The Best DSL Internet Service Providers
Still waiting for that cable or fiber connection to come your way?
Don’t worry. You can get your internet fix with DSL internet—and you might be surprised to see speeds rivaling those of cable. This is because a lot of DSL internet service providers (ISPs) augment their DSL lines with fiber. (But if you live in a truly rural area, you’ll likely not see speeds over 15 Mbps.)
So stop checking your email at the library and check out these five best DSL internet providers to see which is best for you.
|Provider||Monthly price||Download speeds||Learn more|
|Frontier High Speed Internet||$20–$60*||6–115 Mbps||View Plans|
|CenturyLink Internet||$45–$85†||10–1000 Mbps||View Plans|
|AT&T Internet||$40–$50‡||5–100 Mbps||View Plans|
|Windstream Internet||$5–$85^||25–1000 Mbps||View Plans|
|Verizon Fios||$39.99–$194.99°||100–500 Mbps||View Plans|
Frontier Simply Broadband—best for most
Lots of options, value-driven prices, and top-tier speeds make Frontier our number-one pick.
We’re thrilled with Frontier’s huge list of speed and price options. But the real game changer is that you won’t need to sign a contract to grab Frontier DSL service. Nice.
|Simply Broadband Core||$20/mo.**||6 Mbps||View Plans|
|Simply Broadband Ultra||$25/mo.**||12 Mbps||View Plans|
|Simply Broadband Plus||$30/mo.**||18 Mbps||View Plans|
|Simply Broadband Elite||$35/mo.||25 Mbps||View Plans|
|Simply Broadband Power||$40/mo.||45 Mbps||View Plans|
|Simply Broadband Performance||$45/mo.||70 Mbps||View Plans|
|Simply Broadband Extreme||$50/mo.||90 Mbps||View Plans|
|Simply Broadband Velocity||$60/mo.||115 Mbps||View Plans|
Compared to other DSL options, Frontier’s speeds are value packed. Only Windstream beats its prices—though Windstream’s highest DSL plan goes up to only 100 Mbps, not 115 Mbps.
It’s also nice that Frontier gives you the option to pay just $20 a month for 6 Mbps, which is more than enough speed to stream Netflix or Spotify. (And you can find more speed recommendations in our Mbps guide.)
What is Frontier’s actual speed?
Out of all the large ISPs, Frontier ranks ninth in Netflix’s September 2018 ISP leaderboard.1 But when compared to our top five DSL internet picks, Frontier ranks first.
Frontier DSL internet Netflix September 2018 ISP speed rank
Of course, Frontier’s ranking on the Netflix leaderboard includes its fiber options too—Netflix also includes CenturyLink’s fiber options. But overall those high speed rankings are a good sign.
No price hikes? CenturyLink knows what we like.
At first glance, CenturyLink’s prices may seem a tad high compared to other DSL competitors like Frontier and Windstream. But the value in these plans is that they come with CenturyLink’s Price for Life guarantee. Yup, no price hikes here.
|Price for Life 20 Mbps||$50/mo.††||20 Mbps||View Plans|
|Price for Life 80 Mbps||$55/mo.††||80 Mbps||View Plans|
|Price for Life 100 Mbps||$65/mo.††||100 Mbps||View Plans|
CenturyLink’s speeds actually go up to 1,000 Mbps, but you’ll need some major fiber internet support to reach those speeds. Considering this, it isn’t likely that you’ll find that speed in more rural areas.
What is CenturyLink’s actual speed?
Among all the top ISPs analyzed by Netflix in September 2018, CenturyLink pulls in at a modest tenth place.2 But when compared to our other top DSL picks this year, it’s continuously competing with Frontier for the top spot.
CenturyLink Netflix September 2018 ISP speed rank
And just like Frontier, CenturyLink’s Netflix ranking also includes its fiber options. Even so, we’re impressed with its consistently high speeds.
AT&T Internet—best bundling
Pair AT&T Internet with DIRECTV and you’ll get a discount on your internet bill. Score!
AT&T Internet offers only two price points, but that second one can be confusing.
|Internet Basic 5||$40/mo.‡||5 Mbps||View Plans|
|Internet 10-100||$50/mo.‡||100 Mbps||View Plans|
Essentially, you’ll pay the same price for 10, 25, 50, 75, or 100 Mbps—AT&T will automatically hook you up with the fastest of those speeds available in your area.
That’s not bad, but where AT&T’s DSL internet really shines is its DIRECTV bundles. Not only can you grab the DIRECTV channels of your choice, but you’ll also get a discount of about $10 per month on your internet service just for bundling. Not bad, not bad at all.
And did we mention DIRECTV is our favorite TV service provider?
What is AT&T Internet’s actual speed?
