Best High-Speed Internet Providers of 2023: Cable, Fiber and 5G – CNET

Comcast Xfinity – Fastest speed test results

  • Prices from $20 – $300 per month
  • Speeds from 75 – 6,000Mbps
  • Data caps on some plans

Ziply Fiber – Fastest internet plan of any major ISP

  • Prices from $20 – $300 per month
  • Speeds from 50 – 10,000Mbps
  • Unlimited data

Google Fiber – Best gigabit internet plan among high-speed internet providers

  • Prices from $70 – $100 per month
  • Speeds from 1,000 – 2,000Mbps
  • Unlimited data

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AT&T Fiber – Best selection of high-speed internet plans

  • Prices from $55 – $180 per month
  • Speeds from 300 – 5,000Mbps
  • Unlimited data

Frontier Fiber – Best low-cost, high-speed plan

  • Prices from $50 – $155 per month
  • Speeds from 500 – 5,000Mbps
  • Unlimited data

Verizon Fios – Best sign-up bonuses among high-speed internet providers

  • Prices from $50 – $120 per month
  • Speeds from 300 – 2,000Mbps
  • Unlimited data

Verizon 5G Home Internet – Fastest 5G home internet provider

  • Prices from $50 – $70 per month
  • Speeds from 85 – 1,000Mbps
  • Unlimited data

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What’s “fast” is relative. If the speed limit is 35 mph and you’re driving 50, that’s fast. But if you’re on the highway, 50 mph isn’t quite as fast. 

We can look at our internet connections the same way. The threshold for broadband, the speed limit if you will, is 25Mbps down and 3Mbps up (though the Federal Communications Commission has discussed raising qualifying download speeds to 100Mbps). Anything above is technically high-speed internet — though I wouldn’t consider anything around those speeds to be particularly “fast.”

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Then again, 25Mbps may be plenty fast for some. A fast, or high-speed, broadband connection is simply one with ample speed to reliably handle the demands of all the people and devices in your home.

There are undeniably fast multigigabit plans with advertised speeds of 2,000Mbps, 5,000Mbps or higher, with the fastest internet providers promising even faster speeds in the works. Those plans can get pricey, however, so it’s important to find a provider with the right blend of speed and value for your needs.

Most cable internet and fiber-optic providers also offer plans that, while slower than the ultrafast multigigabit plans, are more practical and affordable while still delivering plenty of speed. But it’s important to note that not all high-speed ISPs are the same. Here are my picks for the best high-speed internet providers.

Best high-speed internet service providers

Sarah Tew/CNET

Comcast Xfinity

Fastest speed test results

Product details

Price range $20 – $300 per month Speed range 75 – 6,000Mbps Connection Cable Highlights Data caps on some plans, lots of plan options, solid customer satisfaction numbers

Xfinity recently claimed Ookla’s top spot for fastest average download speeds in Q4 2022. With average download speeds of 226Mbps, Xfinity barely edged out Spectrum’s average of 225Mbps, but fared significantly faster than AT&T (187Mbps) and Verizon (183Mbps).

There are many factors that go into a speed test, such as testing over Wi-Fi versus Ethernet, equipment quality, distance from the router and time of day, not to mention the internet plan’s max speeds. Still, Xfinity’s place at the top is impressive, at least when it comes to download speeds. 

Cable internet like that of Xfinity is capable of delivering fast download speeds, but upload speeds are often a different story. According to the Ookla speed test results, Xfinity’s average upload speeds were a 10th of its download speeds, around 20Mbps, landing it fourth on the list of fastest upload speeds.

Read our Xfinity internet review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Ziply Fiber

Fastest internet plan of any major ISP

Product details

Price range $20 – $300 per month Speed range 50 – 10,000Mbps Connection Fiber Highlights Unlimited data, no contracts, fast rural internet connection

Ziply Fiber, a regional provider serving parts of Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington, recently became the fastest provider in the area, if not the rest of the US, when the ISP released a 10Gbps plan

Understandably, the premium speed tier comes with a premium price of $300 per month plus a $300 installation fee. But, given the speeds you get — and Ziply Fiber CEO Harold Zeitz confirmed with CNET that actual customers are indeed seeing speeds up to 10Gbps or higher — it’s really not a bad deal. In fact, the plan has one of the lowest costs per Mbps of any other provider or plan.

Still, $300 is more than most can or want to pay for internet. For everyone else, Ziply Fiber offers a range of high-speed plans ranging from 50Mbps to 5Gbps, starting at $20 to $120 per month. 

