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Best Internet Providers in San Diego, CA Best Internet Providers in San Diego, CA
San Diego is home to a growing population of about 1.4 million people, and just about all of them would benefit from a fast,... Best Internet Providers in San Diego, CA


San Diego is home to a growing population of about 1.4 million people, and just about all of them would benefit from a fast, reliable internet connection at home. Fortunately, the region boasts a decent number of decent options for getting online, including fiber, multiple cable providers, and emerging alternatives like 5G internet.

You can plug your zip code into the tool below to see an overview of the options that available at your address, but if you need some assistance sorting through them, we’re here to help. Keep reading for a full rundown of what’s available in San Diego to get your home online, including our top provider picks, a look at the fastest plans available, and a look at the most affordable plans you’ll find as you shop around.

Chris Delmas/AFP via Getty Images

AT&T Fiber is one of the top internet options in the country right now, offering fast speeds, attractive terms, and reasonable rates that don’t go up after a year. Matching near-gigabit upload and download speeds are available for $80 per month, ultra-fast multigig speeds are available at a select but growing number of addresses (including in San Diego), and the base plan with matching speeds of 300Mbps is a terrific deal at $55 per month.

The problem is that most addresses in AT&T’s national footprint don’t have access to fiber — instead, the only option available from AT&T will be a much slower DSL plan. That includes San Diego, where AT&T’s fiber infrastructure only reaches certain neighborhoods and addresses.

“AT&T Fiber is available to hundreds of thousands of customers in the San Diego area,” an AT&T spokesperson said when I asked about fiber availability in San Diego. “Throughout 2022, AT&T will continue to roll out multi-gig speeds across its fiber footprint and densify fiber in San Diego, among other cities across California.”

Ball-parking it here, but that comes out to something like 1 in 5 San Diego residents who currently have access to AT&T Fiber. It’s worth checking to see if you’re one of the lucky ones, and if so, it’s worth signing up, as AT&T Fiber is one of the best values for high-speed internet available anywhere. 

Read the CNET review of AT&T home internet.

 

Tim Rue/Bloomberg via Getty Images

With a cable internet footprint that covers the wide majority of downtown San Diego and its surrounding neighborhoods, as well as coverage across Chula Vista and El Cajon and regions north of the city like Poway, Ramona and Escondido, Cox is one of the most prevalent internet providers in the area. If you’re living in San Diego or you’re moving there, then there’s a very decent chance that Cox will be an option at your address, and the list of plans you can sign up for includes one with download speeds as high as 940Mbps.

As with all cable providers, the downside is that your upload speeds will be much, much slower — but if fiber isn’t available at your address, cable is still a serviceable option for high-speed internet at home. Just keep in mind that Cox plans run on the pricey side, complete with an unavoidable price jump after year one and a data cap to keep an eye on, so take a look at your alternatives to make sure there isn’t a better value out there before you sign up.

Read the CNET review of Cox home internet.

 

Ry Crist/CNET

You won’t find Spectrum available in downtown San Diego or the neighborhoods surrounding it — that’s Cox territory — but if you’re living north of the Mission Valley Freeway (the 8, by California parlance), then you’re likely living in Spectrum’s cable coverage map, which covers areas west of El Cajon and on up north towards Encinitas and Escondido. Good thing, too — between the two, we say Spectrum is the superior cable provider, and a better pick for home internet.

Why? For starters, Spectrum doesn’t enforce a data cap on any of its plans, so you don’t need to worry about overage charges or throttling if you exceed a set amount of data in a given month. Spectrum plans are also a better overall value than Cox plans. For instance, a 200Mbps plan from Spectrum will cost you $50 per month during the first year and $75 per month after that. The closest comparison from Cox is a slightly slower 150Mbps plan that costs $60 per month during the first year and $84 per month after that. That makes Spectrum our top cable pick for the San Diego area.

Read the CNET review of Spectrum home internet.

