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EarthLink Internet Review 2022
EarthLink internet comes with unlimited data and highly praised customer service, but can that outweigh its high prices?
Earthlink's prices are high, but it has a unique take on providing internet service across the US seems to be part of its magic. This ISP earns high marks for customer service1 despite using networks from partners like AT&T, CenturyLink, Frontier, Verizon, and Viasat.
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. But back then, internet meant listening to that screeching dial-up sound before you got online.
Is EarthLink's internet worth the high prices? We spoke with three EarthLink representatives and dug into the details to compare it to other internet service providers (ISPs) available in the same areas. Let’s dig in.
|10 Mbps Internet||$49.95/mo.*||10 Mbps||DSL||View Plans|
|15 Mbps Internet||$49.95/mo.*||15 Mbps||DSL||View Plans|
|18 Mbps Internet||$59.95/mo.*||18 Mbps||DSL||View Plans|
|30 Mbps Internet||$59.95/mo.*||30 Mbps||DSL||View Plans|
|45 Mbps Internet||$59.95/mo.*||45 Mbps||DSL||View Plans|
|60 Mbps Internet||$69.95/mo.*||60 Mbps||DSL||View Plans|
|75 Mbps Internet||$64.95/mo.*||75 Mbps||DSL||View Plans|
|80 Mbps Internet||$69.95/mo.*||80 Mbps||DSL||View Plans|
|Fiber 100||$59.95/mo.*||100 Mbps||Fiber||View Plans|
|200 Mbps Internet||$89.95/mo.*||200 Mbps||Fiber||View Plans|
|Fiber 300||$69.95/mo.*||300 Mbps||Fiber||View Plans|
|Fiber 500||$79.95/mo*||500 Mbps||Fiber||View Plans|
|Fiber 1 Gig||$89.95/mo.*||1000 Mbps||Fiber||View Plans|
|Fiber 2 Gig||$129.95/mo.*||2000 Mbps||Fiber||View Plans|
|LTE Home 50 GB||$64.95/mo.||Up to 100 Mbps||Fixed Wireless||View Plans|
|LTE Home 75 GB||$79.95/mo.||Up to 100 Mbps||Fixed Wireless||View Plans|
|LTE Home 100 GB||$99.95/mo.||Up to 100 Mbps||Fixed Wireless||View Plans|
|LTE Home 150 GB||$149.95/mo.||Up to 100 Mbps||Fixed Wireless||View Plans|
- Excellent customer service
- Fiber and wireless internet options
- Available in 48 states
- High prices for speeds offered
- Different plans and prices for different locations
- Installation and outages not handled by EarthLink
EarthLink prices and plans
On the face of it, EarthLink offers a nice variety of download speeds to internet users in 48 states across the US. To top it off, some of those plans are fiber. We like fiber because it's faster and more reliable than other internet connection types.
But what gets confusing is how EarthLink's plans, prices, and download speeds 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.
For example, when we searched for EarthLink internet plans in Jacksonville, Florida, we saw 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.
But there's a good reason for these internet plan switch-ups: EarthLink partners with other internet providers in different states to serve its customers. That includes AT&T, CenturyLink, Frontier, Verizon, and Viasat. So EarthLink's availability, prices, and internet speeds all depend on which partner serves the town or city you live in.
Because EarthLink partners with other ISPs to connect you to the internet, its prices tend to be higher than the competition.
So why would you pay more for EarthLink when you could get a lower price from one of its partners? There are two main reasons:
- EarthLink deals with the internet network provider so you don't have to.
- The prices you see aren't promotional and likely won't go up anytime soon.
EarthLink acts almost like your representative when it comes to dealing with its internet partners. Combine that with EarthLink's top-notch customer service scores and you can see why you'd want EarthLink on your side.
The other reason is that EarthLink doesn't advertise promotional prices. So, your monthly bill likely won't go up in the near future, unlike other providers who bump your price up after a year or so. (Like Xfinity or Viasat, which bump their prices up after three months.)
Internet bullying is an all-too-real issue our kiddos face these days. That's one of the reasons why EarthLink partnered with Bark to create EarthLink Guardian, a monitoring and screen-time management service.
Guardian monitors your children's texts, emails, social media accounts, YouTube, and more for signs of cyberbullying, inappropriate content, suicidal ideation, and many more red flags.
