Best Internet Providers in San Diego

Along with sunny beaches and a world-class zoo, San Diego is home to a growing population of roughly 1.4 million people. Almost all would benefit from a fast, reliable internet connection at home. Fortunately, the area boasts a decent number of options for getting online, including fiber, multiple cable providers and emerging alternatives like 5G internet.

You can plug your ZIP code into the tool below to see an overview of relevant options — but if you need some assistance sorting through them, we’re here to help. Keep reading for a full rundown of what’s available in San Diego to get your home online, including our top provider picks, a look at the fastest plans available and a rundown of the most affordable plans you’ll find.

Sarah Tew/CNET

AT&T Fiber is one of the top internet options in the country right now, offering fast speeds, attractive terms and reasonable rates that don’t go up after a year. Matching near-gigabit upload and download speeds are available for $80 per month, ultra-fast multi-gig speeds are available at a select but growing number of addresses, including in San Diego, and the base plan with matching speeds of 300Mbps is a terrific deal at $55 per month.

The problem is that most addresses in AT&T’s national footprint don’t have access to fiber. Instead, the only option available from AT&T will be a much slower DSL plan. That includes San Diego, where AT&T’s fiber infrastructure only reaches select neighborhoods and addresses.

“AT&T Fiber is available to hundreds of thousands of customers in the San Diego area,” an AT&T spokesperson said when I asked about fiber availability in San Diego. “Throughout 2022, AT&T will continue to roll out multi-gig speeds across its fiber footprint and densify fiber in San Diego, among other cities across California.”

Ball-parking it here, but that comes out to something like one in five San Diego residents with current access to AT&T Fiber. It’s worth checking to see if you’re one of the lucky ones, and it’s worth signing up if you are, as AT&T Fiber is one of the best values for high-speed internet available anywhere.

Read our AT&T home internet review.

 

Sarah Tew/CNET

With a cable internet footprint covering most of downtown San Diego and its surrounding neighborhoods, as well as coverage across Chula Vista and El Cajon and regions north of the city like Poway, Ramona and Escondido, Cox is one of the area’s most prevalent ISPs. If you’re living in San Diego or are moving there, there’s a decent chance that Cox will be an option at your address, and the list of plans you can sign up for includes one with download speeds as high as 940Mbps.

As with all cable providers, the downside is that your upload speeds will be much slower. But if fiber isn’t available at your address, cable is still a serviceable option for high-speed internet at home. Just keep in mind that Cox plans run on the pricey side, complete with an unavoidable price jump after year one and a data cap, so take a look at your alternatives to ensure there isn’t a better value before you sign up.

Read our Cox home internet review.

 

Sarah Tew/CNET

You won’t find Spectrum available in downtown San Diego or the neighborhoods surrounding it — that’s Cox territory. But suppose you’re living north of the Mission Valley Freeway (the 8, by California parlance). In that case, you’re likely living in Spectrum’s cable coverage map, which covers areas west of El Cajon and up north towards Encinitas and Escondido. Good thing, too: Between the two, we say Spectrum is the superior cable provider and a better pick for home internet.

Why? Spectrum doesn’t enforce a data cap on any of its plans, so you don’t need to worry about overage charges or throttling if you exceed a set amount of data in a given month. Spectrum plans are also a better overall value than Cox plans. 

For instance, a 200Mbps plan from Spectrum will cost you $50 per month during the first year and $75 per month after that. The closest comparison from Cox is a slightly slower 150Mbps plan that costs $60 per month during the first year and $84 monthly after that. That makes Spectrum our top cable pick for the San Diego area.

Read our Spectrum home internet review.

 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Available at addresses where the signal is strong enough for a flat rate of $50 per month, T-Mobile’s cellular, fixed wireless internet service leverages the company’s 5G and LTE airwaves to deliver internet connections to people’s homes without the need for ground-laid cable, DSL or fiber infrastructure. Average speeds range between 33 to 182Mbps on the download side and 6 to 23Mbps for uploads, so it isn’t blazing-fast by any stretch. However, the lack of data caps, contracts, equipment fees or pre-scheduled price increases makes it an appealing option.