 

T-Mobile

Available at addresses where the signal is strong enough for a flat rate of $50 per month, T-Mobile’s cellular fixed wireless internet service leverages the company’s 5G and LTE airwaves to deliver internet connections to people’s homes without need for ground-laid cable, DSL or fiber infrastructure. Average speeds range between 35-115Mbps on the download side and 6-23Mbps with regards to uploads, so it isn’t blazing-fast by any stretch, but the lack of data caps, contracts, equipment fees or pre-scheduled price increases make it an appealing option nonetheless.

The company tells CNET that its home internet service is available to roughly 40% of households in San Diego, and adds that the majority of those households will connect via T-Mobile’s 5G network, which means faster speeds. That’s enough availability to make it worth checking to see if T-Mobile is an option at your address, particularly if fiber isn’t, or if your other alternatives enforce data caps.

Read the CNET review of T-Mobile Home Internet.

 

San Diego internet options compared

Internet technology Speed range Price range (first year) Price range (after 12 months) Data caps
AT&T Home Internet DSL 10-100Mbps downloads, 1-20Mbps uploads $55 per month $70 per month 1TB (no data cap with 100Mbps plan)
AT&T Fiber Fiber 300-5,000Mbps downloads and uploads $55-180 per month $55-180 per month None
Cox Cable 25-940Mbps downloads, 3-35Mbps uploads $30-100 per month $45-120 per month 1.25TB
Google Fiber Webpass Fixed Wireless 1,000Mbps downloads and uploads $63-70 $63-70 None
Spectrum Cable 200-940Mbps downloads, 10-35Mbps uploads $50-80 per month $75-115 per month (prices on faster plans don’t go up until 24 months) None
Ting Fiber 1,000Mbps downloads and uploads $89 per month $89 per month None
T-Mobile Home Internet 5G/LTE 35-115Mbps downloads, 6-23Mbps uploads $50 per month $50 per month None
Ultra Home Internet 5G/LTE 35-115Mbps downloads, 6-23Mbps uploads $60-190 per month $60-190 per month 25-150GB
Verizon 5G/LTE 300-980Mbps downloads, 50Mbps uploads $50-70 per month (50% less with a qualifying Verizon mobile plan) $50-70 per month (50% less with a qualifying Verizon mobile plan) None

Other internet providers in San Diego

Earthlink

An age-old name in home internet, Earthlink offers connections across the country by leasing infrastructure from other providers. In San Diego, that borrowed footprint consists mostly of AT&T DSL and fiber hookups.

Leasing infrastructure from other providers allows Earthlink to boast an extensive coverage map across the entire nation, and in San Diego, you’ll find Earthlink services available in Alpine, Bonita, Camp Pendleton, Carlsbad, Chula Vista, Coronado, El Cajon, Encinitas, Escondido, La Mesa, Lakeside, National City, Oceanside, Poway, Rancho Santa Fe, San Luis Re and San Marcos. Still, the extra overhead costs involved with leasing out infrastructure means that Earthlink plans typically cost a little more than average. It’s still worth checking to see if Earthlink is available at your address, particularly if fiber is an option, but in most cases, the company shouldn’t be your first choice for home internet.

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Select buildings in downtown San Diego and surrounding areas are outfitted for Google Fiber Webpass, a fixed wireless service offering gigabit speeds.


Google

Google Fiber Webpass

Google doesn’t have full-fledged fiber infrastructure in San Diego, but select locations throughout the area are hooked up for Google Fiber’s Webpass service, which uses receivers mounted to rooftops and building exteriors to offer the residents inside high-speed fixed wireless connections. Availability is somewhat limited, but the terms are reasonable — gigabit speeds and no data caps for $63 per month with a year commitment, or $70 per month without one.

The majority of the city’s Webpass-ready buildings are located in downtown San Diego and its surrounding neighborhoods, including the Marina, the Gaslamp Quarter, the East Village and Cortez Hill, and you’ll find other Webpass locations clustered further north, near Hillcrest, University Heights, Morena, and the Midway District, among other select spots. You can use Google’s San Diego Webpass map to search for eligible addresses.

Race Communications

Race is a hyper-targeted fiber-to-the-home provider servicing a scattering of small communities throughout California. That includes the 3,000 or so residents of Rancho Santa Fe, to the north of San Diego.

