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Cool summers, steep rolling hills, eclectic architecture, and popular landmarks like The Golden Gate Bridge are just some of the reasons which make San Francisco one of the most popular destinations in the world.

13th most populated city in the United States is the cultural and financial center of Northern California. It’s also the home to several banking institutions and major corporations, which include Dropbox, Reddit, Levi Strauss & Co, and Uber.

San Francisco also has a reputation for being one of the highest paying cities in the world. There has been an increase of 31% in average salaries in San Francisco since 2018—leading it to become known as the “Highest paying city in the world”.

The high salaries and career opportunities attract people from elsewhere in the United States, and all over the world, to the city. Of course, moving to a new city is a challenging and daunting task. There are so many factors that one has to consider. And, one of these includes finding a suitable internet provider that best fits your needs.

Internet in San Francisco

There’s no denying in order to live your life in the 21st-century internet is essential. In fact, some people might even go as far as categorizing it as a basic necessity—and they would not be wrong.

After all, in the post COVID world, children need the internet to take online classes, employees need the internet to work from home and people who have been laid off need the internet to apply for new jobs. That is on top of everything else that had already rendered the internet technology a necessity for the urban and suburban lifestyle.

San Francisco certainly seems aware of the importance of the internet. This explains why in the year 2017, it became the first city in the United States to pledge to connect all homes and businesses to a fiber-optic network.

Albeit, San Francisco is already considered one of the best cities in the country for innovation and tech support, it seems it will be some time before the city realizes its dream of the free public internet. Free Wi-Fi service is sure offered by the City in select areas and parks, however for now it appears the residents of San Francisco will have to rely upon internet providers for internet connectivity.

There are many options for residents to choose from, but before we take a look at the different internet providers in the city, it’s important that we understand what type of internet services are available in San Francisco.

Types of Internet Connections Available in San Francisco

San Francisco residents can choose one of the following types of internet connections—almost every type of connection under the sky is available to choose from. After all, it is the 5th most connected city in California, with nearly 100% population able to choose from among multiple wired providers.

DSL

DSL stands for Digital Subscriber Line—DSL internet and can be best described as the elder brother of dial-up internet. In simple terms, this type of internet is made available through a telephone network. And, users can connect to an existing telephone network via a phone wall jack—it is however not necessary to pay for the phone service if not needed.

Telephone wires are able to let signal travel through at hundreds of frequencies, out of which only some are used for establishing telephonic communication. So, the remaining frequencies can be used for connecting to the internet. Meaning, you can use your phone and internet at the same time with DSL connections.

When it comes to DSL connections, there is Symmetrical DSL and Asymmetrical (ADSL), and it is also ADSL2 and VDSL (Very High-speed Digital Subscriber Line). Without making it too confusing for you, let us tell you, all symmetrical connections whether DSL or Fiber provide equal speeds for downloading and uploading. Whereas in asymmetrical connections, the download speed is more than the upload speed. Asymmetrical DSL is the more popular and available of the two kinds, primarily because people tend to download more information than upload it.

These days most DSL providers in the U.S. are giving out DSL connections that come powered by Fiber in the Loop. That means part of the data transfer occurs over twisted copper phone lines, while the rest over fiber-optic lines which make the backbone of the network. These connections are termed as IPBB—an umbrella that includes quite a few varieties of DSL—ADSL2 or VDSL.

Cable

Cable Broadband is delivered over the same network as used by cable television. The cable is usually faster than a DSL connection. Nowadays, quite a few cable broadband providers in the U.S. utilize their pre-existing coaxial cable TV lines only in the “last mile”—meaning data transfer takes place over coaxial lines only for part of the journey to the subscriber’s location. The main part of this journey is covered over a fiber-optic network. Using DOCSIS 3.1 networking protocol many cable providers are thus able to provide cable broadband with speeds up to 1000 Mbps which is comparable to fiber-optic internet.

You will require a cable modem at your end to connect to the provider’s network, as well as a router if you need to establish a wireless in-home network.

Fiber-Optic

Fiber optic cables consist of long thin strands of glass that have a diameter comparable to human hair. Data is carried through these lines, in the form of light pulses at super-fast speeds, and with minimum levels of attenuation. The reason why Fiber to the Premises connections is able to deliver very high speeds with great reliability.

