Fiber: arguably the most sci-fi of internet types
This is the place where we usually explain what fiber internet is because most of the time fiber seems like just another buzzword.
But do you really want to know how fiber optic cables are made with bundles of hair-thin glass strands? Then we’d have to talk about how data travels in the form of light at the “speed of light through glass”—yes, it’s all very fast, but explaining it takes ages.
If you want to know more about this cool tech, we’ve got a whole article on how fiber is the stuff of sci-fi movies.
But here, we’ll get straight into the best fiber internet providers so you can get all those glass strands hooked up to your house and plug into the fastest, most-reliable internet connection around.
Best fiber internet
Specs and features comparison
|Provider||Max download speed range||Price range*||Customer satisfaction||View plans|
|Verizon Fios||100–up to 940 Mbps||$39.99–$79.99/mo.**||4.17/5|
|Optimum Altice Fiber||200–940 Mbps||$44.99–$74.99/mo.||3.92/5|
|AT&T Fiber||100–1,000 Mbps||$50–$90/mo.||4.09/5|
|Frontier FiOS||50–1,000 Mbps||$30–$200/mo.||3.99/5|
*Data effective 3/5/19. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
**w/ Auto Pay for 1 yr + taxes, equip. charges, & other fees.
Customer satisfaction scores come from our “Best Internet Providers of 2019” survey. See the full article for all the deets.
Fiber internet providers
Verizon Fios – Best in overall satisfaction
Optimum – Best value
AT&T Fiber – Best TV and internet bundles
Frontier FiOS – Best speeds
CenturyLink – Best Price for Life
Companies with fiber technology love to flex their big strong speed muscles, but which one is the best for you? That depends on what you’re looking for in an internet provider and—unfortunately—your address.
You can see which providers offer fiber in your area by entering your ZIP code below:
- High customer satisfaction
- Sign-up incentives
- Speeds that aren’t quite 1 gig
When we surveyed over two thousand people about their internet service, Verizon Fios customers were the most satisfied by far. In fact, Verizon Fios topped the categories in internet speed, reliability, install and setup, customer support, and value.
If Verizon Fios is available in your area, we say go for it. Its price range fits comfortably in most budgets, and Verizon woos new users with extra perks.
We certainly wouldn’t turn down the chance to binge-watch more TV with our internet service.
Between the customer satisfaction and sign-up incentives, there’s a lot to recommend Verizon Fios as the best overall fiber provider.
Best bang for your buck
- Low cost
- Low customer satisfaction
Optimum Altice Fiber is a new contender on the fiber scene, but offering 940 Mbps download speeds for only $74.99 per month definitely makes a splash.
When advertising its new fiber setup, Optimum touts ”next generation technology,” no bulky equipment, and built-in fiber optic Wi-Fi.
So while Optimum customers in this year’s survey weren’t among the most satisfied, maybe this new offering will put smiles on their faces.
But unfortunately, it looks like most of Optimum’s lower speed plans are still cable-based, so if you’re not ready for that gig life and still want the reliability of fiber, we say check another provider on this list.
For gig fans who want a killer price, though, Optimum is a safe bet.
Best TV and internet bundles
- High channel counts
- Included equipment
- Run-of-the-mill DVR
If you’re fans of TV like we are, we think you’ll enjoy a combo of AT&T Fiber internet and AT&T U-verse TV.
While AT&T came in just behind Verizon Fios in both our TV and internet customer satisfaction surveys, we like AT&T U-verse for its high channel counts (up to 550+ channels) and AT&T Fiber for its moderately priced plans with included equipment.
And with AT&T’s four TV packages and three fiber internet plans, you have plenty of choice in building the perfect bundle for your home, which means lots of great evenings chilling with the best TV shows.
Additionally, AT&T’s bundles come with all the equipment included in the price—even the DVR. We think not blindsiding you with equipment costs is a very customer-friendly move, even if that equipment isn’t always top of the line.
So thanks to its generally positive reviews, strong channel lineup, and included equipment, AT&T is our favorite for TV and internet bundles.
- Matched upload/download speeds
- Lower speeds are also fiber
- Expensive plans
Because it operates on light, fiber isn’t a tech type you can call “slow.” But if you want to split hairs to label the fastest fiber provider, it goes to Frontier FiOS.
Frontier FiOS’s strong suit is its matching download and upload speeds. That makes it easier to share large files (like all 10 hours of your vacation footage) or play high-speed online games.
Customers we surveyed weren’t fond of Frontier’s speed, but take that opinion with a grain of salt.
Frontier offers both fiber and DSL services, and DSL is a much slower type of internet, so it’s likely the negative view of Frontier speeds comes from those with DSL service.
But you should cruise along at a good speed if Frontier is called “FiOS” in your area—that’s the name of its fiber brand.
So if you want the fastest download and upload speeds in fiber, go with Frontier.
Best price for life
- Price for Life plans
*Price for Life may not be available in your area
- Only 1 dedicated fiber plan
CenturyLink customers were more satisfied than most with their monthly bills, probably because they cut price hikes out of their lives entirely. With CenturyLink, your sign-up price is one you can keep—forever.
While CenturyLink’s Fiber Internet plan is fiber, its other plans use a combination of DSL and fiber tech. That’s a common industry practice that makes DSL much faster than before, but it still can’t keep up with fiber.
So if you know fiber is the internet type you want, and you never want to see a change in your bill, CenturyLink’s Price for Life 1 Gig is the way for you to go.
Information as of 05/21/2019. Price for Life offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
What to look for in fiber internet
When it comes to fiber internet, you should look for the same things you would with any other type of internet provider:
- Speeds that match your needs
- Affordable prices
- High customer satisfaction
Most fiber internet options come with speeds that comfortably cover today’s internet needs. Download speeds around 100 Mbps will make streaming a breeze, and faster speeds are great for families whose members use the internet at the same time.
Keep in mind that upload speeds are also important, especially if you video chat, play online games, or put big files up online.
While prices vary from provider to provider, there are a couple of benchmarks to keep in mind:
100 Mbps plans average just under $50/mo.
1,000 Mbps or 1 gig plans tend to be just under $100/mo.
And be sure to see how long you can keep the price you signed up with. Some companies offer lower promotional prices for only a year or two, while CenturyLink offers Price for Life plans.
You’ll also want to consider equipment costs. Some plans include a modem/router in the pricing, while others require you to lease them for about $10 per month. That extra fee can be a real pain if you’re not prepared for it.
Be aware of any highlights or pitfalls you can expect with your service provider. Our survey can be a good source for this.
You could also check with online forums, but don’t let a surplus of bad reviews make you despair over your available providers—people are more likely to share negative experiences than positive ones.
Get fiber already
Fiber providers offer some of the most advanced internet service available today. With these incredible speeds, you can say goodbye to buffering and hello to being the last team standing in PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.
However, because of the expense of laying new fiber infrastructure, this service is usually available only in large cities. Check your ZIP code below to see if one of the providers we suggested is available in your area: