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Fiber Optic Internet Providers
About Fiber Optic Internet Providers
Fiber internet is a broadband connection that runs on light signals from fiber-optic cabling, delivering multigig upload and download speeds. Most providers offer plans that top out at 1,000 Mbps, but some fiber plans go even faster.
Fiber has low latency, so it’s also great for gaming and videoconferencing. And it’s the only type of internet in which users are able to get “symmetrical” upload speeds, meaning the uploads are just as fast as downloads. That makes fiber perfect for working from home, online content creation, and streaming your gaming on Twitch.
Though fiber isn’t widely available, you should go for it if you can get fiber in your area—our own HighSpeedInternet.com data suggests that customers are generally more satisfied with fiber compared to more common connections like cable and DSL internet. We have all the details on fiber plans, prices, speeds, tech specs, and where you can find it below.
Popular fiber internet providers
|Provider||Fiber speeds up to||Price||Customer rating||Availability|
|Up to 2,048 Mbps||$49.99–$119.99/mo.*||3.8/5.0||10 states on the East Coast|
California and 21 other states
|2,000 Mbps||$70.00–$100.00/mo.‡||N/A||12 cities and counties across the|
United States; 7 additional cities have
|940 Mbps||$65.00/mo.§||3.5/5.0||36 states, especially in the South and Midwest|
|2,000 Mbps||$49.99–$149.99/mo. w/Auto |
Pay & Paperless Bill║
|N/A||29 states including California, |
New York, and Texas
Popular fiber internet providers
Data as of 7/01/2022. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
*w/ Auto Pay + taxes.
†Plus taxes. Price after $5/mo Autopay & Paperless bill discount (w/in 2 bills). Monthly State Cost Recovery Charge in TX, OH, NV applies.
‡Terms and Conditions: Plus taxes and fees. Service not available in all areas. If you live in an apartment or condo, Google Fiber’s ability to construct and provide Fiber is subject to the continued agreement between Google Fiber and the property owner. Upload/download speed and device streaming claims are based on maximum wired speeds. Actual Internet speeds are not guaranteed and may vary based on factors such as hardware and software limitations, latency, packet loss, etc
§Rate requires paperless billing. Additional taxes, fees, and surcharges apply. Speeds may not be available in your area. Maximum download/upload speed of up to 940 Mbps via a wired connection.
║per month. One-year agreement, early termination fee, and one-time charge apply. Max speeds are wired. Wi-Fi, actual & average speeds vary.
**w/ Auto Pay & Paperless Bill plus taxes,fees & charges.
††with a 12 month contract.
Most fiber internet providers give you speeds up to 1,000 Mbps, which is usually the fastest connection you can get from any internet type. Some providers also have slower plans, which cost less but still deliver excellent speed and performance. Gigabit fiber speeds (1,000 Mbps or faster) are best for large households and heavy-duty internet users.
On top of fast download speeds, fiber internet also gives you equally fast upload speeds. Fiber is the only internet type that can get you these “symmetrical” upload speeds—cable and DSL providers have exponentially slower uploads. This makes fiber a superior option for doing high-bandwidth activities of all kinds.
Download activities that work best on fiber internet
- Streaming video in 4K
- Downloading large files
- Operating multiple smart-home devices
- Sharing Wi-Fi with a large number of other users
Upload activities that work best on fiber internet
- Attending Zoom meetings
- Uploading large files to cloud servers
- Hosting livestreams
Pros and cons
- Fastest speeds
- Low latency
- Excellent upload speeds
- High customer satisfaction
- Limited availability
- Higher prices
- Lack of competition
Pros of fiber
Fastest speeds—Fiber internet is by far the fastest internet you can get. Most fiber-optic plans hit max speeds up to 1,000 Mbps, but some deliver speeds up to 10,000 Mbps. Fiber speeds remain consistent during heavy usage and far outpace what you get on DSL internet and even some cable internet plans.
Low latency—Fiber is very efficient and built on relatively new infrastructure, which helps reduce the amount of latency you’ll experience over your connection. Latency is the delay (measured in milliseconds) that happens when you send an internet signal from your computer to the larger internet network and vice versa. That could be anything from clicking “Send” on an email to firing a weapon in a fast-paced video game. Fiber’s low latency rates make it especially useful for the high-performance demands of online gaming, livestreams, and video calls.
Excellent upload speeds—Fiber speeds are “symmetrical,” meaning the upload speed is just as fast as the download speed. This is a huge difference from internet types like cable and DSL, whose internet packages give you much slower upload speeds compared to download speeds.
