All year long, we provide you with the PCMag Speed Test(Opens in a new window), our way for you to check if your broadband internet service provider (ISP) is supplying the connectivity speed and quality it promises. Annually, we collect the data from a year’s worth of tests and crunch the numbers to see which ISPs provide the throughput required to be called the fastest. With that data we can also see which cities, states, and countries have the fastest internet.
Welcome to our national and regional results for 2022. And this year, things are complicated.
Winners: The Fastest ISPs in the United States
How We Rate ISP Speeds
If you know all about the PCMag Speed Index (PSI) already, skip to the next section. If not, let us explain:
We don’t lack for tools to measure broadband internet speed. Even Netflix has one. But while the world tosses around the term “speed” freely and loosely, broadband connectivity is really about throughput for data packets that travel across the internet. They’re either going from your computer/device to a server (that’s an upload) or back to you (that’s a download).
We use a single tool to obtain upload and download data for this story, the one below, our PCMag Speed Test.
The PCMag Speed Test works on any secure desktop or mobile web browser. For the most accurate results of any speed test, you should:
Disable your VPN connection.
Pause video or music streaming on your network.
Plug your computer directly into your router via Ethernet, or connect directly broadband modem. This creates less network overhead—but don’t leave it plugged into the modem, that’s a security risk.
The PCMag Speed Test records the name of your ISP, your location, and download and upload speed (in Kilobits per second, or Kbps), as well as measurements for jitter and latency in the connection (which we use in our Best Gaming ISPs story.) We convert the Kbps tests to Megabits per second (Mbps) by dividing by 1,000.
We then run a formula we’ve been using since 2011, which takes 80% of the download speed and adds it to 20% of the upload speed. Each year we reconsider the formula, but we continue to believe that most people remain primarily concerned with downloads, considering how much of our time is spent on video and music streaming at home.
The combination of those two numbers is no longer a speed that can be measured in Mbps. It is what we have dubbed the PCMag Speed Index (PSI). Using that indicator, we can directly compare ISPs. The blue bars in the charts below indicate PSI; the curvy lines on the graphs show the same ISP’s average download speed (red) and upload speed (yellow) in Mbps. Each chart shows the top 10 ISPs (or locations) for the category. Our data does not include any information about plan types, tiers of service, data caps, pricing, or things like customer service. This is all about throughput/speed.
We only include ISPs that have a minimum of 100 tests (even if it is an ISP in one specific location); we only include specific locations that show 100 or more tests. The exception in our criteria for “major ISPs” is that they have at least 1,000 tests in our results, must provide service in multiple states, and have at least a million subscribers.
This year we received 833,701 test results between June 1, 2021 and June 7, 2022. Of those, 277,046 tests originated in the United States—that’s the subset of data used for this story.
Wireless carriers like AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon do show up in our data, but they have yet to earn index scores that would qualify them to appear in the results. As more people start to use 5G for home internet connectivity, that will likely change. We perform more advanced drive testing of the major cellular networks, including their 5G speeds, in our annual examination of the Best Mobile Networks.
The Fastest ISPs in the US for 2022
As of this writing, BroadbandNow’s database of ISPs in the United States of America shows 2,854 providers(Opens in a new window) in the country. Our data likely contains tests from all of them, but we don’t examine any ISP that doesn’t have at least 100 tests, as we noted above. Plus, there are thousands of offshoots in the data, such as corporate networks, co-location services, schools and colleges, and VPNs masking ISP names.
Our job is to cull it down to the known ISPs, big or small, and that can be tricky given the way some ISPs identify themselves. Verizon, for example, does a good job of breaking out its Fios fiber-to-the-home service from its other offerings like DSL and mobile cellular service. Many other ISPs simply list themselves as a single entity, and their various technologies get combined in the data. That means some of these ISPs have a speed index number that includes, say, fiber and DSL together. For an ISP to manage a substantial PCMag Speed Index under those conditions says a lot about the throughput it offers on the high-end.
Although there are a large number of ISPs in the US, how many do you actually have available to you in your home or business? If you can say more than one, you’re lucky. Competition is not fierce on a local level in most places. Though when it is a contest, it can be brutal—in a way that benefits consumers with higher throughput and lower prices. If you have the ability to choose among multiple providers, that’s a great thing.
