The 4 Best Internet Providers for Gaming 2020
Who else is hyped for Cyberpunk 2077, Diablo IV—and maybe even Star Citizen if we’re lucky? (Ok, that last one will release when pigs fly, we know.)
Whether you prefer to veg out with pixelated nostalgia or bathe in the glory of VR, all gamers need a reliably fast internet connection to avoid dying to the lag boss. It probably doesn’t hurt if that internet provider has a good customer service department, epicly high data caps, and low prices either, right?
Yeah, you’re speaking our language. We took a look at all these qualities to see which quest reward is best. Er, we mean, which internet service providers (ISPs) get you a legendary connection.
AT&T Fiber: Best fiber speeds
Fiber is king, and AT&T Fiber’s internet speed scores make it the king of kings.
A fiber connection is the holy grail for most gamers, especially those who livestream. And AT&T Fiber earned all the gold stars in our list of the fastest ISPs, thanks to its stellar performance in the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC’s) 2018 report and HighSpeedInternet.com’s regional rankings.1, 2
Along with speed, fiber internet—including AT&T Fiber—is notorious for providing more reliable performance when you need it. That means your internet shouldn’t drop out the moment you and your fellow vault hunters get to the boss in Borderlands 3.
|Plan||Price||Download speed||Data cap||Details|
|Internet 1000||$49.99/mo.*||940 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plan|
If you’re a streamer, we can’t recommend fiber internet enough. That’s because the symmetrical download and upload speeds are exactly what you need to keep your Twitch stream running smoothly and those bits stacking up.
Why we like AT&T Fiber
Unlike its DSL counterpart, AT&T’s fiber internet is reported by the FCC to over-deliver on download speed.1 It also comes with that sweet, sweet symmetrical upload speed for all your livestreaming and YouTube creator needs.
And while fiber internet tends to be limited to the coasts, AT&T Fiber has better coverage than Verizon Fios. It shows some love to the Midwest and South along with the East Coast and West Coast. Aww.
Also, if you shell out for the Internet 1,000 plan, AT&T Fiber chips in unlimited data. Talk about an epic trade that would make any goblin proud.
- Better fiber availability
- Pretty good prices for the speed
- Underwhelming DSL plans
- 1 TB data cap on all but 1,000 Mbps plan
Who is AT&T Fiber best for?
AT&T’s fiber plans work best for these types of people:
- Anyone who lives in an area with AT&T Fiber (check your ZIP code)
- People who need super-fast download and upload speeds for livestreaming or server hosting
- Gamers who share a home with other gamers . . . and streamers too
Recommended AT&T Fiber plan
Want to know more? Read our full-length AT&T internet review.
Xfinity: Best non-fiber speeds
Xfinity’s reliably zippy speeds make it a champ, but watch out for hit-or-miss customer service.
Xfinity gets a bad rap for its customer service, and we don’t necessarily disagree. But it does shine where it counts: speed and performance.
It’s smooth sailing no matter what game I’m playing. From sniping Bada** Corrosive Alpha Skags in Borderlands 3 to smiting foes and admiring Geralt’s flawless, moonlit locks in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, I’ve run into few, if any, connection issues with Xfinity.
And that’s with several connected devices and a gamer spouse using the same connection at the same time. Not bad, right?
|Plan||Price||Download speed||Data cap||Details|
|Performance Starter||$19.99†||25 Mbps||1 TB||View Plan|
|Performance||$34.99†||100 Mbps||1 TB||View Plans|
|Performance Pro||$49.99†||200 Mbps||1 TB||View Plan|
|Blast! Pro||$64.99†||300 Mbps||1 TB||View Plan|
|Extreme Pro||$60†||600 Mbps||1 TB||View Plan|
|Gigabit||$70†||1000 Mbps||1 TB||View Plan|
|Gigabit Pro||$299.95‡||2000 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plan|
Why we like Xfinity
Xfinity earned the title of “fastest cable internet” in our ranking of the most reliably fast ISPs out there. If you’re lucky, those speeds go all the way up to 2,000 Mbps.
But even the next highest speed of 1,000 Mbps is like grouping with a few eSports pros and pwning everything in sight. (Okay, maybe not quite, but you get the picture.)
We also like that Xfinity gives you a wide variety of speeds to choose from. Not all gamer households are created equal, so 100 Mbps may be fine for a tag-team duo—but not for a home filled with two or three Fortnite-loving teens plus parents too. (We’d recommend the Blast! Pro plan with 275 Mbps in that case.)
- No-contract options
- Reliable speed performance
- Speeds up to 1,000 or 2,000 Mbps
- Prices that vary drastically by location
- Scary-high price for 2,000 Mbps plan
Who is Xfinity best for?
