Internet access is basically essential in 2019. When it comes to staying connected and remaining informed, the internet is our personal and professional lifeblood.
Fortunately, it's easier than ever to gain access to the Worldwide Web. Many people can choose from at least a few different providers, depending on what's available in their regions. But which are the best internet service providers (ISPs) in 2019? And how do you know which is the best provider for your needs?
That's what we're going to find out.
How Did We Choose?
Our approach to identifying the top internet service providers in 2019 started with determining the most common priorities that subscribers have. For instance, some people value internet speed over flexibility while other individuals are restricted to satellite providers due to their rural locations.
Some of the characteristics we looked at included pricing, availability, variety of plans or packages offered, download and upload speeds, and versatility. The idea was to find a single provider that excelled in one category over all others.
Best Internet Service Providers in 2019
There are dozens of internet service providers in the United States. However, each provider has its own strengths and weaknesses.
Many people are limited in their selections due to provider availability since not every provider covers the entirety of the United States. In fact, the provider with the most extensive coverage happens to be a satellite internet provider, which isn't ideal if you're living in suburban or urban areas. So part of the inspiration for our list was to help identify the best choices, the cheapest choices, and the providers that address what you need or value most from an internet service provider.
With this in mind, we've identified the best internet service providers in 2019, and they are as follows:
- Best for Most People: Comcast XFINITY
- Best on a Budget: Frontier
- Best for Rural Areas: HughesNet
- Best for Speed: Verizon Fios
- Best for Flexibility: AT&T
Best for Most People: Comcast XFINITY
XFINITY is the residential branch of Comcast. With cable infrastructure already in place in 40 out of 50 states, XFINITY tends to be the best option for most people who are looking for a home broadband internet service because of its wide availability, selection of plans, and overall service quality.
According to a coverage map, the only states in which XFINITY home internet service is not available are the following: Alaska, Hawaii, Iowa, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wyoming.
In addition to coverage and availability, Comcast XFINITY has a wide variety of plans, allowing subscribers to pick their plans based either on speed or price. Though speeds and price can vary by region, Xfinity internet plans are generally as follows:
- Performance (60 Mbps down, 2 Mbps up) for $39.99 per month
- Blast (250 Mbps down, 5 Mbps up) for $59.99 per month
- Extreme Pro (400 Mbps down, 10 Mbps up) for $79.99 per month
Of course, these costs don't include any equipment rental fees.
Gigabit internet speeds are also available in some regions. The XFINITY Gigabit plan, which provides 1Gbps down and 35Mbps up, costs $89.99 per month while the Gigabit Pro plan offers 2Gbps (down and up) for $299.95 per month. Again, these rates don't reflect leases for equipment.
As a cable-based internet service, XFINITY subscribers have the option of bundling their internet service with other cable services, namely television and landline phone lines. But whether or not you choose to bundle, XFINITY's broadband internet is quite reliable. Although occasional network outages are to be expected no matter which provider you choose, XFINITY home broadband tends to have minimal downtime, making it a great choice for personal use as well as for professional use for individuals who work from home.
Generally, XFINITY is very highly rated; however, it's not perfect. Some of the chief complains of XFINITY subscribers include poor customer service and inexplicable bill fluctuations.
- Minimal downtime
- Available in 40 states
- Fast speeds
- TV and landline bundles available
- Poor customer service
- Unpredictable bill
If Comcast XFINITY isn't available in your area, there are other cable providers you could consider, including Charter, Cox, and Mediacom. Alternatively, Verizon Fios is another great all-around option if you fall within the company's fiber optic coverage area.
Best on a Budget: Frontier
Is finding the cheapest internet plan your top priority? Well, look no further than Frontier Communications.
Available in 38 states, Frontier is the go-to provider when all you need is basic internet. Largely a DSL provider, Frontier's internet service is served through your phone line although, fortunately, you're not required to have a landline to use it. While this puts a pretty hard limit on the speeds available, the fact that an internet plan through Frontier can cost as little as $20 per month might make up for the lack of speed.
