EarthLink Internet Review 2020

EarthLink’s unlimited data can’t balance out its high prices, contract, and confusing availability terms.
A logo for EarthLink Internet with an orange globe and black ring around it
Overall Rating 3.25 out of 5
Price:
$49.95–$99.95/mo.
Download speed:
15–1,000 Mbps
Data cap:
Unlimited

You might remember EarthLink from the 1990s. Back then, it was one of the first ISPs to offer unlimited internet access for a flat monthly fee. Shocking!

And up until as recently as 2016, EarthLink still shouted about its unlimited dial-up access from the rooftops.1 Yes, you read that right. Dial-up internet. But lately, it’s been giving its HyperLink DSL and fiber internet service the spotlight.

So is EarthLink HyperLink internet and its unlimited data policy worth the price? Let’s dig in.

EarthLink internet service overview
PlanPrice*Download speedsConnection typeDetails
HyperLink 15 Mbps$49.95/mo.15 MbpsDSLView Plans
HyperLink 30 Mbps$59.95/mo.30 MbpsDSLView Plans
HyperLink 80 Mbps$69.95/mo.80 MbpsDSLView Plans
HyperLink 100 Mbps$79.95/mo.100 MbpsDSLView Plans
HyperLink 200 Mbps$89.95/mo.200 MbpsFiberView Plans
HyperLink 1 Gbps$99.95/mo.1,000 MbpsFiberView Plans

Data effective 3/5/2020. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
*Equipment fees, taxes and other fees and restrictions may apply.

Pros

  • Wide variety of download speeds
  • Fiber internet options
  • Available in 37+ states

Cons

  • High prices for speeds offered
  • Different plans and prices for different locations

Find out if EarthLink is available in your area.

EarthLink prices and plans

You’ll get a variety of speeds to choose from, but EarthLink’s prices need to come back down to Earth.

On the face of it, EarthLink offers a nice variety of download speeds to internet users in 37 states across the US. To top it off, some of those plans are fiber. We like fiber.

But what we don’t like is how EarthLink’s pricing and download speed change based on where you live. That makes it difficult to get a clear view of how much EarthLink might cost you—or if you can even get EarthLink internet at all.

Sometimes EarthLink likes to throw a wrench in our nice list of what’s available. For example, when we searched for EarthLink internet plans in Jacksonville, Florida, we had a 24 Mbps plan and a 12 Mbps plan available.

But a search for EarthLink in Las Vegas, Nevada, showed 15, 30, and 40 Mbps plans.

EarthLink prices and plans
PlanPrice*Download speedsData capDetails
HyperLink 15 Mbps$49.95/mo.15 MbpsUnlimitedView Plans
HyperLink 30 Mbps$59.95/mo.30 MbpsUnlimitedView Plans
HyperLink 80 Mbps$69.95/mo.80 MbpsUnlimitedView Plans
HyperLink 100 Mbps$79.95/mo.100 MbpsUnlimitedView Plans
HyperLink 200 Mbps$89.95/mo.200 MbpsUnlimitedView Plans
HyperLink 1 Gbps$99.95/mo.1,000 MbpsUnlimitedView Plans

Data effective 3/5/2020. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
*Equipment fees, taxes and other fees and restrictions may apply.

So be aware that, depending on where you call home, your EarthLink prices and download speeds might change.

Speaking of price, we’re kinda dumbfounded about how EarthLink charges such high monthly rates for its download speeds.

If you compare the cost of Windstream, you get the same speeds for lower prices. The same story goes for CenturyLink and Xfinity, two well-known ISPs that serve large portions of the US.

EarthLink internet price comparison
PlanPrice*Download speedsDetails
EarthLink$49.95–$99.95/mo.*15–1,000 MbpsView Plans
Windstream$26–$56/mo.**25–1,000 MbpsView Plans
CenturyLink$49–$65/mo.†15–940 MbpsView Plans
Xfinity$29.99–$299.95/mo.‡25–2,000 MbpsView Plans

Data effective 3/5/2020. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
*Equipment fees, taxes and other fees and restrictions may apply.
**For the first 12 months. Price includes $19.00 promotional credit.
†Rate requires paperless billing and excludes taxes. Additional fees apply. Speeds may not be available in your area. CenturyLink Fiber Internet plan maximum download/upload speed of up to 940 Mbps via a wired connection.
‡For the first 12 months with a 1-year agreement. Gigabit Pro price with a 2-year agreement.

