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Comprehensive Guide of the Best Internet Providers by Category in 2024
About 90% of all adults in the United States use the internet.
The internet has undergone rapid growth in recent years. Between 2018 and 2019, there was an increase in new internet users by 9%. There are numerous ways how the internet has transformed people's lives, from e-commerce to social media to emails.
As internet usage has increased, so too have the options available to people. There are five common types of broadband internet connections: digital subscriber line (DSL), fiber, cable, wireless, and satellite.
This guide will examine the best internet provider in speed, price, reliability, and customer satisfaction. If you're curious about what your internet options are, then keep reading to see an in-depth breakdown of the various kinds.
DSL Internet Service
DSL uses wireline transmission technology. It is able to transmit data through the traditional copper telephone lines installed at homes and businesses.
The most popular DSL internet providers around are:
- AT&T Internet
- Frontier Communications
CenturyLink is the second largest DSL provider, covering over 48 million people in 39 states.
It offers a vast array of plans. Some of the more expensive plans top out at the highest possible speeds when for DSL. The speeds are so high that it outdoes all other top DSL providers, topping out at 100 Mbps.
CenturyLink also has what's called Price for Life. This means that the plan you sign up for won't change throughout the duration of your service at the same address.
The internet deals that CenturyLink offers are straightforward. Basically, you'll pay $49 per month, and your download speeds can reach up to 100 Mbps. It also has a Price for Life set-up, which means your monthly bill will never increase on you.
If you hate contracts, then Verizon will be a great choice for you. There are no fees for canceling your service early. The lack of a contract gives you the flexibility to do a test run of Verizon's DSL internet. If you don't like the speeds and rates it offers, you're free to walk away with no obligations.
Verizon's data limit is high, topping out around 1.5 terabytes. If you aren't sure what that translates to, it's more than enough data for an entire family to stream and do online gaming without encountering any issues.
Customer service for Verizon is also top-notch. If you encounter any issues, the customer service representatives will do everything in their power to help you and remain pleasant throughout the process.
AT&T is one of the largest DSL providers around and with good reason. It brings coverage to 21 states and around 120 million people.
While many other internet service providers use unclear language and include hidden fees in the contract, AT&T is transparent. This includes the actual amount you'll pay for the coverage you choose, including activation fees, installation fees, and more. This makes customers happy. No one likes feeling tricked and AT&T does its best to help people feel in control.
Download speeds for AT&T range between 1-10 Mbps. These speeds are enough for two people to surf the web at the same time.
Fiber Internet Service
Fiber internet service changes electrical signals with data into light and sends it through transparent glass fibers. Fiber is a high-speed internet service that exceeds DSL and cable modem.
The top fiber internet providers around are:
- Verizon Fios
- Frontier Fios
CenturyLink brings some of the top speeds around. It's starting price is $65 per month, and you'll get 100 Mbps of internet. While CenturyLink may be pricier than other options, that price is locked in and will never rise.
If you are a family who enjoys streaming different shows at once or gaming together, you'll need these high Mbps speeds to ensure no lag time or buffering.
Frontier is aimed at the West Coast, so if you don't live in California, Idaho, Oregon, Texas, or Washington, then this internet provider likely won't be available to you.
The internet provider has a plan that starts at $30 per month with 50 Mbps speeds. The other plan it provides is $40 per month with speeds up to 500 Mbps.
No matter where you live, AT&T brings widespread coverage. At the moment, AT&T is the largest fiber network in the United States.
Verizon is flexible with its plans and also offers bundling options. You're able to customize your TV and internet and phone services.Â
Internet speeds with AT&T are top-notch and its customer service continually wins high marks for satisfaction. Overall, AT&T is a reliable internet service provider where you can get great speed and service, though at a somewhat higher price than other providers.
Verizon brings great fiber speeds and unlimited data. However, it's the customer service that makes Verizon shine.
The internet provider is consistent in providing excellent customer service and has top marks with Consumer Reports and the American Consumer Satisfaction Index.
If you choose Verizon, you'll know you're getting reliable internet speeds, decent costs, and clear billing with no hidden fees.
Cable Internet Service
A cable modem service is able to allow cable providers to provide broadband service using the coaxial cables of your television. A cable modem is a separate device you must purchase. It has two connections that must plug in: one to the cable wall outlet, the other to the computer.
The most common cable internet providers are:
Mediacom brings a massive range in speeds. It's lowest plan starts at 60 Mbps and then skyrockets up to 1,000 Mbps
If you have a large family where you'll have one person using the wifi, another streaming their favorite show on Netflix, and someone else playing online games, then Mediacom has you covered. Mediacom caters to heavy internet users who feel the need for speed.
