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Best Internet Provider for 2016

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Top Internet Providers

You, more than likely, have at least two or three internet service providers (ISP) in your area to choose from. Selecting the best internet provider may seem like a daunting task if you're not familiar with the features each one offers.

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I've taken a deeper look at each of the top internet providers and this is my extensive research to try and find the best internet provider.

Best Internet Providers: What to Consider

The average download speed in the US is 11.9 Mbps. However, your speeds vary based on your location and the wireless internet provider you choose. As I did my research, I looked at providers on a nationwide scale, but as you look at your options, it's important to consider providers specific to your area. You can use the the search box above to look for the top internet providers by ZIP code. This can help you look for the best internet in your area.

Time is money, and my goal is to save you tons of it so I've done the work for you by laying out the pros and cons for each provider.

There are a few different ways of connecting to high-speed internet: DSL, cable, fiber optics, satellite, and 4G. Many companies offer one or many of these options.

There are several other factors that should influence your decision when you are considering which internet provider is right for you:

1. Internet Speed

What do you plan on using your high-speed internet connection for? The more demands you are going to put on your connection the more speed you will need. Don't always buy the hype when an ISP claims to have a certain connection speed. They often report and boast the highest possible speeds which can often be a lot higher than the average speed. Remember that the speed of your connection is largely dependent on your location, the time of day, and your personal high-speed internet activity.

2. Internet Providers by ZIP Code

Your location has a lot to do with your ISP choices. Finding internet providers by ZIP code is the best way to see what services you are limited to. Certain services are exclusive to a specific area and urban areas typically have more options than rural areas. Some more remote areas may be limited to just a few options to choose from.

3. Internet and TV Bundles

If finding cheap internet providers is your goal,many of the top providers offer service bundles. That is, any combination of services like TV, internet, and phone all under one price. These can often be much more affordable than paying for each service individually.

4. Customer Service

This is an important aspect of any product or service, but especially whom you choose for your ISP. Since so much of our work and play is online these days, it is vital that you have some way of contacting your provider in case your internet goes down, so that you can find out why and for how long.

5. Security and Extra Services

Take the extra features into consideration. What forms of security does an ISP offer? Can you put up parental blocks?

My research into the best internet providers offering high-speed options over the most coverage areas turned up top picks XFINITY, Time Warner Cable, and AT&T. ISP's with the largest geographic coverage in the US are XFINITY, Time Warner Cable, and AT&T.

Finding the Best Internet Provider - Check with Your Friends

The advertising you see about an ISP or bundle provider will certainly try to make the company look good. The top speeds mentioned are likely to be the top speeds they offer in some areas, but it may not be the top speed offered in your area. Be aware that a particular company may not be able to provide enough servers in your area to be able to ensure any Internet availability throughout the day. This can happen when a lot of people subscribe to certain companies within a short period of time.

In order to find out how a particular company is doing in your area, talk to some of your friends and family members that are using that particular company. They will be able to tell you what is happening and how good their service is through the day. Just because they offer good service in one area, it does not mean that it will be good where you live.

Best Internet and TV Bundles

When looking for the best internet deals, one of the first features you check should be bundles. Companies often offer the cheapest high-speed internet option bundled with other services. There are many different types of bundles available, and choosing the right one may save you a considerable amount of money. The choice depends on what you already have and what you want. For instance, you can get TV in a bundle, and if you like to watch TV a lot, you may not need some of the other Internet of phone features. Or, you may already have a TV service and just want to get a package offering Internet and phone service - or just Internet.

The choice partly depends on what services are available to you and the cost involved. You want to compare internet providers by the cost of bundles available in your area before buying one. This will enable you to get the best service designed to meet your needs for internet, TV, and phone, or a combination of just one or two of them - if that is all you need. By comparing them before buying, you may also be able to save money by going with one company rather than another one.

Since broadband internet providers are definitely competitive, you may find that one offers a feature that could be really useful to you, rather than a company that just offers the basics.

Watch for caps placed on your usage. A cap means the maximum amount of internet you can use per month. It will generally be a limit on how much time you can spend online. If you go over this amount, it can result in extra charges.

Considerations When Looking for the Top Internet Providers

Installation Charges

In addition to the cost of the monthly charges, there will also be a number of charges for installation. These costs can be considerable but will vary between the best ISP's. Make sure you know what the total cost will be before signing up and find out if you will need to pay this fee all at once or if they can spread it out over several months.

Email Accounts

If you need to have email accounts, some ISP's will provide them. They will offer anywhere from one email address when you buy a package deal, up to 25 email addresses.

