Best Internet Providers in Durham, North Carolina – CNET

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What is the best internet provider in Durham?

As part of North Carolina’s Research Triangle, it’s no surprise Durham has access to some of the best internet providers in the state, but which provider is best overall? You really can’t go wrong with any of the area’s top ISPs. Still, CNET recommends AT&T Fiber as the best internet provider in Durham due to its fiber availability, plan variety and high customer satisfaction.

Google Fiber is a close second and has the fastest internet plan in Durham, with speeds up to 8,000 megabits per second. However, it doesn’t have the same fiber coverage as AT&T. Plus, not everyone needs gigabit or multigigabit speeds, which is all Google Fiber offers.

Frontier Fiber is another excellent choice for internet in Durham, especially for those who want a fast, affordable internet plan. Frontier Fiber internet starts at $50 per month — the cheapest price for internet in Durham — and comes with symmetrical speeds up to 500Mbps. Internet service from Spectrum, Verizon 5G Home Internet and T-Mobile Home Internet also starts at $50 per month, but with slower speeds than Frontier Fiber. 

With multiple internet providers serving the Durham area, the best one for your home will come down to what’s available in your area and what you need. You’ll find details of the area’s top providers below to help you decide.

Our methodology

CNET considers speeds, pricing, customer service and overall value to recommend the best internet service in Durham across several categories. Our evaluation includes referencing a proprietary database built over years of reviewing internet services. We validate that against provider information by spot-checking local addresses for service availability. We also do a close read of providers’ terms and conditions and, when needed, will call ISPs to verify the details.

Despite our efforts to find the most recent and accurate information, our process has some limitations you should know about. Pricing and speed data are variable: certain addresses may qualify for different service tiers, and monthly costs may vary, even within a city. The best way to identify your particular options is to plug your address into a provider’s website. 

Also, the prices, speed and other information listed above and in the provider cards below may differ from what we found in our research. The cards display the full range of a provider’s pricing and speed across the US, according to our database of plan information provided directly by ISPs. At the same time, the text is specific to what’s available in Durham. The prices referenced within this article’s text come from our research and include applicable discounts for setting up automatic payments each month — a standard industry offering. Other discounts and promotions might also be available for things like signing a term contract or bundling with multiple services. 

To learn more about how we review internet providers, visit our full methodology page.

Best internet in Durham, North Carolina

Connection

Fiber

Speed range

300 – 5,000 Mbps

Price range

$55 – $250 per month

Our take – With plans ranging from 300Mbps to 5Gbps, AT&T Fiber offers a speed suitable for nearly any household. All plans have free equipment rental, unlimited data and no contract requirements. Those perks are also available with Frontier and Google Fiber, but more Durham residents will be serviceable with AT&T Fiber.

. . .

Check with AT&T

Connection

Fiber

Speed range

300 – 5,000 Mbps

Price range

$55 – $250 per month

Connection

Cable

Speed range

100 – 1,000 Mbps

Price range

$30- $90 per month

Our take – Spectrum has the greatest availability of any non-satellite internet provider in Durham. It’s largely cable internet, meaning slower upload speeds than you’d get with fiber, but the service is still decent. Plans range from 300 to 1,000Mbps, including unlimited data and a free modem rental.

. . .

Check with Spectrum

Connection

Cable

Speed range

100 – 1,000 Mbps

Price range

$30- $90 per month

Connection

Fiber

Speed range

1,000 – 2,000 Mbps

Price range

$70 – $100 per month

Our take – Google Fiber recently rolled out 8Gbps internet service in Durham starting at $150 per month — around the same price that would get you max speeds of 2Gbps from AT&T or 5Gbps from Frontier. Speeds of 1, 2 and 5Gbps are also available, but if you’re looking for anything slower (and cheaper than $70 per month), Google Fiber may not be the best provider for you.

. . .

Check with Google

Connection

Fiber

Speed range

1,000 – 2,000 Mbps

Price range

$70 – $100 per month

Connection

Fiber

Speed range

500 – 5,000 Mbps

Price range

$50 – $155 per month

Our take – Frontier has the best cheap internet plan in Durham, but there’s nothing “cheap” about the service. Speeds range from 500 to 5,000Mbps, starting at $50 to $155 per month, and all plans come with unlimited data and free equipment rental. Contracts aren’t required, but accepting bonus offers, like a gift card, may come with a one-year term agreement.

. . .

Check with Frontier

Connection

Fiber

Speed range

500 – 5,000 Mbps

Price range

$50 – $155 per month

Connection

Fixed wireless

Speed range

85 – 1,000 Mbps

Price range

$50 – $70 per month

Our take – Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband network covers much of Durham, but getting 5G on your phone doesn’t necessarily mean it’s available for internet service in your home. If Verizon 5G Home Internet is available at your address, you’ll have two options ranging from 50 to 300Mbps or 85 to 1,000Mbps, starting at $50 and $70 per month, respectively. Both plans come with free equipment, unlimited data and no contract requirements, and eligible Verizon mobile customers can get an additional discount on home internet service.

