Best Internet Providers in Washington – CNET

What is the best internet provider in Washington?

Xfinity is CNET’s pick for the top internet service provider in Washington, thanks to wide availability and a variety of plan options. Quantum Fiber gets our nod as a top choice for fiber, but we docked it for the provider’s limited coverage area.

Overall, Washington has many claims to fame: apple varieties, Mount Rainier, Starbucks, the Seahawks and Microsoft, to name a few. Despite its famous tech connections, the Evergreen State doesn’t have the fastest internet in the country. It placed in the bottom half of Ookla’s Speedtest.net rankings of broadband speeds for US states. City dwellers will have more provider choices than most rural residents. Big national names like Xfinity, CenturyLink, T-Mobile Home Internet, Verizon 5G Home Internet and Spectrum all have a presence in Washington. The best ISP for your home depends on which providers service your location. 

Our choices for best ISPs in Washington won’t be available to every address in the state. Xfinity, for example, covers large areas, but you won’t find it in Yakima or Walla Walla. Spectrum covers those spots. So, your address matters most in determining which providers should be on your radar. If you’re in the market for internet service, check out CNET’s review for the top ISPs in Washington state.

Best internet options in Washington

Rural internet options in Washington

Provider Connection type Price range Speed range Data cap Availability
Advanced High Speed Internet Fixed wireless $40-$150 3-200Mbps None Yakima County
Benton REA PowerNET Fixed wireless $50-$140 2-40Mbps None Mid-Columbia and Lower Yakima Valleys
Nikola Broadband Fixed wireless $70-$150 10-100Mbps None Sequim area
POVN Fixed Wireless/fiber $75-$130 5-30Mbps None Pend Oreille County
Ptera Fixed wireless/fiber $45-$90 100-1,000Mbps None Inland Northwest
ToledoTel Fiber $60-$215 25-1,000Mbps None Toledo area
Washington Broadband Fixed wireless/cable/fiber $39-$250 1.5-900Mbps None Yakima area
Wifiber Fixed wireless/fiber $45-$160 4-1,000Mbps None Eastern Washington
Ziply Fiber Fiber $20-$300 100-10,000Mbps None Snohomish County 

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Source: CNET analysis of provider data.

Rural internet can be tricky. Some lucky residents may be able to get a fiber connection. Ziply Fiber has been expanding its Washington presence both by building out its network and by acquiring existing ISPs. For example, Ptera, a fiber and fixed wireless provider focused on the Inland Northwest, is a Ziply company. 

No fiber? I recommend checking into wired options for rural internet first. That may mean CenturyLink DSL, which tops out at 100Mbps for $55 per month (but may be considerably slower depending on your location). Compare with T-Mobile Home Internet or Verizon 5G Home Internet, if available. Those 5G services are easy to test out with very little commitment and may provide a faster internet experience than DSL. 

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If wired and 5G internet don’t work out for your home, next look into fixed wireless. Washington is dotted with local ISPs that offer fixed wireless to rural addresses. Most top out at 100Mbps speeds, but your mileage will vary depending on your location. You’ll need a good line of sight to a tower. Satellite internet from Starlink, Viasat or HughesNet is often seen as a last resort. It’s expensive, and speeds can be slow. 

The companies listed in our chart are just some of the many ISPs serving Washington. Run your address through the FCC National Broadband Map to see which providers might reach your location. You may discover a local ISP you weren’t aware of.

Internet breakdown by city in Washington

It’s hard to cover the broadband options of an entire state and give individual areas the attention they deserve. That’s why we also compile lists of the best internet providers in cities across the US, including those in Washington. We tackle details such as internet connection types, maximum speeds and cheapest providers. Check back later if you don’t find the city you’re looking for below. We’re working to add more locations every week. 

Washington broadband at a glance

Washington homes are completely blanketed with broadband internet access, according to the FCC, but the real story is more subtle. The FCC considers satellite internet coverage, which isn’t a great option for most residents. The widest-reaching ISP is cable provider Xfinity, but rival cable provider Spectrum covers some chunks of the state where Xfinity doesn’t go. CenturyLink’s DSL network is available in more areas than Quantum Fiber. 

FCC data shows fiber reaches around 28% of residences in the state, with a concentration in the larger metro areas. Some — with Ziply Fiber being the biggest name — even serve more rural areas. Some smaller local providers also offer limited fiber coverage alongside fixed wireless service. Quantum Fiber is our top choice for fiber service in Seattle, and it can be found in parts of Spokane as well.

How fast is Washington broadband?

