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20x faster uploads than cable*
*Comparison of Internet 1000 wired upload connection speed to major cable providers’ 1GIG cable service with uploads of 35Mbps. Telogical Systems 12/2020.
Frequently asked questions
Why is AT&T DSL service being retired?
AT&T is transforming its portfolio to provide the latest technologies, like AT&T Business Fiber, in order to offer businesses like yours faster speeds and better performance.
How quickly will AT&T Business Fiber service begin?
Installation typically takes place within 5 business days of placing your order. Your AT&T business expert will help you select the best day that works for you and your business.
Will there be an interruption in my internet service?
No. Your current DSL service will not be disconnected until your new AT&T Business Fiber service has been installed.
Will I need to be at my business for the AT&T technician visit and how long will it take?
Yes, you will need to be present and available during the installation which should take approximately 2 to 4 hours. Your input will be valuable in helping the technician choose appropriate installation options.
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Get customer-ready Internet, Phone, & TV from AT&T Business
Business Internet starting at
Plus taxes & fees.
Have it all, all together
AT&T Business has it all covered, offering internet, phone, and DIRECTV for BUSINESS℠ entertainment for your small business. Bundle customizable service packages to save on business essentials. With savings on all your service essentials, your accountant will thank you.
Directv for business, packages and bundles, set the pace with high-speed business internet.
From 50 Mbps to 1,000 Mbps, every business works at a particular pulse. Whatever your speed, AT&T Business has an internet plan ready to fit your unique needs.
10 Mbps max. upload speed 12-month term
300 Mbps max. upload speed 12-month term
500 Mbps max. upload speed 12-month term
1000 Mbps max. upload speed 12-month term
There’s always something playing with DIRECTV FOR BUSINESS
From office to shop, restaurant to bar, keep ‘em coming back with business TV services from DIRECTV FOR BUSINESS. With over 155 channels, sports fanatics and dating show diehards alike have something to watch. Check out business TV packages below:
Public viewing: bars & restaurants
Commercial basic plus.
Plus tax. For 12 mos. w/ 24-mo. agmt.* $29.99/mo. after 12 mos. (subject to change).
Plus get up to 4 HD Receivers included.
Cost for each additional receiver: HD $99.
$5 off for 12 mos.
Limited time offer. Applied to 1st month bill.
BUSINESS SELECT™ PACK
Plus tax. For 12 mos. w/ 24-mo. agmt after Auto Bill Pay discount.* $59.99/mo. after 12-mo. discount (subject to change).
Plus get up to 4 HD Receivers included
COMMERCIAL ENTERTAINMENT PACK
Plus tax. For 12 mos. w/ 24-mo. agmt after Auto Bill Pay discount.* $99.99/mo. after 12-mo. discount (subject to change).
ESPN & ESPN2 Included
Thursday Night Football included at no additional cost on channel 9550
COMMERCIAL XTRA™ PACK
Plus tax. For 12 mos. w/ 24-mo. agmt after Auto Bill Pay discount.* $174.99/mo. after 12-mo. discount (subject to change).
The Best Sports Value
Plus Regional Sports Network**
**Regional Sports Network fee of $15/mo. is not charged in certain markets.
MUSIC CHOICE PREMIUM included for 24 months + 2nd TV Access Fee included.
After 24 mos., service automatically continues at then-prevailing rate (currently $44.99/mo.) unless changed/canceled.
ALL DIRECTV OFFERS REQUIRE 24-MONTH AGREEMENT. Local channels require subscription where available. Regional Sports Network fee may apply for BUSINESS XTRA PACK and COMMERCIAL XTRA PACK subscribers in select ZIP codes where DIRECTV is contractually obligated to distribute multiple Regional Sports Networks. *ALL DIRECTV OFFERS REQUIRE 24-MO. TV AGREEMENT. EARLY CANCELLATION FEE OF $30/MO. FOR EACH MONTH REMAINING ON AGMT., ADD’L FEES APPLY. Price is after a $20/mo. Auto Bill Pay discount for 24 mos. New approved commercial customers only. Credit card or Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) req’d (except MA & PA). Regional Sports Network (RSN) fee applies in certain markets.
Business & Private viewing: shops & offices
SHOWTIME® and MGM+® on us for 3 mo.
Private Viewing Only. After 3 mos., service automatically continues at then-prevailing rate (currently $19.99/mo. for SHOWTIME, currently $7.99/mo. for MGM+) unless changed/canceled.
Plus get up to 4 HD or 2 HD DVR Receivers included
Cost for each additional receiver: HD $99 I HD DVR $199 DVR for Private Viewing only.
$5 off for 12 mos. $5 off for 12 mos.
BUSINESS ENTERTAINMENT PACK
Plus tax. For 12 mos. w/ 24-mo. agmt after Auto Bill Pay discount.* $79.99/mo. after 12-mos. discount (subject to change).
Thursday Night Football included at no additional cost on channel 9526
BUSINESS XTRA PACK
Plus tax. For 12 mos. w/ 24-mo. agmt after Auto Bill Pay discount.* $124.99/mo. after 12-mos. discount (subject to change).
>Private Viewing Only. After 3 mos., service automatically continues at then-prevailing rate (currently $19.99/mo. for SHOWTIME, currently $7.99/mo. for MGM+) unless changed/canceled.
MUSIC CHOICE™ PREMIUM included for 24 months + 2nd TV Access Fee Included
After 24 mos., service automatically continues at then-prevailing rate (currently $39.99/mo.) unless changed/canceled.
**Regional Sports Network fee of $7 is not charged in certain markets.
Thursday Night Football included at no additional cost on channel 9526.
Bundle, save, score: AT&T Business Packages
Get the business services you need at the price you expect. Pick, choose, and bundle internet and phone services to get it all under one bill.
INTERNET 25 + AT&T PHONE
Plus taxes & fees. Prices vary depending on location.
Download speeds of up to 25 Mbps
Connect all of your devices with a Wi-Fi gateway
Unlimited calling in the US, Canada & Mexico
25 Mbps max. upload speed 12-month term
INTERNET 50 + AT&T PHONE + TECH SUPPORT
Download speeds of up to 50 Mbps
50 Mbps max. upload speed 12-month term
INTERNET 300 + AT&T PHONE
Download speeds of up to 300 Mbps
Streamline communication with AT&T Business Phone
Communication is vital to connect effectively with your consumers. Facilitate rapport and ensure customer loyalty with business phone services from AT&T.
UNLIMITED LOCAL CALLING
Prices vary depending on location.
Unlimited Local Calling
Caller ID name and Number included
Same call rates any time of day
UNLIMITED LOCAL+ LONG DISTANCE
Why choose at&t for your small business.
For late nights and early mornings, AT&T Business offers customer support 24/7.
Nationwide Wi-Fi Hotspots
Take a break from the office and save wireless data with free, nationwide Wi-Fi hotspots.
AT&T Business offers a static IP address, so you can work remotely with confidence.
With 99% network reliability, you can take a break knowing your network won’t follow suit.
AT&T Business Customer Support
As a small business owner, you don’t have time to troubleshoot. Luckily, we have plenty of time: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. With AT&T Business Support, customers receive fast, reliable aid from professional agents. If trouble comes morning, noon, or night, a quick fix is just a call away. Contact Customer Support
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I contact AT&T Business customer service?
Just call 1-888-316-2334 to speak with a trained customer service representative or visit the AT&T Small Business Support Page for more guidance.
How much is AT&T Business internet?
To better serve a variety of business needs, we offer differing internet speed packages. Each package has a unique price point, with rates starting at $50/mo.
Can I bundle AT&T Business internet and phone?
Absolutely! We offer bundling options for a variety of business services, including phone, internet, and DIRECTV for BUSINESS. Call 1-833-675-2765 for more information.
What is DIRECTV for BUSINESS?
DIRECTV for BUSINESS provides the proper licensing to play the best in entertainment at a variety of public and private venues. With DIRECTV for BUSINESS, you can play your favorite TV shows, live sports, news, movies, and more in retail shops, offices, lobbies, franchises, restaurants, and bars.
Does my plan have a data cap?
Depending on the plan, it is a possibility. The best way to know for sure is to talk to a customer service specialist at 1-833-675-2765 about your specific plan.
Will my plan have an early termination fee if I change my mind?
Most high-speed business internet plans do have an early termination fee, but that will vary with the plan you’ve chosen.
AT&T Business Internet Review and Pricing
Table of contents.
AT&T Business offers exceptional symmetrical upload and download speeds with its business fiber and dedicated internet plans, making it the ideal solution for consistently fast internet access.
- All of AT&T’s fiber and dedicated internet plans offer the same speed for uploads and downloads.
- The company’s business fiber plans don’t require an annual contract.
- Businesses with a global footprint can connect securely through the provider’s dedicated internet plans.
- You can bundle your AT&T business internet and phone service with options for VoIP and mobile service at a discounted rate.
- AT&T’s service-level agreements or guarantees are only available with the dedicated internet plans.
- Using the vendor’s wireless broadband as a backup is much slower for the price compared to Verizon’s 5G business internet.
- AT&T’s dedicated internet plans require a two-year contract.
AT&T’s business internet products offer comprehensive connectivity options with high reliability, ultrafast speeds, some plans without contracts, limited service-level agreements and 24/7 customer support. AT&T sets itself apart in a competitive field thanks to its best-in-class symmetrical upload and download speeds available with all fiber and dedicated internet plans. According to the company, more than 675,000 U.S. business buildings connect with AT&T fiber-optic cables . Though all internet service provider (ISP) speeds, features and pricing are subject to availability in your geographic location, AT&T may be the best option for business owners seeking consistently fast internet access.
AT&T Business Editor's Rating:
Why we chose at&t for symmetrical speed.
The broadband internet industry is highly competitive. A handful of major companies offer similar products and prices, but not all fiber networks are the same. One of the biggest differentiators is upload speed, which tops out at just 35 Mbps with companies like Comcast and Spectrum. Generally speaking, when you come across an advertised speed rating, you’re seeing the faster download speed, but AT&T is one of the few providers to offer the same ultrafast gigabyte fiber and dedicated speeds for both uploading and downloading. The same speed for uploads and downloads is commonly referred to as symmetrical speed.
