Does Your Internet Need a Speed Boost?

See how your internet plan, city, and state compare in our 2022 internet speed report.

Catherine McNally
Editorial Lead, Internet & Gaming
Read More
May 06, 2022
5 min read

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We saw most internet speeds shoot up in 2020 due to more folks staying at home. But did those speeds keep up in 2021?

Turns out they did—the national average download speed was 57 Mbps in 2020 and it almost doubled to 119 Mbps in 2021.

That’s great news for those of us still spending a lot of time online at home. (And even if you don’t, we expect faster internet speeds are something you’d never turn down.)

Whether you’re planning a move and want to know which states and cities have the fastest internet or if you’re shopping for a new, faster ISP in your area, we’re here to help. Here’s what we found when we analyzed speed test results from 2021.

Bar graph comparing internet speeds between 2021 and 2020.

States with the fastest and slowest internet speeds in 2021

The Northeastern US dominated the top of the speed charts again in 2021, with New Jersey earning the top spot for fastest speeds. West Virginia lagged behind the rest of the states once more, but Alaska made money moves and improved its average download speeds by more than 300%.

  • New Jersey boasted the fastest average download speed in the nation (142 Mbps).
  • West Virginia’s average download speed was the slowest out of all 51 states. (69 Mbps)
  • Alaska saw the biggest improvement in download speed, jumping from an average of 24 Mbps in 2020 to 101 Mbps in 2021. (That’s a 322% increase!)
Map highlighting the fastest and slowest internet speeds by state

In terms of the five states with the slowest internet speeds, each one still saw improvements, including West Virginia.

  1. West Virginia saw an average download speed of 69 Mbps in 2021, up from 44 Mbps in 2020. (56% increase)
  2. Wyoming saw an average download speed of 74 Mbps in 2021, up from 31 Mbps in 2020. (138% increase)
  3. Montana saw an average download speed of 75 Mbps in 2021, up from 29 Mbps in 2020. (159% increase)
  4. Maine saw an average download speed of 76 Mbps in 2021, up from 31 Mbps in 2020. (145% increase)
  5. Wisconsin saw an average download speed of 86 Mbps in 2021, up from 44 Mbps in 2020. (96% increase)

Cities with the fastest and slowest internet speeds in 2021

Even though New Jersey was home to the fastest average download speeds, Goodyear, AZ, and two cities in Massachusetts snuck into the stop spots for fastest cities.

Surprisingly, towns in California and Utah saw the slowest average download speeds. Both states are typically home to fast speeds—but apparently some cities were left behind.

  • Goodyear, Arizona, had the fastest average download speed of 365 Mbps, followed closely by Needham, Massachusetts (337 Mbps), and Norton, Massachusetts (330 Mbps).
  • McCloud, California, was home to the slowest average download speed of 4 Mbps, followed by Ibapah, Utah (7 Mbps), Iowa Park, Texas (10 Mbps), and Capac, Michigan (10 Mbps).

Some cities saw a huge difference in download speeds depending on where their residents live. This may be due to different internet providers serving certain parts of the city, or residents paying for slower or faster plans.

  • Olympia, Washington, saw the biggest difference in slowest average download speeds (115 Mbps) and fastest average download speeds (401 Mbps).
  • Sacramento, California, saw the next biggest gap in slowest average download speeds (76 Mbps) and fastest average download speeds (359 Mbps).
  • Chicago, Illinois, also landed in the top three cities with the biggest gap in slowest average download speeds (50 Mbps) and fastest average download speeds (276 Mbps).

Internet providers with the fastest internet speeds in 2021

The fastest internet providers aren’t just the ones with jaw-dropping download speeds. Now that Zoom calls and work from home are the norm, upload speeds are more important. And latency always plays a role in how much lag you experience online too.

Smaller internet providers like Giggle Fiber are topping the charts when it comes to these three factors. (But larger ISPs like Xfinity aren’t too far behind.)

  • Giggle Fiber (California) topped the charts with a weighted score of 59 out of 100.
  • Crossroads Fiber (Massachusetts) and Connect2First (Arkansas) both boasted the fastest average download speed of 230 Mbps.
  • Point Broadband (multiple states) had the fastest average upload speeds of 516 Mbps.
  • SilverIP (Illinois) had an astoundingly low average latency of 7 milliseconds (ms).
Bar chart of the top 5 ISPs sorted by weighted score
How we calculated our weighted scores
Light Bulb

We like to focus on more than just download speed when it comes to how fast an ISP is.

