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Austin likes keeping it weird. But ask anyone who works and lives there: They also like their internet fast. In fact, it’s one of the fastest metros in the US when it comes to internet speed. Thanks to its multiple fiber options, Austin has a spot among the top 15 fastest cities in the country.
The speed-testing site Ookla keeps track of the top cities in the US for median download speeds based on millions of tests run daily by the company. In Ookla’s latest reporting, Austin — the country’s 28th most populous metro area — ranked as the 11th fastest city, registering a median download speed of 236 megabits per second. That was good enough to place ATX well ahead of its Texas big-city siblings Dallas and Houston.
One thing to note about those speeds: Austin gets a boost from the fast fiber options found within city limits, including AT&T and Google Fiber, and the wide availability of the consistent cable connection provided by Spectrum. But if you venture beyond Travis County to Round Rock, Georgetown or some rural areas east of Austin, you won’t see anything close to those median speeds. Apart from last-resort satellite options like HughesNet and Viasat, there are some regional fixed wireless solutions, as well as the option to explore 5G home internet (though availability is limited more closely to the Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown hub).
Best internet providers in ATX
Austinites have plenty of internet options to sort through. Whatever those options may be at your address, we’re here to help you comb through your choices. Here’s what you need to know about the best internet providers in Austin.
Internet providers in Austin overview
|Provider||Internet technology||Monthly price range||Speed range||Monthly equipment costs||Data cap||Contract||CNET review score|
|Astound Broadband/Grande||Cable||$25-$60||300-1,200Mbps||$12 (skippable)||None||None||7|
|Rise Broadband||Fixed wireless||$25-$75||25-50Mbps||$10 modem; $5-$15 router (skippable)||250GB or unlimited||None, but required for some promotions||6.2|
|Spectrum||Cable||$50-$90||300-940Mbps||Free modem; $5 router||None||None||7.2|
All available Austin residential internet providers
Many broadband options exist for those living in the Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown metro area. Beyond the top three picks we highlighted above, you can find quite a mix of choices, though a few are available only on the outskirts of the surrounding counties.
- Astound Broadband/Grande: You’ll find some of the most competitive starting rates in Austin from this cable internet provider. Astound’s cheapest plan is $25 a month for 300Mbps download speed. That’s a very affordable 8 cents per Mbps. While you can find similarly cheap options in the area — Rise Broadband’s $25-a-month offering, for example — that plan features download speeds of only 25Mbps, which equates to a much higher cost per Mbps of $1. Astound’s 1.2 gig plan is also the cheapest you can find in the city, starting at $60 per month, and comes with a free year of Max. The catch? A pretty steep increase awaits customers. According to Astound’s rate card (PDF), your rate could more than triple after your introductory period (from $25 to $84 a month for the 300Mbps plan). Granted, you’re not under a contract, so you have the freedom to try to negotiate a better deal or bail to a different provider. But you should be aware of that looming increase.
- AT&T: If I had to name a runner-up for the best fiber internet provider for ATX, AT&T would take that spot. It has greater availability in the Austin metro area than Google Fiber, and its fiber plans offer a greater diversity of options — from 300Mbps to several multi-gigabit plans, including one as high as 5,000Mbps. But not all Austin residents are serviceable for AT&T Fiber. Many still have to deal with AT&T’s DSL service, an inferior product whose download speeds max out around 100Mbps, and in some areas, tops out at only around 25Mbps.
- Brightspeed: You won’t find this ISP within city limits. You’ll have to travel north of Austin to the suburb of Hutto to find service. While a majority of addresses may have to settle for DSL service (which can range from 20 to 100Mbps), others may be fortunate to be eligible for the company’s affordable fiber product, which offers 940Mbps for $65 a month.
- Evolve Broadband: This regional provider won’t be found within city limits, but its LTE fixed wireless service caters to rural customers in the outskirts of the Austin metro area, including to the south and southeast in Bastrop, Cedar Creek, Dale and Lytton Springs and west of the city in McDade and Paige. You can expect 10 to 35Mbps download speed with this cellular service, which Evolve breaks down into three data plans — Bronze (10GB per month for $40), Silver ($50 a month for 30GB) and Gold (60GB a month for $75) with the opportunity to buy additional gigabytes of data on each plan.
