April 19, 2024

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Best Internet Providers in Arizona

CenturyLink – Best overall among internet providers in Arizona

  • Prices: $30 – $70 per month
  • Speeds: 200 – 940Mbps
  • Key Info: Unlimited data, no contracts, equipment included with gigabit tier

Cox Communications – Best availability in Phoenix

  • Prices: $40 – $100 per month
  • Speeds: 25 – 2,000Mbps
  • Key Info: 1.25TB monthly data allowance, lots of plan options, unique gaming add-on

Optimum – Best availability for fast internet in Northern Arizona

  • Prices: $40 – $80 per month
  • Speeds: 300 – 940Mbps
  • Key Info: Unlimited data, no contracts

Verizon 5G Home Internet – Best fixed wireless among internet providers in Arizona

  • Prices: $50 – $70 per month
  • Speeds: 85 – 1,000Mbps
  • Key Info: Unlimited data, no contracts, free equipment, 50% discount for qualifying Verizon mobile customers

T-Mobile Home Internet – Best fixed wireless ISP in Flagstaff

  • Prices: $50 per month
  • Speeds: 72 – 245Mbps
  • Key Info: Unlimited data, equipment included, no contracts, no additional fees

Let’s chat, Arizona. You’ve got a lot of great things going on: Saguaro cactuses. Gorgeous mountains. Route 66. The thriving metropolis of Phoenix. Quirky Tucson. Scenic Flagstaff. Date shakes in Dateland. What you don’t have is a lot of home internet options. Fiber is scarce. Most locations have little choice in ISPs. But let’s make the best of this. There are still ways to get fast, reliable internet. 

Limited fiber availability means your best options might be Cox Communications, Optimum, Xfinity, Sparklight or 5G home internet from Verizon or T-Mobile. Rural homes outside of wired internet reach will likely be looking at a local fixed wireless provider or satellite internet to get online. 

Residents of Arizona’s most populous city should check out our deep dive into Phoenix’s best ISPs. Otherwise, use this state-wide overview as a guide to Arizona’s best internet providers. We’ll talk about service areas, speeds and fees so you can find the best way to get online from within the Grand Canyon State.

Best internet options in Arizona 

Speed is important when choosing an ISP, but it’s not the only factor. CNET examines customer service, speed, pricing and overall value before recommending the best broadband in your area. When it comes to Arizona, availability is a big issue. Certain providers service particular parts of the state. You’ll find Sparklight and Frontier in the east, Xfinity around Tucson, and Cox in the south. Desirable fiber connections are limited, leaving many residents with DSL, cable or fixed wireless options. Our picks for the best ISPs are largely based on availability since even the fastest residential providers typically top out at 940 megabits per second in the Grand Canyon State.

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. Additionally, 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.

CenturyLink

Best overall among internet providers in Arizona

Product details


Price range

$30 – $70 per month

Speed range

200 – 940Mbps

Connection

Fiber

Key Info

Unlimited data, no contracts, equipment included with gigabit tier

CenturyLink isn’t the fastest ISP out there, so why does it top our recommendations for Arizona broadband? Two reasons: availability and a fiber option in some areas. CenturyLink is more likely to service rural locations than other fixed ISPs, and its Quantum Fiber was our choice for the best broadband option in Phoenix.

Availability: CenturyLink’s older DSL network covers large areas of the state, particularly down the middle from Flagstaff to Phoenix to Tucson. Quantum Fiber is focused on parts of the Phoenix, Tucson and Flagstaff metro areas, but availability is limited.

Plans and pricing: DSL plans with speeds up to 100Mbps are $50 a month. However, fiber is more desirable for its faster speeds and equally fast uploads. Quantum Fiber, also known as CenturyLink Fiber in some places, starts at $50 per month for 100Mbps (200Mbps in some areas) on up to $70 a month for up to 940Mbps. The gigabit service is a particularly good deal for that speed.

Fees and service details: CenturyLink’s plans include unlimited data and have no annual contract. Equipment costs can vary depending on if you purchase or rent the gear. Quantum Fiber’s rental is $15 a month, but gigabit customers get the modem for free.

