Best internet providers in Durham, North Carolina
For most people, the best two options for internet in Durham are AT&T fiber and Frontier fiber. Fiber service is the fastest, most reliable internet service type. Very small pockets of Durham can get access to Google Fiber, which we recommend as well, but if none of the fiber providers cover your neighborhood, Spectrum provides fast cable internet almost everywhere within the city limits.
Our top 3 ISP choices in Durham, NC
Our top three picks for internet with the best service and coverage in Durham are AT&T fiber, Frontier fiber, and Spectrum.
#1: AT&T internet
We gave AT&T fiber the best score of any internet provider nationwide. It has extremely fast and reliable service that should cover the needs of almost all households—if you can get it. AT&T doesn’t cover every neighborhood in Durham, and your ability to access AT&T’s fiber service might even vary street to street.
Read our full AT&T internet review.
#2: Frontier internet
When it comes to Frontier internet, there’s a very important distinction to make: can you get fiber, or DSL? Frontier offers both in the Durham area, with much more widespread DSL service, but you will get significantly better speed and reliability for the money if you can get fiber. Our number-two ranking is for fiber specifically—if Frontier offers only DSL to your address, Spectrum may be the better choice.
Read our full Frontier internet review.
#3: Spectrum internet
Spectrum has some of the widest internet coverage in Durham, meaning that you can get it almost everywhere. If you don’t have access to one of the fiber options, Spectrum likely has internet plans more than fast enough for your needs.
Read our full Spectrum internet review.
All internet providers in Durham
Google Fiber didn’t make our top three picks because it’s not available in many neighborhoods—yet. But if you can get it, it’s a very reliable option with excellent customer service. Those looking for budget-friendly options should check about bundling fixed wireless home internet with cellular service from T-Mobile, Verizon, or US Cellular. Fixed wireless won’t be as fast or as reliable as cable or fiber service would be, but it’s growing in popularity.
Satellite providers like Viasat, Starlink, and HughesNet are available almost everywhere, but they’re also the slowest and most expensive internet options. If you live within Durham, you’re almost guaranteed to have better choices with non-satellite providers in terms of both service and price.
Fastest internet providers in Durham
AT&T fiber and Frontier fiber both advertise symmetrical download and upload speeds up to 5 Gbps (5,000 Mbps). That’s far beyond what the vast majority of households currently need, but they also offer “slower” options that are still plenty fast. Google Fiber offers 1 Gbps and 2 Gbps plans, and Spectrum offers download speeds up to 1 Gbps, though because it’s cable instead of fiber, the upload speeds are slower.
How much speed do you need?
Cheapest internet providers in Durham
The cheapest internet options in Durham are fixed wireless providers T-Mobile and Verizon. The base plan rates are similar to what you’ll pay for other types of internet service, but if you bundle home internet with certain cell phone plans, you can get steep discounts. Frontier also offers some DSL plans that are less expensive than its fiber service, but the price you pay for the speed you get isn’t a great deal with DSL in general.
Low-income families can receive assistance with internet bills through the Affordable Connectivity Program and some provider-specific programs. Learn more in our guide to free and low-cost internet service.
Internet options in nearby cities
The broader Triangle area has AT&T fiber and Spectrum cable almost everywhere. Frontier doesn’t offer much fiber service in the area outside of Durham, and Google Fiber is rapidly expanding in the area. See what’s available in these nearby cities.
What Durham residents are saying on Reddit
We read through social media threads in the greater Raleigh-Durham area, and current customers seem to love Google Fiber service where they can get it. The commenters seem less impressed with Spectrum and Frontier’s DSL options. Read for yourself what locals have to say.
When I moved here I got a good tip about signing up for Earthlink overlay on Time Warner. That worked for many years even past the Charter acquisition but now Spectrum is abusing me.
I thought Frontier was doing bad DSL but I just checked and they said they won't service me! There are phone jacks in my 1970's-built Kitchen!
Is there only cable modems and cellular?
I get AT&T fiber and it’s been great. Only outage we’ve had was when their data/junction center went out of power.
Just wondering if anybody else is using any of the 5G home internet providers in the area and what they think about it.
I've got tmobile at the moment and when it first started I was getting some pretty nice speeds (almost up to 200Mbps down), but now it's slowed to a crawl for the past few months (~5mbps down!) and it doesn't have a reliable 5G signal anymore. The rep offered a replacement modem, but that didn't seem to help.
Wondering if I should give verzion home internet a try or just go back to getting gouged by spectrum.
