What is the best internet provider in Idaho?
Sparklight is the best internet service provider in Idaho overall due to its extensive high-speed coverage throughout the state and low introductory rates on contract-free plans with no hard data caps.
While not as widely available as Sparklight, Ziply Fiber has the cheapest and fastest internet plans in Idaho. Speeds up to 100 megabits per second start at just $20 a month, and the provider offers a blazing fast 10,000Mbps plan starting at $300 (plus a few more reasonably priced plans in between).
Quantum Fiber and T-Mobile Home Internet, among other ISPs, are also worth considering, depending on what you’re looking for and what’s available in your area. Here are our picks for the best internet providers in Idaho, followed by details on other ISPs you may encounter in the Gem State.
Best internet providers in Idaho
Idaho internet providers compared
|Provider||Internet technology||Monthly price range||Speed range||Monthly equipment costs||Data cap||Contract||CNET review score|
|Fybercom||Fiber, fixed wireless||$80-$120 fiber, $52-$75 fixed wireless||300-1,000Mbps fiber, 20-40Mbps fixed wireless||Varies||Unlimited fiber, 300GB or unlimited fixed wireless||2 years||N/A|
|HughesNet||Satellite||$50-$150||15-50Mbps||$15 monthly or $450 purchase fee||Varies, 15-100GB||2 years||5.7|
|Rise Broadband||Fixed wireless||$45-$55||25-50Mbps||$10||250GB or unlimited||None||6.2|
|Sparklight||Cable||$25-$110||100-940Mbps||$13 (optional)||5TB soft cap||None||6.9|
|Starlink||Low orbit satellite||$90-$120||20-220Mbps||$599 purchase fee||None||None||N/A|
|T-Mobile Home Internet||Fixed wireless||$50 ($30 with eligible mobile plans)||72-245Mbps||None||None||None||7.4|
|Verizon 5G Home Internet||Fixed wireless||$50-$70 ($35-$45 for eligible Verizon Wireless customers)||50-1,000Mbps||None||None||None||7.2|
|Viasat||Satellite||$70-$300||12-100Mbps||$13 monthly or $299 purchase fee||Varies, 40-300GB||2 years||6.1|
Show more (8 items)
Source: CNET analysis of provider data.
Other available internet providers in Idaho
- CenturyLink: Where Quantum Fiber is the fiber side of Lumen Technologies, CenturyLink is the DSL service. CenturyLink isn’t a bad option, starting at $50 a month for max speeds somewhere between 20 and 100Mbps, but I’d recommend skipping on DSL service for cable, fiber or fixed wireless, if possible.
- Fybercom: The name would suggest fiber internet, but the service is mostly fiber “carried” and then sent to the home via a fixed wireless connection. There are some locations with actual fiber service, but most will only have access to the provider’s relatively high-priced, low-speed plans.
- Rise Broadband: Fixed wireless provider Rise Broadband is a decent choice for internet in rural areas where wired connections are unavailable. Speeds are on par with or faster than satellite internet without the high latency, high costs or restricting data caps.
- Spectrum: A top pick for cable internet, Spectrum has about all you could ask for from an internet provider. The only problem for Idaho residents? Availability is limited to Moscow and the Coeur d’Alene area.
- Verizon 5G Home Internet: Verizon’s Ultra Wideband network serves many of Idaho’s metro areas. That doesn’t necessarily mean you can get home internet, even if you can get 5G on your phone, but if you can, either of Verizon 5G Home Internet plans ($50 a month for speeds ranging from 50 to 300Mbps or $70 a month for speeds ranging from 85 to 1,000Mbps) are worth checking out. There are no equipment fees, data caps or contracts, and Verizon mobile customers may be eligible for an extra discount.
- Satellite internet: More than 95% of Idaho households are serviceable for a “terrestrial” connection — that is, wired or fixed wireless. For the remaining 5%, satellite internet from HughesNet or Viasat may be the only option, though newcomer Starlink is worth considering for the potentially faster speeds, lower latency and unlimited data.
Idaho internet options by city
It’s hard to cover the internet options of an entire state like Idaho while giving individual cities the in-depth attention they deserve. That’s why we’ve also compiled lists of the best internet providers in cities across the US, including those in Idaho. If you don’t find your hometown below, check back later. We’re working to add more every day.
