Finding the Best Gigabit Internet in 2021
Slow internet is the bane of our existence, especially during a time when we’re online almost all day. Introducing gigabit internet: the next best thing for broadband in terms of speed. Less buffering? Check. Faster download and upload times? Check. Reliable connection and fewer slowdowns? Check and check. Not everyone needs gigabit internet, but it’s becoming the gold standard, whether through cable or fiber-optic internet service.
When it comes to finding an internet service provider, or ISP, there are several things to keep in mind before choosing one that best fits your needs. Currently, over a thousand ISPs offer gigabit speeds, but don’t worry—we researched our top picks to help you narrow down your choices and save you time. We cover everything there is to know about gigabit internet and the fastest internet providers that offer it below.
Pros and Cons of Gigabit Internet
|✓ Low latency
✓ Lightning fast speeds
✓ Often comes with unlimited data
✓ Reliable service
|✖ Expensive plans
✖ Limited coverage
The Top Gigabit Internet Providers Today
Gigabit internet providers differ in pricing, speeds, data caps, and whether they require a contract or offer contract-free options. Depending on what you’re looking for and if the providers are available in your area, pricing, speeds, and data caps might be different. In the chart below, we focused on gigabit internet providers’ fiber plans, though we should note that the following providers also provide other broadband services like DSL or cable.
|Provider||Connection Type||Pricing* (Monthly)||Speeds||Data Cap||Contract|
|Xfinity||Cable or Fiber||$79.99-$299.95||1000-2000 Mbps||None||2 years|
|AT&T Fiber||Fiber||$49.99||1000 Mbps||1 TB – unlimited data||2 years|
|Verizon Fios||Fiber||$39.99-$79.99||200-940 Mbps||Unlimited data||None|
|EarthLink Fiber||Fiber||$49.95-$99.95||50-1000 Mbps||Unlimited data||1 year|
|CenturyLink||Fiber||$49-$65||100-940 Mbps||1024 GB – unlimited data||None|
|Frontier Communications||Fiber||$39.99-$74.99||50-1000 Mbps||Unlimited data||None|
|Windstream||Fiber||$27-$57||50-1000 Mbps||Unlimited data||None|
|Google Fiber||Fiber||$70||1000 Mbps||Unlimited data||None|
|Optimum by Altice||Fiber||$39.99-$69.99||300-940 Mbps||Unlimited data||None|
*Promotional rates. Pricing subject to change. Additional fees and taxes may apply.
For the Fastest Speeds: Xfinity
Why We Like It: Xfinity is one of the few internet providers that offer gigabit speeds via cable and fiber internet. If you live outside of their fiber coverage and can’t sign up for the Gigabit Pro plan, your next option is their Gigabit plan, which runs off of their cable network. With download speeds between 1,000 to 2,000 Mbps, Xfinity’s gigabit internet plans are the fastest on the market.
What We Don’t Like: The gigabit plans run pretty high with a price range of $79.99 to $299.95 per month. We think that’s a huge jump in pricing between their Gigabit plan and Gigabit Pro plan. Xfinity also requires a two-year contract, so if you aren’t planning to commit to an ISP for that long, Xfinity isn’t a good match.
For the Most Budget-Friendly Plans: AT&T Fiber
Why We Like It: With plans as low as $49.99 per month, AT&T’s fiber plans are one of the most budget-friendly ISPs for those interested in gigabit internet. Speeds reach up to 1,000 Mbps, and depending on the plan, you’ll either have a 1 TB data cap or unlimited data. We recommend AT&T Fiber if you’re a newcomer to gigabit internet.
What We Don’t Like: Like Xfinity, AT&T Fiber requires a two-year contract for their plans. The AT&T Internet 1000 plan is also the only one with gigabit speeds, so there aren’t a whole lot of other options to choose from. The monthly price of $49.99 is a promotional rate, which means a price hike is inevitable.
For the Best All-Around: Verizon Fios
Why We Like It: For fast and reliable speeds paired with a decent price, Verizon Fios deals offer that and more. Contracts aren’t required and you get unlimited data—what more could you ask for? If their gigabit internet plans don’t match your budget, you can always choose their other fiber plans that have lower speeds.
What We Don’t Like: Verizon Fios doesn’t have widespread coverage compared to their regular high speed internet plans. Otherwise, we don’t have much to complain about. That’s why we picked Verizon Fios as the best all-around!
For Unlimited Data: Frontier Communications
Why We Like It: Frontier’s plans are varied, with speeds of 50, 100, 500, or 1,000 Mbps. All plans have unlimited data. Their Simply FiOS Gig Service costs $74.99 per month, so while it’s not the cheapest gigabit internet plan we’ve seen, it falls around the average price for gigabit plans in general.
What We Don’t Like: Frontier doesn’t do a great job of being upfront with their customers about hidden fees. As a result, customer service isn’t the best—we’ve seen many complaints from customers about the lack of transparency regarding the extra charges on their monthly bill.
For No Contracts: CenturyLink
Why We Like It: When it comes to gigabit internet plans with no contracts, CenturyLink delivers on that front. CenturyLink offers two fiber plans with speeds of 100 or 940 Mbps. Their Fiber Gigabit plan does not have data caps, and if you order online, you get a free modem and free installation!
What We Don’t Like: Their Price-for-Life Guarantee only applies to their plans with speeds up to 100 Mbps. Unfortunately, the Fiber Gigabit plan doesn’t make the cut. CenturyLink has limited coverage for their fiber plans as well.
