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Fiber Optic Internet Providers – CNET


AT&T Fiber – Best fiber internet provider overall

  • Prices: $55 – $180 per month
  • Speeds: 300 – 5,000Mbps
  • Key Info: Unlimited data, no contracts, equipment included

CenturyLink – Best fiber internet coverage

  • Prices: $30 – $70 per month
  • Speeds: 200 – 940Mbps
  • Key Info: Unlimited data, no contracts, equipment included with gigabit tier

Frontier Fiber – Best low-cost fiber plan

  • Prices: $50 – $155 per month
  • Speeds: 500 – 5,000Mbps
  • Key Info: Unlimited data, no contracts, no equipment fee

Google Fiber – Best fiber internet gig plans

  • Prices: $70 – $100 per month
  • Speeds: 1,000 – 2,000Mbps
  • Key Info: Unlimited data, no contracts, equipment included

Verizon Fios – Best signup bonuses

  • Prices: $50 – $120 per month
  • Speeds: 300 – 2,000Mbps
  • Key Info: Unlimited data, no contracts, free equipment with gig service

Windstream Kinetic – Best for fiber in rural areas

  • Prices: $40 – $70 per month
  • Speeds: 100 – 1,000Mbps
  • Key Info: Unlimited data, no contracts

Ziply Fiber – Fastest fiber internet provider

  • Prices: $40 – $300 per month
  • Speeds: 100 – 10,000Mbps
  • Key Info: Unlimited data, no contracts, fast rural internet connection

What is the best fiber internet overall?

When it comes to fiber internet, you’ll find that prices, speed tiers and service terms vary among providers. That’s why certain fiber ISPs rise above the rest. Out of all of the major providers, I find AT&T Fiber to be the best fiber provider overall due to its variety of high-speed plans, competitive pricing, favorable service terms and broad availability.

AT&T Fiber isn’t the only decent option for fiber internet, however. You’ll find my picks of the best fiber internet providers below. Each of the best internet providers listed below uses a fiber-to-the-home network, which all but guarantees the best connection quality, speed and reliability. Additionally, these providers stand out for their exceptional pricing, availability, customer satisfaction and other factors. We update this list periodically.

Best fiber internet of 2023

Sarah Tew/CNET

AT&T Fiber

Best fiber internet provider overall

Product details


Price range

$55 – $180 per month

Speed range

300 – 5,000Mbps

Connection

Fiber

Key Info

Unlimited data, no contracts, equipment included

AT&T has the greatest availability of any fiber provider, extending service to more than 16 million potential customers across 21 states. The provider also boasts some of the lowest pricing on fiber internet service when you take into account its new multigig tiers

At $180 a month for speeds up to 5,000 megabits per second, AT&T’s Internet 5000 plan boasts a 4-cents-per-Mbps cost that is hard to pass up, but not every household needs that much speed. All plans, from the budget-friendly 300Mbps plan to multigig service, come with unlimited data and require no contract

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 Fiber an industry-leading score of 80 out of 100 for 2023.

Sarah Tew/CNET

CenturyLink

Best fiber internet coverage

Product details


Price range

$30 – $70 per month

Speed range

200 – 940Mbps

Connection

Fiber

Key Info

Unlimited data, no contracts, equipment included with gigabit tier

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. CenturyLink also operates primarily in suburban and rural areas, bringing high-speed fiber connections to areas that may not otherwise have access to them. 

However, people living in CenturyLink fiber service areas only have two plan options: 100 or 200Mbps starting at $30 a month, or gigabit service starting at $70 a month. While more plan options would be nice, CenturyLink’s gigabit speed plan is still a pretty good deal. At $70 a month for speeds up to 940Mbps and no equipment fees, CenturyLink is one of the cheapest fiber providers for gigabit service.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Frontier Fiber

Best low-cost fiber plan

Product details


Price range

$50 – $155 per month

Speed range

500 – 5,000Mbps

Connection

Fiber

Key Info

Unlimited data, no contracts, no equipment fee

Frontier Communications recently expanded its fiber internet coverage to 19 states and then rolled out a new multigig service to the entire footprint all at once, becoming the first major ISP to do so.

Frontier’s new multigig plans are priced competitively at $100 a month for speeds up to 2,000Mbps and $155 monthly for the 5 Gig plan. Even if you don’t need all that speed, the lower tiers — 500Mbps starting at $50 per month and gig service starting at $70 monthly — are as good a value as you’ll find from any major provider.

Frontier Fiber plans come with unlimited data and require no contract. Unlike many other providers, Frontier includes the equipment cost with the price, so other than taxes, Frontier plan pricing is very much “what you see is what you pay.” 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Google Fiber

Best fiber internet gig plans

Product details


Price range

$70 – $100 per month

Speed range

1,000 – 2,000Mbps

Connection

Fiber

Key Info

Unlimited data, no contracts, equipment included

Google Fiber is still around and resuming expansion after a multiyear hiatus. Where available, Google Fiber offers fiber internet service starting at $70 a month and a 2Gbps plan starting at $100 a month. Both come with equipment included at no extra cost, no data caps and no contracts. 

There’s also the newly introduced 5 gig and 8 gig plans for $125 and $150 per month, respectively. Availability is currently limited, but a Google Fiber spokesperson confirmed with CNET that the provider aims to extend the plans to all service areas later this year.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Verizon Fios

Best signup bonuses

Product details


Price range

$50 – $120 per month

Speed range

300 – 2,000Mbps

Connection

Fiber

Key Info

Unlimited data, no contracts, free equipment with gig service

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 primarily serves the mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions. 