Read our CenturyLink internet review.

Cox Communications

Best availability in Phoenix

Product details


Price range

$40 – $100 per month

Speed range

25 – 2,000Mbps

Connection

Mostly cable, some fiber

Key Info

1.25TB monthly data allowance, lots of plan options, unique gaming add-on

If you don’t live in a CenturyLink/Quantum Fiber golden zone, chances are good Cox Communications has you covered with cable instead. Cox also has a limited fiber presence in some parts of Phoenix.

Availability: Cox has Phoenix and surrounding communities pretty well covered with cable from Sun City West down to San Tan Valley. Fiber, however, is scattered around Phoenix in a patchwork fashion. Your best bet is to run your address with Cox to see if you qualify.

Plans and pricing: Speeds range from 100 to 1,000Mbps at starting prices from $50 to $110 monthly. Fiber is nice if you can get it, thanks to symmetrical speeds that will have you sending data up just as fast as you pull it down.

Fees and service details: You may have to agree to a one-year contract to get the best price on your Cox plan and expect the price to increase when the year is out. Cox charges $14 a month for a modem or router rental, or you can provide your own. There’s a 1.25TB data cap. Most households won’t sweat that, but intense internet users could be in for potentially hefty fees for going over. Fiber terms may be different. Cox has been offering a promotional 1-gig, $110 fiber plan that includes equipment and unlimited data.

Read our Cox Communications internet review.

Optimum

Best availability for fast internet in Northern Arizona

Product details


Price range

$40 – $80 per month

Speed range

300 – 940Mbps

Connection

Cable, fiber

Key Info

Unlimited data, no contracts

Optimum, formerly known as Suddenlink in this state, offers broadband in some areas of Northern Arizona that otherwise don’t have much choice in ISPs. Optimum doesn’t have the greatest reputation for customer service. Look to T-Mobile Home Internet or CenturyLink as alternatives if it rubs you the wrong way.

Availability: Optimum rules the roost in many places across the upper half of Arizona, including Flagstaff, Kingman, Sedona and Payson. 

Plans and pricing: Plan speeds range from 50Mbps to 940Mbps, starting from $40 to $70 a month. Depending on where you live, there can be a big difference in speed and price. For example, we saw offers for gig speeds in Flagstaff starting at $50 a month, while some addresses in Payson could only pull down a max of 150Mbps for $70 a month. You’ll have to check your address to get specifics on fees and speeds.

Fees and service details: Optimum has some good things going for it, with no data caps or contracts required. A gateway is included. Depending on your selected package, pricing may increase after a year or two. Keep an eye out for special offers, like a recent deal for reward cards ranging from $50 to $200.

Read our Optimum home internet review.

Verizon 5G Home Internet

Best fixed wireless among internet providers in Arizona

Product details


Price range

$50 – $70 per month (50% off for eligible 5G mobile customers)

Speed range

85 – 1,000Mbps

Connection

Fixed wireless

Key Info

Unlimited data, no contracts, free equipment, 50% discount for qualifying Verizon mobile customers

Fixed wireless home internet from Verizon or T-Mobile is a legitimate competitor to cable and DSL. Verizon gets a nod here for its fast 5G coverage across Phoenix and Tucson. It’s a particularly good deal for Verizon phone customers who can get a deep discount by bundling home internet with a mobile plan. Here’s what you need to know about 5G home internet.

Availability: Verizon’s coverage map shows its 5G Ultra Wideband network reaches the Phoenix and Tucson metros, both designated as “5G home internet capable” cities. Flagstaff, however, is left out of the party.

Plans and pricing: Verizon offers speeds up to 1,000Mbps in some areas of the country, but Arizonans will likely look at typical download speeds of 85 to 300Mbps. The standard 5G Home plan starts at $50. The 5G Home Plus plan starts at $70 and comes with a three-year price guarantee and access to Verizon’s Cloud Unlimited backup service. Bundle with an eligible phone plan to get your home internet for 50% off. 

Fees and service details: There are no contracts or data caps with Verizon 5G Home Internet. Equipment is included as well.