- Frontier: If you’re located within Austin city limits, Frontier is not for you. But its mix of DSL and fiber-optic service is a prime option for residents of Georgetown to the north and Dripping Springs and Kyle just south of the city. Check the site to see if Frontier Fiber is available at your address. Featuring symmetrical plans of 500Mbps, gigabit or multi-gig speeds, the company’s fiber service is a compelling option, ranging in price from $50 to $155 a month.
- Kinetic by Windstream: You’ll find this DSL and fiber provider only in a small pocket of Austin near Balcones District Park and north of the city in eastern Round Rock. If you’re serviceable for the company’s fiber-optic plans, it’s worth some exploration, but keep looking if you can only get its DSL service.
- Optimum: Suddenlink is the name many in the Austin area might know but parent company Altice USA rebranded it in 2022. So, the freshly-named Optimum service is very lightly scattered in the metro area — mostly around the Austin Recreation Center and near Barton Creek Wilderness Park — but is more concentrated north of ATX in Pflugerville. This cable ISP boasts competitive starting rates and decent signing perks, including Visa gift cards and bundling discounts with unlimited mobile plans.
- Ranch Wireless: This VTX-1 wireless provider to south-central Texas services a few towns on the outer reaches of the Austin metro area, including Bastrop, Cedar Creek, Dale, Elgin, Lockhart, Mustang Ridge and Uhland. Customers can expect to see residential plans that range from $30 a month for 1Mbps download and 30GB of data, to $120 a month for 25Mbps and unlimited data.
- Rise Broadband: One of the country’s top fixed wireless solutions for rural areas. This provider is a viable option for residents living in east Austin, stretching out to the towns of Manor and Elgin, as well as points north of the city, including portions of Georgetown, Pflugerville, Round Rock and Taylor. Speeds can get as high as 50Mbps, and there are unlimited data options as well, so if your choice is between satellite and Rise Broadband, this should win out.
- Satellite internet: Typically, I’d tell anyone in a metro area to run, not walk, away from satellite internet service. You’ll find much cheaper and faster alternatives in the city. However, many outside the urban limits of Austin won’t have the same access. That’s when it’s time to consider either HughesNet or Viasat, the leading satellite broadband providers. One of the biggest drawbacks to both is they each require a two-year contract commitment. Newcomer Starlink has them beat on that front — the service features no term contract agreements. However, per the Starlink map, Austin’s availability is still on the waitlist until sometime later in 2023.
- SOS Communications: Another regional fixed wireless provider, SOS extends the majority of its coverage area just beyond the Austin metro area, but serviceability ranges down into Georgetown and Hutto as well as to the west of Austin in Elgin. Customers must provide their own router, but SOS is set apart from other regional wireless providers because there’s no contract required and no data caps on any of its wireless plans. Available speeds range from 10-100Mbps.
- TexasData: This local ISP offers a fixed wireless solution for customers in the Texas Hill Country west of Austin. It caters to areas unable to get cable or DSL services. Monthly plans cover speeds from 2Mbps to 20Mbps, with prices ranging from $40 to $200 monthly.
- Verizon 5G Home Internet: Availability for Verizon’s 5G fixed wireless home internet product is expanding to more areas. It has a higher average download speed (300Mbps) than T-Mobile Home Internet and boasts a similar all-in price that includes equipment rental, installation fees and taxes for $50 a month (and eligible Verizon Wireless customers can get a 50% discount to drive that down to $25 a month). So why’d we list T-Mobile higher? Verizon’s coverage still tends to lean strongly towards metro areas due to its strong utilization of its Ultra Wideband 5G technology. In contrast, T-Mobile also uses its 4G LTE network to increase availability. If you’re within the Capital City limits, you should explore this option, but many others will find it outside their grasp.
Austin internet details at a glance
After our overview of the internet service providers available in Austin, you may have some more specific questions about the internet plans you can get in the Capital City. Specifically, let’s dive into more about the cheapest internet plans you can find and the fastest internet options available.
Pricing for Austin home internet service
The average starting price for internet service in Austin — taking into account the promo prices, not the elevated regular rates — is approximately $43 per month, which puts ATX right in the middle of the pack of the other markets CNET has covered, including Brooklyn ($36 a month), Los Angeles ($38 a month), Denver ($39 per month), San Francisco ($40 a month), New York City ($41 per month), Seattle ($42 monthly), Dallas and Philadelphia (both near $43 per month), Houston ($45 monthly), Phoenix ($46 per month), Atlanta ($47 monthly), Orlando and San Antonio ($48 a month) and Charlotte, Chicago, Las Vegas, San Diego and St. Louis (all approximately $50 monthly).
