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Best Internet Providers in Houston

Also known as Space City, H-Town and Bayou City, Houston has a bit of everything, including lots of broadband options. Let's explore them.

Houston, we have a problem. Although it's in the top five of the most populated cities in the US, H-Town couldn't crack the top 50 on Ookla's list of the country's fastest cities for broadband. Per the speed-testing site's first quarter 2022 reporting, Houston managed to clock in at only No. 53. By contrast, its fellow Lone Star State cities of Austin, Corpus Christi, Irving and San Antonio all placed in the top 10. Other Texas towns that placed higher on the speed chart -- to add insult to injury -- include Arlington, El Paso, Fort Worth, Garland, Lubbock and Plano. Some small consolation: Houston managed to finish three slots ahead of Dallas. 

Despite the poor showing, Houston also offers several high-speed internet choices. You can get hooked up with home internet from fast fiber options including AT&TFrontier and local provider, Tachus. You could hop online via cable connections from Optimum (formerly Suddenlink) and Spectrum. You could even join the 5G home internet movement by trying Verizon 5G Home Internet or T-Mobile Home Internet.

Whatever the options at your specific address -- including the alternatives of third-party providers like EarthLink, EIN and Ultra Home Internet -- we can help you choose. Let's dive into the best internet service providers in Houston.

Sarah Tew/CNET
  • Price range: $55 to $180 a month
  • Speed range: 300 to 5,000Mbps
  • Highlights: Unlimited data, no contracts, equipment included
  • Special offers: $150 gift card if you sign up online, free HBO Max for gig plan 

Longtime Houston residents are probably well aware that while AT&T internet services are prevalent in the area, availability for AT&T Fiber remains limited. Scan through the addresses in the area and you'll find pockets of fiber availability throughout a variety of Houston neighborhoods, including Hyde Park, Jacinto City, Northside Village, South Houston, Spring Branch and more. In other parts of the company's coverage map, customers are left with AT&T Internet, a DSL service, as the only option. That DSL infrastructure is so outdated that AT&T publicly announced its goal of cutting its copper coverage in half by 2025

If you have access to AT&T Fiber, you're in great shape. AT&T Fiber offers five plans -- 300Mbps, 500Mbps, 1,000Mbps, 2,000Mbps and 5,000Mbps -- and each features symmetrical upload and download speeds, no data caps, no term agreements and no equipment rental fee. AT&T also is known for offering some decent perks, including the current enticement of a $150 Visa Reward Card for those who sign up online. There's a bonus for customers of the gig plan or above: you'll receive a free subscription to HBO Max (worth $15 a month, $180 a year) that lasts as long as you remain an AT&T internet customer. Most ISPs will cut you off after a free year.

Read our AT&T home internet review.

 

AT&T Home Internet
Sarah Tew/CNET
  • Price range: $20 to $300 a month
  • Speed range: 50 to 6,000Mbps
  • Highlights: Lots of plan options, solid customer satisfaction numbers
  • Special offers: Bundle discounts, free streaming content

Comcast's broadband service is ubiquitous in the Houston metro area, which can be helpful if you're moving within the city and want to transfer your service rather than go through the rigamarole of setting up a new service. On top of that, Xfinity has earned high customer satisfaction marks in recent reports from both J.D. Power and the American Customer Satisfaction Index.

That said, a few things might give you pause. First, as a cable internet provider, Xfinity can't match the symmetrical speeds of fiber ISPs in the area, including AT&T, Quantum Fiber and Tachus. Upload speeds will range from 5Mbps to 35Mbps on most plans. Also, in contrast to most other providers found in the Bayou City, Xfinity imposes a data cap on its customers. It's set at a reasonable 1.2TB (which is more than double what the average US household uses, according to OpenVault's end-of-2021 findings). Still, that might be a limiting factor for larger households and those with heavy internet users and multiple connected devices.

Read our Xfinity review.

 

Xfinity Internet
Sarah Tew/CNET
  • Price range: $50 to $70 a month ($25 to $35 for Verizon Unlimited mobile customers)
  • Speed range: 300 to 940Mbps
  • Highlights: No data cap, no installation or extra fees, no contracts, equipment included
  • Special offers: Price-lock guarantee (two or three years, depending on the plan you purchase), subscription to The Disney Bundle -- Disney Plus, ESPN Plus and Hulu -- for either six months or a year

This year, Verizon has been pushing its 5G internet service, making some big noise when it unveiled its C-band frequency rollout for its Ultra Wideband network. It's part of the company's aim to provide a national broadband option beyond the limits of its highly regarded fiber service of Verizon Fios, which is limited to folks in the Northeast.

While you'll find plenty of Ultra Wideband availability on Verizon's 5G coverage map, customers will still need to check their address on the Verizon site to confirm if the 5G Home Internet service is available to them. If so, customers will find an appealingly flexible service with no contracts, no extra fees and plenty of perks, including a potential $500 credit towards early termination fees (for those switching out of a contract), price guarantees, streaming subscriptions and a 30-day satisfaction guarantee.

Read our Verizon 5G Home Internet overview.

