February 23, 2024

What is the best internet provider in Ithaca?

High availability, fast speeds and straightforward pricing make Spectrum CNET’s pick for the best internet service provider in Ithaca, New York. Spectrum’s two plan options in Ithaca — 500 megabits per second and 1,000Mbps — offer the best value of any ISP in the area and come with unlimited data and a free modem (router not included). 

Verizon Fios is also an excellent value, offering free equipment rental, unlimited data and a lengthy price guarantee with each of its plans, but availability is highly limited in Ithaca. Verizon’s wireless home internet service is more widely available and comes with many of the same perks as Verizon Fios, but available speeds are less consistent.

If you’re looking for a high-speed internet alternative or shopping for internet in a rural area outside of Ithaca, T-Mobile Home Internet is likely your best choice. Service includes free equipment, unlimited data and no contracts, and your price is locked in for as long as you keep your service.

Spectrum, T-Mobile Home Internet and both Verizon services have a starting price of $50 per month, but you’ll get more speed for the price with Spectrum, making it the better choice for cheap internet. Spectrum also offers the fastest download speeds in Ithaca, up to 1,000Mbps, though Verizon Fios is close with a 940Mbps plan that comes with significantly faster upload speeds, up to 880Mbps compared to 35Mbps from Spectrum.

CNET considers speeds, pricing, customer service and overall value to recommend the best internet service in Ithaca across several categories. Our evaluation includes referencing a proprietary database built over years of reviewing internet services. We validate that against provider information by spot-checking local addresses for service availability. We also do a close read of providers’ terms and conditions and, when needed, will call ISPs to verify the details.

Despite our efforts to find the most recent and accurate information, our process has some limitations you should know about. Pricing and speed data are variable: certain addresses may qualify for different service tiers, and monthly costs may vary, even within a city. The best way to identify your particular options is to plug your address into a provider’s website. 

Also, the prices, speed and other information listed above and in the provider cards below may differ from what we found in our research. The cards display the full range of a provider’s pricing and speed across the US, according to our database of plan information provided directly by ISPs. At the same time, the text is specific to what’s available in Ithaca. The prices referenced within this article’s text come from our research and include applicable discounts for setting up automatic payments each month — a standard industry offering. Other discounts and promotions might also be available for things like signing a term contract or bundling with multiple services. 

To learn more about how we review internet providers, visit our full methodology page.

Speed range

100 – 1,000 Mbps

Price range

$30- $90 per month

Our take – Spectrum is likely an option wherever you live or are moving to in the Ithaca area. Most customers will have the choice of two plans: 500Mbps or 1,000Mbps, starting at $50 or $70 per month, respectively. Pricing is good for one year, after which your monthly rate may increase by as much as $30.

. . . Or call to learn more:

Check with Spectrum

Speed range

100 – 1,000 Mbps

Price range

$30- $90 per month

Speed range

300 – 2,000 Mbps

Price range

$50 – $120 per month

Our take – Verizon Fios is a top choice for internet in the Northeast and would be my pick for best overall in Ithaca if it had better availability. Less than 10% of Ithaca households are eligible for fiber internet, according to the FCC, so consider yourself lucky if your address is serviceable for Verizon Fios. Along with free equipment and unlimited data, new customers can often take advantage of exclusive signup bonuses.

. . . Or call to learn more:

Check with Verizon

Speed range

300 – 2,000 Mbps

Price range

$50 – $120 per month

Connection

Fixed wireless

Speed range

85 – 1,000 Mbps

Price range

$50 – $70 per month

Our take – Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband coverage spans much of Ithaca. That’s great news for your phones, but it could also mean Verizon 5G Home Internet is available at your address. If so, you’ll have two plan options ranging from 50 to 300Mbps or 85 to 1,000Mbps. That’s a wide range, so the overall value will depend on the speeds you can get.

. . . Or call to learn more:

Check with Verizon

Connection

Fixed wireless

Speed range

85 – 1,000 Mbps

Price range

$50 – $70 per month

Connection

Fixed wireless

Speed range

72 – 245 Mbps

Price range

$50 per month

Our take – T-Mobile Home Internet can’t match the speed potential of Spectrum or Verizon Fios, but it has an advantage regarding availability. More than 70% of Ithaca is serviceable, according to the FCC, and coverage extends outside the city limits into East Ithaca, Cuyahoga Heights and beyond. Service includes free equipment rental, unlimited data and a price guarantee that locks in your rate for as long as you keep your service.

. . . Or call to learn more:

Check with T-Mobile

Connection

Fixed wireless

Speed range

72 – 245 Mbps

Price range

$50 per month

Ithaca, New York, internet providers compared

Provider Internet technology Monthly price range Speed range Monthly equipment costs Data cap Contract CNET review score
Spectrum Cable $50-$70 500-1,000Mbps $5 (optional) None None 7.2
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
Verizon Fios Fiber $50-$90 ($25-$65 with eligible mobile plans) 300-940Mbops None None None 7.6

Source: CNET analysis of provider data.

What’s the cheapest internet plan in Ithaca?

Source: CNET analysis of provider data.

Aerial view of Ithaca, New York

Getty Images

How to find internet deals and promotions in Ithaca

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

Ithaca internet providers, such as Verizon Fios, may offer lower introductory pricing or promotional giveaways for a limited time. Many, however, including Spectrum and T-Mobile Home Internet, run the same standard pricing year-round. 

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

Fastest internet plans in Ithaca

Show more (1 item)

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 Ithaca

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 publication.

Once we have this localized information, we ask three main questions:

  1. Does the provider offer access to reasonably fast internet speeds?
  2. Do customers get decent value for what they’re paying?
  3. 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 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 consider real-world speed data from sources like Ookla and FCC reports.

To explore our process in more depth, visit our how we test ISPs page.

Internet providers in Ithaca, New York, FAQs

What is the best internet service provider in Ithaca?

Spectrum is the best internet service provider in Ithaca, largely due to its high-speed availability throughout the area but also because of its competitive pricing on fast speeds and simple service terms. Spectrum speeds range from 500 to 1,000Mbps in Ithaca, and both plans come with free modem rental, unlimited data and no contract requirements.

Is fiber internet available in Ithaca?

Fiber availability is limited to around 6% of the city, or roughly 1,000 Ithaca households, according to the most recent FCC data. Serviceability is greatest in southeastern Ithaca, in neighborhoods along Six Mile Creek and south of Cornell University. Verizon Fios is the leading fiber internet provider in Ithaca.

Who is the cheapest internet provider in Ithaca?

The top Ithaca internet providers all have a monthly starting price of $50. Spectrum offers the fastest speeds for the price, up to 500Mbps, but renting a router will add $5 to the monthly cost. While Verizon 5G Home Internet and T-Mobile Home Internet have slower max speeds than Spectrum, both offer a mobile discount that could lower the cost to $35 or $30 per month, respectively. Additionally, there are no equipment fees and both providers have a lengthier price guarantee than Spectrum — T-Mobile’s monthly rate is locked in for as long as you keep your service.

Which internet provider in Ithaca offers the fastest plan?

Spectrum has the fastest speed tier in Ithaca, offering max download speeds of 1,000Mbps. Verizon 5G Home Internet also advertises max download speeds of 1,000Mbps, but that’s the high end of a range that could be anywhere between 85 and 1,000Mbps.

Verizon Fios offers a 940Mbps plan in Ithaca. Though slightly slower than Spectrum’s fastest plan regarding max download speeds, the 940Mbps plan from Verizon Fios comes with max upload speeds of 880Mbps, much faster than the 35Mbps max you’d get with Spectrum.