The company tells CNET that its home internet service is available to roughly 40% of San Diego households and adds that most of those homes will connect via T-Mobile’s 5G network, which means faster speeds. That’s enough availability to make it worth checking to see if T-Mobile is an option at your address, particularly if fiber isn’t or if other alternatives enforce data caps.

Read our T-Mobile home internet review.

 

San Diego internet options compared

Internet technology Speed range Monthly price range (first year) Monthly price range (after 12 months) Data caps
AT&T Home Internet DSL 10-100Mbps downloads, 1-20Mbps uploads $55 $70 1TB (no data cap with 100Mbps plan)
AT&T Fiber Fiber 300-5,000Mbps downloads and uploads $55-$180  $55-$180  None
Cox Cable 25-940Mbps downloads, 3-35Mbps uploads $30-$100  $45-$120  1.25TB
Google Fiber Webpass Fixed Wireless 1,000Mbps downloads and uploads $63-$70 $63-$70 None
Spectrum Cable 200-940Mbps downloads, 10-35Mbps uploads $50-$90  $75-$115   None
Ting Fiber 1,000Mbps downloads and uploads $89  $89  None
T-Mobile Home Internet 5G/LTE 33-182Mbps downloads, 6-23Mbps uploads $50 ($30 for eligible Magenta MAX customers) $50 ($30 for eligible Magenta MAX customers) None
Ultra Home Internet 5G/LTE 35-115Mbps downloads, 6-23Mbps uploads $60-$190 $60-$190 25-150GB
Verizon 5G/LTE 85-1,000Mbps downloads, 50Mbps uploads $50-$70 (50% less with a qualifying mobile plan) $50-$70 (50% less with a qualifying mobile plan) None

Other internet providers in San Diego

Earthlink
An age-old name in home internet, Earthlink offers connections across the country by leasing infrastructure from other providers. In San Diego, that borrowed footprint is mostly made of AT&T DSL and fiber hookups and services leased from satellite and other fixed wireless providers. The company tells CNET that wired internet services like fiber and DSL are available to 74.3% of households in San Diego, while EarthLink Wireless Home Internet services are available to 99% of households.

Leasing infrastructure from other providers allows Earthlink to boast an extensive nationwide coverage map. In San Diego, you’ll find Earthlink services in Alpine, Bonita, Camp Pendleton, Carlsbad, Chula Vista, Coronado, El Cajon, Encinitas, Escondido, La Mesa, Lakeside, National City, Oceanside, Poway, Rancho Santa Fe, San Luis Re and San Marcos. Still, the extra overhead costs involved with leasing out infrastructure mean that Earthlink plans typically cost a little more than average. It’s still worth checking to see if Earthlink is available at your address, particularly if fiber is an option, but in most cases, the company shouldn’t be your first choice for home internet.

google-fiber-webpass-san-diego-map.png

Select buildings in downtown San Diego and surrounding areas are outfitted for Google Fiber Webpass, a fixed wireless service offering gigabit speeds.


Google

Google Fiber Webpass
Google doesn’t have full-fledged fiber infrastructure in San Diego. Still, select locations throughout the area are hooked up for Google Fiber’s Webpass service, which uses receivers mounted to rooftops and building exteriors to offer the residents inside high-speed fixed wireless connections. Availability is somewhat limited, but the terms are reasonable — gigabit speeds and no data caps for $63 per month with a year commitment or $70 per month without one.

The majority of the city’s Webpass-ready buildings are located in downtown San Diego and its surrounding neighborhoods, including the Marina, the Gaslamp Quarter, the East Village and Cortez Hill, and you’ll find other Webpass locations clustered further north, near Hillcrest, University Heights, Morena, and the Midway District, among other select spots. You can search for eligible addresses using Google’s San Diego Webpass map.

Race Communications
Race is a hyper-targeted fiber-to-the-home provider servicing a scattering of small communities throughout California. That includes the 3,000 or so residents of Rancho Santa Fe to the north of San Diego.

