Best Internet Providers in Washington

Best Internet Providers in Washington

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Washington has many claims to fame: Apples, Mount Rainier, Starbucks, the Seahawks, Microsoft. Despite its famous tech connections, the Evergreen State doesn’t have the fastest internet in the country. In fact, it places in the bottom half of Ookla’s Speedtest.net rankings of broadband speeds for US states. City dwellers will have more choices in ISPs 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. 

CNET examines customer service, speed, pricing and overall value before recommending the best broadband in your area. When it comes to Washington state, that means Xfinity is CNET’s pick for the top ISP in Washington thanks to wide availability and a variety of plan options. CenturyLink Fiber (branded as Quantum Fiber in some places) gets our nod as a top choice for fiber. The biggest issue with CenturyLink Fiber is its limited coverage area.

Kick back with a two-shot steamed hot oat milk light foam extra caramel drizzle grande macchiato and peruse CNET’s recommendations for the top ISPs in Washington state.

Best internet options in Washington

Location, location, 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. 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.

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.

Xfinity

Best overall among internet providers in Washington


Price range

$20 – $300 per month

Speed range

75 – 6,000Mbps

Connection

Cable

Key Info

Data caps on some plans, lots of plan options, solid customer satisfaction numbers

Comcast’s Xfinity home internet service has the widest reach of any wired ISP in Washington, with the FCC estimating it services nearly 71% of residential units. A combination of availability and decent speeds vault Xfinity to the top of our list of recommended ISPs for the state, but double check if fiber from the likes of CenturyLink or Ziply is available to you before you sign up for cable.

Availability: Xfinity’s primary presence is found running along the eastern side of the state from Bellingham in the north down to the Oregon border. It’s also available in the Spokane area. If you’re looking for cable internet in other areas of the state, check into Spectrum.

Plans and pricing: Xfinity has one of the cheapest plans available from a big ISP: $20 for 75Mbps with a one-year contract (equipment not included). On the high end, there’s a 1,200Mbps plan for $70 per month with no contract and gear included. That’s a decent deal for that speed level, though the price is only good for two years.

Fees and service details: Take your time when picking out a plan. There are a lot of details to work through with Xfinity. The lowest prices are often reserved for plans that require contracts, but there are contract-free options as well. Many plans come with a 1.2TB data cap, but there are ways around that if you’re worried about hitting the limit. Some plans include equipment. Expect the monthly price to rise once your initial promo period expires.

Read our Xfinity Internet review.

CenturyLink Fiber/Quantum Fiber

Best fiber service among internet providers in Washington


Price range

$30 – $70 per month

Speed range

200 – 940Mbps

Connection

Fiber

Key Info

Unlimited data, no contracts, equipment included with gigabit tier

CenturyLink has two personalities. There’s its outdated and relatively slow DSL, and then there’s its fiber network. This recommendation is for CenturyLink’s fiber internet, sometimes branded as Quantum Fiber. It offers steady, fast speeds and equally speedy uploads, all for a reasonable price.

Availability: CenturyLink’s fiber service is notably available in parts of the Seattle, Spokane and Vancouver areas. It earned CNET’s recognition as the best fiber ISP in Seattle.  

Plans and pricing: Nationwide, there can be some variation in plan prices and speeds. I recently found Quantum Fiber offering 200Mbps for $50 per month or 940Mbps service for $65 per month in Seattle. In mid-2022, CenturyLink’s parent company Lumen announced speeds up to 8 gigabits for select residents near Seattle, but most customers will find speeds topping out at 940Mbps.

Fees and service details: There are no contracts and no data caps. The higher-end plan includes Wi-Fi equipment, while the lower-end plan offers you a $15-per-month Wi-Fi equipment rental or the option to provide your own gear.

Read our CenturyLink home internet review.

T-Mobile Home Internet

Best 5G home internet among providers in Washington


Price range

$50 per month ($30 for eligible mobile customers)

Speed range

72 – 245Mbps

Connection

Fixed wireless

Key Info

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

Verizon and T-Mobile are making a compelling case for 5G home internet across the US. If you can get a strong connection, it’s a viable and affordable alternative to some wired services, particularly DSL. T-Mobile’s coverage area across Washington is why I’m calling it out for special recognition here, but you can also compare it with Verizon’s home internet service if it’s available to you. 

Availability: T-Mobile’s coverage map shows 5G Ultra Capacity service is available in most metro areas, including Seattle, Yakima, Kennewick and Spokane.

