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Internet and Businesses

Internet Provider

2020 proves something: a reliable and fast internet connection is essential for serious work and serious fun. It is essential for virtual school, remote meetings, and marathon video streaming and gaming sessions.

It’s great to have an internet connection that is fast and reliable for upload and download, but it’s not what gamers need most. Your ISP must provide a reliable, low-latency connection that is fast and free from lag. Here are the top providers and regions that they deliver exactly that.

Related Article: Unlimited Wireless Internet

Methodology for Internet Provider

This story was compiled using the Speed Test tool. You can find it below. Use a PC with no VPN installed, no streaming video on your home network, and an Ethernet connection to your router for best results. Connect your computer to the modem offered by your ISP for the lowest overhead. However, don’t leave it connected as that could pose a security risk.

The test collects information every time it is run. It includes the ISP’s name (based upon your address), location (using the same address), and the download and upload speeds of the connection. These speeds are combined with 20% of the upload speed measured in Mbps to create the PCMag Speed Index. This is used to compare ISPs head-to-head.

Internet Providers

We can’t compare ISPs for gaming using a speed index. Most games don’t require that much throughput. We need to determine the quality of the connection. 

Gaming Quality Index for Internet Providers

We created the Gaming Quality Index. This calculation is much simpler: We take the latency (measured in milliseconds) and add it to our score for jitter, which checks the latency consistency. The two can be added together to give you a comparison number. The higher the Gaming Quality Index number is, the better. You won’t ever reach zero, but an ISP can dream.

Below are purple bar charts that represent the Gaming Quality Index. The lower number at the far left indicates the ISP leading. Click the tab at the top to compare how different ISPs perform in speed using the same tests. This will show you that speed and quality do not always match up. However, they can be quite close depending on which broadband provider you choose.

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The nationwide results are the same as our Fastest ISP’s story. The first list includes all major Internet Providers with at least 1,000 test results, multiple states services, and 1 million customers. To compare all ISPs with at least 100 test results, we also examined “all Internet Providers. To be considered for inclusion in the regional sections, an ISP must have at least 100 tests in the specific region.

Wireless carriers are sometimes included in our data, but they don’t make it to the end of these Fastest ISPs and Best Gaming ISPs stories. This is because they aren’t great for low latency gaming or throughput. However, you can still read our Fastest Mobile Networks coverage if you’re interested in the best mobile networks.

The Best Gaming ISPs in the US 2020

There are many types of ISPs in America. These include large corporate monoliths such as Comcast and Charter, to smaller conglomerates that focus on one thing but still want to be part of the broadband provider pie, like AT&T, Google, and Verizon. Many small ISPs can fill in for the larger companies, whether local utilities or start-ups.

We offer two types of winners to give you an idea of the range. The first category is for ISPs “major,” or have a large reach and deep pockets. The second is for all ISPs that we have found.

The major ISPs were first. 

Verizon Fios for Internet Providers

Verizon Fios is once again at the top of the list, just like last. One gets this advantage by providing straight-up fiber-to-the-home (FtH) networks with synchronous up-and-down streams. Verizon is smart enough not to market its slower DSL internet or mobile services separately. Although this year’s Gaming Quality Index (last time it was 16.9) is not the best, it’s the highest you’ll find from any ISP with more than 1 million customers. You can see that Fios is both fast and high quality.

While the list of major ISPs is stable yearly, it doesn’t change that much when comparing “all” ISPs. For an ISP to be included, they need to pass 100 or more providers’ tests during the year. Sometimes, ISPs that we have never heard of are discovered by users who take the PCMag Speed Test. 2020 is no exception.

DirectLink was the top-ranked gaming ISP last year. It is a co-op ISP from Oregon. But this year, DirectLink didn’t make it to the final cut. (It didn’t have 100 tests). It had a phenomenal 5.2 Gaming Quality Index, which is too bad.

CFU for Internet Providers

The award is to an ISP that we know for winning in the Fastest ISP’s Story over the summer: CFU or Cedar Falls Utilities in Iowa. CFU continues to show impressive speed and quality. Its 9.1 Gaming Quality Index ranks among the top ISPs in the country.

Second place is just one-tenth away, and it goes to a regional ISP Empire Access.

 This upstart installs fiber lines in towns along the central border between New York and Pennsylvania. Full Disclosure: The author’s father is a customer of Empire Access, and the author is jealous. Empire Access may not have the fastest speed scores, but it is good to consider for an e-athlete.

These ISP features are well-known to regular readers. Hotwire, MetroNet, and FairlawnGig are all included. You will notice that they all have Gaming Quality Index scores higher than the major ISPs. Verizon Fios’ 19.7 would rank No. 12. Real gamers should only choose localized, responsive broadband providers whenever available.

Best Gaming ISPs by Region

Don’t get discouraged if you don’t have many options for fixed-wireless broadband. Most people don’t. You energy be lucky enough to have both cable and fiber-to-the-home providers. This could mean that there is some competition. ISPs hate competition. They squash it every chance and don’t profit from expanding their networks.

Some offices now allow employees to work remotely and relocate in COVID-19. These are the top ISPs in six regions of the US if you’re considering a move.

North Central

The north-central region has always had top ISPs influx in the US. Two years ago, Ohio’s FairlawnGig network ranked at 11.4, and the last ye had been Allo at 10.2. The award this year goes to Cedar Falls Utilities (aka CFU), who leads our all-ISPs ranking and is our Fastest ISP overall. The 9.1 Gaming Quality Index, the highest average of any provider this year, is CFU’s. The Speed Index tab provides further insight into the CFU’s customer service.


Verizon Fios is most often in the Northeastern US, losing in this story. While it has sold networks in other areas, Verizon still holds its position from Maine to DC. The Fios index score of 19.7 this year was lower than the 16.9 that Verizon won last year. Even if the score had improved, it wouldn’t be enough to match the 9.2 scores of the smaller provider Empire Access, which delivers great gaming quality (and speed) to customers near the New York/Pennsylvania border.

DTC Cable is a Delhi Telephone Company of Delhi and New York located in the Catskills. The network is extremely low-latency, but the Speed Index will show a much slower throughput than its competitors.

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