Also known as Space City, this Texas town has a bit of everything, including several broadband options. Which is right for your household?
Houston, we have a problem. Although it's in the top five of the most populated metros in the US, H-Town could barely crack the top 50 on Ookla's list of the country's fastest cities for broadband.
Per the speed-testing site's most recent reporting, Houston managed to clock in at only No. 49. By contrast, its fellow Lone Star State cities of Austin, Corpus Christi, El Paso 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, Fort Worth, Garland, Irving, Laredo, Lubbock and Plano. Some small consolation: Houston finished well ahead of Dallas, which was in the bottom 10.
Despite the poor showing, Houston offers several high-speed internet choices. You can get hooked up with home internet from fast fiber options, including AT&T, Frontier and local internet service provider Tachus. You could hop online via cable connections from Optimum and Spectrum. You could 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.
Our pick for the best overall ISP in Houston is AT&T Fiber, but there are other quality providers out there too. Let's dive into the best internet service providers in Houston.
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 various Houston neighborhoods, including Hyde Park, Jacinto City, Northside Village, South Houston and Spring Branch. 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 That DSL infrastructure is so outdated that AT&T publicly announced its goal of cutting its copper coverage in half by 2025.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 Visa rewards card for those who sign up online.
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 rigmarole of setting up a new service. On top of that, Xfinity has earned high customer satisfaction marks in recent reports from 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, Brightspeed and Tachus. Upload speeds will range from 10 to 35Mbps on most plans. Also, in contrast to most other providers in the Bayou City, Xfinity imposes a data cap on its customers. It's set at a reasonable 1.2TB (more than double what the average US household uses, according to OpenVault's most recent findings). Still, that might be a limiting factor for larger households and those with heavy internet users and multiple connected devices.
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, 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 toward early termination fees (for those switching out of a contract), price guarantees and a 30-day satisfaction guarantee.
|Internet technology||Monthly price range||Speed range||Equipment costs||Data cap|
|Astound Broadband||Cable||$26-$60||400-1,200Mbps||$12 a month (skippable)||None|
|Brightspeed||DSL/fiber||$50-$65||20-940Mbps||$15 a month (skippable)||None|
|Spectrum||Cable||$50-$90||200-940Mbps||Free modem; $5 router||None|
|Verizon 5G Home Internet||Fixed wireless||$50-$70||300-940Mbps||None||None|
Beyond the three picks above, several other broadband choices exist 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.
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.
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), San Francisco ($40 a month), New York City ($41 monthly), Seattle ($42 per month), Dallas and Philadelphia (about $43 a month), Phoenix ($46 per month), Atlanta ($47 a month), Orlando ($48 per month) and Charlotte, Chicago, Las Vegas, San Diego and St. Louis (all about $50 a month).
Xfinity offers the lowest starting price in Houston -- its Connect plan (75Mbps) has a promo price of $25 for the first two years 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 providers listed participate 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.
|Provider||Starting price||Standard price||Max download speed||Equipment fee||Contract|
|Xfinity||$25||$50||75Mbps||$14/month (skippable)||1 year|
|Astound Broadband||$26||$78||400Mbps||$12/month (skippable)||None|
|T-Mobile Home Internet||$50||$50||182Mbps||None||None|
|Spectrum||$50||$75||300Mbps||Free modem; $5 router||None|
|Verizon 5G Home Internet||$50||$50||300Mbps||None||None|
|AT&T Fiber 300||$55||$55||300Mbps||None||None|
Per the Ookla stats mentioned at the top of this article, Houston isn't among the top 40 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.
Some Houstonians will have access to the splashy 5Gbps plans unveiled by AT&T and Frontier in 2022. And while Comcast boasts its own multi-gig plan with upload and download speeds of 6,000Mbps, it's available only at addresses the cable company has wired for fiber. The most recent FCC disclosures from June 2021 peg that percentage at approximately 4% of Comcast addresses.
|Provider||Max download speed||Max upload speed||Starting price||Data cap||Contract|
|Xfinity Gigabit Pro||6,000Mbps||6,000Mbps||$300||None||2 years|
|Frontier Fiber 5 Gig||5,000Mbps||5,000Mbps||$165||None||None|
|AT&T Fiber 5000||5,000Mbps||5,000Mbps||$180||None||None|
|AT&T Fiber 2000||2,000Mbps||2,000Mbps||$110||None||None|
|Frontier Fiber 2 Gig||2,000Mbps||2,000Mbps||$110||None||None|
|Xfinity Gigabit Extra||1,200Mbps||35Mbps||$80||None||None|
|AT&T Fiber 1000||1,000Mbps||1,000Mbps||$80||None||None|
|Spectrum Internet Gig||940Mbps||35Mbps||$90||None||None|
Comcast's cable internet offering of Xfinity has Houston covered with the most extensive availability across the metro area. But as we 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, Brightspeed Fiber, Consolidated Communications, Frontier Fiber or Tachus -- don't hesitate to sign on the virtual dotted line.
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.
Yes. You can find fiber internet throughout H-Town. Houston's top fiber internet providers include AT&T, Brightspeed Fiber, Consolidated Communications, Frontier 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.
The fastest internet speed you can currently get in Houston is 6Gbps (6,000Mbps), provided by Xfinity's Gigabit Pro plan. However, as of mid-2021 (the most recent FCC data available), only 4% 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 latest findings, the provider with the fastest average download speeds in Houston is AT&T, with a median download speed of approximately 220Mbps.
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