Yes, yes. EarthLink boasts that its prices don’t come with sly promotional rates or data caps. We do like that—but you still need to sign up for a one-year contract to get that price. After which your cost could jump. That doesn’t seem much better than what other ISPs offer.

EarthLink internet speed

EarthLink says its speeds keep up with the competition, but that claim hasn’t been tested.

We’re impressed by EarthLink’s full list of internet plans. It offers speeds for every purpose, from casual web browsing to an all-out streaming and gaming bonanza.

Add to that EarthLink’s fiber plans, and we’re almost giddy with excitement. We prefer fiber over its other DSL plans because fiber tends to be faster and more reliable.

EarthLink download speeds overview
ProviderDownload speeds
EarthLink15–1,000 Mbps

Data effective 3/5/2020. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

However, the price you pay for EarthLink’s fiber plans (if they’re available in your area) is high compared to other ISPs that offer similar or matching fiber speeds. And we also don’t know how reliable EarthLink’s service really is—there’s no Federal Communications (FCC) data on its performance in the latest report.

If you are in the market for internet that’s reliably fast enough to stream the latest episode of Star Trek: Picard, we recommend any on our list of the best internet for streaming.

Data caps

EarthLink has a pretty sweet perk going for it, and that’s unlimited data.

Most ISPs will cap you at 1 TB of data per month, but not EarthLink. Here, you’re free to stream all the Maroon 5 and Star Wars you want. And no one will send you a passive-aggressive email to tell you you’re 5 GB away from hitting your cap. Because there is no cap!

But we did mention EarthLink’s high prices (over and over, we know), so we feel it’s only fair to name-drop a few other ISPs with unlimited data that might be more affordable for you:

EarthLink contracts, equipment, and fees

EarthLink nails you with a one-year contract, plus unavoidable installation and equipment fees.

Both EarthLink DSL and fiber internet plans unfortunately comes with a 12-month contract. We’d love to see EarthLink offer it’s “no teaser pricing” perk for a 24-month contract. Better yet, what about a price for life, à la CenturyLink or Optimum?

Its 12-month contract isn’t the worst—but it isn’t the best. While EarthLink doesn’t jack up your price after three months like some ISPs (*cough* Viasat *cough*), it doesn’t protect you from price hikes for two years either.

Equipment

It’s a sad, sad day when an ISP makes you use its equipment. ISP-issued equipment isn’t always the best—sometimes the modem or router is outdated or doesn’t have the features we’re looking for, like multiple Ethernet ports.

Yup, we definitely felt a frown coming on when we read that EarthLink requires you to use one of its four different modem types.

The good news is, EarthLink’s equipment rental fee is lower than most. That makes it a teeny bit easier to swallow the fact that you can’t bring your own modem-and-router combo with you.

  • EarthLink modem rental fee: $6.95 per month

Service fees

Along with a bring-your-own-modem option, we’d love to see EarthLink offer a lower-priced self-installation kit. Unfortunately, pro installation is your only option. (Of course, the price is lower than most ISPs that charge a $99 installation fee.)

  • Installation fees: $69.95; professional installation is required for HyperLink.
  • Early termination fees: Up to $200. Ouch.

EarthLink customer service

Our second EarthLink rep shut down our live chat conversation.

It doesn’t take long to uncover reviews for EarthLink, most of which are about the email and dial-up services. And boy, are they harsh. (But is anyone surprised that dial-up got bad reviews in today’s age? The tech is ancient by now!*)

(*Written by a millennial who grew up waiting impatiently for the dial-up noises to end so she could hop on GeoCities and AOL Instant Messenger.)

Our own experience with EarthLink’s customer service reps was “meh.” We don’t like that you’re asked for an EarthLink email address to get into the live customer support chat. But we found we could get around that by using any old email, not just an EarthLink one, so there’s that.

