I have a deep affinity for Denver. I was born there and will forever be a Broncos fan because of my time spent living near the Rocky Mountains. My bias for the Mile High City runs deep. But when the country’s 19th most populous metro could only manage to place in the bottom 10 among the country’s fastest cities for broadband, that’s not good.
The company Ookla, known for its Speedtest, keeps tabs on the top 100 metros in the US and ranks them for median download speeds, based on data gleaned from the countless speed tests run by the site’s users. Based on Ookla’s Q1 2022 report, Denver limped into 92nd place with a median download speed of 116 megabits per second. That’s the slowest median speed of any of the cities CNET has covered thus far, including the smaller cities of Austin (208Mbps), Charlotte (205Mbps), Orlando (151Mbps) and St. Louis (178Mbps).
One major reason for Denver’s lower median speeds is the lack of faster fiber connections throughout the metro area. Yes, you can get fiber service in Colorado’s capital city, but one of the main providers, CenturyLink, is just as likely to only have DSL service at many addresses as it is its Quantum Fiber offering. That said, decent speeds are also available from Comcast’s cable internet service, Xfinity, which also has a wide footprint in the area.
Denver also has a variety of fixed wireless solutions, including 5G home internet options, to help get Coloradans connected. To help you sort out the choices you may have in the Mile High City, here’s what you need to know about the best internet service providers in Denver.
- Price range: $49 to $65 a month
- Speed range: 200 to 940Mbps
- Highlights: Unlimited data, no contracts, equipment included with gigabit tier
CenturyLink’s fiber service, which has been branded Quantum Fiber in some areas (but not all, which is confusing, I know), is one of the few fiber providers in the greater Denver area. Buyer beware, though: Just because your address is serviceable for CenturyLink doesn’t ensure you’re serviceable for the company’s fiber service. Its DSL service still makes up approximately three-quarters of its coverage map, per the Federal Communication Commission’s most recent figures (though, admittedly, those numbers are from December of 2020).
But for those eligible for CenturyLink’s fiber service — which includes the Denver metro area, but predominantly Aurora, just to the east, and the northern suburbs of Commerce City and Thornton — you can expect one of the most affordable internet plans in the area. For example, at $65 per month, the fiber gigabit plan offers very good value at 7 cents per megabit-per-second, plus your gateway device is included (which is an additional $15 a month for customers of the 200Mbps plan).
True, you don’t get the diversity of options you might see from other providers. There are only two plans from which to choose, the high-value gigabit plan or the 200Mbps tier (which is $49 in some areas, $50 in others, but either way is around 25 cents per Mbps, which isn’t anything special). But CenturyLink still scores points here because fiber service is scarce in Denver. It’s tough to beat the symmetrical download and upload speeds it provides, and CenturyLink additionally boasts no contracts and unlimited data.
Read our CenturyLink home internet review.
- Price range: $20 to $300 a month
- Speed range: 50 to 3,000Mbps
- Highlights: Decent customer satisfaction numbers, a variety of plan options
- Special offers: Bundle discounts, free Peacock Premium
While CenturyLink’s fiber offerings are confined to two flavors (200Mbps and 1 Gig), Comcast’s cable internet service, Xfinity, gives customers a wider range of options, including seven different plans. You can get a cheap internet plan for $20 a month (50Mbps) or you can go bold with a 3,000Mbps plan, though that’ll cost you a pretty penny — $300 a month, one of the most expensive home internet plans we’ve seen at CNET. Xfinity’s Gigabit plan (at 1,200Mbps) is actually faster than CenturyLink’s (940Mbps), but it’s also more expensive, and as a cable connection, doesn’t feature symmetrical upload speeds.
While CenturyLink can be found throughout the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood metro area, you might be rolling the dice on whether you’re looking at DSL service or the more desirable fiber connection. Xfinity, on the other hand, features all plan offerings in all locations throughout Broncos Country. That means whether you’re as far north as Broomfield and Boulder, or ranging south of the city from Centennial to Castle Rock, you can get connected with Xfinity.
The biggest caveats here are the contracts and caps. To get the best monthly rates on your home internet plan, you’ll be required to sign a term agreement (typically for 12 months, but the Gigabit Pro plan requires a full two-year contract). Also, Xfinity places a data cap on its customers of 1.2 terabytes per month. While that’s more than double the 536 gigabytes the average US household used at the end of 2021 (per Open Vault’s quarterly findings), it might be a bit of a squeeze on those with a home full of connected devices.
Read our Xfinity home internet review.
- Price range: $15 to $80 a month
- Speed range: 50 to 1,000Mbps
- Highlights: Free installation and no data caps, no contracts and no additional fee for equipment
- Special offers: Happy Interneting Guarantee, a policy that pledges a full refund to customers if they’re not satisfied and decide to cancel within the first month of service
Starry has garnered some buzz and headlines already in 2022. In late March, Starry became a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange. Shortly after that, it was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential Companies of 2022. Not a bad way to kick off the year.
