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Best Internet Providers for 2017

Looking for the Best Internet Service? We review the top internet providers

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Best Internet Provider

Selecting the best internet provider may seem like a daunting task if you're not familiar with the features each one offers. In addition, you may only have a choice of one or two high-speed internet providers in your area, which means it's even more important to be able to evaluate the available packages.

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As technology advances, new types of connections become available, such as fiber optic internet. In this guide to the best home internet, I'll give you tips and information that will help you choose the right internet service for your household.

Quickly and easily find out which internet companies operate in your area by entering your zip code into our convenient zip code checker tool. Get information on speeds, packages, and pricing, all with the click of a button.

Best Internet Providers: What to Consider

Certainly one of your main concerns is finding the best internet deals. In addition to price, however, there are several other things you should take into consideration when choosing the best internet provider for your household.

Don't always buy the hype when an ISP claims to have a certain connection speed. They often advertise the highest possible speeds which can actually be a lot higher than the average speed.

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 advertise the highest possible speeds which can actually be a lot higher than the average speed.

The average download speed in the U.S. is 11.9 Mbps. Your speeds, however, may vary based on your location and other factors. For example, cable internet is notorious for slowdowns during what's known as Internet Rush Hour. This is because cable is a shared connection, and many people in the neighborhood are typically trying to get online simultaneously around the same times of the day. DSL, on the other hand, is susceptible to line attenuation, which is a technical way of saying that the farther you are from crucial parts of the infrastructure, the more speed your data loses.

2. Connection Type

Speed is closely linked to the internet delivery method you choose. In order of slowest to fastest, here are the most commonly available connection types offered by the best internet service providers:

  • DSL: This connection is facilitated by your phone line. It offers speeds up to 15 Mbps (megabits per second), which according to the FCC's (Federal Communications Commission) Household Broadband Guide is sufficient for most households. Unlike dial-up, you can use your landline phone while you're using DSL internet, and it's widely available across the nation.
  • Cable: This delivery method still dominates in the U.S. It's widely available, providing access to speeds of 25Mbps or better to more than 82% of the nation, and is convenient for many customers simply because they can combine services through internet and TV bundles.
  • Satellite: This option is also available virtually everywhere, although it's generally preferred as one of the best rural internet options rather than for urbanites because it has low data caps, high latency (lag time), and tends to be pricey.
  • Fiber: The fiber craze is spreading, and it's bringing with it speeds that were unimaginable just a few years ago - between 50 Mbps and 10Gbps (gigabits per second). Fiber is mostly limited to large urban areas as of yet, but several internet providers are working on increasing coverage.

There are wireless internet providers, or WISPs (Wireless Internet Service Providers), available in select markets, however, this technology is not completely smoothed out for large-scale deployment as of yet. Still, if you're located rurally it may be an option worth looking into.

3. Other Services

You may prefer to bundle your internet with other communications services. If that's the case, the best internet provider for you is likely to be one which offers cable television and/or landline phone options packaged with their internet service. Not only does combining your services reduce the number of separate bills you have, it can also save you money.

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. You also want to be sure that should you need repairs, a technician can be dispatched to your home within a reasonable amount of time.

5. Security and Extra Services

Take the extra features into consideration. What forms of security does an ISP offer? Do they offer parental controls? Some of the top internet providers even give you perks like free antivirus software.

Compare Internet Providers

Provider Download Speed Monthly Price
10-2000 Mbps $29.99-299.95
6-75 Mbps $30.00-70.00
15-50 Mbps $34.99-64.99
1-500 Mbps $19.99-269.99
60-100 Mbps $29.99-89.00

What Is the Best Internet Provider?

The answer to this question will depend on your specific household's needs. Each connection type has pros and cons, and each provider offers different features, pricing, and package options. Here are some things to keep in mind when deciding among home internet service providers.

Take the time to read the information in the "learn more" or "show offer details" section of the provider website. This little area is a treasure trove of useful details about the plan.

Options Vary by Location

One of your first questions, when you're ready to order service, is "Who are the internet providers in my area?" If you're near a major metropolitan area, you may be able to choose among a fiber connection, as well as DSL and cable. You may even have the option to pick from among multiple providers in each category. Conversely, rural residents typically have a choice of dial-up, satellite, wireless, and sometimes DSL.

Look at the Big Picture

The best ISP is the one you're going to be happy with over the long term. As you're perusing internet plans and prices, remember that the discounted rate you see on the website is often just a temporary offer. Make sure you're happy with the overall rate structure and what you're getting for the money before committing to anything.

The Devil Is in the Details

Take the time to read the information in the "learn more" or "show offer details" section of the provider website. This little area is a treasure trove of useful details about the plan. For example, if you've got a lot of streaming going on in your household, over multiple devices, you'll want to check out the data allowance. Unlimited internet plans are scarce these days, however, you can at least make sure you're getting enough data to accommodate your family's typical online activities.

Budget-Friendly Options

Even though the most prominently marketed packages are those with blazing fast speeds and all kinds of bells and whistles, cheap internet providers are still out there ready to serve the budget-minded consumer. These will generally be dial-up and lower-tier DSL or cable plans. If you're a minimalist looking to limit your online experience to only the necessary tasks, one of the more barebones options may be the best internet service for you.

Who Has the Best Internet Service?

Again, the answer to this question is going to depend on what you're looking for. As you compare internet providers you should read online reviews of your top choices to see what others have to say about them. You might also want to investigate news stories about the company's plans for the future. The best internet providers typically provide at least some publicity regarding their next move, particularly when it comes to deploying new technologies like fiber and gigabit-speed DOCSIS.

