Fastest High Speed Internet | 2020 ISP Guide

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Whether you’re streaming video, connecting to a video conference, or loading up your online shopping cart, a fast internet connection is essential. And the more devices you connect – your wearable step tracker, virtual assistant, tablet, home security camera, thermostat – the more speed you need for them to function seamlessly at the same time.

But which internet service providers (ISPs) are the fastest for residential customers? How much speed does your household really need? And what should you expect in terms of cost, equipment, and installation? Get the answers and see which providers have the Fastest Internet Plans of 2020 in our comprehensive guide.

This review of the fastest internet plans contains the following sections:

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) defines high-speed internet, or broadband, as having a minimum download speed (how fast you receive data) of 25 megabits per second (Mbps) and a minimum upload speed (how fast you send data) of 3 Mbps. Mbps is a measurement of how fast data travels through an internet connection.

Up until recently, not everyone had access to a broadband connection. That’s changing due to an FCC initiative. In a recent report, the FCC stated that the number of rural Americans with access to broadband service with download/upload speeds of at least 250 Mbps/25 Mbps increased by more than 85% in 2017.

In the past three decades, internet speed has exploded. In 1994, the web was metaphorically as fast as a walking ant at a mere 0.028 Mbps, explains The Internet & Television Association (NCTA). Speed jumped in the early 2000s with the introduction of the cable modem. By 2005, the internet was as fast as a high-speed train at 8 Mbps. And by 2016, it was reaching speeds as fast as 2 gigabits per second (Gbps), or as fast as the Voyager 1 satellite orbiting the earth, says the industry group.

Today, internet speed is more important than ever. American adults spend 3.7 hours a day online at home, according to Leichtman Research Group. And 50% of Americans with internet access watch video online daily, finds Bruce Leichtman, a broadband industry authority who heads Leichtman Research Group. We’re also connecting more devices – smartphones, appliances, wearables – to the internet. Networking company Cisco says 13.6 connected devices will exist for every person in the U.S. by 2023.

“That all adds up to more usage, which means that a consumer wants a service that not only is faster but consistent across all devices in the home,” says Leichtman.

Xfinity Internet
Download Speed 15 Mbps – 2,000 Mbps
Upload Speed 1 Mbps – 1,000 Mbps
Cost Starting at $29.99
Cox Internet
Download Speed 10 Mbps – 1,000 Mbps
Upload Speed 1 Mbps – 1,000 Mbps
Cost Starting at $29.99
AT&T Internet
Download Speed 0.200 Mbps – 940 Mbps
Upload Speed 0.128 Mbps – 940 Mbps
Cost Starting at $50
Frontier Internet
Download Speed 6 Mbps – 940 Mbps
Upload Speed 6 Mbps – 880 Mbps
Cost Starting at $20
Verizon Internet
Download Speed 100 Mbps – 940 Mbps
Upload Speed 100 Mbps – 880 Mbps
Cost Starting at $39.99

Company

Download Speed

Upload Speed

Cost

Xfinity Internet 15 Mbps – 2,000 Mbps 1 Mbps – 1,000 Mbps Starting at $29.99
Cox Internet 10 Mbps – 1,000 Mbps 1 Mbps – 1,000 Mbps Starting at $29.99
AT&T Internet 0.200 Mbps – 940 Mbps 0.128 Mbps – 940 Mbps Starting at $50
Frontier Internet 6 Mbps – 940 Mbps 6 Mbps – 880 Mbps Starting at $20
Verizon Internet 100 Mbps – 940 Mbps 100 Mbps – 880 Mbps Starting at $39.99

Based on the highest advertised download/upload speeds. Download/Upload Speed metrics is displaying the full speed range the ISP offers.

We evaluated the companies in our rating of the Best Internet Service Providers of 2020 to see which ones offer the fastest service plans. Five plans top our rating, all of which use fiber optic technology. Rates are current as of the time of this review. Here’s what we found:

Xfinity Internet

Xfinity Internet

Fastest Internet Service Provider in 2020

Monthly Cost
Starting at $29.99
Connection Type
Fiber, Cable
Download Speed
15 Mbps – 2,000 Mbps

Xfinity: Our evaluation of the Best Internet Service Providers found Xfinity offers the fastest internet plan. Its fiber-based Gig Pro plan is the company’s quickest, featuring equal download/upload speeds of 2,000 Mbps. This plan has a 1 terabyte (TB) data cap and requires a one-year contract. It’s also the most expensive plan we rated with a starting price of $299 per month. Xfinity placed No. 4 in our Best Internet Service Providers rating with an overall score of 3.92 (5 being the highest possible score). Read more in our review of Xfinity.

