What’s the Best Internet Provider?

If you’re planning to move or are in the market for a new internet provider, chances are you’re wondering about the best internet providers in your area. However, “best” can mean many different things depending on which internet features and options are most important to you.

Do you need the best provider for a rural home? Do you want a provider that offers the most options to choose from? Do you want the fastest download speeds available in your area? Or is cost the most critical deciding factor?

Whatever “best” may mean to you, we’ve researched some of the most notable internet service providers (ISPs), including AT&T, Verizon, Xfinity, Spectrum, and Viasat, to help take the headache out of making a decision about which ISP is right for you.

Who this is for

Since the definition of “best” depends on what is most important to you, here is a rundown of the top internet providers and the area(s) where each rises to the top.

Best overall value for fiber internet

AT&T is the third-largest internet provider in the world and, as of 2022, offers internet service in 21 states. The company is currently in the process of phasing out DSL internet and expanding its fiber network to reach more than 17 million homes. When comparing AT&T fiber internet package costs per Mbps to the competition, it’s hard to find a better value for your money.

Their base fiber plan starts at $35/month for speeds up to 300Mbps, a 500Mbps plan for $60/month, a 940Mbps for $80. In January 2022, AT&T launched two new fiber plans: 2000Mbps for $110/month and an industry-leading 5000Mbps for $180/month. Compare these prices to competitors with similar data packages, and you’ll see why many consider AT&T the best bang for your buck for fiber internet service.

Best customer service

If customer service is key to your decision-making process, Verizon was recently named a top finisher in customer service by both the American Customer Satisfaction Index’s rankings of Internet Providers and J.D. Power. Though the company currently only serves eight states (and D.C.), within their footprint Verizon offers DSL and a fiber network that powers their Fios internet service. Verizon is also in the process of introducing 5G home internet in several key markets as they work to expand their overall footprint. Plans start at $39.99/month for 200Mbps and go up to $89.99/month for 940Mbps. Verizon also offers pay-as-you-go, no-credit-check plans starting at $39.99/month for 200Mbps.

Best internet package options and coverage area

If overall coverage area, number of package options, or the availability of high downloads speeds are on your priority list when considering the best internet for you, Xfinity’s home internet options check all the boxes. Not only does Xfinity offer coverage in 39 states (and D.C.), but in many markets, there are up to seven plans to choose from, including the Gigabit Pro package with download speeds up to 3,000Mbps. Xfinity may have data caps or require term agreements in some areas, so that’s something to consider.

Best ISP for rural areas

Though fiber networks typically offer the fastest download speeds, if you live in a rural area where internet options are limited to cable-based providers, Spectrum offers straightforward, no-frills internet service. Spectrum has a large footprint, offering internet service in 44 states, serving over 28 million homes, and they were recently ranked #1 by US News & World Report for rural internet providers. Though not as low in price as fiber plans with similar speeds, Spectrum cable internet plans start at $50/month for 200Mbps and top out at $110/month for up to 940Mbps.

Best ISP for remote areas

If you’re in a remote area with no cable, fiber, or DSL internet service available and need to rely on satellite, Viasat internet service offers the best available speeds from 12Mbps to 100Mbps. Viasat plans range from $39.99/month to $160/month. While you won’t have data caps, you may experience slower speeds during times of high network congestion.

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Key considerations

When shopping for internet service, there are a few main questions you’ll want to answer as part of your research process. First, what is your monthly budget, and how much speed do you need for your household? Once you’ve set your budget and determined what kind of data plan will be the best fit, you can find out what options are available in your area. From there, you can look at other details such as contract terms, customer service, equipment rental fees, and data caps to narrow down your choices.*

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What others are saying

Many industry leaders agree that “best” is determined more by which features are important to you rather than the company itself. So, what else do the experts have to say about these ISPs?

AT&T

CNET states that “AT&T’s fiber plans are a terrific value — especially since none of them come with any contracts or data caps,” and J.D. Power gives top marks to AT&T for customer satisfaction.

Verizon

CNET notes that Verizon has “consistently been at the top of customer service metrics for most of the last decade” and that although it lost a few points in the most recent American Customer Satisfaction Index, Verizon still tied for first with AT&T for overall customer satisfaction.

Xfinity

U.S. News & World Report named Xfinity as its choice for Best Overall ISP in 2022 due to its high rankings in their Fastest Internet Service Provider, Best Cable Internet Service Provider, Best Prepaid Internet Service Provider, and Best Fiber Internet Service Provider categories.

Spectrum

CNET says that if fiber internet isn’t an option in your area, Spectrum’s cable internet option would be “the next best thing.”

Viasat

CNET chooses Viasat as its top choice when Satellite service is the only option because, “with Viasat, satellite speeds of up to 100Mbps are available in some regions, and speeds are set to improve in 2022 with the launch of Viasat’s newest satellite hardware.”

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Internet provider FAQs

What extra fees might I have to pay each month?

While ISPs often clearly advertise their package prices, the additional fees are sometimes not as straightforward. A few common things to be aware of when choosing an ISP include installation fees and equipment rental costs. For instance, AT&T has an installation fee of $99.99 plus an equipment rental cost of $10/month.

Are bundled services available?

The ability to bundle services is also a key consideration when choosing an internet provider. If your home also needs TV and/or phone services, choosing one provider can often save you money. AT&T, Verizon, Spectrum, and Viasat all offer bundling options if you choose to purchase more than internet service.

What happens if I want to switch providers or need to cancel service?

Life can bring unexpected changes, or it could simply turn out that a particular ISP might not be the best fit for you. To avoid unexpected costs, you need to know any potential cancellation fees. For instance, AT&T, Verizon, and Spectrum offer no-contract options and don’t charge for early termination, while Viasat requires a 24-month agreement.

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*Pricing varies by location and availability. Speeds may vary. All prices subject to change; for current pricing and availability visit our internet service page. Prices as of 2/3/22.

Disclosure | Updater articles are based on our own data and research, independent from partner relationships. We are not compensated by partners for information and opinions presented here. Our Editorial Terms of Service can be found here.