Cable TV continues to fall by the wayside as more and more viewers are choosing streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu to stream their favorite programs. That makes your internet critical, which is why many internet service providers are stepping up to the plate with impressively high speeds.
Finding the best and cheapest internet provider for streaming is an entirely different matter, however. With so many options to choose from, it can be difficult to determine who offers the fastest speeds at the best prices.
We can help.
These are the best internet providers for streaming in 2020.
Internet providers and plans compared
|Provider||Price range||Services offered [DSL, Cable,Fiber, Satellite]||Download speed range||Data cap|
|AT&T Internet||$39.99 – $49.99||DSL, Fiber||10-1000 Mbps||Fiber: UnlimitedDSL: 1TB|
|CenturyLink||$49 – $65||DSL, Fiber||10-940 Mbps||Fiber: UnlimitedDSL: 1TB|
|Frontier||$27.99 – $74.99||DSL, Fiber||50 -1000 Mbps||Unlimited|
|Spectrum||$49.99||Cable, Fiber||200-940 Mbps||Unlimited|
|Verizon||$39.99 – $79.99||DSL, Fiber||200-940 Mbps||Undisclosed|
|Viasat||$50 – $100||Satellite||12-30 Mbps||Unlimited|
|Xfinity||$24.99 – $299.95||Cable, Fiber||15-2000 Mbps||1.2TB|
*Coverage, services and pricing may vary based on your zip code.
Streaming on popular services
How to stream on AT&T Internet
AT&T Internet includes just a single plan for Fiber, the Internet 1000, but then you have your pick from several other plans that range from 10 Mbps all the way up to 1000 Mbps with fiber. Unique are the low-speed Basic plans, available with 0.8Mbps to 5Mbps, which is excellent for light streamers.
AT&T Internet is also great for households with higher usage that need faster speeds. There’s 1TB of data with DSL plans and unlimited data with fiber plans, allowing up to stream on up to 12 devices with 99% reliability. It’s performance you can count on.
How to stream on CenturyLink
CenturyLink internet includes residential, small business and enterprise options, so it has the power and tools to handle demanding streaming needs. There is the Price for Life guarantee, which is an attractive feature to any consumer with locked-in pricing for life with plans of up to 940 Mbps for its fiber gigabit options. If you book online, you can benefit from free installation with free modem rentals.
In addition to already low pricing, CenturyLink has no contracts for internet plans with monthly payment options. There are also no cancellation fees and no credit checks.
How to stream on Frontier
Frontier Internet plans start at 50 Mbps. There is an option for fiber, or you can opt for Vantage Internet, which maxes out at 115 Mbps. Frontier covers all of your needs and includes unlimited data, no matter what you choose. You also get rate lock protection for two years, which isn’t nearly as long as CenturyLink but still better than many other companies. The availability is great, too – you will find Frontier in many areas where other companies are not yet servicing.
How to stream on Spectrum
Even better, there are over half a million WiFi hotspots that you can use when you are on the move.
Billing is super reasonable – there is no cost for your modem, and you get free antivirus software in addition to unlimited data. Spectrum will also help you out of your current contract with a $500 buyout. The customer service could use some work, and it’s not the cheapest. You’ll pay more than $100 if you opt for the fastest plan with 940 Mbps.
How to stream on Verizon
With Verizon, you have the option of FIOS or 5G Ultra Wideband Internet. With 99.9% network reliability, it’s reliable service, too. There is free professional installation, and DIY set up is available in some areas. Verizon has no contracts, so you don’t have to worry about early termination fees, either. Disney+ comes free with complimentary Stream TV and three months of Stadia Pro for the gamer in your family. You can save an additional $20 off your internet plan when you bundle with a cell phone plan.
Unlike its competitors, Spectrum doesn’t waste time with any speeds lower than 100 Mbps, so you can find lower speeds and more affordable pricing with other companies. However, for the high-powered family, Spectrum is a fantastic choice for its lightning-fast speeds.
How to stream on Viasat
Viasat also offers high-speed internet, but it uses satellites to accomplish this. The result is coverage for 98% of the U.S. population, something that is very hard to come by with internet service providers. The data limits are less than ideal for larger families and high usage, but for many Americans living in more rural areas, Viasat offers fast internet service where options are few. With internet plans maxing out at 30 Mbps, you won’t see speeds as fast as some of the other big providers like AT&T and Verizon. With a two-year guaranteed rate lock, you can rest assured that your pricing won’t change in the near future, but you will still pay more than other providers for a fraction of the speed.
Viasat won’t be your first choice for the latest tech, but there’s something to be said for reliable service outside cities and metropolitan areas.
