Do you feel the need for speed? Get more for your broadband buck with AT&T, Frontier, Google Fiber, Xfinity and more.
According to OpenVault's most recent report on US broadband usage, taken at the end of 2022, gigabit internet adoption is up to 26%, which makes it the second most popular internet tier. Our craving for high-speed internet will only increase: The Fiber Broadband Association says that by the end of this decade, a four-person household will require over 2,100 megabits per second (or just over 2 gigabits) in download speed.
All that said, it's not 2030 yet. Making that big of an upgrade is probably overkill for many of us. But internet service providers aren't waiting to offer multi-gigabit packages to their customers. In 2022, we were introduced to new multi-gig internet plans from AT&T, Frontier, Optimum, Verizon and Ziply Fiber, to name a few. Other ISPs, including Comcast Xfinity and Google Fiber, already had multi-gig offerings of their own, too. Things aren't slowing down in 2023, either.
For this list, we'll focus on the best multi-gig internet offerings from major ISPs. However, I want to note that smaller, regional providers also have competitive plans. For instance, Midco offers 2Gbps and 5Gbps plans to its customers in South Dakota. Minnesota's USI boasts a 10-gig fiber plan. The citizens of Chattanooga, Tennessee, have access to the country's fastest residential plan, a 25Gbps tier from the city-owned fiber broadband of EPB. With that in mind, let's look at some of the best 2-gigabit and multi-gig internet plans available from national providers.
Locating local internet providers
AT&T drove an impressive flag in the ground with its top-tier fiber internet offering. At $180 a month for symmetrical 5Gbps speeds, Internet 5000 comes in at a staggeringly low cost of fewer than 4 cents per Mbps. That's one of the lowest we've seen for any plan from all the national providers we've covered thus far at CNET, not just the best multi-gig internet plans.
In addition to the excellent value per Mbps, customers face no price increase after 12 months, no data caps, no annual contract and no monthly equipment fees. Also, AT&T includes its internet security package, AT&T ActiveArmor, for free as well. You may need to pay a $99 installation fee upon signing up, but AT&T has many online promotions, including a current reward of a $150 gift card, that more than compensate for that initial cost.
This is your best, most affordable option if you want to enter the multi-gig-verse. Google Fiber's 2 Gig plan features 2Gbps download and 1Gbps upload speed for $100 a month. That's a 5 cents per Mbps cost and is cheaper than any other provider's 2Gbps offering. There's no additional cost for the provided Wi-Fi 6 equipment and you get unlimited data with no contracts required.
The only downside here is that Google Fiber is still only available in 12 markets across the country. The company aims to continue expansion in 2023, but that's of little consequence to those outside its serviceability windows in Alabama, California, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.
While the best overall value goes to AT&T's Internet 5000 plan, you can get all the same perks for $70 less monthly with the provider's 2Gbps option. Specifically, you get AT&T ActiveArmor (free internet security) and a $150 gift card. While your cost per Mbps may not be as low as AT&T Internet 5000, it still carries a significant value for a lower monthly charge.
While the three options we listed above rose to the top of our list, they aren't available in all markets. Additional speedy plans, offered by other ISPs, might get your attention, but they have one or two caveats that kept them from our winner's circle.
Locating local internet providers
In most cases, especially if you already have fiber internet service, you won't have to do anything beyond contacting your provider to upgrade to a multi-gig internet plan. There may be an installation fee (often waived if you order online), but usually, any additional equipment you need (a modem/router capable of multi-gig speeds) will be included.
However, to take advantage of Xfinity's Gigabit Pro plan, you'll need to reach out to Xfinity and schedule a site survey. Even if you're a current Xfinity customer or know you're in an Xfinity-serviceable area, Comcast will still need to inspect to see if your home is within the minimum distance from a fiber node. If everything checks out, it may take several weeks before your household can get Gigabit Pro fully installed.
Generally speaking, the best multi-gig internet plans are relatively affordable if you have a fiber internet connection. Not only does fiber typically provide the best performance, featuring symmetrical or near-equal download and upload speeds, but it also presents the cheapest options. For example, Google Fiber's 2Gbps plan, which includes all equipment costs and fees in its monthly rate, checks in at 5 cents per Mbps and AT&T's 5Gbps tier rings in at 4 cents per Mbps. Ziply Fiber's 10Gbps plan, which rings in at $300 per month, is actually 3 cents per Mbps, the highest value we've seen. None of those requires a contract.
On the flip side, Xfinity's Gigabit Pro is one of the priciest broadband packages you'll find. It costs $300 per month, and you can get it only if you sign up for a two-year contract. The cost per Mbps, at 5 cents, is good, but there's a $25-a-month rental charge for equipment. There's also a pretty hefty additional expenditure right out of the gate: Households face an activation fee of up to $500 and an additional installation fee of another $500. That's $1,000 before you even get to the regular monthly charges.
Perhaps. Even if you go with the most expensive plan out there, the monthly cost per Mbps of multi-gigabit internet is quite competitive. Plus, these plans' near-symmetrical upload and download speeds certainly set up your household with plenty of opportunities to utilize many connected devices, now and in the future.
However, most households right now don't need all that speed. If you go one step down and opt for a provider's gigabit plan, for example, you can get plenty of speed for anywhere between 5-10 cents per Mbps and often, your modem/router equipment fee is included too. It may not be as flashy as having the best multi-gig internet and the fastest residential plan currently available, but it'll get you some splashy speeds at a more affordable price.
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