Which Wi-Fi Is Best in My Area?
If you’ve considered switching internet service providers (ISPs), you may ask yourself, “What’s the best Wi-Fi in my area?” ISPs are more prepared than ever to provide the speed you need for streaming, gaming and downloading large files.
However, depending on where you live, you may be overwhelmed by the available options — or struggling to find an ISP that can provide internet to your rural address.
Here’s how to tell which is the best Wi-Fi for your area.
The Top ISPs in the U.S.
These ISPs offer internet plans to addresses around the country. Residents of most suburban and urban areas should be covered by at least one of these service providers. However, rural customers in certain parts of the country may not have access to some or any of these ISPs.
AT&T is one of the biggest ISPs in the U.S. and offers some of the best-value internet plans.
If AT&T fiber is available at your address, it probably provides the lowest cost per megabit per second (Mbps) of anyone in your area. However, not everyone needs that kind of speed, and AT&T doesn’t offer fiber to its entire coverage area.
Pricing for AT&T starts at $55 per month for a 100 Mbps plan. A 1,000-Mbps fiber or gigabit plan will begin at $80 per month.
2. Comcast Xfinity
Comcast is one of the largest providers in the United States, meaning you should be able to count on its internet being available in most states and municipal areas.
Comcast’s plans start at $30 per month for a 100-Mbps plan. The company’s gigabit plan will begin at around $80 per month.
Comcast caps internet usage for customers in certain states, unlike many other major providers. If you exceed the data cap on your plan, you’ll be subject to fees in addition to your monthly subscription cost. In 2023, the company will expand these caps to customers in an additional 12 states.
You may want to investigate other options if you use a lot of data. If not, Comcast may be as good an option as any.
3. Charter Spectrum
Spectrum is another major cable internet provider and offers high-speed internet plans in much of the country.
Pricing for Spectrum starts at $50 per month for a 100-Mbps plan. Spectrum’s gigabit plans begin at around $110 per month. These offerings come without a data cap, meaning you can use the internet as much as you want without needing to pay more.
Verizon offers high-speed internet with pricing comparable to other major ISPs. The company is generally considered one of the best for customer satisfaction, making it a good option for people who want speedy and reliable customer service.
Pricing for Verizon plans starts at $40 per month for 200 Mbps. A gigabit plan from Verizon starts at $80 per month.
Good for Rural Areas: Rise Broadband
Rise offers coverage to rural areas that other providers may not serve. If you’re struggling to find an ISP where you live, Rise may have a plan for you.
The company offers fixed wireless internet access, provided via a wireless antenna system. Rise installs an antenna with a radio receiver/transmitter on the roof of your building. This antenna points toward a local tower that connects you to the internet. Your radio receiver/transmitter beams information to the tower, which communicates with the internet.
Pricing for these fixed wireless plans starts at $35 per month. Available speeds range from 5 to 50 megabits per second. These speeds aren’t especially fast, and even the speediest plan will provide below-average rates. However, 50 Mbps should be enough for basic internet use and some types of online gaming.
Data-capped and unlimited plans are available.
The company’s coverage spans 16 states and includes many rural and suburban areas.
Satellite Internet Option: ViaSat and HughesNet
None of the above ISPs may offer service to your address, or you may be able to buy internet from one or two of those providers, but the rates they offer don’t seem so great.
There are two major satellite internet providers in the U.S.: ViaSat and HughesNet. These companies provide internet via a satellite dish they install at your home.
Both providers charge around $50 to $150 per month for service, and they offer internet speeds between 10 and 100 Mbps. However, neither company provides unlimited services.
How Much Speed Do I Need?
The average American internet speed is 99.3 Mbps. That’s fast enough to support a household of four streaming HD videos simultaneously, operate five smart devices or download a 3-gigabyte file in around five minutes. It’s fast, but not extraordinarily fast.
The fastest available internet in most cities will be a gigabit plan. About 1,000 or more gigabits per second should allow you to do just about anything you want without much lag or buffering.
Most users won’t need this much speed, even if they regularly use the internet for streaming, downloading large files or online gaming.
Online gamers and large households may want to buy a plan that provides 100 to 500 Mbps, then consider a faster one if they start running out of bandwidth.
Casual users can get away with very slow plans. If you live alone and only use the internet to browse sites or check your email, you may be able to use one in the 0 to 5 Gbps range.
What’s the Best Wi-Fi in My Area?
If you’re shopping for a new internet plan, one of the major ISPs — like AT&T, Comcast, Charter or Verizon — probably has you covered. You can also buy satellite internet or a Rise plan in rural areas. Large ISPs will offer the fastest speeds, but they may not be available in every part of the country. A little bit of digging should uncover the perfect plan for you.