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AT&T vs. Verizon Fios: Which Provider Does Fiber Internet Better?

Both telecom companies serve high-speed broadband connections to roughly 15 million Americans. We compare what they offer.

When you see a comparison pitting AT&T and Verizon against one another, it's often an examination of their mobile phone services. But these megacompanies are also two of the country's most significant home internet providers

Verizon Fios is Verizon's 100% fiber-optic internet service, while AT&T Fiber features the company's fastest internet speed plans. Both Verizon and AT&T offer other types of internet connections -- including DSL, fixed wireless and 5G -- but for both companies the fiber plans give customers the most value. The company's respective coverage maps don't overlap, so you won't have to choose between them when shopping for home internet service. However, comparing the two still gives us a good look at the overall state of fiber availability in the US.

On top of that, comparing the speeds, prices, plans, terms and fees gives us an excellent opportunity to see which provider does fiber better. Spoiler alert: This is a close one, so let's get into the specifics to see how they stack up. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Let's start with what AT&T Fiber has going for it compared to Verizon Fios: availability and affordable pricing. AT&T is available to more households than Verizon and boasts greater fiber-optic availability overall. AT&T Fiber plans are also likely to be slightly cheaper.

Keeping with affordability, AT&T has no equipment fee, so you won't have to dread that additional cost to your monthly bill. Signup bonuses like rewards cards help further incentivize curious shoppers. New AT&T Fiber customers can currently score a $200 gift card when signing up online.

Read our AT&T home internet review.

 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Verizon Fios is the premier fiber internet provider in the Northeast, earning J.D. Power's highest rating in the East region in 2021. However, it is worth noting that AT&T is not included in that area. The American Customer Satisfaction Index also placed Verizon Fios at the top for customer satisfaction in 2022, where it was just a few slots above AT&T.

Fast speeds and decent value probably contribute to Verizon's high customer satisfaction scores. Customers can choose 300Mbps or 500Mbps speed tiers along with gigabit service. Starting prices on comparable speed tiers are very similar to AT&T, and now that Verizon doesn't charge an additional equipment rental fee, the cost per Mbps is drawing even closer.

Read our Verizon Fios home internet review.

 

AT&T Fiber vs. Verizon Fios: Availability and coverage map

This image shows the respective coverage maps for AT&T (orange) and Verizon (blue). Fiber plans aren't available everywhere in these areas, but you'll find them in many of the major metropolitan areas.

FCC/Mapbox

At first glance, Verizon Fios and AT&T Fiber are evenly matched regarding availability. Verizon's fiber service reaches just over 15 million customers, and AT&T now claims that approximately 17 million customers are eligible for its fiber offering, per its first-quarter results for 2022

However, when you look more closely at the actual locations, Verizon Fios can only be found in eight northeastern states -- Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Virginia. Granted, some big cities are within that area, including Baltimore, Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Washington, DC. But if you live in the Midwest, south of Virginia or anywhere out West, Verizon Fios isn't an option.

Meanwhile, AT&T Fiber isn't available in the Northeast, but its availability extends to 21 states, more than three times as many as Verizon Fios. Some of the more notable cities within its coverage include Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Memphis, Miami, Milwaukee, Nashville, New Orleans, San Francisco and St. Louis

Is AT&T coverage better, or does Verizon Fios win?

So, while both reach a similar number of customers, AT&T can claim a more widespread availability for its fiber internet service. AT&T CEO John Stankey stated in May 2021 that the company is committed to expanding its fiber footprint with a goal of "offering the best fixed-broadband service in the market." Meanwhile, Verizon shared with CNET that much of its immediate expansion plans revolve around adding more cities to its Verizon 5G home internet service.

AT&T Fiber and Verizon Fios: Comparing plans, prices and speeds 

AT&T Fiber and Verizon Fios offer different plan options for their fiber internet services. Let's dive in and see how they compare. 

