Any city that can say it’s the birthplace of Starbucks and Jimi Hendrix must be doing something right. However, regarding high-speed internet options, Seattle isn’t exactly in the espresso lane. Though the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue region is among the country’s top 20 most populous metro areas, it could muster only a 94th-place finish among the fastest cities in the US for broadband.
That’s based on the latest data from the speed-testing company Ookla, which tracks the top 100 cities in the US and categorizes them based on their median download speeds. Per Ookla’s first-quarter report for 2023, Seattle placed in the bottom 10 — just barely above Denver, Dallas and Atlanta — with a median download speed of just over 122 megabits per second.
The Ookla report also noted that Seattle’s fastest provider, based on median download speed, was Xfinity (Comcast’s cable internet service), whose average speed in the area was approximately 217Mbps. As we’ve written many times in CNET’s broadband coverage, cable internet connections, though offering fast speeds and decent reliability, aren’t the speediest mode available. That claim belongs to fiber internet. And while you can get fiber internet service in and around Seattle, each provider, including CenturyLink and Ziply Fiber, also supplies internet service via DSL connections, which are far slower than fiber and less dependable than cable. That brings those average speeds back down to earth — and it also means there’s a lot to keep track of if you’re shopping for a new internet plan in Seattle.
Best internet providers in the Emerald City
Whether you’ve relocated to the area or are a long-time Seattleite, you’ve got some options for getting connected. Let’s dive into your choices and explore Seattle internet providers.
Overview of Seattle internet providers
|Provider||Internet technology||Monthly price range||Speed range||Monthly equipment costs||Data cap||Contract||CNET review score|
|Astound Broadband/Wave||Cable||$25-$65||100-1,200Mbps||$12 (skippable)||400GB-Unlimited||None||7|
|Google Fiber Webpass||Fixed wireless||$63-$70||1,000Mbps||None||None||None||7.4|
|T-Mobile Home Internet||Fixed wireless||$50 ($30 with eligible phone plan)||33-182Mbps||None||None||None||7.4|
|Verizon 5G Home Internet||Fixed wireless||$50-$70 (50% off with eligible phone plan)||85-1,000Mbps||None||None||None||7.2|
|Xfinity||Cable||$20-$300||75-6,000Mbps||$14 (skippable)||1.2TB||1-2 years for some plans||7|
|Ziply Fiber||DSL/fiber||$20-$300||50-10,000Mbps||$10 (skippable)||None||None||7.2|
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Other available Seattle residential internet providers
The city set on Puget Sound has more ISPs seeking your business than the four we highlighted above. Here are some of the other internet providers in Seattle.
- Google Fiber Webpass: Don’t be confused by the fiber in the name. This is a fixed-wireless option from Google Fiber that’s focused solely on apartment buildings. Even though it’s not fiber internet, it’s still plenty zippy: It offers symmetrical gigabit speeds for $70 a month (or an average of $63 a month if you sign up for the yearly plan via a full, $750 upfront payment). Webpass also features free installation, unlimited data and no equipment fees. If your building cannot support the full gig speeds, Webpass will reduce the pricing. You can find Google Fiber Webpass within Seattle city limits, including the neighborhoods of Belltown, Capitol Hill, First Hill, Fremont, Queen Anne and Uptown.
- Satellite internet: This always feels like cheating, but it must be said that no matter the city or area in which you live in the US, this mode of internet connectivity is always an option. Is it a great option for Seattle residents? If you live in the city, no. You’ll have much faster and cheaper choices available to you. Even areas south of Tacoma or north of Everett should have some viable alternatives, but if you find yourself in a rural town with limited options, you might consider it. HughesNet and Viasat will be your top picks, although both require you to commit to a two-year contract. A more intriguing possibility is Starlink, which just became available in the area in 2023. It features faster download speeds and no term agreement.
- Verizon 5G Home Internet: Why choose Verizon’s fixed wireless home internet product over T-Mobile Home Internet? On the plus side, it has a much faster average download speed (300Mbps) than T-Mobile and, if you’re among eligible Verizon Wireless subscribers, it’s cheaper too, with the same “all-in” approach where equipment, installation and fees are all covered in your flat, monthly rate. Where it falls short of T-Mobile is availability. Its heavy reliance on its 5G network — T-Mobile uses its 4G LTE network more aggressively, in addition to 5G, to boost its coverage territory — means it doesn’t quite hit the same reach.
- Ziply Fiber: Despite being relatively new to the game — it launched services in the middle of 2020 — Ziply Fiber is a viable option if you’re eligible for its fiber internet, which boasts unlimited data and no long-term contract requirements. However, despite its name, some of its footprint includes the much slower DSL type. A Ziply spokesperson tells CNET that the company is actively building a fiber alternative for those communities, including over 80 projects in Seattle and the greater Northwest. Also of note, Ziply Fiber is rolling out several multi-gigabit plans, including a zippy 10Gbps option. Confirmed cities around Seattle where multi-gig plans are currently available include Bellevue, Bothell, Brier, Edmonds, Everett, Kenmore, Kirkland, Lake Stevens, Lynnwood, Marysville, Mill Creek, Mountlake Terrace, Mukilteo, Redmond, Shoreline, Snohomish and Woodinville.