Starry uses a millimeter-wave, fixed wireless technology similar to 5G to deliver broadband internet service to households (especially, but not exclusively, apartment complexes). Most customers will be eligible for the 200Mbps plan for $50 a month, though some might also have access to Starry Gigabit, an $80-a-month plan that features 1,000Mbps download speeds and 500Mbps upload.
Starry is available throughout the Denver metro area, including Alamo Placita, Cherry Hills, Englewood, Glendale, Highlands Square and Holly Hills neighborhoods. It also features a low-cost internet program called Starry Connect, which gives broadband access to residents in public and affordable housing (a $15-a-month plan for 30Mbps symmetrical speeds). Starry Connect has local partnerships with the Denver Housing Authority, Englewood Housing Authority and Aurora Public Schools.
Read our Starry Internet review.
Overview of Denver internet providers
|CenturyLink||Google Fiber Webpass||Rise Broadband||Starry||Xfinity|
|Internet technology||DSL/fiber||Fixed wireless||Fixed wireless||Fixed wireless||Cable|
|Monthly price range||$49-$65||$63-$70||$25-$75||$15-$80||$20-$300|
|Monthly equipment costs||$15 (skippable)||None||$10 modem; $5-$15 router (skippable)||None||$14 (skippable)|
|Data cap||None||None||250GB or Unlimited||None||1.2TB|
|Contract||None||None||None, but required for some promotions||None||1 year|
|CNET review score||6.7||7.4||6.2||N/A||7|
Can you find other internet providers in Denver?
The Denver-Aurora-Lakewood metro area has additional internet service providers beyond our top three picks. Here are some of your other ISP options.
- Google Fiber Webpass: This is Google Fiber’s fixed-wireless solution that’s very similar to Starry Internet. It’s focused on apartment buildings and offers a high-speed service that’s one plan only: symmetrical gigabit speeds for $70 a month (or $63 a month with a yearly plan). Similar to its Google Fiber offering, Webpass features free installation and requires no contracts and no equipment fees. Not as widely available in the Mile High City as Starry Internet, Webpass can be found at select addresses located mainly in the Highland, River North Art District and West Colfax areas.
- Rise Broadband: Though you can find some availability within city limits for this fixed wireless provider, it’s a likelier solution for the more suburban and rural areas of the Denver metro area, including Evergreen to the west and Parker to the south. You can expect to see speeds as high as 50Mbps and some unlimited data options too, so Rise Broadband is a viable option in rural areas where satellite may be the main competition.
- Satellite internet: No matter where you live in the US, satellite internet is an option. Is it your best option? Probably not, especially if you live within Denver city limits. There are going to be cheaper and faster plans available. But if you’re in the more rural outskirts of the Mile High City (I’m thinking Highlands Ranch, Roxborough Park, Sedalia and the like), then you might seriously consider this mode as a way of being connected. HughesNet and Viasat, which both require two-year contract commitments, are your two most likely choices, while Starlink, which currently has the Denver area on a waitlist (per the Starlink availability map), might be an attractive alternative in 2023.
- T-Mobile Home Internet: This fixed wireless solution from T-Mobile makes use of the carrier’s 4G LTE and 5G networks to provide cellular internet coverage for your home. The mobile carrier has been aggressively pushing its $50-per-month service this year and T-Mobile recently announced new perks of a price-lock guarantee and a $20 discount for eligible Magenta Max customers. It’s appealingly straightforward — no contracts, no equipment or setup fees and no data caps. While T-Mobile Home Internet is available throughout the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood metro area, you’ll need to check your address on the T-Mobile site to determine if you’re eligible for home internet service.
- Ting Internet: This fiber internet provider is local to the south Denver suburb of Centennial. It caters to those looking for superfast and reliable internet service, featuring a symmetrical 1,000Mbps plan for $89 a month. There’s also an affordable option at $19 per month for symmetrical 5Mbps speeds. Equipment rental is $9 per month or a one-time fee of $199. If you’re interested in preordering service because Ting is not yet available in your neighborhood, the company requires a $9 deposit, which will be credited back on your first month’s bill (or refunded if Ting does not ultimately come to your area).
- Verizon 5G Home Internet: Verizon’s 5G fixed wireless home internet product has a higher average download speed (300Mbps) than T-Mobile Home Internet and subscribes to a similar “everything’s included in one price” approach — installation, equipment and fees for $50 a month. On top of that, eligible Verizon Wireless customers can get a 50% discount to boot!
What else do you need to know about Denver home internet?
Beyond an overview of the internet service providers in Denver, there are more specific details about the types of internet plans you can get in the Mile High City. Let’s take a look at the cheapest internet in Denver, as well as the fastest internet plans you can find.
Home internet pricing in Denver
If you take a look at the promo prices for all providers (and not the regular rates that kick in after 12 months), the average starting price for internet service in Denver is approximately $39 per month. That’s pretty good. It puts Coloradans’ beloved “Cow Town” near the front of the line of other cities CNET has covered thus far, including Brooklyn ($36 a month), Los Angeles ($38 a month), San Francisco ($40 a month), New York City ($41 per month), Austin ($43 a month) and, all at $50 a month, Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Orlando, San Diego and St. Louis.