We think Xfinity will help you get your game on if you’re one of these types of people:
- Anyone who doesn’t mind paying a little extra to be contract-free
- Gamers who rely on speedy internet to land skill shots
- Those who don’t mind putting their bossy pants on when they need to call customer service
Recommended Comcast Xfinity plan
Want to know more? Read our full-length Xfinity review.
Other cable and DSL ISPs worth considering
We like CenturyLink’s Price for Life guarantee, which gets you no contracts and the same monthly price as long as you keep the service. And Spectrum also comes with no contracts and some well-rated speed performance.
|Provider||Monthly price||Download speeds||Connection Type||Learn more|
|CenturyLink Internet||$49–$65^||15–940 Mbps||DSL/Fiber||View Plans|
|Spectrum Internet||$49.99–$109.99°||100–940 Mbps||Cable||View Plans|
Frontier: Best for no data caps
Frontier FiOS fiber internet come with unlimited data, perfect for unlimited gaming.
If you can’t grab AT&T Fiber or Verizon Fios Home Internet where you live, you should check out Frontier FiOS.
While Frontier’s download speed performance may lag behind Verizon Fios, it’s still nothing to scoff at. And those symmetrical fiber upload speeds will let you livestream to your heart’s content. As for gaining as many viewers as Ninja? That’s on you.
|Plan||Price||Download speed||Data cap||Details|
|Simply FiOS 50/50||$29.99**||50 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plans|
|Simply FiOS 500/500||$39.99**||500 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plan|
|Simply FiOS Gig Service||$74.99||1000 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plans|
Why we like Frontier
The prices for Frontier’s plans are pretty enticing, especially now that it’s dropped the price of its 1,000 Mbps plan.
All those plans come with unlimited data, too, so you don’t need to worry when you go on a Steam game download spree.
Sprinkle in the fact that Frontier FiOS fiber internet is pretty widely available, and you’ve got the recipe for some serious gaming going on under one roof. (Don’t believe us? It takes only 30 seconds to check whether Frontier is available near you.)
- No data caps
- Fiber speeds
- Few plan options
Who is Frontier best for?
Here’s who we think Frontier fiber internet is best for:
- Anyone who can’t get Verizon Fios but wants a fiber connection
- Livestreamers who need to collect all the bits on Twitch
- Gamers who live in a house with other gamers and needs lots of Mbps
Recommended Frontier plan
Want to know more? Read our full-length Frontier internet review.
Other ISPs with no data caps worth considering
We’re still pouting over the fact that RCN is limited to Chicago, DC, Boston, and a few other East Coast locations (plus Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania). Seriously, we keep hearing good things about this cable ISP, and it offers quick speeds and unlimited data to boot.
If you think of unlimited data, Windstream may not be the first ISP to come to mind. It mainly services more rural areas, so we think it’s a great option for our gamer friends who enjoy a breath of fresh country air in between their Fortnite matches.
|Provider||Monthly price||Download speeds||Data cap||Learn more|
|RCN Internet||$19.99–$59.99°||25–1000 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plans|
|Windstream Internet||$28.99–$90°||25–1000 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plans|
Verizon Fios Home Internet: Best customer service
Verizon Fios Home Internet gets top scores for customer service—and we heard it’s a breeze to deal with.
The last thing any gamer wants to see is “No Internet Connection.” Sure, you can play offline games like . . . uhh, we actually can’t think of any new games that don’t need an internet connection off the top of our heads.
When the time comes to call up your ISP’s customer service, it’s nice to know you’ll be taken care of and taken seriously. Because you’ve probably already power-cycled your router and all that jazz.
Enter Verizon Fios Home Internet. It’s one of three major ISPs with a customer service score from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) that’s higher than the industry average. And the price is right for good customer service and stellar speeds, so come on down.
|Internet 200/200||$39.99/mo.††||200 Mbps||View Plans|
|Internet 400/400||$59.99/mo.††||400 Mbps||View Plans|
|Fios Gigabit Connection||$79.99/mo.‡‡||Up to 940 Mbps||View Plan|
Verizon Fios’s ACSI score is 70 out of 100, so it beats the industry average of 62 out of 100.3 The only other ISPs with scores higher than the average are AT&T Internet and Optimum, but those two still fall behind Verizon Fios with scores of 69 and 63 out of 100, respectively.
|Rating||Verizon Fios||Internet industry average|
|ACSI 2018–2019||70 out of 100||62 out of 100|
Why we like Verizon Fios Home Internet
Though it offers only three plans, prices for Verizon Fios are right on par with other ISPs offering the same speeds.
The only difference is, Verizon Fios is fiber internet while most other ISPs are not. We always recommend fiber over cable and DSL if you can get it. That’s because fiber internet tends to perform much more reliably in terms of speed—plus you can get an upload speed that usually matches your download speed.
That makes Verizon Fios’s great customer service the icing on an already delicious cake. Mmm . . . cake.
