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San Francisco is in a unique position when it comes to internet access. The city is investing $1.5 billion to build a fiber-optic network that provides all homes, apartments and businesses with high-speed 1 Gbps internet service. Once the plans are complete, San Francisco will be the country's largest city to own and operate its own fiber network — and its residents and visitors will be connected to one of the highest speed networks in the country, regardless of where they're located.
If you're new or moving to town, you'll have access to a variety of San Francisco internet providers that offer some of the fastest speeds in the country for affordable prices. The following is our review of the best San Francisco internet providers and what they have to offer.
The best San Francisco internet providers: summed up
Xfinity is at the top of the best San Francisco internet providers list for its wide coverage area, ensuring your new residence will have access to internet service wherever in San Francisco it may be located. Packages not only include home internet, but also offer access to Xfinity's WiFi hotspots throughout the county so you can connect all your devices and save on your data usage, while you're on the go.
Price: Internet prices start at $29.99 per month for light internet use with 25 Mbps download speeds and $59.95 for Performance Plus download speeds of 1 Gbps.
Speed and Data: Xfinity offers 5 download speed plans of 25 Mbps, 100 – 200 Mbps, 300 Mbps, 600 Mbps and 1000 Mbps. All plans come with data limits of 1 TB, except for the highest-tier plan, which has no data cap.
Plans/Packages: You'll have access to Xfinity bundles with your choice of high-speed Internet, landline and mobile phone service, cable TV, and home security/automation. A bundle including internet and ten cable TV channels starts at $34.99 per month.
Contract Options: The best rates for San Francisco internet and Xfinity packages are provided with a 12-month contract.
If you'd rather avoid compromising your data speeds because of the shared internet connection with other users in the neighborhood, or if you'd like to have a plan that isn't wired to your actual geographical location, satellite internet may be the best choice for you. Viasat's satellite internet service is one option available to all of San Francisco.
Price: Viasat's internet service starts at $35 per month for the first year and includes DIRECTV service with 15 basic channels. The entry-level $30 per month internet-only package is only available for 3 months before the price jumps up to $50 per month, making the internet and DIRECTV promotion the better deal.
Speed and Data: The entry-level plan gives you download speeds of 100 Mbps and a data cap of 12 GB. If you plan on streaming movies or playing games, higher data cap plans are available.
Plans/Packages: Liberty, Gold, Bronze, and Platinum packages are available, offering different speeds and data limits. The service plans offer a range in speeds from 12 Mbps to 100 Mbps and data caps of 12 GB to unlimited data. You can bundle Viasat Voice service to your internet package for an additional $20 per month for unlimited local and long-distance calls nationwide and in Canada.
Contract Options: Viasat packages come with a 24-month contract. You can select a no long-term contract option, but it incurs a $300 non-refundable fee.
San Francisco is building an entire fiber-optic network that will be managed by the city. In the meantime, AT&T offers the best fiber optic service in the area. Fiber optic internet is faster than cable because you won't have to share the broadband with your neighbors. AT&T's San Francisco internet packages and solid customer support are other good reasons why you should include the provider on your list of companies to consider.
Price: Internet prices start at $40 per month for 300 Mbps download speeds when you bundle fiber internet into your package. The price includes a $10 per month equipment fee.
Speed and Data: AT&T Fiber is available in San Francisco at two speeds: 300 Mbps with a data limit of 1 TB or 1Gbps download speed with no data cap.
Plans/Packages: You can choose to bundle fiber optic internet and TV for the best deals. Prices vary according to your area but expect to pay roughly $80 per month for 300mbps-speed internet and 155 DIRECTV channels.
Contract Options: AT&T Fiber requires a minimum 12-month service agreement.
If you need the highest speeds possible, Sonic may be the answer. According to the provider, users are able to video chat in 4K, perform 70 GB backups in as little as ten minutes, and download 30 GB games in just a few minutes when using their 1000 Mbps (1 Gbps) service.
Price: Sonic's internet package starts at $40 for 1000 Mbps in the first year for the San Francisco area. The price increases to $50 per month after the first year. Installation is free and Sonic will even pay off your existing contract, up to $200*, if you switch.
*Sample addressed used for this information. Actual price and discounts may vary.
Speed and Data: Sonic's San Francisco internet plan comes with 1 Gbps download speeds and unlimited data with no speed throttling during busier periods or if you're using high amounts of data.
Plans/Packages: When you bundle phone service with your internet service plan, you'll get unlimited calls to over 60 countries, your own virtual private network (VPN), personal web hosting, and a new domain for free.
Contract Options: You can try Sonic for 30 days free with no contract. If you choose to keep the service, you'll be required to sign up for 12 months.
How we found the best internet providers in San Francisco
We analyzed a dozen companies to find the best internet providers in San Francisco. Some of the key features we looked for are:
Coverage: The finalists in our San Francisco broadband review offered good coverage for the area. This was the most important factor, so you can rest assured the plans and offers are likely available for your area.
Value. You often get what you pay for. The cheapest broadband provider may not be the most convenient. We looked over many provider's offerings in search of speeds, data caps, contract lengths, packages offered and equipment costs to determine which internet providers in San Francisco provide customers the best value.
Customer Satisfaction. At ZDNet.com, satisfaction ratings from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) and J.D. Power are an important part of the decision-making process on which services and products are the best. Broadband service provider ratings are mediocre across the board, so analyzing each internet provider individually and comparing them to industry averages gives us a better idea of how they respond to customer issues.
How much speed do I need to stream movies and for online gaming?
Streaming movies and downloading games can take up a lot of bandwidth. And if you have several household members on multiple devices, the higher the speed you can afford, the better the streaming. Aim for a service plan of 1000 Mbps if you don't want to experience lag while streaming.
How fast is internet service in San Francisco?
If you're moving to San Francisco, you're in luck. You'll have access to several providers offering 1000 Mbps (1 Gbps) service.
Is fiber internet faster than broadband cable?
Yes, fiber is the fastest option of the two. The reason being the wiring that carries the internet into your home. Fiber optic internet is delivered on a dedicated line straight to you. Broadband cable wires are shared with anyone signed up for the service in your area, which can create a slowdown in speeds if several users in the neighborhood are online at the same time.