Read our Verizon 5G Home Internet review.

T-Mobile Home Internet

Best fixed wireless ISP in Flagstaff

Product details


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

Optimum has Flagstaff well covered with cable, while CenturyLink offers DSL, but what do you do if you’re unsatisfied with those services? Assuming you don’t have access to CenturyLink’s limited Quantum Fiber offering in the area, your next best bet is to try T-Mobile Home Internet, a fixed wireless alternative with decent coverage across Flagstaff.

Availability: You can run your address through T-Mobile’s coverage map to see where its 5G Ultra Capacity network reaches in the Flagstaff area. Look for a dark purple color. You’ll notice solid coverage across the main Flagstaff metro, including Bellemont. While your address might be in a covered zone, open slots are sometimes limited, and you may face a waitlist. 

Plans and pricing: T-Mobile Home Internet delivers typical speeds of 72 to 245Mbps for $50 a month. If you have an eligible Go5G or Magenta Max mobile plan, your home internet is slashed to $30 monthly. 

Fees and service details: T-Mobile’s internet plan is simple. There’s no contract. No data cap. Equipment is included. Expect to pay a $35 service fee when you sign up, but look for a rewards card or other bonuses to offset that.

Read our T-Mobile Home Internet review.

Rural internet options in Arizona

Provider Connection type Price range Speed range Data cap Availability
AireBeam Fiber/fixed wireless $55-$90 20-1,000Mbps None Pinal, Maricopa, Pima counties
AirFiber Fixed wireless $50-$60 25-50Mbps None Greater Phoenix area
Bolt Internet Fixed wireless $55-$125 10-25Mbps None Yavapai County
CenturyLink DSL $50 20-100Mbps None Large areas of the state
Mile High Networks Fixed wireless $39-$149 15-150Mbps None Yavapai County
Mojo Broadband Fixed wireless $66-$88 10-50Mbps None Cave Creek, Carefree, Desert Hills, Tonopah, Wintersburg
Simply Bits Fixed wireless $79-$160 10-100Mbps None Southern Arizona
TREPIC Networks Fixed wireless $50-$120 65-150Mbps None Gilbert, Mesa, Queen Creek, San Tan Valley, Coolidge, Eloy, Casa Grande and Florence 

Show more (4 items)

Source: CNET analysis of provider data

Regarding wired internet for rural Arizona, your best bet will likely be an older network, like CenturyLink’s DSL service, our choice for the top rural ISP in the nation. It has a much broader reach than the company’s fiber offering but can still get you speeds up to 100Mbps in some places. With plans running $50 a month, this is a good place to start in your search for rural internet. If that doesn’t work out, consider fixed wireless or satellite as an alternative. 

Arizona is full of small fixed wireless ISPs, some of which we’ve included in the chart above. Plug your address into the FCC National Broadband Map to see which ones service your area. Fixed wireless can sometimes be slow and expensive, but it’s better than no connection at all, and it may work out to be a better deal than satellite. Fixed wireless speeds can vary with location and distance. You need a clear line of sight to a tower. Plans vary quite a bit from provider to provider, with some starting at 10Mbps speeds, which doesn’t even qualify as broadband in the eyes of the FCC. Others offer speeds as high as 150Mbps in some areas, but the monthly price can increase to well over $100. 

Some small providers are working to bring faster internet to underserved areas. AireBeam, for example, has been expanding its fiber network in Florence and Casa Grande and is introducing speeds up to 5,000Mbps in some areas. Its fixed wireless service reaches rural parts of Pinal, Maricopa and Pima counties. 

If both DSL and fixed wireless fail you, consider satellite internet from Starlink, Viasat or HughesNet. You just need a clear view of the southern sky for it to work. Satellite equipment costs and monthly fees can be expensive and speeds aren’t always great, so start by considering DSL or fixed wireless options before you turn to satellite.

Cactus along the aqua-blue waters of the LIttle Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.

