- Richmond is surprisingly well-connected for a mid-sized city. Most RVA residents have at least two wired options, including Fiber, traditional Cable, and DSL. The 90th percentile average Internet speed in Richmond is 97.26 Mbps.
- In spite of the wide selection of providers, Richmond residents report that options are often more limited in apartment complexes — especially those that offer “all inclusive” Internet packaged with rent. Newcomers should verify their options with local Internet providers directly before signing a lease.
Best Residential Internet Providers
Home Internet isn’t one-size-fits-all. Picking the right provider means considering where you sit on the spectrum between price and quality.
Even if the fastest “gigabit” speeds are available at your address, a more modest plan in the 50–200 Mbps range is likely a more realistic choice, at a more realistic price point.
Verizon Fios - Top Pick
- Pricing: $3999 - $7999
- Max Down: 940 Mbps
- Max Up: 880 Mbps
Fios is the premium option in RVA, offering speeds in the 100–1,000 Mbps range and a Netflix-friendly unlimited data use policy. Their network offers the best last-mile service and is a good pick for streamers, gamers, and home offices.
XFINITY from Comcast - Runner Up
- Pricing: $2999 - $9295
- Max Down: 987 Mbps
- Max Up: 35 Mbps
We often recommend Comcast Xfinity to customers who value performance over price, as Xfinity’s cable network delivers much better performance overall than DSL alternatives in the area. Their x1 TV platform makes a nice bundle option for TV fans, and integrates with cord cutter options like Netflix.
Residential Internet Providers Available in Richmond
Richmond has plenty of options for households that don’t fit the “average” mold, especially if you consider wireless and limited-use options.
Below is a full list of Internet service providers currently serving customers within Richmond city limits.
Keep in mind that these providers aren’t available at every address, and some only serve specific neighborhoods.
|$4999+|| 100% |
|$3000+|| 100% |
|$2999+|| 98% |
|$3999+|| 82% |
|$2499+|| 73% |
|$5000+|| 8% |
Best Business Internet Providers
Business Internet is another can of worms entirely, and not for the faint-of-heart when it comes to pricing. However, the higher price tag comes with a much higher quality of service and often service level agreements. Blazing upload speeds, low ping, and reliability are critical to supporting operational needs like VoIP, internal communications, sales teams, and everything else you might need to set up shop in RVA.
Local reputation, reliability, and bandwidth are our top criteria when it comes to selecting business Internet.
XFINITY from Comcast - Business Pick
- Max Down: 987 Mbps
- Max Up: 35 Mbps
Comcast Business is the “best of both worlds” provider in the area, combining affordable entry-level plans with enterprise features that are highly scalable. Comcast Business is generally our top recommendation for medium-sized businesses that anticipate steady growth, and the connectivity needs that come with it.
Business Internet Providers Available in Richmond
Here’s a full list of business Internet providers available in the area. When comparing options, be sure to consider installation costs and technical support costs carefully before you sign a contract.
|$6999+|| 100% |
|$9999+|| 100% |
|$6995+|| 97% |
|N/A|| 76% |
|$6499+|| 81% |
|N/A|| 22% |
|N/A|| 6% |
|N/A|| 8% |
Map of Broadband Internet Competition in Richmond
Richmond is well-connected overall, but connectivity isn’t always distributed equally between neighborhoods.
Expanding broadband service to new addresses is expensive for providers, particularly when those address are in less densely-populated areas or already served by another provider.
Both factors result in lower revenue for the provider, and that has discouraged network expansion in Richmond’s outlying Northside and Southside neighborhoods, among other underserved areas of the city.
Provider Competition Map
Internet Speeds in Richmond
In neighborhoods served by Fios gigabit service, overall speeds in Richmond are pretty zippy — well over 500 Gbps download and upload. In neighborhoods where only cable or DSL service is available, speeds tend to fall in the 25–200 Mbps range.
