THE BOTTOM LINE: AT&T covers a wide range of users with a range of packages from basic to premium across DSL, cable, and fiber optic networks. Speeds range from 768 Kbps all the way up to 1 GB. High data caps mean even large families won’t have overages. Although their pricing is a bit higher than average, they provide fast and reliable service for 21 states.
Is it Right for Me?
- If you need high data caps
- If you want to bundle internet with U-verse TV or DIRECTV
- If the fiber network is in your area and you can get 1 GB speeds
- If you want nationwide AT&T Wi-Fi hotspots on the go
- If you want a free security suite
- If you’re in a remote or rural location and need satellite internet
- If you believe you’ll exceed the data caps and the idea of paying an overage fee scares you
Price and plans
DSL, cable, and fiber optic internet—Oh my!
For internet service only, AT&T offers a wide range of plans with max speeds up to 1 GB. The majority of the plans are cable internet, with the lower speeds . The GigaPower plans are part of the Fiber Optic network, which still has limited availability. Below we’ve broken down AT&T’s plans into cable/fiber offers and DSL offers. If it seems like too many options, it’s helpful to keep in mind that not all plans will be available in your area, check online or call an agent.
|Plan||Download Speed||Advertised Price||Regular Price|
|Max Plus||18 Mbps||$50/mo||$60/mo|
|Max Turbo||24 Mbps||$50/mo||$60/mo|
|75 (or Power Plus)||75 Mbps||$70/mo||$80/mo|
|GigaPower 100||100 Mbps||$60*/mo||$70/mo|
|GigaPower 300||300 Mbps||$70/mo||$80/mo|
|GigaPower 1Gbps||1000 Mbps||$80/mo||$99/mo|
Updated 8/19/16. Pricing and availability may change depending on location. Advertised prices often vary depending on location, promo offer, bundling options, customer history, and more. GigaPower plans effective until October 22, 2016. *Requires My Preferences Agreement
AT&T’s GigaPower plans are actually competitive. AT&T’s 300 Mbps plan (GigaPower 300) goes for $70 per month, whereas similar plans from Verizon and Comcast have prices closer to $150 per month. In fact, the GigaPower (1 Gbps) plan has the best speed-to-cost ratio of the plans we’ve reviewed (so far).
AT&T U-verse DSL plans
Note: AT&T’s older DSL technology is still out there, which means slower speeds. Clarify with your agent which service you’re getting. One quick tip is to see if they offer the U-verse Triple Play with internet, voice, and TV, which indicates the newer, faster service.
Don’t be mistaken—although DSL plans aren’t ideal for heavy online gaming or multiple users watching HD video streams, the plans are perfect for casual users who simply browse the internet and check email. You can probably get away with the 3 and 6 Mbps plans if you’re just doing light gaming or a single video stream.
When it comes to getting a good deal, we found that similar providers charged less for roughly the same download speeds and data caps. For example, the AT&T Power (45 Mbps) plan’s advertised price is $70 per month, whereas Comcast and SuddenLink both offer similar plans for $50 per month.
Bundles: U-verse internet + TV plans
With AT&T you can combine your high-speed internet with either U-verse TV or DIRECTV options, depending on your location. Most bundled TV packages include up to two receivers and a U-verse Total Home DVR.
Although bundling increases your overall price, you save money on the individual services. AT&T advertises that you get a $30 per month value with bundling. Most bundles offered by AT&T come with bonus “rewards cards” up to $450. These reward cards arrive within 4 weeks after service is activated. These cards can be used to pay for AT&T products and services, or used anywhere that accepts VISA.
To add U-verse Voice Unlimited, AT&T’s add-on phone service, it’s an additional $9.99 per month for the first 24 months. You cannot get U-Verse Voice Unlimited by itself, you must bundle it with phone or TV service. AT&T’s standard home phone service starts at $26 per month.
What’s the real price?
You must opt into Internet Preferences, an information sharing program with advertisers, to get the GigaPower Premier offer, which drops the monthly price from $99 to $70. AT&T claims your information won’t be sold. They also say you “won’t necessarily receive more ads”—only ads better suited to your interests. Only later do they explain that you won’t just see ads online, but also receive emails and direct mail (as in physical mail in your mailbox), all based on your browsing habits.
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GigaPower plans from AT&T offer a $20–$30 discount, but you have to agree to “My Preferences,” which gives consent for AT&T to share your habits with advertisers who will directly market to you. On the one hand, you save up to $30 a month by opting for the “Premier Offer,” which is quite significant. On the other hand, some users have expressed concern over this tactic, claiming that it’s a steep price to pay to maintain your privacy.
Be aware of the following fees:
- Early termination fee (ETF): If you agree to a contract, you only have 14 days to cancel your services and return your equipment. Early Termination Fees can be upwards of $180 depending on how long you’ve been in the contract.
- Activation fee: AT&T advertises activation fees of $50 for both TV and internet. Activation is usually consolidated into one $50 fee if bundled. The fee may be waived altogether if you order standalone internet online.
- Installation: AT&T claims to have a $99 installation fee, but most promotional offers waive the fee. We do recommend professional installation, but you may be able to set up your services without help (AT&T provides self-installation guides here).
AT&T provides your wireless router and wireless gateway, which deliver all of your U-verse services to the rooms in your home network in a safe and secure way. The technician will try to put it in a place that minimizes wireless dead spots.