As a fiber provider, Race offers excellent speeds, with a gigabit plan that costs $135 per month. That price is steeper than average in part because Race collects $70 from your bill and remits the other $65 to the Rancho Santa Fe Association, the wide-scale homeowner’s association that manages city functions for area residents.

starlink-dish-version-2.png

Satellite internet service from Hughesnet and Viasat is almost certainly available at your address, and service from Starlink might be an option, too. In most cases, though, you’ve got much better alternatives.


SpaceX

Satellite internet

Hughesnet and Viasat are the top two satellite internet providers in the US, and their services are available throughout the overwhelming majority of San Diego and its surrounding regions. That level of availability makes them a worthy option in remote spots where literally nothing else is available, but before you sign up, you’ll want to consider the steep costs ($65-160 per month after the first six months with Hughesnet, $100-300 per month after the first three months with Viasat), the sluggish speeds (25Mbps with Hughesnet, 12-100Mbps with Viasat), the tight data caps (15-100GB with Hughesnet, 40-150GB with Viasat) and the mandatory two-year contract each provider enforces. Add all of that up, and you’re looking at little more than an absolute last resort for home internet.

Starlink, the up-and-coming satellite internet service from SpaceX and Elon Musk might be available at some addresses in the San Diego area — at a recently-hiked flat rate of $110 per month, plus $600 upfront for the equipment, it’s just as offputtingly expensive as its satellite competitors, but there are no data caps to contend with, and speeds may be notably higher thanks to the fact that Starlink’s satellites fly in low-earth orbit, giving your signal a shorter round-trip. If your home is short on internet options, it’s worth taking a look to see if Starlink is available at your address, but you might need to wait until late 2022 or later before the company can ship you your hardware and start service. If any other providers are available, you’ll probably want to start there first.

Ting

An subsidiary of Dish originally based out of Ontario (the one in Canada, not the one in California), Ting now offers fiber internet service in select markets in the US. As of 2021, that includes Encinitas, where customers can sign up for gigabit speeds and no data caps at $89 per month, plus installation costs, a $9 monthly equipment fee, and an additional “monthly access fee.” Service appears to be centered south of the city, near Solana Beach — if you live in that region, Ting’s fast speeds and appealing rates make it well worth a look.

Ultra Home Internet

Similar to Earthlink, Ultra leases out cellular airwaves from T-Mobile to offer internet service at serviceable addresses throughout San Diego. That said, Ultra’s plans aren’t as good a deal as T-Mobile’s $50 per month plan. 

For starters, you’ll need to pay Ultra at least $60 per month for the same speeds ($55 if you set up auto-pay), and unlike T-Mobile, you’ll need to pay an equipment fee of $12 per month for your modem and router, as well. Ultra’s plans also come with a particularly tight monthly data cap of 25GB, which most homes would burn through quite quickly. You can raise that to 50GB if you’re willing to pay $85 per month, or as high as 150GB if you’re willing to pay $190 per month, but even then, you’d only be getting about one eighth as much data as you’d be getting with a cable provider that enforces a data cap, like Cox. It’s cellular internet without the appealing terms of the major providers, and that makes Ultra a provider worth skipping if you can.

Image of US map with Verizon 5G Home areas indicated

Verizon offers 5G Home Internet service in San Diego, but if you zoom in on this map, you’ll see that 5G Ultra Wideband service is extremely limited in the area.


Verizon

Verizon 5G Home Internet

The cellular provider now offers home internet service at addresses with a strong enough 5G signal, and service is available in San Diego. With speeds of up to 980Mbps in some areas, Verizon can claim to be the fastest cellular internet provider in the US, and the flat monthly rate of $50 with no data caps or price increases is tempting — especially for existing Verizon subscribers, who get a 50% discount. Verizon promises not to raise your price for two years, and you can make that three years by paying $70 per month. 

That said, the company’s 5G coverage in the city appears to be quite limited (zoom in on Verizon’s coverage map and look for the scant traces of dark red in San Diego). That means that many addresses throughout San Diego will have to settle for Verizon’s much slower 4G LTE service, which isn’t as great of a value. Other addresses may not be serviceable at all. It’s still worth checking to see if Verizon is an option at your address, especially for the faster speeds and the Verizon customer discount, but in most cases, there’s a better chance you’ll find worthwhile service available from T-Mobile.

