- While some cities count themselves lucky to have just one fiber provider, Austin residents have their choice of three widely available fiber networks. (Google Fiber, Grande Communications, and AT&T fiber in select areas.)
- Austin also has a variety of budget-friendly cable and DSL options. Charter Spectrum and AT&T Internet in particular offer coverage to most neighborhoods.
- We consider Austin to be a “gigabit” city, at least in the central areas served by fiber providers. Austin has a highly competitive and innovative home Internet and business broadband market compared to other major cities in Texas.
Best Residential Internet Providers
When we’re picking home Internet, we follow a simple rule: get fiber.
…If fiber isn’t available, get cable. If cable isn’t available, get DSL. Finally, consider wireless if you’re in a remote area with no real wired options.
In Austin, Google Fiber and Grande compete aggressively on price, speed, and quality of service, resulting in some pretty impressive deals from either provider.
Google Fiber - Top Pick
- Pricing: $5000 - $7000
- Max Down: 1,000 Mbps
- Max Up: 1,000 Mbps
Google Fiber is the gold standard of fiber Internet connections in Austin. Gigabit speeds, unlimited data and streaming, friendly customer service, and a fresh new network all make Google hard to ignore.
Grande Communications - Runner Up
- Pricing: $2999 - $6999
- Max Down: 400 Mbps
- Max Up: 20 Mbps
Grande Communications is the underdog of cable and fiber networks in the area, but they’re well-liked by locals who swear by them over more corporate DSL and cable alternatives. Their service is a good pick for family homes that need fast speeds and flexible TV options.
Residential Internet Providers Available in Austin
Austin is packed with Internet plan options, from regional “Mom and Pops” to nationwide corporate groups. Here is the full rundown on providers according to our latest data.
Keep in mind that while Austin as a whole has many providers, your specific neighborhood may have fewer options. Some of these providers offer coverage throughout the city, while others only serve a tiny percentage.
|$4999+|| 100% |
|$3000+|| 100% |
|$4499+|| 99% |
|$4000+|| 98% |
|$4995+|| 89% |
|$6995+|| 84% |
|$6495+|| 77% |
|$2995+|| 22% |
|$2999+|| 18% |
|$5000+|| 17% |
|$4499+|| 7% |
|$4998+|| 3% |
Best Business Internet Providers
Symmetrical upload/download speeds are a must-have for many businesses. Thanks to all the fiber coverage in Austin, this service is available at reasonable rates compared to other cities in Texas.
Rise Broadband - Business Pick
- Max Down: 15 Mbps
- Max Up: 3.0 Mbps
Rise Broadband supplies compelling and highly customizable business packages that are particularly well suited to medium-sized businesses that need an affordable plan with flexibility to handle rapid growth.
Business Internet Providers Available in Austin
Business broadband service isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation. Here’s the full list of providers so you can check which are available at your business location.
|$6999+|| 98% |
|$9999+|| 100% |
|$9999+|| 100% |
|$5000+|| 93% |
|$8995+|| 92% |
|$6995+|| 84% |
|$11995+|| 79% |
|$4995+|| 24% |
|N/A|| 17% |
|$7000+|| 12% |
|$7000+|| 11% |
|N/A|| 7% |
|N/A|| 6% |
|N/A|| 8% |
|N/A|| 6% |
|$4998+|| 7% |
|N/A|| 4% |
|N/A|| 5% |
Map of Broadband Internet Competition in Austin
Like many cities in Texas, Austin tends to spread out rather than build up. The wide and diverse metro area makes for a unique situation when it comes to Internet access.
In the long term, fiber providers like Google Fiber are aiming to expand fiber networks to the entire city, regardless of population density and income levels. For now, it’s primarily available in South, Southeast, and central neighborhoods. AT&T is a bit patchier, available in Cedar Park and a few other neighborhoods.
Charter Spectrum cable and AT&T DSL fill in the gaps, and for most residential customers you’ll be choosing between one of those providers.
