Verizon home internet review: Simply the best? - CNET
On June 10, 2021, Verizon Communications unveiled four more cities for its 5G Home Internet service — New Orleans, Seattle, Des Moines, Iowa and Tucson, Arizona — as it seeks to expand its home broadband footprint. Meanwhile, Verizon Fios, the company’s fiber-optic internet service, has risen to the top of the J.D. Power U.S. Residential Internet Service Provider Satisfaction Study for multiple years running since it launched in 2004 — but it’s only available in eight states and the District of Columbia.
For much of the rest of its footprint, Verizon offers home internet via DSL, primarily for those in the Northeast who are outside its Fios network. Verizon LTE Home Internet service is an option in 200 markets, too, well beyond the 40 markets where 5G service is currently available.
All of that makes for a complicated coverage map — and it means that there’s a lot to consider before signing up for Verizon based solely on the glowing reviews.
Verizon home internet
- All Verizon Fios plans are 100% fiber, with symmetrical download and upload speeds
- No data caps or allowances on any plans
- No term agreements necessary on any plans
- Low fiber availability for such a national company
- While Fios and 5G are affordable, LTE and DSL options are pricey
If you live within Verizon’s East Coast footprint and Verizon Fios is available at your address, its internet service is tough to beat. If you’re outside that area, you may have some form of Verizon home internet service available to you, but you’ll need to make some tough side-by-side comparisons to find what’s truly best for your address (keep reading, because we can help with that).
Read more: The best internet providers for 2021: Cable vs. DSL vs. satellite and more
Where can you get Verizon internet service?
Availability for Verizon Fios is solely in eight northeastern states — Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Virginia — and Washington, DC. Within those areas, customers can use the Verizon availability checker to see if Fios is available at their address.
Verizon is also aiming to expand the availability of its 5G Home Internet service across the country. As of June 2021, it is offered in the following 40 markets: Arlington, Texas; Anaheim, California; Atlanta; Charlotte, North Carolina; Chicago; Cincinnati; Cleveland; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas; Denver; Des Moines, Iowa; Detroit; Greensboro, North Carolina; Hartford, Connecticut; Houston; Indianapolis; Kansas City, Missouri; Las Vegas; Los Angeles; Louisville, Kentucky; Memphis, Tennessee; Miami; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota; Omaha, Nebraska; Phoenix; Raleigh, North Carolina; Riverside, California; Sacramento, California; Salt Lake City; San Antonio, Texas; San Diego; San Francisco; San Jose, California; Seattle; St. Louis; Tampa, Florida; and Tucson, Arizona.
What internet plans can you get with Verizon?
- Verizon Fios, which is 100% fiber-optic, offers three different plans
- Verizon High Speed Internet, a DSL service, provides options for those outside the Fios network in the Northeast
- Verizon LTE Home Internet is available in select markets in 48 states
- Verizon 5G Home Internet is currently available in 40 markets across the US
Verizon Fios Internet plans and pricing
Verizon’s Fios service is the easiest to understand. There are three different tiers — 200, 400 and Gigabit — except the New York market, where the three offerings are 300, 500 and Gigabit. Unlike many other providers, Verizon doesn’t offer a promo rate that expires after 12 months, causing your bill to go up. That’s a good, straightforward approach — just know that Verizon doesn’t offer a price-for-life guarantee, like CenturyLink, for example, and it reserves the right to adjust its rates at any point.
That said, I wouldn’t be concerned about the lack of a contract and how it might impact your Fios rates. For example, Verizon’s Gigabit Connection for $90 a month is highly competitive, and it would take an extremely dramatic price hike to lose its value. Case in point, that plan could undergo a 40% rate increase and still be cheaper than Spectrum’s regular monthly gigabit price of $135.
Also, a Verizon spokesperson shared with CNET regarding potential rate changes that “there’s no timetable for changing rates and if/when we should do so, all changes are clearly communicated to customers in advance,” with 30 days’ notice as a minimum lead time.
Finally, as Fios is a fiber-optic network, it delivers near symmetrical download and upload speeds, meaning you’re going to get close to the same upload speeds as your downloads. If you’re more accustomed to asymmetrical cable internet (where the upload speeds on a 200-megabit-per-second plan might only go as high as 10Mbps), you know how dramatic a difference that can make. This is particularly important at a time when many more people are working and schooling from home, and those upload speeds (which are crucial for videoconferencing and transferring large files) become more and more important.
Verizon High Speed Internet plans and pricing
Not all addresses within Verizon’s availability map can get fiber service. In fact, according to a December 2019 report from the Federal Communications Commission — the most recent data on record — just over 64% of Verizon’s potential customer base is eligible. That same report shows that 87% within Verizon’s footprint qualify for its High Speed Internet, a digital subscriber line service. DSL uses traditional copper telephone lines to deliver the internet to your home, but unlike the older dial-up technology, it uses dedicated, higher frequency bands than phone lines, so you can still make calls while you’re online.
That said, DSL doesn’t deliver anywhere near the Fios plans’ speeds, and Verizon’s DSL service also uses asymmetric technology, which emphasizes download over upload speeds. As such, expect the download speeds with Verizon DSL internet plans to range from 1-15Mbps, based on how close your home is to its closest office, for $75 a month. That includes a phone connection/voice service, which is required for DSL. Additionally, customers must either purchase a router from Verizon (a $30 one-time charge) or use their own Verizon-compatible device.
Finally, while Verizon calls this High Speed Internet, it’s important to note those speeds do not meet the FCC’s qualifications for broadband speed of at least 25Mbps download and 3Mbps upload (which we think is more like the bare minimum for most circumstances).
Verizon LTE Home Internet plans and prices
Verizon’s LTE Home Internet uses the Verizon 4G LTE cellular network to connect to the internet in areas where no other Verizon broadband options — Fios, DSL or 5G Home Internet — are available. Currently, per Verizon, that’s 189 markets in 48 different states.
As for what to expect with LTE Home Internet, customers should expect to see download speeds of 25-50Mbps at max, with average speeds of 5-12Mbps download and 2-5Mbps upload, per the Verizon LTE FAQs.
Pricing for Verizon LTE Home Internet is $60 a month, or $40 a month if you have a qualifying, active Verizon wireless plan. The router will cost you either $240 upfront or $10 a month for 24 months. Currently, there’s a limited-time offer available where Verizon will give customers a $10 credit on their bill if they opt for the 24-month, monthly payment plan on the router, essentially giving customers the router for free.
Verizon 5G Home Internet plans and pricing
At the time of writing, Verizon’s 5G internet service, which uses ultrawideband 5G technology, is available in 40 markets across the country. It advertises max download speeds of up to 1 gigabit (1,000Mbps) and average speeds around 300Mbps. Upload speeds, however, are not symmetrical, typically topping out around 50Mbps, depending on one’s location.
Pricing for Verizon 5G Home Internet is $70 a month, or $50 a month for Verizon wireless customers. It’s an all-in price that includes equipment, and like all other Verizon plans, there are no contracts or data caps.
When will Verizon be available in my area?
Beyond the services available in its Northeast market, Verizon is also carving out other options for customers across the country. In March, Verizon shared with CNET its goal that its 5G home internet service will be available to 15 million homes within the next year. The company also aims to expand its fixed wireless internet services to 30 million homes by the close of 2023.
Are there other aspects of Verizon Internet you should know?
No contracts are required for any Verizon plans — and no data caps, either. But just as your mom taught you to always look under the hood, it’s still never a bad idea to dig in a bit to get a better idea of what it is you’re buying before you commit to any potential internet service.
Additional monthly fees
Depending on the plan you choose, you’ll be charged a monthly equipment fee. There’s a $15-a-month router charge for Fios plans, but that gets waived when you sign up for the Fios Gigabit service. If you don’t have that top-tier Fios plan, you could also avoid that monthly charge by buying the Fios Router outright for $300 or by using your own router. Just make sure it’s compatible with your plan and speed.
