The best high-speed internet providers of 2021
Need a high-speed internet plan for streaming, gaming and more on multiple devices? Discover what is considered “fast” internet, as well as which providers and plans are available near you. We’ve listed many of the top high-speed internet providers and their fastest plans below for you to compare, but not all will be available in all areas.
What is considered a fast internet speed?
David Anders Last updated: February 12, 2021
Download speeds around 100 Mbps are considered “fast” as they can accommodate multiple users engaging in a variety of internet activities — streaming TV, gaming online, browsing social media, etc. — simultaneously without much interference. Upload speeds, which are used for video conferencing, learning from home and uploading files, are considered fast at 10 Mbps or higher.
Even with 100 Mbps, you’re likely to occasionally run into buffering or lag issues, especially when using a Wi-Fi connection. Many high-speed providers give you upgrade options with plans ranging from 200 to 600 Mbps, which will help minimize those issues, but if you really want the fastest internet with uncompromising speed, consider fiber gig plans from internet service providers such as AT&T, CenturyLink, Cox, Frontier and Verizon Fios.
Fast facts about high-speed internet
- In North America, the highest internet speed that is widely available is 2,000 Mbps, currently offered by Xfinity.
- The 1,000 Mbps (most providers technically max out at 940 Mbps) you get with gig internet service is quickly becoming the new standard for “fast” internet.
- “Over the past decade, internet speeds have grown by 12,400 percent,” according to The Internet & Television Association (NCTA).
What is broadband internet speed?
In their 2015 Broadband Progress Report, the FCC updated the threshold for an internet connection to be considered broadband to 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload. Since that time, internet service and how we use the internet has changed significantly, so while 25 Mbps is technically broadband internet, we wouldn’t consider it to be “fast.”
The best high-speed internet providers
- AT&T – Best fiber optic coverage
- CenturyLink – Best for fastest DSL speeds
- Cox – Best for gigabit bundle discounts
- Frontier – Best for no hidden fees
- Spectrum – Best gig availability in service areas
- Verizon Fios – Best plan options for fast download and upload speeds
- Xfinity – Best for max download speeds, up to 2,000 Mbps
Shop high-speed internet plans near you
You’ll find a few of the fastest internet providers in your area below. For more accurate results, click Update location to shop cheap internet plans for your address.
Unlimited data allowance
AT&T consumer home internet or Fixed Wireless Internet customers can use unlimited internet data through September 30, 2020.
Self-installation is the default installation option when available for customers.
Temporary speed upgrade
Get a temporary speed upgrade to 50 Mbps when you order Cox 10 & 30 Mbps internet plans. Offers valid through June 30, 2020.
Self-installation encouraged. Select your desired installation date, and a Cox representative will call to confirm or reschedule your appointment.
Safety-first Installation: A Frontier technician will perform your installation with appropriate safety protocols including wearing protective equipment and maintaining social distancing. In taking these precautions, it’s recommended that Frontier customers wear a face mask or face covering for the safety of technicians.
New TV plan
Introducing a new “Local 50” video plan to support contactless installation.
Contactless installation: Mediacom will send an installation kit and a technician to set up a single high-speed data connection, phone, or one local TV channel plan with the help of someone in your home.
Self-installation is encouraged. For professional installation, contact-free delivery is available for work done outside of the home. For customers moving more than 7 days from the date the order is placed, professional installation is available.
Free Contactless Delivery: An Xfinity technician will drop-off your equipment with installation instructions, then perform any outside work. Get your installation fees back in a customer credit for a no-charge installation.
Fastest plans from top internet providers in the U.S.
Gig internet connections will provide more than enough speed for any typical household, allowing you to stream in HD or 4K and game online on a virtually unlimited number of devices.
