Best Internet Providers in Charlotte, North Carolina – CNET

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AT&T Fiber – Best Charlotte Internet Provider Overall

  • Speeds from 300-5,000Mbps
  • Prices starting at $55/mo.
  • Unlimited data

Google Fiber – Best for Gigabit Internet Service in Charlotte

  • Speeds from 1,000-2,000Mbps
  • Prices starting at $70/mo.
  • Unlimited data

Or call to order: (866) 835-6840

Spectrum – Best Charlotte Availability for High-Speed Internet

  • Speeds from 300-940Mbps
  • Prices starting at $50/mo.
  • Unlimited data

T-Mobile Home Internet – Best Alternative to Wired Home Internet Service in Charlotte

  • Speeds from 33-182Mbps
  • Prices starting at $50/mo.
  • Unlimited data

I grew up in the Charlotte area and later attended the University of North Carolina at Charlotte before moving just over the state line into Fort Mill. So I know firsthand that living in Charlotte comes with two primary options for home internet: AT&T and Spectrum. While AT&T Fiber is my pick for the best Charlotte ISP overall, both providers present unique pros and cons. AT&T Fiber is the faster provider, but Spectrum has the overall cheaper plan of the two and greater high-speed coverage throughout Charlotte.

Depending on where you live or are moving to in the Queen City, AT&T and Spectrum may not be the only available providers. Google FiberT-Mobile 5G Home Internet and others may offer service at your address and should be considered alongside AT&T and Spectrum. It’s important to fully explore these options to ensure you get the best home internet service for your needs and budget. 

Best internet providers in Charlotte

The best Charlotte ISP for your home will come down to what’s available and what you’re looking for. The providers listed below were chosen due to their high availability in the Charlotte area, plan selection, favorable service terms and overall value.

AT&T logo on a phone
Sarah Tew/CNET

AT&T Fiber

Best Charlotte Internet Provider Overall


Product details


Price range

$55 – $180 per month

Speed range

300 – 5,000Mbps

Connection

Fiber

Highlights

Unlimited data, no contracts, equipment included

AT&T Fiber has the best plan variety and value of any major Charlotte internet provider. The 100% fiber-optic service also offers symmetrical upload and download speeds, a perk you won’t get with cable internet services such as Spectrum.

Availability: AT&T offers internet throughout much of Charlotte, but there are some pockets, such as to the west around CLT-Douglas and around the University area, where service might be unavailable. 

Plans and pricing: You’ll have up to five plans to choose from with AT&T Fiber. Pricing ranges from $55 to $180 per month for max speeds of 300Mbps up to 5Gbps.

Fees and service details: No equipment fees, data caps or contracts are required with AT&T Fiber service.

Read our AT&T Fiber review.

Google Fiber
Sarah Tew/CNET

Google Fiber

Best for Gigabit Internet Service in Charlotte


Product details


Price range

$70 – $100 per month

Speed range

1,000 – 2,000Mbps

Connection

Fiber

Highlights

Unlimited data, no contracts, equipment included

Going with Google Fiber for your home internet service in Charlotte comes down to two questions: “Is it available?” and “Do you want gigabit internet?” If the answer to both is yes, then Google Fiber will probably be your best bet.

Availability: The availability part may be challenging as Google Fiber is only offered to around 10% of Charlotte households. You’ll have the best odds of getting service if you live in or are moving to northeast Charlotte, just below Concord Mills, or the Southpark area. There are also random spots in Uptown and around Charlotte that are serviceable for Google Fiber. 

Plans and pricing: Google Fiber has a higher starting price than other Charlotte ISPs, but the speeds you get for the money are well worth the premium cost. You have only two plan options — 1 gig for $70 per month or 2 gigs for $100 monthly. 

Fees and service details: Wi-Fi equipment is included in the monthly cost. Plans also come with unlimited data and there are no contract requirements.

Read our Google Fiber review.

Spectrum
Sarah Tew/CNET

Spectrum

Best Charlotte Availability for High-Speed Internet


Product details


Price range

$50 – $90 per month

Speed range

300 – 940Mbps

Connection

Cable

Highlights

Simple pricing, unlimited data, no contracts, modem included, free access to nationwide Wi-Fi hotspots

Cable providers often get a bad rap, perhaps deservedly in some cases, but Spectrum is a solid choice for home internet in Charlotte. That said, it’s still cable internet. That means significantly slower upload speeds than fiber service and the potential for reduced speeds during peak usage times. The cable connection does, however, make Spectrum a good choice for bundling internet and TV service

Availability: Spectrum’s biggest selling point in Charlotte is availability. The cable internet provider is available to 100% of Charlotte households, making it easier to sign up for internet service and then transfer it when you move, wherever that happens to be in city limits. 

Plans and pricing: Spectrum speeds range from 300 to 940Mbps — and the pricing is reasonable, especially after Spectrum recently dropped its gigabit pricing from $110 to $90 per month. 

