/>
X
Why you can trust ZDNet ZDNet independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Our process

'ZDNet Recommends': What exactly does it mean?

ZDNet's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.

When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNet nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

ZDNet's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.

Close

Best home broadband deals available right now: March 2022

Pricing a new broadband plan can be difficult, especially when taking all of the contract obligations, sign-up bonuses, and hidden fees into account. Let us help you navigate these muddy waters to find the speeds you want for a price you can afford.
mugshot.jpg
Written by Michael Gariffo, Staff Writer on

It's difficult enough to comparison shop something like a new laptop or tablet. At least with those devices, you're only looking at a straightforward, one-time cost. When shopping for home broadband, those difficulties are increased tenfold by all of the added variables: Contracts, rental fees, hidden costs, sign-up bonuses, included streaming subscriptions, and more. Even when you do find something that looks like a good fit, there's no guarantee it will be a service that's available at your address. Let us help you skip the pain and headaches shopping for home broadband can cause with a simple guide to the best broadband deals available right now. 

We've scoured the providers' sites to find some of the best deals for those seeking ample sign-up bonuses, gigabit speeds, budget-friendly plans, and more. While we can't guarantee all of these offerings will be available where you live, our providers of choice supply some of the widest service areas available, and collectively blanket the country with their networks.

Also: Best 5G home internet services: Weighing the fastest options

xfinity-internet-sign.jpg
Shutterstock
  • Speed: 300Mbps download / 5Mbps upload
  • Promo price: $40 per month (with Xfinity Mobile sub) or $50 without, for the first year
  • Long-term price: $100 per month
  • Included extras: Free "getting started kit," Includes Peacock Premium subscription

Comcast's Xfinity home broadband has been rated as one of the best ISPs in the US here at ZDNet. The company's wide network reach, competitive Mbps/dollar value proposition, and included extras consistently places it among the easiest recommendations for broadband shoppers within one of its many, many available markets. Currently, Comcast is offering its Xfinity Performance Pro tier for $50 per month for the first year ($100 per month after that). Users signing up for the company's Xfinity Mobile service can also receive an additional $10 off per month for the first two years, bringing price down to $40 per month for the first year, and $90 per month for the second. You may want to shop around again when your promotional period ends, but you can save more than enough money in the meantime to make that far-flung task worthwhile down the road. 

optimum-by-atlice-magnified.jpg
Shutterstock
  • Speed: 940Mbps download / 940Mbps upload (in select areas), 940Mbps download / 35Mbps upload (in all others)
  • Promo price: $50 per month
  • Long-term price: $50 per month (subject to change)
  • Included extras: $200 Visa gift card, 1 year of HBO Max

If you're a power user that's running a massive number of connected devices, or just a streaming aficionado that never wants so much a hiccup in their 4K (or even 8K) streams, then you may want to consider a gigabit-level connection. Sure, it might be overkill for a lot of users, especially those with few devices. But, at $50 per month, why not give yourself some headroom as the number of connected devices in all of our homes continues to skyrocket. Optimum currently offers its 1 Gig Internet plan with speeds just barely under that titular level for $50 month. The offer price even includes a $200 Visa prepaid gift card at sign-up. As long as you're alright with the auto-pay and paperless billing requirements, you can score one of the fastest available home broadband speeds for one of the lowest prices we've ever seen. 

centurylink-internet.jpg
CenturyLink Internet
  • Speed: 940Mbps download / 940Mbps upload
  • Promo price: $65 per month (1Gbps) or $50 per month (100Mbps)
  • Long-term price: $50-$65 per month (subject to change)
  • Included Extras: 24/7 technical support

If you live in an area where Optimum isn't available, CenturyLink offers a great alternative for just a bit more. Like Optimum, it requires you to use paperless billing and to sign up for autopay, but it still provides symmetrical near-gigabit speeds, where available, at a price that's better than many broadband plans sitting in the low hundreds of megabits per second range. For those not in one of its gig-speed service areas, the provider also offers 100Mbps. CenturyLink also doesn't require a contract and provides a free gateway with built-in Wi-Fi. Right now, you can snag a sub for $50-$65 per month.

verizon-fios.jpg
  • Speed: 940Mbps download / 880Mbps upload
  • Promo price: $85 per month
  • Long-term price: $90 per month (subject to change)
  • Included extras: Wi-Fi range extender, $200 Visa gift card, 12-month AMC+ subscription, 12-Month Disney+ subscription

Verizon's 1-gig FiOS plan isn't the cheapest on this list. What makes it so impressive, however, is the slate of included extras Verizon is currently offering for new sign-ups. In addition to the included, Wi-Fi-enabled network gateway, new accounts will also receive a free Wi-Fi range extender, a $200 Visa gift card, and free 12-month subscriptions to both AMC+ and Disney+. If you were planning to subscribe to one, or both, of these services, the extra monthly savings for the first year will drop the price to something very competitive with the choices above. 

verizon-5g-home.jpg
Verizon
  • Speed: 300Mbp to 980Mbps download (depending on location) / 50Mbps upload
  • Promo price: $50-$80 per month ($25-$35per month for Verizon Wireless subscribers) 
  • Long-term price: $50-$80 per month (subject to change)
  • Included Extras: Free 6-month to 12-month Disney+ subscription, free Verizon Stream TV streaming device.

