It seems like nowadays you can’t do anything without the internet—work, leisure, and even social circles rely on some sort of internet connection—so it makes sense that one of our most asked questions is “Who is the fastest internet provider near me?” This is a straightforward question with a less-than-straightforward answer.
Internet speeds differ based on where you live. Plus, your speed requirements are also affected by how you use the internet. But if you’re like us and you use the internet for just about everything, then these are the top providers to consider.
Fastest Internet Providers
|Provider||Max download speed||Data limit||Details|
|Xfinity||Up to 2,000 Mbps||1 TB||View Plans|
|Verizon Fios||Up to 940 Mbps||N/A||View Plans|
|Optimum||Up to 60 Mbps||None||View Plans|
|Spectrum||Up to 60 Mbps||None||View Plans|
|Time Warner Cable (Spectrum)||Up to 60 Mbps||None||View Plans|
The fastest internet in your area
After finding the five fastest ISPs, we wanted to make it easier to find where they’re available. Even if an ISP operates in your state, the only way to know for sure if you can get service is to check your ZIP code on the ISP’s website.
The internet speeds you need
If you’re not sure what internet speed you want (or need), you can use the recommended minimum download speeds from the FCC.
- Casual web browsing: 1 Mbps
- Streaming video: 4 Mbps
- Video conferencing: 4 Mbps
- Online gaming: 5 Mbps
Keep in mind these numbers apply to individual users. For example, if you’re a household of two and you both want to watch streaming video (Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, etc.), you’ll want to double the recommended speed so you can watch your shows and movies simultaneously without interruption.
How we picked the fastest providers
You might take a look at our top five fastest ISPs and think, “Some of these ISPs are not like the others.” We agree, but there’s a method to our madness, we promise.
To start, we looked at which providers advertised the fastest internet speeds—or which ISPs offer the most Mbps. Here’s how our top five stack up for advertised speeds.
- Xfinity: Offers up to 2,000 Mbps
- Verizon Fios: Offers up to 940 Mbps
- Spectrum: Offers up to 100 Mbps
- Viasat: Offers up to 100 Mbps
- Optimum: Offers up to 400 Mbps
You can count Viasat as a unique pick, since satellite internet can’t directly compare to cable and fiber—but sometimes it’s the only option for those who live in the country.
And while Spectrum’s highest advertised speed seems low compared to Xfinity, surprise, surprise—those advertised speeds don’t account for everything. So we turned to the latest FCC report, which compares advertised internet speed to actual internet speed.
Then we narrowed down the data even further and looked at the 80/80 speed metric, which the FCC says measures the “speed that at least 80% of subscribers experience at least 80% of the time over peak periods (7 p.m. to 11 p.m. local time).”1 We think the 80/80 speed metric is a good standard because it covers the majority of users, and it’s measured at a time when you’re most likely at home getting some R&R in online.
That 80/80 metric helped us finalize our top five ISP choices. And because download speed is big pain point, we focused more on download speed than upload speed in our rankings. However, we still made sure each of our top five picks have upload speeds near 100% of what each one promises.
So without further ado, here are the fastest internet service providers of 2018 ordered by highest actual download speeds compared to their advertised speeds.
The fastest internet service providers
Using our criteria, we’ve ranked the following as the fastest ISPs in the United States for 2018:
- Verizon Fios
- Viasat (for those without access to cable, DSL, or a fiber-optic network)
All of these except Viasat either match or exceed their advertised speeds, meaning if you pay for 10 Mbps, you get 10 Mbps or more.1
Actual vs advertised speeds
|Internet Provider||Actual Download Speed vs. Advertised||Details|
|Charter Spectrum||101%||View Plans|
|Verizon Fios||100%||View Plans|
|Comcast Xfinity||100%||View Plans|
* Based on the 2016 FCC’s Measuring Fixed Broadband Report
What to know about fast internet
Which ISPs are fast, affordable, and available?
Out of the top five fastest ISPs, Optimum is the most affordable. Its basic plan, Optimum 10, offers 10 Mbps for $24.95 a month with no contract. (Some of us at Reviews.org pay almost twice as much for less than 10 Mbps, and we’re still stuck with a contract.) However, if you live outside the tri-state area, there’s no chance of getting Optimum—it is fast and affordable, but it’s not widely available.
The most widely available ISP that’s still fast and affordable is XFINITY. (Yes, really.) It’s available in 40 states, whereas Optimum is only available in four. XFINITY is also fast—the 80/80 download speed is 100%—and it’s just as or more affordable than other ISPs. XFINITY’s basic plan, Performance Starter, starts at $29.99 a month—the same as Charter’s basic plan and $5 less per month than Time Warner Cable’s basic plan.
XFINITY deservedly gets a bad rap for its customer service (see our review), but it’s more than likely XFINITY is the fastest and most affordable ISP that’s available where you live.
Fastest ISPs for remote or rural areas
If you can get DSL service, we recommend it over satellite internet because it typically has higher data caps and faster speeds. However, if it’s a choice between dial-up and satellite, we’d go with satellite internet.
If you’re still not sure what internet provider in your area is fastest, just ask us in the comments section. We’ll help you find it.
The fastest type of internet connection
It’s no coincidence the fastest ISPs use either fiber or cable. In its annual report, the FCC reported that fiber-based internet consistently has the highest speeds, while cable internet is “driving growth in new high speed service tiers.”2
DSL internet has the potential to be just as fast as cable, but the FCC noted a growing disparity between the two internet types for reasons such as the need to update DSL infrastructure and a lack of investment in the technology. Whatever the reasons may be, DSL just isn’t performing as well as fiber or cable, and the FCC noticed no significant speed-enhancing improvements in DSL technology over the past five years.
What did we miss?
Is there something you wish we covered that we didn’t? Do you agree or disagree with our picks? What’s the fastest ISP in your experience? Let us hear what you think in the comments below, and if you have a great question, we’ll include it in our FAQ.
FAQ about the fastest internet speeds
What is high-speed internet?
Internet service with 4 Mbps download speed used to qualify as “high-speed” according to the FCC. In 2015, the FCC changed the standard to 25 Mbps. However, just because something is advertised as “high-speed internet” doesn’t mean it adheres to the FCC’s standards.
What is broadband internet?
Broadband internet is used interchangeably with “high-speed internet.” It typically refers to internet technology, such as fiber, cable, or DSL.
What about Google Fiber? I don’t see it mentioned in this article.
At this time, Google Fiber is not expanding its service. Google Fiber already has an extremely limited footprint, and now that it’s no longer part of Google’s future plans, we decided not to cover it in this article.