The average speed we found in Richmond is 40.72 Mbps, according to our analysis of the trailing months speed test data.
|Average Speed||90th Percentile Speed|
|40.72 Mbps||97.26 Mbps|
Average Residential download speeds within Richmond
Top Factors to Consider When Shopping for Internet Service in Richmond
The Internet service market is full of marketing jargon and inflated advertising claims that make it tricky to really understand what you’re comparing.
In Richmond, we found two “gotchas” to watch out for when comparing Internet plans: data caps and modem rental fees.
Both can add hundreds of dollars to your Internet costs over a 1–2 year contract. Unsurprisingly, they’re both buried in the fine print where the provider hopes you won’t notice them.
What are data caps? They’re pretty much what they sound like: a “cap” on the amount of data you’re allowed to use. Use too much, and you’ll wind up paying a steep overage fee on top of your monthly bill.
Verizon Fios doesn’t have data caps at the time of this writing, which is a large part of why we recommend them for home Internet in RVA. This makes them particularly good for “cord cutters” who prefer streaming on Netflix to a traditional cable TV subscription.
Comcast currently caps customers at a terabyte per month. While this is a huge amount of data and more than enough for 99% of people, it can become a problem for large households that do a lot of streaming, uploading, and gaming.
Modem Rental Fees
Renting a modem/router “gateway” unit along with your Internet plan is standard practice among Internet providers in Richmond. For short-term customers, or those who don’t want to hassle with setting up their own equipment, it’s not a bad deal.
However, the $10/month average fee quickly adds up to hundreds of dollars over the span of a 1–2 year contract. We recommend that you consider buying your own, since the up-front cost of $40–100 will quickly pay for itself.
Comcast makes it relatively easy to use your own equipment, with a list of compatible brands and models on their site and over-the-phone self installation as a standard option.
Verizon Fios offers to sell you their Verizon-branded gateway device when they sign up, but it’s a bit more complex to use a third-party router. The details are covered in our Verizon Fios review.
Broadband access in Richmond is a tale of two cities: well-connected central neighborhoods and disconnected outlying neighborhoods. However, local initiatives are working to shrink the digital divide and make Internet access a reality for all Richmond residents.
Local Government Initiatives and Low-Income Internet Subsidies
Richmond’s local government has taken a proactive stance on expanding broadband infrastructure. The Department of Information Technology has been active for 35+ years and continually works to encourage competition and smart development in the area.
While access is often limited in low-income areas, residents that meet certain income and housing criteria have access to low-cost “basic access” plans thanks to public/private partnerships and subsidies.
Broadband Roadblocks in Richmond
Many would cite the Virginia as the birthplace of the Internet, thanks to 1969’s ARPNET project at the Pentagon. Today, a staggering 70% of the world’s Internet traffic passes just north of Richmond in Northern Virginia’s sprawling broadband industry.
In spite of this gloried history, much of Richmond’s low-income and rural areas remain underserved — or cut off from broadband access altogether. As of 2016, a Chamber of Commerce study reported that only 29.8% of African-American households in Richmond had broadband access. Meanwhile, the city as a whole enjoys a relatively high 77.4% access percentage.
The forces driving limited access in Richmond are unfortunately relatively straightforward: providers are incentivized to focus on densely-populated middle-class areas because they generate the most revenue. Meanwhile, public/private partnerships or taxpayer-funded projects like municipal broadband have been slow to develop in Central Virginia due to resistance from lobbyists and local lawmakers.
Overall, Richmond’s Internet infrastructure situation brings to mind a quote from sci-fi author William Gibson: “The future is already here —it’s just not evenly distributed yet.”
Richmond, like many mid-sized east coast cities, is experiencing rapid tech industry growth.
A variety of tech giants from Tumblr to CarMax have set up offices in Richmond, thanks to the low cost of living, high quality of broadband access, and creative/engineering talent pool from local universities. It’s expected that continued growth of tech-reliant businesses will encourage broadband competition in the area and incentivize the local government to facilitate future-facing technologies.
We’ve reached out to the Richmond Mayor’s Office, Economic Development organizations, and Department of Information Technology for commentary on the future of broadband access in Richmond. We’ll update this page with their insights in the near future.
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.