Regarding specific plans, the lowest starting price belongs to Starry Connect, which offers a low-income internet plan of 30Mbps for only $15 a month. However, that’s only available to eligible public and affordable housing complexes. For everyone else, the cheapest internet plan you can find in Denver is Xfinity’s Connect plan, which features 50Mbps download speeds for $20 per month. Granted, that price jumps to $50 after your first year, but your contract expires at that point too, so you can consider other options (or negotiate with your provider) before committing to that plan at the higher price.
Lastly, when it comes to cheap internet, and in particular, low-income internet options, you should be aware that all the providers we’ve listed are also participating in the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program. It provides a $30 a month discount to eligible low-income households for affordable, high-speed internet. The ACP can go towards any internet plan (not just lower-tiered offerings) from participating providers. Recently, 20 providers partnered with the White House on its digital divide initiatives, and vowed to offer plans of at least 100Mbps that customers could ultimately get for free when paired with the ACP.
What’s the cheapest internet in Denver?
|Provider||Starting monthly price||Standard monthly price||Max download speed||Monthly equipment fee||Contract|
|Ting Internet||$20||5Mbps||5Mbps||$9 or $199 one-time purchase||None|
|Xfinity||$20||$50||50Mbps||$14 (skippable)||1 year|
|Rise Broadband||$25||$35||25Mbps||$10 modem; $5-$15 router (skippable)||None, but required for some promotions|
|HughesNet||$45||$65||25Mbps||$15 or $450 one-time purchase||2 years|
|T-Mobile Home Internet||$50||$50||182Mbps||None||None|
|Verizon 5G Home Internet||$50||$50||300Mbps||None||None|
|Viasat||$50||$70||12Mbps||$13 or $299 one-time purchase||2 years|
|Google Fiber Webpass||$70 ($63 with year commitment)||$70 ($63 with year commitment)||1,000Mbps||None||None|
Internet speeds in Denver
When it comes to internet speeds, “Cow Town” is almost too appropriate. As we mentioned up top, Denver didn’t fare well on its median download internet speeds, in comparison to other top US cities. For example, there’s only one multi-gigabit provider within the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood metro area — Xfinity’s Gigabit Pro plan, which is not widely available. Additionally, Ookla’s speed test data shows Xfinity as Denver’s fastest provider, but its median download speed of approximately 152Mbps is also near the bottom among America’s top 100 cities.
What are the fastest internet plans in Denver?
|Provider||Starting monthly price||Max download speed||Max upload speed||Data cap||Contract|
|Xfinity Gigabit Pro||$300||3,000Mbps||3,000Mbps||1.2TB||2 years|
|Xfinity Gigabit||$80||1,200Mbps||35Mbps||1.2TB||1 year|
|Ting Internet||$89||1,000Mbps||1,000Mbps||$9 or $199 one-time purchase||None|
|Google Fiber Webpass||70 ($63 with year commitment)||1,000Mbps||1,000Mbps||None||None|
What’s the verdict on Denver internet?
While you can certainly find ways to get connected in Denver, there isn’t the same multitude of options available here as you might find in some other big cities across the country. Xfinity’s cable internet — and the seven different plans it offers — are probably going to be your top option, but if your address is serviceable for CenturyLink’s fiber offering (and make sure it’s fiber, not the DSL service), make that your first choice.
Denver internet FAQs
Which provider has the best internet service in Denver?
We say it all the time, but it’s true — the best internet service for you depends on what’s available at your address. When you consider the whole of the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood metro area, you might lean towards Xfinity, since it’s the most widely available and offers the greatest variety of plan options. But for residents who are serviceable for CenturyLink’s fiber internet (particularly its very affordable gigabit plan), that provider’s likely going to win your vote as “Denver’s best.”
Are there fiber internet providers in Denver?
Yes. CenturyLink provides the area’s majority of fiber coverage, though, somewhat confusingly, some areas will see “Quantum Fiber,” which is still CenturyLink. Muddying the waters even further, not all CenturyLink service in the Denver metro area is fiber — a majority is still the much slower and less reliable DSL. Xfinity’s Gigabit Pro plan is a 100% fiber option but has very limited availability. Although Google Fiber has a presence in the city, it’s not the company’s fiber-optic service, but a fixed-wireless option called Google Fiber Webpass. Finally, Ting Internet has a fiber internet offering, but it’s not available within city limits, only in Centennial, just south of the city.
How much does cheap internet service cost in Denver?
The average starting price for internet service in Denver is approximately $39 a month. The cheapest internet plan in Denver is Starry Connect, a low-income, 30Mbps internet plan available in public and affordable housing for $15 per month. Next up is Xfinity’s Connect plan, which provides 50Mbps for $20 a month. If you consider value, CenturyLink’s fiber gigabit plan ($65 a month) offers solid affordability at the cost of 7 cents per Mbps. While other providers might have cheaper plans, none in the Denver metro area offers a better value.