Spectrum is our main but we added Verizon two years ago. I work at home FT and we have a ton of issues with Spectrum. It's out at least once a week and they claim it's because of old cabling, which is probably accurate but we rarely had an issue before Spectrum took over from Time Warner. My husband and i connect all of our wifi devices (including smart tvs and Roku) only to Verizon wifi and have never lost service. When we lose Spectrum, i disconnect my laptop's hardwire & connect to Verizon wifi, again no issues. Also when the power goes out, we still have internet. We use our generator to power our devices and that's been awesome. I'm not ready to totally give up a traditional connection yet, but we do actually like the Verizon service a lot. It's been reliable for us. For reference, we're west Raleigh near Cary and we rarely have any issues with Verizon wireless in our area.
Hi Raleigh Reddit,
How has the experience been with AT&T fiber internet? My neighborhood is now fiber friendly, but I still have Spectrum and I'm currious how AT&T fiber service and hardware compares to other providers? I currently own my cable modem and like not paying a equipment fee every month. How does AT&T's hardware compare? I read on AT&T's site I would have to have a seperate wifi antenna that cost extra every month, does anyone use their own wifi antenna/router?
Thanks in advance.
I've had it for years and the best thing about it is I never have to think about it. It just always works. That is crucial for me because I work from home and have for years. I also have their equipment and can get wi-fi inside and outside. I pay $60 month total. I think I payed $50 the first year. I will add that I'm a one-person household, so I can't speak to how it would be for a family with many devices.
Looking to hear about your experience In the north Raleigh area, which of the two would be better? I see they are close in rates but which would suck less?
I work from home for the time being so a consistent and strong connection is important.
Southwest Raleigh here but I hate Spectrum with a passion they suck, customer service is a joke if anything goes wrong
Moving here and don’t want crappy internet. Can someone help a brother out?
Spectrum is the waffle house of providers. They are almost always an option no matter what but experience can vary greatly based on location.
I am grateful for their coverage but wish they would make an effort to replace last mile coax with fiber where the coax loops clearly have persistent issues. I would be happy to pay 2x what TWC charged if they did more proactive upgrades on the last mile.
AT&T on the other hand is the gas station bodega of providers. Sometimes you get a gleaming Sheetz palace at 3am with full food service. If you are out in the middle of nowhere you get a Stop-n-Sip with day old tuna fish and egg sandwiches in a lukewarm cooler if you are lucky.
Internet news and infrastructure in Durham, NC
If you live in Durham and don’t have access to fiber-optic internet, you won’t have to wait too much longer because Durham’s fiber options are growing rapidly. Google Fiber has announced plans for continued expansion in the Triangle. (1) Local fiber provider Lumos also announced in 2022 that it is directing a $50 million investment to bring additional fiber access to Durham and Orange counties. (2) Residents can sign up for alerts on when their address will get fiber directly with Google or Lumos.
Frequently asked internet questions in Durham
Spectrum advertises enterprise-level fiber internet to businesses in North Carolina and some other areas. On the residential side, Spectrum doesn’t offer full-fiber internet, but it does use hybrid-fiber coaxial (HFC), which uses fiber infrastructure as its base network and then uses coaxial connections to the home. It’s more stable than traditional cable connections, but hybrid fiber-coaxial doesn’t allow upload speeds as fast as what you’d get with a fiber-to-the-home provider.
In the Durham area, AT&T, Frontier, and Google Fiber all offer fiber-to-the-home service, and local provider Lumos is building out fiber infrastructure as well.
Lumos fiber internet advertises symmetrical download and upload speeds up to 1 Gbps (1,000 Mbps). With construction underway in Durham, these plans will become available to more and more people in the coming months.
Yes, fiber-optic internet is much faster than Starlink’s satellite service. Starlink advertises download speeds up to 250 Mbps, which is at the fastest end of satellite providers. By comparison, some of the fastest fiber providers, AT&T and Frontier, advertise residential internet service up to 5,000 Mbps, 20 times faster than Starlink. Most fiber providers have plans with at least 1,000 Mbps max download speed.
Upload speeds have an even larger discrepancy. Starlink advertises upload speeds up to 20 Mbps, while fiber provides symmetrical upload and download speeds, meaning that the fiber providers with 5,000 Mbps download speeds also offer 5,000 Mbps upload speeds.
Even though Starlink is faster than other satellite internet options for rural areas, the data still needs to travel to a satellite and back, making it significantly slower in both speeds and latency than other internet types, especially fiber.
- “The Triangle,” Google Fiber. Accessed 6 March 2023.
- “Lumos to make a transformative broadband infrastructure investment of nearly $50m to bring 100% fiber-optic internet to Durham and Orange Counties,” Business Insider. Accessed 6 March 2023.