The City of Brotherly Love is a place like no other -- except when it comes to home internet options, maybe. Like many cities, Philadelphia presents two main internet options -- a cable internet provider and a fiber internet provider -- plus a few other, lesser alternatives.
Verizon Fios will be your go-to fiber provider in Philadelphia and is our pick for the best Philly ISP overall. That said, don't count out Philadelphia's top cable internet provider, Xfinity. Though the cable service won't deliver quite the same upload speed and reliability of a 100% fiber-optic service, you'll have more, and potentially faster and cheaper, internet options with Xfinity.
There's also Verizon's 5G Home Internet service to consider, which can deliver near-gigabit speeds for as little as $35 per month with the right qualifications. And there are more internet providers in Philadelphia, such as T-Mobile and local fixed wireless provider PhillyWhisper. Astound, a cable internet provider, is also an option for people just over the county line into Yeadon, Lansdowne and Upper Darby .
Our CNET team considers speeds, pricing, customer service and overall value to recommend the best internet service in Philadelphia in a variety of categories. Astound offers the cheapest internet option, offering a 300 megabits per second connection for $25 per month. Xfinity's Gigabit Pro service offers the fastest available internet speed in Philly, with an expensive but speedy 6-gigabit fiber connection available at a limited number of residential locations. Otherwise, Xfinity's cable connection is the fastest option on the market, with download speeds up to 1,200Mbps.
Best internet options in Philadelphia
When it comes to the best internet providers, the ones that I would recommend and consider if I lived in Philadelphia would be Verizon and Xfinity. You'll find below service details for each provider and what makes them stand out, followed by a rundown of other potential ISP options in Philly and a look at the cheapest and fastest internet plans in the area.
Note: The prices, speeds and features detailed in the article text may differ from those listed in the product detail cards, which represent providers’ national offerings. Your particular internet service options -- including prices and speeds -- depend on your address and may differ from those detailed here.
Best Philadelphia internet provider overall
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$50 - $120 per month
300 - 2,000Mbps
Unlimited data, no contracts, free equipment with gig service
Verizon Fios checks all the right boxes: fast speeds for the price, a reliable fiber connection with symmetrical or near-symmetrical download and upload speeds, no contracts and no data caps. On top of that, Verizon Fios often throws in a bonus offer, like gift cards, streaming subscriptions or free electronics, just for signing up.
Availability: You'll find Verizon Fios available just about everywhere throughout Philadelphia, though there are a select few neighborhoods in Spring Garden, Grays Ferry, Fishtown and other districts where service may be unavailable. Still, for the most part, you can expect to find Verizon Fios wherever you are or are moving to in Philly.
Plans and pricing: You'll have three plans to choose from with Verizon Fios: 300Mbps, 500Mbps or 1Gig starting at $50, $70 and $90 per month, respectively. Each comes with a two-, three- or four-year price guarantee (also respectively), and there is no set price increase to go into effect after the price guarantee term is over.
Fees and service details: Your equipment is included at no extra cost with all Verizon Fios home internet plans. There are no data caps and no contracts are required.
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Verizon 5G Home Internet
Best fixed wireless internet provider in Philadelphia
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$50 - $70 per month (50% off for eligible 5G mobile customers)
85 - 1,000Mbps
Unlimited data, no contracts, free equipment, 50% discount for qualifying Verizon mobile customers
Verizon didn't land on my list of top Philadelphia ISPs twice because I'm partial to the provider -- it's because it currently has the best 5G home internet service in the area.
The price is right, and 5G's potential to shake up the broadband industry is exciting, but for Philadelphia residents, I'd still recommend a cable or fiber connection versus 5G. That said, if you're ready to cut the broadband cord with a simple wireless connection and qualify for the 50% discount, Verizon 5G Home Internet is certainly worth a look.
Availability: Verizon's 5G Ultra Wideband service spans much of Philadelphia, but you'll find the best coverage in Girard Estate and Grays Ferry neighborhoods.
Plans and pricing: If service is available at your address (it may not be even if your phone can get 5G service), you'll have two plan options: Verizon 5G Home with speeds in the 85 to 300Mbps range starting at $50 a month and Verizon 5G Home Plus with speeds ranging from 300 to 1,000Mbps starting at $70 a month.
Qualifying Verizon mobile customers can get 50% off Verizon 5G Home Internet plans, meaning you could get a high-speed broadband connection in Philadelphia for $25 or $35 a month, depending on the plan you choose.
