You’re probably here because you’ve Googled, “internet service providers near me” at some point in the past - or will in the near future.
And you may have found yourself met with a flurry of technical terms, unknown abbreviations, and speed measurements with no context. Unfortunately, a lot of ads and companies unintentionally use confusing technical jargon that doesn’t help customers like you.
And ISPs, or Internet Service Providers, come in many forms. So if you want to know how to find the best internet providers near you, it helps to start your search well-prepared.
You’ll see some of what makes up the best service providers in this article. So by the end, you should have a good idea of what will meet your needs.
“Best internet providers near me” - knowing what to look for
Understanding what makes a good internet provider is critical. Here are some of the areas, you need to look at:
- Customer service
Much of finding the best internet providers near you depends on your needs. Let’s break these four points down even more for you.
How to find available internet options near me
To find high-speed internet in your area, the team at InternetAdvisor has spent countless hours building a search tool that matches you with the right internet provider.
And the single most important factor in finding good internet is being sure it is available in your area.
Follow these steps to get started:
- Enter your zip code on the InternetAdvisor main page
- Filter by services, budget, customer rating, and promotions
- Browse the nearby cities if you are considering moving to the general area
- Look through the top ten available options - these will be the best internet providers in your zip code
- Click “see availability” and enter your basic information
- Fill in the form to get a free quote from local internet providers
Pay particular attention to the coverage and customer rating. Those two factors will reduce a lot of headaches for you.
With access to over two thousand providers in more than 36,000 cities, you’ll find something that works for you.
Speed: how fast do I need my internet to be?
Your internet service provider needs to be fast enough to meet your needs. At a minimum, 25 Mbps is best for what most people use the internet for.
Streaming services, like Netflix, require a minimum of 15 Mbps for 5k streaming. The extra 10 Mbps provides some room for internet browsing while streaming.
However, you will need faster internet in these cases:
- You have a large family or multiple users
- There is a lot of online gaming in your household
- You are a remote worker
- You want to download files fast
Online gaming is the biggest taker of bandwidth. The minimum requirement for persistent online gaming is 20 Mbps.
How do I find out what internet speed I need?
Use the InternetAdvisor Speed Wizard to find your minimum internet speed. This tool uses the following information to determine your minimum rate:
- How many devices do you have
- The number of people in your household
- How often your house makes video calls (Zoom, Google Hangout, Skype, etc.)
- If you use streaming services often
- If someone in your home plays video games often
- If - and how often - you download large files (like torrents)
From there, it takes your zip code and finds internet providers who meet your minimum speed needs. It's a straightforward way to find out what you need beyond basic internet access.
What can I do with different internet speeds?
Mbps (Megabits per Second) is a measure of speed. Gbps, or Gigabits per Second, is the next level. One gigabit is equal to 1000 megabits.
Knowing this, here is a breakdown of different internet speeds and what you can do with them:
How do different types of internet service impact speed?
When selecting the best internet providers near you, you need to have a basic knowledge of different types of internet services.
Here’s a breakdown in order of speed, from slowest internet to fastest internet speeds:
Speed: Up to 25 Mbps
Features: Expands availability to rural areas but sacrifices speed
Speed: Up to one gig
Features: Faster speeds that use the same cable as TV providers
3. DSL internet
Speed: Up to 10 Mbps
Features: Uses the telephone line but offers lower speeds
Speed: Up to one gig
Features: Uses radio waves, and existing internet connections
Speed: Up to five gigs (for now)
Features: True high-speed internet with ridiculous potential
Dial-up internet has gone the way of the dinosaur. DSL internet is not too far behind.
Below are other factors that impact internet speed.
Download speed vs upload speed: why is upload speed important?
The speed measurements above focus on download speed. Having a fast downloading speed allows us to get what we want faster. However, upload speeds can be important when finding the best internet providers near you.
In cases where you work from home, broadband upload speeds keep your Zoom meeting running. Having a speed of 50 Mbps (download) is often enough and accounts for better uploads. You’ll need this speed if tailoring to a medium-sized meeting.
However, in cases where you run an at-home business with numerous video-based clients, consider gigabit internet. The fastest speeds come with upload rates as high as 35 Mbps.
Are wireless speeds slower than wired speeds?
The latest internet options include support for powerful WiFi. However, wireless speeds are almost always slower than wired speeds.
Despite this, the slowdown isn’t as bad as it used to be. You can find examples of this through Google Fiber and Verizon Fios.
Your slower WiFi usually means you need a new router. Actual speeds are often slowed down more by the number of people on your internet.
How do I find cheap internet service near me?
To find the best internet providers near you, budget is a concern. Good providers will understand this, offering a wide range of internet service plans to fit every budget.
To find cheap internet service, start with these steps:
- Look at your monthly budget
- Determine how much of that should go to internet
- Use InternetAdvisor’s filtering system to see internet providers near you listed by rate
How much should you expect to pay for the internet? In short, the average cost is about $50 with pricing varying from about $30 to $70.