The FCC defines broadband as speeds of at least 25Mbps down and 3Mbps up. By that metric, all Washingtonians can access broadband internet. If we start moving up the speed scale, then FCC data tells a different story. Roughly 90% of Washington residents can access speeds of at least 100Mbps down. When we get to a gig, though, only about 28% of residences are covered. 

A recent Ookla Speedtest.net ranking put Washington in 36th place among US states for median download speeds. Washington clocked in at about 189Mbps. Ookla also tracks speeds for the 100 most populous cities in the country. Seattle, despite being a tech hub, ranked only in 97th place. That’s not a great showing. If your internet is feeling pokey, there may be ways to improve it. Try these four steps to speed up your internet connection.

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Internet pricing in Washington

A monthly bill of around $50 is a pretty standard entry-level price point for home internet, but there are ways to save. Xfinity’s 150Mbps plan will run you a mere $20 per month. That cheap plan price is good for only 12 months with a contract, and you’ll need to rent your gear for $15 per month or provide your own equipment. Let’s also look at value. CenturyLink’s 940Mbps fiber plan for $75 (modem included) gives you a good bang for the buck. 

T-Mobile or Verizon phone customers can check into bundling an eligible mobile plan with home internet service. That can bring your monthly internet bill down to as low as $40 with T-Mobile or $35 with Verizon. Open slots may be limited and speeds can vary depending on your location, but the no-contract plans make it easy to test out the connection to see if it will work for you.

Internet service providers are numerous and regional. Unlike the latest smartphone, laptop, router or kitchen tool, it’s impractical to personally test every ISP in a given city. What’s our approach? We start by researching the pricing, availability and speed information, drawing on our own historical ISP data, the provider sites and mapping information from the Federal Communications Commission at FCC.gov.

It doesn’t end there. We go to the FCC’s website to check our data and ensure we consider every ISP that provides service in an area. We also input local addresses on provider websites to find specific options for residents. We look at sources, including the American Customer Satisfaction Index and J.D. Power, to evaluate how happy customers are with an ISP’s service. ISP plans and prices are subject to frequent changes; all information provided is accurate as of publication.

Once we have this localized information, we ask three main questions:

  1. Does the provider offer access to reasonably fast internet speeds?
  2. Do customers get decent value for what they’re paying?
  3. Are customers happy with their service?

While the answers to those questions are often layered and complex, the providers that come closest to “yes” on all three are the ones we recommend. When selecting the cheapest internet service, we look for the plans with the lowest monthly fee, although we also factor in things like price increases, equipment fees and contracts. Choosing the fastest internet service is relatively straightforward. We look at advertised upload and download speeds and consider real-world speed data from sources like Ookla and FCC reports.

To explore our process in more depth, visit our how we test ISPs page.

The future of broadband in Washington

Washington has a good opportunity to improve its internet performance thanks to a $1.2 billion federal investment from the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment program. BEAD is designed to expand broadband access across the US. That includes building out networks to reach unserved and underserved areas. The state is working out how to use the funds and invites public feedback through the Washington State Broadband Office. The office’s data shows that roughly 264,000 households in the state haven’t adopted broadband services. Washington hopes to improve access, encourage broadband adoption and make internet service affordable. Those are all worthy goals.

Internet in Washington FAQs

Does Washington have good internet?

Going by Ookla’s state rankings, Washington doesn’t have great internet speeds, but “good” is subjective. Fiber customers, like those who subscribe to Quantum Fiber or Ziply Fiber, are generally pretty happy with their internet thanks to fast download speeds, equally fast upload speeds and reliable service. Xfinity — Washington’s most widespread ISP — has fast speed tiers available along with above-average customer satisfaction scores. Overall, Washington has room to improve its broadband reach and speeds.


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Is there fiber internet in Washington?

Yes, although it’s not very widespread. Quantum Fiber and Ziply Fiber are two of the biggest providers in the state, but FCC data shows less than 30% of Washington homes have access to fiber. There are smaller, local ISPs with a limited fiber reach. Check out our rural internet chart above for some of those providers.


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Is CenturyLink or Xfinity better for internet service in Washington?

Both CenturyLink and Xfinity have a notable presence in Washington. If both service your address, it’s time to look closer at your options. CenturyLink’s old-school DSL network typically maxes out at 100Mbps (sometimes much less, depending on your location). If it’s down to DSL or cable, consider Xfinity’s faster top speeds first. However, if CenturyLink’s sibling network, Quantum Fiber, is available, give that some weight. Fiber is reliable and fast, both up and down. Quantum Fiber’s 940Mbps speed tier (which includes your equipment rental) is also good value for your money.


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This post was originally published on Cnet

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