Remember when we had to wait for the internet to boot up, which was characterized by droning beeps and boops? Well, society has moved past the need for dial-up internet and now relies on blazing fast internet connection for social media, streaming, and online gaming. As technology progresses, so do our internet needs. This year, 53% of Americans say the internet has been essential during the COVID-19 outbreak1.
Whether you’re in a Zoom meeting or hosting a Netflix Party with your friends, fast internet speeds are your greatest allies. That’s why we compiled this guide to help you find the fastest internet in 2021. We’re going to lay the groundwork for finding the right internet plan with ideal prices and fast speeds to match. We’ll also go over some pointers on what to look out for when it comes to internet service providers (ISPs) with the fastest speeds — come one, come all.
Top Internet Providers with the Fastest Internet Plans
Of the thousands of internet providers in the U.S., we’ve listed the top 10 that offer the fastest internet speeds. The chart below details the ISP’s connection types, speeds, plan, monthly cost, and data cap limitation; it’s also organized by the fastest speed and high to low-priced plans.
|Internet Provider||Internet Type||Fastest Speed||Plan||Monthly Price*||Data Cap|
|Xfinity||Cable or Fiber||2,000 Mbps||Gigabit Pro||$299.95||None|
|EarthLink||DSL or Fiber||1,000 Mbps||HyperLink 1 Gbps||$99.95||None|
|Mediacom||Cable||1,000 Mbps||Internet||$79.99||6,000 GB per month|
|Google Fiber||Fiber||1,000 Mbps||Fiber 1000||$70||None|
|AT&T Internet||DSL, Fiber, or Fixed Wireless||1,000 Mbps||Internet 1000||$49.99||None|
|Spectrum||Cable||940 Mbps||Spectrum Internet GIG||$109.99||None|
|Verizon Internet||DSL or Fiber||940 Mbps||Fios Gigabit Connection||$79.99||None|
|Optimum||Cable or Fiber||940 Mbps||Optimum 1 Gig Fiber Internet||$75||None|
|Frontier||DSL or Fiber||940 Mbps||Internet||$74.99||None|
|CenturyLink||DSL or Fiber||940 Mbps||Fiber Gigabit||$65||None|
The Fastest Internet by Connection Types
When looking at internet providers and plans, you’ll come across different connection types. There’s a lot of overlap with download speeds; for example, cable and fiber internet both offer speeds up to 1,000 Mbps or 1 Gbps. The question is whether or not a certain broadband type is available in your residence. Fiber internet has limited coverage compared to DSL and cable. Satellite internet is better served for rural neighborhoods, although it technically has 100% coverage availability.
So, who takes home the crown for being the fastest in their connection category? We went ahead and chose internet providers with the fastest internet of the aforementioned connection types.
Fastest DSL Internet — AT&T Internet
We found that AT&T Internet offers a solid DSL internet plan starting at $49.99 per month with download speeds of 100 Mbps and upload speeds of 20 Mbps. If you’re looking for a cheaper internet option and your household consists of light internet users, then AT&T is a good fit. The only downside is the promotional rate, which only lasts one year.
About DSL Connection: DSL internet has been around for a long time, but whether or not it’s here to stay remains to be seen. By delivering data through telephone lines, DSL internet offers speeds up to 100 Mbps, which is considered fast by today’s standards. Verizon and AT&T are some of the top providers that still offer DSL internet plans.
Fastest Cable Internet — Mediacom
You may or may not have heard of Mediacom, and you might be surprised to find that they offer speeds of 1,000 Mbps for cable internet. If you live in an area where there’s no fiber coverage, Mediacom is your next best bet. For a starting price of $79.99 per month, this is a great alternative if you don’t mind the 6,000 GB per month data cap. But, honestly, that’s pretty generous by our standards. Heavy streamers and online gamers don’t need to fret if they can’t find fiber internet.
About Cable Connection: Going head-to-head with fiber internet, cable internet has download speeds that range from 15 Mbps to 1,000 Mbps. Data transfer via existing cable TV coaxial lines defines cable internet. If Mediacom does not offer coverage in your area, check to see if Xfinity does as they also are among the leading cable providers with speeds up to 1000 Mbps.
Fastest Satellite Internet — HughesNet or Viasat
Despite not making it in the top 10 fastest internet providers, HughesNet and Viasat deserve some recognition for providing satellite internet in rural neighborhoods with very limited broadband availability. Both providers offer speeds up to 25 Mbps, though prices vary. For HughesNet, their lowest-priced plan costs $59.99 per month while Viasat’s 25 Mbps plan is on the pricier side — $150 per month. It’s not the cheapest option, especially when you have to take installation fees and data caps into account. Even so, it’s an option.
About Satellite Connection: For basic internet speeds, satellite internet offers speeds up to 25 Mbps. If you live in a rural area where coverage for other broadband types is limited, satellite is your go-to. By installing a dish on the roof or balcony of your home, data is transferred to and from a satellite dish.
Fastest Fiber Internet — Xfinity
Xfinity is one of the only internet providers to offer speeds up to 2,000 Mbps. Their Gigabit Pro plan starts at $299.95 per month, so it’s definitely not the most budget-friendly. Usually, such high speeds are more beneficial to enterprises where there are a lot of employees who depend on a fast and reliable internet connection. If your household includes more than five individuals, all of whom stream or play online games heavily, then the Gigabit Pro might be the plan for you.
About Fiber Connection: As the connection type that offers the fastest internet speeds, fiber internet transmits data via glass-threaded strands at light speeds. Common download speeds for fiber internet are 940 Mbps, 1,000 Mbps, and 2,000 Mbps. The East Coast has more fiber internet coverage than anywhere else, with approximately 84% of Rhode Island’s population covered2. Large households and heavy streamers benefit from fiber broadband.