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David Toussaint/Getty Images

What are the cheapest internet plans in San Diego?

Most providers in San Diego offer home internet service starting at somewhere around $50 per month, but Cox gets the trophy for the most affordable plan of all, with a plan that nets you download speeds of 25Mbps and upload speeds of 3Mbps (the exact federal definition of broadband speed), for $30 per month during the first year and $45 after that. If you just need a basic connection and you want to pay as little as possible, that’s a good place to start.

If you’re a Verizon mobile customer, then I’d also recommend checking to see if Verizon 5G Home Internet is available at your address. It’s well-worth considering if so — with speeds potentially as high as 980Mbps, the base rate of $50 per month is quite decent on its own, and if your Verizon mobile plan qualifies, you’ll get a 50% discount, bringing the monthly cost down to $25. That’s with no data caps and no price increase after the first year.

Least Expensive Internet Plans in San Diego

Internet technology Speed range Price range (first year) Price range (after 12 months) Data caps
AT&T Home Internet DSL 10Mbps downloads, 1Mbps uploads $55 per month $70 per month 1TB
AT&T Fiber Fiber 300Mbps downloads and uploads $55 per month $55 per month None
Cox Cable 25Mbps downloads, 3Mbps uploads $30 per month $45 per month 1.25TB
Google Fiber Webpass Fixed Wireless 1,000Mbps downloads and uploads $63 per month with 1-year commitment $63 per month with 1-year commitment None
Spectrum Cable 200Mbps downloads, 10Mbps uploads $50 per month $75 per month None
Ting Fiber 1,000Mbps downloads and uploads $89 per month $89 per month None
T-Mobile Home Internet 5G/LTE 35-115Mbps downloads, 6-23Mbps uploads $50 per month $50 per month None
Ultra Home Internet 5G/LTE 35-115Mbps downloads, 6-23Mbps uploads $60 per month ($55 with auto-pay) $60 per month ($55 with auto-pay) 25GB
Verizon 5G/LTE 300-980Mbps downloads, 50Mbps uploads $50 per month (50% less with a qualifying Verizon mobile plan) $50 per month (50% less with a qualifying Verizon mobile plan) None

Spectrum has a solid entry-level internet offering, too. For $50 per month during the first year and $75 per month after that, you’ll get download speeds of up to 200Mbps and upload speeds of up to 10Mbps, which is a lot zippier than the base plan from Cox (albeit a bit more expensive). AT&T’s entry-level fiber plan does even better, with matching upload and download speeds of up to 300Mbps for $55 per month with no data caps and no price increase after the first year, but it’s only available at select addresses. Check to see if it’s available at yours before signing up for something else.

The other option worth mentioning is T-Mobile Home Internet, which boasts better availability than Verizon and that same flat rate of $50. Speeds aren’t as fast, topping out with downloads of 115Mbps and uploads of 23Mbps, but that’s still perfectly serviceable, making it a pretty good deal if your home has a strong enough signal to support it.

San Diego internet options for low-income households

Qualifying low-Income residents of San Diego should make sure to take advantage of the Affordable Connectivity Program, which offers to knock $30 off the price of your monthly home internet bill. Apply the benefit to that entry-level Cox plan, for instance, and you’re effectively looking at a broadband connection for $0 per month (save for equipment fees and the like).

You can find full details on the Affordable Connectivity Program here on CNET, as well as provider-specific instructions for signing up at the links below:

Both Cox and Spectrum offer near gigabit download speeds, and between the two of them, plans like those are available almost everywhere in the San Diego area.


FCC/Mapbox

What are the fastest internet plans in San Diego?

Feel the need for speed, huh? While gigabit service is available from a number of San Diego internet providers, availability will depend upon your specific address. Both Cox and Spectrum offer near-gigabit download speeds for customers willing to pay up, and between the two of them, plans like those will be an option for the majority of San Diego and its surrounding areas. 