AT&T Fiber plans and pricing

Plan Max speeds Monthly price Equipment fee Data cap Contract
AT&T Fiber - Internet 300 300Mbps download, 300Mbps upload $55 None None None
AT&T Fiber - Internet 500 500Mbps download, 500Mbps upload $65 None None None
AT&T Fiber - Internet 1000 940Mbps download, 880Mbps upload $80 None None None
AT&T Fiber - Internet 2000 2Gbps download, 2Gbps upload $110 None None None
AT&T Fiber - Internet 5000 5Gbps download, 5Gbps upload $180 None None None

Verizon Fios plans and pricing

Plan Max speeds Monthly price Equipment fee Data cap Contract
Fios 300 300Mbps download, 300Mbps upload $50 None None None
Fios 500 500Mbps download, 500Mbps upload $70 None None None
Fios Gigabit Connection 940Mbps download, 880Mbps upload $90 None None None

Let's just say it: This looks like a win for AT&T. The entry-level speed for both providers starts at 300 megabits per second, and, in this case, Verizon Fios' 300Mbps plan is $5 cheaper than what AT&T offers. But that's the only place it wins on price. AT&T's 500Mbps plan is $5 cheaper than Verizon's similar speed tier, and its gigabit plan is $10 less monthly. Once AT&T announced its new multigig plans, that tilted the competition markedly to the AT&T side. Granted, Verizon also recently touted a 2Gbps plan, but it's only available in the New York City area at the moment.

But it doesn't stop there. AT&T also has the edge when it comes to cost. To both Verizon's and AT&T's credit, the price is the price. There's no promo deal or "Act now before it's too late" type of pushy play. I appreciate that straightforward approach -- ISPs are known for gimmicky pricing that beckons you in with short-term savings but then ratchets up your bill exponentially down the road. 

What do we find if we compare apples to apples and examine the cost per Mbps? Let's start by looking at the cheapest plans. Verizon Fios 300 is $50 a month, while AT&T Internet 300 is $55 a month. That's a win for Verizon. But if you look at all the plans together, it's a different picture. The average cost per Mbps between all five of AT&T's fiber plans is 10 cents compared with 14 cents for Verizon Fios. Both represent decent value for customers, but AT&T certainly gets the edge here, too.

Factoring in the terms and fees

Before I get to more good stuff about both providers' fiber internet service (cue neon lights: No contracts and no data caps!), let's look at the additional fees and terms you'll want to familiarize yourself with. 

Monthly modem fees 

Based on plan pricing, AT&T Fiber has the edge on Verizon Fios. But there's no definitive advantage when considering the additional monthly cost of the modem/router. Neither AT&T nor Verizon charges an additional fee for your gateway equipment. Verizon used to charge an equipment fee of $15 a month for its Verizon router, and AT&T would stick its customers with an additional $10 fee. But in 2022, both providers removed those fees. Chalk this one up as a draw between AT&T and Verizon, but a win for consumers.

One-time installation fee 

With Verizon Fios, your setup charge will be $99, which is waived if you order online. Similarly, AT&T charges $99 for its installation, which is also typically waived via online promotions.

No data caps to drag you down 

Customers of both providers will get unlimited data with all plans. You won't need to stress about possible data overage fees or fear any throttling issues once you hit an arbitrary threshold. 

Disney Plus logo on an iPad screen

Verizon's gigabit plan comes with a free year of Disney Plus, while all AT&T plans come with a free six months of Google Stadia Pro.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Let's line up the perks

In addition to unlimited data, Verizon Fios and AT&T Fiber customers are free of contract constraints. While not technically a perk, it's definitely a relief knowing you won't have early termination fees looming over you. But let's see what else these two ISPs offer potential fiber customers.

Verizon Fios is currently offering a free, yearlong subscription to Disney Plus for new gigabit customers. Additionally, all Fios customers have an opportunity to save an additional $20 a month if you bundle your Fios fiber internet plan with enrollment in select Verizon 5G mobile plans.