High customer satisfaction—As our annual customer satisfaction survey indicates, internet customers who use fiber service generally have a lot less complaints about things like speed, reliability, and price. Fiber customers reported an overall satisfaction rating of 3.8 out of 5, while cable and DSL customers both gave more middling scores of 3.6. Fiber users also seemed pleased with speed and customer service, giving average scores of 3.9 and 3.8 in those two crucial categories.
Cons of fiber
Limited availability—The main disadvantage of fiber is that it’s hard to find. According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), only 42% of Americans have access to fiber internet where they live.1 Building up fiber internet requires a costly investment of fiberglass cabling and other infrastructure, so many internet providers simply haven’t put in much effort to build out fiber.
Higher prices—While cable internet providers often offer a wide range of speed tiers, fiber internet providers tend to sell a more limited number of packages, with fewer budget options to choose from. Still, some fiber providers offer plans that cost less than $50 a month, and often you can find faster speeds for the same price or even cheaper than cable and DSL.
Low competition—Even though fiber internet is available to 42% of the US population, only 3% of Americans have access to more than one fiber provider in their area.1 Fiber internet providers often serve as local monopolies in the markets where they provide service. As a result, you have less leverage when it comes to advocating for lower prices or better customer service.
The cheapest fiber internet plan is Optimum Fiber Internet 100 for $29.99 per month. It gives you 100 Mbps speeds, which is plenty to support several Wi-Fi users all at once as they Zoom, play online games, and stream in 4K resolution.
There’s some other cheap fiber options too, which we recommend looking into if you’re on a budget. Though you won’t get the fastest-possible speeds on a cheaper plan, you’ll still get reliable service and won’t have to deal with recurring slowdowns and service interruptions like on other internet types.
How fiber internet works
Fiber uses bundled strands of fiberglass to deliver internet to your home. It’s the most reliable internet connection you can get and has better upload speeds than cable and DSL. The fastest fiber plan available today is 10,000 Mbps (10 Gbps), while cable stops at 1,200 Mbps (1.2 Gbps).
So, why is fiber the best? Both light and electricity travel at the same speed in a vacuum, but they slow down when they interact with atoms. But unlike the radio waves used in cable and DSL internet, light signals aren’t affected by radio interference. Fiber by design is simply more efficient and can reach speeds up to 10,000 Mbps—much faster than any other internet type. Fiber networks are newer, too, compared to the aging infrastructure of DSL and cable, which helps boost performance.
Fiber is so reliable that the world’s major data routes and network access points are linked together between oceans and continents through massive bundles of fiber-optic cabling.3 If fiber is good enough for the vast global backbone of the internet infrastructure, then you know it’s the best way to wire up your own home internet.
How fast is fiber internet?
|Download||100 Mbps speed||500 Mbps||1,000 Mbps||2,000 Mbps|
|Small PDF (50 KB)||Less than a second||Less than a second||Less than a second||Less than a second|
|Ebook (2.5 MB)||Less than a second||Less than a second||Less than a second||Less than a second|
|ZIP file of .jpgs (425 MB)||34 seconds||6.8 seconds||3.4 seconds||1.7 seconds|
|HD video file (2 GB)||2.6 minutes||32 seconds||16 seconds||8 seconds|
|Video game (30 GB)||40 minutes||8 minutes||4 minutes||2 minutes|
|Terabyte cloud drive (1 TB)||22 hours||4.4 hours||2.2 hours||1.1 hours|
*Download speeds calculated with OmniCalculator.com.
Fiber internet reaches speeds up to 10,000 Mbps, but most fiber providers offer top speeds of 1,000 Mbps.
To put that in perspective, Netflix recommends just 25 Mbps to stream video in 4K on one device. But supercharged gigabit speeds (1,000 Mbps) give you the ability to perform many more tasks on many more devices simultaneously. That way, you and everyone else on your Wi-Fi will never have to worry about whether your internet speed will slow down or cut out, because it will always be humming smoothly with bountiful bandwidth.
In practical terms, fiber is fast enough to keep up with extremely heavy internet use and a range of advanced online activities. It can also maintain a steady and reliable internet connection for multiple users who need to do speed-intensive tasks over the same Wi-Fi network at the same time.
Fiber is great for any of these tasks:
- Streaming 4K video on numerous devices
- Downloading massive files
- Uploading content to cloud servers and social media accounts
- Gaming online
- Teleconferencing on Zoom
- Connecting multiple smart home devices
What do internet users think of fiber internet?
It’s clear from the results of our most recent customer satisfaction survey that most customers like fiber-optic internet a lot more than other connection types.
The three top-rated internet providers in our survey—EarthLink, AT&T, and Verizon—are all fiber internet providers. They took the first, second, and third spots for overall satisfaction, respectively, and also ranked highly for other crucial categories like internet speed, price, and reliability.