While Frontier's internet plans are some of the cheapest available, they may not be enough if you're even a moderate user. The base-level plan is the Internet Core plan, which offers 6 Mbps download speeds for $20 per month. The top-tier DSL plan - called Internet Velocity - costs $60 per month and provides download speeds of up to 115 Mbps. These speeds are substantially lower than cable and fiber optic internet, but you won't get these low prices with most other providers.
In some regions, Frontier has begun to offer fiber optic-esque download speeds via the Frontier FiOS plans. But even with these plans, you won't quite reach the speed levels available from other fiber optic providers like Verizon.
The base Frontier FiOS plan is the FiOS 50/50, which provides 50 Mbps download and upload speeds for $30 per month; meanwhile, the top Frontier FiOS plan is the FiOS 500/500, which costs $150 per month for 500Mbps upload and download speeds. In very limited regions, the FiOS 1G/1G plan might be available, offering gigabit download and upload speeds for $200 per month.
Generally, Frontier is the best option for people on a budget, people who use their internet sparsely, and/or for senior citizens or other light users. However, advanced users may find the upper-tier plans are able to meet their streaming and gaming needs.
- Available in 38 states
- Doesn't require landline to work
- TV and landline bundles often available (via partners)
- Internet speeds
- Hidden fees
Though DSL had become the go-to option for higher-speed internet toward the end of the dial-up era, it's much less common today. However, if Frontier isn't available in your area and you're interested in finding an affordable DSL internet package, Verizon continues to offer DSL internet to much of its network.
Best for Rural Areas: HughesNet
HughesNet continues to be the most top provider of satellite internet in the United States. Similar to satellite television from the likes of DirecTV and DISH, HughesNet provides subscribers in rural areas with high-speed internet access via satellite. This allows HughesNet to reach more than 90 percent of the United States, which is more than any other internet service provider.
The plans that HughesNet offers are quite different than most other internet service providers. Currently, all "Gen5" plans allow for download speeds of up to 25 Mbps and upload speeds of up to 3 Mbps. So instead of plans scaling in speed, HughesNet plans scale in the "soft caps" for data that are provided with each plan.
For the entry-level HughesNet satellite internet plan, you'll pay $59.99 per month for up to 10GB of data. The top-tier plan costs $129.99 per month and provides 50 GB of data per month. It's worth noting, though, that if you exceed the data cap, you don't lose your internet access; instead, soft data caps mean you'll see reduced speeds after you hit your monthly allotment. This is similar to how wireless providers throttle mobile internet after a certain amount of data has been used in a single billing cycle.
If this sounds restricting, it's because it is. However, HughesNet does offer certain features that help to alleviate some of these restrictions. For example, a separate data bucket is provided for off-peak internet usage, which falls between 2AM and 8AM; this means that any data used during this time doesn't count against your monthly allotment.
The drawbacks to HughesNet are primarily downsides to satellite internet in general. In particular, latency continues to be an issue with HughesNet and essentially takes intensive gaming off the table. Additionally, while 25 Mbps is enough for basic web browsing, email, and social media, you may find this to be too slow for downloading files of streaming high-resolution video.
Those who fall within the coverage areas of DSL, cable, and fiber optic internet providers are probably be better served by going with another provider. However, if HughesNet is a consideration, it's likely because providers like Comcast, Verizon, and Frontier aren't offered in your area. In this case, HughesNet satellite internet is certainly a better choice than having no internet at all in spite of the higher cost of service, equipment, and the required two-year contract.
- Available almost everywhere
- Simple & familiar plans
- TV and landline bundles often available (via partners)
- Higher latency
- Two-year contract required
- Higher cost
- Data caps
With DSL, cable, and fiber optic internet providers reaching a wider audience, satellite internet is less and less common. However, an alternative to HughesNet that's worth considering is Viasat, which is a direct HughesNet competitor.
Best for Speed: Verizon Fios
When your goal is breakneck internet speeds no matter the cost, you want to check out Verizon Fios. Though Verizon has gained a reputation for being expensive, Verizon Fios can be quite reasonable, and the fact that the company also offers DSL internet means that budget-minded consumers aren't left completely behind.
Verizon's fiber optic coverage includes certain parts of 14 states, making it a rather limited option in terms of availability. More often than not, Verizon's Fios network tends to be available in more urban areas, which makes sense since areas with more concentrated populations would afford wider reach than less-populated or rural areas. However, even with the coverage being somewhat limited compared to a provider like Comcast XFINITY, Verizon Fios is currently the largest fiber optic network.
