Houston, we have a problem. Although it’s one of the top five most populated metros in the US, H-Town couldn’t crack the top 50 on Ookla’s list of the country’s fastest cities for broadband.
Per the speed-testing site’s most recent reporting, Houston managed to clock in at only No. 59. By contrast, its fellow Lone Star State cities of Corpus Christi, El Paso and San Antonio all placed in the top 10. Other Texas towns that placed higher on the speed chart — to add insult to injury — include Arlington, Austin, Fort Worth, Garland, Irving, Lubbock and Plano. Some small consolation: Houston finished well ahead of Dallas, which was in the bottom 10.
Despite the poor showing, Houston offers several high-speed internet choices. You can get hooked up with home internet from fast fiber options, including AT&T, Frontier and local internet service provider Tachus. You could hop online via cable connections from Optimum and Spectrum. You could join the 5G home internet movement by trying Verizon 5G Home Internet or T-Mobile Home Internet.
Whatever the options at your specific address — including the alternatives of third-party providers like EarthLink, EIN and Ultra Home Internet — we can help you choose.
Best internet providers in H-Town
Our pick for the best overall ISP in Houston is AT&T Fiber, but there are other quality providers out there too. Let’s dive into the best internet service providers in Houston.
Note: The prices, speeds and features detailed in the article text may differ from those listed in the product detail cards, which represent providers national offerings. Your particular internet service options — including prices and speeds — depend on your address and may differ from those detailed here.
Houston internet providers compared
|Internet technology||Monthly price range||Speed range||Monthly equipment costs||Data cap||CNET review score|
|Astound Broadband||Cable||$25-$60||300-1,200Mbps||$12 (optional)||None||7|
|AT&T||DSL/fiber||$55-$180||10-5,000Mbps||None||1.5TB for DSL below 100Mbps; None for 100Mbps and above||7.4|
|Spectrum||Cable||$50-$90||300-940Mbps||Free modem; $5 router||None||7.2|
|T-Mobile Home Internet||Fixed wireless||$50||72-245Mbps||None||None||7.4|
|Verizon 5G Home Internet||Fixed wireless||$50-$70||85-1,000Mbps||None||None||7.2|
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All available Houston residential internet providers
Beyond the three picks above, several other broadband choices exist in the Houston metro area. Some can be found only in small pockets of the city, while others are mainly located in the city suburbs. There are some compelling choices here, even though they’re not as widely available.
- Astound Broadband: This cable internet provider, known regionally as Grande, offers some of Houston’s most competitive starting rates. Its starting price of $25 a month for a 300Mbps plan comes out to an affordable 8 cents per Mbps. By comparison, Xfinity’s cheaper $20 per month plan features download speeds of only 75Mbps and therefore has a much higher cost per Mbps of 27 cents. The Astound 1.2Gbps plan is also the cheapest in the city, starting at $60 monthly. The rub is that Astound’s price increases are some of the steepest in the industry. For example, the company’s Houston rate card reveals that Astound prices its 300Mbps plan at $84 per month after your promo expires. The gig plan sees a slightly less severe jump from $50 per month to $94 monthly, but still, beware the bait and switch.
- Brightspeed: Somewhat similar to AT&T but without as deep a presence. You’ll want to research this because, depending on your location, you may be dealing with DSL service (which can be as low as 20Mbps), or if you’re in the Kingwood area, you might see the company’s much more compelling fiber product.
- Consolidated Communications: You won’t find this fiber provider within city limits, but its affordable plans are available to customers in the suburbs of Conroe and Katy. Plans range from 50Mbps to 2Gbps for $35 to $85 monthly. There are no contracts required and no data cap enforced.
- Frontier: Frontier has a scattered presence in the greater Houston area. You won’t find it downtown, but you can get its DSL and fiber-optic service in the northeast outskirts of Baytown, Beach City, Cove and Crosby. You’ll also find it in the southern portion of the metro area in League City and Sante Fe. If Frontier Fiber is available — it features symmetrical plans of 500Mbps, 1Gbps, 2Gbps or 5Gbps speeds ranging from $50 to $155 per month — it’s a very appealing choice. But if Frontier DSL is your only option, try other alternatives.
- Kinetic by Windstream: This DSL and fiber provider is available in just a few small pockets within the Houston city limits. Most of that availability is in the southern suburb of Sugar Land. You’ll mostly deal with its DSL service rather than the faster fiber-optic plans.
- Optimum: First off, I can imagine you might be confused. Suddenlink is the provider you’re probably familiar with in the Houston area. However, its parent company, Altice USA, renamed it Optimum in 2022. In any case, Optimum service is scattered lightly throughout the metro area but has a heavier density north of the city in Conroe and Kingwood. This cable ISP is notable for its highly competitive starting rates, some of the most affordable in the area.
- Spectrum: Charter Communications’ ISP has some of the more customer-friendly, straightforward terms you’ll find for cable internet service. There are no contracts, no data caps and a free modem rental included in your monthly price, ranging from $50 to $90. It also includes free access to Wi-Fi hotspots across the country. Spectrum service is available north of the city, mainly in Magnolia, Spring, Tomball and The Woodlands.
