Windstream offers unlimited data and low prices in rural areas, but its potentially slow speeds and customer service might give you a headache.
Windstream Internet Review 2023
Windstream is bringing high-speed internet to folks out in the country, from southern Texas to the Canadian border.
But if you're lucky enough to have other rural internet options, how does Windstream internet compare? Let’s take a look at its prices, download speeds, contracts, and more to find out.
Windstream prices and plans
Just like some other internet service providers (ISPs), Windstream’s prices depend on where you live.
Even some cities in the same state may see different prices for Windstream plans, so it’s best to check the Windstream deals in your specific area.
But to give you an idea of how its prices pan out, here’s a look at what you might get in terms of a Windstream plan.
|Kinetic Internet by Windstream Up to 100 Mbps||$39.99/mo.*||Up to 100 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plans|
|Kinetic Internet by Windstream Up to 500 Mbps||$39.99/mo.*||Up to 500 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plans|
|Kinetic Internet by Windstream 1 Gig||$69.99/mo.†||1000 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plans|
|Kinetic Internet by Windstream 2 Gig||$169.99/mo.‡||2000 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plans|
You may notice that two of Windstream’s plan names list a range of speeds. Windstream says it will tell you the exact speed range when you finish signing up for the plan, but you can expect to get a download speed somewhere within that range.
More than likely, Windstream’s approach is similar to CenturyLink’s: it tries to get your download speed as close to the maximum speed it offers. But certain factors are out of its control, like the condition of the wiring inside your home, how close you are to the network hub, and more.
Another thing to note about Windstream’s internet plans is that the advertised prices are promotional. They'll almost always go up after 12 months. So take a careful look at that fine print. (To be fair, this is pretty common among ISPs.)
When you compare Windstream’s prices to offerings from other internet providers like CenturyLink and Xfinity, it holds up pretty well. (And if you compare it to satellite internet providers like Viasat, which is another common rural internet option, Windstream’s prices and speeds look absolutely fantastic.)
|Windstream Internet||$39.99-$169.99^||100-2000 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plans|
|CenturyLink Internet||$30–$70‡ °||100-940 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plans|
|Viasat Internet||$69.99-$299.99**||12-100 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plans|
|Xfinity Internet||$20-$85††||75-1200 Mbps||1200 Mbps||View Plans|
Where is Windstream available?
If you’re considering Windstream internet, you probably live in a rural area. Yup, Windstream brings the internet to towns like Lake City, Florida; Cedar Falls, Iowa; and Tollesboro, Kentucky.
We love that Windstream is keeping the folks back home connected. To get an idea of whether Windstream is available near you, here’s a map of its coverage area plus a list of the states it offers service in.
States with Windstream internet service
- North Carolina
- New Mexico
- New York
- South Carolina
Windstream internet speed and data
Most of Windstream's plans are DSL internet service, which runs through your phone line. And while satellite internet might be convenient if you’re totally off-grid, DSL internet can offer higher speeds and higher (in Windstream’s case, unlimited) data caps.
And if you’re lucky enough to get the 1 or 2 Gig plan, you’ll be surfing the web on fiber internet. (We highly recommend fiber due to its fast speeds and high reliability.)
Here’s a look at the download speeds Windstream provides, which look great compared to the 100 Mbps download speed Viasat’s satellite internet currently maxes out at.
|Kinetic Internet by Windstream Up to 100 Mbps||Up to 100 Mbps|
|Kinetic Internet by Windstream Up to 500 Mbps||Up to 500 Mbps|
|Kinetic Internet by Windstream 1 Gig||1000 Mbps|
|Kinetic Internet by Windstream 2 Gig||2000 Mbps|
Is Windstream internet fast?
DSL internet tends to not be the fastest internet around. But several internet providers, like Windstream, are boosting their DSL networks with fiber-optic cables, which ups your speeds significantly.
And here's the thing: Windstream serves rural areas, so it's likely your other choice is satellite internet. Satellite tends to cost a lot more than even Windstream's most expensive internet plan, and it may not come with unlimited data.
So Windstream is still worth a serious look if your neighbors aren't within shouting distance.
Unlike CenturyLink and Xfinity, Windstream has no data caps. None. Zero.
