When it comes to internet connections, fiber internet is the best you can get. The downside to fiber is that it isn’t as widely available as other connection types. We explain where you can find fiber internet, where the best fiber providers offer service, and what the best alternative is if you can’t get fiber.
Fiber internet availability
While fiber internet availability is improving nationwide, less than half of people in the US have access to it. According to data from the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), just 44% of the population has access to a fiber internet provider; furthermore, only 7% of people have two or more fiber providers in their area, so it’s rare to have any choice between fiber providers. (1)
While 44% isn’t nothing, it is far less than other wired connection types. For comparison, cable and DSL services are available to 85% and 88% of people, respectively. (2)(3) That statistic is a little misleading though, considering only 43% of people can get broadband speed with DSL. (4)
Availability is also dictated by the type of area you live in. While almost half of people living in urban areas have access to fiber, that number drops to just 28% in rural areas. (1)
Where the best fiber providers are available
AT&T, Verizon Fios, Google Fiber, and Frontier are at the top of our ranking of the best fiber providers. Here’s where they have fiber home internet service, where they’re planning to expand in the future, and links to their fiber availability maps where available.
Google Fiber internet availability
Google Fiber offers fiber internet service in over a dozen states across the country. The company is also planning to grow its network to offer service in several new cities and states in the next few years.
Google Fiber is available in the following areas:
- Huntsville, Alabama
- Oakland, Orange County, San Diego, and San Francisco, California
- Denver, Colorado
- Miami, Florida
- Atlanta, Georgia
- Chicago, Illinois
- West Des Moines, Iowa
- Kansas City, Missouri
- Kansas City, Kansas
- Charlotte and The Triangle, North Carolina
- Nashville, Tennessee
- Austin and San Antonio, Texas
- Salt Lake Valley and Provo, Utah
- Seattle, Washington
Google Fiber is planning to expand to the following areas next:
Frontier fiber internet availability
Frontier offers both DSL and fiber internet service across 25 states, though its fiber service is available in only a limited number of locations.
California, Connecticut, Florida, and Texas are Frontier’s largest markets for fiber internet, and the company has announced that its plans for growth will prioritize building out its network even further in those states. Frontier also provides fiber in Indiana, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina.
Verizon Fios fiber internet availability
Verizon Fios is available in select metros in the following states:
- New Jersey
- New York
- Rhode Island
- Washington, D.C.
AT&T Fiber internet availability
AT&T Fiber home internet service is available in over 100 metro areas across 21 states, with a large concentration of cities in the southeast, midwest, Texas, and California.
AT&T is also expanding to offer multi-gig speeds to several new cities in Ohio, Oklahoma, and Texas.
You can check out the AT&T Fiber coverage map here.
What to do if you can’t get fiber
If no providers currently offer fiber at your address, there may be wired connection alternatives you can choose from.
Fiber internet uses fiber optic cables, which can deliver multi-gig download and upload speeds. The next best thing is cable internet. Cable internet uses copper coaxial cables, which are more limited in terms of the speeds they can deliver, up to about 6 Gbps download speed. DSL internet, which uses phone lines, is much slower and can only reach about 100 Mbps download speed.
Neither cable nor DSL offer symmetrical download and upload speeds like fiber does, so your upload speeds will be far slower than your download speeds. Before signing up for an internet plan, you’ll want to check how much internet speed your family needs, so you don’t end up having trouble streaming, gaming, or browsing the internet. With cable and DSL internet providers, you also have to look out for data caps, contracts, and price increases after 12 months, which are all things you’re less likely to face with fiber internet service.
Overall, cable is the best alternative to fiber internet. If you’re ready to research providers, we have rankings of the best cable internet and best DSL providers to help you find the right one for your family.
Ready to get fiber internet?
Switching to a fiber provider starts with finding one that offers fiber internet at your address. You can check which internet providers are in your area by searching for your ZIP code in the tool below. Our provider reviews and ranking of the best fiber providers can help you learn more about each. Plus, our guide to switching internet providers walks you through the entire process of changing your internet service step-by-step.
Brittany is a Contributing Writer for Switchful with over five years of experience writing about technology in the US and Europe. Her primary focus is on mobile and internet topics. She is passionate about helping people choose the right tech for their needs at the right price.
Bri Field has a background in academia, research writing, and brand marketing. She has edited scientific publications, conference papers, digital content, and technical communications. As Assigning Editor, she enjoys ensuring all content is accurate, clear, and helpful. In her free time, you can find her in the kitchen trying a new recipe, out on a hike, or working through her massive TBR list.