Best DSL Internet Service Providers 2020
If fiber and cable high-speed internet access haven’t made it to your neck of the woods, don’t sweat it. You can get your internet hookup with DSL internet—and you might be surprised to see speeds rivaling those of cable.
A lot of DSL internet service providers (ISPs) augment their DSL lines with fiber. (But if you live in a truly rural area, you likely won’t see speeds over 15 Mbps.)
So stop driving to the library like it’s 2002 and check out the best DSL internet providers to see which is best for you.
Frontier: Best overall
Lots of options, value-driven prices, and top-tier speeds make Frontier our number-one pick.
Frontier offers only three DSL plans, so the variety isn’t the best part. The real game changers are that you won’t need to sign a contract to grab Frontier DSL internet service and you get unlimited data. Nice.
If only other internet service providers followed suit.
|Plan||Price||Download speed||Data cap||Details|
|Vantage Internet||$24.99*||6 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plans|
|Vantage Preferred Internet||$27.99*||25 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plans|
|Vantage Premium Internet||$34.99*||115 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plans|
- No contract necessary
- Value download speeds
- Not available countrywide
What we like about Frontier
No contract necessary
When you sign up for an internet service provider, you usually have to commit the next two years of your life as well. It’s like an awkward relationship where maybe you want to break up, but neither of you knows how, so you just keep dating forever. (Just us? Cool, cool.)
Anyway, Frontier doesn’t require an intense commitment from you. You can sign up for any internet download speed that works for you and then cancel if fiber or cable internet finally roll into town.
Value download speeds
Compared to other DSL internet options, Frontier’s speeds are value packed. As you can tell from the table above, there are tons of internet speeds to choose from.
Barring promotions, you’re likely getting the best value for that download speed. For example, the 6 Mbps internet download speed with Windstream costs $20 more than the same speeds from Frontier.
What we don’t like about Frontier
Frontier is the best DSL internet service provider and it’s a bummer you can’t get it everywhere. (Don’t you hate it when you read that something is the best but you find out you can’t get it in your area?)
Hopefully, this isn’t one of those moments. Frontier is available in 29 different states—so enter your ZIP code below and let’s see how lucky you are.
CenturyLink: Best value
Home of the Price for Life guarantee.
CenturyLink is one of our favorite internet service providers (ISPs) because of its Price for Life guarantee. That means CenturyLink won’t change your price as long as you keep the same service and are a good customer. (Y’know, pay your bills on time and stuff.) #Winning
|Price for Life 15 Mbps||$49†||15 Mbps||View Plan|
|Price for Life 20 Mbps||$49†||20 Mbps||View Plan|
|Price for Life 40 Mbps||$49†||40 Mbps||View Plan|
|Price for Life 80 Mbps||$49†||80 Mbps||View Plan|
|Price for Life 100 Mbps||$49†||100 Mbps||View Plan|
- No surprise price hikes
- No contracts
- Customer service issues
What we like about CenturyLink
No surprise price hikes
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 internet plans is that they come with CenturyLink’s Price for Life guarantee. That’s right: no price hikes here.
And price hikes do happen from time to time with high-speed internet. For example, my Google Fiber internet plan price increased shortly after fiber-optic internet was installed in my area. Hook, line, and sinker.
Now that both CenturyLink and Frontier are both in on this no-contract thing, hopefully other internet service providers will feel the peer pressure. So whichever DSL high-speed plan you choose, you are free to opt out whenever you like without incurring an early termination fee.
So yeah, you get the lifetime price guarantee for your internet speeds, and you can leave whenever you want. That sense of security is a rare find with an internet plan.
What we don’t like about CenturyLink
Almost everybody we talked to before writing our CenturyLink review had something negative to say about its customer service. One user was even ghosted by CenturyLink despite setting an appointment. The internet specialist just never showed up! Talk about poor customer satisfaction.
Nobody wants to go days without an internet connection, and shaky customer service can certainly make that possible.