Those lucky enough to live in a Verizon Fios service area will likely find the fiber internet service is hard to beat, especially for those looking for a low-cost connection. Starting at just $50 a month, the lowest-price Fios internet plan comes with download and upload speeds of up to 300Mbps. The next speed tier is also a decent value — $70 a month for up to 500Mbps — but at $90 per month, gigabit service is priced the same or a touch higher than you’ll find with other fiber providers. 

Whichever Fios plan you sign up for, expect some enticing extras with your order, like free streaming subscriptions, electronics, gift cards or other promotional offers.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Windstream Kinetic

Best for fiber in rural areas

Product details


Price range

$40 – $70 per month

Speed range

100 – 1,000Mbps

Connection

Fiber

Key Info

Unlimited data, no contracts

One disadvantage of fiber internet 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 internet is likely Kinetic by Windstream. Roughly a third of Windstream’s network — which spans rural and suburban areas across 18 states — is fiber optic.

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.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Ziply Fiber

Fastest fiber internet provider

Product details


Price range

$40 – $300 per month

Speed range

100 – 10,000Mbps

Connection

Fiber

Key Info

Unlimited data, no contracts, fast rural internet connection

Ziply Fiber recently rolled out a 10Gbps plan, effectively making it the fastest major ISP across its Northwest footprint in Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington — if not the fastest provider nationwide. 

As streaming, online gaming and remote working and learning have become more commonplace, faster internet speeds are in high demand. Still, 10Gbps is more than the average household will need. For everyone else, Ziply Fiber offers a range of other speed tiers from 100 to 5,000Mbps.

Read our Ziply Fiber review.

Why opt for fiber internet?

Your internet speeds, reliability and overall experience don’t depend solely on the internet provider you choose. The technology it uses to run service to your home makes a big difference as well.

If I could recommend any internet connection type above all the rest, that’d be fiber. My fiber internet speeds, upload and download, are fast and consistent, even during peak usage times or inclement weather. The standard monthly rate of fiber internet services, while not the cheapest service among internet providers in my area, is still a great value considering the speeds I get.

What to consider when shopping for fiber internet

Fiber internet is the best type of service for most homes, but there’s more to choosing a provider and plan than the connection type. Here are some tips to keep in mind when shopping for fiber internet service.

Availability. You won’t find fiber internet to be available in nearly as many homes as cable, DSL, satellite or even 5G internet. In fact, only around 38% of US households are wired for fiber-optic internet. Availability is scarce in suburban and rural areas, and can vary from one neighborhood to the next in most cities. It’s possible fiber internet is just not available at your home or the address you’re moving to.

Speeds. Fiber internet has the fastest upload and download speed potential of any type of internet. Many of the top providers offer speed tiers up to 2,000Mbps (2Gbps), 5Gbps and higher. While the blazing fast speeds are tempting, they’re likely to be more speed than your home needs. Check out our guide to finding the right internet speed for help selecting a fiber plan that best meets your needs.

Price. If you’re looking for cheap internet, fiber may not be your best option. It’s true that fiber internet plans are often the best value, but you may find cheaper options from cable or 5G providers.

A few fiber providers offer plans with starting prices as low as $30 per month, but you’re more likely to pay at least $50 per month for fiber internet. Cable internet providers including Cox, Mediacom, Xfinity and others have lower-priced plans in many areas. If you are a T-Mobile Magenta Max or Verizon wireless customer, you could get 5G home internet for the discounted price of $25 to $35 per month.

Bundles. Few fiber providers offer a TV service, meaning you may not be able to bundle internet and TV together with the same provider if you choose a fiber internet service. In the days of streaming and cord-cutting, that may not be a deal-breaker for you, but it’s something to keep in mind when shopping for both services.

How we evaluate fiber internet providers

Testing an internet provider the same way CNET tests other products and services is, at best, impractical. Instead, we rely on extensive research of each provider to develop our reviews and recommendations.

When comparing fiber internet providers, availability, speeds and overall value are at the center of our evaluations. We also examine added fees, data caps, contract requirements, customer satisfaction reports and other factors that could affect your quality of service or customer experience.

We refer to the Federal Communications Commission at FCC.gov for availability data and the type of network a provider uses. We then research a provider’s speeds, pricing and service terms through a variety of channels such as the provider’s website and our own historical data. When possible, we contact the provider directly to confirm pricing and speed details.

Finally, to develop a more well-rounded perspective of the provider, we consider customer satisfaction reports from the American Customer Satisfaction Index and J.D. Power, as well as customer reviews and complaints from sources such as the Better Business Bureau, downdetector.com and even Reddit.

Before writing our reviews and compiling best lists, we research anything and everything the typical shopper would want to know prior to signing up for home internet service. Read our piece on how we review internet providers to learn more about our review process.

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.
  • Optimum: Optimum is primarily a cable internet provider, but it does have a growing fiber network, particularly in the greater NYC area. Approximately 1.6 million households are available for fiber service in the area. Fiber plans are priced the same as Optimum’s cable internet service.
  • Xfinity: Comcast Xfinity’s fiber service is also somewhat limited in availability and offers an impressive max speed of up to 6,000Mbps. The catch? The plan comes with an equally jaw-dropping price of $300 a month.

Best fiber internet providers recap

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

Close up of fiber optic cables

Andrew Brookes/Getty Images

Fiber internet FAQs

What is fiber internet?

What is the fastest fiber internet?

Is fiber internet worth the money?

Is fiber the best internet connection type?

Will 5G replace fiber-optic internet?

When will fiber be available near me?