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Home / Tips and Tricks / Best Internet Service Providers in 2019: How to Select Cable vs. DSL vs. Satellite and more

Best Internet Service Providers in 2019: How to Select Cable vs. DSL vs. Satellite and more

  AT & T Fiber can boast high upload speeds, but in this promotional mailing only download speeds are mentioned.

Stephen Shankland / CNET

In 2019, the high-speed Internet service will be just as important as other utilities such as electricity and water. It is the gateway for everything from education to news, food to dating and for all kinds of entertainment, from music to games – and even what we once called "television." For most Americans, a reliable and fast Internet connection is a staple of both work and family life today. The US ranks 10th among the countries with the highest average Internet speed (18.7 megabits per second or Mpbs). see PDF Report 2017). To the chagrin of citizens and politicians, high-speed Internet is not yet widely available. We can not even agree on the extent of the problem. According to the FCC, around 7% of the US population – that is 19 million Americans – still has no access to a broadband connection. A recent survey by research firm NPD Group assumes a much higher estimate: 100 million Americans have no access to Internet speeds of 25 Mbps or more.

Read more: Life on the Slow Track: Welcome to the Internet in Rural America

However, the majority of Americans have access to at least one type of high-speed service. Mostly it is a cable, Internet or digital subscriber line connection (commonly referred to as DSL). If you are lucky, it is fiber. If you're less fortunate, it's a satellite or fixed LTE connection. As a last resort for those in remote rural areas, there is a dial-up. And now 5G options are appearing. To classify the various types of Internet services from fastest to slowest Internet:

Comparing Internet Service Types

Many variables play a role in selecting an Internet service provider. To make matters worse, these variables – speed, cost, reliability and customer service – can vary from place to place. Even though the service provider is identical, the experience may not be: The Oakwood Comcast experience may be fundamentally different from Comcast Atlanta, just as the McDonalds may have a different experience in your hometown than the one in both of them serve the same menu.

For this reason, we do not try to recommend the best internet service provider for you based on the national download speeds or prices, but go another way. We're leaving whistle-out, a comparison shopping vendor, with the heavy lifting in terms of speed and pricing for vendors in your area (see below). And we've spent our time trying to identify the pros and cons of the technology in question and some general buy recommendations.

Please note that CNET may receive part of the revenue from the sale of the services offered on this site.

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<h2>  Fiber </h2>
<li>  Typical Bandwidth: Download 50-1,000 Mpbs </li>
<li>  Average Service Price Range: $ 50-100 per month </li>
<p>  Fiber optic cables are the backbone of the global telecom system, serving as the main line of access for most Internet Cable TV and telephone services in the world. Until recently, fiber was used exclusively to connect cities and countries. Over the past decade, some providers in some cities have begun to expand fiber optics into individual residential and commercial properties. </p>
<p>  The Fiber Optic Internet Service provides the fastest and most reliable Internet connection at speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second for downloading <em> and uploading </em>. This is orders of magnitude faster than the typical cable or DSL connection. Unfortunately, a fiber optic network is unlikely to be a viable option for you in the near future, unless you live in a large conurbation in the US. About 25% of the US population currently has access to it. </p><div><script async src=

If you live in a location that supports fiber optic internet, you're in luck. Fiber Optic Broadband offers everything you expect from an Internet connection: symmetric speed – equivalent to download or upload performance. Reliability; robust signal strength; and super-low latency. Although the main fiber line may be shared between households or businesses, it is unlikely that customers will experience the speed losses associated with other types of shared connections during peak hours. Whether you're streaming videos, uploading large files to the cloud, or playing the latest online games, a fiber optic link provides fast, consistent performance with an almost imperceptible delay.

Fiber professionals:

  • Extremely fast download speeds, low latency, reliable service
  • No data limits
  • The best option for data-intensive applications such as video streaming and gaming

Fiber disadvantages:

  • Requires a professional installation
  • Less vendors
  • Very limited availability

The major telecommunications companies such as AT & T, Comcast and Verizon are building their fiber infrastructure in the US continue out. And other companies are also entering the business. Google Fiber is available to residents of Atlanta, Charlotte, Kansas City, and a handful of other cities. However, it is expected that the great fiber rollout, which has a variety of technical problems, will last for years.

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Taylor Martin / CNET


  • Typical Bandwidth: Download 25-200Mpbs
  • Average Service Price Range: $ 50 to $ 150 per Month

Cables generally offer higher speeds than all other types of Internet services except fiber optic option for activities high bandwidth such as streaming video and music, playing games and downloading (or uploading) large files. It will be delivered on the same physical line as the cable television service – and some providers will offer discounts if you sign up for both. Although available in most parts of the US, the cable Internet market is generally (at best) an oligopoly, with two large companies dominating most states or regions, or (at worst) a monopoly of just one licensed service provider. This can lead to high prices, poor service and the existential agony of supporting a business that you despise.

Cable professionals:

  • Fixed, stand-alone connection
  • Faster and more reliable than DSL, satellite or dial-up
  • Suitable for data-intensive applications such as video streaming and online gaming

Cable Disadvantages: [19659019] Neighborhoods share the bandwidth, so heavy use by others may affect the connection speed during peak hours.