That’s stellar news for anyone who likes to download a lot of games or movies—or has to download files when they work from home. You won’t get a passive-aggressive email at 2:30 in the morning warning that you’re this close to meeting your data cap. And you won’t have to pay data overage fees or fork over more money for more data.
We prefer it when internet companies remove restrictions like data caps, so kudos to Windstream for doing just that.
Contracts, equipment, and fees
Let’s go over Windstream internet contracts, equipment, and fees.
Windstream internet comes with no contract, and we love to hear that.
That means you’re free to cancel your Windstream service any time you want without early termination fees putting a dent in your wallet that’s deeper than the Mariana Trench.
Still, keep in mind that Windstream’s advertised prices are good for 12 months. When month 13 rolls around, you will see a jump in your internet bill—and that’s never fun.
This is, unfortunately, a common practice for most internet service providers (ISPs). However, several ISPs offer a price for life guarantee for customers who “remain in good standing.”
With ISPs like Optimum, paying bills on time and sticking with the same internet plan allows you to pay the same rate, even after the promotional period ends. You can read about Optimum’s price for life guarantees in our reviews.
User reviews suggest that Windstream usually charges around $10 to $12 a month to rent a modem. That adds up to an extra $120 to $144 a year, and that’s about the cost of buying your own equipment.
- Windstream equipment rental fee: $9.99–$11.99 a month
If you’d like to skip renting and buy your own equipment, check out some of our favorite router recommendations.
You'll just want to make sure Windstream supports your new equipment, and be aware that “Windstream offers very limited support for broadband DSL modems not issued by Windstream.” (But we’ll help you set up your modem and router and troubleshoot internet issues with our guides.)
We love that Windstream published a guide to the charges you might see on your first bill. In a nutshell, here’s what to expect when you sign up for Windstream:
- Activation fee: This is a one-time fee of $50 to start your service.
- Installation fees: $35 for a technician to install Windstream internet, and another $65 if you need a phone jack installed.
- Early termination fees: No contract means no early termination fee, so you’re off the hook here.
Take a peek around the internet, and it won’t take you long to run into some angry Windstream customers. In our Windstream Wi-Fi and internet review, we found the most reoccurring problem was no one answering the phone and random internet service disconnects, Windstream’s got a rap for some pretty bad customer service.
And the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) report matches the sentiment of Windstream’s disgruntled customers, scoring the ISP a 70 out of 100. That’s a failing grade if we ever saw one—but it is up from 62 out of 100 in 2022.
|ACSI 2022–2023||70 out of 100|
If you need to contact Windstream’s customer service, we have a few tips that might help you keep a clear head and not flip your desk while you wait on hold:
- Send an email or use online chat. Nothing’s worse than getting stuck on hold, and chat or email let you continue living your life while you wait for a response. Plus, both of these options give you written proof of what your Windstream rep said or promised.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. Some of us don’t enjoy negotiation, and others don’t like talking to sales agents. But it’s very important to clearly state why you’re calling: what your problem is and what can resolve that for you. And if your current representative isn’t helpful, you can most definitely ask to speak with someone else.
- Do your research. If your internet service has been out for days and you’ve called several times before, keep logs of the dates and times you’ve called. If you’re negotiating for a lower monthly bill, have competing internet providers’ offers on hand. Having this kind of research and proof makes your case stronger.
You can reach Windstream customer service here:
Recap: Is Windstream good?
If you live in a rural area, it can be slim pickings for high-speed internet. Windstream may be one of the better options in your area, but it’s definitely worth comparing its plans to those of competitors like CenturyLink, Optimum, and satellite internet providers depending on where you live.
- Plans and prices: Windstream offers a nice variety of speeds, so it’s easy to find the right plan for your needs. But its prices may hold a few surprises since they change based on where you live—prices may differ even in the same state.
- Internet speed: Windstream advertises DSL plans that are faster than satellite internet, but you may not get the speeds you were promised. But Windstream offers unlimited data, which is a big win in our book.
- Customer service: Windstream is not the star of the customer service show. We hope it and other ISPs start treating their customers better and resolving issues like outages more quickly.
Our internet service comparison process is driven by data. We compare a lot of quantitative aspects of internet service, such as:
- Download speed
- Upload speed
- Data caps
- ACSI score
We also look at things that are harder to quantify, like internet type and availability. We took all of this information about Windstream and used it to get the 3.75 star rating.