Fortunately, just about every major cable or fiber optic internet provider has a gig plan available in most of their service areas. Not all providers and plans listed below are available in all areas.
|Provider||Max advertised download speed||Starting price*|
|AT&T Internet 1000||940 Mbps||$60.00/mo.|
|CenturyLink Fiber Gigabit||940 Mbps**||$65.00/mo.**|
|Cox Gigablast||940 Mbps||$99.99/mo.|
|Frontier FiberOptic Gigabit||Up to 940 Mbps||$79.99/mo.|
|Kinetic by Windstream 1 Gig||1,000 Mbps||$67.00/mo.|
|Mediacom Internet 1 Gig||1,000 Mbps||$79.99/mo.|
|Optimum Internet 1 Gig||940 Mbps||$74.99/mo.|
|Spectrum Internet GIG||940 Mbps||$109.99/mo.|
|Suddenlink Internet 1 Gig Unlimited Data||940 Mbps||$75.00/mo.|
|Verizon Fios Fios Gigabit Connection||Up to 940 Mbps||$79.99/mo.|
|Xfinity Gigabit Pro||2,000 Mbps||$299.95/mo.|
*Pricing per month plus taxes for length of contract. Additional fees and terms may apply. Pricing varies by location and availability. All prices subject to change at any time. May or may not be available based on service address. Speeds may vary. As of 02/12/21.
**Rate requires paperless billing. Additional taxes, fees, and surcharges apply. Speed may not be available in your area. Maximum download/upload speed of up to 940 Mbps via a wired connection.
Your regional providers may also offer gigabit connections
We listed many of the top high-speed providers by availability above, but it’s possible that other smaller high-speed providers are available at your address. When shopping for high-speed internet, take the time to compare plans from national and local providers available near you.
Regional fiber optic or cable providers such as RCN and WOW!, offer internet plans with max speeds comparable to what you’ll find from the top national providers.
In some cases, regional providers can be the faster internet option. For example, EPB, a local Chattanooga, TN, fiber optic provider, has a 10 Gbps plan for around the same price as Xfinity’s 2 Gbps plan.
Our approach: We determine the best internet providers for you
When narrowing down our list of the top internet providers, we sought to highlight providers that are available to many people in different areas. Using the most recent FCC data, we identified the top internet providers available to at least 5% of U.S. residents.
From there, we leveraged our own in-house technology to further accumulate availability, speed and pricing details and for each provider. Specific plan, pricing and service details were sourced directly from the providers, both via our professional relationships with them and their official websites.
We also sought inspiration from Reviews.com, who is owned and operated by an affiliate of Allconnect, Inc. However, Allconnect, Inc. is not involved in or responsible for the production of Reviews.com content, including rankings cited on this page.
Equipped with an accurate, up-to-date portfolio of each provider, we then carefully examined each provider’s attributes to identify a provider’s exclusive advantage over the rest. The result is our list of the best internet providers of 2021.Learn more about our research
Provider actual vs. advertised speeds
The most recent official data on a provider’s actual tested speed vs. their advertised comes from a 2020 FCC report detailed in their Measuring Broadband in America – Ninth Report.
According to the report, average median download speeds of all tested providers measured more than 10% higher than advertised download speeds. Top providers for high actual speeds vs. advertised speeds include AT&T (DSL), Verizon (fiber and DSL), Spectrum, Xfinity, Mediacom and Frontier FiberOptic.
Providers that returned median download speeds lower than advertised speeds include DSL services from CenturyLink, Frontier and Windstream.
Keep in mind that the 2020 FCC report regarding actual vs. advertised speeds were controlled tests, and did not include any speed tiers over 300 Mbps. When running your own speed test at home using a wired connection, you should expect your speeds to be around 80% or higher of your plan’s advertised speeds.
Why are my speeds slower than my plan’s advertised speeds?
The main reason for slower actual speeds vs. advertised speeds is the use of a Wi-Fi connection. Wireless internet is inherently slower than wired, or Ethernet, connections, so don’t be alarmed if your wireless speeds are 50% or less than your plan’s advertised speeds. Peak usage times (identified by the FCC as 7 to 11 p.m. Mon.-Fri.) can also contribute to slower internet speeds.
What else contributes to a slower internet speed?
- Being online during peak usage times
- Too many devices connected simultaneously in your home
- Inclement weather
- Malware or viruses on your computer
- Throttling (how to tell if your internet is being throttled)
How to boost your internet speeds
For times when your speeds are consistently much slower than your plan’s advertised speeds, consider resetting your modem and router. Also, be sure to check for any unwanted devices on your connection that may be hogging your bandwidth. If that fails and your speeds are still consistently slower than where you think they should be, contact your internet provider.Learn more about troubleshooting connection issues
What is the fastest internet by type?
