AT&T’s lower prices and faster speeds make it ideal for most users, but some may find the perfect plan with one of EarthLink’s local partners
AT&T and EarthLink both offer high-speed internet plans across the United States.
In general AT&T’s fiber-optic network, great customer service, and low prices make it the better choice. Most families can find an AT&T plan that fits their needs.
Meanwhile, EarthLink’s unique service model allows it to partner with different companies in every part of the U.S., but it does keep prices high. These prices and the required contracts make it less ideal for many users.
We’ll go over everything you need to know about these two internet service providers (ISPs) here, including plans, performance, and availability.
EarthLink vs. AT&T Internet prices and plans
AT&T and EarthLink are two very different kinds of internet service providers. AT&T has a relatively curated selection of high-speed internet plans that come with fixed prices and availability. EarthLink, on the other hand, is much less focused.
That’s because EarthLink operates almost like an MVNO cell phone carrier. It doesn’t actually build and operate its own internet network. Instead, EarthLink acts as an intermediary between you, the customer, and another internet company, like T-Mobile 5G Home Internet.
This means that EarthLink has a ton of different plans in different locations, at different price points. There are benefits and drawbacks to this model, all of which we will get into here. But first, let’s take a closer look at AT&T’s plans.
AT&T Internet plan pricing
AT&T has streamlined its internet service in recent years. The ISPs DSL service is out, and a newer, faster fiber network is in. Also, AT&T has started a new 5G home internet service called AT&T Air. Here’s a look at all of the plans that the company currently offers.
|AT&T Internet Air
|AT&T Internet 300
|AT&T Internet 500
|AT&T Internet 1 Gig
|AT&T Internet 2 Gig
|Up to 2000 Mbps
|AT&T Internet 5 Gig
|Up to 5000 Mbps
As you can see, all of AT&T’s plans come with unlimited data. Even the slowest of the plans, AT&T’s Internet Air wireless service, gives you over 100Mbps. Even that is fast enough for many small families and couples.
But we recommend AT&T’s fiber internet plans, especially the Internet 300 and Internet 500 plans, because they come with more consistent download speeds and symmetrical upload speeds. That makes them ideal for remote workers, serious gamers, and large families. At just $55 and $65 a month, they are very reasonably priced.
Speaking of reasonable prices, you can get even cheaper internet if you’re signed up for AT&T wireless. Existing wireless customers can get up to $20 a month off all AT&T Fiber plans. That’s not a small discount.
Internet speed can be a little bit confusing, especially when you are comparing different kinds of networks (fiber vs. DSL vs. cable). But don’t worry, we’ve written a whole article about internet speeds to help you make sure you have enough to meet your streaming, gaming, and doomscrolling needs.
AT&T internet fees and contracts
AT&T has done away with its contracts, so you don’t need to worry about being stuck with a pricey plan when you’re ready to move or switch to a new provider. All of its plans are month-to-month.
AT&T has also started letting customers do a self-installation for their internet service, which means that you skip the regular $99 professional installation fee. However, you will still need to pay a one-time $35 activation fee (boo!).
If you don’t already have your own modem and router (which we recommend), then you can rent equipment from AT&T for $10 a month.
EarthLink plan pricing
There are so many EarthLink plans that we’re not going to list them all here. (Check out our full EarthLink review for that.) But we will show you a list of what we think are some of the best deals that the company offers, including DSL, fiber, and wireless options.
Speaking of deals, for a limited time, EarthLink customers can get the Fiber 300 plan for $15 off. Plus, install fees for fiber sales are only $19.95 and router fees for all services are $14.95.
|45 Mbps Internet
|Fiber 1 Gig
|Fiber 5 Gig
There are so many different EarthLink plans that it’s hard to generalize, but we will say that the company tends to charge more than its competition for similar services. But with its current Fiber 300 deal, EarthLink is pretty on par with other brands.
For example, the Fiber 300 plan here usually costs $69.95 a month, but you can get it for $54.95 right now. Compared to AT&T’s $55-a-month plan and Verizon Fios’s $49.99-per-month Internet 300 plan, it's the middle of the pack.
EarthLink also gives its customers unlimited data with no cap, no matter their plan. That means you don’t have to worry about overage charges when you’re binging the latest season of True Detective.
Keep in mind that EarthLink’s plans are different based on location. For example, when we looked up plans in Salt Lake City, Utah, we found five options. All of them were fixed wireless plans with a data range from 100 to 300GB a month. Meanwhile, in Charlotte, North Carolina, we found just two DSL plans with speeds from 12 to 24Mbps.
Since EarthLink's plans and prices can vary so widely depending on where you’re located, we suggest using our nifty zip code tool to see all of the plans (from EarthLink and other providers) that are available at your address.
EarthLink internet fees and contracts
In an era where most internet service providers are doing away with contracts, EarthLink is holding strong. We’re not big fans. You’ll have to sign a 12-month contract to sign up for an EarthLink plan.
The silver lining is that at least your prices won’t go up during the contract period. But there’s nothing stopping EarthLink from raising the cost once your year-long contract is over.
You’ll have to account for some fees when you’re considering EarthLink internet. For one, you can’t bring your own equipment, so you’ll have to rent it from whatever internet provider EarthLink is partnered with in your area (prices vary).
