A Honest Windstream Internet Review, According to Customers

Windstream offers affordable fiber internet plans, but it falls behind in speed and customer service.

Windstream Internet at a glance
Kinetic by Windstream
Overall Quality ⁃ 3/5
bullet 3/5 - Speed and reliability
bullet 3/5 - Dollar value
bullet 3/5 - Customer experience
man popping out of a laptop with a speech bubbles with Wi-Fi, thumbs up, piggy bank
Brianne Sandorf
Apr 26, 2024
Icon Time To Read9 min read

Is Windstream good, or is it meh? It depends on what type of connection you get. Windstream’s Kinetic Fiber service is well worth getting: Although you see a substantial price hike (or two) long-term, customers still get a decent deal with cheap starting prices, gigabit speeds, and unlimited data.

You’re better off shopping for a faster alternative if you can only get Windstream’s slower, less cost-effective DSL plan in your area. DSL customers who spoke with Reviews.org were far from complimentary and even had horror stories to tell, but fiber customers were much more positive.

“I am very happy with Kinetic so far,” gushed one fiber customer who spoke to us over Reddit. “The speeds are better than advertised.”

Read on for our full review of Windstream.

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Honest reviews written by real people

Why should you trust Reviews.org? Because we are real people writing these reviews, and we talk to real people in order to research them.

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Is Windstream an option where you are? Find out now.
Windstream or Kinetic?
Heads Up

Windstream is the parent company, while Kinetic is the brand used for the internet service. We mainly use “Windstream” in this review, but “Kinetic” appears in some places.

Get to know Windstream: Plans and pricing

Plan
Price
Download speed
Details
Kinetic Internet Basic $50/mo for 3 yr.*Up to 50 Mbps
Kinetic Internet by Windstream 300 Mbps$39.99/mo.Up to 300 Mbps
Kinetic Internet by Windstream 1 Gig$69.99/mo.1000 Mbps
Kinetic Internet by Windstream 2 Gig$99.99/mo.^2000 Mbps
* With $5 Auto Pay for each month the customer is enrolled in AutoPay throughout the life of the customer. Available to new and existing customers. Price duration for 3 years.
With $5 Auto Pay for each month the customer is enrolled in AutoPay throughout the life of the customer. Available to new and existing customers. Price duration for 12 months.
The $39.99 price is for 3 months. After the three months, price increases to $69.99. With $5 Auto Pay for each month the customer is enrolled in AutoPay. Limited-time, non-transferable offer for residential customers that may not be combined with other promotions. Credit restrictions may apply. Subject to availability, price duration for 24 months.
^ With $5 Auto Pay for each month the customer is enrolled in AutoPay. Limited-time, non-transferable offer for residential customers that may not be combined with other promotions. Credit restrictions may apply. Subject to availability, price duration for 24 months.

Windstream offers one DSL plan and four fiber internet plans, with speeds ranging from under 100Mbps all the way up to 8,000Mbps(!). (The 8,000Mbps plan has very little availability and is not for sale in most areas.)

Of course, not all Windstream plans are created equal. DSL is extremely slow and can be spotty. It runs over old telephone cable lines, and many internet brands are phasing it out. It costs $50 a month, which is typical for DSL but a lot of money to pay for such slow speeds. We don’t typically recommend a DSL connection unless you have no other options or are a masochist. But in some cases, Windstream DSL might be your best bet for an internet connection, like if you live in a rural area or small town with limited Wi-Fi options.

The Kinetic Fiber plans are a much better value for most people—these plans are much faster and more reliable and get you more for your money. Windstream has no data caps (score!) or annual contracts (double score!) but does require several non-negotiable fees, including a standard installation fee and a somewhat steep activation fee. Unless you use your own (Windstream-compatible) modem and router, there's also a monthly modem rental fee.

Prorated Windstream services
Money

Your Windstream bill may be prorated if you live in Minnesota, New York, or Pennsylvania.

Windstream fees for modem and installation

One-time professional installation fee

$35.00

One-time activation fee

$50.00

Phone jack installation

$65.00 per jack installed for DSL

Modem rental

$10.99/mo.

Data as of 03/27/2024.

What makes this review legit?

Our fact-based research process centers around interviews with internet customers from across the country. To put together this review, I spoke to three Windstream customers, chatted with a Kinetic spokesperson, combed through the Windstream website, and looked at a ton of complaints and survey data. Our goal is to understand how internet services hold up against diverse needs and challenges. Want to know more about our in-depth process? Read about how we review internet providers.

how we review products and services

The rundown: Windstream by our criteria

For all our internet reviews, we give a rating based on three main criteria—speed and reliability, dollar value, and customer experience—which we then average to make the overall score.

Want to know what Windstream is good at (besides sounding like a Wi-Fi service for airbenders)? See our full take below.