Fees and service details: Both plans include your equipment and unlimited data at no extra cost and do not require a contract.
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Fastest internet provider in Philadelphia
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$20 - $300 per month
75 - 6,000Mbps
Data caps on some plans, lots of plan options, solid customer satisfaction numbers
Xfinity boasts great availability and multiple high-speed, low-priced plans to choose from in the Philadelphia area. Upload speeds are less impressive, however, and there is a looming price increase to be aware of when considering Xfinity.
Availability: Like Verizon Fios, Xfinity serves the entire Philadelphia area, save for a few random blocks. For the most part, Xfinity is a cable internet provider and, according to the Federal Communications Commission, the only fiber service currently available from Xfinity in the area is on the other side of the Delaware.
Plans and pricing: Philadelphia residents will have five or so Xfinity cable internet plans to choose from, with download speeds ranging from 200 to 1,200Mbps. Pricing ranges from a low $25 per month for speeds up to 200Mbps to $80 for up to 1,200Mbps. That's among the lowest monthly pricing you'll find for high-speed internet anywhere, but expect a sharp increase after 24 months.
Fees and service details: Xfinity's cheapest plan includes a router rental at no extra cost, but renting your equipment with any other plan will add $14 to your monthly bill. There are no contracts or data caps with Xfinity, at least not in the Philadelphia area.
These internet service providers may also be available in the Philadelphia area, but lack the availability or value to be considered among the "best." Still, if you're looking for alternatives to Verizon or Xfinity, these ISPs may be worth checking out.
Astound Broadband: Formerly known as RCN, Astound is available primarily to the west of Philadelphia and east/south of Springfield in areas such as Yeadon, Darby and Ridley Park. If Astound is available at your address, it'll be your best bet for cheap internet. The provider's overall cheapest pricing can be found in the Philadelphia area, with plans ranging from 300Mbps starting at $20 a month to 1,200Mbps starting at $60 a month. The intro pricing is tempting but be prepared for steep price increases after the second year of service.
HughesNet: Satellite internet is available pretty much anywhere, including throughout Philadelphia, but is best suited for rural internet connections. Philadelphia residents will have faster, cheaper internet options than HughesNet, which advertises speeds of just 25Mbps starting at $50 a month.
PhillyWhisper: Local fixed wireless provider PhillyWhisper advertises a single residential internet plan starting at $50 monthly for minimum speeds of 25Mbps. Speeds faster than 25Mbps are common, according to the provider's website, but I seriously doubt they will be able to match what $50 will get you with Verizon or Xfinity.
T-Mobile Home Internet: Another major 5G home internet provider, T-Mobile offers speeds ranging from 72 to 245Mbps starting at $50 per month ($30 for qualifying T-Mobile Magenta Max customers). Like Verizon 5G, equipment and unlimited data are included, and no contracts are required, but T-Mobile doesn't quite deliver the same speed potential for the price as Verizon. T-Mobile home internet coverage is also somewhat spotty throughout Philadelphia, covering only about a third of homes in the area.
Viasat: Like HughesNet, Viasat is available pretty much anywhere in the US, including Philadelphia. Also like HughesNet, Viasat is much more of a rural internet solution than a practical option for home internet in a city like Philly. If you're interested in exploring all your internet options, Viasat will likely be one, but expect relatively slow speeds along with high prices and data caps from the provider.
Internet pricing in Philadelphia
Astound, and 5G home internet from Verizon 5G or T-Mobile (if you qualify for a discount with either), will be your cheapest internet options in the Philadelphia area. Aside from those providers and circumstances, expect to pay at least $40 to $50 a month for home internet. Here's a look at the cheapest internet plans available in Philadelphia.
Affordable internet options for low-income households in Philadelphia
The Affordable Connectivity Program grants qualifying households a monthly credit of $30 towards home internet service. Once approved, you can apply the credit to internet service from Philadelphia internet providers, including Verizon, T-Mobile and Xfinity.
Xfinity also offers an affordable internet program, Internet Essentials, with speeds up to 100Mbps starting at $10 a month. No credit checks or contracts are required, and service is free when combined with the ACP credit.
Verizon does not have a similar low-income plan, but the provider does offer prepaid internet options that, when combined with ACP, could get you speeds of up to 300Mbps for around $20 a month with no contracts, credit checks or monthly equipment fees.
How fast is broadband in Philadelphia?
