Ultra-fast home internet speeds are here by popular demand. As streaming in HD and 4K became the norm and our homes increasingly filled with Wi-Fi enabled devices ranging from security cameras to smart refrigerators, ISPs worked to fill the need for faster speeds. Within the past few years, gigabit internet has become the new standard for the fastest home internet connection.
Gigabit internet, or plans with max download speeds around 1,000 megabits per second, are now available from nearly every major cable and fiber-optic internet provider. The competition has helped keep the fastest internet prices relatively low -- most offer gigabit service for less than $100 a month -- and plan features such as data caps and contracts often favor the consumer.
Among the competition, a few high-speed internet providers rise to the top thanks to their speeds, pricing and other factors such as service terms and customer satisfaction. Here's our pick of the best ISPs for gigabit speeds.
Read more: The best DSL internet providers of 2021
Xfinity has long led the way in fastest residential internet speeds with its Gigabit Pro plan, which advertises max download and upload speeds up to 2,000Mbps. Availability is highly limited, but with a monthly price of $300 and a two-year contract, chances are you'll want to pass on the plan even if it is available.
Much more available, and reasonable, is the Xfinity Gigabit plan. It's offered in most Xfinity markets and comes with a more industry-acceptable price of around $80 per month. Though still higher priced than many gigabit plans, Xfinity Gigabit comes with download speeds up to 1,200Mbps compared to the 940 or 1,000Mbps you'll find from most high-speed providers.
Keep in mind that high-speed internet is only as good as the network that carries it. A fiber to the home network can deliver symmetrical or near-symmetrical download and upload speeds whereas a cable or cable/fiber hybrid network often cannot. Xfinity's Gigabit Pro plan employs a FTTH network, but the vast majority of Xfinity service areas will use a cable or hybrid network. As a result, max upload speeds for Xfinity Gigabit are only 35Mbps, a stark contrast to the plan's max download speeds.
Google Fiber recently introduced a 2-gigabit plan of its own, "2 Gig," starting at just $100 per month -- a third of the price you'd pay with Xfinity. The appropriately named plan comes with download speeds up to 2Gbps and upload speeds up to 1Gbps. While symmetrical download/upload speeds would be nice from the FTTH service, 1Gbps is more than fast enough for an average household of remote workers and learners, online gamers and aspiring social media influencers.
If 2 gigabits is more speed than your home needs, or $100 per month is more than you'd like to pay, consider Google Fiber's 1 Gig plan. Starting at $70 per month, the plan offers max upload and download speeds of 1Gbps. You really can't go wrong with either, but if you don't mind the higher monthly price, 2 Gig is the better deal with a cost per Mbps of just 5 cents -- the lowest you'll find from any major high-speed internet provider.
Both Google Fiber gig plans are contract-free and come with unlimited data and Wi-Fi equipment at no additional cost. Considering the fast speeds, competitive pricing and favorable service terms, Google Fiber is understandably in high demand. Thankfully, Google Fiber recently announced plans to resume expansion in current markets and new ones, including West Des Moines, Iowa.
AT&T's Fiber 1000 has the lowest standard starting price for gigabit service at just $60 per month ($80 after 12 months) for download and upload speeds up to 940Mbps. A modest $10-per-month equipment fee will add to your monthly bill, but the overall price is still lower than you'll find among nearly all of the fastest home internet providers.
AT&T's other fiber plans, while a little lower than gigabit on the speed scale, are still an excellent value, especially considering the provider's recent speed increases. In April 2021, AT&T bumped both its lower-tiered fiber plans up by 200Mbps at no extra cost to consumers and now offers 300Mbps starting at $35 a month and 500Mbps for $45 per month. All plans come with unlimited data and require no contract.
Along with low pricing, AT&T Fiber also boasts exceptional availability. AT&T Fiber is available to roughly 40 million people across 21 states, according to the FCC. Customers across the US appear to be pleased with their service, as AT&T earned J.D. Power's top spot for ISP customer satisfaction in the North/Central, South and West regions in 2020.
The typical Verizon Fios equipment fee is a tad higher than other high-speed internet providers at $15 per month -- but those who sign up for the Fios Gigabit Connection will get their equipment included at no extra cost. Pricing for the Verizon Fios Gigabit Connection is around $80 per month (download speeds up to 940Mbps, upload up to 880Mbps), but with no additional equipment fees, data caps or contract requirements, Verizon's all-in gigabit pricing is lower than most.
Equipment isn't the only freebie that comes with the Fios Gigabit Connection. Verizon is known to throw in extra incentives, such as rewards cards or free service subscriptions for new customers. As of this writing, Verizon is offering a free Discovery+ subscription for one year to new customers who sign up for the Fios Gigabit Connection plan.
