Top 5 Internet Service Providers—November 2016

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Last Updated: April 13th, 2020

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How We Evaluate Internet Service Providers

All internet service providers are ranked and reviewed against a series of carefully chosen ranking criteria: we look at a company's nationwide availability, price, download/upload speeds, and more. For example, companies that are available in fewer states, set strict data limits or contracts on their plans, or demonstrate poor upload and download speeds tend to receive lower scores on BestCompany.com. Meanwhile, companies that consistently excel across these and other criteria points (including customer support quality and plan flexibility) tend to fair better. For a more in-depth breakdown of how we evaluate internet service providers, click here.

Each internet service provider listed on our site has undergone an extensive review process, and after conducting exhaustive research-which included garnering feedback from actual ISP customers-we have identified five internet service providers as industry standouts:

#1 Google Fiber

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Topping our list is Google Fiber, an internet and TV service launched in select cities by Google in 2010. Google Fiber claims to offer internet speeds up to 100 times faster than standard speeds, and is one of the first providers to streamline this gigabit internet service. Google Fiber works with city officials to use a city's existing infrastructure to install up to thousands of miles of fiber optic cable. The company offers free standard internet to all businesses and residents in one of its "Fiberhoods," with the option to upgrade to faster speeds and television service.

What We Like about Google Fiber

One of the most attractive features of Google Fiber is the its standard internet package-which is absolutely free. Not only is Google Fiber one of the few providers that offers free internet services, but the service also happens to be top quality. We feel this offering generates a lot of goodwill toward the company, as few competitors are able to provide a quality product for free. Google Fiber's gigabit internet package (100 times faster than standard speeds) is priced competitively for businesses and residents alike.

#2 Grande Communications

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Grande Communications has been providing high-speeds internet, TV, and phone services across nine service areas throughout the state of Texas. The company serves over 160,000 customers with 24/7 customer support, and a state-of-the-art, high-capacity fiber optic cable network that makes it one of the fastest and most reliable companies in the business.

What We Like about Grande Communications

There is a lot to like about Grande Communications. Unlike many players in the industry, Grande Communications does not require customers to signup for long-term contracts, or does it set any data limits on its plans. We also like the wide range of affordable plans the company offers, each with impressive download speeds. Customers who subscribe to television streaming services will like Grande Communications' streaming capabilities. New customers will also receive a $100 reward card when they sign up for any of Grande Communications' Power or Get-It-All packages.

#3 CenturyLink Internet

As one of the oldest and most established companies in the ISP industry, CenturyLink has become one of the largest and widest-reaching ISPs in the nation. The company has received several awards and accolades over the years, most recently the 2016 Excellence in Data Centre Service Award from BroadGroup. CenturyLink has maintained excellent customer service and support, and provides its customers with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

What We Like about CenturyLink Internet

We like that CenturyLink, despite its immense size, is still able to cater its packages to the specific needs of each customers. CenturyLink users are given an a-la-cart style of service, which prevents them from having to pay for services or features that they don't even use. CenturyLink is available nearly everywhere, and charges competitive monthly rates. The company also uses its vast resources well, and has received awards for making its data centers more energy efficient.

#4 Comcast Xfinity Internet

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Comcast Xfinity is one of the most widely used internet service providers in the nation. With services back by a money-back guarantee, Xfinity provides premier internet services, with additional antivirus security (free of charge) powered by Norton. Xfinity also advertises "proactive device replacement," which means customers' modems and routers will always be functioning and up-to-date.

What We Like about Comcast Xfinity Internet

One of the features we like best about Comcast Xfinity is that it doesn't set fixed data limits on its internet plans. Customers will not need to worry about paying overages for excessive amounts of data, meaning they can stream movies, music, and television show, without fear of paying any extra. We also like Comcast Xfinity's exception download speeds, which range from 6 megabytes to 2 gigabytes-nearly double the speeds of other standard internet services.

#5 Suddenlink

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Suddenlink is a full-service telecommunications company owned by parent company Altice USA. With service areas spread out across 17 states, Suddenlink allows customers to bundle multiple services, and customize their packages to suit their specific needs and preferences.

What We Like about Suddenlink

We like that Suddenlink provides free antivirus software (from Panda Antivirus) with its internet packages. Customers can receive real-time antivirus and anti-spyware assistance, behavior analysis protection, and web filtering to help keep them and their families safe from malicious websites and viruses.

For a full list of reviewed Internet Service Providers, click here.


The Future of the ISP Industry

The ISP industry is much more complicated than upload/download speeds. In October 2016, the FCC ruled that internet service providers must request opt-in permission from their customers before collecting meaningful demographical data from them. This is in accordance with privacy measures put in place to protect consumers unethical advertising and marketing practices. Consequently, sites like Google and Facebook, which also collect and sell consumer data to advertisers, may be the new destination for marketers to place their ads-a potential drain to ISPs wallets.

Some experts believe that ISPs have a right to sue the FCC, but in the meantime, are required to clearly display the option for customers to allow the provider to use their information. ISPs are also not allowed to refuse service to customers who do not opt-in. Over the next 12 months, consumers will need to pay close attention to the data and information their ISP is requesting from them, and whether their given the option to opt-in to data gathering.

As the ISP industry continues to change and evolve, BestCompany.com will maintain strict standards of excellence. We will make sure customers stay apprised to new legislation regarding internet usage and consumer data collection, and reward those companies that remain compliant with these laws.

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