As a fiber provider, Race offers excellent speeds with a gigabit plan that costs $135 per month. That price is steeper than average because Race collects $70 from your bill and remits the other $65 to the Rancho Santa Fe Association, the wide-scale homeowner’s association that manages city functions for area residents.

A satellite dish on a rooftop

Satellite internet service from Hughesnet and Viasat is almost certainly available at your address, and service from Starlink might be an option, too. In most cases, though, you’ve got much better alternatives.


SpaceX

Satellite internet
HughesNet and Viasat are the top two satellite internet providers in the US, and their services are available throughout the overwhelming majority of San Diego and surrounding regions. That level of availability makes them a worthy option in remote spots where literally nothing else is available. Still, before you sign up, you’ll want to consider the steep costs ($65-$160 per month after the first six months with Hughesnet, $100-$300 per month after the first three months with Viasat), the sluggish speeds (25Mbps with Hughesnet, 12-100Mbps with Viasat), the tight data caps (15-100GB with Hughesnet, 40-150GB with Viasat) and the mandatory two-year contract each provider enforces. Add all of that up, and you’re looking at little more than an absolute last resort for home internet.

Starlink, the up-and-coming satellite internet service from SpaceX and Elon Musk, might be available at some addresses in the San Diego area — at a recently-hiked flat rate of $110 per month, plus $600 upfront for the equipment. It’s just as offputtingly expensive as its satellite competitors, but there are no data caps to contend with, and speeds may be notably higher thanks to Starlink’s satellites flying in low-earth orbit, giving your signal a shorter round-trip. If your home is short on internet options, it’s worth looking to see if Starlink is available at your address, but you might need to wait until late 2022 or later before the company can ship you your hardware and start service. If any other providers are available, you’ll probably want to start there first.

Ting
A part of the internet services company Tucows, Ting Internet now offers fiber internet service in select markets in the US. As of 2021, that includes Encinitas, where customers can sign up for gigabit speeds and no data caps at $89 per month, plus installation costs, a $9 monthly equipment fee and an additional “monthly access fee.” Service appears to be centered south of the city, near Solana Beach. Ting’s fast speeds and appealing rates make it well worth a look if you live in that region.

Ultra Home Internet
Like Earthlink, Ultra leases out cellular airwaves from T-Mobile to offer internet service at serviceable addresses throughout San Diego. That said, Ultra’s plans aren’t as good a deal as T-Mobile’s $50 per month plan. 

For starters, you’ll need to pay Ultra at least $60 per month for the same speeds ($55 if you set up autopay), and unlike T-Mobile, you’ll need to pay an equipment fee of $12 per month for your modem and router, as well. Ultra’s plans also come with a particularly tight monthly data cap of 25GB, which most homes would burn through quickly. You can raise that to 50GB if you’re willing to pay $85 per month or as high as 150GB if you’re willing to pay $190 per month, but even then, you’d only be getting about one-eighth as much data as you’d be getting with a cable provider that enforces a data cap, like Cox. It’s cellular internet without the appealing terms of the major providers, making Ultra a provider worth skipping if you can.

Image of US map with Verizon 5G Home areas indicated

Verizon offers 5G Home Internet service in San Diego, but if you zoom in on this map, you’ll see that 5G Ultra Wideband service is extremely limited in the area.


Verizon

Verizon 5G Home Internet
The cellular provider now offers home internet service at addresses with a strong enough 5G signal, and service is available in San Diego. With speeds of up to 1,000Mbps in some areas, Verizon can claim to be the fastest cellular internet provider in the US. The flat monthly rate of $50 with no data caps or price increases is tempting — especially for existing Verizon subscribers, who get a 50% discount. Verizon promises not to raise your price for two years; you can make that three years by paying $70 per month. 

That said, the company’s 5G coverage in the city appears to be quite limited (zoom in on Verizon’s coverage map and look for the scant traces of dark red in San Diego). That means many addresses throughout San Diego will have to settle for Verizon’s much slower 4G LTE service, which isn’t as great of a value. Other addresses may not be serviceable at all. It’s still worth checking to see if Verizon is an option at your address, especially for the faster speeds and the Verizon customer discount, but in most cases, there’s a better chance you’ll find worthwhile service available from T-Mobile.

