Everything You Need to Know About Fiber Internet Providers

Find fast fiber internet and compare all your options.

fiber internet connection explained

What is fiber internet?

Fiber internet uses fiber-optic lines, which are cables made of bundled strands of glass. Each glass strand acts as a conduit for light signals that relay digital code from one end to the other at the speed of, well, light.

This technology allows for internet speeds far beyond what you get from DSL or cable because each fiber-optic line can carry multiple signals at top speeds simultaneously. Fiber internet also bypasses congestion, latency, and signal degradation issues that frequently occur with cable and DSL networks.

Popular fiber internet providers

ProviderStarting pricesDownload speeds
Verizon Fios$39.99–$79.99/mo.200 Mbps–940 MbpsView Plans for Verizon
AT&T Fiber$45.00–$60.00/mo.300 Mbps–940 MbpsView Plans for AT&T
Optimum Fiber$65/mo.640 MbpsView Plans for Optimum
Google Fiber$60.00–$70.00/mo.Up to 1000 MbpsView Plans for Google Fiber
Frontier FiberOptic$49.99–$79.99/mo.50–1000 MbpsView Plans for Frontier
ProviderVerizon Fios
Starting prices$39.99–$79.99/mo.
Download speeds200 Mbps–940 Mbps
View Plans for Verizon
ProviderAT&T Fiber
Starting prices$45.00–$60.00/mo.
Download speeds300 Mbps–940 Mbps
View Plans for AT&T
ProviderOptimum Fiber
Starting prices$65/mo.
Download speeds640 Mbps
View Plans for Optimum
ProviderGoogle Fiber
Starting prices$60.00–$70.00/mo.
Download speedsUp to 1000 Mbps
View Plans for Google Fiber
ProviderFrontier FiberOptic
Starting prices$49.99–$79.99/mo.
Download speeds50–1000 Mbps
View Plans for Frontier

Data effective 10/15/2020. Speeds and prices not available in all areas.

Pros

Faster speeds

Fiber-optic cables can carry more data than the copper wires used in DSL and cable. For users, that translates to faster download speeds and much faster upload speeds.

Lower latency

Fiber’s light signals travel faster than the electrical signals used in cable and DSL, so it takes less time for your information to travel to your provider’s central hub and back. Lower latency means less lag.

Better reliability

Fiber-optic signals don’t degrade over time or distance, and the infrastructure supports enough bandwidth that network congestion isn’t a problem.

Cons

Limited availability

Because it’s a newer type of internet that requires building out infrastructure, fiber internet doesn’t cover as much ground as DSL or cable. It’s mostly available in cities.

Final Analysis

If fiber internet is available in your area, we recommend it. Fiber is a fast, reliable, and overall great internet option for households with a lot of internet usage going on—especially for things like HD streaming, gaming, or torrenting.

Find Fiber providers in your area:

How fast is fiber internet?

Fiber internet reaches speeds up to 2,000 Mbps, but most fiber providers offer top speeds of 1,000 Mbps. To put that in perspective, Netflix recommends just 25 Mbps to stream video in 4K on one device. But supercharged gigabit speeds (1,000 Mbps) give you the ability to perform many more tasks on many more devices simultaneously.

In practical terms, fiber is fast enough to keep up with extremely heavy internet use and a range of advanced online activities. It can support streaming 4K on multiple devices, downloading massive files, uploading content to cloud servers and social media accounts, gaming online, teleconferencing on Zoom, connecting multiple smart home devices, and pretty much anything else you throw at it.

Fiber internet upload speeds, in particular, set it apart from other types of broadband. Cable and DSL give customers asymmetric speeds—meaning customers’ upload speeds are much slower than their download speeds.

Most people use a lot more download data than upload data, so the differences in speeds are fine. But fiber providers offer symmetric upload and download speeds, which is a much better setup for things like video calls, vlogging, or cloud computing.

You use download bandwidth for any information you get from the internet. You use it for video streaming, browsing web pages, and downloading files. Upload bandwidth is used for any information you send to the internet. Clicking buttons, typing in commands, and posting on social media all rely on your upload speed.

Fiber vs. DSL and cable

Fiber, DSL, and cable all transmit internet signals in a similar way—they carry binary signals (computer language) through cables over long distances. But while DSL and cable use copper wires and electrical signals, fiber uses fiber-optic cables and blinking light signals.

The light signals used in fiber are faster and more efficient than electrical signals, and they have fewer issues with signal interference or degradation over long distances. That translates to faster, more reliable internet with very little lag.

In addition to being more efficient, fiber-optic threads are also thinner than the copper wires used in cable and DSL infrastructure, so more of them can fit into a single cable. This increases the available bandwidth, which prevents network congestion and allows for gigabit speeds for you and everyone else on your street at the same time.

The only problem with fiber is that it’s not widely available. Installing the infrastructure for it is expensive, so internet providers are hesitant to roll it out everywhere. Most fiber networks are in cities, leaving a lot of the US to settle for older technology.

