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The best internet providers in Detroit: Top local ISPs compared

Detroit has many internet service providers to choose from. Which one is right for you? Take a look at our top picks of the best ISPs in Detroit.
Written by Reviews.com Staff, Contributors on

Detroit has 4.3 million residents in the metropolitan area, which makes it one of the largest urban regions in the country. That's good news for you if you're looking for an internet service provider (ISP) since quite a few providers service the area. You can find a broad range of plans available for fiber-optic, cable, DSL, and satellite connections, similar to other large cities in the U.S. Finding your best Detroit ISP involves looking at multiple factors. We'll review the top Detroit ISPs here and suggest the options that might work best for a variety of users.  

Here are the best internet providers in Detroit Summed up:


AT&T

Comcast (Xfinity)

HughesNet

Defining trait

Best customer service

Widest range of plans

Best satellite

Connection type

DSL and fiber (partial fiber coverage)

Cable

Satellite

Download speeds (Mbps)

Up to 100Mbps (DSL); up to 940Mbps (fiber) 

Up to 1000Mbps

Up to 25Mbps

Prices starting at

$40

$39.99

$59.99

Contract length

12 months

12 months

24 months

Data cap

Unlimited (DSL); 1 TB (fiber)

1 TB

Depends on plan

AT&T

Best customer service

AT&T Fiber
AT&T

AT&T has extensive coverage via DSL and, in some areas, fiber-optics. If you've got a phone connection, you will be able to access the company's DSL network. AT&T's fiber-optic network also includes parts of Detroit -- you'll have to find out if your address is covered by talking to a customer service rep or inputting your complete address online

AT&T scores well above average in rankings by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), with 69 points -- that's a good sign in an industry not known for stellar customer service. It also scores well with J.D. Powers, ranking a very close second in the organization's 2019 U.S. Residential Internet Service Provider Satisfaction Study listing. 

AT&T offers some great introductory prices you can lock into for one year. Even though it is common for most ISPs to raise prices after introductory periods, the AT&T rates go up pretty significantly. Also, the company does not include some supplementary fees, from equipment rental to taxes, which may leave you feeling nickel-and-dimed to death. 


Features:

  • Price: $40 - $79.99 (introductory pricing, one year contract)
  • Speed and Data: download speeds of 25 - 940Mbps; 1TB data cap (fiber), unlimited DSL
  • Plans/Packages: fiber-optic internet + TV/Phone/Wireless, 1TB data cap, $40/month
  • Contract Options: one year

Comcast XFINITY

Widest range of plans

Comcast Xfinity

With six basic internet plans, including a fast 1000Mbps option, as well as the opportunity to bundle your choice of Xfinity TV, Xfinity Voice, and two home security options, you'll be able to customize a plan that best suits your needs. Xfinity's prices are reasonable, too, though, as with most ISPs, your rates increase after your one-year commitment is up. 

Xfinity's customer service is about average. It scores 61 on the ACSI scale, one point below the industry average of 62, and consumerreports.org names Xfinity as a "big name in need of big improvement" in its Customer Service Buying Guide.  That said, if you need a fast connection for gaming, HD streaming, or video conferencing, Xfinity is an excellent choice. In fact, Speedtest.net rates Xfinity as the fastest internet provider in the U.S. for 2018. 


Features:

  • Price: $20 - $80
  • Speed and Data: download speeds of 25 - 1000Mbps
  • Plans/Packages: starter package with 25Mbps for $20 for the first year; $53 afterwards ($10 discount for autopay brings it to $43, though); includes free self-install kit and Flex 4 K streaming device, plus voice remote
  • Contract Options: one year

HughesNet

Best satellite options

hughesnet.jpg
CNET

A satellite internet connection will never out-perform more high-tech options like fiber-optics, but if you're located in a neighborhood that doesn't have broadband access, it can be a lifesaver. HughesNet Gen5 satellite network is available throughout the U.S., and the company offers four no-frills internet plans with a contract period of two years -- twice as long as our other top choices. It doesn't nickel-and-dime you to death with additional fees, and sometimes you will see a tempting introductory rate if you're a new customer. 

All plans come with built-in WiFi service and a bonus of 50GB of additional data per month. The catch? You need to use additional time during non-peak hours of 2 - 8 a.m. On the plus side, according to the FCC, HughesNet is modest in its speed claims: a 2018 FCC report on broadband performance in the U.S. showed HughesNet providing almost twice as much download bandwidth as it advertised. 


Features:

  • Price: $59.99 - 149.99
  • Speed and Data: download speeds up to 25Mbps
  • Plans/Packages: range from 10GB to 50GB of data, with a bonus pack of 50GB additional -- but for only a few hours a day
  • Contract Options: 2 years

How we found the best internet providers in Detroit

We spent a great deal of time scouring ISP websites to find data for this report. We also looked at rankings for ISPs with federal and non-profit organizations and checked out consumer reviews at the BBB and other watchdog groups.

  • Coverage. We were looking for providers who had the most saturation in the city, and thus were available to most residents of Detroit and its suburbs. AT&T DSL was the winner here, though our other choices also work for most Detroit addresses. Fiber-optics are still sparse throughout the country, which was true of Detroit, but AT&T's fiber network does include parts of Detroit. HughesNet offers satellite coverage that is steady and always on, if not available, at the highest speeds for those on the outskirts of the city or in more rural areas.
  • Value. Of course, you want to pay as little as possible for your internet access, and that can be a tricky proposition. Many ISPs list a temptingly low introductory price and then slam you with smaller but still considerable fees for installation, equipment rental, and taxes. The introductory rate is likely to disappear after your first year, too. Xfinity gave us the broadest range there, but your rates will vary depending on your needs and the package you choose. One takeaway: speed costs more. If you, like many people, use the internet mainly to check email, scan your social media, and watch the occasional Netflix special, you can generally get by with a lower-end plan.
  • Customer Satisfaction. We look at customer satisfaction ratings from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) and J.D. Power. The caveat here is internet service providers, as a whole, have pretty dismal ratings for customer service. Consumer Reports rates the industry near the bottom of its Customer Service Rating List. The internet is rampant with tales of customers on hold for hours or made to deal with surly representatives. In looking at the rankings, we weighed each company against the industry averages. Our choices all featured near the tops of most lists (although HughesNet, being a smaller company, is not as widely rated). 

How do I get connected to the internet in Detroit?

You'll want to do your homework -- start by reading our coverage of the best internet service providers in Detroit. Think about how heavily you use the internet, and this will give you a good idea of the right plan for you.

If you're not sure, check out our best providers to see of what constitutes light, medium, and heavy internet use.

Why is download speed important?

Most people download files -- from movies to large photos -- more than they upload, so the download speed is a good indicator of the overall speed of your connection. Plus, for most home internet set-ups, the download speed is considerably more than the upload speed, so ISPs like this as an indicator of the quality of their network.

Who has the cheapest Internet in Detroit?

Of the Detroit ISPs we looked at, Comcast Xfinity had the cheapest rate at $20 for 20Mbps for the first year. Your rate will depend on how you use the internet. 

If you're a heavy multiplayer gamer or spend your evenings watching HD Netflix videos, you'll pay more -- probably in the three digits -- for the speed you need.

Can I install an internet connection by myself?

Yes, most ISPs offer a self-install kit if you're getting a DSL or cable installation and already have the wiring available in your home. If you're going with a fiber-optic connection or don't have phone or cable wires coming to your home, you'll need to have a professional installation, which may cost as much as $125.

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