Best internet & cable TV service in 2021
Finding the best internet and TV provider in your area can be a painstaking process.
Where you live and which types of programs you prefer to watch are important factors to consider when deciding between TV providers.
You'll want to find a package that fits your needs with a company that won't charge you a fortune.
In our review, we've made sure reliability, cost, customer service, and channel selection were at the top of our list.
Best internet providers
Cable internet providers
AT&T: 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.
Spectrum: Charter (which took over Time Warner Spectrum in 2016) provides cable internet ranging from 30 - 100 Mbps. The company serves 41 states.
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.
Sparklight: Serving 19 states, Sparklight 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.
DSL internet providers
It's worth noting that some providers in this list offer more than one type of connection in certain areas.
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.
Satellite internet providers
HughesNet: Satellite internet at one speed - 25 Mbps. Amount of data you get varies from 10 GB to 50 GB.
Best TV providers
Spectrum: Spectrum offers a typical array of channels, plus add-ons like NFL RedZone and other sports plans, plenty of PPV options, and over 10,000 on-demand titles.
AT&T: U-Verse offers up to 470 channels and is available in 21 states.
Verizon FiOS: Verizon offers fiber-only TV and internet service in nine states so far. Its high quality isn't surprising, and neither are the prices. The cool thing about FiOS TV is that you can order custom packages - things like sports, international channels, or kids and pop culture.
CenturyLink: CenturyLink is phasing out its Prism® TV product, however, it is an authorized DIRECTV dealer.
Mediacom: You can only buy a TV service bundled with internet from Mediacom. They serve 21 states and no contract is required.
Optimum: This tiny cable company serves New York, plus limited areas of New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. Packages range from 220 to 420 channels, with no commitment necessary.
Sparklight: This company operates in 19 states. Package options are lacking, however, and they're on the pricey side.
Windstream: Windstream combines DIRECTV service with their Kinetic gigabit internet to provide bundled services across 16 states.
Satellite TV providers
DIRECTV: This AT&T subsidiary offers packages with up to 330+ channels, plus NFL Sunday Ticket is included in the top four packages.
Dish: Dish gives you up to 250+ channels, plus you'll enjoy use of the Hopper 3 HD DVR, which offers a huge amount of storage space compared to DVRs from other TV providers.
Best landline phone providers
There's a wide range of providers to choose from for your landline service. Here are some of our favorite contenders for best home phone service:
AT&T Phone Unlimited
The wireless giant also offers traditional landlines for its residential customers. AT&T home phone service is available as a standalone or bundled with internet services and/or TV.
Available in 44 states, this Charter Communications brand provides home phone service either by itself or as a package with cable TV, internet, and mobile phone service. Spectrum landlines come with no contracts and their phone plans include very affordable international calls.
Verizon Fios landline
Verizon FiOS Fios Digital Voice
Known for its excellence in wireless service, Verizon provides landlines via its fiber optics network. Options include per-minute rates and an unlimited plan for long-distance and local calls.
Comcast Xfinity phone service uses VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) technology to deliver digital voice services at home. No phone jacks required, and your home calling plan is available on the go via mobile app. Xfinity offers TV and high-speed internet bundles and has good value international call rates.
Cox Voice Preferred
Cox delivers home phone service via its digital IP-based network. No internet is required, however, you can bundle with cable TV, broadband, and/or home automation, security, and medical alert monitoring if you want.
This landline provider can hook you up through your existing phone jacks. Suddenlink phone service is available by itself or bundled with high-speed internet and TV. They also offer mobile phone service.
Suddenlink and Optimum are both owned by Altice, and offer the same options for home phone service along with the other services you expect in a package. You can also manage your landline from your mobile.
You can choose from local calls only or an unlimited long distance plan with this provider. International call rates are available. CenturyLink also offers bundles with TV and internet connection.
Digital Frontier landline service is available as a standalone or with its internet and DISH TV packages.
Internet & TV availability by ZIP code
Not all cable TV providers offer service in your ZIP code. Where satellite dishes beam your favorite shows directly to your television, cable and fiber optic companies have to run a physical line down your neighborhood. For decades, cable TV has claimed territories across the United States where only they rule. They used to be the only television provider in town.
Thanks to government legislation, however, there has been a dramatic shift in cable TV providers located across the country. Slowly, more and more competitors are staking flags on previously conquered land.
How do you find cable TV providers near you? The first thing you should do is check in your area. There are many websites to tell you which TV providers are located in your area. Use these to navigate the map and view every available option. You can also use our convenient tool to search for cable providers by ZIP code.
Key considerations before choosing a provider
When I was researching cable providers in my area, I narrowed my search to reception, bundles, and contracts.
Simply put, the best cable providers should be reliable in poor weather, user-friendly when you're finding shows to watch, and hassle-free when you're doing anything else.
If you're in the market for cable TV and cable Internet, reflect on these areas when you do your own research.
Reception - Cable and satellite have very different reception issues. No matter how good satellite TV service is, it will be affected by weather conditions and physical obstructions. If you can set up your dish somewhere that will have a clear path to the sky, then you will get the best reception.
Cable TV and Internet Bundles - Most providers offer TV and Internet bundles. So if you're in the market for any of those services at once, I would keep that in mind.
Contracts - The majority of cable and satellite TV providers offer customers packaged deal pricing on a contract basis. Before you lock in on one particular company, be sure to review the terms of the contract.
Additional Services - Many cable and satellite TV providers also offer extra services. For example, they may offer television, music, and radio channels unique to their company. If you're looking for cheap cable TV, you may have to sacrifice additional packages.
Internet Availability - Though the value of a TV package is important, a stable internet connection, complete with optimal a download speed and an upload speed, maybe just as essential. After all, fast Internet speeds are required for online video game play and video streaming.
Tips to cut your internet & cable bill
If you are troubled by your satellite or cable bill each month, there are ways you can alleviate the burden.
Here are some methods you can use to save money on your TV bill:
Bundle Internet, TV and Phone Services - Our homes today are a cornucopia of communication. With high-speed internet, TV and cell phones we are constantly communicating with our friends, family and the rest of the world. However, if you are paying for all of these services separately, you may be spending more than you have to. When you bundle services with one provider you may be able to spend a lot less each month.
Select the Plan Based on the Channels You Watch - In a culture where success is often expressed in excess, we often pay for a lot more than we use. Many TV service providers offer over 100 channels but how many of them do you actually watch? Take a good look at your bill and look for the little extras that add up. If you can, choose a package with fewer channels and less expense. If you don't need HD or DVR services, cancel them to save money in a pinch.
Negotiate the Monthly Price - It's not a new story. You open the monthly cable bill only to discover the price has gone up! According to the NPD Group, a market research organization, monthly TV bills are expected to increase by 6% every year and could top out at $200 a month by 2020.
Internet & TV service providers FAQs
Which TV provider is the best?
The best TV provider will depend on the area you live and your needs. Some include Cox for low-cost plans, Xfinity for cable TV, Verizon Fios for fiber TV, and Spectrum for no-contract plans.
Is TV service cheaper if I bundle?
If you're looking to sign up for an internet or home phone service it can be cheaper to bundle your TV service.
Who are the best TV providers in my area?
To check for the best TV providers at your address you can use our ZIP code checker.
There are a lot of quality services to consider within my list of the top cable television providers. The top concerns when looking for your new cable or satellite provider is customer care, availability, and price.
You should also explore bundling options to see if you can save by combining services. Before you opt for one of the big brands out there, make sure you explore any exclusive local options you might have in your area.
I hope that the information in this review helps you on your way to saving money. If want to get great cable on a budget, you can head over to our buyer's guide to cheap cable service.