. . .

Check with Verizon

Connection

Fixed wireless

Speed range

85 – 1,000 Mbps

Price range

$50 – $70 per month

Durham internet providers compared

Provider Internet technology Monthly price range Speed range Monthly equipment costs Data cap Contract CNET review score
AT&T DSL, fiber $55 DSL, $55-$250 fiber 10-100Mbps DSL, 300-5,000Mbps fiber None None None 7.4
Frontier DSL, fiber $50-$155 Varies DSL, 500-5,000Mbps fiber None None None 6.3
Google Fiber Fiber $70-$150 1,000-8,000 None None None 7.5
Spectrum Cable $50-$90 300-1,000Mbps Free modem, $5 router rental (optional) None None 7.2
T-Mobile Home Internet Fixed wireless $50 ($30 with eligible mobile plans) 72-245Mbps None None None 7.4
Verizon 5G Home Internet Fixed wireless $50-$70 ($35-$45 for eligible Verizon Wireless customers) 50-1,000Mbps None None None 7.2

Show more (2 items)

Source: CNET analysis of provider data.

What’s the cheapest internet plan in Durham?

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Source: CNET analysis of provider data.

View of Durham, North Carolina skyline

Getty Images

How to find internet deals and promotions in Durham

The best internet deals and top promotions in Durham depend on the discounts available during that period. Most deals are short-lived, but we look frequently for the latest offers. 

Durham internet providers, such as AT&T Fiber, may offer gift cards or other signup bonuses for a limited time. Many, however, including Frontier, Google Fiber and Spectrum, run the same standard pricing year-round. 

For a more extensive list of promos, check out our guide on the best internet deals.

Fastest internet plans in Durham

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Source: CNET analysis of provider data.

What’s a good internet speed?

Most internet connection plans can now handle basic productivity and communication tasks. If you’re looking for an internet plan that can accommodate videoconferencing, streaming video or gaming, you’ll have a better experience with a more robust connection. Here’s an overview of the recommended minimum download speeds for various applications, according to the FCC. Note that these are only guidelines — and that internet speed, service and performance vary by connection type, provider and address.

For more information, refer to our guide on how much internet speed you really need.

  • 0 to 5Mbps allows you to tackle the basics — browsing the internet, sending and receiving email, streaming low-quality video.
  • 5 to 40Mbps gives you higher-quality video streaming and videoconferencing.
  • 40 to 100Mbps should give one user sufficient bandwidth to satisfy the demands of modern telecommuting, video streaming and online gaming. 
  • 100 to 500Mbps allows one to two users to simultaneously engage in high-bandwidth activities like videoconferencing, streaming and online gaming. 
  • 500 to 1,000Mbps allows three or more users to engage in high-bandwidth activities at the same time.

How CNET chose the best internet providers in Durham

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 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 the time 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 answer to those questions is often layered and complex, the providers who come closest to “yes” on all three are the ones we recommend. When it comes to selecting the cheapest internet service, we look for the plans with the lowest monthly fee, though 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 also take into account 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.

Internet providers in Durham FAQs

What is the best internet service provider in Durham?

Durham is home to multiple high-quality internet service providers, but AT&T Fiber is arguably the best, having the largest fiber network in the area and a lower starting price than Google Fiber. AT&T Fiber also received higher customer satisfaction ratings than other Durham ISPs, including Google Fiber and Frontier Fiber.

Is fiber internet available in Durham?

Fiber internet is available to just over half of Durham households, according to the FCC. Fiber coverage is greatest in the New Hope Valley, Waterford and Keene communities, though service is available in select neighborhoods throughout Durham. 

AT&T is the largest fiber internet provider in Durham, but fiber internet may also be available from Google Fiber or Frontier Fiber, depending on where you live.

Who is the cheapest internet provider in Durham?

Frontier Fiber, Spectrum, Verizon 5G Home Internet and T-Mobile Home Internet all have a starting monthly price of $50. However, Frontier offers the fastest speeds, up to 500Mbps, and includes equipment at no extra cost, whereas renting a router from Spectrum will add $5 to your bill.

Which internet provider in Durham offers the fastest plan?

Google Fiber offers the fastest internet plan in Durham with symmetrical upload and download speeds up to 8,000Mbps. Google Fiber also offers a 5,000Mbps plan, as does AT&T Fiber and Frontier Fiber, though Google Fiber’s is cheaper than AT&T and Frontier, starting at $120 per month versus $250 (AT&T) and $155 (Frontier).

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