- Tachus: This local ISP, founded in 2018, is notable for its community presence and commitment to building 100% fiber-to-the-home networks within the greater Houston metropolitan area. It’s now available to over 50,000 homes in Atascocita, Conroe, East Montgomery County, Kingwood, Magnolia, Oak Ridge County North and The Woodlands. There are three fiber plans — 300Mbps, 600Mbps and 1Gbps — ranging from $65 to $90 a month, with no data caps and no contracts. A modem rental is included in the monthly price, but you’ll need to provide your own router or rent one for $6 monthly.
- T-Mobile Home Internet: T-Mobile uses its 5G and 4G LTE networks to power its fixed wireless home internet product, which is available to over 50 million homes nationwide and approximately 92% of residents in the greater Houston area. That said, check your address on the T-Mobile site to see if you’re serviceable, though. I have T-Mobile cell service at home, but I’m still not eligible for the home internet service. In any case, it’s an intriguing offering that includes installation fees, taxes and equipment rental under its $50-a-month fee, with no data caps or contracts.
Typical pricing for Houston internet
The average starting price for internet service in Houston is just over $45 a month, which is right about in the middle of other markets we’ve covered, including Brooklyn ($36 a month), Los Angeles ($38 a month), Denver ($39 per month), San Francisco ($40 a month), New York City ($41 monthly), Seattle ($42 per month), Dallas and Philadelphia (about $43 a month), Phoenix ($46 per month), Atlanta ($47 a month), Orlando ($48 per month) and Charlotte, Chicago, Las Vegas, San Diego and St. Louis (all about $50 a month).
Cheap internet options in Space City
Xfinity offers the lowest starting price in Houston — its Connect plan (75Mbps) has a promo price of $20 for the first two years and then $50 a month after that. It’s also widely available throughout the Houston metro area and the Bayou City burbs.
It should also be noted that almost all providers listed participate in the Federal Communication Commission’s Affordable Connectivity Program, which provides a $30-a-month discount to qualifying households to provide affordable, high-speed internet. Some providers even offer a low-cost internet plan targeted at low-income homes and communities. When combined with the ACP benefit, you might be able to get internet service for free.
Fastest internet providers in Houston
Per the Ookla stats mentioned at the top of this article, Houston isn’t among the top 50 cities with the fastest internet speeds. That’s not to say you won’t be able to find enough speed to do all the things you need to do online.
Some Houstonians will have access to the splashy 5Gbps plans unveiled by AT&T and Frontier in 2022. And while Comcast boasts its own multi-gig plan with upload and download speeds of 6,000Mbps, it’s available only at addresses the cable company has wired for fiber. The FCC disclosures from June of 2021 peg that percentage at approximately 4% of Comcast addresses.
What are the fastest internet plans in Houston?
|Provider||Max download speed||Max upload speed||Starting price||Data cap||Contract|
|Xfinity Gigabit Pro||6,000Mbps||6,000Mbps||$300||None||2 years|
|Frontier Fiber 5 Gig||5,000Mbps||5,000Mbps||$155||None||None|
|AT&T Fiber 5000||5,000Mbps||5,000Mbps||$180||None||None|
|AT&T Fiber 2000||2,000Mbps||2,000Mbps||$110||None||None|
|Frontier Fiber 2 Gig||2,000Mbps||2,000Mbps||$100||None||None|
|Astound Broadband 1.2 Gigs||1,200Mbps||50Mbps||$60||None||None|
|Xfinity Gigabit Extra||1,200Mbps||35Mbps||$80||None||None|
|Frontier Fiber 1 Gig||1,000Mbps||1,000Mbps||$70||None||None|
|AT&T Fiber 1000||1,000Mbps||1,000Mbps||$80||None||None|
|Astound Broadband 1 Gig||940Mbps||50Mbps||$50||None||None|
|Spectrum Internet Gig||940Mbps||35Mbps||$90||None||None|
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What’s the final verdict on Houston internet providers?
Comcast’s cable internet offering of Xfinity has Houston covered with the most extensive availability across the metro area. But as we say in our CNET home internet reviews, a fiber internet connection outperforms cable almost every time. So, if you can access a fiber provider in the area — including AT&T Fiber, Brightspeed Fiber, Consolidated Communications, Frontier Fiber or Tachus — don’t hesitate to sign on the virtual dotted line.
How CNET chose the best internet providers in Houston
Internet service providers are numerous and regional. Unlike the latest smartphone, laptop, router or kitchen tool, its impractical to personally test every ISP in a given city. So whats our approach? We start by researching the pricing, availability and speed information drawing on our own historical ISP data, the provider sites and mapping information from the Federal Communications Commission at FCC.gov.
But it doesnt end there. We go to the FCCs website to check our data and ensure were considering every ISP that provides service in an area. We also input local addresses on provider websites to find specific options for residents. To evaluate how happy customers are with an ISP’s service, we look at sources including the American Customer Satisfaction Index and J.D. Power. ISP plans and prices are subject to frequent changes; all information provided is accurate as of the time of publication.
Once we have this localized information, we ask three main questions:
- Does the provider offer access to reasonably fast internet speeds?
- Do customers get decent value for what they’re paying?
- Are customers happy with their service?
While the answer to those questions is often layered and complex, the providers who come closest to yes on all three are the ones we recommend.
To explore our process in more depth, visit our How We Test ISPs page.
Best internet providers in Houston FAQs
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