Windstream Internet Review

Fewer plans and higher prices will make you think twice about signing up for Windstream unless it’s the only DSL provider in your area.

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Fewer plans and higher prices will make you think twice about signing up for Windstream unless it’s the only DSL provider in your area.
Overall Rating3 out of 5
Pricing:
$57.99–$77.99
Speed:
6 Mbps–25 Mbps
Data Limits:
None

THE BOTTOM LINE: Windstream’s two DSL options and limited fiber-optic availability restrict your choices, and its prices can’t compete with other providers. However, the company has committed to improving its equipment and is one of the few providers with no data caps. Overall, it’s a decent option for rural families who want to upgrade from dial-up but don’t want satellite internet.

Is it Right for Me?

YES

  • If you’re in a rural area and want a DSL connection
  • If you want to avoid data caps
  • If you like customer service that isn’t outsourced to other countries
  • If you’re interested in bundled service (add TV and phone)

NO

  • If you want the best price for your internet service
  • If you need the fastest possible connection and you have other options
  • If you  rely on consistent internet speeds

Is Windstream available in your area?

Price and plans

High prices and fewer options.

PlanAdvertised PriceDownload Speed
Standard Speed$57.99/mo6 Mbps
Enhanced Speed$67.99/mo10–25 Mbps
Premium Speed$77.99/mo50 Mbps

Updated 4/20/17. Pricing and availability may change depending on location. 

Windstream’s Standard and Enhanced DSL service plans are generally available wherever Windstream operates. The Premium Speed plan is Windstream’s new fiber-optic option and is currently limited to about 1,000 markets—or 26% of all Windstream customers.

There are no contracts associated with the internet-only plans, which is consistent with what other providers offer, but the advertised prices for all of Windstream’s plans tend to be higher than even the regular prices of other providers.

Bundles: Windstream internet (+TV/phone)

PlanServicesAdvertised PriceRegular Price
Standard Speed + Phone6 Mbps + Phone$40/mo$59.99/mo
Enhanced Speed + Phone 10–20 Mbps + Phone$40/mo$69.99
Premium Speed + Phone60 Mbps + Phone$40/mo$79.99/mo
First Year Savings Bundle10–25 Mbps +120 DISH channels + Phone$109.99/mo$129.99/mo
Kinetic Basic10–25 Mbps + 29 Kinetic channels + Phone$89.99/mo$162.97/mo

Windstream offers several options for internet, TV, and phone service bundles. We’ve highlighted a few basic options, but the exact services available will depend on your location. If you want to bundle TV with your internet service you’ll have access to the DISH network. If you’re located in the Lexington, KY; Lincoln, NE; and Sugar Land, TX areas you may be one of the select households with access to Windstream’s new fiber-optic Kinetic TV service. Windstream plans to expand Kinetic into more areas in the near future. For complete details, you should contact the provider directly for the plans and pricing in your area.

What’s the real price?

Windstream is surprisingly upfront about the real price for basic internet services. The internet-only plans stick to their listed prices and require no contract, which may be why the prices seem so high. Standard Speed plans come with a “Lifetime Price Guarantee” of no rate increases, but the guarantee becomes void if you move or disconnect your service.

All first-year prices for bundles, on the other hand, are introductory promotional rates and require a one-year contract. Breaking the contract incurs a penalty for every month remaining in the contract. After the 12-month promotional period, the cost reverts to current “standard rates,” which may have changed since you first purchased the service. Promotional rates and contract lengths vary with location, so check with a Windstream representative to see what’s currently offered in your area.

Hidden fees

  • Modem fee: Windstream rents out its own Wireless Gateway combined modem and router. Standard and Enhanced Speed routers cost $9.99 a month, while the Premium Speed plan router costs $11.99 a month.
  • Unreturned equipment fee: Any rented equipment that you fail to return after terminating service is subject to a charge for the price of the equipment as well as any attorney’s fees and costs.
  • Internet installation: Professional installation for DSL services costs $35. This fee includes setting up the wireless modem and home network, connecting up to four devices, and installing a new jack if needed. Self installation is free and includes equipment shipment, installation instructions, and 24/7 technical assistance. The Premium Speed plan requires professional installation and so the installation is provided for free.
  • Activation fee: All new accounts are subject to a one-time activation fee of $50, though promotional offers usually waive this fee.
  • Additional fees: Be on the lookout for additional fees that may come with your specific plan. Some bundles include a Protection Plan, which is free for six months and then costs $8 a month unless canceled. Some TV bundles include free premium channels for three months followed by a $60 monthly fee until you cancel.

Equipment

You will need a modem for your internet connection and a router for a wireless network. Windstream rents its Wireless Gateway combined modem and router, but they are not available for purchase. Both the Standard and Enhanced Speed Internet plans come with a 3-channel single band router for $9.99 a month. Premium Speed plans require a 23-channel dual band router for $11.99 a month. What’s the difference? Single-band routers use what’s known as the 2.4 gigahertz (GHz) band, while dual band routers use both the 2.4 GHz band the more powerful 5 GHz band to allow faster speeds for multiple users.

It is possible to connect with your own modem and router, but Windstream does not guarantee that the connection will work and will not offer customer support for third-party equipment. If you plan to use your own equipment, you’ll need to check with a representative to see if it’s compatible.

Speed

Decent connection speeds with a reputation for being slower than advertised.

PlanDownload SpeedUpload Speed
Standard Speed6 Mbps0.65–1 Mbps
Enhanced Speed10–25 Mbps0.76 Mbps

What internet speeds do I really get?