If EarthLink Guardian spots something out of place, it sends you email and text alerts that include recommended responses so you can constructively talk to your child about what's going on.
The best part is, you get to try EarthLink Guardian for free for 30 days. After that, it's only $9.95 a month.
One last thing. As of December 2021 , EarthLink is busting out some wireless plans (in addition to DSL and fiber options).
EarthLink Wireless Home Internet relies on cellular signals to provide a high-speed wireless connection. And when we say “high-speed internet,” we really mean high-speed internet.
This internet will run on 5G in areas where it’s available and 4G LTE where it’s not. EarthLink’s even providing its own router with these plans to better guarantee fast speeds.
These plans are pricey—they start at $54.95 a month before the $14.95 monthly router fee and the $79.95 activation fee. But at least the incredibly high speeds make the prices more palatable.
Where is EarthLink available?
EarthLink is available in some form in 48 states. (Sorry, Alaska and Hawaii!) But even in those states, it’s not available in every county, city, or neighborhood.
The best way to check and see if EarthLink is available for you is to use the ZIP form we’ve provided below.
How do EarthLink prices compare?
|Earthlink Internet||Fiber 100||$59.95/mo.*||100 Mbps||View Plans|
|CenturyLink Internet||CenturyLink Fiber Gigabit||$70.00/mo.†||Up to 940 Mbps||View Plans|
|Frontier Fiber Internet||Fiber 1 Gig||$74.99/mo.‡||1000 Mbps||View Plans|
Here’s a little summary of EarthLink’s partners to give you a better idea of what they’re offering.
- CenturyLink: You get unlimited data with CenturyLink, but the download speeds are usually not as good as advertised.
- Frontier: Like EarthLink, Frontier offers unlimited data, but its customer service isn’t as good.
You can learn more by checking out these reviews.
EarthLink internet speed and data
We’re impressed by EarthLink’s full list of internet plans. It offers speeds for every purpose, from casual web browsing on its 12 Mbps plan to an all-out streaming and gaming bonanza on the 1,000 Mbps plan.
The only thing is, you may not see all of those speeds depending on where you live.
That's because EarthLink uses its partners' infrastructure to deliver internet service to your door. So, if the EarthLink partner that serves your town offers only 3–12 Mbps download speeds, you won't be able to sign up for the 50 Mbps internet plan.
|10 Mbps Internet||10 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plans|
|15 Mbps Internet||15 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plans|
|18 Mbps Internet||18 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plans|
|30 Mbps Internet||30 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plans|
|45 Mbps Internet||45 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plans|
|60 Mbps Internet||60 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plans|
|75 Mbps Internet||75 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plans|
|Fiber 100||100 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plans|
|Fiber 1 Gig||1000 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plans|
This also means that EarthLink is beholden to whatever infrastructure changes its partners make. So if a partner decides to drop DSL service and focus on developing its fiber network instead, EarthLink's offerings will likely change.
We spoke with EarthLink about this issue, and the ISP's representatives acknowledged that it's a challenge. To make sure this doesn't negatively affect its customers, EarthLink plans to maintain transparency about your internet options—even if it means sending you away to another provider.
And, due to its partnership strategy, EarthLink doesn't directly handle internet outages. Instead, it communicates with its partners about any outages and relays updates to customers.
This may seem like a downside to EarthLink service, and you wouldn't necessarily be wrong. But think of it this way: EarthLink's service repair requests represent hundreds and thous s of individual households. Compare that to a service repair request made from just one household, and you can see that EarthLink carries a lot of weight when it comes to pushing its partners to get outages fixed promptly.
EarthLink has a pretty sweet perk going for it, and that’s unlimited data.
Most ISPs will cap you at around 1 TB of data per month, but not EarthLink. You're free to stream all the Maroon 5 and Star Wars you want here. 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. Nice.
That's also a one-up on a few of its partners:
- AT&T DSL internet data cap: 1 TB
- CenturyLink DSL internet data cap: 1 TB
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 internet plans unfortunately come with a 12-month contract. We’d love to see EarthLink offer its “no teaser pricing” perk for a 24-month contract.
The 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 later on down the line either.
The silver lining is that EarthLink's prices aren't promotional. So while you don't get price protection, EarthLink claims its prices rarely rise. So you should see your monthly bill hold steady for quite a while.