Look Into Local

Sometimes the company with the best internet service is the little guy. I'm talking about local internet providers - independently owned ISPs that operate within a confined region. You may not get the deep introductory discounts of the larger companies, but you will get a payoff via a more personalized experience and better customer service. If searching for internet providers by address doesn't yield any local internet companies, try searching elsewhere online, such as in the yellow pages.

Best Internet Providers: Other Considerations

Here are a few more things you can keep in mind to help the experience of shopping for the best internet service go a little more smoothly.

Ask About Extra Charges

In addition to the cost of the monthly charges, there may also be a number of other charges, including installation. Installation ranges between $50 and $100. It's not uncommon for the best home internet providers to waive this fee if you're ordering multiple services, such as one of their internet and phone bundles. Be sure to ask for free installation if it's not explicitly offered with your plan. Oftentimes providers will extend this courtesy if you request it.

Depending upon the type of service you're ordering there could be other costs, like a setup fee. 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.

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. This can actually work to your advantage because the best internet service providers will often add things like free premium cable channels or a higher internet speed to sweeten the upgrade deal.

The Top Internet Providers

1st
Download Speed 10-2,000 Mbps
Monthly Price $29.99-299.95

Comcast Internet Plans

  • Pros
  • Ample choice of internet speeds and packages
  • Self-install option makes it easy to set up
  • More than 13.3 million Wifi hotspots available
  • Contract and no-contract options
  • Bundled services with phone and cable
  • Cons
  • Poor customer service
  • Cancellation fees apply to contact plans

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.

2nd
Download Speed 6-75 Mbps
Monthly Price $30.00-70.00

AT&T Internet Plans

  • Pros
  • 99 percent internet reliability
  • Promotional plans include free installation
  • Bundling options including home phone, cable or satellite TV
  • Fiber optic internet available in some areas
  • Great variety of internet speeds and packages
  • Cons
  • One-year contract required for bundled plans

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.

3rd
Download Speed 15-50 Mbps
Monthly Price $34.99-64.99

Time Warner Internet Plans

  • Pros
  • Save money with bundles
  • Good speeds at 50mbps
  • No contract plans
  • Competitive price
  • Large provider in the US
  • Cons
  • Not available everywhere
  • Customer service issues
  • Internet speeds lower than competitors offer

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.

4th
Download Speed 1-500 Mbps
Monthly Price $19.99-269.99

Verizon FiOS Internet Plans

  • Pros
  • Very fast connection speed
  • Consistent reliable service
  • Save money with bundles
  • Top among internet service providers in customer satisfaction
  • Cons
  • Very limited service area
  • Security and Parental controls are add-ons
  • Requires credit check and possible deposit with service

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.

5th
Download Speed 60-100 Mbps
Monthly Price $29.99-89.00

Charter Internet Plans

  • Pros
  • Free modem and internet security suite
  • Parental controls and email inbox protection
  • 24/7 technical support
  • Affordable plans and installation
  • No contract required for internet plans
  • Cons
  • Ineffective live chat application
  • Limited internet plans and speed
  • Charges for WiFi service

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 into 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 Providers in My Area

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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. We make it easy for you to search internet providers by zip code. Simply enter your postal code in our handy tool and then 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, talking to them about their experience can be a helpful way to compare internet providers in your area.

Sometimes, the best internet providers are the ones servicing your local area. Depending on where you live, the quality of service may vary. You might even be lucky enough to qualify for special discounts or offers because of your location. Consider these internet providers when you start your own research:

Advice for Finding the Best Internet Service Providers

Before you decide on the best home internet provider for your needs, 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:

  • What should you look for in a satellite internet provider? If you live in a rural area, satellite internet may be your only option for high-speed internet.
  • What causes your internet speeds to slow down? Does your internet seem to be moving slower than it was before? There are a number of factors that can bog down your internet speeds.
  • How can you save money with TV, phone, and internet? If you need multiple services you might be able to save significant amounts of money by bundling.

Take advantage of all of the resources you can - the more information you have, the better chance you have of making the best choice possible.

Customer service, legitimacy, and company reputation are three important factors to consider when doing business with any of the companies reviewed in this article. Head over to the American Customer Satisfaction Index for a numerical analysis of customer satisfaction within the internet provider industry.

Top Internet Providers Recap

Location, location, location. That's ultimately going to be the dictating factor when it comes to choosing an internet provider. Be sure to check your area using our convenient zip code checker tool 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.

For urban dwellers, the fastest internet provider available will likely be one that offers cable or fiber. If you live in a rural area, far 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 connection type, it can reach virtually anywhere in the U.S. No matter where you live, you'll be sure to find an option that works for your household and budget. Finally, if you're a business owner you should check out our review of the best business internet providers.

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Best Internet Providers FAQs

What is a satellite internet service?

Satellite internet service delivers high speed data to consumers via geostationary satellites. The new generation of communications satellites employ Ka band to bring users download speeds up to 50 Mbps. It is necessary to lease or purchase equipment for satellite internet service.

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.

How fast is satellite internet?

For people living in rural areas, satellite delivers high-speed internet. The average speed of satellite internet is 10 Mbps (megabytes per second). Exede claims a maximum download speed of 25 Mbps. DishNET and HughesNet offer a lower speed option at 5 Mbps.

How much does it cost for satellite internet?

Consumers can expect to pay a monthly fee between $29.99 and $49.99 per month for basic satellite internet service. Equipment leasing typically costs $9.99 monthly. One time installation cost runs from $0 to $99.99. Activation fees run from $9.99 to $149.99, or as per quote from provider.

What is the fastest internet service?

The fastest internet service providers (ISP) are Comcast Xfinity and Verizon FiOS at 49.6 Mbps. Pcmag.com gives Comcast Xfinity a slight edge over Verizon FiOS. Other speedy providers include Suddenlink Comm at 47.8 Mbps, Time Warner Cable at 45.4 Mbps and Cox at 45.1 Mbps.

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.