Five internet technologies are available in Boston.
Number of Options
While there are exceptions, fiber internet tends to offer the best performance, followed by cable, then DSL. Fixed wireless internet uses cellular technology to deliver internet to buildings. Performance varies substantially between locations and providers.
Historically, satellite internet has had lackluster performance and high latency. Next-generation satellite internet from providers like Starlink and Project Kuiper will bring big changes. These providers will use constellations of thousands of satellites that are closer to earth than satellites used by old-school satellite internet providers. I expect Starlink service will be available in nearly all of the United States soon, but I don't have up-to-date information about availability in Boston.
Availability Estimates In Boston
Availability estimates indicate the percent of residents in Boston eligible for each service. The estimates are rough and sometimes inaccurate.
Getting The Best Deal On Internet
Internet providers often charge a customer $10-$15 per month to rent a modem and router. However, most companies allow customers to bring their own equipment and skip the rental fees. For those who are slightly tech savvy and plan to keep service for a year or more, I recommend saving money by buying your own modem and router.
What Does "Fastest" Mean?
Coverage Critic combines download and upload speeds to determine the fastest internet option in Boston. While this approach is simple, it's not perfect. Depending on your situation, you may prefer additional upload speed over additional download speed (or vice versa). In Boston, Verizon Fios is deemed the fastest internet option, but Verizon Fios does not lead in both download and upload speeds.
Should I Choose The Fastest Internet?
Maybe. Speed is often overrated. Beyond a threshold of roughly 50Mbps, most people won't notice tangible benefits as speeds increase. Consumers who regularly download video games and other large files are exceptions and may see significant improvements with ultra-fast connections.
Most internet providers offer multiple plans with different maximum speeds. Plans with higher speeds tend to be more expensive. Consumers who don't regularly use the internet for data-intensive activities will usually come out ahead by opting for cheap internet plans with lower speeds.
I have financial relationships with many internet service providers. Details can be found on my transparency page. I try to list every internet service provider with non-trivial availability in Boston, regardless of whether I have a financial relationship. I only link directly to internet providers I have financial relationships with, but I encourage visitors to manually navigate to the websites of other internet providers.
The lack of links to some providers makes Coverage Critic less user-friendly. On the other hand, it helps me to preserve editorial integrity without destroying internet service providers' incentives to partner with me.
Sources & Accuracy
Coverage Critic's database of internet service providers is a work in progress. The underlying data was collected by the FCC through Form 477. Listed speeds are the maximum advertised speeds in Boston. In rare cases, subscribers may receive speeds faster than the highest advertised speeds. More often, subscribers will experience speeds below the maximum advertised speeds.
Last updated: November 11, 2021
1. The shading shows the number of residential internet service providers advertising speeds of at least 25Mbps down and 3Mbps up in each census block. Sometimes, internet providers only offer service to a subset of the residences in a census block. 🠕
2. Estimates may be particularly unreliable in cases where availability is substantially below 100%. I expect the availability estimates to improve in quality over time. 🠕
3. I don't list internet service providers that are predicted to have less than 2% availability Boston. Additionally, at the moment, I mainly list internet service providers, but I hope to eventually make recommendations. While I will never be impartial, I don't want financial relationships to be a prerequisite for a recommendation. 🠕