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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, their services tend to be cheaper than other leading providers."
Best Value: Spectrum Internet
"They only offer one plan—$49.99 for 100 Mbps—which is a bit slower than its competitors, but also cheaper."
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 their 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 their 4-star and 5-star reviews."
Courtesy of Comcast
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. Their plans range from $20.00 to $70.00, offering download speeds from 25 Mbps to 1000 Mbps. For small households, their standard package of 25 Mbps offers plenty of data (unless someone wants to download an HD movie). For budget-conscious families, Comcast also sells $10 monthly plans, with 5 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’s Security Suite, allowing you to browse the Internet safely. Additionally, Xfinity offers a generous amount of freedom, in terms of data usage, with a hard data cap once you hit 1 TB (TeraByte). Unless you live in a household full of professional gamers, 1TB 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.
Courtesy of 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 their serviced locations, then you should look into these budget-friendly packages. Frontier’s standard plan costs $30 per month, delivering a modest downloading rate of 25 Mbps. It’s well suited for the average Web-browser, as long as they don’t plan on downloading HD movies or other massive files. For those who need a more substantial data package, however, Frontier also offers more expensive rates, ranging from $34.99 per month for 45 Mbps to $200 per month for 1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps). Even as the price increases, their services tend to be cheaper than other leading providers.
As a second major advantage, Frontier’s plans offer truly unlimited data usage; other Internet providers sneakily use “soft data caps,” which decrease download speeds once you hit a certain threshold, but Frontier’s service is much more upfront. They offer two types of Internet plans: broadband and fiber. The fiber 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.
You may also be interested in our guide to the best routers for under $50.
Courtesy of Charter Communications
Spectrum Internet has its limitations, but overall it’s still the most reasonably priced option we’ve seen so far. They only offer one plan — $49.99 for 100 Mbps — which is a bit slower than its competitors, but also cheaper. In fact, 100 Mbps is plenty of data to keep your small household running: you can browse the Internet on multiple devices, stream HD and 4K movies without buffering, or 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 simply have to pay for the installation, but 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.
Courtesy of 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. Their base plan comes with 60 Mbps data speeds and 100+ cable channels for just $30 per month—which is cheaper than some Internet-only packages. To be fair, 60 Mbps isn’t particularly fast, although it is a fair deal, considering the price. 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 GO? Can you live with a 400 GB data capacity, or do you need a whopping 6,000 GB limit? Mediacom lets users control all three of these factors, so you can create your ideal TV/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 back guarantee, so you can take advantage of a risk-free trial, and determine for yourself if the provider’s pros outweigh the cons.
Courtesy of 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 plans: their lowest comes with 200 Mbps for $39.99; the standard package offers 400 Mbps for $59.99; and their premium plan, the Fios Gigabit Connection delivers speeds up to 940 Mbps for $79.99 per month.
With all three plans, Verizon promises fast uploading speeds, which is perfect for live Twitch streaming. Also, Fios boasts 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 their services. The West Coasters can certainly make do with other providers, but it isn’t quite the same.
Offering maximum download speeds of 1,000 Mbps, AT&T’s business Internet packages leave their competitors in the dust. For large businesses, AT&T’s fiber Internet plans offer serious advantages that balance out their premium costs. For one, the network offers 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.
For smaller businesses, AT&T also offers cheaper DSL Internet plans, which also provide reliable signal strength. Their DSL packages range from $85 to $250 per month, for 50 to 500 Mbps, although they do require 12-month contracts; these rates are slower and cheaper than AT&T’s fiber-Internet plans, but they are still perfectly suited for smaller offices.
Courtesy of 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, at 25 Mbps. The basic plan starts at $49.99 and offers a bandwidth of 10GB 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 their premium plan with a 50GB 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 you can either buy or lease for $15 per month. HughesNet also has one of the highest termination fees, which essentially locks you into their two-year contract.
Also be sure to read up the reviews in our roundup to the best internet radio stations.
courtesy of Viasat
Viasat is another satellite-based Internet network, which primarily services rural areas. Like HughesNet, which is the company’s top competitor, Viasat offers impressive downloading speeds, reaching up to 30 Mbps in certain locations, although the average rate hovers between 12 to 25 Mbps. For most Internet users, this is the perfect amount of data, 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 bandwidths, ranging from 12 to 50GB per month. They don’t charge a fee for exceeding your pre-paid 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.
Courtesy of RCN
Customer satisfaction seems to be a hit or miss among the top Internet providers. Nationally recognized brands, like 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. Their services are only available in specific cities, such as Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Washington DC, but having a smaller reach lets them offer more individualized attention.
Additionally, RCN’s network provides solid wireless connections and high speeds. Their basic plan starts at 50 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 250 Mbps and a 1 Gbps option, which cost $44.99 and $59.99 per month, respectively. 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.
Read more on how to test your internet speed and sites that test your internet speed.
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.