Where can I get fiber internet?

You can get fiber internet from more than 200 fiber internet providers in the US, but those providers are found mainly in cities. According to FCC data, up to 39.15% of the US has access to fiber internet. But the actual number is possibly lower, considering the unreliable way the FCC collected that data.

The following internet providers offer fiber services in spots around the country. But if you want to see all the fiber options in your neck of the woods, check your ZIP code for a list of every provider in your area.

In addition to being more efficient, fiber-optic threads are also thinner than the copper wires used in cable and DSL infrastructure, so more of them can fit into a single cable. This increases the available bandwidth, which prevents network congestion and allows for gigabit speeds for you and everyone else on your street at the same time.

The only problem with fiber is that it’s not widely available. Installing the infrastructure for it is expensive, so internet providers are hesitant to roll it out everywhere. Most fiber networks are in cities, leaving a lot of the US to settle for older technology.

Find Fiber providers in your area:

Google Fiber availability

Google Fiber is available in 18 cities across the US, though some of the cities offer service only to apartments or condos.

These cities have access to Google Fiber internet services:

  • Atlanta, GA
  • Austin, TX
  • Charlotte, NC
  • Huntsville, AL
  • Kansas City, MO/KS
  • Nashville, TN
  • Orange County, CA
  • Provo, UT
  • Salt Lake City, UT
  • San Antonio, TX
  • The Triangle, NC

These cities are Google Fiber Webpass cities with internet access for apartments and condos:

  • Chicago, IL
  • Denver, CO
  • Miami, FL
  • Oakland, CA
  • San Diego, CA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Seattle, WA

Frontier fiber availability

Frontier Communications offers internet services in 29 states, but its two fiber internet services are present only in certain areas. The rest of the provider’s service area gets DSL. Frontier’s two fiber internet services are Frontier FiOS and Vantage by Frontier.

Frontier FiOS fiber internet services are available in parts of six states:

  • California
  • Florida
  • Indiana
  • Oregon
  • Texas
  • Washington

Vantage by Frontier is present in parts of seven states:

  • Connecticut
  • Illinois
  • Minnesota
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Ohio

Verizon Fios availability

Verizon’s Fios fiber internet service is available in 19 metro areas on the East Coast:

  • Albany, NY
  • Baltimore, MD
  • Boston, MA
  • Buffalo, NY
  • Delaware
  • Harrisburgh, PA
  • Long Island, NY
  • New Jersey
  • New York City, NY
  • Norfolk, VA
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Plattsburgh, NY
  • Providence, RI
  • Richmond, VA
  • Salisbury, MD
  • Staten Island, NY
  • Syracuse, NY
  • Washington, DC

AT&T Fiber

AT&T offers fiber internet services in 21 states. It offers both DSL and fiber internet, but its fiber network is concentrated mostly around urban areas, while it provides DSL internet for more rural locations.

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Nevada
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Wisconsin

Fiber internet FAQ

What is Google Fiber?

Google Fiber is a fiber-optic Internet Service Provider (ISP) operating in 18 cities across the US. The ISP offers internet speeds up to 1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps) for residential customers, as well as business internet plans. None of its residential internet plans have contracts or data caps, and it provides free installation.

Google Fiber also offers fiber TV and home phone services in a few markets.

What is AT&T Fiber?

AT&T Fiber Internet offers speeds ranging from 300 Mbps to 1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps). It’s one of two types of internet service that AT&T offers: DSL and fiber. The internet provider’s fiber internet service is faster and more reliable. It isn’t as widely available as the DSL service, but we recommend it if it’s available in your area.

You can bundle TV and home phone services with your AT&T internet plan. The company also offers mobile service.

How much does Google Fiber cost?

Google Fiber internet plans start at $50 per month for 100 Mbps and go up to $70 per month for speeds up to 1,000 Mbps.

In certain markets, you can add fiber TV and phone services for $90 and $10 per month, respectively.

What is gigabit internet?

A bit is a single piece of internet data, and a gigabit is one million bits. Gigabit internet is any internet connection that can transfer one gigabit of data per second (1 Gbps or 1,000 Mbps).

Many fiber-optic internet providers offer gigabit speeds, but fiber internet and gigabit internet are not the same thing. Fiber refers to the type of internet, while gigabit refers to the speed. It is possible to have gigabit internet that is not fiber—for example, many cable internet providers offer gigabit internet speeds. And many fiber internet providers offer slower speed tiers.

But even if it doesn’t offer gigabit speeds, fiber internet is still the best option for fast upload speeds, minimal network congestion, and low latency.

How do I get fiber internet?

Getting a fiber internet connection comes down to location. Unless you already live in an area with fiber internet service, it will be difficult to get connected to fiber. If you live close enough to a fiber service area, you might be able to convince your local provider to run a dedicated line to your home, but that could cost thousands of dollars.

If you’re not sure whether you live in a fiber area or not, run your ZIP code in our tool to check for fiber internet providers near you.