With all the streaming services available and our increasing dependence on them for entertainment, it’s vital to have an internet connection that can keep up. A fiber internet service will be your best bet for speed and reliability, though other connection types can certainly provide the bandwidth for binging as well.
What’s the best internet service for streaming?
AT&T Fiber is our pick for the overall best ISP for streaming, largely due to its fast speed tiers and extensive fiber network. If you’re in a rural area where fiber internet is unavailable, you may want to consider Kinetic by Windstream. Starting at $40 a month for speeds ranging from 50 to 200MBps, Kinetic is one of the best rural internet providers for streaming. Both AT&T Fiber and Kinetic plans come with unlimited data — something you’ll value if you stream the majority of your entertainment.
Some internet providers are better suited than others, but all providers listed below offer speeds of at least 100Mbps or higher, which should be ample speed for streaming in any picture quality. The providers on our list of the best ISPs for streaming are chosen as particularly good options due to their exceptionally fast speeds, cheap internet pricing or extra streaming-specific perks.
Best internet providers for streaming in 2023
What internet speeds do you need for streaming?
It depends on the streaming service and video quality you want to stream in. Below, you’ll find the minimum recommended speeds for some of the most popular streaming services, so you can find options and get the best internet for streaming all your favorite content.
|Streaming service||Minimum recommended speed for streaming|
|Apple TV Plus||3-25Mbps|
|Amazon Prime Video||1-5Mbps|
|DirecTV Stream||8Mbps per streaming device|
|ESPN Plus||2Mbps or higher|
|Netflix||5Mbps or higher|
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As you can see, streaming, whether it be TV or music, doesn’t require a ton of speed. It’s important to note, however, that the recommended speeds reflect actual, not advertised, speeds. So, if your internet plan advertises “speeds up to 50Mbps,” the actual speeds to your streaming device are likely to be much slower, especially when using Wi-Fi and connecting multiple devices. Ideally, you’ll want an internet service provider and plan with advertised speeds well above the recommended speeds for the best streaming experience.
How we chose the best ISPs for streaming
Determining the best internet providers for streaming is similar to how CNET evaluates any ISP: We start with what’s available. Typically, that boils down to which providers have the greatest serviceability of a particular connection type or which providers cover a considerable, multistate area and serve more than 1% of US households.
We then narrow down that list of providers by comparing speeds, pricing, customer satisfaction records, special offers and service details such as data caps, contract requirements and price increases. Eventually, certain providers rise to the top in particular categories, whether that be the best cheap internet providers, best fiber providers or, in this case, the best ISPs for streaming.
Check out CNET’s guide to how we review internet providers to learn more.
Other ISPs to consider for streaming
The providers featured above aren’t the only ones that may be available in your area and good for streaming. If any of the following ISPs are available at your address, you’ll want to consider them as well.
Astound: Low pricing, fast speeds and unlimited data make Astound a great choice for an internet service that will support streaming. I’d just recommend watching your bill as closely as your shows. Astound has some of the steepest price increases of any major ISP.
CenturyLink: Like Kinetic, CenturyLink has a large DSL network and growing fiber presence that caters mostly to suburban and rural areas. The provider doesn’t have quite the same speed potential, though starting prices are around $10 a month higher than Kinetic.
Google Fiber: You’ll have more than enough speed for streaming with Google Fiber as the ISP’s lowest tier advertises download speeds up to 1,000Mbps. Such speeds are faster than many homes need, however, and the $70 starting price may be more than you want to pay each month.
Mediacom: A cable internet provider primarily serving rural areas of the Midwest, Mediacom has multiple plan options with speeds suitable for streaming. Beware of the data cap, however. Each Mediacom plan has one.
Optimum: Fast download speeds and low introductory pricing make Optimum tempting, but a history of low customer satisfaction may make you think twice. If you want to stream, Optimum will do the job, but be sure to check out other options before signing up.
T-Mobile and Verizon 5G: Speeds and connection reliability vary widely by location with 5G internet. Depending on where you live, 5G internet from T-Mobile, Verizon or possibly AT&T may work for streaming, or it won’t.
Ziply Fiber: Is 10,000Mbps fast enough for you? You can get that, along with other, perhaps more practical speed tiers, from Ziply Fiber. The ISP is the fastest in the northwest region, if not nationwide, and offers unlimited data with each of its high-speed plans.
Internet for streaming recap
You don’t need a lot of speed for streaming, but faster speeds and a reliable connection will make for the best experience. When shopping for an internet provider that can keep up with your streaming demands, I’d recommend looking to fiber providers like AT&T, Frontier, Verizon and others first.
Fiber isn’t available everywhere, however, and many cable ISPs including Cox, Spectrum and Xfinity offer plans capable of meeting nearly any streaming need. Kinetic and CenturyLink are solid choices for streaming in rural areas as well, and 5G home internet may meet your needs as well depending on the speeds you can get.