Upload speeds affect your ability to transfer files and connect to servers, both of which are important for data backup and video conferencing. For media-focused businesses or any enterprise with a large in-office staff, the ability to upload large files without interruption or communicate effectively with video conferencing tools depends on fast upload speeds. That’s why AT&T’s symmetrical service, if it’s available in your area, should be at the top of your list.
Only Verizon competes with AT&T when it comes to high download and upload speeds for fiber customers. Get the details in our full Verizon review .
You can use tools on AT&T’s website to test how your internet connection is performing. Source: AT&T
You’ll be able to find many of the same connectivity features across the major business internet service providers with similar pricing in select markets. However, there are a few areas where AT&T distinguishes itself from the competition.
Symmetric Upload/Download Speeds
AT&T is unique in its ability to offer dedicated internet and fiber customers plans with the same speeds for uploading and downloading. While most major ISPs offer roughly comparable download speeds in significant markets, the same cannot be said for uploading. Comcast and Spectrum are only able to offer a maximum upload speed of 35 Mbps with any plan, while Verizon’s fastest gigabit fiber connection is limited to 880 Mbps for uploading. With AT&T, however, you’ll get an upload speed that’s just as fast as the download speed — and those speeds could reach as high as 5 Gbps, far outpacing the competition.
If the highest download speeds are all that matters to you, see if Comcast’s plan with 1.25 Gbps speed downloads and 35 Mbps speed uploads is available in your area. Learn more about the vendor’s options in our review of Comcast’s business internet .
24/7 Security Monitoring and Ticketing
AT&T’s dedicated internet and fiber business plans feature 24/7 proactive network monitoring, cyber threat analysis and AT&T ActiveArmor to help block malicious threats from reaching your devices. We like that in the rare event of a server outage, a service ticket is automatically generated on your behalf to begin resolving the issue as quickly and transparently as possible. While some of AT&T’s peers offer security tools, we didn’t come across similar automatic ticketing. [Find out cybersecurity and risk management best practices .]
With ActiveArmor, AT&T can protect your computer network from cyberattacks. Source: AT&T
Static IP Address
With AT&T, a static IP address is a standard feature with the dedicated internet plans and an optional add-on feature with the fiber plans. Static IPs can be purchased in blocks of 8, 16, 32, 64 and 128; however, you will need three static addresses for your base address, gateway and broadcast address, meaning three of your block addresses will not be usable. Still, we like that static IP addresses are automatically included with AT&T’s dedicated internet service, as some providers charge extra for those.
Internet Backup Add-On
AT&T’s fiber customers can add an emergency backup service to their package in case of a power outage. This add-on service for fiber users keeps critical connections active through a battery-powered backup router with up to 24 hours of power. Once your fiber connection is restored, your internet service will automatically revert to its standard configuration.
FYI: AT&T’s 24-hour backup power exceeds other providers we reviewed by 8 hours, another way the company sets itself apart from rivals.
AT&T Internet for Business is split between three product categories: dedicated internet, business fiber and wireless broadband internet . Each includes a number of tiers differentiated by speed, price, terms and available features. As with all business ISPs, your specific options and costs will depend on your service address. For the purpose of our review, we gathered pricing information from a qualifying address in Southern California.
AT&T’s dedicated internet plans are available with symmetrical upload and download speeds, but they require a 24-month contract and prices are slightly higher with an AT&T-managed router. Add-on options include an enterprise traffic protector, SIP trunking and a cloud-based solution for voice, fax, text, audio and video communications. We appreciate that the dedicated plans also include a service-level agreement with 99.95 percent reliability and performance objectives for 100 percent uptime, data delivery and latency.
The fiber internet connections are available across five plans with symmetrical maximum speeds ranging from 100 Mbps to 5 Gbps. Separate enterprise solutions for businesses with multiple locations are also available. We like that the fiber plans don’t require an annual contract. Available add-ons include internet backup, voice service and cybersecurity software.
Wireless broadband offers low- and high-speed internet access through cellular networks with a hotspot or router where service is available. In many cases, speeds will slow after you reach a monthly data threshold that varies with each plan. With this product, AT&T offers discounts for autopay and paperless billing, which are reflected in our pricing chart. The routers are available starting at $12.78 per month. [Learn how to set up a hotspot and Wi-Fi for your business .]
The implementation for AT&T’s products is usually completed within two weeks. On average, new AT&T business internet customers have their service up and running within one-and-a-half weeks, according to the product specialist we spoke with during our research. Installation usually costs $100, but the fee is often waived as part of a promotional offer.
Once the order is placed, new customers can set an appointment for installation. You can also expect to receive an email reminder about your installation and a call to register your internet so it’s ready to go on your appointment day. You’ll also receive a reminder call the day before your installation and a follow-up call the day after to make sure you’re satisfied with the installation process and internet service.
Support for AT&T Internet for Business is available 24/7 over the phone, chat and email. AT&T also has a self-service small business support center online, with troubleshooting tools you can use for your internet equipment and community forms where you can find information about local outages.
During our investigation, we spoke with AT&T business product specialists who were able to address all of our questions and concerns in a timely manner. We like that potential customers who want to sign up over the phone will get help identifying the optimal internet speed with the appropriate plans and terms depending on their type of business, number of employees, total locations and data consumption requirements. You can even video chat with a virtual expert for live shopping assistance. It’s also impressive that AT&T has held J.D. Power’s top ranking from 2018 to 2022 among large enterprises in Business Wireline Satisfaction Studies of customer satisfaction.
Prospective customers can get live shopping assistance from an AT&T representative over the phone or via video chat. Source: AT&T
While AT&T’s fiber plans don’t require a long-term contract, its dedicated internet plans do. That’s a departure from competitors like Verizon, which offers flexible billing with the option for flat-rate plans, usage-based plans and a combination of the two with dynamic network management that allows self-service bandwidth adjustment.
For another comparison, AT&T’s dedicated service-level agreement of 99.95 percent falls short of Verizon, which guarantees performance and 100 percent availability. While a difference of 0.05 percent may not seem significant, any interruption in performance or service at an inopportune time could have significant financial implications for some businesses.
Also, just because AT&T’s symmetric internet speeds are stellar doesn’t mean you’ll actually be able to access them. If you operate a business in an area without fiber or reliable high-speed cable internet options, you may want to consider a satellite provider like Viasat or a wireless 5G business internet provider like Verizon instead. Learn more about satellite options in our Viasat review.
In looking for the top internet service providers for businesses , we researched a number of vendors and analyzed their available internet speeds and types, add-on services, bundle deals, installation process, customer support options, limitations, and, of course, pricing. As part of this process, we participated in demos and spoke with product specialists when possible. Our examination led us to conclude that AT&T’s fiber and dedicated internet plans lead the industry with the best symmetrical speeds, making the company ideal for media-focused businesses or any company with demanding upload and download requirements.
How long does it take to get AT&T business internet set up?
While the length of time it takes to get AT&T business internet set up will depend on the specific product you choose, most customers can start using their new internet connection within two weeks of signing up for service. When we spoke with AT&T’s product specialists, we were told the new customer onboarding and installation process usually takes an average of one-and-a-half to two weeks.
How much is the installation?
AT&T’s installation is $100; however, the fee is often waived with a promotional offer. If a promotion isn’t running when you’re ready to make a purchase, we recommend reaching out to a customer service representative over the phone to see if you can get your installation fee waived anyway.
Is AT&T’s business internet reliable?
Yes, AT&T’s business internet is reliable. AT&T promises 99.9 percent uptime with its business internet plans, which is a fairly standard rate of reliability among the major business internet service providers. The company also offers managed internet backup services with 24-hour battery power and unlimited data during outages.
We recommend AT&T Internet for Business for …
- Media-focused companies and larger enterprises that want ultrafast symmetrical fiber speeds to keep work flowing smoothly.
- Any business that already uses other AT&T services.
- Organizations that cannot risk being interrupted by power outages.
We don’t recommend AT&T Internet for Business for …
- Rural businesses that likely won’t have access to the best features and speeds.
- Business owners looking for an internet plan backed by a service-level agreement or guarantee who don’t want their options limited to a top-tier dedicated internet plan.
- Companies interested in a satellite internet connection.
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Best Business Internet Providers of 2023
Table of Contents
- Best Business Internet Providers
- Things To Consider When Buying
- How We Chose
Choosing an internet provider for your business – whether it’s a large corporation or a small startup – requires careful consideration. Availability, speed, security, reliability, contract length, and budget are all priorities you need to examine when looking at potential business internet providers.
For example, your company may have certain expectations for the bandwidth and contract length. The majority of internet service provider (ISP) contracts are two years, although some don’t require a contract at all. You may have to adjust these expectations if you’re located in a rural area, although there are some plans specifically designed for businesses that are far from city centers.
Also, pay attention to speed and connection type. Download and upload speeds are most commonly displayed in megabits per second (Mbps) or gigabits per second (Gbps) – you can learn more about this in our guide, What Is a Good Internet Speed? Connection type can range anywhere from cable to fiber to satellite. Fiber connections tend to have the fastest potential speeds, but satellite and cable are more widely available.
Plus, ISPs sometimes offer additional features for companies, typically at an extra cost. One example is a static IP address so a business can host its own website and run a server.
To simplify your search, here’s our list of the best business internet providers and what you need to know about them.
- Best Overall: AT&T Business »
- Best for Bundling: Verizon Business »
- Best for Small Businesses: Comcast Business »
- Best Budget: Frontier Business »
- Best for Rural Businesses: Viasat Business »
- Best for Mobile Businesses: Starlink Business »
- Best for City Businesses: Google Fiber Business »
- Best for Customer Satisfaction: EarthLink Business »
- Best for Secure Data Transmission: Cox Business »
Best Overall: AT&T Business
Good customer service reviews
Very fast, up to 5 Gbps
Gig speeds only available in select areas
Top plans can get expensive
Customers report loving AT&T’s business internet. In fact, J.D. Power’s 2022 Business Wireline Satisfaction Study left AT&T in first place with large enterprise companies, with a score of 872 out of 1,000.
