The best high-speed internet providers of 2020
- AT&T – Up to 940 Mbps for $49.99/mo.*
- CenturyLink – Up to 940 Mbps for $65.00/mo**
- Cox – Up to 940 Mbps for $99.99/mo.*
- Mediacom – Up to 1,000 Mbps for $69.99/mo.*
- Optimum – Up to 940 Mbps for $74.99/mo.*
- Spectrum – Up to 940 Mbps for $109.99/mo.*
- Verizon Fios – Up to 940 Mbps for $79.99/mo.*
- Xfinity – Up to 2,000 Mbps for $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. As of 08/21/20.
Fastest plans from top internet providers
|Provider||Plan||Max advertised download speed||Starting price*|
|AT&T||Internet 1000||940 Mbps||$49.99/mo.|
|CenturyLink||Fiber Gigabit||940 Mbps**||$65.00/mo.**|
|Frontier FiOS||FiOS Gigabit||940/880 Mbps||$150.00/mo.|
|Internet 1 Gig||1,000 Mbps||$69.99/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||$125.00/mo.|
|Verizon Fios||Fios Gigabit Connection||Up to 940 Mbps||$79.99/mo.|
|Windstream||Kinetic Gig||1,000 Mbps||$75.00/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 08/21/20.
**Rate requires paperless billing. Additional taxes, fees, and surcharges apply. Offer Details. Speed may not be available in your area. Maximum download/upload speed of up to 940 Mbps via a wired connection.
What are the best high-speed internet providers?
Xfinity is the fastest residential internet provider with download speeds up to 2,000 Mbps in select areas. Other major providers, including AT&T, CenturyLink, Cox, Spectrum and Verizon, max out at download speeds of 940-1,000 Mbps.
Best high-speed internet providers of 2020
AT&T – Best fiber-optic coverage
CenturyLink – Best for fastest DSL speeds
Cox – Best for gigabit bundle discounts
Frontier – Best for low-cost fiber connection
Spectrum – Best gig availability in service areas
Verizon Fios – Best plan options for fast download and upload speeds
Windstream – Best for high-speed in rural areas
Xfinity – Best for max download speeds, up to 2,000 Mbps
Fiber internet providers are your best bet for the fastest speeds and reliability
While a cable provider, Xfinity, boasts the fastest download speeds of any provider, we say a fiber-optic connection is still the best option for high-speed internet, if there is one available in your area.
Fiber internet comes with fast download and upload speeds
Along with fast download speeds, fiber internet comes with fast uploads speeds, usually the same or about the same as your download speeds. Cable internet is likely to come with much slower upload speeds, which can make video conferencing and uploading files such as school assignments more difficult, no matter what your download speeds are.
Fiber internet typically has better speed reliability
Fiber internet is less susceptible to slowed speeds during peak usage times. With gig download speeds, you likely won’t be affected by “slowed” speeds during peak usage times as you’ll still be left with plenty of speed, but if you are considering a high-speed plan with say 200-400 Mbps, this could be more of an issue.
Ultimately, you can’t go wrong with a gigabit high-speed internet connection, whether it’s cable or fiber-optic. If you have an option between the two, fiber-optic will usually outperform cable in terms of symmetrical download/upload speeds and speed reliability.
Actual vs. advertised speeds by provider
The most recent official data on a provider’s actual tested speed vs. their advertised comes from a 2017 FCC study detailed in their Measuring Broadband in America – Eighth Report.
According to the report, satellite internet provider HughesNet had the highest weighted median download speed vs. advertised download speed, with actual speeds measured at more than 175% of advertised speeds.
Other providers in the report that measured at 100% or higher for actual vs. advertised speeds include AT&T, Cox, Frontier, Mediacom, Optimum, Spectrum, Verizon and Xfinity.
Keep in mind that the 2017 FCC findings regarding actual vs. advertised speeds were controlled tests, and did not include any speed tiers over 200 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 using a Wi-Fi connection. Wi-Fi is inherently slower than wired, or Ethernet, connections, so don’t be alarmed if your Wi-Fi 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.
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.
What is considered a fast internet speed?
The FCC last updated the threshold for an internet connection to be considered broadband (25 Mbps download, 3 Mbps upload) in 2015. Over the past five years, 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.”
Speeds around 100 Mbps are more likely to be considered “fast” as they can accommodate multiple users engaging in a variety of internet activity — streaming TV, gaming online, browsing social media, etc. — simultaneously without much interference.
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 an internet service with uncompromising speed, consider “gig” plans.
Gig internet is about as fast as it gets
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. 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 high-speed internet plans are the same, however, even if their advertised speeds seem to be.
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. 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.
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.
Currently, Xfinity offers the fastest residential internet service with download speeds up to 2,000 Mbps in select areas. Major internet providers with internet speeds ranging from up to 940 to 1,000 Mbps include AT&T, CenturyLink, Cox, Mediacom, Spectrum, Verizon Fios and Windstream.
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.
According to speedtest.net, Singapore has the fastest mean download speeds at 208 Mbps. Hong Kong, Thailand, Switzerland and Romania rounded off the top five. In comparison, the United States ranked 14th with a mean download speed of 143 Mbps.
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