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Fiber Optic Internet Providers – Review and Compare

Fiber Optic Internet Providers - Review and Compare

Fiber-optic internet is a relatively new technology, but it has quickly become one of the most sought-after home internet connection types — and for good reason. Compared with DSL, cable and other kinds of internet connections, fiber internet typically offers a faster download speed, significantly faster upload speed and superior reliability. And, with many people now working at home for good, fast and reliable internet is important.

That being said, not all fiber home internet services are the same. Most fiber providers run fiber-optic cables straight to each home serviced (fiber-to-the-home or FTTH), but others stop just short by running fiber “to the curb” or to a main node that serves an entire neighborhood. From there, fiber connections like those will carry service the rest of the way via coaxial or copper cable, which can reduce connection quality and speeds. 

Along with fiber connection specifics like those, you’ll find that prices, speed tiers and terms of service vary among providers, too — and that’s why certain fiber providers stand out above the rest. Each of the best fiber providers listed below use an FTTH network, which all but guarantees the best speed, connection quality and reliability. Additionally, these providers stand out for their customer satisfaction, exceptional pricing, availability and more. We update this list periodically.

Read more: Internet speed: How much do you really need?

Toby Jorrin/Getty Images

  • Price: $35-$60 per month
  • Speeds: 300-940Mbps
  • Data cap: None
  • Contract: None

AT&T has the highest availability of any fiber provider, extending service to more than 36 million potential customers across 21 states. The provider also boasts some of the lowest pricing on fiber internet service and has the cheapest gigabit plan of any major provider. 

At $60 a month for speeds up to 940 megabits per second, the AT&T Fiber 1000 internet plan is hard to pass up, but not every household needs that much speed. Thankfully, AT&T offers two lower-speed tiers: 300Mbps starting at $35 a month and 500Mbps starting at $45 a month. All plans come with unlimited data and require no contract. On the downside, there’s no option to skip the equipment rental fee by using your own modem or router, but it’s only an additional $10 a month, which is among the lowest of any provider, fiber or otherwise. 

The fast speed, relatively low pricing and customer-friendly service terms have earned AT&T high customer satisfaction ratings in recent years. The American Customer Satisfaction Index gave AT&T a score of 68 out of 100 in 2020, second only to Verizon Fios, while J.D. Power named AT&T the best internet provider in the North/Central, South and West regions in 2020.

Read more.

 

Andrew Burton/Getty Images

  • Price: $40-80 per month
  • Speeds: 200-940Mbps
  • Data cap: None
  • Contract: None

Verizon Fios is a close second to AT&T in terms of speed, pricing and service terms, but it lacks the same breadth of coverage. Though available to nearly the same number of potential customers as AT&T Fiber, Verizon Fios only serves the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions. 

I wish Verizon Fios was available in more areas, because the service is hard to beat, especially for those looking for a low-cost fiber connection. Starting at just $40 a month, the lowest-priced Fios internet plan comes with concurrent download and upload speeds of up to 200Mbps. The next speed tier is also a decent value — $60 a month for up to 400Mbps — but gigabit service is priced the same or a few bucks more a month than you’ll find with other fiber providers. At $14 per month, the equipment rental fee is also somewhat higher than most, but unlike AT&T, you can skip it by buying Verizon’s router or by using your own. Verizon also waives the fee if you sign up for a Fios Gigabit plan.

Fees aside, Verizon Fios customers seem happier with their internet service than most, as Verizon is a consistent leader in customer satisfaction. It was the only provider to outscore AT&T in 2020 ACSI ratings with an impressive 73 out of 100, and J.D. Power named Verizon as the best provider in the Northeast.

Read more.

 

Frontier Communications

  • Price: $50-$80 per month
  • Speeds: 50-940Mbps
  • Data cap: None
  • Contract: None

Frontier FiberOptic isn’t as widely available as some of the other providers on the list, but Frontier Communications has recently expanded its coverage to include 19 states. The expansion represents a major improvement for Frontier, as its fiber service was long reserved to select parts of California, Florida, Indiana and Texas.

Like AT&T And Verizon Fios, Frontier FiberOptic plans come with unlimited data and require no contract. Unlike other providers, Frontier rolls the equipment cost into the price, so other than taxes, Frontier plan pricing is very much “what you see is what you pay.” 

