Fast internet is a hot commodity these days, but for many customers it’s frustratingly out of reach. While speeds are stretching into gigabit territory in many cities, and most of the suburbs have speedy cable connections, rural areas are still lagging behind. As technology advances, speedier internet will become more commonplace, but until then we’ll all have to make do with what we can get.
If you’re scouting out the quickest internet service provider in your neck of the woods, we can help. We’ve crunched the numbers on available speeds throughout the United States to determine which providers offer the fastest internet. Behold.
Top High-Speed Internet Providers
Speeds up to 2G or 2,000 Mbps
Comcast may have some issues to resolve, but speed isn’t one of them. XFINITY delivers some of the fastest internet available in many parts of the country. And it’s demonstrated that with additional technology it can provide speeds up to 2G on its cable network—that’s huge. Furthermore, Comcast is one of the largest providers to extend customers the option of 2G plans in select areas. While you’ll pay a steep price, it’s an attractive offer for many cities still waiting on Google Fiber. Don’t hold your breath for Google, folks. It’ll be awhile.
Speeds up to 1,000 Mbps
Because this provider owns a large chunk of the internet backbone, AT&T has its speed dialed in consistently across large sections of the country. In addition to being the fastest DSL provider, it also offers gigabit speeds through an enhanced fiber network in more than twenty major metro areas. AT&T has also been on the forefront of developing fixed wireless technology and hopes to launch a viable option for fixed wireless 5G service by next year.
Find and compare providers and speeds available in your area:
Fastest Internet Providers by Type of Service
Does the type of service I get matter?
The speed of the internet you get depends on the type of service available in your area. That’s why we decided to divide out the providers by technology so you don’t end up comparing apples to oranges. Below you’ll find quick descriptions of each kind of service so you can understand its limitations and advantages. Please note that we didn’t include satellite internet in this analysis of fastest providers. Why? Satellite internet is evolving, but it still moves at a snail’s pace, thanks to the technology. It is, however, better than dial-up internet. (Spoiler alert: Pretty much anything is better than dial-up internet.)
A word of warning on these rankings: they are based on the fastest speeds that are widely available across the largest portion of the United States. This helps us rule out the providers that might offer gigabit internet, but only in a tiny corner of the country.
Cable became king in the ‘80s, but it wasn’t until much later that it blossomed into the method to deliver speedy internet. Cable internet service is sometimes referred to as broadband, meaning simply that the internet connection is delivered through the same coaxial cables that serve up your TV signal. While the technology enables a quick connection, it does slow at neighborhood hubs during peak hours, when multiple users are attempting to connect.
DSL connections are essentially phone connections. DSL networks utilize or enhance existing copper lines from back in the day to deliver internet service. This type of service is inherently slower because the aging lines aren’t optimized to handle data delivery. However, the clear advantage is that the infrastructure for DSL has been around for many decades, so it’s widely available in rural areas.
List of DSL Internet Providers
Fiber networks are some of the fastest networks available and employ fiber-optic cables to deliver internet speeds of up to 1G or more. The downside is that the infrastructure is costly, and because it’s relatively new, fiber is still expensive and limited to urban areas where providers can get more bang for their investment buck.
List of Fiber Internet Providers
Fastest Cable Internet Providers
You may be hesitant to jump on board with Comcast, but when it comes to consistent internet speeds, it’s got your number. And it’s faster than other most other providers, too. XFINITY tends to over deliver on promised speeds, offering a zippy 100 Mbps on average in large parts of the United States.
While Cox is a household name in the South and parts of the western United States, it’s kept its slick internet speeds quietly expanding across other parts of the country as well. Cox also offers gigabit service, but only to a handful of cities thus far, and its prices are a bit higher on average than other providers.
The new kid on the block, Optimum, has been garnering rave reviews for its fast speeds. But it has limited availability thus far in only four states along the Atlantic Seaboard and in the Northeast: New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania.
Fastest DSL Internet Providers
As we mentioned previously, AT&T’s DSL network is extensive, so it’s impressive that it can maintain consistently fast speeds. AT&T also offers a wide variety of service, including wireless, that enable customers to find better bargains through bundling.
For more than a decade, Frontier has been specializing in serving rural areas that other providers have left behind. While it might be lagging when it comes to speed, Frontier makes up for it with a commitment to treating customers like family.
Fastest Fiber Internet Providers
Much of its fiber network belonged to another provider previously, so Frontier customers are enjoying the same fast, reliable speeds that Fios is known for. While there were some concerns that Frontier badly managed the transition of Fios customers last year, there’s still no argument that Fios still wins when it comes to fast internet.
This ISP is new to the internet service game, but is already making a name for itself in cities like Boston, New York, and Washington, DC. RCN excels at delivering zippy speeds across its fiber infrastructure along with some of the best customer service around. Speed always seems nicer when it’s accompanied by a smile.
How do I know which providers are available in my area?
Not all providers are available everywhere. You probably already know this, but may not be aware of the true extent of the problem. Nearly 30% of American households have no choice in provider. Seems unfair, but there it is. In some cases, you are going to be stuck with the speed you can get, not the speed you want.
To determine the fastest speed available in your neighborhood, enter your zip code in the Zip Finder below. Just enter five little digits and all will be revealed, including speeds, prices, and packages.
Want to see which internet providers serve which states? Use our availability maps sorted by ISP to see where provider footprints across the country overlap.
How much speed do I need?
Having the fastest provider might be your ticket to coolest-kid-on-the-block status, but you should ask yourself one very important question: how much speed do I really need? Fast internet is fantastic, but if you don’t use it, you’ll be wasting money. Those are perfectly acceptable dollars that you could be putting to good use on rent or food or, you know, the other important survival stuff.
Unless you’re a hardcore gamer, a cord cutter, or running an internet business from your garage, you probably don’t need that sweet gigabit of speed Comcast is selling. To find out what speed you do need, use our speed tool below and then take your current internet connection for a test drive to see the difference between the speed you need and the one you currently have.
Find out how the internet providers in your area compare by seeing our in-depth comparisons.
Discover which ISPs provide the fastest internet service in your area: