Looking for more information before you commit to an internet plan? We’ve got you covered:
Best Internet Service Providers in Your Area
What are the best internet providers?
We’ve spent time researching top ISPs, and the internet service providers listed below are our top 5 choices:
The 5 top internet providers in the US
There are many different ISPs for homeowners and renters to choose from nationwide. The variety is great, but it can make narrowing down the best one in your area a little tedious.
The most notable internet providers we went with in this list encompass a wide range of availability, which is important to many homeowners and renters.
At the same time, you don’t have to disqualify providers limited to your town or county. Local providers like ALLO and Google are certainly worth considering if they offer internet for your area. Want more information on the best local ISPs? Take a look at Reviews.org’s list of the fastest ISPs. And hey, it’s your internet. You do you.
How much speed do you need?
Not sure what internet speed you need? Your download speed depends on three big things: how many people in your household are using the internet at the same time, what they are spending their time doing online (gaming, working from home, streaming movies, etc.), and how many devices are hooked up to your internet.
Simply put, more people on multiple devices means more download speed.
How many people use your internet?
There are many reasons why multiple people in a single household use the internet, whether running an online business, getting information for school, or enjoying a family movie night. Here is a list of recommended internet speeds for the number of device users per household:
- 1–2 people: 50–100 Mbps
- 2–4 people: 100–500 Mbps
- 4+ people: 500 Mbps or faster
This handy broadband internet speed test will help you figure it out. If your internet connection is buffering a lot or you’re running into other internet problems, that is a clear sign that you might need more internet speed.
What do you use the internet for?
Some activities require more internet speed than others. Let’s say you’re streaming video in HD—you’ll need 5 Mbps (megabits per second). Here are some recommendations for baseline speeds:
How much speed you need for online activities
Streaming video in low definition (480p)
Streaming video in SD (720p)
Streaming video in HD (1080p)
Streaming video in Ultra HD (4K)
Video calls (Skype, Zoom, etc.)
Downloading large files (PDFs, high-res photos, etc.)
Emailing, web browsing, and social media
How many devices are connected to the internet?
Be sure to think about other connected devices, like your home security system. You wouldn’t want slow internet speed to affect your home’s safety!
You’ll need more download speed for every device in your home. General rule of thumb: add the following Mbps per device to calculate your home’s total internet speed:
- Connected devices without cameras: Minimum 5 Mbps per device
- Connected devices with cameras: Minimum 10 Mbps per device
- Home security systems without cameras: Minimum 40 Mbps
- Home security systems with cameras: Minimum 100 Mbps
Home security is essential, and there can be many components involved in a home security system. We’ve listed different internet speeds to ensure your detectors, cameras, and even fully monitored alarm systems work when you need them the most.
It’s super easy to forget a connected device when trying to figure out how many you have in your home. Here are the top devices to account for when it comes to determining the right download speed for your home:
- Cellphones and tablets
- Smart home hubs (Google Home, Amazon Echo, Samsung SmartThings)
- Smart TVs
- Gaming systems (Nintendo, Xbox)
- Smart appliances (washing machines, dishwashers, ovens)
- Smart accessories (speakers, cameras, thermostats)
How much data do you need?
Data caps have a big impact on your internet and how much it costs. Most of us, though, won’t go over one terabyte (TB) per month, which is the magic number that most major internet service providers offer.
Depending on your needs, sometimes you’ll get stuck with lower data caps. When in doubt, double-check to see how much your internet plan provides.
One terabyte of data is equivalent to 1,000 gigabytes (GB) of data. That means 1 TB equates to 1,000,000 megabytes (MB). Whoa, that’s a ton of data.
1 TB = 1 thousand GB = 1 million MB
What online activities use the most data?
Your data usage all depends on what you’re doing online. For example, making a Zoom call requires less speed than downloading a bunch of high-resolution photos onto your desktop. Here are the data calculations for typical online activities:
Data usage for online activities
One email with attachments
Playing an online game
Browsing the web
Streaming SD video
Streaming HD video
Streaming 4K video
Which ISPs have data caps?
As we said earlier, many of the larger ISPs apply data caps while others are going big with unlimited data. Here are more specifics about data caps from those large ISPs:
ISP data caps
How to save money on internet
Internet isn’t always cheap, particularly when you need top-notch download speeds. Still, there’s more than a few ways you can cut costs on your internet bill:
- Get only as much internet speed as you use—don’t shell out extra for speed you won’t need.
- Use your own router and modem.
- Bundle your internet with mobile service, TV, or home security.
- Look at prices from other ISPs and see how they compare.
- Narrow down monthly charges you can negotiate.
- Ask about discounts and special promotions.
- Look for government reductions and lower-cost internet plans.
- Make sure you’re using your Wi-Fi—not data—and cancel that unlimited plan.