Virginia is for lovers — of fast internet speeds. The southern state formerly held the distinction of having the fastest internet speeds in the country, at a whopping average of 13.7 megabits per second. But that was in 2014, and we’ve come a long way since then! Old Dominion now sees median download speeds of about 191Mbps, according to Ookla, placing it in a respectable 18th place among the 50 states and neighboring District of Columbia regarding internet speeds.
Two of its cities fare even better on Ookla’s rankings, with Chesapeake ranking 15th among the 100 most populous US cities with median download speeds of about 229Mbps and Virginia Beach, the birthplace of hip-hop legend Pharrell Williams, at 16th with median speeds of approximately 228Mbps. Norfolk can be found further down in the rankings at 64th, with median download speeds of about 193Mbps. (Side note: We have internet guides for Richmond and Washington, DC.)
Who is the best internet provider overall in Virginia?
CNET examines customer service, speed, pricing and overall value before recommending the best broadband in your area. Virginia can thank its small selection of large internet service providers for its high median speeds. But the one ISP that rises above the rest in the state is Verizon, whose Fios boasts the highest speeds of about 232Mbps and even faster in Chesapeake and Virginia Beach. It’s partly why CNET selects Verizon Fios as the best overall ISP in Virginia. It should be an easy choice if you can access its excellent fiber offering — mostly available in Virginia’s cities and the DC area. But if Verizon Fios is unavailable in your area, fret not. Virginians can also get online through T-Mobile, Xfinity, Cox, satellite internet providers and smaller ISPs.
Best internet options in Virginia
You’ll be limited in your choice of ISP based on where you live. The below list should make choosing among your available choices a bit easier. All prices listed on this page reflect available discounts for setting up paperless billing. If you decide not to go with automatic monthly payments, your price will be higher.
Note: The prices, speeds and features detailed in the article text may differ from those listed in the product detail cards, representing providers’ national offerings. Your particular internet service options — including prices and speeds — depend on your address and may differ from those detailed here.
Rural internet options in Virginia
|Up to 40Mbps
|Charlottesville area and along southern border
|T-Mobile Home Internet
|$50 ($30 with eligible phone plans)
|Verizon 5G Home Internet
|$50-$70 (50% off with eligible phone plans)
Show more (1 item)
Source: CNET analysis of provider data
If you’re in a rural area of Virginia, we recommend trying to get online via T-Mobile or Verizon’s home internet options before considering a rural or satellite provider, which will soon include SpaceX’s Starlink.
Virginia broadband at a glance
Every Virginian has access to internet speeds of at least 25Mbps, according to the FCC, but that’s likely due to pricier options from satellite internet providers HughesNet and Viasat. Overall, though, speeds in the state are solid, with median download speeds of about 191Mbps. Virginia likely gets a boost from the about 45% of its households having access to fiber internet with speeds of 250Mbps (particularly in cities such as Chesapeake and Virginia Beach) and a much smaller portion of 10% who can access speeds of 1,000Mbps.
How fast is Virginia broadband?
As mentioned, median download speeds in Virginia are higher than most of the country. You can access symmetrical gigabit speeds if you live in an area served by Verizon Fios (or Ting). Even if fiber is not an option, you can still access higher speeds through Xfinity, which offers gigabit and faster plans in Virginia.
Internet pricing in Virginia
The starting price for internet service in Virginia will vary based on where you live, with people in rural areas forced to pay a premium for slower speeds. For a ballpark figure, expect to pay around $50 per month to get online, but cheaper plans are available from Xfinity. Existing customers of certain T-Mobile or Verizon plans can get discounted rates on their 5G home internet offerings. Low-income households qualifying for the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program could get $30 knocked off their monthly bills.
Future of broadband in Virginia
More Virginians will have access to high-speed internet shortly, WDBJ reports, thanks to a $1.4 billion investment from the federal government’s Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program. The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration estimates 364,156 Virginia homes and small businesses lack access to high-speed internet. But is this number accurate? The FCC wants input from Virginians, according to Virginia Mercury. Separately, Verizon announced it would install more than 120 miles of fiber-optic cables in Caroline County and Greensville County, expanding access to 3,000 households and businesses, WRIC reports.
How CNET chose the best internet providers in Virginia
Internet service providers are numerous and regional. Unlike the latest smartphone, laptop, router or kitchen tool, it’s impractical to personally test every ISP in a given city. So what’s our approach? We start by researching the pricing, availability and speed information drawing on our own historical ISP data, the provider sites and mapping information from the Federal Communications Commission at FCC.gov.
But it doesn’t end there. We go to the FCC’s website to check our data and ensure we’re considering every ISP that provides service in an area. We also input local addresses on provider websites to find specific options for residents. To evaluate how happy customers are with an ISP’s service, we look at sources including the American Customer Satisfaction Index and J.D. Power. ISP plans and prices are subject to frequent changes; all information provided is accurate as of the time of publication.
Once we have this localized information, we ask three main questions:
- Does the provider offer access to reasonably fast internet speeds?
- Do customers get decent value for what they’re paying?
- Are customers happy with their service?
While the answer to those questions is often layered and complex, the providers who come closest to “yes” on all three are the ones we recommend.
To explore our process in more depth, visit our How We Test ISPs page.
Internet in Virginia FAQs