Cheap internet options in Idaho
Ziply Fiber offers the cheapest internet plan in Idaho at $20 a month for speeds up to 100Mbps, but again, availability is highly limited. Much more accessible and almost as cheap for the same speeds is Sparklight’s 100Mbps plan, starting at $25 a month.
Source: CNET analysis of provider data.
How to find internet deals and promotions in Idaho
The best internet deals and the top promotions in Idaho depend on what discounts are available during that time. Most deals are short-lived, but we look frequently for the latest offers.
Idaho internet providers such as Sparklight may offer lower introductory pricing or special offers for a limited time. Many, however, including Quantum Fiber, Spectrum and Ziply Fiber, run the same standard pricing year-round.
For a more extensive list of promotions, check out our guide on the best internet deals.
How fast is Idaho broadband?
Ookla speed test data from the third quarter of 2023 indicates that average internet speeds in Idaho are slower than most states and below the national average. With median download speeds of 122Mbps, Idaho landed as 46th fastest among all US states and Washington DC.
Boise had the fastest median download speeds in Idaho at 174Mbps, fast enough to come in 89th among the 100 fastest US cities. Sparklight was the fastest provider in Boise, averaging 249Mbps.
Fastest internet plans in Idaho
|Plan||Starting price||Max download speed||Max upload speed||Data cap||Connection type|
|Ziply Fiber 10 Gig||$300||10,000Mbps||10,000Mbps||None||Fiber|
|Fybercom Fiber 2000Mbps||$120||1,000Mbps||1,000Mbps||None||Fiber|
|Spectrum Internet Gig||$90||1,000Mbps||35Mbps||None||Cable|
|Verizon 5G Home Plus Internet||$70 ($45 with qualifying Verizon 5G mobile plans)||85-1,000Mbps||50-75Mbps||None||Fixed wireless|
|Quantum Fiber 1 Gig||$75||940Mbps||940Mbps||None||Fiber|
|Sparklight Freedom Connect Gig||$80||940Mbps||50Mbps||5TB soft cap||Cable|
Show more (2 items)
Source: CNET analysis of provider data.
What’s a good internet speed?
Most internet connection plans can now handle basic productivity and communication tasks. If you’re looking for an internet plan that can accommodate videoconferencing, streaming video or gaming, you’ll have a better experience with a more robust connection. Here’s an overview of the recommended minimum download speeds for various applications, according to the FCC. Note that these are only guidelines — and that internet speed, service and performance vary by connection type, provider and address.
For more information, refer to our guide on how much internet speed you really need.
- 0 to 5Mbps allows you to tackle the basics — browsing the internet, sending and receiving email, streaming low-quality video.
- 5 to 40Mbps gives you higher-quality video streaming and videoconferencing.
- 40 to 100Mbps should give one person sufficient bandwidth to satisfy the demands of modern telecommuting, video streaming and online gaming.
- 100 to 500Mbps allows one to two people to simultaneously engage in high-bandwidth activities like videoconferencing, streaming and online gaming.
- 500 to 1,000Mbps allows three or more people to engage in high-bandwidth activities at the same time.
How CNET chose the best internet providers in Idaho
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 consider every ISP that provides service in an area. We also input local addresses on provider websites to find specific options for residents. We look at sources, including the American Customer Satisfaction Index and J.D. Power, to evaluate how happy customers are with an ISP’s service. 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. When it comes to selecting the cheapest internet service, we look for the plans with the lowest monthly fee, though we also factor in things like price increases, equipment fees and contracts. Choosing the fastest internet service is relatively straightforward. We look at advertised upload and download speeds, and also take into account real-world speed data from sources like Ookla and FCC reports.
What’s the final word on internet providers in Idaho?
Sparklight isn’t the fastest or cheapest internet provider in Idaho, but it is the most widely available ISP to offer multiple plans, including a gigabit speed tier. The cable connection type means slower upload speeds than you’d get with fiber service. Still, the fast download speeds, competitive pricing and mostly favorable service terms make the provider worthy of the title of best overall in Idaho.
Ziply Fiber has both the cheapest and the fastest plans in Idaho, but availability is highly limited. Quantum Fiber, while not as cheap or fast, is another great choice for fiber internet and has greater availability throughout the state.
In areas where cable or fiber connections are unavailable, fixed wireless internet from providers such as T-Mobile Home Internet, Rise Broadband and possibly Verizon 5G Home Internet may be your best broadband options outside satellite internet.