The fiber optic plans pick up where the DSL plans leave off, which is at 75 Mbps. Currently, the entry-level Fios plan is a very reasonable $39.99 per month for 100 Mbps down/up. From there, you can choose the 300-Mbps plan for $59.99 per month or near-gigabit speeds - specifically, 940 Mbps down and 880 Mbps up - for a very reasonable $79.99 per month. There are even plans that provide well above gigabit-level speeds, but availability can varies considerably, depending on your location.
But Verizon's greatest strength is arguably the company's award-winning customer service and support. Compared to certain other providers, Verizon is known for being extremely helpful and friendly. In fact, Verizon has won awards from J.D. Power & Associates related to customer experience 22 times in a row.
Generally, the biggest drawback to Verizon Fios is access to the service; since only a relatively small percentage of Americans - less than 10 percent - fall within the Verizon Fios coverage area, the majority of people looking for a great internet service provider simply aren't able to subscribe to Verizon Fios, no matter how much they'd like to.
- Outstanding customer service
- Minimal downtime
- Fast internet speeds
- TV and landline bundles available
- Limited availability
Fortunately, a growing number of providers are able to offer gigabit-level internet speeds, so if you fall outside of Verizon Fios coverage area, you may still have some options. In some markets, Comcast Xfinity actually offers gigabit internet. Additionally, Google's own fiber optic internet - called Google Fiber - and AT&T Fiber are available in a growing number of cities, offering incredible speeds are fair prices.
Best for Flexibility: AT&T
For anyone who's looking for a versatile, flexible internet provider, AT&T - which is most well-known as a wireless service provide but also offers home broadband as well as television through DirecTV - has just about everything you could need.
Traditionally, AT&T provided DSL internet service, meaning that the internet service operated via your phone lines. However, AT&T has recently become much more competitive with Verizon Fios by offering its own fiber optic internet. This means that, much like Verizon, AT&T offers both DSL ("AT&T U-Verse") and fiber optic ("AT&T Fiber") internet services, subject to availability.
AT&T's lowest-cost plans is the single U-Verse plan called Internet 5, which provides 5 Mbps download/upload speeds for $40 per month. This is somewhat pricey, compared to other DSL providers; for example, Frontier's entry-level DSL plan is half the cost and actually offers slightly increased data speeds.
But AT&T Fiber is what most people will be interested in. AT&T's fiber optic network gives subscribers much more bang for their buck. For example, the entry-level Fiber plan provides download/upload speeds of 100 Mbps for just $50 per month, which is a difference of just $10 more than AT&T's Internet 5 plan. There are also 300 Mbps and gigabit-speed Fiber plans available for $70 and $90, respectively.
It's worth noting that these plan costs do, in fact, include equipment rental fees, which most providers typically charge separately by adding them to the monthly rate. So whereas your monthly bill might end up being more than expected with another provider, AT&T is good about giving you the best representation of what you'll be paying each month by including equipment fees in the cost of the plans.
Beyond the Fiber plans, another of AT&T's greatest draws is the fact that you can get several other services through AT&T, allowing you to consolidate your monthly bills. For instance, AT&T offers wireless service plans, landline service plans, and even television service plans due to the purchase of DirecTV. This makes AT&T extremely appealing to those hoping to save money by bundling or to simply cut down on the number of separate bills they're paying each month.
- Competitive rates for fiber optic internet
- Strong customer service
- Variety of in-houses services that can be bundled
- Equipment fees included in plans
- Fiber optic internet availability is limited
- DSL plan is more expensive than competition
If AT&T's home broadband services aren't available in your area, Verizon Fios and Google Fiber are two other providers with fiber optic networks that could be available. Alternatively, cable internet providers like Comcasty XFINITY have begun offering gigabit-speed internet plans.
Ready to Choose Your Internet Service Provider?
Whether you're looking for the best internet service provider or just cheap internet access, there are many options available to choose from. But how do you know which is right for your needs?
That's where GetProvider.com comes in. We're here to help you find the right internet service provider for you needs. To learn how we can help you find the right internet provider and plan, call us today.