The recent coronavirus lockdowns have made home internet access more important than ever before. For many of us, our internet has been our only connection to the outside world for several months now. And, if you've been working from home lately, a stable high-speed internet connection is even more critical.
But having to rely on your home internet more than usual can also shine a spotlight on its shortcomings. If you feel like your internet is too slow or suffers too many interruptions, it may be time to look at other high-speed internet providers in your area. Also, if you just moved to a new home or apartment, you'll want to know which high-speed internet providers near you offer the best blend of performance and price.
However, finding high-speed internet can be hard because different companies service different areas. Even within the same zip code, you may find that it's better to go with one company over another.
So how exactly do you find a high-speed internet providers for your home or business? Here's what you need to know to find the best options in your area.
What Is Considered "High-Speed" Internet?
Before we get into how you can find high-speed internet providers, it's helpful to know what is considered high-speed internet in the first place.
Internet speed is based on the bandwidth your internet service provider allows you to have based on the plan you choose. Bandwidth is the maximum capacity at which you can download data from your internet to your computer. The higher the bandwidth, the faster you will be able to execute tasks on the internet.
Whether you need to work from home, run a business or do work for school, having a high-speed internet connection makes you more efficient. Internet bandwidth is measured in megabits per second. You will see this commonly denoted as Mbps when internet service providers talk about their services.
According to the Federal Communications Commission, a minimum speed of 25 Mbps is required for an interest connection to be considered broadband. However, if you're a heavy user, such as a gamer or someone who plans to stream videos on multiple screens, you may need a faster speed to accomplish all of your tasks.
How to Find The Best High-Speed Internet Providers Near You
Below are three tools that can help you find all of the high-speed internet providers that are available in your region.
Broadband Now is a database that allows you to locate high-speed internet providers in your area. It can even provide coverage maps to help you quickly see which high-speed internet providers are able to cover your home.
All you need to do is enter your zip code and you will see plans, prices, and ratings for every provider that services your region. All their data is based on what real users have to say about the services. They are not paid by any one internet provider to give it “preferred” results.
In My Area
In My Area is another service that allows you to search for high-speed internet providers near you. When you enter your zip code, address or location into the search bar on the website, you can see all of your options.
Additionally, In My Area makes it easy to quickly find the best speed-level for the price. For example, one service provider in your area may have a plan for 100Mbps, but another provider may have a 250 Mbps plan at a comparable price.
In My Area is completely free to use and you can also use the service to shop cable TV providers. Plus, if you'd like extra help with finding the best high-speed internet, you can call to talk to one of In My Area's experts.
Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
If you live in the United States, the Federal Communications Commission is a government website that also allows you to find high speed internet service providers in your local area. Here is their fixed broadband deployment search tool.
Once you enter your address in the search engine, you will be able to find internet service providers that best suit your needs. The FCC's tool also lists the top download and upload speeds available with each provider.
Each of the websites listed above does a thorough job of helping you find high-speed internet providers near you. However, once you have your list of providers, you'll want to carefully compare plan tiers and prices.
As mentioned above, the FCC defines broadband service as 25 Mbps and up. So just because a provider near you offers speeds of 100 Mbps or more, doesn't necessarily mean that you need speeds that fast.
If you're looking for more information to help you decide what speed will meet your needs, check out the FCC's broadband speed guide. Once you know what speed you really need, you can more easily identify the provider that's offering that particular speed at the best price.
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him here and here.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.