San Diego Harbor

David Toussaint/Getty Images

What are the cheapest internet plans in San Diego?

Most providers in San Diego offer home internet service starting at somewhere around $50 per month, but Cox gets the trophy for the most affordable plan of all, with a plan that nets you download speeds of 25Mbps and upload speeds of 3Mbps (the exact federal definition of broadband speed), for $30 per month during the first year and $45 after that. If you just need a basic connection and you want to pay as little as possible, that’s a good place to start.

If you’re a Verizon mobile customer, I recommend checking to see if Verizon 5G Home Internet is available at your address. It’s well worth considering if so — with speeds potentially as high as 1,000Mbps, the base rate of $50 per month is quite decent on its own, and if your Verizon mobile plan qualifies, you’ll get a 50% discount, bringing the monthly cost down to $25. That’s with no data caps and no price increase after the first year.

Least Expensive Internet Plans in San Diego

Internet technology Speed range Monthly price range (first year) Monthly price range (after 12 months) Data caps
AT&T Home Internet DSL 10Mbps downloads, 1Mbps uploads $55 $70 1TB
AT&T Fiber Fiber 300Mbps downloads and uploads $55 $55 None
Cox Cable 25Mbps downloads, 3Mbps uploads $30 $45 1.25TB
Google Fiber Webpass Fixed Wireless 1,000Mbps downloads and uploads $63 (with 1-year commitment) $63 (with 1-year commitment) None
Spectrum Cable 200Mbps downloads, 10Mbps uploads $50 $75  None
Ting Fiber 1,000Mbps downloads and uploads $89  $89  None
T-Mobile Home Internet 5G/LTE 33-182Mbps downloads, 6-23Mbps uploads $50  $50  None
Ultra Home Internet 5G/LTE 35-115Mbps downloads, 6-23Mbps uploads $60 ($55 with auto-pay) $60 ($55 with auto-pay) 25GB
Verizon 5G/LTE 85-300Mbps downloads, 50Mbps uploads $50 (50% less with a qualifying Verizon mobile plan) $50 (50% less with a qualifying Verizon mobile plan) None

Spectrum has a solid entry-level internet offering, too. For $50 per month during the first year and $75 per month after that, you’ll get download speeds of up to 200Mbps and upload speeds of up to 10Mbps, which is a lot zippier than the base plan from Cox (albeit a bit more expensive). AT&T’s entry-level fiber plan does even better, with matching upload and download speeds of up to 300Mbps for $55 per month with no data caps and no price increase after the first year, but it’s only available at select addresses. Check to see if it’s available at yours before signing up for something else.

The other option worth mentioning is T-Mobile Home Internet, which boasts better availability than Verizon and that same flat rate of $50. Speeds aren’t as fast, topping out with downloads of 182Mbps and uploads of 23Mbps, but that’s still perfectly serviceable, making it a pretty good deal if your home has a strong enough signal to support it.

San Diego internet options for low-income households

Qualifying low-income residents of San Diego should take advantage of the Affordable Connectivity Program, which offers to knock $30 off the price of your monthly home internet bill. Apply the benefit to that entry-level Cox plan, for instance, and you’re effectively looking at a broadband connection for $0 per month (save for equipment fees and the like).

You can find full details on provider-specific instructions for signing up at the links below:

Both Cox and Spectrum offer near gigabit download speeds, and between the two of them, plans like those are available almost everywhere in the San Diego area.


FCC/Mapbox

What are the fastest internet plans in San Diego?

Feel the need for speed, huh? While gigabit service is available from several San Diego internet providers, availability will depend upon your specific address. Both Cox and Spectrum offer near-gigabit download speeds for customers willing to pay up, and between the two, plans like those will be an option for most of San Diego and its surrounding areas. 

Between the two of them, Spectrum’s high-speed offering is the better value at $80 per month during the first year compared to $100 per month from Cox for the same speeds, and with Spectrum, your price won’t go up until 24 months have passed, compared to 12 months for Cox. Spectrum doesn’t enforce a data cap, either, another point in its favor compared to Cox. However, the two providers mostly steer clear of each other throughout the San Diego area, meaning there aren’t many instances where you’ll be able to choose between the two. In most cases, only one will be available at your address.

