109.99. Even with the slower option, you can browse the internet on multiple devices, stream HD and 4K movies without buffering, and enjoy a lag-free gaming experience. Additionally, Spectrum's Wi-Fi offers unlimited service, so there are no penalty fees for going over a certain threshold.

Spectrum's installation process is also quick, easy, and only requires one small activation fee. You'll pay for the installation, and an electrician personally comes to your house to set up the modem, so it's absolutely worth it. The Spectrum-issued modem is included as part of the package, so there are no hidden fees; the equipment is 100 percent free. Also, Spectrum operates on a monthly basis, so there are no contracts locking you into long-term commitments.

Best for TV and Internet: Mediacom

Mediacom

Mediacom

For those who can't choose between Netflix and good, old-fashioned cable TV, Mediacom offers reasonable bundle packages, so you don't have to make that sacrifice. Its base plan comes with 60 Mbps data speeds for $79.99 per month for the first year (plus fees).

For larger households, Mediacom provides packages with higher data speeds (up to 1,000 Mbps), more cable channels, and larger data caps, which you can customize to your specific needs. Do you prefer Netflix over TV, or would you sacrifice Wi-Fi speed in favor of HBO? Can you live with a 200 GB data capacity, or do you need a 6,000 GB limit? Mediacom lets users control all three of these factors, so you can create your ideal TV and internet bundle.

However, while Mediacom's service offers a tempting deal, it's important to highlight its disappointing customer service reviews. There's nothing more frustrating than having to waste precious free time listening to "waiting" music on the phone and being shuffled between unhelpful operators.

Mediacom certainly isn't the only internet provider with subpar customer service reviews (although we won't name names), but you should keep this in mind if you decide to make the switch. However, Mediacom also offers a 90-day money-back guarantee, so you can take advantage of a risk-free trial, and determine for yourself if the provider's pros outweigh the cons.

Best for Gaming: Verizon Fios

Verizon Fios

Verizon Fios

Let's be honest: we all expected Verizon to find its way onto this list somehow. For all your TV, mobile, and internet-related needs, Verizon offers a fast and reliable streaming service to suit them. In the gaming community, Verizon Fios is regarded as having one of the strongest wireless connections available, although we would expect nothing less from a fiber-based network.

Fios offers three basic plans: The lowest comes with 200 Mbps for $39.99; the standard package offers 400 Mbps for $64.99; and the premium plan, the Fios Gigabit Connection, delivers speeds up to 940/880 Mbps for $89.99 per month.

With all three plans, Verizon promises fast uploading speeds, which is perfect for live Twitch streaming. Also, Fios boasts of having low latency, which leads to a seamless gaming experience. The one downside is Verizon's limited coverage: Fios is only available on the East Coast, so most of us can't enjoy its services. The West Coasters can certainly make do with other providers, but it isn't quite the same.

Best for Business: AT&T

The AT&T logo

AT&T

Offering maximum download speeds of 1,000 Mbps, AT&T's business internet packages lead much of the competition. For large businesses, AT&T's fiber internet plans offer serious advantages that balance out its premium costs. For one, the network offers a symmetric-speed gigabit connection, which is an invaluable add-on for offices that rely heavily on video-conferencing services. Just keep in mind that this optional feature comes with a hefty price tag, so we suggest that you think about your office's particular needs before signing the check.

Best Satellite: HughesNet

HughesNet

HughesNet

For households that don't have access to cable internet providers, satellite internet tends to be the default alternative. Among satellite providers, HughesNet is regarded as the top pick. At the very least, it offers some of the fastest downloading speeds for satellite internet at 25 Mbps. The basic plan starts at $59.99 and offers a bandwidth of 10 GB per month, which is a fair allowance for a small household.

There are no penalties for breaching the bandwidth threshold, but downloading speeds will slow down significantly. It's in your best interest to stay under the cap unless you have the patience of a Zen master. At the very least, HughesNet tracks your internet use throughout the month and allows you to purchase additional data space if you're running low. Alternatively, you can also splurge for its premium plan with a 50 GB bandwidth, which is one of the highest capacities available in the industry.

HughesNet is arguably the best satellite provider in the U.S., but it's also the most expensive. In addition to its monthly service charge, the company finds little ways to mark up the price. There's the $99 activation fee, plus the cost of equipment, which is $15 per month to lease. Or, you can opt to buy the equipment outright. HughesNet also has one of the highest termination fees, which essentially locks you into its two-year contract.

Best for Rural Areas: Viasat

Viasat

Viasat

Viasat is another satellite-based internet network that primarily services rural areas. Like HughesNet, which is the company's top competitor, Viasat offers impressive downloading speeds, reaching up to 50 Mbps in certain locations, although the average rate hovers between 12 to 25 Mbps. For most internet users, this is a perfect speed, as it allows you to enjoy lag-free video streaming, online gaming, and web browsing. Comparing performance and speed, Viasat matches the quality associated with DSL internet providers, which, generally speaking, operate under stronger networks.

Viasat's plans offer varying data allotments, ranging from 40 to 150 GB per month. It doesn't charge a fee for exceeding your prepaid limit, but the internet speed will decrease drastically. It's a frustrating inconvenience, but it also provides a strong incentive to ration your internet usage wisely (or just pay for a higher data cap). Overall, Viasat's deals are much cheaper than its competitors, allowing for a bit more buffer room within your budget.

Also, be sure to check out our picks for the best cable modems.

Best Customer Service: RCN

RCN

RCN

Customer satisfaction seems to be a hit or miss among the top internet providers. Nationally recognized brands, such as Comcast or AT&T, can't give individualized attention to their customers simply because they've spread themselves so thin. Ideally, you want to choose a network that provides consistently reliable service, eliminating the need for additional tech support, but there's no such thing as a fool-proof system.

RCN seems to understand the importance of maintaining customer satisfaction, which is evident in its four-star and five-star reviews. Its services are only available in specific cities, such as Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Washington, D.C., but having a smaller reach lets the company offer more individualized attention.

Additionally, RCN's network provides solid wireless connections and high speeds. Its basic plan starts at 250 Mbps for $34.99 per month, offering a budget-friendly service for young professionals, college students, or low-income households. For a more substantial package, RCN also has a 940 Mbps option, which costs $49.99 per month. Each plan operates on a month-to-month basis and comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. Additionally, RCN provides free, professional installation, furthering its commitment to keeping its customers happy.

Our Process

Our writers spent 30 hours researching the most popular internet service providers on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 15 different internet service providers overall, screened options from 15 different brands and manufacturers, read over 150 user reviews (both positive and negative), and tested 1 of the internet service providers themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.

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