To make sure we included all factors that affect an internet provider’s performance, we used a weighted speed score that represents 70% of an ISP’s average download speed, 20% of its average upload speed, and 10% of its average latency.

5 fastest internet providers in the US
Rank and provider
Weighted speed score out of 100
Average download speed 2021
Service area
Learn more
Giggle Fiber logo
59164 MbpsSouthern California
tds logo
51102 MbpsNortheast, South, Midwest, and West
Xfinity
49143 MbpsNortheast, South, Midwest, and West
Cox Authorized Retailer
49134 MbpsNortheast, South, Midwest, and West
Astound Grande
49151 MbpsTexas

We also want to call out the local and large internet providers that spent 2021 updating their infrastructure and expanding their networks. Here’s a quick look at the top three ISPs with the most improved download speeds from January to December 2021.

  1. Fidelity Communications jumped from 81 Mbps to 140 Mbps, an increase of 59%.
  2. Sparklight (formerly Cable One) boosted its speeds from 100 Mbps to 150 Mbps, an increase of 50%.
  3. EPB Fiber Optics started at 124 Mbps and ended the year at 167 Mbps for an increase of 43%.

Fastest large internet providers in 2021

Remember how we mentioned that some larger internet providers aren’t too far behind the smaller ones in terms of how fast they can go? Well, here’s the proof.

Xfinity and Cox both ranked in the overall list of top five fastest ISPs above. Optimum, Spectrum, and WOW! all squeezed into the top five when we narrowed our list down to internet providers that are available in more than a handful of cities and serve more than 5 million households.

5 fastest large internet providers in the US
Rank and provider
Weighted speed score
Average download speed 2021
Service area
Learn more
Xfinity
49143 MbpsNortheast, South, Midwest, and West
Cox Authorized Retailer
49134 MbpsNortheast, South, Midwest, and West
Optimum
48127 MbpsNortheast
Spectrum
47110 MbpsNortheast, South, Midwest, and West
Wow
46111 MbpsSouth and Midwest

*Weighted score calculated by combining 70% of the ISP’s average download speed, 20% of its average upload speed, and 10% of its average latency for 2021.

Cities with the most internet providers to choose from in 2021

Not all internet service is alike, which means it’s important to have a choice when you’re ready to sign up for a plan.

Many of the cities sporting the fastest average download speeds, like Needham, Massachusetts, and Mercer Island, Washington, have three or more internet providers to choose from. Others, like Goodyear, Arizona, and Norton, Massachusetts, still have two providers to choose from.

More internet choices can influence average internet speeds by creating a competitive atmosphere for providers that serve the same areas. That’s likely why you’ll see some of the fastest average download speeds in cities with more internet choices.

  • Atlanta, Georgia, has 23 ISPs to choose from, the most of any city.
  • Los Angeles, California followed close behind with 22 ISPs to choose from.
  • Minneapolis and Paul, Minnesota and New York, New York, also topped the charts with 19 different ISPs to choose from each.
Map of top 10 cities by number of providers

What will internet be like in 2022?

The pandemic emphasized how important internet connectivity and decent speeds are to all of us. 2021 carried the torch for improved internet speeds and performance, and we also saw many ISPs expanding their networks.

We expect 2022 to continue that trend.

We’ve already seen many ISPs bump up the download speeds they’re offering (like AT&T’s 5 Gbps plan). And we’re hoping more transparency and improved infrastructure move the needle in terms of upload speeds as well.

Related articles

See how your state compares for internet speed

See the fastest ISPs in the US

Methodology

Our data set includes speed test results from January 1, 2021 through December 31, 2021. We required at least 100 speed tests for internet providers, cities, and states to be included in our report. Afterward, we removed results for business internet, cellular data, and any incomplete or duplicate entries.

We then averaged download speeds for cities and states and compared January to December averages as well. To determine population data, we used 2020 US Census reports where available, unless otherwise noted.

For internet service providers, we calculated a weighted score. 70% of each weighted score represents an ISP’s average download speed, 20% of its average upload speed, and 10% of its average latency.

Catherine McNally
Written by
Catherine McNally
Catherine has a degree in journalism and an MBA, and has spent the last 10+ years writing everything from Okinawa travel guides to stories on Medium. She’s been online since AOL CDs were a thing and is an unapologetic PC gamer. She believes the internet is a necessity, not a luxury, and writes reviews and guides to help everyone stay connected. You can also find her on Twitter: @CMReviewsIt.

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