Read our Ziply Fiber review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Google Fiber

Best gigabit internet plan among high-speed internet providers

Product details

Price range $70 – $100 per month Speed range 1,000 – 2,000Mbps Connection Fiber Highlights Unlimited data, no contracts, equipment included

Google Fiber has arguably the best gigabit plan available from any major provider. Its 1 Gig plan offers symmetrical speeds up to 1,000Mbps starting at $70. The plan includes mesh Wi-Fi, 1TB of cloud storage and unlimited data with no contracts or installation fees.

Google Fiber also has a 2Gbps plan with similar perks starting at $100 per month and recently introduced a new 5Gpbs speed tier in select areas. These plans are tempting, but if you’re just looking for a capable high-speed plan under a hundred bucks, you can’t go wrong with Google Fiber 1 Gig.

Read our Google Fiber review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

AT&T Fiber

Best selection of high-speed internet plans

Product details

Price range $55 – $180 per month Speed range 300 – 5,000Mbps Connection Fiber Highlights Unlimited data, no contracts, equipment included

When it comes to internet speeds, what qualifies as “fast” will vary from one home to another. With speeds ranging from 300Mbps to 5Gbps, AT&T Fiber offers a plan to meet virtually any speed need.

In most areas serviceable for AT&T Fiber, you’ll have the option of five speed tiers: 300Mbps, 500Mbps, 1Gbps, 2Gbps and 5Gbps. Monthly pricing varies for each plan, but all plans include your equipment rental and unlimited data at no extra cost. 

AT&T Fiber plans also offer symmetrical, or near-symmetrical, download and upload speeds, something you won’t get from cable internet providers like Xfinity and Spectrum. Case in point, AT&T Fiber ranked fastest for upload speeds in the Ookla speed test results with an average speed of 146Mbps. The closest cable provider, Optimum, had an average upload speed of less than 30Mbps.

Read our AT&T internet review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Frontier Fiber

Best low-cost, high-speed plan

Product details

Price range $50 – $155 per month Speed range 500 – 5,000Mbps Connection Fiber Highlights Unlimited data, no contracts, no equipment fee

When it comes to fast speeds for a fair price, there’s arguably no better plan than Frontier’s Fiber 500. The entry-level plan goes for around $60 per month (or lower in select locations and don’t forget to sign up for autopay) for max upload and download speeds of 500Mbps. 

While the price is just a touch higher than many other major providers including AT&T Fiber ($55), Verizon Fios ($50) and Spectrum (also $50), the added speed you get — 500Mbps versus 300Mbps in the case of each aforementioned provider — is well worth the slight extra cost. 

Other Frontier Fiber plans are priced competitively as well, but if you’re looking for a low-cost, high-speed plan, I recommend Frontier Fiber 500.

Read our Frontier internet review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Verizon Fios

Best sign-up bonuses among high-speed internet providers

Product details

Price range $50 – $120 per month Speed range 300 – 2,000Mbps Connection Fiber Highlights Unlimited data, no contracts, free equipment with gig service

Verizon Fios has three high-speed tiers offering symmetrical speeds of 300Mbps, 500Mbps and 1Gbps (plus a 2Gbps plan now available in NYC). Its speeds and pricing are on par with many ISPs, but the bonus offers help Verizon Fios stand out as a high-speed internet provider. 

Your router rental is included with all Verizon Fios plans while Fios 1 Gig also includes Whole-Home Wi-Fi service. You’ll also get a bit more by way of signup bonuses with the 1 Gig plan.

Verizon Fios frequently changes up its special offers, but it’s not uncommon for the provider to give away gift cards, streaming or specialty shopping subscriptions, electronics or more to new customers. The prizes are often best when signing up for gigabit service, but there’s usually something extra included with the lower-tiered plans as well.

Read our Verizon Fios review.

Verizon 5G Home Internet

Fastest 5G home internet provider

Product details

Price range $50 – $70 per month (50% off for eligible 5G mobile customers) Speed range 85 – 1,000Mbps Connection Fixed wireless Highlights Unlimited data, no contracts, free equipment, 50% discount for qualifying Verizon mobile customers

Wireless internet doesn’t have the same speed potential as cable or fiber-optic connections yet, but Verizon isn’t letting that slow it down. Its 5G Ultra Wideband internet service is capable of delivering from 300 to 940Mbps to the home. 

There are a number of factors that can affect actual speeds, so not everyone should anticipate the near-gig speeds of 940Mbps. Still, the speed range is impressive for a newly introduced wireless service. For comparison, T-Mobile 5G Home Internet advertises a speed range of 33 to 182Mbps.

Read our Verizon 5G home internet review.

Best high-speed internet provider honorable mentions

These providers, along with regional providers that are too many to list here, also offer high-speed internet plans including gigabit service in select areas. In addition to the best high-speed internet providers listed above, these are certainly worth a look if available in your area.

