The 10 Best Internet Providers of 2020
No matter what we’re shopping for, we look for products and services that fit our budget and provide the exact experience we require. Among the most important? Our internet service provider (ISP).
Though the options vary from fiber to fixed-line, the utility remains the same. You can compare hundreds of internet companies against each other and evaluate their prices, speeds, reliability, and coverage. But you’re probably wondering, “What is the best internet provider?” With this guide, we’ll help you simplify the task of choosing a provider that’s available in your area.
The top internet and Wi-Fi providers
- Best overall: Spectrum
- Best for your budget: Frontier
- Best cable internet: Xfinity
- Best fiber internet: Verizon Fios
- Best satellite internet: Viasat
- Best DSL internet: CenturyLink
- Best for customer service: AT&T
- Best coverage: HughesNet
- Best low-speed cable options: Cox & Optimum
Methodology: We assessed these internet providers by reviewing their availability, speed, prices, and customer reviews. The plans and pricing details are from the providers’ websites. We chose our top 10 based on reviews and performance quality, using trusted third-party reviews and rankings from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), The Better Business Bureau (BBB), and J.D. Power.
Best internet service providers: Pricing and offerings
|Service Provider||Package prices||Internet speeds||Data Caps||Availability|
|AT&T||$49.99/mo||940 Mbps||150 GB to 1TB (optional unlimited data)||21 states|
|CenturyLink||$49/mo. to $65/mo||10–940 Mbps||1 TB||36 States|
|Cox||$39.99/mo. to $99.99/mo.||10–940 Mbps||1 TB (optional unlimited data)||19 states|
|Frontier||$29.99/mo. to $74.99/mo.||6–940 Mbps||Unlimited||24 states|
|HughesNet||$59.99/mo. to $129.99/mo.||25 Mbps||10 to 50 GB||50 states|
|Optimum||$24.95/mo. to $89.99/mo.||10–940 Mbps||Unlimited||4 states|
|Spectrum||$49.99/mo. to $129.99/mo.||30–940 Mbps||Unlimited||41 states|
|Verizon Fios||$39.99/mo. to $79.99/mo.||‘200–940 Mbps||Unlimited||9 states|
|Viasat||$70/mo. to $150/mo.||12–100 Mbps||150 GB||50 states|
|Xfinity||$39.99/mo. to $299.95/mo.||15–2000 Mbps||1 TB (optional unlimited data)||39 states|
*Pricing as of 04/27/2020
Best overall: Spectrum
Formerly known as Time Warner, Spectrum manages to stand out in terms of availability, speed, price, and customer service. This cable internet service provider offers contract-free, no data cap internet plans for households in 41 states. You can also benefit from Spectrum’s bundled services for TV and phone. And since there is no contract, you won’t suffer any early termination fees.
Plus, with the contract buyout program, you can also get out of your contract with the current ISP. Spectrum plans range from $49.99/mo. to $129.99/mo., offering download speeds that vary from 30 Mbps to 940 Mbps. The provider has an overall score of 59 in the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), which is a little low but still better than five other providers on the list. It also ranked third in overall satisfaction in the 2019 J.D. Power internet service provider satisfaction survey for the South.
Pros and cons of Spectrum
Best for your budget: Frontier
Frontier is a DSL provider offering internet at affordable prices. It has decent coverage, offering its services in 24 states, and doesn’t require a contract — meaning less hassle and cancellation without a fee.
You can bundle your internet connection with phone and TV services to save more on your monthly bill. Frontier does not place data caps on any of its internet plans, which means you can enjoy unlimited data with the same speeds you paid for. The packages range from 6 Mbps for $27.99/mo. up to 940 Mbps for $74.99/mo.
Worth noting, though, is that Frontier has a bad rep when it comes to customer service. With a score of 55, the provider ranks poorly in the ACSI. Common issues customers face include connectivity and billing.
Pros and cons of Frontier
Best cable internet: Xfinity
Xfinity from Comcast has an extensive coverage area and scores well with customers in terms of speed and connectivity. The provider offers a wide range of cable and fiber internet plans (depending on your area) for various budgets and speed requirements.
Xfinity also has a broad reach and caters to a total of 39 states, along with over 18 million hotspots across the country. The speed is also impressive and starts at 15 Mbps, up to 2000 Mbps. Xfinity internet plans start at $29.99/mo., but for the 2000 Mbps plan, you’ll shell out $299.95/mo.
With seamless connectivity and an excellent streaming experience, Xfinity is one of the favorites in Netflix’s internet service provider leaderboard. The provider has a score of 61 in the ACSI benchmarks and also holds an award for the best overall performance in the North Central region by J.D. Power. Most customer reviews suggest that Xfinity is best for speed and consistent performance. However, a few of them highlight poor customer service and network outages.
Pros and cons of Xfinity
Best fiber internet: Verizon Fios
Verizon Fios is a favorite among fiber internet providers. This 100% fiber-optic network means high-speed internet for all. Verizon Fios currently stands number one on the speed test by Netflix. You can even bundle the internet with Fios TV, which gives you access to more than 425 channels.
The internet speeds range from 200 Mbps to 940 Mbps without any data caps, and the plans start at $39.99/mo. up to $79.99/mo. For an additional $10/mo., you can also get Verizon’s TechSure, a support service to provide 24/7 assistance, priority call routing, and more.
With a solid focus on customer service, it isn’t surprising to see Verizon Fios at the top of ACSI benchmarks with an overall score of 70. One downside to Verizon Fios is its limited availability. The service is only available in select metro areas.
Pros and cons of Verizon Fios
Best satellite internet: Viasat
Formerly known as Exede, Viasat is one of the frontrunners with speed when it comes to satellite internet service providers. Viasat is a natural choice in the satellite domain, with internet plans ranging from 12 Mbps to 100 Mbps.
Liberty 12, the 12 Mbps plan, costs $30/mo. and has a data cap at 12 GB, while a 100 Mbps plan will cost $150/mo. with a data cap at 150 GB. You can bundle Viasat internet with phone and TV services to save on your monthly bills. Although Viasat stands out among other satellite internet providers, reviews suggest that there are connectivity issues for many customers living in rural areas.
Pros and cons of Viasat
Best DSL internet: CenturyLink
Century Link is one of the largest DSL internet providers in the country, covering 36 states. The provider offers internet plans that range from $49/mo. to $65/mo. with speeds ranging between 10 Mbps to 940 Mbps. CenturyLink also offers bundled services to its customers, allowing them to bundle internet service with TV and phone to save on monthly bills. The provider has a data cap that stands at 1 TB for all of its plans.
The best thing about CenturyLink is that all plans are contract-free, which means you can cancel services anytime. The latest ACSI benchmarks show that the company is consistently improving its customer service. With a current overall score of 60, CenturyLink is on par with Spectrum. However, reviews on the Better Business Bureau shows that customers do have some complaints about connectivity and billing.
Pros and cons of CenturyLink
Best for customer service: AT&T
AT&T enjoys a good customer reputation for its reliable internet service. The provider ranks second in the ACSI benchmarks with a score of 69. The company also holds an award for overall customer satisfaction from J.D. Power in the western and southern regions of the country.
AT&T fiber internet service boasts extensive coverage in as many as 22 states. You can also bundle TV service with your internet plan to save more. AT&T has a data cap for most of its plans, ranging from 150 GB to 1 TB. All internet plans have the same price tag of $49.9/mo.
For select rural households, the provider also offers fixed wireless internet with download speeds up to 10 Mbps at $60/mo.
Additionally, with AT&T internet, you’ll have access to over 30,000 hotspots nationwide. The provider also offers free internet security at no cost for select internet packages.
Pros and cons of AT&T
Best coverage: HughesNet
HughesNet is a satellite internet service provider that extensively covers all 50 states and caters to rural areas where no other option seems viable. HughesNet plans do come with data caps that stand between 10 GB and 50 GB.
Prices start at $59.99/mo. for 10 GB data ]up to $129.99/mo. for 50 GB data. HughesNet provides 25 Mbps download speeds for all of its plans. The equipment required is a bit costly, and customer service can benefit from an improvement too. Most customers complain about poor connectivity and issues with billing.
Pros and cons of HughesNet
Best low-speed cable plans: Cox
Cox is a cable internet service provider that offers affordable low-speed internet plans. Available in as many as 19 states, Cox also has one of the largest Wi-Fi networks, with as many as 650,000 hotspots nationwide.
Cox internet plans start at 10 Mbps and go up to 940 Mbps with prices ranging from $19.99/mo. to $99.99/mo. Cox is also one of the top three providers on Netflix’s ISP leaderboard. The service provider scores 60 on the ACSI benchmarks, which is decent compared to other cable internet providers. However, Cox falls short in customer service. Reviews on the Better Business Bureau show that several customers faced issues with poor connectivity, speed, and billing.
Pros and cons of Cox
Best low-speed cable options: Optimum
Optimum is a contract-free cable internet service provider that offers plans with no data cap. Although prices are a little steep, the connection is reliable and comes with a price-for-life guarantee.
Optimum offers a range of internet packages with download speeds between 10 Mbps and 940 Mbps and prices ranging between $19.99/mo. and $139.99/mo. If you require TV and phone services, the provider also offers bundle deals that you can get to save more.
Optimum also ranks better in ACSI benchmarks with an overall score of 63. However, the provider is currently available in four states only.
Pros and cons of Optimum
Things to consider when shopping for internet
Choosing an internet service provider is tricky, especially if you don’t know what to prioritize in terms of your needs. But many variables can help you calculate which option is best for you. See below:
Check the list of internet service providers available in your area. The list may help you focus on a finite group, and then you can ask for recommendations from friends and relatives.
Speed and reliability
You will need a package with the right speed that best suits your internet usage. The ISP should have flexible pricing options and speed categories that fit your requirements. Calculate the number of devices you’re going to use, and you’ll get an idea of the average speeds required.
Set a budget and look for a plan that uses your money wisely. You’ll likely find cheaper internet plans that offer the same speed compared to the more expensive ones. You can also save more on your monthly bills by opting for bundle deals provided by many ISPs.
Equipment and fees
Many internet service providers offer equipment at no additional cost — but some may charge. Make sure you review equipment charges and keep an eye on additional fees. The installation fee, termination fee, and data cap fee might just put a hole in your pocket.
The bottom line
There’s no shortage of internet service providers in the U.S. ISPs are consistently trying to improve speed, reliability, coverage, and customer service. With 5G and more fiber connections around the corner, this list may change year after year. For 2020, these are the best available options that can make it worth your while.
Frequently asked questions
Which type of internet connection is the fastest?
Fiber offers the fastest internet speeds compared to standard cable, DSL, satellite, or fixed wireless connections.
Which internet providers have good coverage?
HughesNet and Viasat are two satellite internet providers that have the most extensive coverage. Both have availability in all 50 states. Spectrum and Xfinity also have extensive coverage in 41 and 39 states, respectively.