Fiber internet providers charge more for this, with costs up to $120 if you want multiple gigs. Cheaper providers include those who offer DSL internet plans (no more than 10 Mbps). All other internet plans from satellite or cable internet providers typically fall in the middle.
What impacts the cost of internet service?
What you pay for your home internet might change depending on these factors:
- The speed of your internet. Access to the fastest internet comes with a higher price.
- The type of connection. Some types of internet require additional steps to install (e.g., you’ll need a satellite to access satellite internet services).
- Your location. Internet might sometimes vary depending on the city, town, or specific zip code you live in.
- Additional services. You will have to pay more if your provider offers TV or phone service.
- Equipment rental fees. Renting equipment (like your router) can add an extra several dollars per month.
- Installation fees. Providers will sometimes charge extra for installing equipment.
- Moving fees. Having to reactivate equipment at a new home will sometimes come with fees.
- Data caps. Internet service providers will sometimes charge you extra for exceeding data limits. Higher limits cost more money.
Many of these costs are one-time costs. Establishing your first home network or a new device falls into this category.
Continuous optional fees include rental fees (like with routers or cable boxes). These products often come with included maintenance packages.
When selecting your provider, it is important to understand what additional services give you. Always look into the additional packages you purchase before jumping in.
For example, Xfinity is one popular internet company that includes rental fees for using its routers. However, you don’t have to buy a new router when the old one dies.
How to check customer service reviews of ISPs
While typing in “best internet providers near me” will show you objectively which company services your zip code, it’s not a very subjective review of who provides the best service.
And here, when we talk about service, we’re referring to customer support. A good customer service experience is the difference between loving or leaving your internet provider.
To check customer reviews, go to your service area on InternetAdvisor. From there, you can use the filters to limit yourself to five-star reviews or four-star reviews.
Internet providers who have high ratings typically come with good customer service. After all, these stars are well-earned by providing a good service.
How can you be sure your ISP has good customer support?
A handful of customer interactions between you and the ISP will give you a lot of information. Still, this often isn’t enough to determine good customer service.
In that case, you need to follow these steps to check in on your provider:
- Ask people who live in your area about their experience
- Quiz your customer service rep about their troubleshooting skills
- Ask them about standard company policy in the event of an outage
- Check their coverage area to confirm they offer internet service near you and in your zip code
- Ask them about what internet speed they recommend in different situations
When asking yourself what makes a good customer experience, prioritize honesty above all else. Customer service representatives should be confident and straightforward about their solutions.
While you might feel some pressure to upgrade out of company policy, an upgrade should be appropriately timed. In cases where you feel the person on the other end of the phone is trying to get you to buy more than you need, don’t hesitate to speak with other companies in your area.
5 of the best internet service providers near you
We’ve given you a breakdown of finding the best providers near you. Now, we’ll give you a list of some of the best internet providers in the United States.
You’ve probably heard of some of these companies and they’ll likely offer internet service near you:
1. AT&T Fiber - excellent fiber internet
AT&T Fiber is incredibly fast, offering some of the fastest speeds available across the United States. AT&T has rates starting at $35 with minimum speeds of 300 Mbps. The speed-to-cost ratio is incredibly great.
AT&T has some of the best customer support in the market. But it needs a few more internet lines to keep up with major providers.
2. Verizon - unlimited data caps
Verizon is best known for mobile service but provides internet service as well. Its download speeds are unmatched with Fiber offerings. It also includes bundling with TV and phone services.
You won’t find Verizon in rural areas. However, it is widespread across urban centers and suburbs.
3. Century Link - big coverage
Century Link provides excellent coverage in most cities in the United States. This company is better at providing service to lower population centers, offering solutions for over seven thousand zip codes.
The extra coverage means they focus on providing lower-speed solutions. Despite not being the fastest, Century Link offers some incredible availability.
4. EarthLink - great for professionals
EarthLink is best known for its great service and wide range of internet service plans. It also includes antivirus software, providing security that other ISPs do not have.
The drawback to EarthLink comes from its 12-month contract. EarthLink also requires professional installation, mainly because of its high-security requirements.
5. HughesNet - available nearly everywhere
HughesNet is the US’s most well-known satellite internet provider. Given its focus on providing a unique type of internet service, it expands out to underserved rural communities. So you can get broadband services anywhere.
HughesNet’s focus on satellite internet means it isn’t known for the fastest speed. However, it is faster than other satellite providers.
Find the best internet providers near you today!
Before you go back to Google and type in, “best internet providers near me,” or use our search tool to find internet providers by zip code, ask yourself these questions:
- How fast should my home internet be?
- Is the service available at my location?
- Do they have a good local reputation?
- Do they offer internet plans in my budget?
If any given internet provider can’t clearly answer all four questions, you might want to consider other providers in your area.
As an internet user, you deserve to have a good connection and to work with decent people. This list should give you a good idea of where to look for good local internet providers.