Best Internet Providers in Boston, Massachusetts

Written by  David Anders | Reviewed by  Michelle Honeyager
David Anders Senior Writer
David Anders is a senior writer for CNET covering broadband providers, smart home devices and security products. Prior to joining CNET, David built his industry expertise writing for the broadband marketplace Allconnect. In his 5 plus years covering broadband, David's work has been referenced by a variety of sources including ArcGIS, DIRECTV and more. David is from and currently resides in the Charlotte area with his wife, son and two cats.
Expertise Broadband providers | Home internet | Security Cameras
Michelle Honeyager Contributor
Michelle is a contributor for CNET.
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What is the best internet provider in Boston?

Verizon Fios is the best internet provider in Boston. The 100% fiber-optic provider offers fast, symmetrical download and upload speeds, lengthy price guarantees on competitively priced plans, simple service terms and unique signup bonuses. It's also available at most addresses, with about 7 in 10 households eligible for service, according to latest Federal Communications Commission data.

Xfinity has the broadest coverage in Boston, with service available to 99.5% of households. The cable provider offers the fastest download speeds in Boston, with up to 2,000 megabits per second in select areas. Astound offers the cheapest internet in Boston, with plans starting at $20 a month for up to 300Mbps. Like finding the best seat at Fenway, the answer depends on what's available and what you want to spend.

Comparing all Boston residential internet providers

The ISPs featured above aren't the only options for internet in Boston, but they are the ones I'd recommend most and consider if I were to leave the South for Beantown. Here's a quick comparison of all Boston internet providers, followed by a look at some of the cheapest and fastest plans available in the area. 

Boston internet providers compared

Provider Connection typeMonthly price rangeDownload speed range (Mbps)Monthly data capContract
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T-Mobile Home Internet
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5G fixed wireless$60 72-245NoneNone
Verizon 5G Home Internet
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5G fixed wireless$60-$8050-1,000NoneNone
Verizon Fios
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What other internet options are there in Boston?

There aren't many other options outside our picks for the best ISPs in Boston. Here's a brief look at what to expect from other internet services in the area.

T-Mobile Home Internet: T-Mobile's 5G rollout has been impressive, covering some 50 million homes nationwide, including many in Boston. Pricing is about the same as Verizon's 5G home internet service in Boston, but speeds are likely to be slower. 

Service terms are the same (no data caps, equipment fees or contracts), so if you're interested in 5G home internet, you might as well go with the higher speed potential of Verizon. That said, T-Mobile does offer a $10 or $20 discount to qualifying mobile customers, so if you fall into that category, T-Mobile Home Internet may be worth considering.

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Satellite internet: Hughesnet and Viasat are available nearly everywhere, so they technically are options for home internet in the Boston area. The high-priced, low-data services are best for rural areas, so I'd recommend considering other providers unless you plan on living in a remote cabin on Walden Pond. If so, you'll want to stay there about as long as Thoreau did -- satellite internet from Hughesnet and Viasat comes with a two-year contract.

Boston broadband at a glance

Virtually every household in the Boston area has access to download speeds of 250Mbps or higher and upload speeds of 25Mbps or higher. 

The high-speed coverage comes from various sources, including cable internet from Xfinity and Astound and fiber service from Verizon Fios, which is available to approximately 75% of Boston addresses. As a result, Boston residents are likely to have at least two or three but possibly more broadband options to choose from. 

Boston internet pricing

With introductory prices of around $20 to $25 per month, depending on your chosen provider and the discounts you qualify for, Boston has some of the lowest prices on high-speed internet anywhere. 

Pricing stays competitive even as you get into faster speed tiers. Astound, for example, offers a 600Mbps plan starting at just $35, whereas Xfinity's Superfast plan advertises speeds up to 800Mbps starting at $60 per month.

Cheapest internet plans in Boston

Provider Starting priceMax download speedMonthly equipment fee
Astound 300
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$20300Mbps$13 (optional)
Xfinity Connect
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$20150Mbps$15 (optional)
Astound 600
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$35600Mbps$13 (optional)
Xfinity Connect More
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$30300Mbps$15 (optional)
Astound 1000
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$451000Mbps$13 (optional)
Xfinity Fast
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Verizon 5G Home Internet
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$60 ($35 with eligible mobile plans)100MbpsNone
Verizon Fios 300
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$50 ($25 with eligible mobile plans)300MbpsNone
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Internet for low-income households in Boston

Boston residents seeking assistance paying for broadband service can look into low-income internet options available in the city. Xfinity's Internet Essentials and Internet Essentials Plus plans have maximum download speeds of 50 and 100Mbps, starting at $10 and $30 per month, respectively. The plans come with no activation or equipment fees, access to Xfinity Wi-Fi Hotspots and the option to purchase a computer for $150. 