Between the two of them, Spectrum’s high-speed offering is the better value at $80 per month during the first year compared to $100 per month from Cox for the same speeds, and with Spectrum, your price won’t go up until 24 months have passed, compared to 12 months for Cox. Spectrum doesn’t enforce a data cap, either, another point in its favor compared to Cox. However, the two providers mostly steer clear of each other throughout the San Diego area, meaning that there aren’t many instances where you’ll be able to choose between the two. In most cases, only one will be available at your address.

Fastest Internet Plans in San Diego

Internet technology Speed range Price range (first year) Price range (after 12 months) Data caps
AT&T Home Internet DSL 100Mbps downloads, 20Mbps uploads $55 per month $70 per month None
AT&T Fiber Fiber 5,000Mbps downloads and uploads $180 per month $180 per month None
Cox Cable 940Mbps downloads, 35Mbps uploads $100 per month $120 per month 1.25TB
Google Fiber Webpass Fixed Wireless 1,000Mbps downloads and uploads $63-70 per month $63-70 per month None
Spectrum Cable 940Mbps downloads, 35Mbps uploads $80 per month $115 per month (after 24 months) None
Ting Fiber 1,000Mbps downloads and uploads $89 per month $89 per month None
T-Mobile Home Internet 5G/LTE 35-115Mbps downloads, 6-23Mbps uploads $50 per month $50 per month None
Ultra Home Internet 5G/LTE 35-115Mbps downloads, 6-23Mbps uploads $60 per month ($55 with auto-pay) $60 per month ($55 with auto-pay) 25GB
Verizon 5G/LTE 300-980Mbps downloads, 50Mbps uploads $50 per month (50% less with a qualifying Verizon mobile plan) $50 per month (50% less with a qualifying Verizon mobile plan) None

Of course, neither of those two cable providers offers upload speeds that exceed double digits — for that, you’ll need your home to be wired for fiber. AT&T Fiber’s most affordable plan gets you matching upload and download speeds of 300Mbps for $55 per month, and that would be more than enough for most households. If you’re itching for gigabit speeds, you can go with the Fiber Internet 1000 plan, which gets you download speeds of up to 940Mbps and upload speeds of up to 880Mbps for $80 per month. And, at select addresses, new multigig plans with matching upload and download speeds of 2Gbps or 5Gbps (that’s 2,000Mbps and 5,000Mbps) are available for $110 and $180 per month, respectively. That’s currently as fast as home internet gets in San Diego.

If you aren’t wired for AT&T Fiber, you might still be able to sign up for AT&T Home Internet, which uses DSL to deliver internet connectivity to peoples’ homes. DSL is much, much slower than fiber, though, and the actual speeds available will vary from home to home. If the company’s fastest DSL option is available, you’ll be able to hit download speeds of up to 100Mbps, but don’t count on that.

If fiber and cable aren’t available at your address, then it’s worth checking to see if a cellular fixed wireless connection from T-Mobile or Verizon might be available. T-Mobile is my top pick for San Diego due to greater availability, but be sure to check with Verizon, as well, as the company might be able to offer a connection with faster speeds than T-Mobile is capable of.

San Diego Internet FAQs

Does San Diego have fiber internet?

Yes. Along with smaller, regional providers like Ting and Race Communications who service communities like Encinitas and Rancho Santa Fe, AT&T offers fiber internet to “hundreds of thousands of households” in San Diego, but it isn’t available everywhere. The company’s newest multigig plans are available at select addresses in San Diego, too, but that level of service is even more limited, at least for now. Earthlink offers fiber service, as well, but only by leasing existing fiber infrastructure from AT&T.

How much does internet cost in San Diego?

Prices will vary by provider, but most of the top internet options in San Diego offer service that starts at around $50 per month, plus applicable taxes and fees. Among major San Diego providers, Cox offers the least expensive plan with a $30 per month option that nets you download speeds of up to 25Mbps and upload speeds of up to 3Mbps. That price goes up to $45 per month after the first year.

Does San Diego have Google Fiber?

Not really — the city isn’t wired for Google Fiber service, but select buildings in the downtown area are wired for Google Fiber Webpass, a high-speed fixed wireless internet service offering gigabit upload and download speeds for $63-70 per month. You can search for eligible addresses in San Diego by clicking here.



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