Cheap internet options in ATX
Currently, the lowest starting price you can find in Austin is $25 per month. That belongs to both Rise Broadband and Astound Broadband. Rise Broadband’s offering is a 25Mbps plan. Impressively, the standard price only jumps by $10 after the first year.
But Astound Broadband’s $25 monthly tier is a 300Mbps cable internet plan. If it’s available at your address, that’s the best value.
Speaking of value, most of the providers we’ve listed are also participating in the Federal Communication Commission’s Affordable Connectivity Program. This FCC initiative provides a $30-a-month discount to qualifying low-income households to help them find affordable, high-speed internet. If you qualify, the ACP benefit can be used towards any internet plan from participating providers. In some cases, especially from the 20 providers who recently partnered with the White House on its digital divide initiatives, you might be able to get internet service for free.
What’s the cheapest internet in Austin?
|Provider||Starting price||Standard price||Max download speed||Monthly equipment fee||Contract|
|Rise Broadband||$25||$35||25Mbps||$10 modem; $5-$15 router (skippable)||None, but required for some promotions|
|Astound Broadband/Grande||$25||$84||300Mbps||$15 (skippable)||None|
|Kinetic by Windstream||$27||$55||50Mbps||$10 (skippable)||None|
|Ranch Wireless||$30||$30||1Mbps||$249 one-time fee||None|
|Evolve Broadband||$40||$40||25Mbps||$30-$75 one-time fee||1-2 years|
|TexasData||$40||$40||2Mbps||$69 one-time fee|
|HughesNet||$50||$75||25Mbps||$15 or $450 one-time purchase||2 years|
|T-Mobile Home Internet||$50||$50||182Mbps||None||None|
|Spectrum||$50||$75||300Mbps||Free modem; $5 router||None|
|Verizon 5G Home Internet||$50||$50||300Mbps||None||None|
|Viasat||$50||$70||12Mbps||$15 or $300 one-time purchase||2 years|
|AT&T Fiber 300||$55||$55||300Mbps||None||None|
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Internet speeds in Austin
As I mentioned at the start of this article, Austin holds some bragging rights as one of the country’s fastest cities in terms of median download internet speeds. But if you live on the outskirts of the Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown metro area, you might be surprised to hear that, since fixed wireless or satellite service might be all that’s available to you.
Fastest internet providers in Austin
People within the city limits have access to the superior speeds of fiber internet service, tilting the scales here. Case in point, Ookla’s data tags Google Fiber as the fastest provider in Austin, with a median download speed of approximately 269Mbps. But both AT&T and Frontier offer fiber plans as fast as 5Gbps, so those are the fastest individual plans you’ll find.
What are the fastest internet plans in Austin?
|Provider||Max download speed||Max upload speed||Starting price||Data cap||Contract|
|Frontier Fiber 5 Gig||5,000Mbps||5,000Mbps||$165||None||None|
|AT&T Fiber 5000||5,000Mbps||5,000Mbps||$180||None||None|
|Google Fiber 2 Gig||2,000Mbps||1,000Mbps||$100||None||None|
|AT&T Fiber 2000||2,000Mbps||2,000Mbps||$110||None||None|
|Frontier Fiber 2 Gig||2,000Mbps||2,000Mbps||$110||None||None|
|Google Fiber Gig||1,000Mbps||1,000Mbps||$70||None||None|
|AT&T Fiber 1000||1,000Mbps||1,000Mbps||$80||None||None|
|Frontier Fiber 1 Gig||1,000Mbps||1,000Mbps||$70||None||None|
|Spectrum Internet Gig||940Mbps||35Mbps||$90||None||None|
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Our final word on Austin internet providers
Within the city limits of Austin, cable internet is still the most ubiquitous internet connection you’ll find. And as far as cable internet providers go, Spectrum and Astound Broadband present solid value with their offerings. But as we’ve often mentioned in our CNET home internet coverage, fiber internet trumps cable every time. If your address is serviceable for Google Fiber or AT&T Fiber — and thankfully, both companies are continuing to expand their fiber networks within ATX — then you shouldn’t give signing up a second thought.