Best Internet Providers in Boston – CNET

Verizon Fios – Best overall among internet providers in Boston

  • Prices from $50 – $120 per month
  • Speeds from 300 – 2,000Mbps
  • Unlimited data

Xfinity – Best high-speed coverage among internet providers in Boston

  • Prices from $20 – $300 per month
  • Speeds from 75 – 6,000Mbps
  • Data caps on some plans

Astound – Best introductory pricing among internet providers in Boston

  • Prices from $20 – $80 per month
  • Speeds from 100 – 1,200Mbps
  • Unlimited data

Verizon 5G Home Internet – Best fixed wireless service among internet providers in Boston

  • Prices from $50 – $70 per month
  • Speeds from 85 – 1,000Mbps
  • Unlimited data

Bostonians know a thing or two about rivalries: Red Sox versus Yankees, Celtics versus Lakers, colonial America versus England, Xfinity versus Verizon Fios. OK, maybe I’m stretching it with that last one, but there is some competition regarding Boston’s best internet providers

My vote for the best internet provider in Boston overall goes to Verizon Fios. Any Pats fan will tell you the number of titles carries a lot of weight when debating rivalries, and Verizon Fios has held the top spot in customer satisfaction for multiple years in a row now. Maybe that’s due to the fast, symmetrical download and upload speeds you get with a 100% fiber connection or the lengthy price guarantee, but I bet the unique signup bonuses also have something to do with it.

That said, the case for the best ISP at your specific Boston address could be made for Xfinity, Astound, hometown startup Starry or others. Like finding the best seat at Fenway, the answer depends on what’s available and what you want to spend.

Best internet options in Boston

Each Boston internet provider is different when it comes to speeds, pricing, service terms and even the technology they use. As such, some providers stand out above the rest in various ways. Here are our picks for the top internet providers in Boston.

<span class="g-color-text-meta u-inline-block g-text-xxxsmall">Sarah Tew/CNET</span>

Verizon Fios

Best overall among internet providers in Boston

Product details

Price range $50 – $120 per month Speed range 300 – 2,000Mbps Connection Fiber Highlights Unlimited data, no contracts, free equipment with gig service

There’s a lot to like about Verizon Fios, from fast speeds to simple, competitive pricing. The consistently high customer satisfaction scores indicate that the provider can deliver what it promises.

Availability: Verizon Fios is available in select areas throughout Boston, but you’ll find the best coverage in the south around Dorchester, Fields Corner and Roxbury communities. Coverage is also decent in the northern neighborhoods of Charlestown and The Flats.

Plans and pricing: 300Mbps, 500Mbps and 1 Gig plans are available from Verizon Fios in Boston starting at $50, $70 and $90 per month with auto-pay enrollment. If you’re a Verizon 5G mobile customer, you may qualify for $25 off the monthly rate.

Fees and service details: There are no equipment fees, data caps or contracts with Verizon Fios. Service comes with a price guarantee of two to four years, depending on your chosen plan. Even after the price guarantee is up, there is no preset rate increase as you can expect from Xfinity or Astound.

Read our Verizon home internet review.

Xfinity

Best high-speed coverage among internet providers in Boston

Product details

Price range $20 – $300 per month Speed range 75 – 6,000Mbps Connection Cable Highlights Data caps on some plans, lots of plan options, solid customer satisfaction numbers

Fiber reigns as the superior connection type, but those expensive fiber-optic lines don’t yet have the reach of a cable internet service like that of Xfinity. As the primary cable provider in the area, Xfinity has the greatest coverage of any non-satellite ISP in Boston.

Availability: Xfinity is available just about everywhere in the Boston area, from Brookline to Chelsea and Somerville to South Boston.

Plans and pricing: Most Xfinity internet customers in Boston will have five plans to choose from, with speeds ranging from 200Mbps to 1,200Mpbs, starting at $25 to $80 per month. Introductory pricing is good for two years, after which standard pricing goes into effect and could raise your monthly bill by anywhere from $27 to $52, depending on your plan.

Fees and service details: Xfinity can vary slightly from market to market, but service terms are fairly favorable in Boston. There are no data caps and no contracts required. Xfinity’s cheapest standard plan, Connect More, also includes your equipment rental at no extra cost, at a $15 monthly value.

Read our Xfinity home internet review.

<span class="g-color-text-meta u-inline-block g-text-xxxsmall">Sarah Tew/CNET</span>

Astound

Best introductory pricing among internet providers in Boston

Product details

Price range $20 – $80 per month Speed range 100 – 1,200Mbps Connection Cable Highlights Unlimited data, low promo prices, no contracts

Many Boston residents have the unique advantage of being serviceable for two cable internet providers: Xfinity and Astound (formerly RCN). That’s quite the bargaining chip if you want to call and negotiate with your provider for a lower rate. Or you may find Astound’s low pricing tempting enough to go ahead and switch internet providers

Availability: Astound coverage in Boston is somewhat random compared to Xfinity. Neighborhoods around Fenway Park have the greatest serviceability, but those in Dorchester Heights or South Boston are also likely to be eligible for service. Otherwise, you’ll find pockets of serviceability throughout the city.

