Best Internet Providers in Columbia, South Carolina

What’s the best internet provider in Columbia?

Columbia, South Carolina’s capital city whose name is abbreviated to “Cola,” is perhaps unsurprisingly nicknamed “Soda City” and is famously hot. Pondering these two unrelated facts brings up two questions for those of us who’d rather stay safely indoors at home to beat the heat, watching Netflix with a fizzy beverage in hand: Do the internet speeds in Columbia pop? And which is the best internet service provider in the city?

Good news for residents of the former home of the world’s largest fire hydrant: median download speeds in Columbia exceed 200Mbps, according to Ookla data. To answer the second question, fiber internet from AT&T is available in Soda City and that makes AT&T Fiber our choice for the best internet service provider in Columbia.

While we recommend AT&T Fiber, its expected speeds are on par with Spectrum’s, its largest competitor within Columbia, according to Ookla. Other than these two major ISPs, some Soda City citizens can connect with Verizon and T-Mobile’s 5G home internet. If you’re looking for the speediest plan in the city, AT&T Fiber’s multi-gig plans top out at 5,000Mbps. On the other hand, there are a few affordable options in the area, but the cheapest internet belongs to Spectrum’s $40-per-month plan for 300Mbps.

Best internet in Soda City

Columbia internet providers compared

Provider Internet technology Monthly price range Speed range Monthly equipment costs Data cap Contract CNET review score
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Fiber $55-$245 300-5,000Mbps None None None 7.4
CarolinaConnect Cooperative, Inc. Fiber $50-$90 350-1,000Mbps None None None N/A
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Satellite $50-$95 50-100Mbps $15 or $300 to $450 one-time purchase 100-200GB 2 years 6
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Cable $50-$90 300-1,000Mbps Modem free; $7 for router (optional) None None 7.2
T-Mobile Home Internet
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Fixed wireless $60-$70 ($40-$50 for eligible Go5G Plus and Magenta Max mobile customers) 72-245Mbps None None None 7.4
Verizon 5G Home Internet
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Fixed Wireless $50-$70 ($35-$45 for eligible mobile customers) 100-300Mbps None None None 7.2
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Satellite $120 25-150Mbps $15 or $250 one-time purchase Unlimited (850GB soft cap) None 6.1

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Source: CNET analysis of provider data

Other available internet providers in Columbia

Most of the city will have access to AT&T’s fiber internet (or EarthLink’s piggybacked option) or cable internet through Spectrum. In contrast, some neighborhoods have access to T-Mobile or Verizon’s 5G options, as well as regional carriers ispMint and EIN. Here are the other options in the city not listed above.

  • EarthLink: EarthLink uses other networks to connect its customers to the internet. The company provides a good variety of speeds, starting at 100Mbps and going up to a whopping 5,000Mbps, with prices ranging from $60 to $190.
  • EIN: This Kansas-based ISP serves some of Columbia and its surrounding areas. DSL internet plans start at $88 monthly for 6Mbps in download speeds. However, the tiers range from 300Mbps to blazing speeds of 5,000Mbps.
  • ispMint: A veteran-owned provider serving mostly rural customers, its $199 plan (which requires purchasing a $299 device or an extra $30 per month to lease) averages between 15 to 50Mbps.
  • Hughesnet: Columbia residents likely won’t need satellite internet (SpaceX’s Starlink is also available almost everywhere in the city). Hughesnet offers speeds of 50Mbps with prices starting at $50 with a two-year contract and equipment fees. Columbia residents have access to its Fusion plans, a satellite and wireless home internet combo.
  • T-Mobile Home Internet: The wireless carrier’s 5G home internet can be a compelling option in terms of price if it’s available to you, especially if you have certain mobile plans with the company. Speeds range from 72 to 245Mbps for $60 per month. It becomes a much more compelling option for customers of the company’s Go5G Plus or Magenta Max phone plans, which drops the price to $40 monthly. T-Mobile customers with Go5G, Magenta or Essentials plans get a smaller discounted price of $40 per month. 
  • Viasat: Viasat has a singular plan that features speeds of up to 150Mbps for $120 per month. While unlimited data is available, you can expect a monthly soft cap of 850GB.