The type of internet you choose and what’s available in your area will influence what speeds you can get. We’ve listed the fastest internet connection types from fastest to slowest below.
- Fiber – Download speeds: 1,000+ Mbps, upload speeds 1,000+ Mbps
- Cable – Download speeds: up to 2,000 Mbps, upload speeds up to 30 Mbps
- DSL – Download speeds: up to 140 Mbps, upload speeds up to 10 Mbps
- Satellite – Download speeds: up to 100 Mbps, upload speeds up to 3 Mbps
- Fixed wireless – Download speeds: up to 100 Mbps, upload speeds up to 3 Mbps
We consider fiber optic to be faster than cable because of its fast download and upload speeds. This makes fiber optic a better high-speed option for working and learning from home. Plus, while speeds up to 1,000 Mbps are common, fiber networks can support much faster speeds, up to 10,000 Mbps or higher.
In many areas, satellite internet will offer faster speeds than DSL service. The speeds you get with DSL depend on your location and speeds ranging from 1-24 Mbps are common, especially in rural areas.
Is high-speed internet getting faster?
Internet providers aren’t necessarily offering faster internet, but they are making their fastest plans available in more areas.
- The largest cable internet providers — Cox, Spectrum and Xfinity — already offer gig speeds or higher in many of their main service areas. Currently, these speeds are higher than the average household needs, so it is unlikely that cable providers will offer much faster speeds in the near future.
- Fiber optic internet providers — including AT&T, CenturyLink and Verizon — are expanding their networks to bring gig internet to more areas. Additionally, Google Fiber serves select areas of more than 20 cities nationwide, but does not appear to be actively expanding their network. Like cable internet, fiber optic internet is capable of delivering speeds much faster than the average household requires, so major speed increases are not likely anytime soon.
- Satellite internet, on the other hand, promises some major speed and latency improvements in coming years. While HughesNet and Viasat already offer broadband speeds in select areas, companies including SpaceX and OneWeb hope to make satellite internet even faster. Using low-orbiting satellites, these companies aim to offer satellite internet with speeds and latency rivaling cable and fiber optic internet services.
Allconnect: Let us compare providers for you
Why should you choose Allconnect? We’re the #1 broadband marketplace in the U.S, meaning you can trust us to search, compare and order internet and TV service for your home.Get started
High-speed internet FAQs
Download speeds of 100 Mbps and higher are fast enough for streaming in 4K, gaming online, downloading files and more on multiple devices at the same time. While 100 Mbps is often fast enough for the average household, faster speeds ranging from 200 to 2,000 Mbps are available in select areas.
Yes. Cheap internet is available from a variety of ISPs. For $50-$60/mo., you can get high-speed internet up to 940 Mbps, depending on area and availability. For example, starting price for AT&T Fiber 1000, which comes with max download speeds of 940 Mbps, is $60/mo.
Internet plans with advertised speeds of at least 100 Mbps are typically good enough for streaming and gaming over a Wi-Fi connection. A Wi-Fi connection is often slower than a wired connection. A good Wi-Fi speed is one that is around 50% of your plan’s advertised max speeds. There are many factors that can affect your Wi-Fi speeds, however. Consider these tips to boost your Wi-Fi speeds if yours are too slow to meet your needs.
The fastest recorded internet speed in the world is 178 terabits per second, or 178,000,000 Mbps. As you can imagine, these speeds were recorded by a team of engineers (specifically at the University College of London) and aren’t achievable at the residential level. On a more realistic speed level, speedtest.net reports that as of December, 2020, Thailand has the fastest mean download speeds at 308 Mbps. Singapore, Hong Kong, Romania and Switzerland rounded off the top five. In comparison, the United States ranked 10th with a mean download speed of 174 Mbps.
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Written by:David Anders
Senior Writer, Broadband Content
David joined the Allconnect team in 2017, specializing in broadband and TV content. His work has been referenced by a variety of sources, including ArcGIS, DIRECTV and more. As a Senior Writer, David is motivate… Read more
Edited by:Robin Layton
Editor, Broadband & Wireless Content
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