All three of these providers also offer DSL internet. But when you break down the numbers specifically between DSL, cable, and fiber customers, it’s clear that the fiber customers are the most pleased with their service. CenturyLink and AT&T’s fiber customers gave much higher overall ratings compared to the providers’ DSL customers, while Optimum got better rankings for fiber services compared to its cable offerings.
Customer satisfaction was lower in general in our survey, suggesting that many people have been frustrated with their internet in the wake of the grueling COVID-19 lockdown.
But fiber services ranked highest in all of our survey categories. With fiber’s symmetrical speeds and efficient fiber-optic infrastructure, fiber internet users didn’t have to deal with the same problems with congestion, recurring slowdowns, and buffering issues that are far more common with other internet types.
Do you need fiber gigabit speeds?
You don’t need gigabit internet speeds unless you live in a large household (think five people or more), regularly upload very large files to cloud servers, or stream on Twitch.
A big selling point with fiber internet is that it can hit gigabit speeds—anything 940 Mbps or faster. And now, fiber internet providers seem to be rivaling each other in a kind of gigabit arms race, with Google Fiber, AT&T, Ziply, and Frontier all introducing multigigabit plans that range from 2,000 Mbps to 5,000 Mbps. Those speeds are totally unnecessary for the majority of internet users, and the prices are quite high as well.
Fiber internet providers frequently offer plans with more practical speeds of 100 Mbps, 300 Mbps or 500 Mbps, all of which are excellent options for the average household. We recommend aiming to get 25 Mbps for each person who uses Wi-Fi in your household. So if you live with three other roommates or family members, then 100 Mbps is solid.
Is gigabit internet worth it?
Fiber gigabit internet is worth it for the incredibly fast speeds. But make sure you actually need those speeds first—you might be better off with a slower plan that still delivers excellent speeds but costs less.
Naturally, gigabit speeds come at a higher monthly price than slower plans, and the fastest gigabit plans cost well over $100 per month. That’s a lot to pay for a monthly internet bill. But the price may be justified if you share Wi-Fi with a lot of users who all regularly do high-bandwidth activities on multiple devices.
Fiber internet and upload speeds
While most internet providers emphasize the importance of download speeds, fiber internet also delivers record-fast upload speeds. Fiber internet providers can often give you upload speeds of 1,000 Mbps or faster, beating out what cable and DSL providers offer by a wide margin. This makes fiber a lot more useful for upload-centered activities like making video calls, posting to social media, and hosting livestreams.
So, how does this work, exactly? The difference between your download and upload speed has to do with what you’re using it for. When you download data, you get things from the internet. When you upload data, you put things onto the internet.
Examples of downloading data:
- Reading an email
- Watching a YouTube video
- Downloading a game
Examples of uploading data:
- Posting to Twitter
- Joining a Zoom meeting
- Uploading a file to the cloud
Internet users typically spend a lot more time downloading than they do uploading, so cable, DSL, and satellite providers don’t allocate more frequency for uploads. For example, a cable internet package that can get you 1,000 Mbps download speeds may be capable of delivering only 35 Mbps upload speeds.
But since the spread of COVID-19, there’s been a sudden, widespread need for faster upload speeds as more people are stuck at home working, attending online classes, and hosting online versions of live events. In January 2021, acting FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel even proposed raising the federal standard of broadband upload speeds from a measly 3 Mbps to a much more robust 100 Mbps.2
At this point, fiber providers seems to be the only ones willing to give internet users the most high-bandwidth upload speeds possible. That’s yet another reason why we’ve got fiber on our happy list.
Fiber vs. DSL and cable
Fiber, DSL, and cable all transmit internet signals in a similar way—they carry binary signals (computer language) through cables over long distances. But while DSL and cable use copper wires and electrical signals, fiber uses fiber-optic cables and blinking light signals.
The light signals used in fiber are faster and more efficient than electrical signals, and they have fewer issues with signal interference or degradation over long distances. That translates to faster, more reliable internet with very little lag.
Internet types—how are they different?
|Internet type||Speeds||Prices||Availability (% of US population)1|
Data effective as of post date. Pricing and speeds are subject to change. Not all offers available in all areas.
In addition to being more efficient, fiber-optic threads are also thinner than the copper wires used in cable and DSL infrastructure, so more of them can fit into a single cable. This increases the available bandwidth, which prevents network congestion and allows for gigabit speeds for you and everyone else on your street at the same time.
The only problem with fiber is that it’s not widely available. Installing the infrastructure for it is expensive, so internet providers are hesitant to roll it out everywhere. Most fiber networks are in cities, leaving a lot of the US to settle for older technology.