Compare the Terms

Each ISP in your area will offer package deals. You should determine your own budget before ordering the service, and then compare the packages carefully. Figure out which features you need and don't buy a more expensive package that what you really have a need for. If you change your mind later, you can always upgrade.

Best High-Speed Internet

When you are wondering who has the best internet provider, speed may be the first qualification you consider. Although speed is not the only variable you should consider when choosing a high-speed internet service provider, it is an important one. Today, education, business, and general day-to-day interactions are conducted over the web. When so much of our lives are dependent on internet connections, it is essential that your internet speed can keep up with your network and the world at large.

Google Fiber

For instance, Google Fiber is an extremely fast internet service, boasting a whole gigabyte per second downloads and uploads. However, this service is currently only available in Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas City, Kansas. Nonetheless, there are plans to expand to Austin, Texas and Provo, Utah and possibly 34 other cities. Though it is limited, it is the fastest internet provider by far.

Verizon FiOS

Verizon FiOS is another extremely fast speed, claiming to have 500Mbps for downloads and 100Mbps for uploads. Although typical speeds are slower, this is still one of the fastest major internet providers. However, Verizon FiOS also covers a relatively small area. Verizon's highest concentration is on the eastern coast but it is also available to some degree in Texas and parts of the west coast.

Midcontinent Communications

For the Midwestern region, Midcontinent Communications (Midco) is available in North and South Dakota, as well as some areas of Minnesota and Wisconsin. Despite the remote area and small size, this company has pretty fast speeds with 100Mbps.

Large Providers

As for the providers that offer service to a wide national area, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cox, each have comparably decent speeds, but no national provider sticks out among the rest.

What about Satellite Internet?

Satellite internet providers like HughesNet and Exede do cover the majority of the United States. However, Satellite internet does not offer the same speed and reliability as a network of physical high-speed wires and filaments. While web surfing speeds are perfectly acceptable, signal latency will make low latency required activities like live streaming, downloading, uploading and internet gaming a problem.

Unless you live in one of the previously mentioned areas with excellent high-speed internet, the best thing to do is to look into your local options as well as the large national providers in your area. Also, be sure to consider other factors like pricing, bundles, and customer service before you make a final decision.

Best Wireless Internet Service

Speed is a major selling point for many of the best wireless internet providers, especially when you are looking for the best wireless high-speed internet provider, and many of them advertise incredibly fast downloads. However, when home internet providers talk about their speeds, they are typically referring to the best possible speed, not the average speed that you are likely to receive. So who truly does have the fastest speeds? Well, the answer to that question depends on the region in which you live; some of the fastest speeds are only available in a small area.

Meet the Top Internet Providers

XFINITY Internet Review

  • Pros
  • Fast speeds up to 105mbps
  • Great security and parental controls
  • Largest provider in the U.S.
  • Reliable service
  • Save money with bundles
  • Cons
  • Customer service issues

One unique feature that XFINITY offers is its additional Wi-Fi service. The company enables anyone to be able to purchase access passes to their Wi-Fi internet. These passes can be used on one device to be able to obtain access to the internet for an hour, a day, a week, or a month, and there is no contract needed. Since Comcast already has service in many areas, people looking for a Wi-Fi connection can get access easily. The one possible catch to it is that the internet can only be accessed by the device you use to sign up with. After signing up, the Internet is instantly available. Another unique feature is that XFINITY offers a package deal for the home that includes in-house monitoring for security purposes. Users are enabled to get live video monitoring inside and outside of their homes on a smartphone, letting them check to make sure their homes are secure.

Time Warner Cable Internet Review

  • Pros
  • Save money with bundles
  • Good speeds at 50mbps
  • Competitive price
  • Large provider in the US
  • Cons
  • Not available everywhere
  • Customer service issues

When it comes to sizes, Time Warner Cable (TWC) is the smallest of these three. It is growing larger in the field of ISP services, and does offer some competitive packages. It also offers packages of phone, Internet, and TV. They boast of having almost 500,000 WiFi hotspots, and also a library of over 25,000 movies that can be viewed on demand. TWC also offers a special program for your home. Not only does it offer video monitoring from your smartphone or computer, you can also control your lights and thermostat from those devices, too. You can even get emails or text messages from door, window, and other motion sensors. Doors can be locked or unlocked, and you can even arm or disarm the system, too, from your device.