How to Shop for Gigabit Internet in 2021
As the next generation of high speed internet, gigabit internet transmits data up to 1 gigabit per second (Gbps) or 1,000 megabits per second (Mbps). Gigabit internet works two ways: through a fiber-optic cable or a coaxial cable that delivers data to your internet, TV, or phone. The key difference between the two cables is that the fiber-optic network matches download and upload speeds.
In 2021, gigabit internet is a prime choice for many households, particularly for large ones with heavy internet users. If you’re wondering what you should look out for when shopping for gigabit internet, consider the following points:
- Pricing: The faster your internet speed, the more expensive it will cost. Standalone gigabit internet plans with speeds of 940 Mbps or higher range between $60-$70 per month. Most of the prices on ISP websites are promotional rates, so expect to see price increases after your first or second year. Pricing also depends on where you live—some ISPs will give you a free quote.
- Availability: Most ISPs will have a coverage map on their website and will let you know if gigabit internet is available in your area. For most gigabit internet plans that run on the fiber-optic network, coverage is very limited. You might not find gigabit internet if you live in rural or non-metropolitan areas.
- Speeds: Gigabit internet is the new standard for fast speeds and is much faster than DSL, cable, and satellite internet. With gigabit internet, you can download HD videos in minutes and tune into a video conference in crystal clear quality. We recommend checking your internet speeds with a speed test, as this tells you just how far or close your speeds are from the advertised speeds.
- Data Caps: While many internet providers employ a data cap of some sort, most gigabit internet plans come with generous data caps or unlimited data. If you live in a large household and everyone is an avid streamer or online gamer, unlimited data is a lifesaver. Gigabit internet plans that have data caps will often have data overage fees if you exceed the limit, so unlimited data is another way of potentially saving money.
- Bundles: Bundling your gigabit internet with TV and/or phone services is another way of saving money. Certain ISPs will offer double play or triple play bundles, and at times, you’ll be able to upgrade your internet for free. For example, when you buy a bundle, you may be able to upgrade to faster speeds, unlimited data, or skip out on signing a contract.
- Installation: More often than not, setting up gigabit internet does require professional installation. Although some ISPs offer a self-installation option, gigabit tends to be trickier because most run off the fiber-optic network. After you’ve set up an appointment for a technician to install gigabit internet, you or someone who’s 18 years or older must be present at home. The technician will install a utility box called an optical network terminal (ONT), which carries fiber-optic connection from the larger networks to your area. Once all’s said and done, you’ll want to make sure you have a router that can handle gigabit speeds. The technician will then connect your devices to the Wi-Fi router and you’ll be ready to enjoy blazing fast internet speeds!
Gigabit Internet: Then, Now, and Onward
America has become a gigabit nation, with 80 percent of U.S. households having access to gigabit internet1. Rhode Island, District of Columbia, and Utah are the top three states that have the most gigabit internet coverage. That said, approximately 25 million people are still without fast and reliable broadband, according to the Federal Communications Commission2. As broadband providers shift to 5G networks for mobile users, gigabit internet is on a similar path, with more widespread availability and even faster speeds. In the last decade, speeds have gone from 16 Mbps to 2 Gbps3, so internet providers are racing to employ 10 Gbps speeds in the future. The question is, can internet providers keep their gigabit internet services affordable as speeds improve? We’ll just have to wait and see.
Recap of the Best Gigabit Internet in 2021
Internet users are well on their way to switching over to gigabit internet, as gigabit is the next generation of broadband. While coverage is limited and prices are on the higher end, gigabit internet is a great solution for mega corporations with many employees and large households with heavy streamers or gamers. Here’s a recap of key points to consider when shopping for the best gigabit internet in 2021:
- You can experience gigabit speeds either through cable or fiber internet
- Prices are on the steep side, but you can save more money through bundles
- Gigabit speeds range from 940 Mbps to 2,000 Mbps (2 Gbps)
- Availability for gigabit internet is limited, but ISPs are continually expanding their gigabit services
- Gigabit internet isn’t for everyone, and you can still experience high speed internet at lower speeds
We’ve chosen Xfinity, AT&T Fiber, Verizon Fios, Frontier, and CenturyLink as our top five gigabit internet providers. Still, you might be better off with local providers in your area that offer gigabit speeds. Overall, be on the lookout for gigabit internet because it’s on the move and will probably be accessible in more cities and states very soon.
Frequently Asked Questions About Gigabit Internet
What are the best speeds for gigabit internet?
The best speeds for gigabit internet are between 940 to 1,000 Mbps. With these speeds, you can stream Netflix with minimal buffering and play games online with no lag. Gigabit speeds are recommended for large households with heavy internet users.
Who has the best gigabit internet in 2021?
Our top picks for the best gigabit internet in 2021 are Xfinity, AT&T Fiber, Verizon Fios, Frontier, and CenturyLink. If you’re looking for extremely fast speeds, Xfinity’s Gigabit Pro plan offers speeds up to 2,000 Mbps. For the most affordable gigabit internet, AT&T Fiber offers plans for as low as $49.99 per month with speeds up to 1,000 Mbps.
Is it worth getting gigabit internet?
Getting gigabit internet can be worth it if you feel like your household will benefit from it. For instance, if you live in a large household with heavy streamers, online gamers, and file downloaders, you’ll find that gigabit internet improves everyone’s internet experience. However, if gigabit internet is out of your budget, you can still find high speed plans at low costs.
Can you get gigabit speeds over Wi-Fi?
You can get gigabit speeds over Wi-Fi if you have high-quality routers. Some internet providers like Optimum by Altice, AT&T Fiber, and CenturyLink offer routers or modems with Wi-Fi. Otherwise, you can purchase a router elsewhere that’s tough enough to handle gigabit speeds.