If you'd like to tap into Verizon's network and customer service, but happen to live in an area where its fiber-based FiOS offerings aren't available, considering giving the company's fledgling 5G home broadband a try. While the service was limited to extremely small pockets of the country in its initial rollout, that has quickly changed as Verizon's mid-band 5G offerings flourish across the country. For a price that's even less than its wired counterpart, Verizon's 5G service can offer speeds that can reach the same peak, without requiring any in-home installation. Simply get the included in-home router, plug in its power cord, and run through the initial setup process. It'll handle both the 5G connection and in-home Wi-Fi for you. Right now, all of this convenience will only run you $50 per month, or an even lower $25 per month if you're currently a Verizon Wireless subscriber. 


How do I know how much speed I really need?

Of course providers will try to sell you the top-tier plan available from their for your area. However, you may not actually need all of that speed. 1Gbps plans are getting to the point in pricing where they're a no-brainer, if they're available in your area. But, in many areas, more speed can quickly mean unwarranted spending. 

To avoid this, we'd recommend taking a solid look at your usage. If you live alone, or just tend to run one PC, maybe a smartphone or streaming stick at the same time, 100Mbps is likely more than enough for your. Careful network management can even allow this tier to power pretty heavily connected households, though expect the occasional buffering wheel to appear. 

For most multi-person households, 300Mbps+ is a safe bet. It balances the headroom needed for our growing device collections with pricing unusually below 1Gbps options, and wider availability. 

1Gbps is what you'll want if you're a power user that frequently downloads massive games, constantly streams multiple 4K movies, or needs the absolute best performance for your in-home server. 

If you're still stumped, check out our sister site CNET's guide to choosing the right plan for you.

Is cable/fiber/wireless broadband better?

It would be easy to write a 50-page report on the relative merits of each of these networking technologies. But, that's not what you're here for. So, to boil it down to the absolute must-know facts about each technology, we'll focus on its biggest pros and its biggest cons. 

Cable

  • Pros: widely available, already installed in many homes, typically offers up to 300Mbps speeds with some areas going as high as 1Gbps
  • Cons: Copper infrastructure requires adjacent telecom poles in most municipalities, speeds struggle to keep up with fiber and wireless. 

Fiber:

  • Pros: Fastest terrestrial speeds available, only technology with widely-deployed multi-gigabit services, underground network hardware available in select areas.
  • Cons: Narrowest availability, requires the most elaborate in-home installation process, costs are typically higher than cable (depending on local availability). 

Wireless

  • Pros: Can reach as high as near-gigabit speeds, plug-and-play network setup, available in multi-unit dwellings and other areas terrestrial cable/fiber is hard to run.
  • Cons: Limited availability (although this is rapidly changing), speeds can fluctuate more than terrestrial alternatives, prone to interference

Should I avoid contracts?

The short answer is: if possible, yes. Contracts lock us into pricing that may seem great at the time or purchase, but can often balloon before the contract term ends. This is why it's so important to read all of the fine print (we know that's a big ask). Contract-free plans mean that you don't have to worry about pricing changes because you can always just depart the carrier for greener pastures. They also tend to make providers work harder to keep your business because they know you're not obligated to remain with them by some early termination fee hanging over your head.

Of course, depending on which providers are available in your area, it's not always possible to avoid contracts entirely. In that case, we recommend trying to limit them to no longer than one year, or to make sure that the promotional pricing that attracted us to the plan of our choice in the first place will last through the entire contract term. 

Related

Amazon Prime Day 2022: Best early deals now available
image-2018-07-16-at-12-27-08-pm.jpg

Amazon Prime Day 2022: Best early deals now available

Deals
The 6 best gaming laptop deals available now: June 2022
alienware-m15-r4.jpg

The 6 best gaming laptop deals available now: June 2022

Laptops
The 9 best TV deals at Best Buy right now: June 2022
walmart-black-friday-early-sales-deals-samsung-chromebook-laptops-tablets.jpg

The 9 best TV deals at Best Buy right now: June 2022

TVs