AT&T Internet: Best bundles
Get your phone, TV, and internet from the same source.
|Plan||Price||Internet download speed||TV channel count||Details|
|DIRECTV SELECT All-Included Package + AT&T Internet||$79.98||100 Mbps||155+||View Plan|
|DIRECTV CHOICE All-Included Package + AT&T Internet||$89.98||100 Mbps||185+||View Plan|
|DIRECTV ENTERTAINMENT All-Included Package + AT&T Internet||$84.98||100 Mbps||160+||View Plan|
|DIRECTV PREMIER All-Included Package + AT&T Internet||$154.98||100 Mbps||330+||View Plan|
|U-family All-Included + AT&T Internet||$79.98||100 Mbps||180+||View Plan|
|U-200 All-Included + AT&T Internet||$99.98||100 Mbps||370+||View Plan|
|U450 All-Included + AT&T Internet||$154.98||100 Mbps||550+||View Plan|
Data valid 12/10/2019. Offers may vary and are subject to availability.
*Prices for 12 months plus taxes. RSN fee may also be applicable.
- DIRECTV bundles
- Solid Up to 100 Mbps internet plan
- Expensive 5 Mbps plan
What we like about AT&T
If you’re planning on signing up for a TV or phone service at the same time as broadband internet, AT&T might make a lot of sense for you. When you bundle everything together, expect a discount of about $10 per month on your internet service.
Solid Up to 100 Mbps internet plan
Okay, but what does an “Up to 100 Mbps” internet plan even mean? Basically, AT&T will automatically hook you up with the fastest of those speeds available in your area. And you’ll pay the same price regardless of the size of your Mbps connection—whether it’s 10, 25, 50, 75, or 100 Mbps.
Who knows, you might get lucky and spend $50 a month for 100 Mbps. If that happens to you, just know that you’re getting an amazing deal.
What we don’t like about AT&T
Whatever you do, don’t sign up for bundles with the Internet Basic 5 plan. The price for bundling with this low internet speed isn’t worth it. It’s like paying $20 for a Big Mac. Or like paying $100 to fill up a golf cart with gas. You’d be better off going with a different internet service provider.
Windstream: Best budget option
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.
|Plan||Price||Download speed||Data cap||Details|
|High Speed Internet 25 Mbps||$45‡||25 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plan|
|High Speed Internet 50-100 Mbps||$55‡||100 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plan|
|High Speed Internet 200 Mbps||$60‡||200 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plan|
|High Speed Internet 300-400 Mbps||$65‡||400 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plan|
|High Speed Internet 500 Mbps||$65‡||500 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plan|
- No data cap
- No contracts
- Prices vary a lot by location
What we like about Windstream
No contracts and unlimited data
Windstream also offers no-contract options and an unlimited data cap. Most internet service providers only give you 1 terabyte (TB) of data, and it’s nice knowing you won’t get any passive-aggressive emails sent at 2 a.m. warning you that you’ve almost reached your data cap.
Low prices for the speeds you get
Windstream’s prices are low—limbo low. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a provider that comes close, especially when you’re talking triple digit speeds.
What we don’t like about Windstream
It’s hard to get a peg on Windstream’s pricing because it changes—a lot—based on where you live. Your best bet is to check your ZIP code or address to find prices in your area. Simple, yes, but it’s another step you have to take just to get an idea whether Windstream fits in your budget or not.
Recap—what are the best DSL ISPs?
In a nutshell, here’s how these five DSL internet providers stack up.
- Frontier Vantage: Best overall—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: Best value—Who could say no to CenturyLink’s Price for Life guarantee and lack of contracts? We sure can’t.
- AT&T Internet: Best bundle—If you love to binge-watch, you can’t beat AT&T Internet’s DIRECTV bundles. You get money off your internet bill too.
- Windstream: Best budget option—No contracts, no data cap, and some pretty rad speeds and prices make Windstream our favorite budget pick.
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—where did you decide to get your DSL internet access? What’s your experience been like? Let us know in the comments below!
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. (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.