Which Carrier Has the Fastest Internet Speed

If you’re reading this, you obviously care about internet speed. You might be looking to download many files quickly as part of your work or know that speed is perhaps the easiest and most clear-cut measure of quality internet service. Yet some people want to know who is the fastest, and we understand them completely.

Keep reading to learn which providers have the best speeds and which carrier has the best internet speed.

Some Notes Before We Begin

Carriers do not offer uniform service across the country, and some carriers might not even provide the same type of internet service across the country. Therefore, it can be challenging to measure average speeds. In some cases, it might be impossible. After all, if Comcast can provide gigabit internet or better to tens of millions of people, should they be weighed down by millions of people who can only get basic broadband internet? We weighed the question for a while and determined it should not generally be penalized. We have a few different categories for this article.

Yet on a similar note, some companies offer high-speed internet but only in extremely limited areas. It might be experimental, or it might be a fluke of the infrastructure they use. If a provider offers slow internet across the country but is amazing in a limited area, we determined that this would not give you a proper indication of the fastest provider.

And on another similar note, we looked at nationwide results, not localized areas. The best internet provider in one part of the United States might hardly be notable or nonexistent in another. That’s just how the industry works, and so we cannot. If you are interested, however, in what the best options are in your immediate area, you can and should use this website to do so and pick out the best ISP for yourself and your home.

In making our determinations, we used the most recent sources available, including reviews, studies, and additional sources relating to internet speed from major providers. Someone looking at the same data might come to a different conclusion based on their criteria or priorities, and that’s ok. And as data comes in, the fastest provider might temporarily or more permanently be a different provider than what we list.

How Should One Define “Fastest”?

Internet speed doesn’t come down to just one thing. Several factors combined make for an excellent internet connection, and having one that is excellent without the others being adequate is a recipe for lousy service. Look over the following ways by which we judge internet speed:

Download Speed: What most people think of when they consider internet speed. Download speed measures how fast a file or information can be downloaded from an external source, usually measured in Mbps or Gbps. It will be our primary measurement for this article.

Upload Speed: A measurement of how fast someone can upload files to an external location online. It is usually slower than most providers’ download speed, which is fine given that people don’t need nearly as much upload speed as download speed. However, some professionals and offices need a good upload speed to conduct operations. 

Latency/Ping Rate: The latency of a connection is a measurement of how fast a computer sends a request and gets a response. Extremely low latency will make a connection feel smooth and interactions instantaneous. High latency will lead to a lag in video calls or when playing online games, among other issues. It is a critical metric.

Consistency: One of the most important things for a connection in today’s world is consistency. How much does a connection cut out or experience significant slowdowns? Is the speed at peak hours roughly the same as at four in the morning? We’ll talk more about the importance of consistency shortly.

The Importance of Consistency

One of the things that is most important when getting internet service is that you need to ensure that the speeds you are getting are consistent. An internet plan is somewhat limited when looking for a great connection but cannot rely on it. While you might sometimes only need the full gigabit bandwidth you paid for, you should be able to know that you can get at least most of it all the time.

For this reason, the best internet provider with the fastest speed will likely be a fiber internet service provider. Cable, in particular, can be fast but often experiences slowdowns and has poor upload speeds. Other service types cannot compete and cannot compare to the download speeds offered by fiber internet.

Note there is a difference between slight changes in speed and a consistency problem. The actual speed of a connection versus the advertised speed will vary. Yet if your connection is regularly less than 80 percent of the advertised speed, you have a problem and shouldn’t stand for it.

Types of Internet Connection

An important note is that there are multiple types of internet connection, each with its own speeds, level of consistency, and additional quirks to them. Some are clearly faster than others, and the best is clear, but you should still understand the differences between the connection types when comparing providers. Here are the basics:

Fiber: Fiber or fiber optic internet is the fastest and most consistent option. As we mentioned, fiber is the clear winner and will be the basis for top carriers. 

Cable: Cable internet is an exciting topic in the context of internet speed. It is capable of breakneck speeds in theory, but it doesn’t match what fiber can offer in practice. Additionally, it is less consistent and provides slower upload speeds than fiber can.

DSL: DSL internet is based on phone lines, and while it was a step up from dial-up when it first came out, it hardly merits the same applause today. It is extremely slow compared to fiber and should not be considered except as a last resort.

Dial-up: It’s based on phone line usage and is objectively terrible. Please don’t use it; no dial-up provider would ever be the fastest.

Satellite: As you’ll see, we will discuss the fastest option for satellite internet, but don’t get the idea that it is the fastest option in general. It simply is the only option for millions of people lest they want dial-up, and it might be the future of internet access for many.

Most of this is for context and your general knowledge. Note, however, that practically all of our top choices and candidates will be fiber internet providers. The difference is that great, and fiber internet is the universally superior option.