  • Installation fees and monthly service can be expensive.
  • Not available everywhere.
  • Most cable companies charge between $ 50 and $ 150 per month for service, depending on where you live and the level of service you choose. I'm paying $ 65 a month for Spectrum's standard cable Internet service, which offers speeds starting at 100 Mbps. In fact, I get about 45 Mbps for download speeds and 10 Mbps for uploading over Wi-Fi (and closer to 65 Mbps and 10 Mbps if connected directly to the router). As with any type of Internet service – and with each service provider – your own mileage varies.

    On the positive side, the cable Internet service generally has no data restrictions. This means that you can consume as much bandwidth as you want without being subject to the additional costs associated with other types of Internet services. And a tip: Given that many vendors charge an additional fee to rent a combined modem / router, you can potentially save a few bucks and improve your speed and performance by purchasing your own router.

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    Amanda Kooser / CNET


    • Typical Bandwidth: Download 40-50 Kbps (that is Kilobytes per second)
    • Average Service Price Range: US $ 5 to 20 per month

    An There are not many reasons to recommend the dial-up Internet. Less and less vendors offer it and it is only the last resort for the most rural and remote regions. The only requirement for dial-in is access to the telephone service. If you have a landline connection, you can access the Internet.

    Dial-Up Benefits:

    • Inexpensive
    • Runs over a landline telephone network
    • Multiple providers
    • Widely used

    Dial-up issues:

    • Some plans limit the number of attendees hours in which You may be online
    • Extremely slow download and upload speeds
    • You can not use both phone and internet at the same time (unless you have multiple lines)
    • Landline connection required

    But – like those in one certain age from the beginnings of AOL, Prodigy and their dial-in contemporaries know – the connection is extremely … agonizing … devastatingly slow. Nowhere else can you do anything fast enough than load a simple website or send an e-mail.

    A handful of vendors – including NetZero, EarthLink, and Juno – continue to provide dial-up access, and the largest name in the dial-up game, AOL, offers a range of plans. The monthly price for entry-level service is just $ 4.99 and provides 5 hours of connectivity. The world-class Internet fare, which costs $ 19.99 a month, provides unrestricted access.

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    Imaginechina / Corbis


    • Typical Bandwidth: Download 5-45Mpbs
    • Average Service Price Range: $ 40- $ 80 per month

    DSL is technically considered broadband Internet. And although DSL may be considerably faster than dial-up, it is also considerably slower than one would expect from a wired connection. This is sufficient for basic productivity tasks such as surfing the Internet and sending e-mail, but not fast enough for data-intensive tasks such as streaming videos or playing online games.

    DSL benefits:

    • Generally available
    • Multiple providers
    • Relatively inexpensive
    • Bandwidth is dedicated and not shared with neighbors

    DSL Disadvantages:

    • Particularly Low Link Speeds Uploading Data
    • Speed ​​and performance depend on the proximity to your service provider.
    • Like telephone services that can be disturbed by weather conditions.

    However, DSL is widely used because it operates over a telephone infrastructure. Although the Internet runs on the fixed network, it is transmitted at a higher frequency, so you can connect to the Internet and make phone calls at the same time.

    Note that there are two types of DSL connections: Balanced connections that offer the same speeds for downloading and uploading data. and asymmetric, which gives you faster download speeds – which is the lion's share of most people's Internet activity – than uploading.

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    CNET / Marguerite Reardon

    Fixed Wireless LTE

    • Typical Bandwidth: 5-10 Mbps
    • Average Service Price Range: $ 50- $ 85 / month

    Fixed LTE Internet services are transmitted by the same wireless towers that enable LTE mobile communication , In rural areas where there is no reliable wired Internet service but where cell towers exist, it is more common for you to install a dedicated antenna on or near your home.

    Fixed LTE wireless benefits:

    • Provides adequate broadband Internet service in rural and remote areas.
    • Does not require any cable or line infrastructure connected to the house.

    Requires the installation and setup of a professional antenna.

  • Physical and geographical obstacles can reduce speed.
  • Can be expensive and / or require a multiyear service contract.
  • Often dependent on data restrictions and / or high overage fees.
  • Higher latency than faster wired services such as cable and fiber
  • At some point, the next generation of wireless technology, 5G, will be available in some fixed wireless networks. (More on that below.) But 5G and fixed Wi-Fi are not synonymous. Not all fixed wireless networks support 5G. And not every 5G network is necessarily a fixed wireless network.

    Currently, fixed LTE can be one of the most expensive types of Internet services, as it usually contains a limit on the amount of data that you can download each month. additional fees will follow if you exceed your allowance. For example, one of AT & T's fixed LTE service plans costs $ 50 per month for 215 GB of data – plus $ 10 for each additional 50 GB increase. The monthly price for Verizon's Internet Entry Price is $ 80 per month (including a monthly fee of $ 10) for 8GB of data plus $ 15 for each additional 1GB of data.