Windstream’s connection speeds are consistent with what other providers offer for DSL services, though some rural areas only have access to the Standard Speed plan. Maximum speeds for the Enhanced plan vary wildly depending on location, with 10 Mbps at the low end and 25 Mbps at the high end for downloads.

For both Standard and Enhanced plans, the upload speed ranges from 0.5 to 0.76 Mbps. These slow speeds will have a noticeable effect if you play a lot of online games or upload a lot of content. Windstream offers a 1 Mbps upload option for some of its locations, but that option will cost $3 more a month.

Windstream has earned a reputation for promising faster speeds than it can deliver. In 2014 the state of Georgia fined Windstream for false advertisement regarding its broadband claims. Windstream has stated its commitment to upgrading its equipment and infrastructure to ensure the best possible service. Since 2014, Windstream has followed through on that commitment by making upgrades to its DSL lines and continues to install new fiber-optic services in more areas. Based on current customer satisfaction levels it appears that Windstream still has a lot of work to do to continue improving its network speeds.

What speed is right for me?

Internet speeds are not guaranteed.The factors you should consider are:

  • Multiple users

  • Computer hardware and software

  • Modem

Below are the FCC’s minimum broadband speed requirements for a single user.

Activity (single user)Minimum Download Speed
Web browsing1 Mbps
Watching video4 Mbps
Video conferencing4 Mbps
Online gaming5 Mbps

Data

No limits on your data means less stress.

 So how much data do you really get?

As much as you want. Seriously. There are no data caps for any of Windstream’s plans. This is as good as it gets when it comes to the amount of data that you can transfer over the internet.

So I can’t hit the limit?

No. However, while Windstream won’t throttle your data for hitting a cap, high traffic or equipment overload can still result in slower-than-advertised internet speeds.

Support

It’s local, but it’s not very good. 

ASCI 2016 RatingJD Power
59/1002/5

Windstream does not outsource its customer support, which means that all of your support calls will be handled in the United States. However, this hasn’t helped improve overall customer satisfaction.

In 2016, the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) ranked Windstream in the bottom third for internet service providers. Windstream scored 59 on a 100-point scale; only three other national providers rated the same or lower in customer satisfaction.

In 2014, JD Power’s Residential Internet Service Provider Satisfaction Study rated Windstream 2 out of 5 for customer satisfaction. Based on a 1,000-point scale, Windstream scored 683 and came in dead last for the South U.S. region.

The story is similar across several other consumer report and ratings sites, with complaints including long hold times for support, representatives who are unable to resolve problems, and fees that aren’t communicated clearly. These issues, combined with slower-than-advertised internet speeds and higher-than-average costs, give Windstream some of the lowest customer satisfaction ratings in the industry.

The takeaway

Windstream is a practical option for those in rural areas, but you’re probably better served by other providers if you have alternatives.

Windstream has some nice perks, including an unlimited data cap, no contracts for basic internet service, and U.S.-based customer service. However, those benefits do not make up for the higher prices, inconsistent speeds, limited options, and poor customer support. Windstream is acceptable if it’s your only option for DSL, but you’ll likely be happier with a different service provider.

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Our recommendation:

If it’s available in your area, the $40 a month for 12-month promotional offer for the Enhanced Plan and Phone is the fastest available DSL speed at the exact same cost as the slower Standard Plan and Phone. It would be worth trying out for a year before deciding if you prefer to save $10 a month by switching to the Standard Plan.

The Other Option:

  • If you’re lucky enough to live in one of Windstream’s fiber-connected areas, you could get great use out of its fiber-optic based Premium speed service, with speeds that range from 50 to 100 Mbps.

Windstream unavailable? Find other providers nearby.

  • lori wengle

    After 8 years of lies and deception, I have to speak out. Run from Luciana Evans

    The newest deception is a contract I signed last August to
    fix my water on the line issues with AT & T who Windstream buys lines
    from. If I went from 350/mo to 450/mo my problem would be
    solved. I have a signed contract should
    be easy.

    WINDSTREAMS CONTRACT SAYS EVEN IF YOU HAVE A SIGNED CONTRACT
    THEY DONT HAVE TO HONOR THOSE PRICES.
    Per Christy Moody VP of legal and a good Catholic girl(not) here is what
    they said

    Plante, Jennifer

    AttachmentsJul 25

    Dear Lori,

    Thank you, again, for your patience. Legal has advised on the matter and it is our
    position that we rely on the Terms and Conditions of our contract. Section 18 (Disclaimer of Warranties) states,
    “No oral or written advice or information by Windstream’s employees, agents or
    contractors shall create a warranty, and Customer may not rely on any such
    information.”

    OK new contract for 466/mo plus fees meaning 600/mo and
    still my invoices are not correct…
    another two months and time to go to court.

    RUN AWAY FROM THIS COMPANY

  • Ryusho Yosei

    Forcefully c hanging our internet from 6 Mbps to 1 Mbps without telling us, and only found out from a tech when he told us -five days later- after coming to our place, Unable to even average 0.3 Mbps because of the sheer water line damage they -REFUSE TO FIX- and it’s a known issue the techs even admit it has been complained about several times…..and they are the only landline in the area so they are getting away with this without any repercussions….

  • AceDesu

    Download speeds, at 6 Mbps? HAHAHA NO WAY.
    My peak download speed is 80 Kbps Kilobytes… That is less than 1 Mbps. Not to mention that at times this incredibly low number dips into 30 Kbps. Do yourself a favor, don’t get Windstream; I’m actually going to get an unlimited plan with Verizon, so I can use the WiFi hot spot instead. It’s 5 times faster and the the cost of the plan is off set by us canceling our Windstream bill.
    The only worth while thing about Windstream is no data cap…But Verizon just beat them.