The Fastest Possible Connection

Out of interest, what is the fastest possible consumer internet connection you can get in the United States? Who provides it, and what does it truly offer?

As of this writing, the fastest connection we could find in terms of pure download speed is the Xfinity Comcast Gigabit Pro service plan, which offered 6 Gbps. However, it is a rare speed to find, and most people do not need anything close to this download speed for their day-to-day life. Most small businesses don’t need anything like this. Though given that it costs about $300 per month to start with, most people are unlikely to consider it in the first place without a good reason. Nonetheless, it is a good example of what might be possible in the future, whether for businesses or general users.

The Fastest Overall Carrier

With so many factors and numbers to average together, what can we say is the fastest overall service carrier in the United States? Based on currently available information, that is Google Fiber, which only offers 1 Gbps or 2 Gbps download and upload speed plans. That is it for options, which means that the average speed for Google Fiber is very high, and it is easy to pick what you want from them.

We also aren’t considering the free service they offer, which, while a wonderful initiative in many areas, is not indicative of their true service. It is a pittance of speed and more of a public relations and service effort than good internet service.

Also, users can often get TV service through the same fiber system, effectively making it TV streamed by internet. It’s evidence of Google Fiber’s confidence in their service and encourages people to cut the cord with cable faster. And with the speeds on offer, that confidence is well-placed. Google Fiber has some of the most consistent connections in the United States.

While Google Fiber is fast, this category has the quickest potential to change in the coming years. All it takes is an initiative from one company to push forward or for Google to pull back from Google Fiber as they have with some other products and services. However, given the success of Google Fiber, we find this unlikely to happen.

However, Google Fiber is limited to only so many United States cities. This might be why you haven’t heard of it before and why it is not available anywhere near your location. It has been relatively slow to expand, so while it is the fastest overall carrier, it might not be the one we rely on.

The Fastest Widely Available Carrier

Just because the fastest overall carrier is the fastest doesn’t mean it’s available to you or even available to most people. At least at first, companies on the cutting edge of internet speed might not be interested in creating a large user base. This is a typical trend and a disappointing one. Yet while people might not generally be able to get 5-6 Gbps download speeds, they can get at least gigabit internet or relatively fast speeds. Therefore, we wanted to point out the fastest carrier that was widely available and could likely bring the best speeds to the most people.

That would be Comcast Xfinity, which in addition to having the fastest regular plan, we could also find the most people with gigabit or general high-speed internet. They have the fastest possible connection (though rare) and provide one of the largest networks when it comes to internet service. Some of that coverage comes from cable internet service, but Xfinity provides millions of households with fiber internet service as well.

There is the Gigabit Pro option mentioned earlier and a standard Gigabit plan. There are a few fast cable internet options that can reach up to 800 Mbps, but they are not the best option. There may also be other options depending on your region. Yet however you look at it, they provide, on average, the fastest internet speeds to more than three dozen states.

Note that while it is widely available, it’s not available everywhere. You might want to check between Xfinity and AT&T Fiber, which is another widely available carrier in regions that Xfinity might not service.

The Fastest Satellite Carrier

While not the fastest internet type by any means and somewhat limited by most metrics, we found it essential to note which of the current satellite internet providers operating in the United States is the fastest. After all, depending on how infrastructure and technology progress, it might very well be the future of internet access for people living in rural or extremely remote areas.

And currently, we believe that Starlink is the fastest satellite internet option for people. It is the company that’s getting the most attention for sure. Yet it isn’t all talk: Starlink is generally the fastest satellite internet provider. It’s also quite expensive, but we’re not talking about the expense in this article; we are simply talking about the fastest options available.

And based on average test results, it’s no contest. Starlink in the United States had a download speed of 90.55 Mbps and an upload of 9.33 Mbps. Note that this is for residential service. For business services, the speed can reach up to 500 Mbps download speeds, which is outstanding for satellite service if expensive.

Yet what also truly impresses us is the latency, a known problem with satellite internet. Starlink has a latency of 43ms on average. ViaSat has a latency of 628ms, and HughesNet has an average of 724 ms. In this case, there is no competition, and Starlink is usable in many situations where Viasat and HughesNet would not be.

Note that Starlink isn’t perfect. Its massive growth is slowing it down a bit as network congestion takes hold, and there are more users than the infrastructure to support all of them. Starlink is suffering from success, and HughesNet could overtake it in time just by being longstanding and reliable. It wouldn’t be good for internet speed, but it would be a natural reaction to Starlink getting overloaded.

Yet that might not happen for some time. Starlink still needs to do a lot of work to be available in more than a limited area, and satellites will take time to launch. How much resistance to this progress remains to be seen, as are potential setbacks. Nonetheless, where it is available, it is easily the fastest option.