AT&T Internet Review

  • Pros
  • Fast speeds
  • Offers Dial-up, DSL, and fiber optics
  • Save money with bundles
  • Competitive price
  • Cons
  • Not available everywhere

There is little doubt that AT&T is the specialist in phone services. This means that it was largely AT&T that established the infrastructure used to provide phone, Internet, and TV services in most places. In many cases, other ISP companies simply rent AT&T's lines to provide their own services. Because of this, you can expect to find some great deals with this well-known company. AT&T offers some excellent deals on their Internet bundles. Prices, however, are only guaranteed for one year, but you must sign up for at least two years to get the package. The massive company offers lots of channels with their DirecTV package, starting out with 145 and going up to 240.

Verizon FiOS Internet Review

  • Pros
  • Very fast connection speed
  • Consistent reliable service
  • Save money with bundles
  • Cons
  • Very limited service area
  • Security and Parental controls are add-ons

Verizon offers its Internet services through fiber-optic cables. They claim that this enables them to offer movies, music, and videos without any interruptions - no buffering. There is no doubt that Verizon FiOs provides the fastest Internet speeds around - up to 500mbps! Their lowest speed also clearly beats many of the competitor's upper speeds at 50mbps. On top of that, which none of the major competitors do, is that the upload speeds are equal to their download speeds, and their prices are still highly competitive. FiOs also offers a special Gateway router to ensure that you can get a Wi-Fi signal throughout your house. They advertise that the signal has a 325-foot range, and it operates on two different frequencies. It has enhanced controls for parents, and it also enables them to set time limits. There is also a guest Wi-Fi network, which enables your guests to have access to the Internet without giving them your passwords. Another great feature of this particular router is that there is a downloadable app for your smartphone which will enable you to control it from your phone. There is an additional cost for this particular router.

Charter Internet Review

  • Pros
  • Contract buy outs when you switch
  • No contract required
  • Good internet speeds
  • Cons
  • Limited service area

Charter offers all of its Internet speeds at 60 mbps. This speed comes with all packages. It offers free DVR services with its better packages, and a free modem. Members get access to 125 channels in its lowest cost package and over 200 free HD channels in its best package. There are more than 10,000 movies in its On Demand program, and more than 5,000 of them are free. When you add the phone service, users get to make an unlimited number of calls in the U.S., and to some foreign countries. The company currently offers service to 28 states. Two of its better features are that it offers its packages without a contract. This means you do not have to worry about getting locked in to a service that is no good. A second excellent feature is that Charter will pay for your fees for when you get out of your contract with your current Internet, TV, and phone provider company, and sign up to get Charter's service. This is the only one of these five companies that will do this.

Best Internet Deals

If your main concern is price, there are a number of ways to find cheap internet providers in your area. Again, it's important to explore smaller companies that may be exclusive to your area. Some of these companies offer deals that larger companies can't compete with. Generally, smaller companies offer service that isn't quite as good as the top providers but you may find one that offers surprising quality.

One way to find the cheapest high-speed internet is to look for service bundles. Many of the best internet providers also offer packages that bundle TV, cheap wireless internet and phone service today. If you are paying for those services separately, you may be able to save a considerable amount on your bill if you bundle.

Best Internet in my Area

Search for Internet Providers by Zip Code

Before making your final decision, it's important that you check what is available in your area and compare internet providers side by side. Take a look at the services that are offered, the speeds they claim and the prices that they offer. Think about what you'll need in terms of internet speed and compare internet plans that offer the most attractive value. If you know anyone with the service you are considering, it's helpful to compare internet providers in your area. This can help you find out the speeds they actually provide in your area.

Advice for Finding the Best Internet Service Providers

Before you choose your best home internet provider, spend some time in our advice section to learn more about the industry. Peruse the guides to find in-depth answers to questions that may help you make a better purchase. Here are some topics to explore:

Top Internet Providers Recap

Location, location, location. That seems to be the main theme when it comes to choosing and internet provider. Be sure to check your area to see what is available to you. With many great options on the table, knowing what you can actually get in your home should be the first thing you consider when shopping for an internet provider.

Each of these high-speed internet service providers s has slightly different benefits. Some of the unique aspects of each company may benefit you more then, another one, and some may not be available in your area. For each of the companies that require a contract, be aware that they generally do not offer any price guarantees for the second year.

This means that because you are locked in, you may see a hefty price increase in that second year. A couple of the companies do not require contracts with all of their packages - Charter doesn't require any contracts at all. Another thing you want to consider is that most packages say that you will get speeds up to a certain number, but realize that those numbers are only the top speed and it is unlikely that you will see anywhere near that speed during busy hours.