Each year we select two winners, one across all the ISPs, regardless of size and service locations, and one for major ISPs, which are defined above as multiple-state with more than a million subscribers.
This year, there’s an upset in our Major ISPs category. For 10 of the past 11 years, Verizon Fios has dominated, hitting its all-time-high record in 2022 with a PSI score of 191.5 (up from 169.8 in 2021). But Frontier comes out ahead with a score of 230.1. And this is where things get tricky.
The Case Against Frontier
Frontier has been through a lot of transformations in its long history—some of it intertwined with acquiring parts of Verizon. In fact, Verizon once created a new company(Opens in a new window) to hand off telecom holdings (and debt) to Frontier. Frontier then bought up Verizon’s Fios fiber-to-the-home services in several states in 2015. That investment had a troubled start(Opens in a new window), but finally seems to be paying off in the speeds it is delivering customers, as seen in our tests this year. However, the company has had some other problems recently.
In May 2021, the Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit(Opens in a new window) because Frontier failed to deliver DSL Internet speeds for which consumers paid and were promised. That case was settled this year with the company admitting no wrongdoing, but agreeing to pay millions back to customers and to install $50+ million in new high-speed fiber for up to 60,000 customers in California. “We settled the lawsuit in good faith to put it behind us so we could focus on our business—that’s in the best interest of all our stakeholders, and especially our customers,” the company said. Frontier also recently emerged from a 2020 bankruptcy filing(Opens in a new window).
We’ll see how things look next year, but these facts coupled with how poorly Frontier fared in our most recent PCMag Readers’ Choice Survey of ISPs—ranking toward the bottom of almost every category—give us pause.
Yes, this story is about the fastest ISPs, not the companies that treat their customers the best, or the ones you can trust the most, but our primary mission is to make product and service recommendations we can stand behind. And currently, we’re not comfortable giving Frontier our Fastest Major ISP endorsement.
The next fastest major ISP is Verizon Fios, which has won this badge 9 times, and has also earned 16 PCMag Readers’ Choice awards, including in our most recent survey in 2021 (referenced above). Plus, Fios continually improves on its overall broadband speed year-to-year, with its highest-ever score in 2022. It might be anti-climatic, but Verizon wins its 10th Fastest Major ISP award by default.
More About the Major ISPs
Now let’s get back to talking about actual internet speeds. Among the larger ISPs, Mediacom, the fifth-biggest cable provider in the country, made a large jump up the charts this year. Last year it had a PSI of 89.7 and didn’t even make the top 10; this year it is in third place at 188.0. Xfinity also saw a nice increase, from 139.6 to 185.7, but the appearance of Frontier and Mediacom still pushed the giant ISP from second place to fourth. Optimum, Cox, Suddenlink, and Sparklight all saw boosts as well. And as we mention above, Verizon Fios nabs second place with a score of 191.5.
Astound Broadband is a brand-new ISP—except it’s not new at all. It is the brand/network unification of three ISPs into one: RCN in the northeast, Grande Communications in Texas, and Wave Broadband on the west coast. The data still shows each as a separate entity, but none earned enough responses to make the 1,000-test cutoff as a major ISP (despite both RCN and Wave making the list independently in 2021). So we combined them and Astound lands in the number six spot with 153.6.
You may also notice that tiny caveat asterisk next to AT&T Internet, which we settled on with AT&T when the company found it impossible to separate out its fiber versus DSL services in the data. We use the full data set without trying to break out the fiber results. AT&T still makes the top 10 with a 134.0 PSI.
Again, that same caveat can apply to a lot of these services that offer a mix of fiber and DSL—like Frontier, which didn’t have any problem increasing its score considerably this year. (Most of the rest of the top 10 major ISPs are cable-based, so that caveat doesn’t apply unless they have a separate fiber offering, which most don’t.)
The Fastest ISPs Overall
Okay, now let’s talk about real speed. For that, you don’t go to the big guys up above. Higher speeds are found in smaller, localized ISPs. Again, to be included in our list of all the ISPs in the US, we look for a minimum of 100 tests. That’s a fair number to get an average.