AT&T Business Fiber has six plans, ranging from Business Fiber 50 ($60 per month for 50 Mbps) to Business Fiber 5 GIG ($250 per month for 5 Gbps). If your company needs incredibly fast internet speeds, the 5 Gbps plan might be your only good option, as it’s five times faster than almost all of AT&T’s competitors’ plans. So, if you’re constantly uploading large files, holding video conferences, and performing other bandwidth-heavy tasks, you might be willing to pay $250 per month for this plan. Note: This price for the speed is an incredibly good deal compared to other offerings in our list.
As a $20-per-month add-on, businesses can also sign up for AT&T’s Managed Internet Backup service, allowing them to stay online even during outages. This feature provides unlimited data via the provider’s 4G LTE wireless network for up to 24 hours.
For large companies with hundreds of employees, there’s technically an even faster option than the 5 Gbps plan, and it’s via AT&T Dedicated Internet. Dedicated internet is not a shared connection like almost all other types, so businesses don’t have to worry about loss of bandwidth during high-traffic times. However, it requires special installation. AT&T’s dedicated speeds start at 20 Mbps but go all the way up to a staggering 1 terabit per second (Tbps).
A key component of AT&T is its generally contract-free plans as well as its many bundling options. If you’re in need of a business phone plan, you can bundle business internet with an AT&T phone plan for an extra $15 per month.
Fastest speed: 5 Gbps
Contract: No contract
Availability: 42 states
Best for Bundling: Verizon Business
Three connection types
Many bundling options
Top-ranked in customer satisfaction
Contract of one to three years required on most plans
Only available in 10 states
Overall, Verizon has been the highest ranked for customer satisfaction for small and medium businesses for six years straight by J.D. Power. The company offers many plans and bundles for small businesses and major companies.
Businesses have three fiber plan options when it comes to Verizon Fios Business Internet. On the lower end is Fios 200/200, which is $69 per month and has 200 Mbps download and upload speeds (the fact that the download speeds and upload speeds are symmetrical are key if your company often uploads larger files to remote servers). Or step up to Fios 500/500 for $129 per month with a download/upload speed of 500 Mbps. The fastest plan, Fios Gigabit Connection, costs $249 per month and offers up to 940 Mbps.
With Verizon Fios business bundling you can pair any internet service with a Business Digital Voice Line for an extra $20 per month. Plus, Verizon offers Fios TV business plans for private viewing, public viewing, and bar and restaurant viewing, which is very convenient if you want to keep your business services together under one provider.
Verizon Business does require a contract of one to three years that renews automatically, as well as a price guarantee – the length of the guarantee varies by plan tier. There’s also an early cancellation fee of 50% of the base monthly charges for the remainder of the contract. If you don’t like contracts or want more flexibility with your plan, you may want to choose a different provider that doesn’t lock you into a strict contract like Verizon does.
Verizon is still lacking in some locations, which is a major reason why it isn’t yet as common as it could be for businesses. While Verizon overall is known for having great coverage nationwide and internationally, Verizon Fios Business is only available in select major cities on the East Coast. If Verizon Fios isn’t in your area, try calling customer service to request it.
If fiber isn’t available in your area, you may be able to get Verizon 5G Business Internet. The three 5G plans include up to 100 Mbps for $69 per month, up to 200 Mbps for $99 per month, or up to 400 Mbps for $199 per month.
Lastly, Verizon’s LTE Business Internet is a decent option if neither fiber nor 5G is available at your company’s address. You can get either 10 Mbps for $69 per month, 25 Mbps for $99 per month, or 50 Mbps for $199 per month. All three LTE plans have no contracts and come with varying data allowances.
Fastest speed: 940 Mbps
Contract: One- to three-year contract required
Availability: 10 states
Best for Small Businesses: Comcast Business
Very stable, with backup connections
Dedicated account representatives
No data caps
Very expensive for the speeds received
Doesn’t offer any speeds over 1.25 Gbps
Lack of scalability options for growing businesses
Comcast Business offers a nice blend of decent pricing, a stable connection, and fast speeds. Depending on your address, its plans run from 50 Mbps starting at $49.99 per month to 1.25 Gbps at up to $349.99 per month (including discounts for autopay and paperless billing). Comcast Business doesn’t charge for installation, and companies have a 30-day trial before being locked into a contract of two or three years. In some locations, it offers the 100 Mbps plan for as low as $39 per month for 12 months with no contract.
If you’re frustrated by outages, Comcast can switch to a cellular 4G LTE backup connection for up to 16 hours if there’s a power outage or other unexpected event, so your business can continue moving smoothly despite any environmental factors at play. Keep in mind, however, that this backup service costs an extra $39.95 per month.
One bonus of Comcast is that it offers a contract-free plan in some areas. This flexibility is especially important for small business owners who aren’t sure if they want to commit to Comcast for the long term.
Another bonus is the option for businesses to request a dedicated account representative. This person can help businesses with whatever issues they may have, and they can recommend services they believe will help optimize operations for your company. This is in addition to Comcast Business’ 24/7 tech support.
Fastest speed: 1.25 Gbps
Contract: None to three years
Availability: 39 states
Best Budget: Frontier Business
Fast speeds up to 2 Gbps
No charge for installation
Poor customer satisfaction ratings
Frequent outages due to inclement weather
Like Verizon, Frontier offers fiber plans, but unlike Verizon, Frontier’s plans are relatively affordable for their high speeds. Plus, Frontier doesn’t charge for installation. Frontier is about half the price of its competitors for what it offers. The least expensive Frontier option is Business Fiber 500, which starts at $64.99 per month with autopay. Next comes Business Fiber 1 Gig starting at $89.99 per month, and the fastest is Business Fiber 2 Gig starting at $129.99 per month.
Customer service, however, is not Frontier’s best asset. According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), the customer satisfaction score for Frontier has remained pretty steady at 74 out of 100. The Better Business Bureau has rated Frontier Communications Corporation with an F for poor service and missed appointments.
If you do decide on Frontier, you can add on other technologies for your small business, including RingCentral (all-in-one secure video, message, and phone app), SmartVoice (cloud-based access to calls and messages), and a static IP (offers safe sharing of larger files over a secure network and remote access).
Frontier, while growing, is not available across the entire country. At press time, it was available in: Alabama, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Overall, Frontier is a great option if you’re looking for inexpensive yet quick internet and don’t think you’ll need much help in the customer service department. You also should expect to have some outages due to weather.
Fastest speed: 2 Gbps
Availability: About 50% of the country
Best for Rural Businesses: Viasat Business
Works well in rural areas
Decent speeds for satellite internet connections
Many coverage areas
Business needs to have a clear view of the sky facing south
Extremely high prices for minimal speeds
Potential for latency issues
If your company is located in a rural area that’s not typically served by one of the larger business internet companies, then you may want to look into Viasat. It offers satellite internet for small businesses and has professional installation.
Viasat does offer relatively fast satellite internet, with speeds up to 100 Mbps and rural data caps of up to 200 GB. However, for the speeds offered, plans are much more expensive than other options. Plans generally start at $175 per month for speeds of just 35 Mbps and 75 GB of high-speed data. For download speeds of 100 Mbps, you’ll be charged $500 per month.
In some areas, you may only be able to get up to 12 Mbps download speeds with varying levels of high-speed data – 10 GB for $100 per month, 50 GB for $175 per month, or 75 GB for $250 per month. Latency also tends to be an issue with satellite internet by virtue of the connection type.
All plans have a minimum 24-month contract and a $300 one-time installation fee. With most of these plans, Viasat does include unlimited regular data and video streaming at no extra cost.
Also, Viasat has some of the best national coverage; it’s available everywhere in the United States, plus some areas of Hawaii and Alaska. Your business simply needs to have a clear view of the sky facing south, as the satellite dish points in that direction.
Fastest speed: 100 Mbps
Contract: 24 months
Availability: Nearly every area of the United States
Best for Mobile Businesses: Starlink Business
Works well in all available areas, including rural
Fastest satellite internet provider in the United States
High data caps
Hardware cost of $2,500
Expensive monthly fee compared to other top providers
Marketed toward businesses in remote locations, Starlink Business offers fast satellite internet without using fiber optic or cable wiring. As a result of its rural availability, fast speeds, and high data caps, Starlink is relatively expensive. The initial cost of hardware is $2,500, plus a monthly payment starting at $250. Speeds top out at 220 Mbps, and any rain or snow may wipe out the connection temporarily, leaving your business without internet.
One major bonus of Starlink is that your business may set up a receiver anywhere to connect to the internet via the company’s low Earth orbit satellites, which provide lower latency than traditional satellite connections.
Starlink has options for fixed, mobile, and maritime businesses, so depending on the plan you choose, you can move the satellite receiver to another location easily. It doesn’t need to be connected to anything other than a power source. However, you do need a clear view of the sky to achieve a connection. You or your business team will also need to set up the equipment personally or hire a local contractor to set up the system; there is no professional installation option.
Starlink is not as universally available in the U.S. as competitors Viasat and HughesNet, with large coverage gaps mainly in the Midwest and the South. The company’s eventual goal is to provide full global coverage, but it may be quite some time until that vision is realized.
Fastest speed: 220 Mbps
Availability: Varies based on address
Best for City Businesses: Google Fiber Business
High speeds up to 2 Gbps
99.9% uptime Service Level Guarantee on top plan
Only available in select cities
Relatively new and still expanding reach
If you’re looking for fiber optic internet without a contract, Google Fiber may have what you need, as it offers minimal terms with no contracts. However, Google Fiber is still expanding, meaning its coverage may not be as widely available as that of other big-name providers.