What is “Fast” Internet in 2021?
Fast internet in 2021 essentially means download speeds of 25 Mbps or higher and upload speeds of 3 Mbps or higher. You might be thinking, that’s actually a pretty low standard — and it is. If you don’t care for 4K quality streaming, then you’ll be happy to know that 25 Mbps is all you need to rewatch “The Office” in HD. But, if you have your sights set on faster speeds for other activities such as online gaming or downloading large files, the bar is set higher. We’d recommend speeds of at least 100 Mbps as your starting line, and with consideration to household size, you can aim for higher speeds.
How does the U.S. fare in terms of fast internet speeds nationally and globally?
In the U.S., the cities with the fastest internet are Washington (Virginia), Nebo (North Carolina), and Mathews (Virginia). These cities have 10 or more internet providers and an average download speed of 900 Mbps. Internet infrastructure isn’t the same everywhere, unfortunately, which is why it’s important to check coverage availability in your area.
On a global scale, the U.S. currently ranks 14th in providing the fastest internet speeds with an average of 143.28 Mbps3. For comparison, Singapore, which is ranked first, has an average download speed of 208.16 Mbps. While we’re well above the 100 Mbps standard for high-speed internet, we still fall behind other countries with higher average speeds.
Why Choose a Plan with the Fastest Internet?
There are a multitude of reasons why you should pick a plan with the fastest internet, but it all boils down to your internet needs. For starters, faster internet reduces the likelihood of buffering during your streams. If you hate rewinding 10 seconds in order for your show to continue playing, then consider bumping up your internet speed.
Another reason why faster internet can be more convenient is the data cap — or lack thereof. More often than not, plans with faster speeds tend to have unlimited data while slower speeds have data caps. It depends on the provider, but for unrestricted streaming or online gaming, unlimited data is very appealing.
You may have noticed that some internet providers also offer TV and phone services. When you bundle your services, providers will often give you a free upgrade to your internet. This includes faster speeds, so if you think you’d benefit from bundling your internet with TV or phone services, this may end up saving you money.
Large households with heavy internet users might not have any other choice but to opt for a plan with fast internet speeds. Having too many people use multiple devices at the same time can slow your internet down, especially if it’s already on the slower side. With faster speeds, every person in the household can enjoy their internet activities without experiencing downtime or slowdowns.
Finding out if the Fastest Internet Is Available in Your Area
Before you write down your top internet provider picks, you want to make sure that they service your neighborhood. All it takes is entering your zip code and a list of available internet providers will appear. Generally, these providers are accompanied by their phone numbers and a few plans, but they should also include the fastest internet speeds that they currently offer.
How to Increase Your Current Internet Speeds
Testing your internet speed is one way to find out whether or not you need to upgrade. If you’re satisfied with your current speed but feel like you can give it a small boost, here are some things that you can do:
- Monitor data usage and set limitations to ensure optimal speeds
- Place your router in a central area of your home with no obstructions for a clearer Wi-Fi signal
- Turn off connected devices if you’re not using them
There are a number of solutions for different broadband types, but if you feel like nothing has improved, you can always talk to your internet provider on changing plans or find another provider that offers faster speeds.
Advertised Speeds vs. Actual Speeds
There’s a reason why we say “up to” rather than just plainly stating the download speed. Internet providers can never guarantee an advertised speed, which is the “up to [#] Mbps” that you see on their websites. You can check your actual speed by taking a speed test, like we mentioned earlier. It’s more than likely that your speed doesn’t match up to the advertised speed, and reasons are mostly related to network issues. Traffic congestion, throttling, and server-side issues are some of the culprits for reduced speeds.
A rule of thumb when shopping for internet providers with the fastest speeds is to research the actual average speed from the internet provider. Whether that’s from reviews or asking a friend who has the provider to run a speed test, you want to avoid signing up for a plan with a large gap between the advertised speed and the actual speed.
A Recap on Finding the Fastest Internet in 2021
The fastest internet isn’t always needed, and it isn’t always the best option for you budget-wise. Nevertheless, we’re grateful that we have broadband speeds that can reach up to 1,000 to 2,000 Mbps. The pandemic has pushed people to rely on their residential internet more than ever. In order to perform work or school activities online, decent internet speed is needed.
Remember, you can always figure out ways to boost your internet speed rather than upgrading. But if you do decide to upgrade, keep the aforementioned points in mind—connection type and advertised speeds—when shopping for your ideal internet provider that provides fast speeds. Use our bandwidth calculator to calculate what kind of internet speeds your household may require.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the fastest residential internet speed?
The fastest residential internet speed is 2,000 Mbps, or 2 Gbps, and is offered by Xfinity in select areas. These high speeds are possible due to fiber-optic internet, which is currently the fastest broadband connection. Xfinity’s Gigabit Pro plan starts at $299.95 per month for speeds up to 2,000 Mbps and has no data caps.
What is considered fast internet speed in 2021?
Internet with a download speed of at least 25 Mbps is considered fast internet speed in 2021. With improvements in technology, internet users are moving away from dial-up internet and have multiple broadband connections to choose from instead. DSL, cable, fiber, and sometimes satellite internet offer speeds of 25 Mbps or higher.
How fast is 500 Mbps and is it good for streaming?
An internet speed of 500 Mbps is pretty fast, especially for streaming. When you stream, you only need 25 Mbps for HD video quality. Other activities you can do with 500 Mbps are online gaming with no lag or delay and video calling.
Which internet providers offer speeds of 1,000 Mbps?
The internet providers who offer speeds of 1,000 Mbps are Xfinity, EarthLink, Mediacom, and AT&T. Some providers advertise 1,000 Mbps for their plans, but in reality, their speeds only reach up to 940 Mbps. Depending on where you live, speeds will vary.