 

Houston internet providers compared


Internet technology Monthly price range Speed range Equipment costs Data cap
Astound Broadband/enTouch Cable $26-$87 300-940Mbps $12 a month (skippable) None
AT&T DSL/fiber $55-$180 10-5,000Mbps None None
CenturyLink/Quantum Fiber DSL/fiber $49-$65 20-940Mbps $15 a month (skippable) None
Frontier DSL/fiber $33-$150 9-2,000Mbps None None
Optimum/Suddenlink Cable $30-$50 300-940Mbps $10 a month (skippable) None
Spectrum Cable $50-$115 200-940Mbps Free modem; $5 router None
Tachus Fiber $65-$90 100-1,000Mbps None None
Verizon 5G Home Internet Fixed wireless $50-$70 300-940Mbps None None
Xfinity Cable $20-$300 50-6,000Mbps $14/month (skippable) 1.2TB

What are the other internet options in Houston?

Beyond the three picks above, there are several other broadband choices in the Houston metro area. Some can be found only in small pockets of the city, while others are mainly located in the city suburbs. There are some compelling choices here, even though they're not as widely available.

  • Astound Broadband/enTouch: This cable internet provider offers some of Houston's most competitive starting rates. Its starting price of $26 a month for a 300Mbps plan comes out to an affordable 9 cents per Mbps. By comparison, Xfinity's cheaper $20 per month plan features download speeds of only 50Mbps, and therefore has a much higher cost per Mbps of 40 cents. The enTouch gig plan is also the cheapest you can find in the city, starting at $50 a month. The rub is that Astound's one-year price increases are some of the steepest in the industry. For example, the company's Houston rate card reveals that Astound prices that 300Mbps plan at $72 per month after your promo expires. The gig plan sees a slightly less severe jump from $50 per month to $87 per month, but still, beware the bait and switch. 
  • CenturyLink/Quantum Fiber: Somewhat similar to AT&T but without as deep a presence. You'll want to do your research on this one because, depending on your location, you may be dealing with CenturyLink's DSL service (which can be as low as 20Mbps) or, if you're in the Kingwood area, you might see the company's much more compelling fiber product, Quantum Fiber.
  • Consolidated Communications: You won't find this fiber provider within city limits, but its affordable plans are available to customers in the suburbs of Conroe and Katy. Plans range from 50Mbps to 1 Gig for $25-$60 a month. There are no contracts required and no data cap enforced. There is an additional equipment fee of $10 a month.
  • Frontier: Frontier has a scattered presence in the greater Houston area. You won't find it downtown, but you can get its DSL and fiber-optic service in the northeast outskirts of Baytown, Beach City, Cove and Crosby. You'll also find it in the southern portion of the metro area in League City and Sante Fe. If Frontier FiberOptic is available -- it features symmetrical plans of 500Mbps, gigabit or 2Gbps speeds ranging from $50 to $150 per month -- it's a very appealing choice. But if Frontier DSL is your only option, try other alternatives.
  • Kinetic by Windstream: This DSL and fiber provider is available in just a few small pockets within the Houston city limits, and the majority of that availability can be found in the southern suburb of Sugar Land. You'll mostly deal with its DSL service rather than the faster fiber-optic plans.
  • Optimum/Suddenlink: First off, don't let me confuse you. Suddenlink is the provider you're probably familiar with in the Houston area. However, its parent company Altice recently announced plans to rename it to Optimum in the near future. In any case, Suddenlink service is scattered lightly throughout the metro area but has a heavier density north of the city in Conroe and Kingwood. This cable ISP is notable for its highly competitive starting rates, some of the most affordable you can find in the area.
  • Spectrum: Charter Communications' ISP has some of the more customer-friendly, straightforward terms you'll find for cable internet service. There are no contracts, no data caps and a free modem rental included in your monthly price, ranging from $50 to $115 a month. It also includes free access to Wi-Fi hotspots across the country. Spectrum service is available north of the city, mainly in Magnolia, Spring, Tomball and The Woodlands. 
  • Tachus: This local ISP, founded in 2018, is notable for its community presence and commitment to building 100% fiber-to-the-home networks within the greater Houston metropolitan area. It's now available to over 50,000 homes in Atascocita, Conroe, East Montgomery County, Kingwood, Magnolia, Oak Ridge County North and The Woodlands. There are three fiber plans -- 100Mbps, 500Mbps and 1 Gig -- ranging from $65 to $90 a month, with no data caps and no contracts. A modem rental is included in the monthly price, but you'll need to provide your own router.
  • T-Mobile Home Internet: T-Mobile uses its 5G and 4G LTE networks to power its fixed wireless home internet product, which it recently announced is available to over 40 million homes nationwide. Check your address on the T-Mobile site to see if you're serviceable, though. I have T-Mobile cell service at home, but I'm still not eligible for the home internet service. In any case, it's an intriguing offering that includes installation fees, taxes and equipment rental under its $50 a month fee, with no data caps or contracts.
Houston skyline at dawn
Getty Images

Drilling down into the details of Houston home internet

Now that you have an overview of the internet service providers available in Houston, let's talk more specifically about the cheapest internet plans available and the fastest internet options you can find in the city. 