Cox Internet

Monthly Cost
Starting at $29.99
Connection Type
Fiber, Cable
Download Speed
10 Mbps – 1,000 Mbps

Cox: The second-fastest internet service is available from Cox, according to our research. Its highest-speed plan is the fiber-based Gigablast S, which delivers equal download/upload speeds of up to 1,000 Mbps. While you’re capped at 1 TB of data, this plan does not require a contrac. Its monthly price starts at $99.99. Cox tied for No. 8 in our rating of the best internet providers overall with a score of 3.72. Read more in our review of Cox.

AT&T Internet

Monthly Cost
Starting at $50
Connection Type
Fiber, DSL
Download Speed
0.200 Mbps – 940 Mbps

AT&T Internet: Coming in at No. 3 on our list of fastest internet plans is AT&T. Its fiber-based Internet 1000 plan has equal download and upload speeds that range from 500 to 940 Mbps. At $70 per month, it’s the most affordable high-speed plan we evaluated. AT&T doesn’t cap data use but does require a one-year contract. The company placed second overall in our Best Internet Service Providers rating with a score of 4.06. Read more in our review of AT&T Internet.

Frontier Internet

Monthly Cost
Starting at $20
Connection Type
Fiber, DSL
Download Speed
6 Mbps – 940 Mbps

Frontier: Frontier ranked No. 4 on our list of fastest internet service providers. Its highest-speed plan is the FiOS Gig Service, which has a download speed of 940 Mbps and an upload speed of 880 Mbps. This plan starts at $74.99 and gives you unlimited data use. In our overall rating of best internet providers, Frontier placed sixth with a score of 3.83. Read more in our review of Frontier.

Verizon Internet

Best Internet Service Provider in 2020

Monthly Cost
Starting at $39.99
Download Speed
100 Mbps – 940 Mbps

Verizon Fios: Our evaluation of the Best Internet Service Providers found Verizon Fios has the fifth-fastest internet service. Its Gigabit Connection is the speediest plan offered by the company, reaching a download speed of 940 Mbps and an upload speed of 880 Mbps. The cost starts at $79.99 a month and data use is unlimited. Verizon Fios earned the No. 1 spot on our Best ISP rating with an overall score of 4.13. Read more in our review of Verizon Fios.

Available in

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District Of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin

See all

The high-speed internet service near you can be found by exploring our map. Another excellent tool is the FCC’s interactive Fixed Broadband Deployment locator. According to the FCC, about 60% of the U.S. can pick between two or more high-speed providers for DSL internet, cable internet, or fiber internet. If you include broadband satellite internet service, this increases to 91% of Americans.

Still, the fastest plans, which use fiber optic technology, might not be available where you live. The FCC says about a third of the U.S. population has access to a fiber internet provider. That translates to 46.5 million, according to the Fiber Broadband Association, though the good news is that this number is growing every year.

The providers in our Fastest Internet Plans rating offer coverage across the U.S, though it isn’t always the company’s fiber service. Xfinity operates in 39 states and Washington, D.C. Cox operates in 13 states; Frontier in 33. AT&T Internet provides service in California, the Southeast, and Midwest. Verizon Fios has coverage in the New England and mid-Atlantic regions.

No. of Devices Light Use Moderate Use High Use
1 user on 1 device Basic Basic Medium
2 users or devices at a time Basic Medium Medium/Advanced
3 users or devices at a time Medium Medium Advanced
4 users or devices at a time Medium Advanced Advanced

Basic Service = 3 to 8mpbs. Medium Service = 12 to 25 Mbps. Advanced Service = More than 25 Mbps. *Mbps (Megabits per second) is the standard measure of broadband speed. It refers to the speed with which information packets are downloaded from, or uploaded to, the internet. *Speed usage data from FCC website.

You need an internet speed that can keep up with your household’s online activities. Email and web surfing require a download speed of 3 to 8 Mbps. A download speed of 12 to 25 Mbps is best for two or three internet users who want to stream video or play online games. A speed of 25 Mbps and higher supports four-plus people who surf, play games, stream video and more all at the same time. We cover gaming needs further in our rating of Best Internet Providers for Gaming of 2020.

