“Broadband high-speed Internet is becoming increasingly popular across the U.S. Fewer and fewer families choose dial-up or DSL Internet, opting instead for the faster service provided by broadband.”
A Comparison of Broadband High Speed Internet Providers
Written by: Gio Mangano
When the World Wide Web first began to invade American homes it required a good deal of patience on behalf of the entire family. Initially the best choice for most families was to use some form of dial-up internet access. Not only was this slow and time consuming, but it blocked the home's landline telephone. The turn of the 21st century brought broadband internet to more and more homes, and helped increase Internet usage in ways that cannot be measured.
Broadband internet providers vary from place to place in the U.S. Some companies operate nationally in major markets and smaller suburbs, while other companies work in regional areas with a focus on serving small metropolitan areas and small towns. The following is a list of the biggest high speed internet providers in the U.S.:
Comcast is the largest provider of Cable internet in the U.S. Comcast services are available in every state in the country, with a larger presence in some states than in others. Residents of almost every major city in the U.S. can expect to have Comcast as an option when searching for a high speed internet connection. The following are the biggest pros and cons of Comcast internet service:
- Pros: Connection speeds ranging from 1Mpbs to 50Mpbs, PowerBoost technology that allows for 50Mpbs speeds, introductory plans as low as $19.99 per month for six months, and several plans to choose from.
- Cons: Not available in many small towns and rural areas, higher prices for better plans compared to the competition, download limit of 250GB. Contract termination is the result of surpassing download limit.
Time Warner Cable is the second largest provider of broadband services in the U.S. Time Warner Cable and its RoadRunner internet service used to be a part of the Time Warner media conglomerate, but is now an independent brand. In many major markets across the country, Time Warner competes head to head with Comcast for customers. The major pros and cons of Time Warner broadband include:
- Pros: Connection speeds ranging from 1Mpbs to 50Mbps, advanced security features that automatically update, introductory plans as low as $34.95 per month for 12 months, and numerous plans to choose from.
- Cons: Time Warner has been run out of some major metro areas by Comcast and is not available in many small towns or rural regions. Bandwidth cap at 40GB with $10 charges for going over.
Cox Communications is one of the nations largest broadband providers. Cox coverage includes a vast majority of the southern U.S. as well as the Midwest, Southwest, and portions of the East Coast. The pros and cons of Cox services include the following:
- Pros: Speeds ranging from 1Mbps to 55Mbps, but top speeds are only available in select markets. Four plans to choose from with introductory plans offered at $19.99 per month for the first three months.
- Cons: Available in limited markets with fastest speeds not as widely available
CenturyLink was formerly a regional player in the broadband high speed internet game, until May 2011. After nearly a year of negotiations, the company completed the acquisition of Qwest Communications, making it the third largest telecommunications company in the United States. As a result, CenturyLink now provides high speed access to over five million customers. The following are the pros and cons of CenturyLink service:
- Pros: Wide range of plans available with varying speeds. Service across several regions of the U.S., particularly the Midwest.
- Cons: Less visible in major markets, fastest speeds not available in all markets. Slower DSL technology remains at the heart of CenturyLink operations.
Charter Communications is the fourth largest telecommunications company in the U.S. in terms of revenues, just behind Cox Communications. Charter provides high speed internet services to some of its 4.7 million customers across 25 states. The pros and cons associated with Charter services include:
- Pros: Base package available for just $19.99 per month, five total packages to choose from, competitive pricing, and lower prices when services are bundled.
- Cons: Charter recently emerged from bankruptcy and has been eliminating service areas or selling them to competitors. Tech magazines such as PCWorld have rated Charter's internet services to be the worst among major national providers in the U.S.
Determining which of these top broadband internet providers is best for each household will depend on a variety of factors. Not all of these companies operate in every market in America, and not all of them provide the best possible service in each market they operate in. Many people are likely to choose an internet provider based upon the highest average speed offered. The following is a list of the top five providers in the U.S. based upon average download speed:
1. Comcast 16.26 Mbps
Just because a broadband provider is a major player in the U.S. doesn't mean they provide the best possible service to their internet customers. Midcontinent Communications serves customers in South Dakota, North Dakota, and portions of western Minnesota, but only provides service to 200,000 customers.
Comcast and Time Warner, because of their vast coverage, often come out on top when it comes to competing for broadband customers. It is important to realize however that all of these companies are going to charge roughly the same amount each month for comparable plans. All of the companies mentioned above have extra fees such as modem rentals and Wi-Fi services, and also offer lower prices each month for customers who bundle their broadband services with other services such as television and home phone.
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