Last year, the big winner was a small company in upstate New York called Empire Access—it has put fiber-optic lines in towns you’ve never even heard of in many cases, and made a lot of its customers happy. In 2021, Empire Access’s PCMag Speed Index of 366.2 was more than enough to take the crown across the country. This year that number drops to 271.6, which still keeps them in the top 10.
California’s Sonic posted the highest number we have ever seen in our test results. Because the uploads this company offers are, on average, eclipsing download speeds—by a lot. It’s not unheard of for uploads to be higher from a fiber-optic provider—most offer a symmetrical connection, promising uploads and download speeds to be about the same—but Sonic’s astounding index of 922.4 is generated via a download speed of 801.5Mbps and upload of 1,406.1Mbps.
The reason is 10-Gigabit service. Sonic offers it, doesn’t cap it, and it starts at just $40 a month(Opens in a new window). Yet if Sonic’s uploads were just 1/10th of that speed, the company still would still win the title of Fastest ISP handily.
This isn’t even the highest PSI we’ve seen on a national level. Back in 2020, CFU, the local utility-turned-ISP in Cedar Falls, Iowa, won the top spot with a 1,350.4 PSI. Last year it dropped to 213.4; this year we didn’t get enough tests to include it. But even back then, that score was mostly based on download speed.
Local ISPs like CFU really shine as you can see. The number two listing goes to Nextlight, the provider for one city only, Longmont, Colorado. It has placed third or fourth on this list for years. Last year it was at 289.1, but now it’s much higher, with a runner-up PSI of 574.9. If Sonic’s boost this year is a blip, Nextlight’s consistency could put it on top in 2023.
Others in the top 10 this year include Hotwire, the provider for apartments and condos mainly in the southeast states, Fort Collins Connexion in Colorado (powering, along with CenturyLink, one of our Best Work-From-Home Cities of 2021), and Allo, also in Colorado and parts of Nebraska.
Google Fiber, once the big hope for municipalities striving for fiber services, hasn’t gone away. It landed in eighth place, although its overall index number is down. It fares better below in some regional head-to-head comparisons. (All Google Fiber numbers are combined with that of its fixed-wireless provider subsidiary, Webpass.)
The Fastest Satellite ISPs
It used to be that we’d never describe a satellite ISP as “fast,” but now we live in the age of SpaceX’s Starlink. In a few short years, that still-fledgling satellite provider has become a household name. Some people—possibly too many—consider Starlink the next big hope for connectivity. It may well be that for some rural areas. Thankfully, the tests we’ve seen on Starlink using the PCMag Speed Test show it can deliver.
Compare last year’s numbers with this year’s by clicking the tabs below.
Starlink’s PSI is down over 10 points. A 60.5 PSI is in the lowest range of what we’d prefer to see. Verizon Wireless has a PSI of 36.2 this year, so at least Starlink speed is ahead of a mobile network. But it’s below T-Mobile’s 76.2 PSI. A major cable provider like Spectrum is more than double Starlink’s number, at 121.3 this year. But Starlink is your fastest option if you can only do internet via satellite, as Viasat and HughesNet are still not up to the challenge.
The Fastest ISPs by Region
We also look each year at the ISPs in six regions of the continental US to help you narrow down the fastest options there as well.
In the northern central states this year, Google Fiber is on top again, as it was last year, with a nearly identical PSI of 296.1. The consistency helps—especially with Allo Fiber’s major improvement this year, from 209.7 to 292.6. Metronet also saw serious gains from 186.1 to 280.6.
Recommended by Our Editors
The northeastern states still belong to Empire Access, the small provider in the central southern tier of New York. Its index number is down, but not enough for anyone else from Washington to New England to beat it. Astound Broadband—here showing numbers entirely from what used to be RCN—carved out a solid score for second place, displacing even Fios by Verizon, which is stuck in third, as it was in this region last year.
In the Pacific Northwest, down to Colorado, the list plays out much as it does above in our all-ISPs run down, except Sonic isn’t there. Nextlight is on top, displacing last year’s winner, Ting, which didn’t have enough response in the northwest states this time. Ziply Fiber, in fifth place, took over most of Frontier’s northwest operations(Opens in a new window) in 2020.