Users have ranked Google Fiber highly for its transparent prices and easy-to-understand features for each plan. Google Fiber is also easy to reach for customer support via its chat box and their 24/7 phone support, which is very responsive.
Google Fiber offers two business internet plans: Business 1 Gig ($100 per month) and Business 2 Gig ($250 per month). These come with download speeds of 1 Gbps and 2 Gbps, respectively, though both plans have upload speeds of up to 1 Gbps. The major perk is that both internet plans are stated to have 99.9% reliability, with the 2 Gig plan adding a Service Level Guarantee that refunds 25% of your monthly bill if your average uptime sinks below 99.9%. Both plans include a Wi-Fi 6 router, and Business 2 Gig adds two mesh Wi-Fi extenders, a single static IP assignment, and guest Wi-Fi network capability.
Google Fiber Business can be a good option for metropolitan companies that need fast speeds, customer support, and reliability – if the service is available in the area at all.
Availability: Limited; varies based on address
Best for Customer Satisfaction: EarthLink Business
Very fast connections
No data caps or data throttling
Transparent pricing structure
At minimum requires a one-year contract
While not as popular for business internet as it is for home internet, EarthLink shouldn’t be discounted. Its high-speed fiber plans have been slow to roll out across the country, although today it’s offered in nearly every state in a limited number of cities. Its fiber plans are also very fast, depending on the plan you choose: They range from 50 Mbps to 5 Gbps.
Each plan includes no data caps or data throttling and ranges in price from $69.95 per month for 50 Mbps to $169.95 for 1-5 Gbps. This is on the lower end of prices for these speeds. However, you will have to sign a contract with a term that varies based on the underlying provider (EarthLink uses larger companies’ networks to provide service). At minimum, the contract period will be one year, according to an EarthLink representative.
EarthLink as a company overall has received high marks for customer service ratings in the past years. It is important to note, however, that there is not as much available about EarthLink’s business internet in terms of polling or customer reviews, so there is room for speculation on the company’s service and actual connections for businesses.
In addition to purchasing internet, businesses can also add on marketing, branding, and website development and security features to their EarthLink Business plans.
Contract: Minimum one-year contract but varies by underlying provider
Availability: Select availability in all states
Best for Secure Data Transmission: Cox Business
Offers cable connection as an alternative to satellite
Most plans include a static IP address
24/7 customer service
Data cap on all plans
Cox generally offers internet through copper coaxial cables, which is inexpensive and can be fast. It offers a handful of business plans, starting with its Business Internet 100, which has up to 100 Mbps download speeds. Its highest standard business-grade plan offers up to 300 Mbps. For each standard plan, keep in mind that the upload speeds are approximately 10 times slower than the respective download speeds, which should still be plenty for small businesses.
If you have an enterprise-level business that requires more, you can request a free consultation for higher service plans. On the smaller end, you can get up to 940 Mbps, while the biggest corporations can get symmetrical upload and download speeds of up to a staggering 100 Gbps via a dedicated fiber connection.
Pricing is not transparent on Cox’s website, so you’ll need to request a consultation to get a quote for all service levels. There are also plenty of bundling options if you require more than just internet for your business.
Like Verizon, Cox has automatically renewing contracts – a convenient feature if you’re happy with the service, but a downside for companies that are not satisfied and may forget to cancel. You need to provide written notice of cancellation at least 30 days before the contract ends. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck with it for another year unless you want to pay the full remaining contract balance plus an early termination fee.
Cox offers 24/7 customer service, which is helpful if you have any technical issues. The provider also offers the Cox Business Security Suite, which is a data protection program that is free with every internet plan purchase. It comes with up to 25 Security Suite licenses, and you have the ability to purchase more if you have more than 25 people or devices.
Cox is available in 19 states, so if you’re not covered by Cox, you may want to look at CenturyLink, which provides similar services but has a larger coverage area.
Contract: Month-to-month or yearly contract
Availability: 19 states
The Bottom Line
There isn’t one ISP that’s good for every company. Consider what your business really needs in terms of its usage, its budget and its location. Then, you can prioritize and figure out which of the companies will work best for you. Still can’t decide? You may want to try a provider that doesn’t require a contract so that if it doesn’t work out, you can easily switch. Based on our research AT&T Business is a good place to start.
Things To Consider When Buying Business Internet
An internet connection’s dependability is measured by how consistent it is overall, explains Vikas Kaushik, the CEO of TechAhead. And the amount of time your connection is active is referred to as its uptime. “Inquire about the history of downtime experienced by the supplier as well as how they handle maintenance,” Kaushik says. “To reduce the likelihood of disruptions, you should inquire about redundancy measures they have in place.”
If you have a small business of one to five employees that tend to use the internet to browse the web, check emails, and write basic documents, then you should look for 50-100 Mbps. For midsize companies with 10-20 employees who need video conferencing and remote collaboration tools, you’ll need 100-500 Mbps. For larger organizations with 30-50 employees using the internet for data transfers, data backup and e-commerce, aim for 500 Mbps to 1 Gbps. If you have 50 or more employees who use the internet for web hosting or large-scale e-commerce, you will need at least 1 Gbps. In short, the more devices connected and the heavier-duty the activities, the more speed you’ll need.
Cost by Speed
The best way to do this is by determining the cost per Mbps. Divide the monthly fee by the maximum speeds. For example, AT&T’s lowest plan costs $60 for 50 Mbps, which equates to $1.20 per megabit. AT&T’s highest plan costs $250 for 5 Gbps, or 5,000 Mbps, which comes out to 5 cents per megabit. Be aware, however, that you should factor in customer service, availability, other plan features, and whether you need a lot of speed or not. If you’re trying to decide between a few plans, the cost per Mbps is another factor to help narrow your selection.
Dedicated vs. Shared Bandwidth
Some business internet providers offer dedicated bandwidth, ensuring that your connection is not shared with other users, while others provide traditional shared bandwidth that can lead to fluctuations in speed during peak usage times, Trevor Eason, CEO and tech writer at SamsungTechwin.com, says, “Depending on your business's sensitivity to internet performance, you may want to opt for dedicated bandwidth.”
How We Chose the Best Business Internet Providers
At U.S. News 360 Reviews, our contributor consulted with numerous tech experts, examined studies, and looked at customer reviews to create this list of the Best Business Internet Providers. She then narrowed the selection with more thorough research, considering price, speed, availability, and customer service. Overall, she found that there isn’t a single best ISP that would work well for every company, but Verizon and AT&T are some pretty strong contenders.
WHY SHOULD YOU TRUST US?
Our contributors and editors have years of experience researching and reviewing products. Danielle Braff, the author of this piece, has more than a decade of product reviewing experience with a concentration on tech products and business. Braff has studies published in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Crain’s Chicago Business, and more. To Braff, a great business internet provider should be fast with a backup for outages and fantastic customer service.
Business Internet FAQ
This totally depends on the provider you select. Most, however, require a modem, a router, switches, and the proper cables. If you opt for fiber internet – a common choice for businesses due to its reliability and high speeds – you’ll need a special fiber connection installed to transmit the data; a clamshell (an exterior protective case for the connection); an optical network terminal (ONT) instead of a modem; a fiber router; and possibly a Wi-Fi extender or two. For satellite internet, you’ll need a satellite internet dish, a satellite modem/router, and a compatible internet device.
In any case, the ISP you select will provide all the necessary equipment and likely offer (or require) professional installation.
First, you should separate your business network from your guest network by using separate virtual LANs (VLANs), or physical networks. Routers, firewalls, and access points offering advanced security features and regular firmware updates will also be key pieces of network equipment. For Wi-Fi access points providing encryption for your network, you’ll need WPA3 encryption. Set up the guest network with internet access only, and use a captive portal with a password for the guests.
If there’s an internet outage or disruption, contact your ISP’s customer service department. Many companies have round-the-clock availability via phone or chat, which comes in handy in situations like this. Some companies in this list also offer backup data for a set amount of time to get your business through potential outages, though this feature comes at an extra cost.
Typically, an ISP will have a devoted spot on its website to report and to track service problems. You should be able to enter your information and receive an estimated time that your service will resume.
This depends on whether you already have a contract with a provider. If you do, you will most likely have to pay the remainder of the contract agreement and/or an early termination fee. Then, you are free to switch to a different provider. The new ISP will likely need to install its own equipment, especially if you’re upgrading to a new connection type like fiber, but the process should generally not take longer than a few business days. Most companies require advance notice if you’re requesting enterprise-level service installation, so the further you plan ahead and coordinate with the new ISP, the less downtime your company will experience.
U.S. News 360 Reviews takes an unbiased approach to our recommendations. When you use our links to buy products, we may earn a commission but that in no way affects our editorial independence.
AT&T Business Internet Review
Table of contents.
AT&T business internet is ideal for digital entrepreneurs who are looking to keep their businesses going at some of the fastest internet speeds on the market. Dedicated internet, symmetrical download speeds and flexible contracts allow business owners to focus on connecting with their customers and reaching new audiences.
- Download and upload speeds are symmetrical.
- AT&T offers proactive network monitoring.
- AT&T's dedicated internet boasts near 100% uptime.
- Fiber internet is typically available only in select areas.
- Plans can get expensive for gigabit-speed internet.
- AT&T’s 5G internet with symmetrical download and upload speeds allows digital businesses to operate and grow quickly.
- More small business owners can use fiber internet for their business thanks to AT&T’s large fiber footprint.
- Secure business Wi-Fi allows guests and employees to stay connected through a highly reliable connection.
- This review is for small business owners who are considering AT&T as their business internet provider.
It’s become easier than ever for people to start digital businesses or pursue self-employed careers online. For most of these online brands, a fast and reliable internet connection is critical to success, and that’s where AT&T can play a huge role. AT&T’s reliable fiber-optic connection provides some of the fastest internet speeds on the market, with symmetrical download speeds up to 5GB. These fast speeds and reliability, combined with excellent customer service and no contract requirement, make AT&T ideal for customers who are looking for an internet provider that will scale with their business.