  • Cox CommunicationsCox Gigablast offers download speeds up to 940Mbps and upload speeds up to 35Mbps starting at $100 per month. Select locations will have access to Cox’s fiber network, which can deliver much faster uploads, though the plan pricing and top download speed remain the same.
  • Kinetic by Windstream: Kinetic is one of the fastest rural internet options with gig speeds available in many areas potentially underserved by cable or other fiber providers. Kinetic Gig, with download and upload speeds up to 940Mbps, is available in select areas starting at $67 per month plus $10 for equipment.
  • Mediacom: Mediacom’s 1 Gig plan features download speeds up to 1,000Mbps and upload speeds up to 50Mbps with a monthly data cap of 6,000GB starting at $80 per month. Watch out for the price increase, though. After 12 months, the monthly price jumps from $80 to $140.
  • Spectrum: As the second-largest cable internet provider behind only Xfinity, Spectrum is one of the leading providers of high-speed internet. Spectrum’s gigabit speed plan is available in nearly all service areas and comes with download speeds up to 940Mbps and upload speeds up to 35Mbps starting at $90 per month.

artistic image of fiber optic lines

You’re likely to find the fastest speeds possible from a fiber provider, but cable internet providers offer gigabit download speeds, as well.

Oed/ullstein bild/Getty Images

Fastest internet service provider recap

You likely noticed a trend in our list of the best high-speed providers. Fiber-optic providers will often be your best bet for fast home internet, even though Xfinity — traditionally a cable provider — boasts the fastest average download speeds. Other cable internet providers such as Spectrum, Cox and Mediacom offer decent gigabit plans, but watch out for comparatively low upload speeds.

When shopping for any internet service, be sure to compare the average internet speed, pricing and features of all providers in your area to make sure you’re getting the best high-speed plan for your home.

High-speed internet FAQs

What is considered fast internet?

Speeds of 100Mbps and higher will handle most online activities such as streaming in HD, gaming online and working/learning remotely on multiple devices. That’s actual, tested internet speeds of 100Mbps or higher, not advertised plan speeds of 100Mbps. If your internet plan includes “max speeds” of 100Mbps, your actual speeds are likely to be much lower if you use a Wi-Fi connection and connect multiple devices. For the fastest home internet connection, consider a plan that advertises gigabit speeds, at least 940Mbps or higher. 

Do I really need gigabit speeds?

In all honesty, gigabit speeds are going to be overkill for the average home, at least for now. Larger households with numerous connected devices can likely get by with 300Mbps to 500Mbps no problem. For smaller households, 100Mbps to 200Mbps may be suitable, but I wouldn’t go lower than 100Mbps if you want a “fast” connection.

That said, gigabit internet has its advantages. The biggest one is the added speed boost will compensate for speed degradation when using a Wi-Fi connection. Using Wi-Fi will often result in actual speeds half of your plan’s advertised speeds, or lower. As you move farther away from the router, actual speeds can drop even more. The best routers and a good mesh Wi-Fi system will help compensate for the speed loss, but gigabit service is your best bet for getting the fastest speeds over Wi-Fi.

Another advantage to gigabit service is value. Though gigabit plans are going to be a provider’s highest-priced plan more often than not, they usually offer the lowest cost per Mbps. For example, AT&T Internet 1000 starts at $80 a month, which is $25 more than the provider’s cheapest internet plan, AT&T Fiber 300, but when you consider cost per Mbps — that is, what you get for what you’re paying — AT&T Fiber 1000 is the better deal. AT&T Fiber 1000 has an estimated cost per Mbps of around 9 cents while AT&T Fiber 300 has a cost per Mbps of just over 18 cents.

What is the fastest internet provider?

Ziply Fiber holds the title for fastest multi-state ISP, with a 10,000Mbps plan starting at $300 per month. Google Fiber recently introduced an 8,000Mbps plan in select areas for just $150 per month with the intent to roll the plan out to all service areas later this year. 

AT&T Fiber and Frontier Fiber currently max out at 5,000Mbps while Xfinity offers a slightly faster but highly limited 6,000Mbps plan. 

Is home internet service getting faster?

In many locations, yes. Most cable and fiber-optic internet providers already have a gigabit plan, but recent speed increases from Google Fiber and Xfinity may be an indicator of faster speeds to come. Additionally, Wi-Fi connections are getting faster as providers are adopting and implementing Wi-Fi 6 technology. Some providers, including Google Fiber, offer a Wi-Fi 6 router with select plans, but if you don’t want to wait on one from your provider, check out these Wi-Fi 6 routers that are available now.

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