Our first rep, Daniel, was super professional and helpful. He dug up the answers to a few questions we had about EarthLink’s DSL service, the modems the ISP uses, and equipment fees.

When we tried the live chat a second time, the experience wasn’t as great. Shawn, our second rep, did clear up some confusion we had about prices, but then told us to call the customer service phone number and closed the chat before we could respond.

We often recommend using live chat or social media to talk to customer service, so it’s rather frustrating to be instructed to call in. We prefer live chat and social media because that way we don’t have to sit on hold and can do other things while we wait. Calling in doesn’t give us that option.

Aside from our experiences and others’ reviews, there’s not much to go off of when gauging EarthLink’s customer service quality. The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) doesn’t include an individual entry for EarthLink, so it’s lumped into the “All Others” category.2

EarthLink customer service rating2
EarthLink ACSI 2019 rating (“All Others”)
64 out of 100

If you do need to get a hold of EarthLink’s customer service, we still recommend using the live chat feature. If your rep closes the chat like ours did, you can always open up another chat session.

And whether you have to call or get to use the chat feature, remember to stay patient. If your current rep isn’t helpful, end the chat or call back to see if you get a different rep. If you get the same person, ask to talk to their manager.

EarthLink customer service contact info:

Our picks: The best EarthLink internet plans

Best for casual web surfers: HyperLink 30 Mbps

Who it’s best for: Small families or individuals who stream a few movies and shows here and there.

Why we picked it: Though you’ll find better deals for similar speeds elsewhere, the 30 Mbps plan offers just enough speed for some casual streaming and gaming. We wouldn’t recommend it for households with lots of connected devices or any families with multiple movies streaming at once, but 30 Mbps is perfect if you’re a casual internet user.

EarthLink HyperLink 30 Mbps plan
PlanPriceDownload speedDetails
HyperLink 30 Mbps$59.95/mo.*30 MbpsView Plans

Data effective 3/5/2020. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
*Equipment fees, taxes and other fees and restrictions may apply.

Best for streamers and gamers: HyperLink 1 Gbps

Who it’s best for: If you’ve got a large family who loves to stream and game, lots of connected devices, or both, 1,000 Mbps is more than enough speed to keep you all going.

Why we picked it: Though you’ll find cheaper one-gig (1,000 Mbps) plans elsewhere, not all of them are fiber. And EarthLink’s price is still close enough to the competition that we think it’s an okay deal.

These top fiber speeds will keep your entire family streaming without a buffering icon popping up to ruin the party. And with fiber’s symmetrical download and upload speeds, your kiddos can work on becoming the next YouTube or Twitch star.

EarthLink HyperLink 1 Gbps plan
PlanPriceDownload speedDetails
HyperLink 1 Gbps$99.95/mo.*1,000 MbpsView Plans

Data effective 3/5/2020. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
*Equipment fees, taxes and other fees and restrictions may apply.

Recap: Is EarthLink internet good?

There are better internet providers out there than EarthLink, especially if you’re on a budget. But it does come with unlimited data and speeds up to 1,000 Mbps, depending on your location. So it’s not all bad.

  • Prices and plans: While EarthLink offers a good variety of speeds up to 1,000 Mbps, its prices are high. It’s also hard to figure out which speeds are available in your area.
  • Speed: We like that two of EarthLink’s plans, the 200 Mbps and 1,000 Mbps plans, are fiber. And there are lots of choices when it comes to speed, so there’s pretty much a plan for everyone.
  • Contracts, equipment, and fees: We like that EarthLink promises no price hikes during its one-year contract. But it could throw us a bone by extending that contract to two years or doing away with contracts, the required equipment rental, and a fairly high installation fee altogether.
  • Customer service: We had a mixed experience with EarthLink’s customer service team, which puts it in the same camp as pretty much every other ISP. Not great.

EarthLink internet prices and plans recap

Data effective 3/5/2020. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
*Equipment fees, taxes and other fees and restrictions may apply.

Find the best internet prices and plans near you.

Sources

  1. Ars Technica, “Dial-Up Pioneer EarthLink Still Exists, and It’s Merging With Windstream
  2. American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), “ACSI Telecommunications Report 2018–2019