AT&T Business Internet Editor's Rating:
Why at&t business internet is best for digital entrepreneurs.
It’s become easier to build a digital brand in recent years, as more people have access to easy tools for building an e-commerce website, a social media following and an email subscriber list. As a result, more entrepreneurs are looking for an internet provider that offers fast internet speeds and allows them to create and maintain an online presence. Regardless of whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur or a small business owner , AT&T’s fiber-optic business internet can deliver on those conditions and more. Dedicated internet, symmetrical upload and download speeds, and internet backup options are just a few of the many features available through AT&T Business. AT&T’s Dedicated Internet plans allow customers to stay connected on their own secure internet line while experiencing the fastest internet speeds possible.
AT&T ranked first in customer satisfaction with large enterprise wireline service five years in a row by J.D. Power.
AT&T Business Internet Features
Symmetrical download and upload speeds.
Most internet providers promote fast download speeds in their packages and deals but also offer upload speeds that are much slower. We like that AT&T delivers symmetrical internet speeds, which means the download speeds and upload speeds are the same. A business internet package promising download speeds of up to 300 Mbps, for example, also includes upload speeds of up to 300 Mbps.
Symmetrical download and upload speeds come with many benefits, especially for small business owners who operate from their homes. Business customers can perform large data transfers, conduct meetings over voice over IP ( VoIP ) and even multitask during web conferencing for seamless productivity.
For businesses that operate on their own server, AT&T offers its Dedicated Internet plan as an all-in-one service that runs with near 100% uptime using a single unshared connection. With symmetrical download and upload speeds between 10 Mbps and 1 Tbps, small business owners or solo entrepreneurs can browse the internet uninterrupted.
Due to the wide array of download and upload speeds offered, AT&T Dedicated Internet can scale up as a business grows. For example, a one-person business could start with a 10 Mbps plan and then upgrade to higher speeds as more employees are hired and additional resources are required.
No Annual Contract
We like that AT&T Business doesn’t hold businesses to a yearly contract. Rather, you have the option of month-to-month or usage-based plans. If businesses experience unexpected rapid growth or need to switch plans quickly, they will only need to wait until the next month before doing so. This wasn’t the case with most of the other business internet service providers we reviewed.
It’s easy to transfer information digitally nowadays, but sometimes servers experience unexpected outages. Services such as maintenance and heavy traffic could reduce internet speeds, either through the sharing of internet across connections or a dedicated internet. Fortunately, both AT&T Dedicated Internet and AT&T Business Fiber have backup options for an additional monthly charge.
The AT&T Wireless Broadband plan can also act as a backup internet option. Although Dedicated Internet and Business Fiber include a backup router with 12 to 24 hours of battery backup, customers can choose to use AT&T Wireless Broadband as either a primary connection or secondary backup option. We found this especially useful for businesses that sell products online .
24/7 Proactive Network Monitoring
Dedicated Internet and Business Fiber plan customers have access to 24/7 proactive network monitoring, a service we liked for its focus on cybersecurity. In the event of a server outage, a team of AT&T Business experts can send service tickets on behalf of a business and closely observe server activity. This service is included with the Dedicated Internet and Business Fiber plans in addition to the 24/7 customer support offered on all plans.
Static IP Addresses
The Dedicated Internet and Business Fiber plans provide static IP addresses to business customers. This is ideal for a company that hosts its own websites or needs to provide remote internet access for employees, since it’s easier to track activity from a fixed network than from a dynamic IP.
AT&T Business Internet Costs
AT&T offers the following business internet plans:
- AT&T Dedicated Internet: This is a prioritized connection plan that allows businesses to stay running even with heavy internet traffic.
- AT&T Business Fiber: This is an ultrafast and reliable plan that offers gigabit speeds with no annual contract.
- AT&T Wireless Broadband: This plan is an efficient business internet solution that can get businesses up and running quickly.
AT&T Dedicated Internet prices are not displayed online because they depend on specific business needs, so you’ll need to reach out to a sales representative for a custom quote. AT&T considers factors such as the business’s size and location when determining the final cost of a Dedicated Internet plan.
There is an option for AT&T Enterprise, which is geared toward larger businesses. You can contact the AT&T support team to determine if that type of plan is a good fit for your company.
AT&T Business Internet Setup
All of AT&T’s Business Internet plans include installation and the choice of a modem or gateway. AT&T Wireless Broadband specifically requires a hotspot or router. Unfortunately, you cannot use your own router or modem with AT&T business internet, but AT&T offers its own line of routers and recommends purchasing them for optimal performance.
You can expect AT&T business internet to be installed within 10 days at most. For all plans, an expert will install the necessary equipment to get your business up and running as soon as possible. Once the internet is set up and installed, customers can access the AT&T Business Direct portal to manage their services and pay their monthly invoices.
AT&T Business Internet Customer Service
Business experts from AT&T are available Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Central time. If you have questions outside AT&T’s support hours, the company offers an automated chat feature that’s available 24/7 and can answer any basic questions you may have and direct you to resources on the website. Upon testing the live chat feature, we found that many of the questions required a sign-in, which may deter new customers from using it and encourage them to wait for customer service via phone instead.
AT&T Business has a full support page dedicated to answering some of the most commonly asked questions. However, business customers who have questions regarding their specific plan can reach out to AT&T’s business internet customer service team by phone as well as post questions in an online community forum. In addition, customers can contact a Business Solutions specialist via an online form.
AT&T Business Internet Drawbacks
Although fiber internet provides some of the fastest download and upload speeds on the market, it does come with some disadvantages. Compared with cable and satellite internet, for example, fiber internet comes at a steep cost, especially as customers look to use gigabit internet as their primary business internet option.
If price is a concern, customers can consider using a lower-tier internet option that still offers fast internet speeds at a fraction of the cost of higher-tier plans. However, AT&T’s prices are still higher than those of other business internet services that offer wired internet connection. For more cost-effective services, consider our Spectrum review or our review of Verizon.
Another limitation is that AT&T Business Internet may not be available at your business’s location. Fiber internet typically has more limited availability than cable or satellite internet. Businesses that need to perform large data transfers or stay connected to high speed internet will need to be hosted in select areas. If your business is located in an area with limited internet connectivity, consider reading our Viasat review for an option that is available even in rural areas.
When reviewing business internet providers, we considered some of the features that business owners would need in order to get their business going from start to finish. Part of that process included doing extensive research, calling internet providers and finally deciding on a use case for each of our chosen vendors. When doing so, we considered factors such as installation times, internet speeds, business phone services and internet availability. For digital entrepreneurs, we chose AT&T as the ideal business internet provider.
AT&T Business Internet FAQs
What is the difference between at&t dedicated internet and at&t business fiber.
AT&T Dedicated Internet provides fast and reliable connection exclusively for an individual business. AT&T Business Fiber offers gigabit internet speeds using a shared internet connection. Both AT&T Dedicated Internet and Business Fiber are proactively monitored and supported 24/7 by a team of AT&T Business customer service experts.
Am I eligible to use AT&T business internet?
AT&T’s business internet is available only in select areas due to the nature of fiber internet. Customers can contact AT&T directly if they wish to receive service in a non-fiber area.
What costs and fees do I need to consider when using AT&T business internet?
The costs and fees will vary depending on which business plan you choose, but the costs that apply to all plans may include fees for installation and equipment.
Is AT&T Internet Backup available for all business plans?
Both AT&T Dedicated Internet and AT&T Business Fiber come with Internet Backup, which consists of a backup router that provides businesses with 12 to 24 hours of power to keep the business going until the primary connection is back online. Customers who choose AT&T Wireless Broadband can use it as both a primary connection and a backup connection in the case of an outage.
We recommend AT&T business internet for …
- Digital entrepreneurs who use online marketing as a primary business tool.
- Small business owners who are looking to scale their businesses.
- Business owners who want fast internet speeds.
We don’t recommend AT&T business internet for …
- Small brick-and-mortar businesses.
- Business owners who are just starting a business and may not need superfast internet speeds from the get-go.
- Businesses in rural areas or other places with limited connectivity.
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Home > Services > Internet
Best High-Speed Internet Providers for Small Businesses of 2023
Data as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. * 1-yr. price guarantee Fios 100 Mbps w/2-yr agmt., 2-yr. price guarantee Fios 300 Mbps, 3-yr. price guarantee Fios 940/880 Mbps **With Auto Pay or $5/mo. fee applies. One-time charges apply. Max speeds are wired. Wi-Fi, actual & average speeds vary. † w/ 2 year agmt. ‡ Maximum speeds as fast as 100 Mbps download/upload per month for 12 months with minimum one-year agreement. Installation, Business High-Speed Internet Fee ($5.99/mo.), taxes and other fees apply. Subject to availability. § On the Business Unlimited 35, 60, and 100 service plans, after 75, 150, or 200 GB of data usage, respectively, Viasat may prioritize your data behind other customers only during network congestion. Video streaming quality on the Business Unlimited 35 and 60 plans is typically at 480p, the Business Unlimited 100 plan is typically at 720p. For metered service plans, extra charges apply for data used in excess of the monthly data allotment. Minimum 24-month service term. One-time standard installation fee is $300.00. Priority connection means your data receives preference on Viasat's network. All fees are subject to taxes. Speeds and streaming video qualities are “up to,” will vary and are not guaranteed. Service is not available in all areas. All offers may be changed or withdrawn at any time. Viasat and the Viasat logo are trademarks of Viasat, Inc.
We are committed to sharing unbiased reviews. Some of the links on our site are from our partners who compensate us. Read our editorial guidelines and advertising disclosure .
The bottom line: The best high-speed internet provider for small businesses is Verizon . Verizon does a great job ensuring affordable prices, fast speeds, and customer service. Verizon customer service outranks all other competitors.
Every business is different, though, and there are excellent brands other than Verizon that also might meet your more specific needs or concerns. We recommend Frontier for best budget, AT&T for speed, and Comcast for tech support. Of course, your business is outside of the city and in more of a rural area, we recommend Viasat .
