Whether you're moving to a new town or looking for a better deal on your internet, the first question on your mind will probably be "How do I find internet providers in my area?"
Stay tuned: in this guide, we'll look at different types of connections and providers, as well as how to find the best internet options near you.
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How to Pick the Best Internet Provider
In today's world of fast-changing technology, internet connections are definitely not all the same. As delivery methods evolve, so does your experience - and your monthly bill.
Before committing to a plan you should compare the best internet providers in your area to see what they offer in terms of things like features, speeds, and pricing.
Here are a few factors to take into consideration:
- Speed: 25 Mbps is sufficient for email, browsing the web, watching HD videos, and playing games. Look for 100 Mbps or more if multiple people in the house stream video, download large files, and/or engage in competitive online games.
- Pricing: Watch out for the limited time promotional offers: rates typically jump significantly at the end of the promotional period. Save money by shopping cable TV and internet bundles or internet and phone bundles.
- Equipment: The most economical choice is to buy your own modem. Most large internet providers provide their customers with a list of approved equipment you can purchase. Additionally, if you want wireless internet you'll need a decent quality router.
- Contract: Commitment terms vary widely. Cheap internet providers usually require at least a one-year contract in order to get their advertised pricing. If you want to avoid a contract you may end up paying a little more per month.
- Data caps: It's frustrating to hunt down, say, the best internet for gaming, only to find that you tear through your data allotment halfway through the billing cycle. Make sure you read the terms and conditions.
- Customer service: We've all been there - the internet suddenly goes down for no apparent reason. You don't have time to sit on hold for hours, waiting for a tech to get to you. Check out the American Customer Satisfaction Index to see which companies rate the highest.
Types of Internet Connections
Naturally, your choice of providers will be limited to the type of high-speed internet access available in your area. Here are the connection types you might encounter in your search.
With fiber you often get a symmetrical connection - meaning upload speeds are the same as download - and stable wireless high-speed Internet connections.
- DSL: DSL service (Digital Subscriber Line) provides download speeds up to 100 Mbps over a standard landline.
- Satellite: Satellite internet is available virtually everywhere. It can get pricey, but the good news is that the best satellite internet providers allow for broadband rural internet service.
- Cable: Coaxial cable is the most common type of internet, providing speeds up to 1000 Mbps. It's affordable and convenient to install.
- Fiber: The fastest internet providers provide speeds of 1000 Mbps (also known as gigabit internet) or higher, thanks to a slender glass fiber-optic cable that uses light to transmit data. If your priority is finding the answer to "What is the fastest available internet in my area?" - look for fiber.
- HFC: Hybrid fiber-coax networks allow the high speeds of fiber with the cost-effectiveness and simpler installation of coaxial cable. Also referred to as FTTN - or fiber to the node. This means fiber is used to bring internet close to the home or business, then coax is used the rest of the way.
Next, we'll take a look at the companies you might encounter when Google searching "ISPs in my area". We'll also cover what type of service each provides and give you a link to each of our internet provider reviews.
If you want to see about a specific provider's availability, we make it simple to find internet providers by address.
Related: Overall, just who are the best internet providers? Check out our internet provider guides.
The Best Cable and Fiber Internet Providers
- AT&T U-Verse: Coverage area of 21 states with fiber available in certain cities. Speeds from 10 - 100 Mbps for cable internet and 100 - 1000 Mbps for fiber.
- Cable One: Serving 19 states, Cable One offers cable and fiber optic internet, depending upon your location. Speeds range from 100 - 200 Mbps via cable and up to 1000 Mbps (1 Gbps) on fiber.
- Charter Spectrum: Charter (which took over Time Warner Cable in 2016) provides cable internet ranging from 30 - 100 Mbps. The company serves 41 states.
- Comcast XFINITY: The largest, if not one of the best cable internet providers in the US. Serves 40 states, with speeds of 25 - 250 Mbps on its cable internet plans and up to 1000 Mbps delivered via a hybrid fiber-coax network.
- Cox: Cable company operating in 18 states. Download speeds range from 15 - 300 Mbps. Pricing is a bit steep, but no contract is required.
- Mediacom: Uses a hybrid fiber-coax network to deliver speeds between 60 and 1000 Mbps. Operates in 21 states.
- Optimum: Mainly services New York, with some service areas in New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. 200 - 400 Mbps download speeds over a hybrid fiber-coax network.
- Verizon FiOS: Fiber network delivering speeds of 100, 150 or 300 Mbps. Considered one of the best fiber internet providers, only available in 9 states so far. Bonus; equal download and upload speeds.
The Best DSL Internet Providers
It's worth noting that some providers in this list offer more than one type of connection in certain areas.
- CenturyLink: One of the best DSL internet providers, speeds ranging from 20 - 140 Mbps on DSL and up to 1000 Mbps on fiber (available in 11 cities).
- Frontier: Operates in 32 states. Offers fiber internet in California, Florida, and Texas. DSL speeds range from 6 - 115 Mbps and FiOS fiber from 50 - 500 Mbps.
- Windstream: DSL speeds between 10 and 100 Mbps, fiber up to 1000 Mbps available in select areas of Kentucky, Nebraska, North Carolina, and Texas.
The Best Satellite Internet Providers
- Viasat: Satellite internet, comes in two speeds - 25 and 50 Mbps. Available everywhere.
- HughesNet: Satellite internet at one speed - 25 Mbps. Amount of data you get varies from 10 GB to 50 GB.
At MoneySaving Pro we make it quick and easy to find internet providers by zip code. Using the information in this guide should help you decide exactly which high-speed internet service and plan is right for your household.
If you're still not sure, check out our internet provider comparisons:
- AT&T U-Verse vs Comcast XFINITY
- AT&T U-Verse vs Spectrum
- Comcast XFINITY vs Verizon FiOS
- Verizon FiOS vs Optimum
- Verizon FiOS vs Spectrum
Another question you may have when you move into a new place is "How do I find TV providers in my area?" The good news is that the best high-speed internet service provider is often the best cable provider as well. Getting both in one place can save you a considerable amount of money each month.