Plans and pricing: With starting prices of $20 per month for download speeds up to 300Mbps to just $60 per month for up to 1,200Mbps (and two equally deal-worthy plans in between), Astound has the lowest introductory rates of any major ISP in Boston. Service may come with additional budget-friendly perks, like a free installation and a free month or two. 

Like with Xfinity, Astound plans have a two-year price guarantee, followed by a potentially steep increase. 

Fees and service details: Your modem is free, but renting a Wi-Fi router could add up to $13 per month to your bill, plus $5 for any extra Wi-Fi extenders if needed. There are no data caps or contracts with Astound internet service.

Read our Astound Broadband review.

Verizon 5G Home Internet

Best fixed wireless service among internet providers in Boston

Product details

Price range $50 – $70 per month (50% off for eligible 5G mobile customers) Speed range 85 – 1,000Mbps Connection Fixed wireless Highlights Unlimited data, no contracts, free equipment, 50% discount for qualifying Verizon mobile customers

For a simple and relatively low-cost internet connection in Boston, you may consider Verizon’s new 5G home internet service. Setup is simple, and there’s a 50% discount for qualifying Verizon mobile customers, so it may be worth trying to see what speeds you can get.

Availability: Verizon’s 5G map shows Ultra Wideband (the Verizon network that will get you the fastest speeds) coverage throughout most of Boston, save for some neighborhoods around South Boston and Dorchester Heights. Also, Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband network is unavailable around the airport. 

Plans and pricing: Verizon 5G Home offers speeds ranging from 85 to 300Mbps starting at $50 monthly. Verizon 5G Home Plus comes with speeds of 300 to 1,000Mbps starting at $70 per month. That’s quite the range in speeds. The actual speeds you can get will vary by address.

Again, there is a 50% discount on 5G home internet service for qualifying Verizon mobile customers.

Fees and service details: Like with Verizon Fios, the 5G home internet service comes with unlimited data, free equipment rental and requires no contracts.

Read our Verizon 5G Home Internet review.

<span class="g-color-text-meta u-inline-block g-text-xxxsmall">Sarah Tew/CNET</span>

Starry Internet

Best for renters among internet providers in Boston

Product details

Price range $30 – $80 per month Speed range 50 – 1,000Mbps Connection Fixed wireless Highlights Unlimited data, no contracts, no equipment fees, simple setup

Local internet startup Starry is available in many MDU complexes, such as apartments and condos throughout Boston. The fixed wireless service sends signals over the air directly to a receiver at the building, which then sends the service along the building’s wiring to individual units. The result is an easy and affordable way for renters to sign up for high-speed internet.

Availability: Serviceability can be found in the Boston area from Quincy to the south to as far north as Lynn, but coverage is greatest in the heart of Boston. Those around the Financial District, Beacon Hill, Back Bay and East Boston communities will have the best chance for service.

Plans and pricing: Available Starry plans can vary by location, but the provider’s flagship plan — $50 per month for speeds up to 200Mbps download and 100Mbps upload — will be available in most serviceable households. Additional plan options may also be available, ranging from $30 for symmetrical speeds up to 50Mbps to $80 for gig service. 

There is no promotional pricing with Starry, which means no looming price increase after a set period.

Fees and service details: Pricing is as simple as it gets. Your equipment is included at no extra cost, as is unlimited data. No contracts are required.

Read our Starry Internet review.

Comparing all Boston residential internet providers

The ISPs featured above aren’t the only options for internet in Boston, but they are the ones I’d recommend most and consider if I were to leave the South for Beantown. Here’s a quick comparison of all Boston internet providers, followed by a look at some of the cheapest and fastest plans available in the area. 

Overview of top Boston internet providers

Provider Connection type Monthly price range Download speed range (Mbps) Monthly data cap Contract
Astound Cable $20-$60 300-1,200  None None
HughesNet Satellite $50-$150 25 15GB-100GB (no hard data cap) 2 years
Starry Internet Fixed wireless $30-$80 50-1,000 None None
T-Mobile Home Internet 5G fixed wireless $50 72-245 None None
Verizon 5G Home Internet 5G fixed wireless $50-$70 85-1,000 None None
Verizon Fios Fiber $50-$90 300-940 None None
Viasat Satellite $70-$300 12-100 40GB-300GB (no hard data cap) 2 years
Xfinity Cable $25-$80 200-1,200 None None

Show more (4 items)

What other internet options are there in Boston?

Unfortunately, there aren’t many other options outside our picks for the best ISPs in Boston. Here’s a brief look at what to expect from other internet services in the area.

T-Mobile Home Internet: T-Mobile’s 5G rollout has been impressive, covering some 50 million homes nationwide, including many in Boston. Pricing is about the same as Verizon’s 5G home internet service in Boston, but speeds are likely to be slower. 