Evening view of the South Carolina State House in Columbia, South Carolina. The Wade Hampton statue sits behind the South Carolina Statehouse.

Denis Tangney, Jr./Getty Images

Cheap internet options in Columbia

You can expect to spend around $51 per month to connect to the internet in Columbia. If you want more speed, there are many options. That’s good news for people who want to beat the city’s famous heat by staying indoors.

How many members of your household use the internet?

The cheapest internet belongs to Spectrum’s $40-per-month plan for download speeds of 300Mbps. However, for those looking for cheap internet options in Columbia, there aren’t many. Most plans start around $50 per month. However, eligible mobile customers with Verizon and T-Mobile can receive discounted rates.

What’s the cheapest internet plan in Columbia?

Provider Starting price Max download speed Monthly equipment fee Contract
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$40 300Mbps Modem free; $7 for router (optional) None
Verizon 5G Home Internet
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$50 ($35 with eligible phone plan) 100Mbps None None
AT&T Fiber 300
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$55 300Mbps None None
T-Mobile Home Internet
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$60 ($40 with eligible phone plan) 245Mbps None None

Source: CNET analysis of provider data

How to find internet deals and promotions in Columbia

The best internet deals and top promotions in Columbia depend on what discounts are available during a given time. Most deals are short-lived, but we look frequently for the latest offers. 

Columbia internet providers, such as Spectrum and Verizon, may offer lower introductory pricing or streaming add-ons for a limited time. Others, however, including AT&T and T-Mobile run the same standard pricing year-round. 

For a more extensive list of promos, check out our guide on the best internet deals. 

How fast is Columbia broadband?

According to the latest Ookla speed test data, Columbia residents have access to a comfortable fixed median download speed of 230Mbps. Gig-plus options are available from AT&T, Spectrum and local ISP CarolinaConnect Cooperative. AT&T Fiber has the fastest hookup, featuring 5,000Mbps in download and upload speeds.

Fastest internet plans in Columbia

Provider Max download speed Max upload speed Starting price Data cap Contract
AT&T Fiber 5000
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5,000Mbps 5,000Mbps $245 None None
AT&T Fiber 2000
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2,000Mbps 2,000Mbps $145 None None
AT&T Fiber 1000
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1,000Mbps 1,000Mbps $80 None None
CarolinaConnect 1000 1,000Mbps 1,000Mbps $90 None None
Spectrum Internet Gig
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1,000Mbps 35Mbps $60 None None

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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 user sufficient bandwidth to satisfy the demands of modern telecommuting, video streaming and online gaming. 
  • 100 to 500Mbps allows one to two users to simultaneously engage in high-bandwidth activities like videoconferencing, streaming and online gaming. 
  • 500 to 1,000Mbps allows three or more users to engage in high-bandwidth activities at the same time.

How CNET chose the best internet providers in Columbia

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

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 answers to those questions are often layered and complex, the providers that 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.

What’s the final word on internet providers in Columbia?

Most Columbia residents will be well served by Spectrum’s cable connection which is widely available in the city. Some Cola residents have access to 5G home internet from T-Mobile or Verizon — each makes for a good option for existing customers of their wireless services due to the deep monthly discounts they offer. AT&T Fiber’s coverage is limited in the city, but if your address is serviceable, I would put it at the top of your list.

Internet providers in Columbia FAQs

Which is the best internet service provider in Columbia, SC?

With its high marks on customer satisfaction surveys and variety of options in terms of price and speed — CNET calls it a “terrific value” — AT&T’s fiber internet will be the best choice for most Columbia residents.

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Is fiber internet available in Columbia, SC?

Indeed it is. Cola residents can get fiber internet from AT&T with speeds up to 5,000Mbps. Some residents may also have access to CarolinaConnect’s fiber-optic network, featuring speeds up to a gig.

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Should I choose AT&T or Spectrum?

Most Columbia residents will have access to internet options from Spectrum, whereas, fiber coverage from AT&T is limited. For a full breakdown of the differences between AT&T and Spectrum, check out our guide that pits them against each other. But the TL;DR is that since Cola can get on AT&T’s fiber plans, those are the better options.

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