Here’s a fun fact; San Francisco has a large fiber-optic infrastructure and is called a “Fiber friendly” city. For the same reason, the city benefits from higher internet speeds than most others in the state.

Copper

As the name suggests, this type of connection involves the transmission of data over copper wires. It’s a bulkier form of technology. And originally designed to carry voice data via electrical pulse. Copper lines are dedicated to a specific location—allowing users to lease direct lines to their location. Being a dedicated line, the bandwidth is not shared by any other user, which is a plus. For this reason, Copper Internet is mostly opted by businesses.

Fixed Wireless

Unlike wired types, fixed wireless transmits data using radio waves—transmitted from the base station. This type of connection is more common in rural areas, where the cost of setting up a wired infrastructure, cable, or fiber-optic is high. This leaves behind not much choice for the inhabitants of rural regions, and Fixed Wireless becomes a feasible choice in comparison to dial-up or traditional DSL.

Satellite

This is not exactly the most affordable internet solution and is commonly used only in areas where other internet services are not available or do not provide as good speed. A satellite connection requires you to have a dish installed at your premises—a connection is established with the satellite orbiting in the space, the signal from the satellite goes to the providers base station on earth, and once the connection with the internet is made, it travels all the way back via the same route. This is why for a long time latency was a big issue in satellite internet connections, however, that now stands much improved given the cutting-edge satellite communications technology. You can get broadband speeds, and the connection is pretty reliable unless and until the weather conditions are too inclement.

The Best Internet Providers in San Francisco

These are just some of the different types of internet connections available in San Francisco. Keep in mind not all of them are available in every neighborhood, so you must first determine the availability of a certain type of connection at your address. For which, you will have to know which providers offer that type of internet connection, and then run a search for service availability using your ZIP code. So, let’s take a look at some of the most popular San Francisco internet providers:

AT&T Internet San Francisco

Now here’s a company which certainly needs no introduction. AT&T is one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies, and it’s only fair that it has a strong presence in a region which is referred to as the ‘tech hub of the world’.

AT&T Fiber and AT&T Internet are both available in San Francisco. The company's Fiber optic network covers about 40% of neighborhoods in the city while IPBB connections, which are essentially high-speed DSL connections, are accessible to almost all residents.

AT&T Internet San Francisco, offers speeds up to 100 Mbps, while AT&T Fiber San Francisco brings you speeds up to 940 Mbps—the interesting thing is all plans, whether for IPBB connections or fiber optic, are priced at $49.99/month—AT&T strives to bring you the fastest possible speed available at your address, at the best possible price. With AT&T Fiber you get unlimited data while DSL plans are capped at 1TB. Fiber optic internet allows multiple devices to stream HD content smoothly, without a drop in speed—and comes to you with a 99% reliability claim. On the other hand, high-speed DSL connections are also a good option if your internet needs are not extravagant.

AT&T Internet San Francisco plans come with a free AT&T Smart Wi-Fi Gateway if you are subscribed to a speed 12 Mbps or higher—it’s a high performing device that allows you to connect to the internet without complications and dead zones in your house.

Furthermore, you have the option of controlling your Wi-Fi network remotely via the AT&T Smart Home Manager app. Parents can use this feature to keep an eye on their kid’s browsing patterns and make sure their online trips are safe and secure. Talking of security, we must tell you, all AT&T Internet San Francisco plans (above 5 Mbps) come with a security suite—if you are signed up for a lower speed plan, you can pay an additional $5 to render your internet experience totally safe.

With AT&T packages, you also get access to nationwide Wi-Fi hotspots. So, you can stay connected even when out on the street. Currently, AT&T has over 30,000 hotspots in 22 service states. Anyone with a subscription to an AT&T internet package can connect to these hotspots without having to worry about the dangers of an unsafe internet connection. The best part is that you can bundle your internet service with AT&T TV or DIRECTV and complete your AT&T experience—that too at discounted rates—when you bundle, AT&T gives you each service at a reduced rate. In your first year of subscription, you can in fact save $20 per month when you bundle AT&T internet in San Francisco with either AT&T TV or DIRECTV.