Knowing Frontier plans are free of hidden costs, the lowest-priced fiber plan — $50 a month for 50Mbps — is a little less off-putting, but it’s still a bit steep for only 50Mbps. Higher-tiered plans, however, offer more value. $60 a month for 500Mbps and $80 a month for gigabit service (remember, the equipment costs are included) are each as competitively priced as nearly any other internet service provider.

Read more.

 

Windstream

  • Price: $37-$67 per month
  • Speeds: 25-1,000Mbps
  • Data cap: None
  • Contract: None

One disadvantage of fiber-optic service is that it’s typically only available in select neighborhoods of larger cities. If you’re living in the suburbs or a rural area, then your best chance to get fiber-optic internet is likely Kinetic by Windstream.

Windstream is one of the best rural internet providers, bringing high-speed connections to places likely underserved by cable or by other fiber internet providers. Those in a Kinetic service area will also appreciate the low pricing — $37 a month for speeds of up to 200Mbps where available, and gigabit service for only $67 a month — along with unlimited data and no contract requirements.

Robert Alexander/Getty Images

  • Price: $65 per month
  • Speeds: 940Mbps
  • Data cap: 1TB monthly
  • Contract: None

Though AT&T Fiber and Verizon Fios are available to more people, CenturyLink’s fiber network covers more areas, with fiber service that spans an impressive 25 states. Like Windstream, CenturyLink also operates primarily in suburban and rural areas, bringing high-speed fiber connections to areas that may not otherwise have access to one. 

Unfortunately, those in CenturyLink fiber service areas only have one plan option: gigabit service. While more plan options would be nice — especially a lower-priced plan like what you see from AT&T and Verizon Fios — CenturyLink’s gigabit speed plan is still a pretty good deal. At $65 a month for speeds up to 940Mbps, CenturyLink is one of the cheapest gigabit providers.

Read more.

 

Fiber internet honorable mentions

  • EarthLink: EarthLink makes use of the fiber networks installed by other providers or municipal fiber-optic networks, which means available speeds and service quality can vary widely from one region to the next. In select areas, EarthLink offers fiber service with speeds of up to 1 gigabit for around $100 a month.
  • Ziply Fiber: Ziply Fiber came about in May 2020 when Frontier Communications sold its internet networks in Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington to Wave Capital. While the low pricing — $20 a month for speeds of up to 30Mbps and $60 a month for gigabit service — is impressive, it’s too early to determine how Ziply Fiber compares to other major fiber providers. We’re keeping an eye on this one, so stay tuned.
  • Google Fiber: Google Fiber is still around and resuming expansion after a multiyear hiatus. Availability remains limited, but where available, Google Fiber offers gigabit service starting at $70 a month and a 2Gbps plan starting at $100 a month, with no data caps or contracts.
  • Xfinity: Comcast Xfinity’s fiber service is also somewhat limited in availability and offers an impressive max speed of up to 2,000Mbps. The catch? The plan comes with an equally jaw-dropping price of $300 a month.

Let’s sum it up

If fiber internet service is available in your area, it’s probably worth getting, especially if any of the providers listed above are an option. AT&T is easiest to recommend thanks to its high availability, low gigabit cost and favorable service terms, but Verizon Fios is a close second with low pricing and high customer satisfaction. Frontier FiberOptic, Windstream and CenturyLink round out the list of your most ideal options, while other providers like EarthLink, Ziply Fiber and Google Fiber are worth a look, too.

Close up of fiber optic cables

Andrew Brookes/Getty Images

Fiber internet FAQs

Is fiber the best internet to get?

Yes. Fiber-optic internet offers speeds and reliability that other internet connection types simply cannot, and you can get it for around the same monthly price as cable internet or DSL service. The one drawback is availability: Fiber-optic service is only available to about 40% of US residents, according to the Federal Communications Commission.

Is fiber internet expensive?

Starting prices for fiber internet plans typically range from $30-$50 a month, with gigabit service ranging from $60-$80 a month. While there are cheaper plans available with cable or DSL internet service in select areas, fiber service is likely to come with better speed and connection quality for the price.

Read more: The best Wi-Fi router of 2021.

 

When will fiber be available near me?

If fiber hasn’t reached your address yet, I’m sorry to say you’ll just have to be patient, as providers are actively expanding their fiber networks across the US. You’re more likely to see fiber come to your neighborhood if you live in a city or densely populated area, but providers like Windstream and CenturyLink show that fiber access in suburban and rural areas is also obtainable.

Read more: Life in the slow lane: Welcome to the internet in rural America.

 

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