Xfinity offers the widest range of plans, which means it also has some of the cheaper internet options. Its plans start at 10 Mbps and go all the way up to 2,000 Mbps in certain locations.
The cheapest plan it offers is known as the Performance Starter. It prices out at $29.99 per month and gives 25 Mbps.
If you're looking for something a bit more midrange, then there's the Performance plan. You'll pay $34.99 per month for it, and get up to 100 Mbps.
If you need super high speeds to handle your gaming and streaming needs, then go with the Extreme Pro. It costs $74.99 per month and offers 600 Mbps.
Spectrum is the only service provider in this category that doesn't do data caps. That alone was enough to help it win the reliability category. No matter how much internet surfing you do, at the end of the month, you won't be penalized.
As far as cable internet providers go, Cox Communications steals the show for customer satisfaction. It gets high scores in customer service on a consistent basis. Cox gives reliable service, high internet speeds, and has customer service representatives and technicians who go out of their way to ensure you are happy with your service.
Fixed Wireless Internet Service
Wireless makes use of a radio link between your home and the service provider to provide broadband internet. People who live in remote areas where DSL or cable aren't available often opt to use wireless.
Winner: Rise Broadband
In 2019, Rise Broadband won multiple awards for its high internet speeds as a fixed wireless provider. Rise Broadband won the Top Internet Speeds Nationwide award and the Top 3 Fastest Fixed Wireless Providers Nationwide award.
Winner: One Ring Networks
One Ring Networks is one of the top fixed wireless internet providers in the United States. It offers several different plans to choose from, which means more options to choose from that start at lower prices.
Winner: Rise Broadband
Rise Broadband has wide availability as one of the largest fixed wireless providers in America. It's also easier than other options when it comes to setting up service as a new subscriber.
Winner: One Ring Networks
One Ring Networks has won multiple awards as a top fixed wireless internet provider. It provides several different plans to choose from with great speed, and gets consistent high marks for its customer service.
Satellite Internet Service
A satellite internet service requires that a satellite dish be installed on your property. It then bounces a signal between the dish and a satellite orbiting the earth. Satellite is a type of wireless broadband.
Some of the top satellite internet providers around are:
- Viasat (formerly Exede)
If you want the fastest internet speeds possible, then Viasat is the way to go. It boasts speeds up to 100 Mbps and a data cap of up to 150 GB.
It has a wide range of plans to choose from, as well. Its lowest plan starts at $30 per month and gives you 12 MBps. Its highest plan goes up to $150 per month with 100 Mbps.
Viasat hikes its prices up on you after the first three months, which means HughesNet is the winner for affordability. HughesNet offers transparent pricing that won't go up after a few months.
HughesNet doesn't price its plans according to download speeds. Instead, it prices out its plans by how high the data cap goes.
The cheapest plan starts at $59.99 per month. Like with all the plans, you'll get 25 Mbps. Where it differs is the data cap. With this plan, you'll have a data cap of 10 GB.
The next plan up is $69.99 per month and has a data cap of 20 GB.
After that, there's a bigger step up in price. The next plan up is $99.99 per month. You still get 25 Mbps, but your data cap is 30 GB.
The most expensive plan is another sizeable jump at $150 per month. However, it also has the highest data cap at 50 GB. This plan is more than enough to cover a family of four that is streaming and gaming at the same time.
Viasat brings top-notch internet speeds with data caps that go as high as 150 GB. Its internet service runs smooth with few interruptions, making it the best choice for any family with heavy internet users.
When it comes to HughesNet vs Viasat, HughesNet wins in the area of customer satisfaction.
There are no mid-contract price hikes with HughesNet, unlike with Viasat. Also, all of HughesNet's plans are clear and transparent. You know what you're getting for what you pay.
How to Find the Best Internet Service Provider Near You
If you're shopping around for internet, you've likely tried Googling internet service providers in my area. However, that'll pull up every single internet provider under the sun, from cable to satellite.
When you're doing a search of internet providers near me or internet service in my area, be sure to whittle down the results by also including the type of provider you want.
From there, be sure to compare the various providers in the key areas that are most important to you. If youre sick of dealing with customer service reps with bad attitudes, look for a service provider that has stellar ratings in customer satisfaction.
On a budget? Look for internet providers that offer numerous plans at different prices. Have a family of gamers that gobble up data? You'll want to find an internet provider that brings high internet speeds and no data cap.
Choose the Best Internet Provider for You
Choosing the best internet provider can be a complicated process, but it's well worth the effort.
Make a list of the top providers in your area, and then write down the pros and cons of each. Look at the different packages they offer, the prices of each, and how their customer service is rated. Also, be sure to look out for hidden fees. Some internet providers like to sneak in a price hike after you've been with them for a couple of months.
Use Konecteaze today to search for providers and compare plans.