Fees and service details: Service terms are favorable, as all Spectrum plans come with unlimited data, no contract requirements and a free modem. However, you’ll have to pay $5 extra for a Wi-Fi router (or provide your own). Plans also come with unlimited data and there are no contract requirements.

Read our Spectrum review.

T Mobile wireless logo on an iPad
Sarah Tew/CNET

T-Mobile Home Internet

Best Alternative to Wired Home Internet Service in Charlotte


Product details


Price range

$50 per month ($30 for eligible T-Mobile Magenta Max customers)

Speed range

33 – 182Mbps

Connection

Fixed wireless

Highlights

Unlimited data, equipment included, no contracts, no additional fees

T-Mobile’s 5G wireless home internet service makes a lot of sense if you’re just outside the Charlotte city limits, say down in Lancaster, South Carolina or out in a rural part of Rowan County. It might also be a viable option if you’re not satisfied with your service from AT&T or Spectrum. 

Availability: Technically, T-Mobile Home Internet is available throughout the greater Charlotte metro area, but you’ll need to check the site to find out about your specific address. Just because 5G service might be in your area doesn’t guarantee that T-Mobile Home Internet will be available for your home

Plans and pricing: T-Mobile Home Internet offers one plan with a flat fee of $50 per month for speeds that range from 33-182Mbps. T-Mobile phone customers can get $20 off per month with eligible plans. 

Fees and service details: T-Mobile Home Internet features everything you need within the monthly cost. That includes your equipment, unlimited data, no term requirements and a price-lock guarantee. That means you can try it out risk-free to see if you’re ready to replace your wired connection with a wireless one.

Read our T-Mobile home internet overview.

All available Charlotte residential internet providers

There are a few smaller ISPs throughout the Charlotte area, or divisions of larger providers (like AT&T’s copper-based internet service), that may be available at your address. While I wouldn’t recommend them as highly as the ones listed above, it’s important to know all your options when choosing the best internet provider for your home.

Top Charlotte internet providers

Provider Internet technology Monthly price range Speed range Monthly equipment costs Data cap Contract Availability CNET review score
AT&T DSL/fiber $55-$180 10-5,000Mbps None None None 88% 7.4
Comporium Fiber $30-$83 100-1,000Mbps $10 None None 1%
Google Fiber Fiber $70-$100 1,000-2,000Mbps None None None 10% 7.4
Kinetic by Windstream DSL/fiber $37-$67 200-1,000Mbps $10 None None 13% 6.7
Spectrum Cable $50-$90 300-940Mbps Free modem; $5 router None None 100% 7.2
T-Mobile Home Internet Fixed wireless $50 33-182Mbps None None None 50%% 7.4

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What other internet options are there in Charlotte?

These providers may be available to parts of Charlotte, but they likely won’t be your first or second choice for home internet unless you live outside the city.

  • ComporiumOutside of the Steele Creek area, specifically Ayrsley, cable internet from Comporium is only available to the south of Charlotte over the border into South Carolina and parts of Union County. With plans starting at $30 per month, Comporium is the cheapest provider in the area, but customers should expect a price increase after the first three months.
  • EarthLink: Internet service from EarthLink runs on the networks of other providers. In Charlotte, that provider is AT&T, so EarthLink is technically available wherever you find AT&T. However, AT&T has many of the same selling points as EarthLink, such as unlimited data and no contracts, not to mention lower pricing, so you’re better off going with AT&T. 
  • Kinetic by Windstream: Kinetic is largely known for offering service in suburban or rural areas, and its coverage in Charlotte is no different. While a few Charlotte neighborhoods are serviceable for Kinetic, you’ll find the best coverage in surrounding areas such as Albemarle, Concord and Matthews. If Kinetic’s fiber service is available at your address, it’s worth checking out, but you may want to pass on the DSL service if that’s all you can get. 

Satellite service from HughesNet and Viasat is also available throughout most of Charlotte and the surrounding area. But again, with plenty of other internet options available, satellite internet is not worth the cost.

Charlotte internet details at a glance

Thanks to fiber and cable internet connections throughout the area, the Queen City has some of the fastest residential internet speeds in the nation, and multiple high-speed providers to choose from.

Charlotte internet pricing

The average starting price for internet service in Charlotte is just under $50 per month. Comporium has the lowest starting price for internet in Charlotte — $30 per month for speeds up to 100Mbps — but again, serviceability is hard to come by and the price goes up after three months. You’ll find the highest starting price with Google Fiber at $70, but with gig speeds, the plan is also high in value.

The two largest Charlotte internet providers, AT&T and Spectrum, have the same starting price of $55 per month, but Spectrum will be $5 cheaper if you choose to use your own equipment. After the first year, look out for a price increase of up to $25 per month from Spectrum that will give AT&T a clear pricing advantage. 