Netflix’s September 2018 ISP rankings list AT&T Internet at thirteenth out of all large ISPs.3 That’s not too shabby, especially considering this rating doesn’t include any of AT&T’s fiber connections.
AT&T Internet Netflix September 2018 ISP speed rank
Out of our five picks here, AT&T Internet’s speeds do rank last, according to Netflix. But the ISP has shown steady improvement since January 2018. Keep on rising.
Windstream—best budget pick
Your wallet will love Windstream’s speeds and low prices.
Not long ago, Windstream’s choices were a bit lackluster. But this ISP has since stepped up its game, offering speeds up to 100 Mbps—or up to 1,000 Mbps, if you’re lucky enough to live in an area with fiber.
|High Speed Internet 25 Mbps||$35/mo.^||25 Mbps||View Plans|
|High Speed Internet 100 Mbps||$35/mo.^||100 Mbps||View Plans|
|High Speed Internet 50 Mbps||$35/mo.^||50 Mbps||View Plans|
We’re also head over heels for Windstream’s lack of contracts and unlimited data. No more passive aggressive emails sent at 2 a.m. warning you that you’ve almost reached your data cap, now that’s a win for sure.
What is Windstream’s actual speed?
According to Netflix’s September 2018 ISP speed leaderboard, Windstream is sitting pretty in eleventh place out of all large ISPs.4 And if you zoom in on our five picks here, it’s in the middle of the pack at third place—but still edging in on the top two, Frontier and CenturyLink.
Windstream Netflix September 2018 ISP speed rank
It may not be the fastest, but Verizon DSL still outpaces other DSL competitors.
You might notice that Verizon’s DSL speeds lag behind our other picks. That’s no mistake, and it’s because Verizon offers true DSL service. There’s no fiber connection to boost speeds here, so its speeds fall behind competitors that do use fiber, like CenturyLink and Frontier—and true fiber services like Verizon Fios, of course.
|Plan||Price*||Download speed||Learn more|
|High Speed Internet||$34.99/mo.||Up to 1.1–3, 3.1–7, 7.1–15 Mbps||View plans|
* When added to a home phone plan. Price for 1 year plus taxes and fees.
One other stipulation included with Verizon’s DSL internet is that you have to have a home phone plan paired with it. That’s a bit of a head-scratcher for us, but if Verizon DSL is what’s available in your area and you want home phone service, the prices are still low enough to make it a good deal compared to, say, satellite internet.
What is Verizon DSL’s actual speed?
Considering there’s no fiber to boost Verizon’s DSL download speeds, you’d expect to see it dead last. But this ISP scoops up twelfth place in Netflix’s September 2018 ISP speed leaderboard.5
Verizon DSL Netflix September 2018 ISP speed rank
That puts it ahead of just AT&T Internet when you look at our top five DSL picks, but if Verizon DSL keeps picking up the pace, it may match Windstream’s speeds.
Recap—what are the best DSL ISPs?
In a nutshell, here’s how these five DSL internet providers stack up.
- Frontier DSL: With lots of speed choices, no contracts, no data cap, and value-packed prices, Frontier’s DSL internet is a no-brainer for most.
- CenturyLink: Who could say no to CenturyLink’s Price for Life guarantee and lack of contracts? We sure can’t.
- AT&T Internet: If you love to binge-watch, you can’t beat AT&T Internet’s DIRECTV bundles—and you get money off your internet bill too.
- Windstream: No contracts, no data cap, and some pretty rad speeds and prices make Windstream our favorite budget pick.
- Verizon DSL: Verizon pulls ahead of AT&T’s DSL internet in terms of speed, plus it boasts low prices. But you’ll also need a home phone plan to get it.
Not sure DSL is right for you? Check out our reviews of cable and fiber internet:
- The Best Internet Service Providers
- The Fastest Internet Providers
- The Best Internet for Streaming
- The Best Internet for Gaming
- The Best Satellite Internet Providers
What about you—which DSL ISP do you prefer?
What is DSL internet service?
You might assume that digital subscriber line (DSL) is just a fancy term for dial-up, but while both technologies use your phone line to connect you to the internet, that’s pretty much the only thing they have in common.
While good ol’ dial-up means you can’t take phone calls while surfing the web, DSL lets you do both. Whew, thank goodness, right?
DSL is also a lot faster than dial-up—and you won’t need to wait for all those beeps and trills before you click on Netscape, err, your internet browser. (Thinking about dial-up has us stuck in the late 1990s.)
But why might you pick DSL over cable internet? Well, DSL is usually cheaper and more widely available than cable, since pretty much every part of the US has phone service. Of course, there are always exceptions to this, but if you’re digging life in the wilderness, you can always check out our picks for satellite internet.