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The best internet providers in San Diego: Top local ISPs compared

We break down the top competitors features into an easy to follow review of providers in San Diego so you can make the best decision based on your needs.

Multicultural and home to the United States' largest military community, San Diego, California, supports more than 3.3 million people. As fiber-optic internet is available to less than a quarter of residents, cable and DSL are the leading kinds of San Diego internet providers. AT&T offers the largest coverage area in San Diego, followed closely by Cox. There are many other factors  to take into consideration beyond availability, like internet speed and contracts. In San Diego, you can have speeds of up to 1000 Mbps with a single-year contract, and the city is home to several access points for internet companies, meaning that  you can enjoy some of the fastest internet speeds.

Here's a summary of our top picks for the best internet provider in San Diego:


AT&T

Cox

Earthlink

Defining trait

Largest coverage area

Flexible service

Large selection of policies

Connection type

Fiber Optic

Cable

DSL Fiber Optic

Download speeds (Mbps)

  • 100
  • 300
  • 1000
  • 10
  • 30
  • 150
  • 300
  • 940
  • 15
  • 30
  • 80
  • 100
  • 200
  • 1000

Prices starting at

$50/month

$30/month

$14.95/month

Contract length

12 months

12 months

12 months

Data cap

1 TB/month; Unlimited for 1000Mbps plans

1 TB/month; additional data  plans available

Unlimited

See at AT&T

AT&T

Best DSL

AT&T
AT&T

AT&T covers nearly all of San Diego, over 99% of the city. Additionally, the national AT&T WiFi HotSpot Network comes with your internet plan, so you are never without internet service. Bonuses include no activation fees for online orders and speed upgrades, and customers rave about customer service.

While many U.S. metropolitan areas struggle to adapt to fiber-optic technology, AT&T offers lightning-fast, reliable internet service. It has also partnered with DIRECTV for television service, as well as home phone services. 


Features:

  • Price: $50 to $70 per month, plus $10/month equipment fee and no activation fee when purchased online
  • Speed and Data: 100, 300, or 1000; 1TB per month for Internet 100 and 300 plans with overage charges; unlimited data for Internet 1000
  • Plans/Packages: Internet 100, 300, or 1000
  • Contract Options: 12 months

See at Cox

Cox Communications

Best cable internet

Cox Communications
Cox Communications Internet

Cox is popular for those interested in bundling TV, internet, and phone. However, be prepared that the company only offers cable internet, not DSL or fiber-optic. That's not necessarily a bad thing; cable can be a good alternative to DSL because cables allow for greater bandwidth. 

Five plans are available with speeds ranging from just 10Mbps to 940Mbps. Opt for Internet 1000 and enjoy unlimited data; otherwise, plans include 1TB of coverage. Speeds are not as high as some of its competitors, but Cox is more affordable and comes with flexible pricing. Plus, customers have access to cloud storage, Cox Security Suite Plus, and more than half a million hotspots for free Wi-Fi. 


Features:

  • Price: $30.00 to $99.99 per month, plus equipment fees
  • Speed and Data: 10, 30, 150, 300, 940 with 1TB/month of data; additional data available
  • Plans/Packages: Cox Internet Starter 10, Essential 30, Preferred 150, Ultimate 300, Gigablast 940
  • Contract Options: 12 months 

Earthlink

Best fiber-optic

Earthlink

Earthlink's coverage area was significantly higher than our other Top Picks. EarthLink's DSL offers speeds of up to 70Mbps, while its fiber-optic service through the Hyperlink Internet plan is capable of up to 1000Mbps. San Diego and Miami are the leading access areas for EarthLink users, which means incredibly fast and super-dependable internet service for their residents. Spyware is included, with free tools:  a virus scanner, firewall, and anti-spyware software. You can also receive up to ten email addresses, as well as a Norton 360 add-on.

There are no data caps, and the company promises no teaser rates. However, Earthlink does charge extra sign-up and monthly fees, so be careful to figure that math into your decision. While widely available, the tradeoff for Earthlink's accessibility is bedside manner. The company's customer service leaves much to be desired with just a 1.1 rating from Consumer Reports, despite having 24/7 customer service support. 


Features:

  • Price: $14.95 to $49.99 per month, plus $69.95 installation cost, $6.95/month equipment rental, and up to $200 in cancellation fees
  • Speed and Data: 15, 30, 60, 70, 80, 100, 200, 1000 with unlimited data
  • Plans/Packages: HyperlinkTM internet 
  • Contract Options: 12 months 

How we found the best internet provider in San Diego 

When determining the best internet provider, many factors influenced our decision, including:

  • Coverage. While speed and price are important, it means nothing without service. San Diego offers some of the best internet speeds in the country, but we found AT&T, Cox, and Earthlink to offer some of the best coverage in the city.  
  • Value. Pricing varies significantly depending on which company and plan you choose, so things like data caps, download speeds, and contract lengths can all make an enormous difference in the overall value of your plan.
  • Customer SatisfactionJ.D. Power is considered a leading authority on customer satisfaction, so we looked to their 2018 U.S. Internet Service Provider Satisfaction Study to see what actual customers are saying.

Although EarthLink is unrated, Cox and AT&T share the same J.D. Power rating of four out of five. Cox receives top scores in performance and reliability, but it falls in the pricing category, where AT&T takes the lead. Cox also rated just slightly higher in customer service. However, in the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), AT&T is a clear winner, rating slightly better than Cox. Earthlink trails behind in customer service.

What kind of internet service should I choose?

  San Diego internet providers give you the option of cable, DSL, or fiber-optic internet service. Cable and fiber-optic internet are typically more reliable than DSL. For those looking for moderate coverage, DSL and cable may be sufficient.

Households with lots of streaming and gaming may better benefit from fiber-optic's faster speeds.

What is the best internet in San Diego?

The best internet in San Diego depends on where you live and what kind of internet speed t you need. Not all types of services are available everywhere, with only certain companies offering fiber-optic to specific neighborhoods. 

Check your ZIP code to see what options you have available for your household. 

What internet speed do I need?

There are many different speeds you can choose from for your internet service. For checking emails, browsing the web, and streaming HD content, speeds of up to 25Mbps should be sufficient. 

If you plan to stream 4K content and play online games continually, more than 200Mbps will be needed.

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