How fast is Boston broadband?

You won't find the absolute fastest speeds in Boston. Recent Ookla speed test data places Boston 66th out of the top 100 US cities for its average download speeds, around 222Mbps. Numerous factors can affect speed test data, such as using a Wi-Fi connection and distance from the router, not to mention a plan's maximum advertised speeds, so the data shouldn't be too much of an indicator of what speeds you can get from your provider.

Fastest internet plans in Boston

Provider Starting priceMax download speedMax upload speedData capConnection type
Astound 1500
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Xfinity Gigabit Extra
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Astound 1000
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Xfinity Gigabit
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Verizon Fios 1 Gig
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$90 ($65 with eligible mobile plans)940Mbps880MbpsNoneFiber
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Internet in Boston recap

Two or three internet options, plus maybe one or two more in select areas, probably doesn't feel like much, but Boston residents have more choices than most when it comes to home internet service. 

While no providers offer multi-gigabit speeds, single-gig service is available from up to five providers. Pricing is competitive, with multiple plans starting at or below $30 per month. Service terms are fair regardless of the provider and plan you choose, as most come with unlimited data and no contract requirements, while some, like Verizon Fios and Starry, up the ante with free equipment as well.

How CNET chose the best internet providers in Boston

Internet service providers are numerous and regional. Unlike the latest smartphone, laptop, router or kitchen tool, it’s impractical to personally test every ISP in a given city. What’s our approach? We start by researching the pricing, availability and speed information drawing on our own historical ISP data, the provider sites and mapping information from the Federal Communications Commission at FCC.gov.

It doesn’t end there: We go to the FCC’s website to check our data and ensure we’re considering every ISP that provides service in an area. We also input local addresses on provider websites to find specific options for residents. To evaluate how happy customers are with an ISP's service, we look at sources including the American Customer Satisfaction Index and J.D. Power. ISP plans and prices are subject to frequent changes; all information provided is accurate as of the time of publication. 

Once we have this localized information, we ask three main questions: 

  • Does the provider offer access to reasonably fast internet speeds? 
  • Do customers get decent value for what they're paying? 
  • Are customers happy with their service? 

While the answer to those questions is often layered and complex, the providers who come closest to “yes” on all three are the ones we recommend. 

To explore our process in more depth, visit our page on how we test ISPs.

Boston internet FAQs

What is the best internet service provider in Boston?

Verizon Fios is the best internet service provider in Boston. It’s the only widely available fiber provider in the city, which means it’s the only provider that has upload speeds as fast as download. Verizon Fios also comes with unlimited data, free equipment and discounts for cellphone customers.

What is the cheapest internet provider in Boston?

Astound is the cheapest internet provider in Boston, offering plans that start at just $20 per month for 300Mbps. Astound comes with a lot of hidden fees, so your price will probably actually be lower with Xfinity, which has plans starting at $25 monthly. 

Which internet provider in Boston offers the fastest plan?

Verizon Fios offers the fastest internet in Boston, with speeds up to 940/880Mbps. Astound has the fastest download speeds in many parts of the city -- up to 1,500Mbps -- but upload speeds top out at just 20Mbps. Select neighborhoods can access speeds of up to 2,000Mbps through Xfinity, but most of the city only has access to the provider's 1,200Mbps plan.

Is fiber internet available in Boston?

Yes. Fiber internet service is available to approximately 70% of Boston residents, according to the most recent FCC data. Verizon Fios is the primary fiber-optic internet provider in the Boston area, although Xfinity, Starry and Astound may also offer fiber connections in parts of Boston.

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Is Astound or Xfinity better?

You'll find similar speed tiers from Astound and Xfinity, although Astound will likely be the cheaper option, at least for the first two years of service until standard pricing goes into effect.

Both providers primarily use a cable internet connection, meaning significantly lower upload speeds than download speeds and potentially slower overall during peak usage times. Xfinity's cable network boasts broader coverage in Boston, making it easy to shop for or transfer Xfinity's internet service when moving to or around Beantown.

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Can I get free Wi-Fi in Boston?

Boston has the Wicked Free Wi-Fi program, which is free Wi-Fi offered by the city to residents when they are outside. It isn't meant for use in homes or buildings.

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Is Google Webpass available in Boston?

No. Google Webpass, Google Fiber's fixed wireless internet service, is no longer available in Boston as of 2018.

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