Plans and pricing: T-Mobile’s plan is simple. For $50 per month, expect typical download speeds between 72-245Mbps. Speeds can vary quite a bit based on location and network demand. With an eligible phone plan, your monthly fee dips to $30. 

Fees and service details: In keeping with the theme of simplicity, T-Mobile has no data caps or contracts, and equipment is included. There’s a $35 setup fee, but look for a $50 reward card or other perks to make that more palatable.

Read our T-Mobile Home Internet review.

Ziply Fiber

Best rural fiber internet provider in Washington


Price range

$40 – $300 per month

Speed range

100 – 10,000Mbps

Connection

Fiber

Key Info

Unlimited data, no contracts, fast rural internet connection

Ziply Fiber has been building out its network to suburban and rural communities in Washington. While Ziply also offers DSL in some parts of its Northwest footprint, this recommendation is specifically for its fiber service, which delivers speeds up to 10Gbps.  

Availability: Ziply services are scattered around the state, including parts of the Seattle metro area and the Tri-Cities. In late 2022, Ziply announced the acquisition of iFiber Communications, which services Grant, Douglas, Chelan, Pend Oreille, Mason, Kitsap and Franklin counties. 

Plans and pricing: Ziply’s fiber speeds run from 100Mbps to 10,000Mbps with monthly prices ranging from $20 to $300. There’s a sweet spot at the 1-gig level for $60 per month at an initial promo rate.  

Fees and service details: There are no data caps and no contracts required with Ziply. Some plans start off at a low promotional rate and then go up after a year. For example, the $20-per-month 100Mbps plan goes up to $40. There’s an optional $10 per month equipment fee. If you get the 10-gig service, be prepared for a $300 installation fee.

Read our Ziply Fiber review.

Starlink

Best potential among satellite internet providers in Washington


Price range

$20 – $80 per month

Speed range

20 – 250Mbp

Connection

Satellite

Key Info

1TB data limit, no term contract, low latency

Starlink doesn’t outright run away with my recommendation for best satellite internet in Washington state, but it’s close. At its best, Starlink’s speeds top those of competitors Viasat and HughesNet, but downloads can vary considerably based on network demand. Starlink is launching satellites at a furious pace, which should help ease congestion issues.

Availability: Starlink is still building up its capacity, so availability may vary. A recent look at Starlink’s map shows most of the state is open, with a few small pockets still waiting for service later in the year.

Plans and pricing: There are two tiers of service, with the standard plan running $120 per month for typical speeds in the 25-220Mbps range. Power users might want to opt for the $250-per-month priority plan that comes with 1TB of prioritized data and priority support. Starlink says the pricier plan gives users “faster and more consistent speeds.” 

Fees and service details: One of Starlink’s most attractive features is that it doesn’t require a contract. Data is unlimited, but subscribers to the priority plan will get network precedence over standard plan users. As with other satellite ISPs, equipment is expensive. Most residential users will want to opt for the $599 standard hardware.

Read our Starlink overview.

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-$120 2-100Mbps None Mid-Columbia and Lower Yakima Valleys
Nikola Broadband Fixed wireless $70-$150 10-100Mbps None Sequim area
POVN Fixed Wireless/fiber $75-$130 5-100Mbps None Pend Oreille County
Ptera Fixed wireless/fiber $45-$115 15-1,000Mbps 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 

Show more (5 items)

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 $50 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. 

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.

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 takes into account 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 outdated DSL network is available in more areas than its fiber network. 

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. CenturyLink Fiber/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 172Mbps. Ookla highlighted Xfinity as the state’s fastest provider, with a median download speed of 236Mbps. 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 for speeding up your internet connections.

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Kirk Fisher/GettyImages

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 75Mbps plan will run you a mere $20 per month. However, 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 $65 (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 $30 with T-Mobile or $25 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 for low-income households in Washington

The federal Affordable Connectivity Program should be your first stop when looking for financial assistance with your internet bill. Eligible low-income households can get $30 ($75 on tribal lands) off their monthly bill. Most ISPs participate, so that means free or cheap internet or a discount on a faster, more expensive plan.

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.

How CNET chose the best internet providers in Washington

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.

Internet in Washington FAQs

Does Washington have good internet?

Is there fiber internet in Washington?

Is CenturyLink or Xfinity better for internet service in Washington?