Windstream Internet Review 2020
|Plan||Price||Download speed||Data cap||Details|
|High Speed Internet 25 Mbps||$26||25 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plan|
|High Speed Internet 500 Mbps||$46||500 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plan|
|Kinetic Gig||$56||1000 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plan|
Just because you live far away from the hustle and bustle of the city doesn’t mean you don’t want to be connected to the world. But it’s not always easy to find reliable high-speed internet out in the country.
Windstream is trying to change that. While the company has had a rocky history (including a recent bankruptcy1), it’s managed to create high-speed internet networks in rural areas, from southern Texas up to the Canadian border.
But how does Windstream compare to other rural internet service providers (ISPs)? Let’s find out.
- No contracts
- No data caps
- Great promotional prices
- Prices that go up after a year
- Poor customer service
Windstream prices and plans
Windstream has some great deals. Just pay attention to the details.
You know how at the end of a commercial someone’s voice quickly lists off a bunch of disclaimers (“offeronlyvalidwhereavailableindividualresultsmayvary”)? Well, Windstream really needs one of those guys because its plans are not uniform.
Just like several other ISPs, Windstream switches up speeds and pricing depending on which region of the US you’re talking about.
For example, we came across a 15 Mbps internet plan for $20 in Nebraska, a 25 Mbps plan for $55 in Iowa, and a 12 Mbps plan for $33 in Kentucky.
Rather than rely too heavily on the plans listed here, it’s best to look for yourself at what Windstream offers in your area. But here are a few popular plans to give you a ballpark idea of Windstream’s prices.
|High Speed Internet 25 Mbps||$26*||25 Mbps||View Plan|
|High Speed Internet 50-100 Mbps||$36*||100 Mbps||View Plan|
|High Speed Internet 200 Mbps||$41*||200 Mbps||View Plan|
|High Speed Internet 300-400 Mbps||$46*||400 Mbps||View Plan|
|High Speed Internet 500 Mbps||$46*||500 Mbps||View Plan|
|Kinetic Gig||$56*||1000 Mbps||View Plan|
Another thing to note about Windstream’s internet plans is that the advertised prices—which are awesomely low—are promotional. They will almost always go up after 12 months. So take a careful look at that fine print.
If we decide to take Windstream’s promotional prices at face value, it actually compares quite well to the competition. It’s cheaper than similar plans from other DSL providers like CenturyLink and AT&T. In fact, Windstream is considered one of the best budget DSL providers.
And as for its faster speeds, Windstream’s Kinetic Gig plan is only available in a few locations, but it’s a screamin’ deal compared to other super fast internet plans.
|Provider||Monthly price||Download speeds||Data cap||Learn more|
|Windstream Internet||$5–$85†||25–1000 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plans|
|AT&T Internet||$40–$50‡||5–100 Mbps||1 TB||View Plans|
|CenturyLink Internet||$45–$85^||10–1000 Mbps||1 TB–Unlimited||View Plans|
|Xfinity Internet||$29.99–$299.95°||15–2000 Mbps||1 TB–Unlimited||View Plans|
Windstream internet speed and data
Its speeds are faster than the slowest internet and slower than the fastest.
If you’re considering Windstream internet, you probably live in a rural area (shout out to Hazard, Kentucky; Pawnee City, Nebraska; and Unionville, Iowa). And in most of rural America, there are only two choices for internet: DSL (like Windstream) and satellite.
Satellite internet can be convenient if you’re totally off-grid. But DSL, which runs through your phone line, can offer higher speeds and higher data caps.
|High Speed Internet 25 Mbps||$26*||25 Mbps|
|High Speed Internet 50-100 Mbps||$36*||100 Mbps|
|High Speed Internet 200 Mbps||$41*||200 Mbps|
|High Speed Internet 300-400 Mbps||$46*||400 Mbps|
|High Speed Internet 500 Mbps||$46*||500 Mbps|
|Kinetic Gig||$56*||1000 Mbps|
In some limited locations, Windstream has installed a fiber-optic network that can offer download and upload speeds way beyond what DSL, satellite, or even cable can offer. But in most places, fiber is still a few years away.