AT&T also knows how to entice customers with some sparkly items. First, all new fiber customers who sign up online will receive a $200 AT&T Visa Reward Card. Second, all fiber customers will get free access to AT&T's nationwide network of more than 30,000 hotspots. Lastly, whereas Verizon Fios gigabit customers get Disney Plus for a year, all AT&T fiber customers will receive a free subscription to Google Stadia Pro for six months. 

Comparatively, Verizon's free Disney Plus is worth $8 a month -- for a total of $96, good for one year. Over at AT&T, the Google Stadia Pro nets you a savings of $10 per month and a free subscription for half the year, worth $60.

It's a matter of taste whether you're partial to the content available on Disney Plus or the gaming possibilities of Google Stadia Pro. But once you add in the value of the $200 reward card, there's no debating the higher monetary value of AT&T's benefit. Advantage AT&T.

American Customer Satisfaction Index

High customer satisfaction... for two internet providers 

I've said it before, but it bears repeating -- internet service providers are regularly at the bottom of all industries regarding customer satisfaction scores. With that clearly in mind, it's still worth noting that both Verizon Fios and AT&T Fiber typically trade places back and forth at the top of most ISP rankings. 

AT&T showed up well in J.D. Power's US Residential Internet Service Provider Satisfaction Study for 2021. It claimed the pole position in two regions -- the North Central and South -- and had an average score of 738 out of 1,000 possible points. The only ISP with a higher average score was Verizon, with 758, but note that the company was only scored in one of the four regions surveyed, the East. 

Over at the American Customer Satisfaction Index, the latest metrics show Verizon Fios at the top of the charts with 72 out of 100 points. AT&T, tied with Verizon Fios for first place last year, slipped to third with 69 points. But both providers regularly score above the industry average as tracked by the ACSI. 

What's the final verdict on AT&T Fiber vs. Verizon Fios?

If this were a race, it would certainly be a photo finish. I'm inclined to give a slight edge to AT&T based mainly on the value of its cheaper cost per Mbps and the higher value of its perks. But as I noted at the start, regarding availability, neither provider's fiber service plays in the same sandbox. So, in reality, no customers will face the choice of AT&T Fiber or Verizon Fios. If your address is serviceable for either of these fiber internet offerings, rest assured that you've got access to one of the premier internet offerings in the country.

AT&T Fiber vs. Verizon Fios FAQs

Which is cheaper? AT&T Fiber or Verizon Fios?

Verizon Fios has the cheapest plan between the two providers: Its 300Mbps tier is currently $50 per month, whereas the similar speed tier with AT&T is $55 a month. That said, all other AT&T plans are slightly cheaper than the equivalent tier on Verizon Fios. Additionally, when you consider all the fiber plans that AT&T offers versus the total package of plans from Verizon Fios, AT&T has a cheaper cost per Mbps at 10 cents to Verizon's 14 cents.

Is AT&T Fiber faster than Verizon Fios?

The answer to that question depends on your location and address. Based simply on the number of speed plans offered, AT&T Fiber is faster than Verizon Fios. In approximiately100 cities, AT&T offers two multi-gigabit speed tiers -- a 2Gbps plan and a 5Gbps plan. On the other hand, Verizon Fios offers a 2Gbps plan in only one region, New York City. But if you're a Verizon Fios customer in NYC and you move to Youngstown, Ohio (which doesn't currently have the multi-gig speeds), then Verizon Fios would be the faster provider. So, it's all about location, location, location.

Do you need to sign a contract with AT&T Fiber or Verizon Fios?

If you sign up solely for internet service, neither AT&T nor Verizon Fios requires you to sign a term agreement. You can go month to month without fear of penalty or termination fees. However, both providers currently have promotional offers that might warrant signing a contract. For example, many AT&T bundle discounts require a contract, and Verizon also has a deal for money off your Fios service if you sign up for certain 5G mobile plans, some of which feature two-year agreements.

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