If you live in a rural area, far away from the reach of cable internet providers, you might need to consider the best satellite internet providers as an option. Though it's not the fastest option, it can reach virtually anywhere in the US.

Also, if you are considering the option to bundle services, take a look at the prices and services available with the best cable TV providers first.

Best Internet Provider FAQs

What internet speed should I get?

One way to determine what speed you need for your routine web activity is to measure and evaluate your current speeds. If you're unsure what your current upload and download speeds are boasting you can run a simple speed test. By determining your internet's current performance, you can then decide if you want to switch providers based on price, performance or a combination of both. You have quite a few options if you decide to change providers.

Often people get the terms bandwidth and speed mixed up. When measuring speed be sure to factor in the bandwidth (the size of the channel the data travels through) in relation to the rate at which it's traveling. So basically, bandwidth refers to the size of the pipe which the data is traveling through. Explore the various high-speed options including DSL, cable modem, satellite, and fiber-optic.

What does a router do?

A router is a device that ties your networks together and forwards data between devices. Routers govern the flow of information throughout your computer network and ensure that the right information goes to the right device. There are two types of routers: wired and wireless. A wired router is connected to the computers in a network via a cord called an Ethernet cable.

A wireless router sends data over radio waves and can connect to compatible devices without any physical connections. Wireless routers can connect to devices like phones and tablets that not able to connect via Ethernet.

What is the most reliable high-speed internet?

There are several avenues to the internet and there are plenty of different pros and cons to weigh but when reliability is your main concern there are a few things to consider. A satellite is probably the least reliable even though there are a couple quality providers out there. Poor weather conditions often result in satellite service interruptions.

A dial-up cable internet is the slowest internet option but it also fairly reliable. Even power outages might not knock out your internet through a cable provider. However, if the phone cable is used for something else like a phone call, internet service will be interrupted.

When it comes to high-speed internet, fiber-optics like Verizon FiOS, are generally the most reliable.

If it is cloudy will my satellite internet service be interrupted?

No. Generally the service you receive with satellite internet is not interrupted during light cloud coverage. It's a widespread myth that at the sight of a storm you'll lose satellite transmission. This is only true in the case of severe thunderstorms and blizzards. When this happens, you'll usually re-obtain a signal shortly after the storm passes. If you lost a signal due to a severe blizzard you should remove as much snow as you can surrounding the satellite dish, then proceed to reset the unit inside. Contact your satellite provider directly if you continue to have issues regarding internet service or latency.

What are the different ways to access high-speed internet?

Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) transmits digital data using the traditional copper telephone lines pre-installed in homes and residences. This service utilizes broadband modem technology which allows you to simultaneously use your internet and telephone service.

*Download speed range: 768 Kbps- 6Mbps

Cable Modem service is linked to whichever TV cable provider you subscribe it. The data is transmitted via the coaxial cables which produce the images and sounds on your television.

*Download speed range: 1 Mbps-1 Gbps

Satellite internet is most commonly found in rural areas where other services (i.e., cable and DSL) may be excessively priced. The most recent satellites can support speeds up to 15 Mbps however it is not ideal for most gamers due to latency.

*Download speed range: 5 Mbps-15 Mbps

Fiber-Optic (Fiber)

Fiber is nearly hundreds of times faster than cable, DSL, and wireless systems. Pulses of light (electromagnetic carrier waves) are sent through optical fiber. On average, speeds reach 500/100 Mbps. This is the ideal system for heavy internet users, individuals who download large files (HD movies, high-resolution pictures, stream music) or gamers who want optimum speed and graphics display.

*Download speed range: up to

A number of providers allow you to bundle high-speed internet with other home services. The most effective way to locate high-speed providers in your area is to use a comparison engine. Broadband Expert is an independent site which allows you to type in your zip code and then see which internet, satellite, and cable providers are available near you.

*The download speed ranges are estimations. Available internet speeds may vary due to coverage, area, and the network management requirements.

Is a cable modem secure?

In the realm of high-speed internet devices, cable modems are not the most secure. Most modems don't have and security measures in place in and of themselves. A cable service shares a cable network with an entire neighborhood. So the cables that connect you to the internet are also connecting you to your neighbors, in a sense.

With lax security on your devices, neighbors might be able to see your computer address and even access file if you aren't careful. However, these issues were much more of a problem with past technologies. Today, though cable modems don't have their own security, you can protect your network with a firewall and other security measures.