Provider Competition Map
Internet Speeds in Austin
The top download and upload speeds available in Austin vary widely depending on neighborhood. Thanks to all the fiber competition in the area, gigabit speeds in the 500–1000 Gbps range are available in many areas. Outside fiber service, cable and DSL usually maxes out around 100–300 Mbps download and 35 Mbps upload.
|Average Speed||90th Percentile Speed|
|69.3 Mbps||180.55 Mbps|
Average Residential download speeds within Austin
Top Factors to Consider When Shopping for Internet Service in Austin
Some of the biggest questions for Internet users in Austin come down to contract length vs speed and savings.
Contracts and Early Termination Agreements
The faster and cheaper the Internet plan, the more likely that it’ll come with a 1–2 year contract. This is particularly true for cable and DSL service in the Austin area, although Charter Spectrum has been changing that lately after buying the Time Warner Cable networks popular in many Austin neighborhoods.
Whatever plan you get, be sure to carefully consider the contract length. If you’re a permanent resident, locking in a 2-year price isn’t a bad idea. If you’re a renter, it comes with a bit more risk. Also be sure to check the “final price” vs the “promotional price” that you’ll pay during that period.
Router and Modem Leasing Fees
Most of the providers available in Austin will offer to lease or rent a modem/router gateway unit with your service. While the $5–10 per month appears modest, it does add up over time.
We recommend that new customers consider buying their own modem and/or router to save money in the long run. That said, the setup with some fiber providers in Austin is a bit more complex.
Google Fiber, for example, includes a “Network Box” with your monthly fee, and you’ll have to attach your own router on top of it if you want to access advanced features or extend your home network.
Austin Tech Scene and Innovation Economy
Thanks to SXSW Interactive, Austin is strongly associated with innovation and cutting-edge tech.
What attendees of the annual tech fest might not realize is that the city is actually one of the largest tech centers in the country in its own right, with a tech workforce measure in the hundreds of thousands.
Downtown and North Austin are the most popular spots for well-funded startups, although you really can’t throw a rock without hitting a bootstrapped startup no matter where you are in Austin.
There are a variety of co-working spaces and tech accelerators to choose from in every neighborhood, including some names techies will recognize like Capital Factory and Techstars. A full list of incubators is available at the Austin Startup List.
Local Government and Additional Information
Texas is one of a handful of states that directly outlaw municipal broadband networks. Austin has worked around this problem by creating pro-competition agreements between the city and providers to encourage growth rather than monopolies — most notably through the Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund.
This program, active since 1995, set out with the goal of making fast, reliable broadband a reality for residences and businesses throughout Austin. Thanks to franchise arrangements, public right-of-way policies for fiber, and the development of public/private networks like the Greater Austin Area Telecommunications Network and Austin Free Net, that goal has for the most part been achieved.
Some other successful broadband and tech initiatives include the Austin Free-Net system and the Austin Technology Incubator.
Broadband Roadblocks in Austin
The broadband system isn’t perfect in Austin by any means. For many customers in outlying neighborhoods and less affluent areas, there is often only one real wired broadband option. That means customers don’t have the choice of switching providers if they don’t like their service or pricing. Throughout the US, this problem of broadband monopolies in particular neighborhoods and buildings has driven huge public resentment against the big corporations in the business.
Since municipal broadband is not legal in the state of Texas, Austin relies on pro-competition policies that allow ISPs to enter the same markets and compete for customers. They’ve been successful at this compared to other cities, but there’s still much room for improvement when it comes to connecting low-density neighborhoods.
We’ve reached out to representatives at Austin’s Mayor’s Office, Department of Information Technology, and several other tech-related offices in public service. We will update this page with their insights and commentary as soon as possible.
In the meantime, if you are working on a broadband initiative in the Austin area and would like to tell us about it, please drop a line via our contact page. We’d love to hear about your project and include it on this page if it will add value for our readers.
References and Footnotes
Ana De Castro
Ana De Castro cut her teeth as a SAP consultant for Deloitte during the original tech boom, and now works in a communications role in the telecom industry. When she isn’t explaining technical concepts to confused consumers, she enjoys traveling with her husband and two rambunctious kids.
James Webb is a tech and gadgets expert with a focus on educational content development. He draws on his background in the startup world to make complicated technologies and topics easy to understand for normal folks.