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Let’s chat, Arizona. You’ve got a lot of great things going on: Saguaro cactuses. Gorgeous mountains. Route 66. The thriving metropolis of Phoenix. Quirky Tucson. Scenic Flagstaff. Date shakes in Dateland. What you don’t have is a lot of home internet options. Fiber is scarce. Most locations have little choice in ISPs. But let’s make the best of this. There are still ways to get fast, reliable internet.
Limited fiber availability means your best options might be Cox Communications, Optimum, Xfinity, Sparklight or 5G home internet from Verizon or T-Mobile. Rural homes outside of wired internet reach will likely be looking at a local fixed wireless provider or satellite internet to get online.
Residents of Arizona’s most populous city should check out our deep dive into Phoenix’s best ISPs. Otherwise, use this state-wide overview as a guide to Arizona’s best internet providers. We’ll talk about service areas, speeds and fees so you can find the best way to get online from within the Grand Canyon State.
Best internet options in Arizona
Speed is important when choosing an ISP, but it’s not the only factor. CNET examines customer service, speed, pricing and overall value before recommending the best broadband in your area. When it comes to Arizona, availability is a big issue. Certain providers service particular parts of the state. You’ll find Sparklight and Frontier in the east, Xfinity around Tucson, and Cox in the south. Desirable fiber connections are limited, leaving many residents with DSL, cable or fixed wireless options. Our picks for the best ISPs are largely based on availability since even the fastest residential providers typically top out at 940 megabits per second in the Grand Canyon State.
Note: The prices, speeds and features detailed in the article text may differ from those listed in the product detail cards, which represent providers’ national offerings. Your particular internet service options — including prices and speeds — depend on your address and may differ from those detailed here. Additionally, all prices listed on this page reflect available discounts for setting up paperless billing. If you decide not to go with automatic monthly payments, your price will be higher.
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Rural internet options in Arizona
|Provider||Connection type||Price range||Speed range||Data cap||Availability|
|AireBeam||Fiber/fixed wireless||$55-$90||20-1,000Mbps||None||Pinal, Maricopa, Pima counties|
|AirFiber||Fixed wireless||$50-$60||25-50Mbps||None||Greater Phoenix area|
|Bolt Internet||Fixed wireless||$55-$125||10-25Mbps||None||Yavapai County|
|CenturyLink||DSL||$50||20-100Mbps||None||Large areas of the state|
|Mile High Networks||Fixed wireless||$39-$149||15-150Mbps||None||Yavapai County|
|Mojo Broadband||Fixed wireless||$66-$88||10-50Mbps||None||Cave Creek, Carefree, Desert Hills, Tonopah, Wintersburg|
|Simply Bits||Fixed wireless||$79-$160||10-100Mbps||None||Southern Arizona|
|TREPIC Networks||Fixed wireless||$50-$120||65-150Mbps||None||Gilbert, Mesa, Queen Creek, San Tan Valley, Coolidge, Eloy, Casa Grande and Florence|
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Source: CNET analysis of provider data
Regarding wired internet for rural Arizona, your best bet will likely be an older network, like CenturyLink’s DSL service, our choice for the top rural ISP in the nation. It has a much broader reach than the company’s fiber offering but can still get you speeds up to 100Mbps in some places. With plans running $50 a month, this is a good place to start in your search for rural internet. If that doesn’t work out, consider fixed wireless or satellite as an alternative.
Arizona is full of small fixed wireless ISPs, some of which we’ve included in the chart above. Plug your address into the FCC National Broadband Map to see which ones service your area. Fixed wireless can sometimes be slow and expensive, but it’s better than no connection at all, and it may work out to be a better deal than satellite. Fixed wireless speeds can vary with location and distance. You need a clear line of sight to a tower. Plans vary quite a bit from provider to provider, with some starting at 10Mbps speeds, which doesn’t even qualify as broadband in the eyes of the FCC. Others offer speeds as high as 150Mbps in some areas, but the monthly price can increase to well over $100.
Some small providers are working to bring faster internet to underserved areas. AireBeam, for example, has been expanding its fiber network in Florence and Casa Grande and is introducing speeds up to 5,000Mbps in some areas. Its fixed wireless service reaches rural parts of Pinal, Maricopa and Pima counties.
If both DSL and fixed wireless fail you, consider satellite internet from Starlink, Viasat or HughesNet. You just need a clear view of the southern sky for it to work. Satellite equipment costs and monthly fees can be expensive and speeds aren’t always great, so start by considering DSL or fixed wireless options before you turn to satellite.