What internet speed should I get?

One way to determine what speed you need for your routine web activity is to measure and evaluate your current speeds. If you're unsure what your current upload and download speeds are boasting, you can run a simple speed test using a number of online tools. By determining your internet's current performance, you can then decide if you want to switch providers based on price, performance or a combination of both. You have quite a few options if you decide to change providers.

Often people get the terms bandwidth and speed mixed up. When measuring speed be sure to factor in the bandwidth (the size of the channel the data travels through) in relation to the rate at which it's traveling. So basically, bandwidth refers to the size of the pipe which the data is traveling through. Explore the various high-speed options including DSL, cable modem, satellite, and fiber-optic.

What does a router do?

A router is a device that ties your networks together and forwards data between devices. Routers govern the flow of information throughout your computer network and ensure that the right information goes to the right device. There are two types of routers: wired and wireless. A wired router is connected to the computers in a network via a cord called an Ethernet cable.

A wireless router sends data over radio waves and can connect to compatible devices without any physical connections. Wireless routers can connect to devices like phones and tablets that not able to connect via Ethernet.

What is the most reliable high-speed internet?

There are several avenues to the internet and there are plenty of different pros and cons to weigh but when reliability is your main concern there are a few things to consider. A satellite is probably the least reliable even though there are a couple quality providers out there. Poor weather conditions often result in satellite service interruptions.

A dial-up cable internet is the slowest internet option but it also fairly reliable. Even power outages might not knock out your internet through a cable provider. However, if the phone cable is used for something else like a phone call, internet service will be interrupted.

When it comes to high-speed internet, fiber-optics like Verizon FiOS, are generally the most reliable.

If it is cloudy will my satellite internet service be interrupted?

No. Generally the service you receive with satellite internet is not interrupted during light cloud coverage. It's a widespread myth that at the sight of a storm you'll lose satellite transmission. This is only true in the case of severe thunderstorms and blizzards. When this happens, you'll usually re-obtain a signal shortly after the storm passes. If you lost a signal due to a severe blizzard you should remove as much snow as you can surrounding the satellite dish, then proceed to reset the unit inside. Contact your satellite provider directly if you continue to have issues regarding internet service or latency.

Is a cable modem secure?

In the realm of high-speed internet devices, cable modems are not the most secure. Most modems don't have and security measures in place in and of themselves. A cable service shares a cable network with an entire neighborhood. So the cables that connect you to the internet are also connecting you to your neighbors, in a sense.-

With lax security on your devices, neighbors might be able to see your computer address and even access file if you aren't careful. However, these issues were much more of a problem with past technologies. Today, though cable modems don't have their own security, you can protect your network with a firewall and other security measures.

Can high-speed Internet be reached through Wi-Fi?

Yes. Several companies offer many Wi-Fi access hotspots. Customers can access the signal over wide distances, which is far better than just at coffee shops and fast food restaurants. Currently, Xfinity (Comcast) has the most, with more than one million hotspots nationwide. Anyone with a Wi-Fi connection can take advantage of it – for a fee. Some of these companies enable customers to buy limited access based on time periods, such as Xfinity's offering passes for an hour, a day, a week, and a month. Other companies are also offering them in many places and the number of hotspots is growing rapidly. One company that is new to the field is Straightalk, but even more, can be expected soon.

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Advertiser Disclosure

In order for MoneySavingPro to remain a consumer free service, many of the companies covered in our industry reviews compensate MoneySavingPro for new sign ups.

However, the results of our comparison tools, the rankings of the providers and the information presented is not affected by compensation. Indeed, many of these companies approach us for an advertising partnership after we have already written a published their reviews.

While we try to research and review as many providers as possible in the 100+ industries we cover, we have not reviewed every company available.

Our rating system is independent of compensation and reflects our true understanding of the industry and the company based on a variety of factors. The companies that receive the highest rating will always be the providers that we believe offer the best value to the consumer.

Advertiser Disclosure

In order for MoneySavingPro to remain a consumer free service, many of the companies covered in our industry reviews compensate MoneySavingPro for new sign ups.

However, the results of our comparison tools, the rankings of the providers and the information presented is not affected by compensation. Indeed, many of these companies approach us for an advertising partnership after we have already written a published their reviews.

While we try to research and review as many providers as possible in the 100+ industries we cover, we have not reviewed every company available.

Our rating system is independent of compensation and reflects our true understanding of the industry and the company based on a variety of factors. The companies that receive the highest rating will always be the providers that we believe offer the best value to the consumer.