You’ll also have to pay $79.95 for professional installation in many areas, but most fiber sales can get it for only $19.95 right now.
And if you’re feeling fed up with your EarthLink service, be ready to pay up to $200 for early termination! Yikes.
EarthLink vs. AT&T Internet Internet speed
AT&T’s internet service is mostly powered by a modern fiber-optic network. That means you’ll get the best internet performance available, including consistent speeds that can easily go over 1Gbps (1,000Mbps) that’s enough bandwidth to stream 200 HD videos at once, hypothetically.
Another benefit of fiber networks like AT&T’s is that you’ll get symmetrical upload speeds. That means your upload speeds will match your download speeds, which is important for those who are uploading big files, like remote workers, or need to have really responsive internet ping, like online gamers.
EarthLink also has some fiber internet plans that can compete with AT&T’s performance, but most of its partners seem to operate DSL and fixed-wireless networks, which are not as fast. Here’s a quick comparison chart of EarthLink and AT&T internet speeds.
Those superfast speeds from AT&T aren’t just what the company tells the public. We’ve actually done our own performance testing and found similar results. EarthLink’s speeds are, however, much harder to verify given that they partner with so many different ISPs.
EarthLink vs. AT&T Internet availability
If you were wondering what’s so great about EarthLink, since it just partners with other internet providers and has relatively high prices, here’s your answer. Take a look at this coverage map.
EarthLink internet coverage map
Image source: EarthLink.net
Obviously, EarthLink has most of the United States covered with some kind of internet plan or another. However, the particular type of plan and the cost can vary a lot depending on where you’re located. In some areas, you could have access to top-tier fiber internet through EarthLink. But you could be stuck with a sluggish and overpriced DSL plan in other areas.
Meanwhile, AT&T’s availability map looks a little bit more humble. But at least you know that all of the areas covered here have more or less the same service: high-speed fiber internet or high-speed fixed-wireless internet.
Both AT&T and EarthLink are trying to expand the services they offer, so you should keep up to date with what plans are available in your area. The best way to do that is to type your zip code into the tool below, which will show you all the best internet deals.
EarthLink vs. AT&T Internet customer service
When your internet is lagging and you can’t stream your favorite YouTuber’s new video, you want to fix it fast. Unfortunately, most internet service providers aren’t so great at picking up the phone to help you out.
So, how do AT&T and EarthLink do with customer service and satisfaction? Turns out there’s a big gap between the two.
According to customer satisfaction surveys and numerous customer reviews, AT&T does a decent job. It is more responsive than other companies and genuinely seems to care about its customers' needs and questions. This is also reflected in AT&T’s score in the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) report.
EarthLink, on the other hand, seems to struggle. In HighSpeedInternet.com’s surveys, AT&T ranks among the top companies, while EarthLink comes in last place. While the company isn’t ranked by the ACSI—probably because it provides internet service through partners—we can assume it wouldn’t do so great there either.
Customer service scores for AT&T vs. EarthLink
2023 ACSI score
If responsive customer service is important to you, then AT&T may be the way to go. No matter who your ISP is, remember to use these customer service tips when you’re trying to get help.
Here are the best ways to reach AT&T or EarthLink if you want to test their customer service response for yourself.
AT&T Internet customer service:
- Call +1-800-288-2020
- Visit att.com/support/internet
EarthLink customer service:
- Call +1-888-327-8454
- Visit www.earthlink.net/about-us/contact
EarthLink vs. AT&T Internet: Which is better?
We’ve gone over all of the important details about EarthLink and AT&T. We think AT&T is the better choice for most customers because its prices are lower, its speeds are usually faster, and you get to work directly with the company, rather than using an intermediary like EarthLink.
However, there are some people who end up choosing EarthLink because it’s got better coverage or a plan that better fits their needs. Or maybe because of its Fiber 300 deal. The decision is up to you. Here’s a quick recap of the important data points to help you make up your mind.
- Price: AT&T’s fiber and wireless plans begin at $55 a month and have super high speeds with no data caps or contracts. EarthLink has a wider range of plans and prices, but they generally offer less bang for your buck and require 12-month contracts.
- Internet speed: AT&T’s fiber network outperforms EarthLink’s DSL and fixed-wireless plans, making it a better choice for large families, remote workers, and gamers. EarthLink offers fiber plans in some areas, which offer better deals and speeds than other plans.
- Availability: AT&T’s fiber service is available in many states throughout the Midwest, South, and Southwest. EarthLink has plans available all over the country, but the plans vary depending on who the company’s local partner is.
- Customer service: AT&T scores highly on customer satisfaction surveys. EarthLink sinks to the bottom of the pack.
We always strive to make our internet comparison reviews as clear, accurate, and helpful as possible so that our readers can pick the perfect provider for their lifestyle. A lot of steps go into the process.
We started this review of AT&T and EarthLink with an extensive research process. We consulted publicly available information about each company’s prices, contracts, network performance, and customer satisfaction. We used internal research, user testimonials, and third-party data to reveal the real life performance of the ISPs.
In the end, we tried to pass on all of this information in a way that was concise and easy-to-read, while making recommendations that make sense for different kinds of users.