- Fios by Verizon : Best overall
- Frontier Business Internet : Best budget-friendly ISP
- AT&T Business Internet : Best for pure speed
- Comcast Business Internet : Best free tech support
- Viasat Business Internet : Best for rural businesses
Best high-speed internet providers for small businesses
Data as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. *w/ 1yr. price guarantee Fios 100 Mbps, 2yr. price guarantee Fios 300 Mbps, 3 yr. price guarantee Fios 940/880 Mbps ** 12-mo.agmt for Internet req'd. Early term fee may apply †With Auto Pay or $5/mo. fee applies. Multi-Device Security Pro included at $4.99/mo. One-time charges apply. Max speeds are wired. Wi-Fi, actual & average speeds vary. § On the Business Unlimited 35, 60, and 100 service plans, after 75, 150, or 200 GB of data usage, respectively, Viasat may prioritize your data behind other customers only during network congestion. Video streaming quality on the Business Unlimited 35 and 60 plans is typically at 480p, the Business Unlimited 100 plan is typically at 720p. For metered service plans, extra charges apply for data used in excess of the monthly data allotment. Minimum 24-month service term. One-time standard installation fee is $300.00. Priority connection means your data receives preference on Viasat's network. All fees are subject to taxes. Speeds and streaming video qualities are “up to,” will vary and are not guaranteed. Service is not available in all areas. All offers may be changed or withdrawn at any time. Viasat and the Viasat logo are trademarks of Viasat, Inc.
Here's how we arrived at the list above. We included only plans with download speeds of 25 Mbps or more to match FCC guidelines for broadband internet. We also left out any plans that were extraordinarily expensive for the download speeds they provide—they're just not worth the money.
In the end, our list of best broadband service providers includes several major companies with cable, digital subscriber line (DSL), and fiber-optic plans.
Verizon: Overall best for high-speed business internet
Data as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. **w/ 1yr. price guarantee Fios 200 Mbps, 2yr. price guarantee Fios 500 Mbps, 3 yr. price guarantee Fios 940/880 Mbps
Verizon serves up the best combination of business internet speeds, reliability, and support.
Although Verizon sells a few business DSL plans, none have speeds at 25Mbps or more. For truly fast speeds, fiber is hard to beat. Verizon's fiber plans, branded Fios, offer you a chance at near-gigabit connections.
What do we mean by “near gigabit”? Verizon’s fastest plan—Fios Gigabit Connection—gives you maximum download speeds of 940Mbps with upload speeds up to 880Mbps. That’s lightning fast by today’s standards, but it doesn’t quite reach 1,000Mbps, the true definition of gigabit speed. Yet with fiber plans that consistently meet the speeds Verizon advertises, and then some , we’ll let that bit of fudging slide.
Another feather in Verizon’s cap is its customer service. We understand that most internet providers have poor reputations. But the fact that industry-rating juggernaut J.D. Power gave Verizon second place for customer satisfaction among small to medium-sized businesses should give you warmer feelings.
Verizon high-speed internet plans
Data as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. *w/ 1yr. price guarantee Fios 200 Mbps, 2yr. price guarantee Fios 500 Mbps, 3 yr. price guarantee Fios 940/880 Mbps
Verizon’s fastest plan is priced at about $249 per month. That may be a bit expensive for some very small businesses, but it’s far better than the nearly $500 that Comcast charges for gigabit speeds.
Many Verizon plans offer symmetric speeds, which means you get the same speed for downloads and uploads. Fast upload speeds can significantly improve activities that require sending data from your device, including videoconferencing in real time and uploading large files to cloud storage.
One gripe: contracts. While some ISPs—like Spectrum and AT&T—offer contract-free plans, Verizon uses a 12-month agreement that renews automatically. It’s not the worst thing in the world, but it’s something you should know in advance.
The bottom line: Verizon Fios offers an impressive array of high-speed internet plans to fit businesses of just about any size.
Frontier: Best budget-friendly option
Data as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
If you saw the plan prices for our picks above, you may be worried that an affordable high-speed internet connection is beyond reach. With plans priced at the hundreds of dollars per month, budget-conscious businesses need an alternative.
Plus, each plan comes with free access to Frontier Business Suite. This is regularly an $800/year plan that includes SmartVoice line and Wi-fi enabled phone, access and backup of 200GB of data in the cloud anywhere you are, a multi-device security pro and, finally, an optimized Wi-Fi router.
You can also add Frontier Internet Backup to your high-speed plan for an additional fee. Using a cellular modem, Frontier Internet Backup keeps your business—and all of your devices—online when internet outages occur for seamless operations and uninterrupted productivity.
Frontier fiber internet plans
*With Auto Pay or $5/mo. fee applies. Multi-Device Security Pro included at $4.99/mo. One-time charges apply. Max speeds are wired. Wi-Fi, actual & average speeds vary.
All of Frontier’s high-speed internet plans come in under or just above $150 per month.
Now for Frontier’s major shortcomings. Frontier’s customers lodge a lot of complaints against the internet service provider. One common grievance is high latency. Latency, which refers to data transfer delay time, can cause serious headaches for businesses that require fast and reliable connections. Activities like video streaming are at risk of disruption from high latency.
Despite customer service and reliability concerns, you should consider Frontier if getting a low price for high-speed plans is your No. 1 priority.
AT&T: Best customer service
Data as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. 12-mo.agmt for Internet req'd. Early term fee may apply
If you’re focused on finding the fastest business internet plans possible, we recommend AT&T. Business plans from AT&T soar all the way up to 1,000Mbps download and upload speeds, offering you true gigabit connection potential.
Several of AT&T's fiber plans give you the option of symmetric speeds—but at a lofty price. If your business is a frequent user of upload-heavy applications and real-time communication software, you should consider one of these plans with symmetric speeds.
AT&T high-speed internet plans
AT&T partially makes up for its high pricing in great customer service rankings. AT&T is currently our top pick for great internet service, and J.D. Power agrees: In 2021, AT&T ranked first for customer satisfaction in the small to medium-sized business category—though only third for very small businesses. 3
Comcast: Best free tech support
Data as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. *with 2-year agreement
There’s a lot to like about Comcast, including fiber plans with symmetric speeds up to 1Gbps. And its pricing, while not the cheapest, is competitively matched against other providers like Verizon and AT&T.
Plus, Comcast plans come with zero-cost installation, a 30-day trial period, and access to tons of extra apps, software, and tools for Wi-Fi, security, and more. We especially like that Comcast offers free 24/7 tech support. Some providers charge extra for top-notch customer care, but Comcast, as far as we can tell, offers solid help any hour of the day or night.
Comcast high-speed internet plans
Data as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. *with 2-year agreement **For 12 months with 2-year agreement †with 2-year agreement
We couldn’t talk about Comcast without mentioning its dreadful reputation with residential customers. However, Comcast business customers don’t rate their ISP nearly as harshly as their home-based counterparts.
We breathed a bit easier when we realized that Comcast truly does offer a solid internet option that’s super reliable and super fast.
Viasat: Best for rural businesses
Data as of 6/7/23. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. On the Business Unlimited 35, 60, and 100 service plans, after 75, 150, or 200 GB of data usage, respectively, Viasat may prioritize your data behind other customers only during network congestion. Video streaming quality on the Business Unlimited 35 and 60 plans is typically at 480p, the Business Unlimited 100 plan is typically at 720p. For metered service plans, extra charges apply for data used in excess of the monthly data allotment. Minimum 24-month service term. One-time standard installation fee is $300.00. Priority connection means your data receives preference on Viasat's network. All fees are subject to taxes. Speeds and streaming video qualities are “up to,” will vary and are not guaranteed. Service is not available in all areas. All offers may be changed or withdrawn at any time. Viasat and the Viasat logo are trademarks of Viasat, Inc.
As the only satellite internet provider on this list, Viasat’s widespread availability makes it the best for rural businesses. Even if you operate out of locations that other ISPs don’t touch, you can almost certainly get Viasat’s satellite internet service .
Unlike the satellite internet providers of the past, Viasat offers both availability and speed. Its business internet plans, with download speeds ranging from 35Mbps to 100Mbps, can compete with most other broadband providers.
Plus, Viasat’s state-of-the-art satellite technology minimizes other rural internet issues, such as latency, so you can keep your business up and running—no matter where you operate.
Viasat high-speed internet plans
Data as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. *On these plans, Viasat may prioritize your data behind other customers only during network congestion. For metered service plans, extra charges apply for data used in excess of the monthly data allotment. Minimum 24-month service term. One-time standard installation fee is $300.00. Priority connection means your data receives preference on Viasat's network. All fees are subject to taxes. Speeds and streaming video qualities are “up to,” will vary and are not guaranteed. Service is not available in all areas. All offers may be changed or withdrawn at any time. Viasat and the Viasat logo are trademarks of Viasat, Inc.
Even with its improved technology, Viasat does still have data limits. It doesn’t use hard data caps—that is, Viasat won’t simply switch off your internet after you use all your data—but it will throttle (slow) your internet if you use more than your allotted daily data. If this poses a problem, you can always upgrade to a plan with more data.
Now, we still don’t recommend satellite internet for everyone. If you have other ISPs in your area, you can probably get the same speeds for a lower cost from a different provider. But if you’ve got a business high in the mountains or out on the plains, then Viasat provides a solid option (even if it’s the only one).
Spectrum: Honorable mention for no-contract cable
Data as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. *for 12 mos.
Want high-speed internet for your office but feel squeamish about signing a long-term contract? Spectrum will connect you to cable internet speeds up to 1000Mbps (wireless speeds may vary) totally contract-free.
Spectrum, a Charter Communications brand, provides cable internet to U.S. businesses. The upside to cable internet is that you access it through the same cable modems used to deliver cable TV, which makes this internet widely available. Spectrum provides fiber connections in some areas, but the service is so limited that we haven’t included the plans here.
Spectrum offers three high-speed cable options to business customers: 100, 300/400, and 1000. Each plan denotes the download speed you can expect from your connection in megabits per second.