As we mentioned above, DSL customers are required to get a home phone plan, which means there’s a one-time $30 charge for buying a router. You can avoid that fee if you have your own compatible router. On the other hand, Verizon LTE customers will need to pay $240 for their cellular gateway device, though you also have the option of spreading that out as 24 monthly payments of $10. Verizon 5G customers don’t have to pay for their equipment at all, as everything comes included in the monthly price.
One-time installation fee
Again, your setup charge will depend on the type of Verizon plan you select. If you choose Fios, your setup charge will be $99, which is waived if you order online; the activation fee for DSL is $30 and is also waived if you order online.
No Verizon data caps
Unlike Cox, HughesNet, Xfinity and some other internet providers, Verizon does not place a data cap on customers. Therefore, you won’t need to worry about overage fees or slowing your data once you hit a certain threshold.
Does Verizon offer any special deals?
Verizon can lean into the fact that you’re not required to sign a term agreement, which means no early termination fees or getting stuck with a service you’ve either outgrown or need to downsize. But there are also a host of offers to help sweeten the deal for potential customers.
Through Sept. 21, 2021, if you sign up for the Fios Gigabit service, you can get Disney Plus for free for a year.
If you select the Fios 400 or Gigabit plan, you also receive a fourth-gen Amazon Echo Dot.
With all Fios plans, there’s also the opportunity to save an additional $10 to $20 a month if you combine your internet signup with enrollment in Verizon Unlimited Wireless.
Lastly, Verizon also offers a program called Fios Forward, which makes the same three Fios plans available to households who qualify for financial assistance (for example, those who are enrolled in the federal Lifeline program). Through this program, customers might be able to save $20 a month on Fios plans.
How does Verizon Fios fare on customer service?
Over nearly the last decade, Verizon has consistently been at the top in customer service metrics. When you look at the 2021 American Customer Satisfaction Index numbers, it was again in the number one spot — although it finished in a tie this year with competitor AT&T, each scoring 71 points out of 100. 2021 was also the first time in over four years that Verizon’s numbers were down from the previous year, albeit by just two points. Still, that marks six years running that Verizon has been at the top spot in ACSI’s ISP benchmarks.
In addition to that, Verizon currently holds the top overall average score in J.D. Power’s latest ISP customer satisfaction ranks, though it’s worth pointing out that the company was only scored in one out of four regions. In that region, the East, Verizon finished in a commanding first place, scoring 769 points on a 1,000-point scale. That put the company well above the region’s average of 727 and earned it a tie for the highest score across the entire country (again, with AT&T, which also scored 769 in the South region). In fact, Verizon has nabbed the top spot in the East region of J.D. Power’s study for eight years running.
The speed-testing website Ookla tracks ISPs based on a scoring system that looks at both download and upload speeds. Based on the most recent Ookla tests from the first quarter of 2021, Verizon nabbed the top spot over Cox, with Xfinity, Spectrum and AT&T trailing a fair amount.
Similarly, during that same period, Verizon took first place with the lowest latency among top providers. The only surprise came in Ookla’s Consistency Score category, which measures how often an ISP delivers broadband speeds to its customers. Here, Verizon placed second with a score of 87.4%, trailing Spectrum’s 88.3%.
What’s the bottom line?
Verizon can boast that its Fios service is 100% fiber — and as internet connection types go, it’s tough to beat fiber. On top of that, Verizon can turn to its high customer satisfaction ratings and shout about its consistency at the top of those charts. All true. But the availability of Verizon’s fiber plans is mostly limited to those in the Northeast, the company’s LTE and DSL plans are nothing exceptional, and there’s still a large portion of people across the country to whom Verizon isn’t available at all.
Verizon’s 5G home internet expansion aims to bridge that gap and is well-worth keeping an eye on, but that expansion may take some significant time. Until then, Verizon Fios is a top-notch option for getting online, but if it’s not available in your area, the question is moot.