Arizona internet details at a glance
All residences in Arizona have access to broadband speeds of at least 25Mbps down and 3Mbps up, per the FCC. That may sound a bit slow in an age of fast fiber, but it’s how the FCC defines broadband. Looking closer, the FCC says 91% of residences can get broadband internet via wired networks like cable, DSL or fiber. The remaining households must rely on fixed wireless or satellite to get online.
When we look at fiber, the number drops considerably. Only about 13% of Arizona households have access to fiber with speeds of at least 250Mbps. Check out the gig level, and we’re down to just 1.7%. Most of that scarce fiber can be found in the bigger metro areas like Phoenix and Tucson. CenturyLink’s fast and affordable Quantum Fiber is our top choice for Phoenix, but availability is limited. If Arizonans have an internet wish list, the number one slot should read, “More fiber, please.”
Arizona internet speeds
How does Arizona’s internet service stack up against the rest of the US? A recent Ookla ranking of US states put Arizona down at 37th place. The state logs a median download speed of around 161Mbps for fixed internet. Compare that to first place Delaware at about 227Mbps. Xfinity gets a nod from Ookla for providing Arizona’s fastest downloads at an average of 233Mbps, but it primarily services parts of Tucson, so it’s not an option for most of the state.
The FCC data shows nearly 90% of residences in Arizona can access speeds of at least 250Mbps down. You’ll find that as an option from most of the major fixed internet providers, from Xfinity to Optimum to Cox to CenturyLink Fiber. If you sign up for a plan with at least 250Mbps down, you’ll be ahead of the game nationally. Ookla shows the median download speed for the US as a whole comes in at about 203Mbps.
There are ways to improve your internet experience. You may be able to switch providers or sign up for a faster plan from your current ISP. Before you do that, follow these steps for faster Wi-Fi.
Internet pricing in Arizona
Choosing an internet plan is a balancing act between speed and budget. Most ISPs have plans starting around $50, but you may be able to squeeze in for less by agreeing to a contract, settling for a slower speed tier or lucking into a promotional deal. Many promo prices come with expiration dates. If you live in the Show Low area, for example, Sparklight’s 300Mbps plan costs just $39 a month, but the price goes up to $70 after the first six months.
Home internet from T-Mobile or Verizon can be a bargain if it works well at your location and you bundle service with an eligible phone plan. That brings the cost of T-Mobile internet service down to $30 a month and Verizon as low as $25 monthly.
The lowest price isn’t always the best deal. CenturyLink’s Quantum Fiber will run you $70 for 940Mbps (modem included), making it one of the country’s more affordable gig-level fiber plans. That’s a good balance between price and speed.
Internet plans for low-income households in Arizona
The federal Affordable Connectivity Program is available to anyone who qualifies. This should be your first stop in your quest to save money on broadband. Most eligible households can get up to $30 a month toward home internet, while households on tribal lands can get up to $75 a month. Most ISPs participate.
Connect Arizona, an initiative led by the Arizona State Library, maintains a list of low-cost internet plans and offers in the state. You can find participating ACP providers, sort by connection type and search by location. For example, you’ll find Xfnity’s Internet Essentials Plus plan or Cox Communications’ ConnectAssist plan, both free when combined with the ACP.
The future of broadband in Arizona
Arizona has room to grow when it comes to broadband speeds and choices. Residents of some cities can look forward to fiber expansions coming their way. AT&T Fiber, a service that has topped many of our broadband recommendation lists, announced in 2022 it is expanding into Mesa, with the network expected to be up and running in 2023. AT&T is notable for its straightforward plans and speeds up to 5,000Mbps. Google Fiber opened up shop in the Westwood neighborhood of Mesa in March and is planning a move into Chandler. Wyyerd Fiber is building out its network in Gilbert.
Those fiber moves are good news for city dwellers, but Arizona is also pushing to improve internet connectivity for rural and underserved areas. The state can look forward to a nearly billion-dollar federal investment through the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment program. BEAD is aimed at expanding broadband access across the US. Fiber growth and more (and faster) rural options paint a positive picture for Arizona’s broadband future, but change can be slow.
How CNET chose the best internet providers in Arizona
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. So 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.
But it doesn’t end there. We go to the FCC’s website to check our data and ensure we’re considering every ISP that provides service in an area. We also input local addresses on provider websites to find specific options for residents. To evaluate how happy customers are with an ISP’s service, we look at sources including the American Customer Satisfaction Index and J.D. Power. ISP plans and prices are subject to frequent changes; all information provided is accurate as of the time of publication.
Once we have this localized information, we ask three main questions:
- Does the provider offer access to reasonably fast internet speeds?
- Do customers get decent value for what they’re paying?
- Are customers happy with their service?
While the answer to those questions is often layered and complex, the providers who come closest to “yes” on all three are the ones we recommend.
To explore our process in more depth, visit our how we test ISPs page.