Cheapest internet plans in Charlotte

Provider Starting price Standard price Max download speeds Equipment fee
Comporium Essential Internet $30 $50 (after 3 months) 100Mbps $10
Kinetic Internet $40 $55 (after 12 months) 50Mbps $7
Spectrum Internet $50 $80 (after 12 months) 300Mbps $5
T-Mobile 5G Home Internet $50 $50 182Mbps None
AT&T Fiber 300 $55 $55 300Mbps None
Google Fiber Gig $70 $70 1,000Mbps None

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Internet service for low-income households in Charlotte

Every household needs a broadband connection, but not every home can afford one. To help with broadband internet accessibility in low-income Charlotte households and communities, the North Carolina Department of Information and Technology recommends seeking assistance from the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program

Per the NCDIT, the program provides a $30 a month benefit to help qualifying Charlotte households afford high-speed internet service, plus a one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer. For more information, see Trey Paul’s article on the Affordable Connectivity Program and how to apply.

Charlotte internet providers AT&T and Spectrum may also offer low-income internet options separate from or in conjunction with the Affordable Connectivity Program. AT&T’s affordable internet program, Access from AT&T, may even provide free internet with speeds up to 100Mbps (at a rate of $30 a month, which works out to net $0 when combined with ACP benefits). Spectrum offers a similar plan, Spectrum Internet Assist, which offers speeds up to 30Mbps, but rates may vary by household, and there’s still the $5 Wi-Fi equipment rental fee.

Charlotte internet speeds

According to speed test results, speeds in the Queen City are lower than the state and national averages. Keep in mind that there are many factors that go into speed test results, such as equipment, Wi-Fi versus Ethernet connections and the internet plan itself.

Download speeds

Charlotte – 111 Mbps
NC – 138 Mbps
US – 133 Mbps

Upload speeds

Charlotte – 41 Mbps
NC – 46 Mbps
US – 46 Mbps


*Data sourced from M-LAB speed tests taken by real users in Charlotte.

Faster speeds than the area’s average are certainly available. Google Fiber has offered multigig speeds of up to 2,000Mbps (2Gbps) in the Charlotte area for a year or so now, and AT&T recently joined the multigig club with a 2,000Mbps plan of its own, plus a 5,000Mbps plan. If neither provider is available at your address, Spectrum offers download speeds up to 940Mbps throughout Charlotte. 

Fastest internet plans in Charlotte

Provider Starting price Max download speeds Max upload speeds Data cap
AT&T Fiber 5000 $180 5,000Mbps 5,000Mbps None
Google Fiber 2 Gig $100 2,000Mbps 1,000Mbps None
Comporium Zipstream $83 1,000Mbps 1,000Mbps None
Kinetic Gig $70 1,000Mbps 1,000Mbps None
Spectrum Internet Gig $90 940Mbps 35Mbps None

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Most of the fastest internet plans in Charlotte also come with symmetrical, or at least still very fast, upload speeds. The exception is Spectrum — as a cable network, it doesn’t support the same upload speeds you’ll get from a fiber connection. Comporium has a fiber network but is primarily a cable internet provider as well, so there may be some locations that are not eligible for the fastest upload speeds the provider has to offer in the area.

Don’t fret over the fine print

Using a high-speed internet connection makes consuming lots of data each month easy, which can be a problem if you have a data cap. However, you won’t have to worry about that in Charlotte, as all major ISPs in the area come with unlimited data. 

Contracts aren’t an issue, either, as AT&T, Comporium, Google Fiber, Kinetic, Spectrum and T-Mobile’s 5G home internet service do not require one when signing up.

Charlotte internet FAQs

Does Charlotte have fiber internet?

Roughly three-quarters of Charlotte is serviceable for fiber-optic internet service. AT&T is the largest fiber internet provider in Charlotte, but Google Fiber and Kinetic by Windstream also contribute to the area’s fiber coverage.

At 77%, Charlotte’s fiber availability exceeds state and national levels (43% and 41%, respectively), but there is room to improve. Greater fiber coverage in Charlotte could come soon as providers continue expanding their fiber networks.

Can you get free internet in Charlotte?

Aside from the Access from AT&T and the Affordable Connectivity Program, your best bet to get free Wi-Fi in Charlotte is at your local Mecklenburg County Library branch. Other county facilities, such as the Mecklenburg County Courthouse, may offer a free Wi-Fi connection, like many other public buildings, such as restaurants and coffee shops. When using a public Wi-Fi connection, remember that your data may not be secure, so try to avoid accessing or entering private information on your computer or mobile device when using a public Wi-Fi network.

How much is Wi-Fi in Charlotte?

Wi-Fi is a way of connecting to your internet service, not a separate one on its own, so you’ll need a standard internet connection and a Wi-Fi router to get Wi-Fi in your home. Starting prices for internet service in Charlotte ranges from $30 to $70 per month, but the added fee for Wi-Fi will vary by provider. AT&T, Google Fiber and T-Mobile 5G include Wi-Fi equipment at no extra cost, meaning your Wi-Fi is essentially “free.” Spectrum charges $5 per month for Wi-Fi equipment rental, but you can skip that fee by using your own router.

Does Charlotte have Optimum or Xfinity?

No. Spectrum is the primary cable internet service provider in Charlotte, though Comporium may be an option for those south of the city. Optimum and Xfinity are not available in Charlotte.

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