Fast speeds and free stuff has helped Verizon rank as a top-tier choice for customer satisfaction. The American Customer Satisfaction Index scored Verizon highest for customer satisfaction in 2020 with a 73/100 while J.D. Power named Verizon the best provider in the East region.
Optimum and Suddenlink are both divisions of Altice, and both are currently running the best deals on gigabit service.
Optimum's 1 Gig plan offers download speeds up to 940Mbps and upload speeds up to 50Mbps starting at $45 per month for 12 months. The low pricing reflects a $5 discount for paperless billing, so be sure to enroll to take advantage of the lowest pricing.
Similarly on the Suddenlink side, the Suddenlink 1 Gig plan is available in select areas starting at $50 per month, which includes an "exclusive $25/mo. discount" and, again, a $5 discount for paperless billing. Like the Optimum 1 Gig plan, Suddenlink 1 Gig offers download speeds up to 940Mbps and upload speeds up to 50Mbps.
Optimum and Suddenlink plans also include unlimited data, require no contract and installation is free when you order online. Watch for a potential steep price increase after 12 months, however -- that's when standard plan pricing takes effect, and it's "subject to change," according to the fine print.
Best high-speed internet provider honorable mentions
These providers, along with regional providers that are too many to list here, also offer gigabit plans in select areas. In addition to the best high-speed internet providers listed above, these are certainly worth a look if available in your area.
- Cox Communications - Cox Gigablast offers download speeds up to 940Mbps and upload speeds up to 35Mbps starting at $100 per month. Select locations will have access to Cox's fiber network, which can deliver much faster upload speeds, though the plan pricing and top download speeds remain the same.
- CenturyLink - CenturyLink's gigabit plan, Quantum Fiber Gigabit, features max download and upload speeds of up to 940Mbps starting at just $65 per month, but the equipment fee will add around $14 to your bill.
- Frontier FiberOptic - Frontier's gigabit plan offers max download speeds of 940Mbps and upload speeds of 880Mbps for a monthly price of $80 that includes unlimited data and your equipment rental.
- Kinetic by Windstream - Kinetic is one of the with gig speeds available in many areas potentially underserved by cable or other fiber providers. Kinetic Gig, with download and upload speeds up to 940Mbps, is available in select areas starting at $67 per month plus $10 for equipment.
- Mediacom - Mediacom's 1 Gig plan features download speeds up to 1,000Mbps and upload speeds up to 50Mbps with a monthly data cap of 6,000GB starting at $80 per month. Watch out for the price increase, though. After 12 months, the monthly price jumps from $80 to $140.
- Spectrum - As the second-largest cable internet provider behind only Xfinity, Spectrum is one of the leading providers of high-speed internet. Spectrum's gigabit plan is available in nearly all service areas and comes with download speeds up to 940Mbps and upload speeds up to 35Mbps starting at $110 per month.
Fastest home internet providers recap
You likely noticed a trend in our list of the best gigabit providers. Fiber-optic providers will often be your best bet for the fast home internet, even though Xfinity -- traditionally a cable provider -- boasts the fastest max speeds and Optimum has the lowest introductory pricing. Other cable providers including Spectrum, Cox and Mediacom offer gigabit plans, but watch out for drastically low upload speeds that may come with them.
When shopping for any internet service, be sure to compare speeds, pricing and features of all providers in your area to ensure you're getting the best high-speed ISP and plan for your home.
Fast home internet FAQs
What is considered fast internet?
Speeds of 100Mbps and higher will handle most online activities such as streaming in HD, gaming online and working/learning remotely on multiple devices. That's actual, tested speeds of 100Mbps or higher, not advertised plan speeds of 100Mbps. If your internet plan includes "max speeds" of 100Mbps, your actual speeds are likely to be much lower if you use a Wi-Fi connection and connect multiple devices. For the fastest home internet connection, consider a plan that advertises gigabit speeds, up to 940Mbps or higher.
Who has the fastest home internet?
Google Fiber and Xfinity both offer 2,000Mbps plans, which are the fastest of any major residential internet provider. Xfinity has the fastest upload speeds with up to 2,000Mbps available in select areas while Google Fiber's 2 Gig plan comes with upload speeds up to 1,000Mbps.
As for actual, tested speeds, Verizon Fios had the fastest average speeds in Q1 of 2021, coming in at just over 160Mbps, according to speedtest.net.
Is home internet service getting faster?
In many locations, yes. Most cable and fiber-optic internet providers already have a gigabit plan, but recent speed increases from Google Fiber and Xfinity may be an indicator of faster speeds to come. Additionally, Wi-Fi connections are getting faster as providers are adopting and implementing Wi-Fi 6 technology. Some providers, including Google Fiber, offer a Wi-Fi 6 router with select plans, but if you don't want to wait on one from your provider, check out these Wi-Fi 6 routers that are available now.