Texas-based ISPs provide the biggest speeds in the central southern states. This is where Frontier’s take over Fios lines years ago makes a big splash, but our misgivings about Frontier remain.
Google Fiber, found mainly in Austin, is a solid choice. Third-place Ritter Communications makes its home in other states but made an exceptionally strong showing in Arkansas.
Once a stronghold for Google Fiber+Webpass, in the southeast that company falls to third this year, from 288.5 to 240.5. That’s all Hotwire needs to retake first place, even ahead of EPB, the local provider of gigabit service in the first gigabit city of Chattanooga, TN. Both saw significant speed increases this year.
Sonic’s big win is reflected here again. But if you don’t live in California, what’s your best option? This year that’s Xfinity. It was in third place last year behind Sonic and our winner that time around, Monkey Brains, a fixed-wireless company that didn’t get enough responses this year to be included. But Comcast’s brand jumped from 157.5 to 188.6 today, a respectable increase.
Hawaii and Alaska
Over the years, we’ve only ever received enough response from one single ISP in Alaska to include: GCI. It set a record high of 149.0 last year for a PSI and eclipsed it again this time with a 176.7. It even has plans to introduce 10-Gig(Opens in a new window) in the coming years.
Hawaii has always had two ISPs duking it out in our results, Hawaiian Telcom and Spectrum (back to when it was Time Warner Cable). This year, Hawaiian Telcom is on top again, at 149.3, way up from 97.0 last year. The launch of the company’s Fioptics brand for fiber-to-the-home and -office have made a huge difference—it’s now officially hitting 50,000 locations on multiple islands(Opens in a new window).
US States With the Fastest Internet
Our heat map of the US by state below indicates faster speeds with a darker blue. This year, the anomaly that is Sonic, with its very high PCMag Speed Index, sends all the dark blue into California.
This makes it easy to compare the state-by-state speeds with previous years. If you want to get a closer eye on the 2022 index ratings, click over to page two of the chart for a table you can search or re-order by state name or index number when you click the header. That reveals the top scorers behind CA, which include Rhode Island (thanks to Fios), Florida (thanks to Hotwire), and even Iowa (backed by Mediacom).
If you want some proof that the American internet is speeding up, look at the PSI for the lowest-speed state. Montana’s 87.4 seems a bit low, but consider that only five years ago, a score like that for almost any ISP would have made it the fastest.
US Cities With the Fastest Internet
Last year, when we discussed internet speeds for the states, we noted how the sheer preponderance of tests coming in from one particular ISP could skew the results. Previously, that was about Florida, and how the thousands of tests from Hotwire there made Florida seem like it had the fastest internet connectivity in the nation.
This year, that same concept applies, but with cities and Sonic. Sonic customers sent a lot of tests our way, but the averages remained very high, which suggests the final data is not being affected. Look at the list and you’ll see that every single high-speed internet city in the top 10 is in California. All have service with Sonic.
If you want to check a city that lacks Sonic, but doesn’t lack speed, the next on the list is Plano, Texas, with a 666.1 PSI.
Perhaps more interesting is a look at the major cities in the US by population to see how they fare. Again, San Francisco has Sonic working for it, and you can see how the number for that city skews high compared with the other big-city scores. Chicago, for example, has a PSI of 116.6. Our tests tend to indicate that having a huge number of concentrated customers is no guarantee of great internet; in fact, a large population may indeed signify the opposite. Metro cities tend to do okay, but not as well as smaller municipalities.
Global Internet Speeds: the US vs. the World
While PCMag is mainly a US-based publication, we have subsidiaries around the world and a lot of people use the PCMag Speed Test. So we performed the same calculation we do per state or per city or per ISP, but this time per country—all the country needs to qualify is at least 100 tests.
Last year, the PCMag Speed Index for the United States was 117.2. This year, we shot up to 223.5. Not bad, but it’s still far from the top of the list. The country with the fastest internet is Thailand, with a PSI of 471.9. Next up is Argentina (442.0), Israel (250.6), Iceland (249.2), and Hong Kong (still listed apart from China, with a 228.0). The US is in sixth place, although that’s up from 17th place last year.
Canada is in 14th place at 149.9, down from ninth place last year. For more, check out The Fastest ISPs 2022: Canada.
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