Service terms are the same (no data caps, equipment fees or contracts), so if you’re interested in 5G home internet, you might as well go with the higher speed potential of Verizon. That said, T-Mobile does offer a $20 discount to T-Mobile Magenta Max customers, so if you fall into that category, T-Mobile Home Internet may be worth considering.

Satellite internet: HughesNet and Viasat are available nearly everywhere, so they technically are options for home internet in the Boston area. The high-priced, low-data services are best for rural areas, though, so I’d recommend considering other providers unless you plan on living in a remote cabin on Walden Pond. If so, you’ll want to stay there about as long as Thoreau did — satellite internet from HughesNet and Viasat comes with a two-year contract.

Boston internet details at a glance

Virtually every household in the Boston area has access to download speeds of 250Mbps or higher and upload speeds of 25Mbps or higher. 

The high-speed coverage comes from various sources, including cable internet from Xfinity and Astound and fiber service from Verizon Fios, which is available to approximately 75% of Boston addresses. As a result, Boston residents are likely to have at least two or three but possibly more broadband options to choose from. 

Boston internet pricing

With introductory prices of around $20 to $25 per month, depending on your chosen provider and the discounts you qualify for, Boston has some of the lowest prices on high-speed internet anywhere. 

Pricing stays competitive even as you get into faster speed tiers. Astound, for example, offers a 600Mbps plan starting at just $35, whereas Xfinity’s Superfast plan advertises speeds up to 800Mbps starting at $60 per month.

Cheapest internet plans in Boston

Show more (2 items)

Internet for low-income households in Boston

Boston residents seeking assistance paying for broadband service can apply for the Affordable Connectivity Program. The program grants approved households up to $30 to use toward their internet bill. 

By applying the credit to any of the cheap internet plans available in Boston, it’s possible to get broadband for free or close to it. Additionally, Xfinity and Starry offer separate plans to help low-income households stay connected.

Xfinity’s Internet Essentials and Internet Essentials Plus plans have max download speeds of 50 and 100Mbps, starting at $10 and $30 per month, respectively. The plan comes with no activation or equipment fees, access to Xfinity Wi-Fi Hotspots and the option to purchase a computer for $150. 

Starry’s Connect plan is available for just $15 per month (free if you qualify for the ACP credit) and comes with symmetrical speeds up to 30Mbps. Like all Starry plans, there are no equipment fees, data caps or contracts. What’s unique about this plan is that there is no special qualification process. You are automatically eligible to sign up if you live in or move to a building approved for this plan.

Boston internet speed details

You won’t find the absolute fastest speeds in Boston. Recent Ookla speed test data places Boston 50th among US cities for its average download speeds, around 210Mbps. Numerous factors can affect speed test data, such as using a Wi-Fi connection and distance from the router, not to mention a plan’s max advertised speeds, so the data shouldn’t be too much of an indicator of what speeds you can get from your provider.

While Astound and Xfinity offer a 1,200Mbps plan, no provider offers a super speedy multi-gigabit internet service in the area. Verizon Fios does have a 2.3Gbps plan, but availability is currently limited to the greater New York City area. Still, the available internet speeds in Boston should be more than enough for the average household.

Data caps can be a concern with high-speed internet, especially as you approach gig speeds. Thankfully, no major Boston ISP enforces a data cap.

Download speeds

Boston – 71 Mbps
MA – 82 Mbps
US – 133 Mbps

Upload speeds

Boston – 6 Mbps
MA – 13 Mbps
US – 46 Mbps

Fastest internet plans in Boston

Show more (2 items)

Internet in Boston recap

Two or three internet options, plus maybe one or two more in select areas, probably doesn’t feel like much, but Boston residents have more choices than most when it comes to home internet service. 

While no providers offer multi-gigabit speeds, single-gig service is available from up to five providers. Pricing is competitive, with multiple plans starting at or below $30 per month and no plan exceeding $100 monthly, at least for the first two years. Service terms are fair regardless of the provider and plan you choose, as most come with unlimited data and no contract requirements, while some, like Verizon Fios and Starry, up the ante with free equipment as well.

Boston internet FAQs

Is fiber internet available in Boston?

Is Astound or Xfinity better?

You’ll find similar speed tiers from Astound and Xfinity, though Astound will likely be the cheaper option, at least for the first two years of service until standard pricing goes into effect.

Both providers primarily use a cable internet connection, meaning significantly lower upload speeds than download speeds and potentially slower overall during peak usage times. Xfinity’s cable network boasts broader coverage in Boston, making it easy to shop for or transfer Xfinity’s internet service when moving to or around Beantown.

Can I get free Wi-Fi in Boston?

Boston has the Wicked Free Wi-Fi program, which is free Wi-Fi offered by the city to residents when they are outside. It isn’t meant for use in homes or buildings. If you want free broadband service in your home, check out the Affordable Connectivity Program through the federal government to see if you qualify.

Is Google Webpass available in Boston?

No. Google Webpass, Google Fiber’s fixed wireless internet service, is no longer available in Boston as of 2018.

Source