Sparklight, formerly known as Cable One, is a cable internet provider primarily serving suburbs and rural areas in over a dozen states. Its no-contract plans offer good download speeds to areas fiber doesn’t often reach, but its data caps aren’t ideal.
Verizon Fios offers fast, reliable fiber internet, along with one of the best overall customer experiences in the business. Verizon Fios is highly recommended, and it's one of the best home internet providers we reviewed.
Sparklight’s no-contract cable internet plans are generally a decent value compared to other providers available in the communities the company serves. While you might not be able to get fiber in these areas, you’re likely to find DSL, satellite, or other cable internet service providers (ISPs). The speed you get for the price is comparable to other cable providers or a bit cheaper, and the performance surpasses DSL and satellite. All of this means Sparklight’s plans are worth strongly considering if your address is in one of its service areas.
We recommend choosing a Sparklight plan with at least 200 Mbps of download speed, but ideally more if it’s in your budget. Since Sparklight is a cable provider, upload speeds tend to be far below the download speeds. Upload speeds increase with each pricing tier, so if you work from home and have multiple connected devices you may want to pick one of the more expensive plans for seamless video calls.
All of Sparklight’s plans have data caps, except for its most expensive Gig plan. Data caps are typical for cable providers. While some competitors offer data caps over 1 TB for all of their plans, Sparklight’s plans have data caps that range from 100 GB to 1.5 TB. You can get 100 GB blocks of additional data for $10 during months when you need it, or you can upgrade to unlimited data with any plan for an extra $30/month. When calculating your needs, consider that the average person uses 536 GB of data per month (1).
The Gig plan offers the most data for your dollar and the highest speeds, but it’s more expensive than fiber plans with comparable download speeds, at least in some of the service areas. If you don’t want to pay top dollar, the Internet 300 and 500 plans also offer good speeds and high enough data caps for the needs of most households. We wouldn’t recommend the Internet 25 plan because its low speeds and data cap won’t comfortably meet most people’s needs.
Verizon Fios is an excellent value overall. The provider offers three fiber-to-the-home plans, starting at about $50 per month for 300 Mbps, which is more for the money than you’ll get with many competitors. The mid-tier plan is also a solid value.
The highest-tier gigabit option is less competitively priced, at closer to $90 per month. However, that's still about 25% lower than the national benchmark for similar plans. (1) And you do get the benefit of symmetrical speeds with this fiber internet plan, which you won’t find with every provider. This helps offset the cost somewhat. For an additional $10 each month at the highest tier, you get 2 TB of cloud storage, a subscription to Disney+, and a MoCA adapter for internet gaming.
It's worth noting that Verizon also offers DSL internet in some areas, with speeds as high as 15 Mbps and bundled prices in the range of $75 per month, but are phasing it out in 2023. That's awfully slow compared to fiber internet, and quite expensive, but it's better than nothing. The good news is Verizon is rapidly building out its fiber-to-the-home network, so many households that have been stuck with DSL may soon be eligible for Fios. Get more info and sign up for updates from Verizon.
Sparklight is available in mostly rural and suburban areas where customers probably won’t be able to get fiber internet. This makes Sparklight’s cable internet speeds the best option in some communities that are otherwise served only by DSL or satellite, which can be slow and unreliable. According to a report from Ookla, Sparklight had the highest download speeds among fixed broadband providers in North Dakota and New Mexico. (2)
Sparklight is a fiber-rich cable provider, meaning it delivers service using a mix of fiber and coaxial cables. While it can achieve download speeds of up to 940 Mbps, its upload speeds are much lower than that, reaching 50 Mbps. This is a technical limitation of cable connections that those with fiber connections won’t experience. While this isn’t ideal for households with several people who want to do heavy gaming or take video calls at the same time, Sparklight’s download and upload speeds are generally still sufficient for most households. And for regular browsing and streaming for multiple users, it's just fine. However, the data caps may hold you back if you’re a heavy internet user. Occasional outages and inconsistent speeds do affect service according to customer reports on Downdetector. (3)
Performance is where Verizon Fios really shines. PCMag named it the fastest Major Internet Service Provider in 2022—and the 9 years before that. (2) The fiber optic connections are rock solid, and the speeds offered are excellent. Additionally, all plans have symmetrical speeds, which is ideal for anyone who uploads a lot of content. Our only complaint is that we’d like to see an even faster plan from Verizon—some competitors have started offering 2,000 Mbps (or faster).
If you can only get DSL with Verizon, you'll only be able to upload at speeds up to 15 Mbps and will pay a lot for the privilege. If you have any other option, we'd usually recommend it.
When you sign up for Sparklight internet service, you can call to schedule professional installation or choose self-installation. Both options are reasonably fast according to customer reviews. Professional installation is typically free and can be scheduled at your convenience. There's technically a $90 professional installation fee, but it is waived as part of a "permanent promotion." Self-installation is free and should take about 15 minutes once you receive your equipment in the mail.
You can choose to purchase your own Sparklight-supported modem or lease a modem from Sparklight for just over $10/month, less than some other providers. The installation cost, activation fee, and any equipment deposits may be waived for qualifying new customers.
Verizon Fios offers a pretty standard equipment setup for fiber: an optical network terminal (ONT) and a wireless router. Routers are included at no extra cost on each plan, and the fastest plan comes with an included mesh network called Whole-Home Wi-Fi.
Installation costs $99, and there’s no self-install option. However, if you order online, Verizon will waive the fee. This can be an easy way to save some money on your first internet bill. That said, while the fee is expensive, it’s not unheard of among internet service providers.
Customer experience with Sparklight is about average compared to other providers. Tech support is available 24/7 by phone or email, and there are plenty of help articles available online. Like most other providers, equipment installation is straightforward whether you have it done professionally or do it yourself.
Common complaints include unplanned outages, inconsistent speeds, and long wait times to reach Sparklight support by phone, according to user reports on Downdetector. (4) If you try Sparklight’s internet service and it doesn’t live up to expectations, the company offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
If there’s a leader in internet customer experience, it’s probably Verizon Fios. The service is absolutely rock solid, with hardly a hiccup. This, combined with the excellent speeds, makes for a seamless internet experience—it just works.
Verizon also consistently scores well in customer satisfaction. In fact, it took the top spot this year in the ACSI benchmarks (3), tied with AT&T. Meanwhile, PCMag's readers rank Verizon Fios third in overall satisfaction (4).
Connecting away from home is the only place Verizon falls short. With services such as AT&T and Xfinity, subscribers get access to a nationwide network of free hotspots. Verizon doesn't have this offering (but also doesn't trick you into using your home router to let strangers connect).