How to stream on Xfinity
Xfinity gives 4K streaming in several different packages, allowing you to choose how much you spend each month. There are free equipment upgrades, like a voice remote, and included Parental Controls and security protection tools. You also receive access to Peacock Premium, NBCUniversal’s streaming service.
Your data is what you really need to watch because Xfinity limits your data usage to just 1.2TB. To combat this, Xfinity has millions of nationwide WiFi hotspots that you can use. The xFi app is also a helpful tool to keep tabs on your data use while you manage your account.
Picking the best internet providers for streaming
When it comes to choosing an internet service provider for your home, there are several factors to consider.
- Number of Users
The first thing to consider is how many people will be streaming the internet in your home. A single resident won’t need nearly the same speeds as a four- or five-person family. This is one area that will not only determine price but also determine how effectively you can view your favorite programs on services like Hulu and Starz.
- Type of internet streaming
How you plan to use the internet can also determine which internet plan will work for you. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recommends you purchase a plan with a minimum of 25 Mbps if you plan to stream services like Disney+, Fubo TV, Sling TV, ESPN+ and Philo.
|Speed||Number of Devices||Kind of Use|
|5 – 24 Mbps||1||Standard-definition TVWeb Browsing/Email|
|25 – 49 Mbps||1-2||HD TVGaming|
|50 – 100 Mbps||1-4||HD TVGaming4K streaming|
|500 Mbps||5+||HD TVGaming4K streaming|
|1000 Mbps||Multiple||HD TV4K streamingFile uploading|
Cost is also a significant factor when choosing a new streaming internet provider. The difference in price can be a few hundred dollars, depending on what you choose. It is important that you purchase the coverage you need without breaking the bank. Xfinity at once provides the cheapest and most expensive pricing with plans ranging from $24.99 to $300.
AT&T, CenturyLink and Xfinity all limit how much data you can use. AT&T provides a handy data calculator tool that can help you estimate how much data your household needs each month. If you have multiple TVs in your home that you use for simultaneous streaming, you can easily burn through your data, so make sure you have a plan that works for you.
It is easy to feel overwhelmed with so many options available today. Let’s break down these internet providers down even more.
These are our picks for the best 2020 internet streaming plans.
- Best for light users – Frontier Internet Only
Frontier makes internet affordable for everyone with its DSL internet. Offering speeds of up to 6 Mbps with no data caps, this plan is sufficient for users who don’t plan to use the internet for more than checking emails or light browsing on the web. It’s also one of the cheapest on our list, starting at just $27.99 per month.
- Best for rural areas – Viasat Unlimited Bronze 12
The further you live from the city, the harder it is to find reliable internet streaming service. Many Americans living in rural areas don’t have access to cutting-edge developments like fiber optic streaming, but with 98% coverage of the U.S., Viasat delivers dependable internet service through satellite internet service. The special three-month pricing helps, but at a starting price of $50 a month, city residents will find cheaper internet elsewhere.
- Best for small households – CenturyLink Internet
With its price for life guarantee, CenturyLink offers impressive value for less than $50 a month. You still receive speeds up to 100 Mbps, which is more than enough when you have just one or two people in the home. There’s also no contract, so you continue shopping your options even while you enjoy your price lock guarantee.
- Best for streaming in 4K – AT&T Internet 1000
At $49.99 each month, there are no data caps for speeds of up to 1000 Mbps. It’s a steal for the kind of speeds that you will receive, in addition to unlimited data for worry-free streaming. HBO MaxTM also comes with your plan for even more viewing options.
- Best for large households – Verizon Fios Gigabit
Verizon has made a name for itself with its insanely fast fiber optic internet, and you too can benefit by signing by its Fios Gigabit plan. At $80 a month, you will receive speeds of up to 940 Mbps with upload speeds of 880 Mbps. Plus, you get Disney+ for free for one year.
- Best for heavy streaming – Xfinity Internet Gigabit
Without a doubt, Xfinity brings the most streaming power offering up to 2000 Mbps. There is also a free 4K streaming device that comes included with your plan, giving you a little more power so you can pay a little less. For $85/month, you can choose the most top-tier plan for speeds reaching up to 1000 Mbps. If you need more power, there’s the Enterprise plan with speeds of up to 2000 Mbps, but you will pay handsomely for those record speeds.
- Best overall value – Spectrum Internet
For $50 a month, Spectrum gives speeds of up to 200 Mbps – more than enough for the average household. Even better, you don’t have to worry about tons of fees. In addition to unlimited data, you get a free modem and security software.
Availability will vary depending on where you live, so it’s always important to shop all of your options to see which deal is the best for you.