Where can I get fiber internet?
You can get fiber internet from more than 200 fiber internet providers in the US, but those providers are found mainly in cities. According to FCC data, about 42% of the US has access to fiber internet. But the actual number is possibly lower, considering the unreliable way the FCC collected that data.4
Want to see if you can get fiber in your area? Type in your zip code below to see what’s available.
Google Fiber availability
Google Fiber is available in 19 cities across the US, though some of the cities offer service only to apartments or condos.
These cities have access to Google Fiber internet services:
- Atlanta, GA
- Austin, TX
- Charlotte, NC
- Des Moines, IA
- Huntsville, AL
- Kansas City, MO/KS
- Nashville, TN
- Orange County, CA
- Provo, UT
- Salt Lake Valley, UT
- San Antonio, TX
- The Triangle, NC
These cities are Google Fiber Webpass cities with internet access for apartments and condos:
- Chicago, IL
- Denver, CO
- Miami, FL
- Oakland, CA
- San Diego, CA
- San Francisco, CA
- Seattle, WA
Frontier fiber availability
Frontier Communications offers internet services in 25 states, but its fiber internet services are present only in certain areas. The rest of the provider’s service area gets DSL.
Some states that previously had fiber internet from Frontier now have it through a provider called Ziply. In May 2020, Frontier sold its operations in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana to Ziply.5
Vantage by Frontier is present in parts of seven states:
- New York
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
Verizon Fios availability
Verizon’s Fios fiber internet service is available in 19 metro areas on the East Coast.
- Albany, NY
- Baltimore, MD
- Boston, MA
- Buffalo, NY
- Harrisburgh, PA
- Long Island, NY
- New Jersey
- New York City, NY
- Norfolk, VA
- Philadelphia, PA
- Pittsburgh, PA
- Plattsburgh, NY
- Providence, RI
- Richmond, VA
- Salisbury, MD
- Staten Island, NY
- Syracuse, NY
- Washington, DC
AT&T offers fiber internet services in 21 states. It offers both DSL and fiber internet, but its fiber network is concentrated mostly around urban areas, while it provides DSL internet for more rural locations.
Fiber internet FAQ
What is Google Fiber?
Google Fiber is a fiber-optic internet service provider (ISP) operating in 18 cities across the US. The ISP offers internet speeds up to 1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps) for residential customers as well as business internet plans. None of its residential internet plans have contracts or data caps, and it provides free installation.
Google Fiber also offers fiber TV and home phone services in a few markets.
What is AT&T Fiber?
AT&T Fiber Internet offers speeds ranging from 300 Mbps to 1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps). It’s one of two types of internet service that AT&T offers: DSL and fiber. The internet provider’s fiber internet service is faster and more reliable. It isn’t as widely available as the DSL service, but we recommend it if it’s available in your area.
You can bundle TV and home phone services with your AT&T internet plan. The company also offers mobile service.
How much does Google Fiber cost?
Google Fiber internet plans start at $70 per month for 1,000 Mbps speeds and go up to $100 per month for 2,000 Mbps speeds.
What is gigabit internet?
Gigabit internet is any internet connection that can transfer one gigabit of data per second (1 Gbps or 1,000 Mbps). A bit is a single piece of internet data, and a gigabit is one million bits.
Are fiber internet and gigabit internet the same thing?
Many fiber-optic internet providers offer gigabit speeds, but fiber internet and gigabit internet are not the same thing. Fiber refers to the type of internet, while gigabit refers to the speed. It is possible to have gigabit internet that is not fiber—for example, many cable internet providers offer gigabit internet speeds. And many fiber internet providers offer slower speed tiers.
But even if it doesn’t offer gigabit speeds, fiber internet is still the best option for fast upload speeds, minimal network congestion, and low latency.
How do I get fiber internet?
You can get fiber internet if it’s available in your area. But unless you already live in an area with fiber internet service, it will be difficult to get connected to fiber. If you live close enough to a fiber service area, you might be able to convince your local provider to run a dedicated line to your home, but that could cost thousands of dollars.
If you’re not sure whether you live in a fiber area or not, run your zip code in our tool to check for fiber internet providers near you.
Do I need fiber internet for home security systems?
You don’t need fiber internet for a home security system.
A fiber connection comes in handy for Wi-Fi–connected home security systems and security devices like Nest cameras and Ring doorbells. Fiber’s fast speeds and symmetrical uploads ensure you get a smooth connection and make it a lot less likely you’ll experience a security breach due to a lost connection. However, many of these tools also work well over cable internet, so long as you have adequate speeds.