Most of us get the internet speed we pay for, according to the FCC’s latest report measuring America’s broadband performance, which was released in December 2018. “The actual speeds experienced by most ISPs’ subscribers are close to or exceed the advertised speeds,” reported the FCC.

Broadband technology will get even faster in the years ahead. The networking company Cisco says the average speed of fixed broadband (not mobile) in the U.S. will increase from 58.9 Mbps in 2018 to 143.6 Mbps by 2023.

Consumers say they spend $67 a month on average for online service, according to broadband industry authority Bruce Leichtman. Higher broadband speeds will cost you more: The Fastest Internet Plans of 2020 start at $70 and increase to more than $299 per month.

Is super high speed worth the cost? A study by the Wall Street Journal found the benefits gained from paying for more than 100 Mbps of download speed were marginal for the typical household.

Consumers must decide “what works best for my household both from an efficiency standpoint and from a cost standpoint,” says Leichtman.

Rates are current as of the time of this review and don’t include taxes, surcharges, and fees. Bundling, or buying more than one service, may provide a discount. Following is the cost of the fastest plans from our top-rated internet providers:

For the Xfinity Gig Pro plan, you can expect to pay at least $299 a month. Equipment rental starts at $14 a month. Discounts are given for paperless billing/auto-payment and for entering a one-year contract. A termination fee is incurred for ending the contract early. Installation fees vary.

The Cox Gigablast S plan starts at $99.99 a month. It is limited to 1 TB of data and data overage charges apply, though you can purchase extra data. A contract isn’t required but may provide a discount. Early contract termination costs up to $120. Installation starts at $20; equipment rental starts at $0.

The AT&T Internet 1000 plan starts at $70 per month and is the most budget-friendly of the high-speed plans in our ranking. It does not have a data cap. Equipment rental starts at $10 per month. Some promotions include free Installation. AT&T requires a one-year contract; terminating the contract early costs up to $180.

The FiOS Gig Service plan from Frontier starts at $74.99 per month. The cost to rent equipment begins at $10 per month; installation of equipment starts at $75. A contract can provide a discount; early contract termination fees start at $9.99. The plan does not cap data.

For the Verizon Fios Gigabit Connection plan, expect to spend at least $79.99 per month. The monthly charge for equipment rental starts at $15. Installation starts at $99. You can pay month-to-month, but a contract may offer a discount. Contract termination fees vary. The plan does not cap data.

  1. Locate an internet provider: High-speed internet is available in most markets. To see which states our Best Internet Service Providers offer service in, see our map.
  2. Pick the plan: Most providers offer multiple high-speed plans. Choose a good match for your online activities without overspending for an internet speed you may not need. Keep in mind that additional fees and taxes will increase your total monthly bill.
  3. Consider equipment: Equipment will vary depending on the type of internet connection. Learn more in our What Do I Need for High-Speed Internet Service? and Should I Buy or Rent High-Speed Internet Equipment? sections below.
  4. Get connected: Install and set up the equipment you need to connect to the internet. You can manage this yourself or have it professionally done by your internet provider’s tech. Your final step is to set up your Wi-Fi network and connect your devices. We list the basic DIY steps in our section on self-installing high-speed internet equipment.

  • Modem or optical network terminal: This device brings your internet provider’s network into your home. You can usually rent it from your provider, and some company’s let you use your own device, so long as it’s compatible. The type of device depends on the type of internet connection:

Fiber internet requires an optical network terminal (ONT).

For cable and DSL, you need a DOCSIS (Document Over Cable Service Interface Specification) modem compatible with your plan’s speed.

Satellite broadband requires a specially configured modem, which is provided by the internet service

  • Wi-Fi router: This device connects to the modem and uses radio frequency to create an in-home Wi-Fi network so you can operate your wireless devices, like smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles, and video streaming devices such as Apple TV and Roku.
  • Special equipment: Satellite internet requires a satellite dish antenna, which the internet provider installs. For fiber internet, you may want a built-in battery backup for the ONT, which runs on electricity.
  • Other equipment: Depending on where your modem is in relation to other devices in your home, you may need extra equipment to get online. The list may include coaxial cables, ethernet cables, and Wi-Fi extenders or amplifiers to boost the wireless signal in the house.
  • Installation appointment: This optional service depends on your technical abilities, the setup in your home, and the type of internet you are adding. In many cases, you can self-install equipment for cable and DSL. Fiber and satellite broadband require professional installation.