- Reasonable prices
- Fiber connection
- Great customer service
- No annual contract
- Limited availability
Who is Verizon Fios best for?
Here’s who we’d recommend Verizon Fios to:
- Anyone living on the East Coast where Verizon Fios is available
- Gamers looking for reliably fast speeds for FPS and other quick reaction games
- Livestreamers and YouTubers who need fast upload speeds
Recommended Verizon Fios plan
Want to know more? Read our full-length Verizon Fios internet review.
|ACSI 2018–2019||69 out of 100||63 out of 100|
Like we mentioned before, both of these ISPs also scored higher than the industry average for customer service. AT&T Internet happens to be right on Verizon Fios’s tail—and it also offers fiber internet along with a DSL plan as well.
Optimum, though it’s limited to Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, also gets kudos for customer service. And while it doesn’t offer the fastest speeds out there, some of us are okay choosing slower speeds for customer service reps that won’t give us a migraine.
|Provider||Monthly price||Download speeds||Learn more|
|AT&T Internet||$39.99–$50†||5–100 Mbps||View Plans|
|AT&T Fiber||$49.99–$50†||100–940 Mbps||View Plans|
|Optimum Internet||$39.99–$64.99^^||200–400 Mbps||View Plans|
Recap: The best internet for gaming 2020
Console, PC, or even Mac—there’s one thing we gamers can all agree on: we love a fast, reliable internet connection.
These four ISPs won’t make you lag and wipe the raid or disconnect mid-game and return to a lane overrun by the enemy team.
- AT&T Fiber: Best fiber speeds. Fiber is the ultimate goal for gaming and streaming. AT&T Fiber tends to over-deliver on speed without making you too broke to afford a new monitor or the release of Cyberpunk 2077.
- Xfinity: Best non-fiber speeds. If you can’t get fiber in your area, no worries. Xfinity is available pretty much all over the US and also over-delivers on speed. Its higher-tier plans should offer enough upload speed to stream on Twitch too.
- Frontier FiOS: Best for no data caps. If you’re planning a download spree on Steam, look for reliable internet with no data caps. Frontier FiOS fiber internet fits that bill: you won’t ever be charged for going over your monthly data limit. Huzzah!
- Verizon Fios Home Internet: Best customer service. Most of us dread calling tech support, but Verizon Fios customers might be some of the few who don’t mind. That’s because this ISP gets the highest customer satisfaction scores in the nation.
|Provider||Monthly price||Download speeds||Details|
|AT&T Fiber||$49.99/mo.*||1,000 Mbps||View Plans|
|Xfinity||$29.99–$299.95/mo.**||15–2,000 Mbps||View Plans|
|Frontier FiOS||$29.99–$74.99/mo.°||50–1,000 Mbps||View Plans|
|Verizon Fios||$39.99–$79.99/mo.‡‡||200–Up to 940 Mbps||View Plans|
Data effective 1/9/2020. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
*for 12 mos plus taxes & equip fee. $10/mo equip fee applies. Incl unlimited internet data allowance ($30 value)
**For the first 12 months with a 1- or 2-year agreement.
°for 24 months with 2-year agreement. Actual speeds may vary. Installation, equipment fees, Internet Infrastructure Surcharge, early term, taxes & other fees apply. Services subject to availability and all applicable terms and conditions.
‡‡w/ Auto Pay + taxes. Equipment charges may apply.
Online gaming FAQ
Q: What is latency?
If you’re not up on all that internet lingo, it’s okay—we’re here to explain.
Latency is the time it takes for data to travel. You can think of it as the time between an action you take and the time for the game to respond.
If you’re experiencing high latency, you’ll notice a delay between your action (like clicking a mouse) and the game’s response (like your character pew-pewing the enemy).
Latency is measured in milliseconds, which may not seem like a big deal. But if you ask any serious gamer about in-game lag (that is, high latency), they’ll tell you it’s the difference between missing a perfectly-timed shot and getting play of the game in Overwatch.
Q: What is packet loss?
By now you know that latency is the time it takes data to travel. Packet loss happens when that traveling data doesn’t reach its destination—and, no surprise, it can be a huge source of frustration for gamers.
If you’ve ever heard someone talk about “rubberbanding,” “drifting,” or their game pausing suddenly, they’re likely experiencing packet loss.
Ask any World of Warcraft player what it’s like to aim for a 2k arena rating while rubberbanding, and you’ll quickly find out just how frustrating packet loss can be.
- Federal Communications Commission (FCC), “2018 Measuring Broadband Across America: Fixed Broadband Report”
- HighSpeedInternet.com, “The Fastest Internet Providers 2019”
- American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), “ACSI Telecommunications Report 2018–2019”
2019 American Customer Satisfaction Index® (ACSI) survey of customers rating their own ISP’s performance. Compared to all measured providers.