Despite high availability of gigabit plans from Xfinity and Verizon throughout Philadelphia, average tested speeds are lower in Philly than the rest of Pennsylvania and the entire nation. These are just averages, however, meaning your potential speeds could be much higher depending on the provider and plan you choose.
Xfinity will be the faster Philadelphia internet provider whether your address is eligible for fiber service or not. Xfinity's fastest plan, Gigabit Pro, advertises max download and upload speeds of up to 6,000Mbps over a 100% fiber connection in the Philly area. Serviceability is limited (and the plan is expensive), but even over a cable connection, Xfinity is the fastest provider in the area, with download speeds up to 1,200Mbps.
Astound also offers a 1,200Mbps plan and a lower starting price than Xfinity, but the provider is primarily available just outside Philadelphia.
What’s a good internet speed?
Most internet connection plans can now handle basic productivity and communication tasks. If you're looking for an internet plan that can accommodate videoconferencing, streaming video or gaming, you'll have a better experience with a more robust connection. Here's an overview of the recommended minimum download speeds for various applications, according tothe FCC. Note that these are only guidelines -- and that internet speed, service and performance vary by connection type, provider and address.
0 to 5Mbps allows you to tackle the basics -- browsing the internet, sending and receiving email, streaming low-quality video.
5 to 40Mbps gives you higher-quality video streaming and videoconferencing.
40 to 100Mbps should give one user sufficient bandwidth to satisfy the demands of modern telecommuting, video streaming and online gaming.
100 to 500Mbps allows one to two users to engage in high-bandwidth activities like videoconferencing, streaming and online gaming simultaneously.
500 to 1,000Mbps allows three or more users to engage in high-bandwidth activities like videoconferencing, streaming and online gaming simultaneously.
How CNET chose the best internet providers in Philadelphia
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. So 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.
But 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.
When it comes to selecting the cheapest internet service -- the criteria are relatively simple. We look for the service package with the lowest monthly fee, though we also take into consideration promotional rates and price per megabit.
As for choosing the fastest internet service, we look at provider throughput. Most often, that means a fiber-optic service. That said, fiber availability may be limited to a smaller percentage of addresses.
Who is the cheapest internet provider in Philadelphia?
Astound Broadband wins in a close race with Xfinity. Both providers have a $25-per-month plan, but Xfinity's tops out at 200Mbps, while the Astound plan features 300Mbps. Also, Astound has a 1,200Mbps plan for $60 monthly, which isn't necessarily cheap, but has the best value in the Philadelphia area at a very cheap 5 cents per Mbps.
Which internet provider in Philadelphia offers the fastest plan?
The fastest plan in the Philadelphia area is Xfinity’s Gigabit Pro tier, which features symmetrical download and upload speeds of 6,000Mbps. However, it’s not widely available across the area and requires a site survey to see if your address qualifies for it. The fastest plan available to most addresses will be the 1,200Mbps plan from Astound or Xfinity.
Does Philadelphia have fiber internet?
Yes. According to the most recent FCC data, more than 96% of Philadelphia residents are eligible for fiber service. Verizon Fios is the largest fiber internet provider in Philadelphia, though Xfinity also has a small fiber presence in the area.
How do I get free internet in Philadelphia?
Select Philadelphia internet plans are available for a net cost of $0 when combined with the Affordable Connectivity Program credit. Xfinity Essentials, for example, is a low-income internet plan available to qualifying customers starting at $10 per month, a cost that would be completely covered by the $30 monthly credit available from the ACP. Similarly, Verizon 5G or T-Mobile home internet may be available for free when combined with provider discounts and the ACP credit.
What is the best internet connection type for Philadelphia?
A fiber-optic connection, like Xfinity's Gigabit Pro service, is the gold standard. That noted, fiber availability may be limited to a small percentage of households in the area. Otherwise, a cable internet connection is your best bet. Cable internet can't match fiber's speed or reliability, but it's far more accessible, available to most households in Philadelphia.
Is Verizon or Xfinity better?
I'm partial to the reliability and fast upload speeds of a 100% fiber connection, so given the choice between Verizon Fios or Xfinity, I'd likely go with Verizon. Additionally, Verizon Fios plans come with equipment and unlimited data included at no extra cost whereas you may be paying for both with Xfinity. Don't just take my word for it, though, check out our breakdown of Verizon versus Xfinity.
CNET staff -- not advertisers, partners or business interests -- determine how we review the products and services we cover. If you buy through our links, we may get paid.
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David AndersSenior 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.
ExpertiseBroadband providers, Home internet, Security Cameras