Spectrum business Internet pricing
Data as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. *for 12 mos. **for 24 mos. when bundled with Phone or TV † for 12 mos. when bundled with Phone or TV
Where Spectrum falters is its upload speeds. Cable technology limits how much upstream heft you can get, and Spectrum’s plans can get you up to only 20Mbps upstream.
Another trouble spot is customer service. Spectrum has been embroiled in legal troubles for the last few years, especially in the state of New York, where it failed to follow through on service promises made with its acquisition of Time Warner Cable. We’re keeping an eye on the situation— poor customer satisfaction could knock Spectrum down in our books.
But if you’re outside of New York or less bothered by poor customer service ratings, Spectrum cable Internet appears as a rosy alternative to expensive DSL and fiber providers that lock you into lengthy contracts.
The right combination of fast internet, reliable connections, and solid customer support makes Verizon Fios a worthy choice for nearly any small business.
Verizon is our pick for the best overall high-speed business internet provider. But just because the ISP is our number one choice doesn’t mean it’s the right one for your business. Consider the factors important to you—cost, contracts, customer service—and then choose the one that best fits your business’s demands.
Make sure you can get the ISP you want—find business internet providers near you .
Speed and bandwidth: How much do you need?
Speed and bandwidth are another two more ambiguously used terms in internet parlance. But we can define them a bit clearer than broadband internet and high-speed internet.
- Speed is the rate at which an internet connection transmits data from one end to the other. Measured in bits per second, most modern high-speed internet speeds range between 25 megabits (about 1 million bits) and 1 gigabit (about 1,000 megabits) per second.
- Bandwidth refers to the maximum capacity of a connection to carry internet data. Although ISPs often use speed to market their plans, they’re actually selling bandwidth. For example, a 100Mbps plan has the capacity to deliver data at 100 megabits per second. But beware—you may not actually experience the advertised speed all the time.
Now back to the question: How much speed or bandwidth do you actually need? The answer depends on the type and frequency of internet activity your business engages in on a day-to-day basis.
While guidelines on speed use vary, here’s our recommendation for the speed you’ll need to run your business smoothly.
Internet speed capabilities
What else should you consider when choosing business internet providers.
Price and speed. That’s what matters when it comes to choosing a business internet provider, right?
Well, not entirely. The truth is that unless you have an unlimited budget (who does?) or run a supremely data-heavy business (not likely), you’ll have other factors to consider. Here are the ones we focus on.
- Connection type: Depending on your business’s location, connection type may be a key consideration. Some areas may have only a few internet connection choices—or even just one.
- Customer and industry ratings: Customer reviews of internet providers tend toward the hellish. But remember that businesses often have different experiences than residential customers. Make sure you understand how a potential ISP handles business customer complaints and concerns.
- Fees: Your customers hate hidden fees, and so should you. Check to see if you’ll be paying your provider extra for things like installation, static IPs, or early termination.
- Bundles: Most internet providers offer special deals for packaging more than one service under the same roof. Whether phone or VoIP or TV, consider bundles as a way to shave off some extra cost when you need several services.
- Data caps: You’ll run into limits on the amount of data you can use most often with satellite and wireless providers. It can be costly or disruptive to exceed these caps, so ensure you pick an internet plan that can accommodate your data needs.
- Cloud, security, and software services: From backing up your precious business data to running email, accounting, and e-commerce applications, many ISPs include or offer special rates on software and cloud-based services.
- Hardware: Each internet type requires a unique set of equipment to get up and running. Some setups are simple—just a modem connected to an office cable line. But others, like satellite internet, may require hefty hardware—and hefty costs too.
But others, like satellite internet, may require hefty hardware—and hefty costs too.
High-speed internet FAQs
"Broadband" and "high-speed internet" are somewhat murky terms that not everyone defines equally. But here's what we use: in 2015, the FCC defined broadband service as any connection that provides customers with download speeds of at least 25Mbps.
There’s no indisputable definition of high-speed internet. In fact, internet service providers attach the term to just about any plan, regardless of speed.
What’s more, the terms broadband internet and high-speed internet are often used interchangeably, further confusing things.
But why the confusion? Well, consider how the technology has evolved. Even the slowest plans featured in this article would have been considered blazingly fast in 2008—and much more so in 1998. So even if everyone did sit down and agree to a singular definition of high-speed internet, that definition would have to change every few years.
With that in mind, look for internet that’s fast enough for your needs rather than just high-speed internet. We’ll look at speeds in-depth in a minute.
Broadband more appropriately refers to any internet type that isn’t a dial-up connection. Essentially, broadband’s debut marks the age at which most of us moved on from the days of modems that tied up our phone lines to dial into internet provider companies like AOL. And what an age that was (we still hear the screeching modem sounds in our dreams).
Today, broadband internet generally includes any “always on” cable, DSL, fiber-optic, and even high-speed satellite internet connection. But not every plan operates at truly high speeds. So to compare internet providers, we decided to use the FCC’s 2015 guidelines on broadband internet speeds , which set the minimum at a 25Mbps downstream.
Most small to midsize businesses can operate well at 25Mbps or more. Of course, as speeds get faster, even this current definition will start to seem slow. And the FCC may change its mind on minimum broadband standards. We’ll update you as necessary.
High-speed broadband internet connections encompass plans from a variety of service providers and connection types. Depending on your area, you may have access to several of these or just one.
- Cable: This connection uses the same modems and coaxial cables that deliver cable TV, so cable internet is widely available in most well-populated areas.
- Digital subscriber line (DSL): These may be sent via phone lines, but DSL connections are faster and more reliable than the phone-based dial-up internet of yesteryear.
- Fiber: Fiber-optic networks beam light through glass or plastic bundles of wires—each wire the size of a human hair— and these connections offer some of the fastest internet speeds on the planet.
- Satellite: For rural businesses without access to land-based broadband, satellite internet is like an internet angel sent to earth by planet-orbiting stations.
- Wireless: Whether through hotspots, cellular signals, or fixed radio towers, wireless internet provides options for remote and traveling businesses.
Learn more about the difference between internet types with our detailed comparison.
We analyzed each business internet service provider's affordability, overall value, suitability for growing businesses, ease-of-use, and customer service, among other factors.
- Best Satellite Internet Providers for Rural Businesses: Viasat vs. HughesNet
- Verizon vs. Comcast Business Internet: What’s the Best ISP for Small Business?
- AT&T vs. Comcast: Which Internet Provider Is Best for Small Businesses?
- How to Choose an Internet Service Provider for Your Business
At Business.org, our research is meant to offer general product and service recommendations. We don't guarantee that our suggestions will work best for each individual or business, so consider your unique needs when choosing products and services.
Geographic and service restrictions apply to AT&T services. Call to see if you qualify. Fiber optics may apply to all or part of the network, depending on your location. © 2020 AT&T Intellectual Property. AT&T, the AT&T logo and all other AT&T marks contained herein are trademarks of AT&T Intellectual Property and/or AT&T affiliated companies. All rights reserved. Subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. provide products and services under the AT&T brand.
Available in select areas only, additional monthly fee applies. Frontier’s Gig Service is available in all Frontier fiber markets, but may not be available to every location depending on local network capacity or other technical details. While Frontier’s Gig Service is delivered on our 100% fiber-to-the-location network, actual speeds may vary due to limitations in the customer’s network at their location, devices in use, and/or Frontier’s network traffic conditions. Actual speeds will range up to 940 Mbps (download) and 880 Mbps (upload) and may vary depending on usage of the network and multiple other factors.
FiOS 100 Mbps offer: Must subscribe to new FiOS Internet for Business with minimum one-year agreement. Internet will be provisioned with maximum speeds as fast as 100 Mbps download/100 Mbps upload based on line requirements. Business High-Speed Internet Fee ($5.99/mo.) applies.
FiOS 500 Mbps offer: Must subscribe to new FiOS Internet for Business with minimum one-year agreement. Internet will be provisioned with maximum speeds as fast as 500 Mbps download/500 Mbps upload based on line requirements. Business High-Speed Internet Fee ($5.99/mo.) applies.
FiOS Gig Service offer: Must subscribe to new FiOS Internet for Business with minimum one-year agreement. Internet will be provisioned with maximum speeds as fast as 940 Mbps download/880 Mbps upload based on line requirements.
All FiOS Internet for Business offers: For new business customers in select Frontier FiOS areas. Maximum service speed is not available to all locations and the maximum speed for service at your location may be lower than the maximum speed in this range. Service speed is not guaranteed and will depend on many factors. Service and promotion subject to availability. Internet installation ($20), taxes, governmental surcharges, fees and other applicable charges extra, and subject to change during and after the promotional period. A $9.99 broadband processing fee upon disconnection of service applies. Early termination fee of $33.33 per month, times the remaining number of months in the term agreement, will apply. Other restrictions may apply. Frontier reserves the right to withdraw this offer at any time. The FiOS marks are owned by Verizon Trademark Services LLC and used under license.
˚Speed based on wired connection. Available Internet speeds may vary by address. Gig capable modem required for Gig speed. For a list of Gig capable modems, visit Spectrum.net/modem.
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Best AT&T Small Business Internet Plans
AT&T has one of the best internet data plans for medium- and small-sized organizations. AT&T is the most popular internet service provider in the United States and offers highly competitive services. Their internet is very affordable and reliable. AT&T data plans guarantee you peace of mind by ensuring that all your connected devices, customers, and transactions are secure and safe.
Another cutting-edge feature that distinguishes AT&T from their competitors is its unlimited internet that does not have data caps. This feature ensures that you cannot pay extra charges for going behold your monthly data range. AT&T also offers you the best internet plans and does not have any annual contracts.
AT&T small Business Internet Review
AT&T business internet is best suited for new and small businesses that have a couple of connected users and require a connection range of about 30 to 50 Mbps. You can be able to comfortably download large files, and communicate with your customers and employees while using a 25 Mbps network. At 50Mbps, you can be able to comfortably carry out a video conference with your customers and business partners without interruption.