Buying Equipment – High-Speed Internet Service

Renting Equipment – High-Speed Internet Service

  • It’s less expensive long-term

  • You have a greater selection

  • It’s easier to change ISPs

  • You’re covered if it breaks

  • It might not be an option

  • If equipment breaks, you’ll have to buy new

  • It’s more expensive long-term

  • You’ll be charged a fee for not returning equipment

Buying Equipment – High-Speed Internet Service

  • It’s less expensive long-term

  • You have a greater selection

  • It’s easier to change ISPs

  • It might not be an option

  • If equipment breaks, you’ll have to buy new


Renting Equipment – High-Speed Internet Service

  • You’re covered if it breaks

  • It’s more expensive long-term

  • You’ll be charged a fee for not returning equipment

You should buy equipment for high-speed internet service if you want to save money in the long run or you want to choose from a greater selection of equipment. It can be faster and easier to switch internet providers when you already have the necessary equipment. But depending on your high-speed internet connection, buying equipment may not be an option as some devices, like a satellite dish antenna and modems for satellite internet service, must be rented from the provider. Another disadvantage: If the equipment you own breaks or is outdated, you’re on the hook to buy a replacement.

You should rent equipment for high-speed internet service if you like convenience. The internet company typically provides the most up-to-date, compatible devices, offers technical support, and will replace a device that breaks. Renting equipment also is required for satellite internet. Renting, however, costs more over time and monthly rental fees may increase. You’ll also be charged if you do not return rented equipment after terminating service.

Sometimes there is no option between renting and buying. For example, you are required to rent the equipment for satellite internet.

Self-installing high-speed internet equipment is best for:

  • People who want to save time and money

Hiring a professional to install high-speed internet equipment is best for:

  • People who have limited technical know-how

  • Fiber and satellite internet

  • More complex installation jobs

Self-installing high-speed internet equipment is best for people who have some technical experience and are comfortable connecting devices. This option can save you money when your household needs only basic cable and DSL equipment and the installation is straightforward. Self-installing also saves time, as you don’t have to wait for a technician to show up.

Hiring a professional to install high-speed internet equipment is best for subscribers who aren’t familiar with technology and want an expert to set up the system. It is required to install an optical network terminal (ONT) for fiber internet and a dish antenna and modem for satellite internet. Professional installation is also recommended for complex jobs. These may involve multiple pieces of equipment, or when a home isn’t properly wired, has connection issues, or hasn’t had internet service in more than a year.

  • Turn off connected devices if you are not using them. Your internet connection can slow down with every device that is online. For example, an always-on smart home device often checks for updates regularly, which will use up a portion of your bandwidth.
  • Reboot the modem and router: Unplug the power cords, wait one minute, and plug them back in. Restart connected devices on a regular basis.
  • Monitor data usage: Internet providers throttle speed if you exceed the data plan. Check your bill or talk to a customer service representative to see how much data you typically use each month.
  • Replace an older or failing modem or router. Talk with your provider to see if replacing your equipment can help improve your internet speed.
  • Boost Wi-Fi: You won’t get optimal internet speeds on your wireless devices when your Wi-Fi signal is getting blocked. Place the router in a central, unobstructed location off the ground. You can also password-protect the wireless network to prevent unauthorized use, and install extenders to boost the signal to areas where the Wi-Fi is weak.
  • Improve satellite reception: Those with satellite internet should check their dish. You may need to trim branches away from the dish antenna or have your provider send a technician to reposition the dish.
  • Check your VPN. If your VPN is slowing down your internet experience, consider switching to a new VPN service.
  • Call for service to check for issues outside the home. A loose connection in an exterior utility box may be the cause. Your provider can send a technician to test for this and look for other potential problems.
  • Find a new internet provider that delivers more speed. Check our map to see which providers are available in your state, and check out our rating of the Best Internet Providers.

We explain what matters when it comes to internet service by sourcing experts and professional reviewers. Then we provide an unbiased evaluation of internet service providers. Our goal is to empower consumers with the information and tools they need to make informed decisions. More information about our 360 Reviews methodology for evaluating internet service providers is available here.

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