Fastest Internet Plans in San Diego

Internet technology Speed range Monthly price range (first year) Monthly price range (after 12 months) Data caps
AT&T Home Internet DSL 100Mbps downloads, 20Mbps uploads $55  $70  None
AT&T Fiber Fiber 5,000Mbps downloads and uploads $180  $180  None
Cox Cable 940Mbps downloads, 35Mbps uploads $100  $120  1.25TB
Google Fiber Webpass Fixed Wireless 1,000Mbps downloads and uploads $63-$70  $63-$70  None
Spectrum Cable 940Mbps downloads, 35Mbps uploads $90  $115  None
Ting Fiber 1,000Mbps downloads and uploads $89  $89  None
T-Mobile Home Internet 5G/LTE 35-115Mbps downloads, 6-23Mbps uploads $50 ($30 for eligible Magenta MAX customers) $50 ($30 for eligible Magenta MAX customers) None
Ultra Home Internet 5G/LTE 35-115Mbps downloads, 6-23Mbps uploads $60 ($55 with auto-pay) $60 ($55 with auto-pay) 25GB
Verizon 5G/LTE 300-1,000Mbps downloads, 50Mbps uploads $70 (50% less with a qualifying Verizon mobile plan) $70 (50% less with a qualifying Verizon mobile plan) None

Neither of those cable providers offers upload speeds that exceed double digits — for that, you’ll need your home to be wired for fiber. AT&T Fiber’s most affordable plan gets you matching upload and download speeds of 300Mbps for $55 per month, which would be more than enough for most households. If you’re itching for gigabit speeds, you can go with the Fiber Internet 1000 plan, which gets you download speeds of up to 940Mbps and upload speeds of up to 880Mbps for $80 per month. And, at select addresses, new multi-gig plans with matching upload and download speeds of 2Gbps or 5Gbps (2,000Mbps and 5,000Mbps) are available for $110 and $180 per month, respectively. That’s currently as fast as home internet gets in San Diego.

If you aren’t wired for AT&T Fiber, you might still be able to sign up for AT&T Home Internet, which uses DSL to deliver internet connectivity to peoples’ homes. DSL is much slower than fiber, though, and the actual speeds available will vary from home to home. If the company’s fastest DSL option is available, you’ll be able to hit download speeds of up to 100Mbps, but don’t count on that.

If fiber and cable aren’t available at your address, then it’s worth checking to see if a cellular, fixed wireless connection from T-Mobile or Verizon might be available. T-Mobile is my top pick for San Diego due to greater availability, but be sure to check with Verizon, as well, as the company might offer a connection with faster speeds than T-Mobile is capable of.

Internet providers in San Diego FAQs

Does San Diego have fiber internet?

Yes. Along with smaller, regional providers like Ting and Race Communications that service communities like Encinitas and Rancho Santa Fe, AT&T offers fiber internet to “hundreds of thousands of households” in San Diego. But it isn’t available everywhere. The company’s newest multigig plans are available at select addresses in San Diego, but that level of service is even more limited for now. Earthlink offers fiber service too, but only by leasing existing fiber infrastructure from AT&T.

How much does internet cost in San Diego?

Prices will vary by provider, but most of the top internet options in San Diego offer service starting at around $50 per month, plus applicable taxes and fees. Among major San Diego providers, Cox offers the least expensive plan with a $30 per month option that nets you download speeds of up to 25Mbps and upload speeds of up to 3Mbps. That price goes up to $45 per month after the first year.

Does San Diego have Google Fiber?

Not really. The city isn’t wired for Google Fiber service, but select buildings in the downtown area are wired for Google Fiber Webpass, a high-speed fixed wireless internet service offering gigabit upload and download speeds for $63 to $70 per month. You can search for eligible addresses in San Diego by clicking here.

Update, Aug. 15: This story has been updated to reflect that Ting Internet is a not a subsidiary of Dish like Ting Mobile, but rather, a part of Tucows.

Ry Crist

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