Honorable Mentions

Just because a carrier doesn’t technically have the fastest speeds doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth mentioning. After all, you might not be able to get any of the above carriers in your area or get the plans which make them the fastest. Therefore, here are a few honorable mentions that you should be on the lookout for:

• Verizon Fios is, in many ways, comparable to Google Fiber, and you can expect them to expand even further in the coming years. While Verizon is mainly known for cellular service, they are doing an excellent job in some cities providing fiber internet and television services to households. Additionally, they are well-loved by customers, and reviews are great across the board for them. And while they might not top the charts in terms of the speed of available plans, they are among the most consistent and provide some of the best speeds overall. Do not discount them at all just because they aren’t Google Fiber.

• AT&T Fiber is a fantastic provider that simply and, unfortunately, comes in second place in nearly every category. It has a wide variety of fiber internet plans going up to 5Gbps and has a good overall reputation. Just be sure you are getting fiber internet from AT&T and not a different service type.

• You might not have heard of them so much, but Quantum Fiber is another fiber provider that can reach reasonable speeds. You might better know them as CenturyLink, but Quantum Fiber is the fiber service spinoff. They may not boast the fastest speeds yet, but they offer fiber service at a reasonable price and will likely be a key component in faster internet service across the United States. 

• If you must choose a cable provider for your internet service, then you will want to select Spectrum, which has, on average, the fastest internet and best options for a cable provider. You might have to deal with slightly uneven service, but it is by far a better option than anything but fiber and most other cable internet plans, which are usually basic and meant to be packaged with a cable TV plan.

Overall, Internet Speeds Are Improving Drastically

There is a solid reason to be optimistic about internet speed across the country. Over the last few years, average internet speeds have more than tripled.

We wonder how increased bandwidth and internet speeds across the board will impact the average person and society. There might not be too many changes in terms of daily home life, given that people don’t usually have a constant use case for speeds that are that fast. That doesn’t mean there won’t be an improvement in the average quality of life. The infrastructure will be able to handle more, most likely, which means fewer slowdowns and interruptions of service.

And this trend will continue worldwide. Note that some improvements will come from cellular data improvements instead of standard terrestrial internet. Billions of people primarily or exclusively access the internet through their smartphone and data plan, and the internet and world are adapting to that.

Yet that doesn’t mean there aren’t drastic improvements to be made. The differences between the fastest and slowest metro areas are dramatic (a factor of four in a rare few cases). Some people and locations experience more outages and slowdowns than others. Some places still do not have much more than DSL internet. These types of issues will eventually need to be addressed, perhaps in part, by the providers mentioned above.

Things Can and Will Change

We very much want to stress that ISPs are often working on expanding their services and offering better internet on average. It might be to justify a higher price or a simple fact of competition in the ISP market. Whatever the case, ISPs usually have an incentive to keep improving, and as mentioned, there are still obvious improvements to be made.

Some things to look out for include the following:

• A greater degree of municipal internet providers. While it is unlikely that they will provide the fastest internet the country has to offer, they can offer fiber internet at a much more affordable rate and be the solution to what many people consider unfair and monopolistic practices on the part of ISPs. As they improve, they might raise the bar country-wide.

• Improved infrastructure overall is likely to be the case. While it is happening much slower than some people would like, and some companies have not delivered what has been promised to the public, there is steady improvement. The recent pandemic showed people the importance of fast internet and increased general demand, and that demand is leading to action.

• Satellite internet is slowly improving and developing, but massive changes are underway. Starlink internet using more advanced satellites has experienced some setbacks when it comes to its expansion, but it is still the greatest existing hope for widespread internet access and faster satellite internet access.

• Among all this, expect some restructuring of how the service carriers are organized and conduct operations. Regular changes along these lines are the norm, after all, but there may be some significant mergers, some increased options from previously unknown providers, and new providers taking advantage of new opportunities and infrastructure. We also have to consider that cable and TV providers are losing subscribers on their own. As such, many might focus more heavily on offering internet services to remain as profitable as they were in the past.


Searching for an internet provider is not always an easy task, though we are certainly here to help. You need to weigh speeds versus other factors and make sure that everything is stable and serviceable on top of that. And yet some providers are faster than others, and they do provide better service. We hope that at least a couple of the providers mentioned above are available in your area and that you are satisfied with your internet service whether you’re looking for something new or are just curious about what the field currently looks like.

We thank you for reading and encourage you to bookmark and come back to this page as you feel the need.

InternetAdvisor Team

We are passionate about aggregating large, accurate data sets and providing it all to our users in an easy-to-use format. Simply put, shopping is easier for the consumer when he/she knows all available options. We are not beholden to any single provider and therefore are dedicated to transparency and giving you unbiased information on all providers.

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