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    Eric Mack / CNET


    • Typical Bandwidth: Download 10-30 Mbps
    • Average Service Price Range: $ 50- $ 150 per month

    How about an Internet connection being transferred from space? Satellite Internet service is exactly what it sounds like: a dish placed on or around your home sends and receives signals from a service provider's hub via a satellite orbiting the earth. Most satellite Internet service providers, such as Viasat or HughesNet, rely on a handful of large satellites in a geostationary orbit about 35,000 kilometers above the earth.

    Satellite Professionals:

    • Widely used, even in rural and remote areas.
    • Several vendors usually run at competitive prices.

    Satellite Disadvantages:

    • Requires installation of a satellite dish on or near your home
    • Can be expensive and / or require a multiyear service contract.
    • Data limitations can lead to costly overcharges or lower speeds.
    • Delayed and prone to failure.

    Although a satellite Internet connection normally exists It is not always robust enough for modern applications. Latency can be a serious problem, and streaming video and games can be impossible when data is being re-transmitted to space.

    It is worth noting that Elon Musk's SpaceX is currently building and launching a new network of 12,000 satellites to enable commercial Internet access via satellite. But it is probably too early to endure to the end. Musk does not expect the service to be operational by the middle of the next decade.

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    New but not yet widely used: 5G

    • Typical Bandwidth: 250-4,000 Mpbs
    • Average Service Price Range: To Be Established

    The Next Generation of Mobile Radio Technology – Hence the Fifth Generation 5G – promises a new era of Internet access, first on mobile phones and then at home, with dramatic improvements in network speed, network coverage and responsiveness. CNET has already tested early 5G speeds in several cities around the world, from Los Angeles to Seoul. And although it is far from perfect at the moment its potential is clear and the wait may be worthwhile.

    Example: The Verizon network has seen speeds in excess of 1 gigabit per second in some regions – 10 to 100 times faster than traditional cellular connections. That's even faster than the speed that a physical fiber link provides to your home. And it's not all about speed: 5G networks have extremely low latency. So there is virtually no break between clicking on the link and loading the website or video. Sounds good, eh?

    5G Pros:

    • High Speed, Low Latency
    • Own Bandwidth (No Sharing with Neighbors), No Data Limitations
    • Excellent for data-intensive applications such as video streaming and games

    5G Disadvantages:

    • Nationwide rollout running
    • Untested technology
    • Disturbing signal strength

    However, as with previous generations of broadband, it will take years to replace 5G 4G. The new network will be the first to apply to the next generation of high-end phones. In the future, carriers will expand the broadband offering to private and business Internet users. However, before, installers must provide special high-speed broadband devices that can receive the 5G signals and turn them into a home or business Wi-Fi connection for your other devices to access. (Note that 5G and Fixed Wireless are not synonymous.) Not all Fixed Wireless networks support 5G, and not every 5G network needs to be a Fixed Wireless network.)

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    In Progress:
    Look at this:

    Is 5G coming to a town near you?


    Verizon's 5G broadband service costs $ 50 for mobile subscribers and $ 70 for everyone else – more or less in line with other broadband services. (Here you can find out if you are eligible for broadband.) AT & T's 5G mobile service is free for select customers in the first 90 days. The company then calculates $ 499 for a special 5G hotspot – plus $ 70 per month for a broadband plan with a data cap of 15GB.

    Tips for Choosing an Internet Service Provider

    • Contact Your Neighbors: Ask which service and which providers other people in your area use (and avoid).
    • If possible, buy your own modem / router: Many vendors charge an additional fee to rent a combined modem / router. You may be able to save a few dollars (and possibly improve your speed and performance) with a newer, better router that you own .
    • Pay attention to peak prices after expiration of the "special offers": Many suppliers offer monthly introductory prices for the first 12 months. The price you pay afterwards is the actual price of your service.
    • Be aware of data restrictions: Exceeding the monthly data download threshold can lead to costly overpricing.
    • Set off for a lower bill: If there are multiple vendors in your area, you may be able to use an alternative vendor's offer to lower the price of your current monthly service.
    • Consider cutting the line for additional savings: Check out CNET's list of the best live TV streaming services from for ways to lower yours Cable Calculation

      Other Aspects to Consider When Using the Internet Service

      The slowest part of your home network – including the modem, router, and the device you are using (eg, a TV, laptop, phone, etc.) and your service provider – is what ultimately determines Speed ​​and strength of your connection. A super fast router does not help a laptop with outdated network hardware, and a slow internet service hinders all your online activity – from streaming services like Netflix and Spotify, to surfing the internet, to sending e-mails.

      In addition to the type of service you choose, there are a number of other factors that determine the quality and speed of your Internet connection. When a company advertises "speeds starting at X Mbps," it does not necessarily mean that you can reach that speed consistently.

      Your neighbors' Wi-Fi, older devices, walls, floors, and even your microwave can affect your Wi-Fi signal. Most Internet service providers offer a modem / router combination that you can rent. However, you can also purchase your own router, add an extender if you need extra network coverage, or try out an entire home Wi-Fi system. Even if you are unfamiliar with networks, you can adjust some settings to improve performance in case of problems.

      Originally published on July 28th.
      Fixed on July 30: Corrects the use of megabits per second (Mbps) and illustrates the nature of common fiber optic cables.

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