Unfortunately, most of Windstream’s plans (aka the non-fiber ones) have poor upload speeds. This won’t affect most daily activities, like streaming or surfing the web, but it’s bad news if you’re excited about playing some Borderlands 3 online.
One piece of good news for Windstream is that the company scored an average of 95.6% on the most recent Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) actual-to-advertised speeds report.2 That means you’ll usually get the speeds you’re actually paying for, though we’d like to see Windstream hit 100%—or higher.
|Provider||Average actual/advertised speed|
Unlike Cox, CenturyLink, and Xfinity, Windstream has no data caps. None. Ze-ro.
Contracts, equipment, and fees
“No contract” doesn’t necessarily mean no problems.
Windstream’s services are contract-free, but that’s not all good news. Without a contract, Windstream can raise its prices as much as it wants, whenever it wants. And word on the street is that the company takes full advantage of this fact.
User reviews suggest that Windstream usually charges around $10 a month to rent a modem.
If you’d like to skip this by buying your own equipment, just beware that “Windstream offers very limited support for broadband DSL modems not issued by Windstream.”3
That doesn’t mean they’re not available, though. We’d suggest buying this TP-LINK ADSL2+ Modem Router from Amazon. It’s compatible with Windstream and a solid choice to boot.
Oh yes, there will be fees. Here are the ones you should expect:
- Installation fee: $35 for a standard installation and another $65 if you need a phone jack installed.
- One-time fee: $50 to “activate” your account.
- Early termination fees: No contract means no early termination fee, so you’re off the hook here. Booyah!
You want Windstream to provide internet and pick up the phone when you have a problem? Sheesh! So needy.
So your internet has gone out while you’re watching the latest episode of The Walking Dead, and you’re not going to be okay until you figure out what happens to Daryl. How helpful is Windstream going to be in this situation?
The answer is, about as helpful as a horde of zombies. Unfortunately, Windstream is among the lowest-rated companies in the American Customer Satisfaction Index’s 2018–2019 telecommunications report.4
|Windstream ACSI 2018–2019 rating|
|57 out of 100|
But Windstream does have a knack for reinventing itself, so maybe it will improve its customer service and prove us wrong.
Our picks: the best Windstream internet plans
Best for solo web surfers: High-Speed Internet 25 Mbps
Who it’s best for: Low-use households and college students
Why we picked it: Windstream’s lowest tier of internet service offers 25 Mbps of speed. While it might not be the best internet for streaming, it’s cheap and should be just fine for watching Netflix on one or two devices.
Best for gamers and families of streamers: Kinetic Gig
Who it’s best for: Large families, small businesses, and gamers
Why we picked it: Buckle up for gig speeds. Your whole family—and we mean children and cousins and everyone—could stream simultaneously, and you’d still have some bandwidth left over. This plan could compete with any of the best internet plans for gaming.
Recap: Is Windstream good?
Fast(ish), cheap(ish), contract-free internet for rural communities.
If you live in a rural area, it can be slim pickings for high-speed internet. Windstream may be the best option in your area, but it’s definitely worth comparing its plans to those of competitors like Frontier and satellite internet providers.
- Plans: Windstream’s internet plans differ widely from place to place, but if you’re in the right area, you can snag a great deal.
- Speed: Windstream’s DSL plans are faster than satellite internet, but that’s not saying much. We hope the company expands its fiber network to more regions.
- Customer service: Let’s just say customer service at Windstream leaves a lot to be desired.
If you live off the beaten path, we’d love to know what internet service provider you use and why. Drop us a line in the comments section.
1. Reuters, “Windstream Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy after Court Ruling”
2. FCC, “2016 Measuring Broadband America Fixed Broadband Report”
3. Windstream, “Can I Purchase My Own Equipment to Work With Windstream Services?”
4. ACSI, “ACSI Telecommunications Report 2018–2019”