Internet provider competition in the U.S.

Camryn Smith

Mar 26, 2024 — 5 min read

Learn which internet providers dominate the market and what this means for the broadband industry.


Key findings

  • T-Mobile is the most widely available non-satellite internet provider in the U.S. with 58% nationwide availability
  • Comcast’s Xfinity had the most subscribers at the end of Q3 2023 compared to Spectrum, Optimum, Sparklight and Breezeline.
  • Fixed wireless is the fastest growing internet technology type

As the demand for internet service has grown over the last decade, it’s clear that it is now something many cannot imagine living without, and with that demand comes an influx of internet providers vying for consumer attention. 

ISP competition remains primarily between a select few companies that dominate the broadband space. That begs the question: Is the broadband market made up of monopolies? What does this mean for you?

Overview of the broadband industry

Internet service providers (ISPs) provide internet service to their subscribed customers, who can then use this internet connection to enable Wi-Fi networks at their homes or businesses. ISPs are what allow us to stream our favorite shows, shop online, work from home, etc. from our own devices. 

There are different types of internet providers you can choose from: Cable, fiber, satellite, DSL, fixed wireless or 5G home internet. Each internet technology type provides an internet connection in a different way, varying in price, speed and availability. 

Top broadband providers in the U.S. by availability


The most widely available internet providers in the U.S. include T-Mobile, Xfinity, Verizon, AT&T and Spectrum. There’s a good chance you have a mobile plan from one of those providers as well.

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), T-Mobile has the most nationwide availability (58%) followed by Xfinity (35%), Verizon (31%), AT&T (30%) and Spectrum (29%). Excluding satellite internet providers such as Hughesnet and Viasat which are available to 100% of the U.S., these are the leading broadband providers by availability in the country. 

Top broadband providers in the U.S. by subscribers 

The top cable providers include Comcast’s Xfinity, Charter’s Spectrum, Altice’s Optimum, Sparklight and Breezeline

The top wireline phone companies (telco companies) that offer broadband internet are AT&T, Verizon, Frontier, Lumen (CenturyLink), Windstream, TDS and Consolidated Communications

T-Mobile and Verizon 5G are the top fixed wireless providers in the country, having the most subscriber growth from 2022 – 2023.

Are ISPs a monopoly in the U.S.?

According to Vox, ” …telecommunications companies and internet service providers are a sort of natural monopoly, meaning high infrastructure costs and other barriers to entry give early entrants a significant advantage.”

As outlined above, the ISP market is dominated by a few big companies, which can leave customers no choice but to subscribe to the provider available to them even if that means high prices and limited alternatives. It’s pretty common that the average American has access to no more than two internet providers, neither of which is affordable. This has led many to believe the industry is indeed monopolistic and ruled by big telecom.

ISP competition can be a good thing

Despite a few big broadband players dominating the market, competition between them can be a good thing. Promotions and deals are often launched by ISPs in the same areas, giving customers a chance to capitalize on monthly savings and promotional perks. ISP competition also fuels competitive price and speed tiers as the broadband market becomes more saturated.

Breaking down ISP availability across the U.S.

Explore broadband provider availability by state. The provider count in each state is limited to ISPs available to at least 25% or 50% of the state. Nebraska has the most providers available, with 12 ISPs available to at least 25% of the state.

Explore the availability of the top three ISPs in each state. Notice the common providers in each state, like T-Mobile, AT&T and Spectrum.

Alternatives to big ISPs

There is a solution that’s had success stories – but it’s restricted in 16 states.

Municipal broadband

Municipal broadband is an internet network owned by public entities rather than private companies. Think of it as a city-run broadband network, where all homes in the area have access to the network, but it’s not run by one ISP.

Ammon Fiber is an example of a municipal broadband network in Ammon, Idaho. In Ammon, every home has access to high-speed fiber internet up to 1 Gbps upload and download. A single broadband company does not control it – instead, many different ISPs offer broadband within the community network. Ammon treats broadband as a public service like city roads – every person should have access to it.

Unfortunately, municipal networks like the one in Ammon are not as common as they should be. In fact, 16 states have legislation restricting municipal broadband networks.

Federal funding and local networks

The creation and deployment of the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment Program (BEAD) funding has thrust the broadband industry into a national spotlight, with ISPs all over the country working on expanding their networks with the funding dollars. BEAD is a federal program that provides over $42 billion to expand high-speed internet access by funding planning, infrastructure deployment and adoption programs in all 50 states.

According to federal law, states cannot exclude municipal networks from receiving the BEAD funding. Still, there isn’t much stopping them from continuing to give the funding to the big telecom companies.

As BEAD recipients continue allocating their funding across the country, we will start seeing whether each state prioritizes the big telecom companies, or whether local networks like the one in Ammon will get their time to shine.

Broadband expansion

With BEAD funding already allocated to states across the country, increased internet access and broadband expansion efforts from many providers is underway – but there are still challenges.

Building out broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas, which are commonly rural, is difficult and expensive. Expensive internet also hinders internet access for all, especially since funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which provided many with free internet, ran out in 2024.

Despite these challenges, broadband funding provides more opportunities than ever to introduce more internet options to areas lacking access.

5G Home Internet is one of the technology types that’s gained traction in recent years since it porvides an alternative internet option that is widely available across the country. T-Mobile’s service is available to almost 60% of the U.S. and is still expanding. Other 5G providers like Verizon, AT&T and Starry are also working on expanding their networks.

Read more about which areas have the most and least broadband connectivity in Allconnect’s internet connectivity report

See Allconnect’s News and Research hubs for more broadband guides and information.

Camryn Smith

Written by:

Camryn Smith

Cammy is a writer with Allconnect, growing her broadband industry knowledge for over a year on the internet marketplace. Her expertise lies in home internet and broadband service with a focus on providers, plans… Read more

Robin Layton

Edited by:

Robin Layton

Editor, Broadband Content

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