Currently, EarthLink doesn't offer its own equipment. Instead, you'll use the equipment provided by the internet partner EarthLink pairs you with. That means it's difficult to get a peg on what kind (and quality) of equipment you'll get.
The good news is, EarthLink’s equipment rental fee is lower than most.
- Modem rental fee: $6.95 per month
- Modem buyout fee: $74.95
EarthLink currently relies on its partners to provide your modem and router. But according to an EarthLink representative we talked to, the ISP plans to offer its own equipment sometime in the future.
One exception—the EarthLink Wireless Home Internet already comes with its own high-speed router.
EarthLink offers only professional installation, though its terms and conditions mention a self-installation kit.
Whether or not you can get a self-install kit depends on which internet partner you're paired with. EarthLink states that anyone getting its fiber HyperLink service has to go with pro installation. (That's because fiber internet requires a little bit more hands-on installation for the ONT (aka fiber) version of a modem.)
- Professional installation: $79.95; professional installation is required for HyperLink.
- Early termination fees: Up to $200. Ouch.
Because EarthLink relies on its partners' internet networks to get you online, it also relies on those partners to install your internet service. This may seem odd, but EarthLink should be extremely up front with you about which company will show up at your door to finish your installation.
EarthLink hopes to clear things up a bit in the future by including EarthLink logos and info on the installation technicians' vehicles or by sending an EarthLink tech out to your house too.
EarthLink customer service
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.)
Dial-up woes aside, EarthLink takes the cake when it comes to customer satisfaction if you go by HighSpeedInternet.com's latest survey. Here's a quick look at some of EarthLink's scores from the survey.
|Overall rating||4.2 out of 5 (1st)|
|Internet speed||4.1 out of 5 (1st)|
|Price||3.9 out of 5 (1st)|
|Reliability||4.0 out of 5 (1st)|
|Customer service||4.0 out of 5 (1st)|
(We normally like to use ACSI for internet scores, but EarthLink isn’t on ACSI’s latest customer service rating.)
When we spoke to a few EarthLink representatives, we found out that the ISP prioritizes giving customers the best possible experience. That's likely the reason why EarthLink customers seem so satisfied.
We asked how EarthLink keeps its customers happy, and the representatives noted that they've empowered their customer service representatives to make more decisions. That means fewer transfers and less time on hold.
EarthLink is also in the process of implementing a customer service model where you can call in at different times and still talk to the same agent or team you spoke with before. This should reduce the amount of time you have to explain your issue or question, which is never a bad thing.
If you do need to get a hold of EarthLink’s customer service, we still recommend using the live chat/texting feature. This lets you get all your answers in writing, which is one of our top tips for calling customer service.
Whether you call or use the text feature, remember to stay patient. If your current rep isn’t helpful, end the texts 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:
EarthLink told us in 2020 that one of its goals is to move all of its call centers to the US. That can be helpful to anyone who has a hard time reaching customer service for immediate support. So far, it seems like the company still has service centers in other countries, so it could be a while before this becomes a reality.
Recap: Is EarthLink internet good?
If you're just looking at price, there are better internet providers out there than EarthLink. But the spots where EarthLink earns our approval are its dedication to great customer service, unlimited data, and no-nonsense prices. (Read: no promotional pricing.)
That said, keep in mind that the EarthLink prices and speeds you'll see depend on where you live. And EarthLink won't handle your installation—though it will tell you which of its partners is headed to your house to complete the installation.
- Prices and plans: EarthLink’s plans and prices vary a lot from place to place, but it cuts to the chase with lots of plan options and non-promotional prices.
- Speed: Earthlink has some super-fast speeds, including 5G wireless network options, but they’re location-dependent.
- Data caps: EarthLink has no data caps, which is awesome. We fail to see a downside with that.
- Contracts, equipment, and fees: EarthLink doesn’t offer much of its own equipment and has some pretty high fees for installation and cancellation.
- Customer service: EarthLink scores well on customer satisfaction surveys. Most negative reviews are for the email and dial-up services.
EarthLink internet prices and plans
When possible, we like to test the products and services we use. Internet service is a harder one to test. It isn’t easy to access a single internet package for long enough to test but short enough to not enter a long-term contract.
We weren’t able to directly test EarthLink, but through HSI we were able to get some feedback from people who’ve used the service. We also read customer reviews, looked over the website, and talked to three EarthLink reps.