Patrick J. Endres/Getty Images

Arizona internet details at a glance

All residences in Arizona have access to broadband speeds of at least 25Mbps down and 3Mbps up, per the FCC. That may sound a bit slow in an age of fast fiber, but it’s how the FCC defines broadband. Looking closer, the FCC says 91% of residences can get broadband internet via wired networks like cable, DSL or fiber. The remaining households must rely on fixed wireless or satellite to get online. 

When we look at fiber, the number drops considerably. Only about 13% of Arizona households have access to fiber with speeds of at least 250Mbps. Check out the gig level, and we’re down to just 1.7%. Most of that scarce fiber can be found in the bigger metro areas like Phoenix and Tucson. CenturyLink’s fast and affordable Quantum Fiber is our top choice for Phoenix, but availability is limited. If Arizonans have an internet wish list, the number one slot should read, “More fiber, please.” 

Arizona internet speeds

How does Arizona’s internet service stack up against the rest of the US? A recent Ookla ranking of US states put Arizona down at 37th place. The state logs a median download speed of around 161Mbps for fixed internet. Compare that to first place Delaware at about 227Mbps. Xfinity gets a nod from Ookla for providing Arizona’s fastest downloads at an average of 233Mbps, but it primarily services parts of Tucson, so it’s not an option for most of the state. 

The FCC data shows nearly 90% of residences in Arizona can access speeds of at least 250Mbps down. You’ll find that as an option from most of the major fixed internet providers, from Xfinity to Optimum to Cox to CenturyLink Fiber. If you sign up for a plan with at least 250Mbps down, you’ll be ahead of the game nationally. Ookla shows the median download speed for the US as a whole comes in at about 203Mbps. 

There are ways to improve your internet experience. You may be able to switch providers or sign up for a faster plan from your current ISP. Before you do that, follow these steps for faster Wi-Fi.

Internet pricing in Arizona

Choosing an internet plan is a balancing act between speed and budget. Most ISPs have plans starting around $50, but you may be able to squeeze in for less by agreeing to a contract, settling for a slower speed tier or lucking into a promotional deal. Many promo prices come with expiration dates. If you live in the Show Low area, for example, Sparklight’s 300Mbps plan costs just $39 a month, but the price goes up to $70 after the first six months.

Home internet from T-Mobile or Verizon can be a bargain if it works well at your location and you bundle service with an eligible phone plan. That brings the cost of T-Mobile internet service down to $30 a month and Verizon as low as $25 monthly. 

The lowest price isn’t always the best deal. CenturyLink’s Quantum Fiber will run you $70 for 940Mbps (modem included), making it one of the country’s more affordable gig-level fiber plans. That’s a good balance between price and speed.

Internet plans for low-income households in Arizona

The federal Affordable Connectivity Program is available to anyone who qualifies. This should be your first stop in your quest to save money on broadband. Most eligible households can get up to $30 a month toward home internet, while households on tribal lands can get up to $75 a month. Most ISPs participate.

Connect Arizona, an initiative led by the Arizona State Library, maintains a list of low-cost internet plans and offers in the state. You can find participating ACP providers, sort by connection type and search by location. For example, you’ll find Xfnity’s Internet Essentials Plus plan or Cox Communications’ ConnectAssist plan, both free when combined with the ACP. 

The future of broadband in Arizona

Arizona has room to grow when it comes to broadband speeds and choices. Residents of some cities can look forward to fiber expansions coming their way. AT&T Fiber, a service that has topped many of our broadband recommendation lists, announced in 2022 it is expanding into Mesa, with the network expected to be up and running in 2023. AT&T is notable for its straightforward plans and speeds up to 5,000Mbps. Google Fiber opened up shop in the Westwood neighborhood of Mesa in March and is planning a move into Chandler. Wyyerd Fiber is building out its network in Gilbert. 

Those fiber moves are good news for city dwellers, but Arizona is also pushing to improve internet connectivity for rural and underserved areas. The state can look forward to a nearly billion-dollar federal investment through the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment program. BEAD is aimed at expanding broadband access across the US. Fiber growth and more (and faster) rural options paint a positive picture for Arizona’s broadband future, but change can be slow.

How CNET chose the best internet providers in Arizona

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 Arizona FAQs

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