In case your needs include running cloud computing services such as Software as a Service or connecting many devices or users, you can switch to a higher data plan service by enrolling in the premium packages.
- High-speed internet
- Unlimited data
- Free network security
- 24/7 Customer support
In a nutshell, both the DSL and fiber business internet plans are great at&t small business internet plans. They guarantee an uptime of about 99.9%, that is, only 44 minutes of downtime in a month
Advantages of AT&T Small Business Internet
Being the best internet service provider in the United States, at&t has a lot of advantages. These advantages include:
- At&t provides DSL Hybrid, fiber internet, and a fixed wireless internet connection that depends on your area of residence. Having a wide range of connections guarantees that there is a connection to as many households as possible.
- It offers you a wide range of internet plans that you can choose from.
- You do not require a contract. The at&t provides you with internet plans that are auto-renewed on a monthly basis. This is awesome because you do not have to worry about long-term contracts that can highly inconvenience you anytime you want to change your ISP or your data plans.
- It is less costly since you can combine both your internet and tv on a single bill.
- You will enjoy 12 months of promotional prices once you subscribe to at&t small business internet plans.
- You will also enjoy several gift cards and offers.
Disadvantages of AT&T small Business internet
There are some other fees, such as a one-time installation fee and a monthly rental fee for the equipment. Although you can decide to do your own installation, the provider does not give you the option of using your equipment.
You may encounter data caps, and you can also be charged after exhausting your monthly data allowances.
AT&T Small Business Internet Plans
You can choose from the following two types of services if you want to use At&t small business internet;
AT&T DSL Business Internet
The below table gives the breakdown of AT&T’s DSL small business internet packages from the lowest to the highest.
The DSL is the upgrade of the dial-up connections technologies. It uses phone lines to deliver internet services at different speeds. AT&T DSL plan, also known as a high-speed internet connection plan, is the cornerstone of business internet services.
You can enjoy 25 Mbps for only $60 if you are on a budget. After you subscribe to this plan, you can be able to create a primary Wi-Fi connection, download files and connect with several employees and customers.
As shown in the above table, you will go up the level depending on your requirements. You can enjoy up to 500Mbps at the DSL product line helm.
AT&T Fiber Internet Plans
This plan comes with a speed of up to 1Gbps, and it is among the fastest internet plan that you can find in the market presently. This plan has a wonderful download and upload speed. Organizations that conduct VoIP or video conferencing should consider a balanced fiber option. The table below shows the breakdown of AT&T fiber small business internet packages from the lowest to the highest.
The high speed with these packages is very important, especially for those small business organizations that usually telecommunicate with their employee and need to back up large files.
Best Business Internet Providers
Business internet is basically more reliable and faster than residential internet though it is quite expensive. As a business owner, you should determine what your company needs before you commit yourself to a certain business internet plan. Some of the things that you should put into consideration include the required internet speed, your internet budget, and your preferred provider. The below table shows the best small business internet service providers;
In a nutshell, both the DSL and fiber business internet plans are great at&t small business internet plans. They guarantee an uptime of about 99.9%, that is, only 44 minutes of downtime in a month.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
This is an internet service for small businesses that have one to six locations that enable customers to bundle video, voice, and more.
This is a business internet service offering advanced features such as immediate click-through ordering, symmetric IP connection, and more.
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We No Longer Need a Big Carrier’s Wireless Plan. Discount Ones Are the Way.
We are overpaying for phone plans from Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile. Budget wireless services, similarly fast and robust, can save thousands.
By Brian X. Chen
Before becoming the personal tech columnist for The Times, Brian X. Chen was a beat reporter covering phone carriers.
Americans have long been conditioned to believe that when they buy a cellphone, the next step is to pick a wireless plan from one of the big carriers: Verizon, AT&T or T-Mobile. With their plans ranging from $60 to $200 a month for individuals and families, the price of a phone is soon eclipsed by the recurring service bills .
What if I told you that it no longer had to be this way?
Your phone bill could shrink to as little as $25 a month if you picked a wireless plan from a lesser-known service provider known as a discount carrier. The cheaper plans, based on my tests, offer sufficiently fast internet speeds and reliable phone service. It takes some courage and technological know-how to make the switch, but the potential savings outweigh the downsides.
On the surface, these budget carriers, which include Cricket Wireless , Straight Talk , Boost Mobile , Mint Mobile and Visible , lack a cool factor. They do not operate their own cell networks; instead, they lease wireless services from the big carriers and market them toward retirees. The no-frill plans often have trade-offs, including slower download speeds, since Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile subscribers have priority access to faster network performance.
Yet in the past few years, so much has changed that I can now confidently recommend discount phone plans for most people, including white-collar professionals and Instagram-obsessed youths. Here’s why:
Cellular networks have peaked. Newer 5G and 4G cell technology is so fast that even budget carriers can provide very fast download speeds — zippy enough to stream video, load maps and download apps — even if they are somewhat slower than what the Big Three provide.
The shift to hybrid work. Office workers who used to spend more time commuting and had to rely on their cellular network now have their commute time cut in half and are relying more on the Wi-Fi connection at their home or office cubicle for making video calls and sending messages. That means slower cellular performance on a budget carrier may be unnoticeable.
You can try a discount carrier without breaking up with your big carrier. The eSIM, the digital version of the SIM card that carries your phone number, is now common on many modern smartphones. It lets you immediately activate an extra phone line without needing to insert a physical SIM card, which makes experimenting with an off-brand wireless service easier and less intimidating.
Once you have converted to a discount phone plan, the savings add up quickly. A family of four buying new iPhones with a Cricket phone plan would spend $3,762 over two years, $1,311 less than they would spend with Verizon, according to an analysis by WalletHub, a personal finance research firm .
“The negative perception around budget plans is fading,” Cassandra Happe, an analyst for WalletHub, said. “Now they’re seen as a smart choice for everyone. People are realizing you can get a great phone plan without spending a fortune.”
To put discount phone carriers to the test, I activated three services — Visible, Cricket and Straight Talk — on an iPhone. In various locations in California, I ran speed tests, made phone calls and used apps like maps, YouTube and TikTok. For comparisons, I ran the same tests on my Verizon connection.
The discount carriers were, on average, up to 46 percent slower than my Verizon connection. That sounds like a lot, but in real-world tests, I didn’t notice a difference — my apps worked fine, and videos streamed smoothly.
Here’s how the setup and testing process went.
Buying and activating a discount phone plan
Consumers can sign up for discount phone plans by buying a physical SIM card from a website or retail store, though I recommend eSIM as the way. The digital SIM card saves time — and because you can install multiple eSIMs at the same time, you can try a discount carrier and compare it with the performance of your big carrier before deciding on a plan.
The steps for setting up an eSIM vary somewhat from carrier to carrier, but the process is fundamentally consistent: You buy a phone plan through a brand’s website or app and click a button or scan a bar code to activate the service.
Visible charged $25 a month for a plan that included unlimited data; Straight Talk charged $35 a month for a plan with 10 gigabytes of high-speed internet; and Cricket charged $40 — $10 to activate the eSIM and $30 for a monthly plan that included five gigabytes of data.
Visible, which is owned by Verizon, had the smoothest setup. Its mobile app let me buy a phone plan using Apple Pay and tap a few buttons to activate service. With Straight Talk and Cricket, I perused the websites to find their eSIM offerings. I ran into problems with Cricket, which emailed a broken web link to activate my plan; it took me about 20 minutes to find a tool on its website to manually activate my service.
My iPhone could hold up to eight eSIMs, so I installed all three plans and toggled among them for each test.
I drove to 10 locations, including hiking trails, shopping centers and wineries, in California. At each location, I used the Speedtest app to test each carrier’s internet speed, and I called my very patient wife and streamed video on apps like TikTok and YouTube.
Broadly speaking, the discount phone services performed fine. They were occasionally sluggish when loading videos on TikTok, but my Verizon connection had similar delays.
Based on the results measured with the Speedtest app, Cricket and Visible had comparable performances, with download speeds of 154 megabits per second, on average. Straight Talk delivered speeds of 279 megabits per second — similar to my Verizon connection, which delivered download speeds of 287 megabits per second.
What do those numbers mean? To stream video through apps like Netflix and Hulu, you need a minimum of 25 megabits per second, according to AT&T. So the budget carriers gave me more than enough speed to handle some of the most data-intensive tasks.
Taking the leap
Among the three discount carriers, my favorite was Visible because of its smooth setup process and consistent network performance. Visible was also more transparent with its billing in emailed receipts. Straight Talk never emailed me a receipt. I was turned off by Cricket’s clunky website and the $10 fee for activating an eSIM, which was not a charge the other two carriers required.
Angie Klein, president of the Verizon Value organization, which oversees Visible, said its budget plans were designed for tech-savvy customers who wanted a single line, and Verizon’s traditional wireless plans were a full-service experience with more perks. Straight Talk and Cricket did not respond to requests for comment.
On the whole, I don’t have a one-size-fits-all recommendation. As with the big carriers, cellular performance for each discount carrier will vary depending on the network’s coverage where you live and work.
But because eSIM technology makes it easy to switch to another network — and the discount phone plans are cheap — it would be foolish to pass on the opportunity to give a budget phone plan a try.
Last year, Robin Phillips, a 54-year-old Seattle resident who works in food distribution, broke up with Verizon to try Visible. He ran into hiccups. The wireless service initially would not activate, and the customer support agents, available only through a chat app, were unhelpful.
But he said he didn’t regret the switch. Visible’s service began working after a day, and he pays $25 a month, down from the $70 that he used to pay for a Verizon plan. His wife also converted.
“Is it worth it?” he said. “We’re saving about $1,000 a year. I’ll deal with the hassle for that.”
Brian X. Chen is the lead consumer technology writer for The Times. He reviews products and writes Tech Fix , a column about the social implications of the tech we use. More about Brian X. Chen
Tech Fix: Solving Your Tech Problems
Brian x. chen, our lead consumer technology writer, looks at the societal implications of the tech we use..
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