Xfinity Internet in San Francisco

Xfinity from Comcast is one of the top internet providers in San Francisco in terms of coverage—the cable provider covers almost the entire city with its cable network, and delivers cable broadband enhanced with Fiber in the Loop.

Like AT&T, subscribing to Xfinity Internet in San Francisco also gives you access to millions of Wi-Fi hotspots all over the country—and as part of Xfinity internet plans, you get free online protection too, powered by Norton.

In terms of pricing, Xfinity internet packages start at $24.99 per month for 25Mbps—available speed range goes up to 1000 Mbps, with many in between tiers to suit various individual and household requirements. Each plan comes with a 1.2 TB data allowance. And Xfinity is very understanding about subscribers crossing the line once in a while—that is why if you exceed your data limit only once in a 12 month period, you don’t get charged extra.

In case you are looking for a more complete experience with cable TV or a home phone included in your service suite, you can go for a double or triple play deal and save money by bundling.

So what else is there about Xfinity that separates it from the rest? Well, with Xfinity, you get flexibility in terms of the contract. Most plans are available with both options i.e. with or without a contract.

Xfinity Internet in San Francisco allows you the option of going the DIY route, with a free self-install kit that reaches you via standard shipping. Professional installation costs up to $89.99 so with the free install kit, you’ll be saving a lot of money—but then if you are not too tech-savvy, we would recommend you go for a pro-install.

Lastly, Xfinity offers customers a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you are not satisfied with Xfinity’s service in the first 30 days, you can cancel the subscription without a penalty.

Given the scope of service offered by Comcast Internet San Francisco, you must consider this as a viable option when looking for internet providers.

HughesNet

Hughes Systems Network is a wholly-owned subsidiary of EchoStar and is known for its fast satellite internet service that is delivered under the brand name HughesNet. HughesNet Gen5 satellite internet brings users 25Mbps download speed, 3Mbps upload speed, and soft data limits on all plans. Each plan is defined by the data allowance it gives, while the speed of the connection remains the same.

HughesNet internet plans offer a good variety in terms of data stipend allowed every month—these plans are designed to cater to different consumer needs. For example, if you need a connection for light internet usage for 1-2 users, the 10 GB plan would suffice. The 20 GB plan, on the other hand, is perfect for small families of up to 5 people—enough for everyone to browse social media, surf the internet, and enjoy Netflix. Similarly, if you live in a bandwidth-heavy household where you regularly download content off the internet, the 30 GB package is just what you need. The 50GB package is ideal for a family of 7-8 people. You can conveniently stream videos, attend conference calls, and download heavy bandwidth files!

On top of the monthly data allowance each plan brings you, HughesNet offers customers 50GB bonus data per month. It can be utilized between 2 am and 8 am. So if you want to save up your data allowance, you can always schedule heavy downloads during off-peak hours.

Unlike many internet providers who suspend your service or charge you extra money when you exceed the data limit, HughesNet simply reduces the download speed to 1-3 Mbps. This ensures the customer’s data stream does not dry up.

All internet plans from HughesNet now come equipped with a satellite modem that has an inbuilt Wi-Fi router. The 2 in 1 gateway device makes use of the latest technology and ensures a strong Wi-Fi signal in every part of the house—enough for multiple devices to connect without lag.

Perhaps the best part of the service is HughesNet internet is available anywhere in the U.S. where you can catch a clear view of the southern sky. That is why it becomes a top choice in rural America where the only other options include traditional DSL or dialup internet. With that said, given the viability of HughesNet plans it does become a rather strong contender even in urban and suburban markets. So, you must not count it out if you are looking for internet service providers in San Francisco.

The Verdict

So there you have it! Three internet providers in San Francisco—that come with a nationwide repute and offer different types of internet connections—cable, fiber, high-speed DSL and satellite. Each has its fair share of advantages and disadvantages, and at the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide which one best fits your needs.

Visit BuyTVInternetPhone to check which internet provider services your address. Take a look at all offers available in the neighborhood. And, if you have questions you can call at 1-855-349-9328 for expert advice and assistance with subscription.

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