If you don’t have a modem already, you can rent one from AT&T for $10 a month (waived with some plans). Or you can buy your own wireless modem for less than $100, which gives you the benefit of having more control over the speed you’re getting and avoiding any possible leasing fees or non-return fees. If you do have a router, you can contact an AT&T U-verse representative to see if it’s compatible with the plan you want.
A wide range of speeds allows every user to stay within budget.
AT&T U-verse’s download speeds range from 768 Kbps to 1 Gbps (.768 Mbps to 1,000 Mbps).
AT&T covers the gamut of DSL and high speed internet via cable, and it is expanding its fiber optic network. Anything labeled “GigaPower” is AT&T’s 100% fiber-optic network, which is great for gamers and HD video streamers. With these high speeds, AT&T U-verse ensures that the majority of your downloads, even HD movies, will finish in under a minute, if not less than 10 seconds.
Internet speeds are not guaranteed.The factors you should consider are:
Computer hardware and software
Below are the FCC’s minimum broadband speed requirements for a single user.
|Activity (single user)||Minimum Download Speed|
|Web browsing||1 Mbps|
|Watching video||4 Mbps|
|Video conferencing||4 Mbps|
|Online gaming||5 Mbps|
AT&T U-verse plans have more than enough data
Data is a measure of the information coming to your home, and some companies have caps or limitations on data, which from their perspective benefits the customer because other users can’t hog all the bandwidth the company can provide to a specific area.
AT&T recently changed its data caps in March 2016, so now most plans offer 300 GB. According to AT&T, “300 GB is far more data than a vast majority of customers use in a month. An average AT&T High Speed Internet customer uses just over 100 GB of data per month.”
|DSL Plans||150 GB|
|768 Kbps–6 Mbps||300 GB|
|12 Mbps–75 Mbps||600 GB|
|100 Mbps–1 Gbps||1 TB|
As with speeds, your data is affected by the Internet of Things. The more devices connected to your network, the more data you’ll use. If you have a large family where every member has at least a cell phone, if not another laptop or tablet, you may want to consider a higher data plan.
AT&T provides a data calculator for customers, so you can estimate how much data you will need. In the example below, you’ll see that even the DSL plans are still unlikely to go over data caps. The majority of plans have at least 300 GB, and most users will do okay with ~100 GB of data a month. HD video uses far more data than other activities, so consider how many people watch it on a regular basis in your household.As with speeds, your data is affected by the Internet of Things. The more devices connected to your network, the more data you’ll use. If you have a large family where every member has at least a cell phone, if not another laptop or tablet, you may want to consider a higher data plan.
What if I hit the limit?
AT&T wants to give customers the benefit of the doubt if they’ve underestimated their data usage: Your first two data overages are free, which we haven’t seen with other providers. After that, if you go over your plan’s data cap, you’ll pay $10 for each additional 50 GB. Note: you can add up to $100 per month, which translates to 500 GB total.
AT&T internet has 99.9% reliability
The American Customer Satisfaction Index gave AT&T U-verse a score of 64 this year; in 2016 it was 69. This 7% decrease may be a result to transitional difficulties after the merger with DIRECTV, or they could be slipping. The average for this year was 64, so they’re not falling behind per se, but they’re just average, not outstanding in this field.
JD Power & Associates rates AT&T pretty high compared to other providers. The average score was 3.15, the only other internet brand we reviewed who scored better on the list was Verizon Fios.
AT&T customer service
AT&T’s customer service is easy to deal with. On two different occasions, I asked direct questions regarding availability and specified I was not interested in purchasing anything. I wasn’t rushed or pushed to buy; they were hassle-free and provided the information in a timely way and ensured my questions were answered thoroughly.
Finding and visiting an AT&T U-verse store for support should be easy enough. Our search yielded 12 different stores in roughly a 5-mile radius from our service location—a benefit for customers who don’t want to face unreturned equipment fees.
The optional AT&T Internet Security Suite powered by McAfee features anti-virus, anti-spyware, and firewall protection, as well as a pop-up catcher and parental controls. McAfee’s site advisor gives a security rating for websites and warns of potential threats. AT&T additionally provides 11 email accounts with virtually unlimited storage, also protected from security threats.
Although they advertise it and recommend it, we would personally avoid the AT&T Yahoo! Toolbar. In general, toolbars not only bog down your browser, but they’re also filled with spam-like advertisements. It’s not worth the convenience to have so many gadgets, extensions, or otherwise extras packed into your browser. We’d recommend minimizing your needed applications and extensions to the strictly necessary.
AT&T U-verse internet is for (nearly) everyone.
AT&T U-verse covers everyone’s internet needs in terms of both speeds and prices with a wide range of services that just about anybody can find a plan that suits them.
Our Recommendation: AT&T U-verse GigaPower (1 Gbps)
AT&T offers the 1 Gbps plan at a great bang for your buck, assuming you give up some privacy for the $30 per month discount. For power users, this is what you need to ensure lag-free gaming, quick HD movie downloads, and enough bandwidth for a large household to handle.
Other great options:
- If you have access to cable internet only, we recommend the AT&T U-verse Power (45 Mbps) plan. At about $60 per month, you get high speeds and all the data you need (even for multiple users).
- If you’re looking for a bundled package, we suggest the U300 TV plan (75 Mbps). You’ll get all the popular channels and sports with fast internet speeds. You can also add phone service for only $10 per month. We chose the 75 Mbps internet in the bundle because of its cost efficiency.