Houston internet pricing

The average starting price for internet service in Houston is just over $45 a month, which is right about in the middle of other markets we've covered thus far, including Brooklyn ($36 a month), Los Angeles ($38 a month), Denver ($39 per month), Seattle ($42 per month), and, all approximately $50 a month -- Charlotte, Chicago, San Diego and St. Louis (all approximately $50 a month). 

Xfinity offers the lowest starting price in Houston -- its Connect plan (50Mbps) has a promo price of $20 for the first year and then $50 a month after that. It's also widely available throughout the Houston metro area and the Bayou City burbs. 

It should also be noted that almost all of the providers listed above are participating in the Federal Communication Commission's Affordable Connectivity Program, which provides a $30 a month discount to qualifying households to provide affordable, high-speed internet. Some providers even offer a low-cost internet plan targeted at low-income homes and communities. When combined with the ACP benefit, you might be able to get internet service for free. 

What's the cheapest internet in Houston?

Provider Starting price Standard price Max download speed Equipment fee Contract
Xfinity $20 $50 50Mbps $14/month (skippable) 1 year
Astound Broadband/enTouch $26 $72 300Mbps $12/month (skippable) None
Optimum/Suddenlink $30 $110 300Mbps $10/month (skippable) None
Frontier $33 $50 9Mbps None None
CenturyLink/Quantum Fiber $49 $49 200Mbps $15/month (skippable) None
T-Mobile Home Internet $50 $50 115Mbps None None
Spectrum $50 $75 200Mbps Free modem; $5 router None
Verizon 5G Home Internet $50 $50 300Mbps None None
AT&T Fiber 300 $55 $55 300Mbps None None
Tachus $65 $65 100Mbps None None

Houston internet speeds

Per the Ookla stats mentioned at the top of this article, Houston isn't in the top 50 among cities with the fastest internet speeds. That's not to say you won't be able to find enough speed to do all the things you need to do online. In fact, some citizens will have access to the splashy 5-gig plan recently unveiled by AT&T. And while Comcast boasts a triple-gig plan with upload and download speeds of 3,000Mbps, it's available only at addresses the cable company has wired for fiber. The most recent FCC disclosures from December 2020 peg that percentage at just 0.2% of Comcast addresses.

What are the fastest internet plans in Houston?

Provider Starting price Max download speed Max upload speed Data cap Contract
Xfinity Gigabit Pro $300 6,000Mbps 6,000Mbps 1.2TB 2 years
AT&T Fiber 5000
$180 5,000Mbps 5,000Mbps None None
AT&T Fiber 2000 $110 2,000Mbps 2,000Mbps None None
Frontier FiberOptic 2 Gig $150 2,000Mbps 2,000Mbps None None
Consolidated Communications $60 1,000Mbps 1,000Mbps None None
AT&T Fiber 1000 $80 1,000Mbps 1,000Mbps None None
Tachus Gig $90 1,000Mbps 1,000Mbps None None
Astound Broadband/enTouch $50 940Mbps 50Mbps None None
Optimum/Suddenlink Gig $50 940Mbps 35Mbps None None
CenturyLink/Quantum Fiber $65 940Mbps 940Mbps None None
Spectrum Internet Gig $90 940Mbps 35Mbps None None

What's the verdict on Houston internet providers?

Comcast's cable internet offering of Xfinity has Houston covered with the most extensive availability across the metro area. But as we like to say in our CNET home internet reviews, a fiber internet connection outperforms cable almost every time. So, if you can access a fiber provider in the area -- including AT&T Fiber, Consolidated Communications, Frontier FiberOptic, Quantum Fiber or Tachus -- don't hesitate to sign on the virtual dotted line. 

Houston internet FAQs

Which internet service provider has the most coverage in Houston?

More than a dozen different ISPs are in the greater Houston metro, including satellite internet providers like HughesNet and Viasat. Of those providers, Xfinity covers the most extensive area. You can find Comcast's cable service as far as Conroe to the north, East Bernard to the west, Baytown to the east and Freeport and Galveston to the south.

Can you get fiber internet service in Houston?

Yes. You can find fiber internet throughout H-Town. Houston's top fiber internet providers include AT&T, Consolidated Communications, Frontier FiberOptic, Quantum Fiber, and Tachus. It should also be noted that a small percentage of Xfinity locations are also eligible for fiber service, but it first requires a site survey to ascertain if the address is serviceable.

What internet provider has the fastest speeds in Houston?

The fastest internet speed you can currently get in Houston is 6 gigs (6,000Mbps), provided by Xfinity's Gigabit Pro plan. However, as of the end of 2020, only 0.2% of Xfinity addresses were wired for fiber and thus eligible for that plan -- and you'll have to schedule a site survey to determine if your address is one of the lucky ones. Finally, per Ookla's first-quarter 2022 findings, the provider with the fastest average download speeds in Houston is Tachus, with a median download speed of over 243Mbps.

Unavailable