Seattle internet details at a glance
As any good shopper knows, you must look beyond the brand name to know if you’re getting a good deal. The same is true when evaluating internet providers in Seattle. You need to go beyond our overview to get more specific details about the available internet plans in the Emerald City. So let’s dive deeper into the cheapest internet plans in the area and the fastest internet plans you can get in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue region.
Average pricing for Seattle internet providers
When you consider the starting prices of all ISPs (meaning, the promo prices, not the regular rates that take hold after the introductory rate), the average price for internet service in Seattle is just under $42 per month. That’s about the middle of the pack among the cities CNET has examined up to this point. That includes Brooklyn ($36 a month), Los Angeles ($38 monthly), Denver ($39 per month), San Francisco ($40 a month), New York ($41 per month), Austin, Dallas and Philadelphia ($43 a month), Houston ($45 per month), Phoenix ($46 monthly), Atlanta ($47 a month), Orlando and San Antonio ($48 per month) and, all at $50 a month, Charlotte, Chicago, Las Vegas, San Diego and St. Louis.
But digging in a bit on specific options, you’ll find the lowest starting price of $20 a month shared by two providers: Xfinity and Ziply Fiber. Ziply Fiber features 50Mbps download speeds at that price point, while Xfinity starts at 75Mbps. However, Xfinity’s faster plan has a data cap (1.2TB). Ziply Fiber, on the other hand, features unlimited data. So, depending on your household’s usage and needs, you have a few elements to consider.
Cheap internet options in Seattle
Also, whenever talking about cheap internet, we should always mention there are additional, low-income internet options. Such is the case in Seattle. All providers we’ve mentioned participate in the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program, which gives eligible low-income households a $30 monthly discount for high-speed internet. You can use the ACP towards any internet plan (not just the cheapest ones) from participating providers. Additionally, multiple providers joined forces with the White House on its plans to address the digital divide. They will make available plans of at least 100Mbps that customers get for free once they join the ACP discount.
Cheapest internet plans in Seattle
|Provider||Starting monthly price||Standard monthly price||Max download speed||Monthly equipment fee||Data cap|
|Ziply Fiber 50/50||$20||$40||50Mbps||$10||None|
|Xfinity Connect||$20||$50||75Mbps||$14 (skippable)||1.2TB|
|Astound Broadband/Wave||$25||$70||100Mbps||$12 (skippable)||400GB|
|HughesNet||$50||$65||25Mbps||$15 or $450 one-time purchase||2 years|
|CenturyLink/Quantum Fiber||$49||$49||200Mbps||$15 (skippable)||None|
|T-Mobile Home Internet||$50 ($30 with mobile plan discount)||$50||182Mbps||None||None|
|Verizon 5G Home Internet||$50 ($25 with mobile plan discount)||$50||300Mbps||None||None|
|Viasat||$70||$100||12Mbps||$13 or $299 one-time purchase||2 years|
|Google Fiber Webpass||$70 ($63 with year commitment)||$70 ($63 with year commitment)||1,000Mbps||None||None|
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Internet speeds in Seattle
As I mentioned near the start of this article, Seattle isn’t exactly lighting things up regarding average download speeds. That said, you can find plenty of options if you feel the need for extreme speed. The main caveat is that some of the fastest plans in the area aren’t widely available throughout the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue region. But some of our friends in the Bellevue area, for example, should have access to Ziply Fiber’s fastest, multi-gig plans. Select addresses throughout Seattle may be able to access Comcast’s Gigabit Pro plan, with symmetrical speeds of 6,000Mbps.
Fastest internet providers in Seattle
|Provider||Max download speed||Max upload speed||Starting monthly price||Data cap||Contract|
|Ziply Fiber 10 Gig||10,000Mbps||10,000Mbps||$300||None||None|
|Xfinity Gigabit Pro||6,000Mbps||6,000Mbps||$300||None||2 years|
|Ziply Fiber 5 Gig||5,000Mbps||5,000Mbps||$120||None||None|
|Ziply Fiber 2 Gig||2,000Mbps||2,000Mbps||$80||None||None|
|Xfinity Gigabit Extra||1,200Mbps||35Mbps||$80||None||None|
|Ziply Fiber Gig||1,000Mbps||1,000Mbps||$60||None||None|
|Google Fiber Webpass||1,000Mbps||1,000Mbps||$70 ($63 with year commitment)||None||None|
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What’s the bottom line on Seattle internet providers?
If you’ve been keeping up with CNET’s coverage of the best internet providers across the country — and I certainly hope you have — you may have noticed there are fewer options in Seattle than you find in other big US cities. On the other hand, Seattle can brag that it’s got both cheaper internet options than most towns and more multi-gig providers. They’re spread out throughout the area, but they’re there. Xfinity’s seven different cable internet plans are the most widely available in Seattle but Astound Broadband’s four cable internet tiers are cheaper and don’t require you to sign a contract to get the lowest price. But as we always say, if you’re serviceable for fiber internet — and in Seattle, that includes CenturyLink, Ziply Fiber or, in rarer cases, Xfinity’s Gigabit Pro plan — that should be your top option.