Overall score: 3/5

Speed and reliability

internet speed
3.0/5.0

Fiber connections tend to be faster and more reliable, so you're going to see much better speeds and connection if you snag Kinetic Fiber over Windstream's DSL. Unfortunately, the fiber is much harder to get than the DSL—it’s available in only about a quarter of the Windstream market. And frankly, from Reviews.org to you, if you can’t get the fiber, you might want to skip Windstream altogether.

So how fast is Windstream? Its advertised speeds go up to 8,000Mbps, which is a genuinely insane pace. But the official Reviews.org speed test says that in 2023, the average Windstream Internet download speed was 72.6Mbps. That's not too bad, although it falls below the FCC 2024 designation of high-speed internet at 100Mbps or faster. It’s also  low compared to some of the fastest providers. The speed-test results combine both fiber and DSL speeds, so it’s likely that the DSL speeds skew the results lower.

Windstream isn’t the top provider in reliability, but it's not the least reliable either. According to HighSpeedInternet.com, Windstream falls somewhere in the middle, scoring a 3.6—a little below the industry average.

Dollar value

dollar value
3.0/5.0

You can get some good deals up front with Windstream. But once those deals expire, you're left paying higher prices.

For instance, the gig plan starts at $69.99 a month. Which isn’t bad—that’s what Google Fiber charges for its baseline gigabit plan. But after 24 months, your price will increase (the exact amount depends on your service area).

This is similar across the board—here’s how it breaks down for other plans and connection types:

  • The DSL plan price increases after 36 months.
  • The 300Mbps fiber price increases after 12 months.
  • The 2Gbps plan increases after 24 months.

Ultimately, you don't get the best deals from Windstream once the promotional pricing runs out. Kinetic Fiber prices jump up to Google Fiber prices but lack Google Fiber’s quality of service. Windstream’s DSL internet, which is already slow for the price, becomes even more expensive after you have it for a few years.

Still, Kinetic Fiber can get you a better deal than some cable internet providers. "Windstream saves you money—if you know how to take advantage of it," says fiber customer Peter in Sugar Land, Texas.

Compared to the price competition in his town (Xfinity), he saves over $50 a month with Windstream. And on top of the price savings, he gets “all fiber all the time” with “no cap on data” instead of using Xfinity’s cable service with a 1.2TB data cap.

Of course, when your prices jump up, the no-contract policy allows you to leave the service without paying any fees—so you can try something else if you want.

Customer experience

customer experience
3.0/5.0

Windstream's customer experience isn't anything to write home about. The ACSI rates Kinetic by Windstream at 70 in customer satisfaction, which is better than the industry average of 66. But HighSpeedInternet.com puts Windstream below average, and individual customer experiences bolster that stat, and customers who spoke with Reviews.org mentioned long outages and poorly trained customer service.

"A technician once came to my house to fix a week-long outage and claimed my internet went out because I moved my router from the left side of the couch to the right side without unplugging it and insisted the line was 'married to that phone jack,'" said Mikayla, a reluctant Windstream customer of 18 years from Bent, New Mexico. Mikayla's had such a poor experience with Windstream personnel over the last several years that she would switch ISPs if she could, but there's no other ISP available in her area.

How long did it take to get a real human on the phone? It took less than a minute for me to reach a real human.

How is the chat service? The chat service connected me immediately to Pashae M, who assured me they were a live agent. Pashae's responses were fairly prompt and didn't seem auto-generated. They could assist with complex or nuanced problems, not just the simple questions that chatbots handle.

Overall quality

overall quality
3.0/5.0

Windstream’s Kinetic Fiber service is reliable enough and can be well-priced, but it’s not the best pick if you prefer top-quality customer service. Kinetic Fiber is well worth getting. Even though it’s not our favorite or highest rated fiber service, it can still beat out cable providers in terms of speeds and pricing. You may want to think twice about Windstream DSL, though, considering the slow speeds and relatively steep prices.

Windstream—what deals and promotions can you get?

On top of Windstream’s excellent promo pricing, you can sometimes get additional deals that save you more money or net you more perks.

deals badge
Sign up with Windstream and receive a $100 prepaid Mastercard.

Windstream add-ons and perks


Kinetic Secure app

Free for the first three months, then $14.99/mo.


Whole Home Wi-Fi setup

Free for all customers


DISH TV

Pay a minimum of $84.99/mo. to add 190 channels and thousands of on-demand titles to your internet plan


Voice

Pay a minimum of $25.00/mo. to add a phone line to your internet plan


What do customers think of Windstream?

Peter, an IT administrator in Sugar Land, Texas, finds his Windstream fiber reliable. “I haven't talked to Windstream customer service in the last 12 months. That says a lot about the quality of their data line,” he says.

“Overall, still much better than Xfinity.” —Peter

Another Kinetic Fiber customer, who posts on Reddit under the name toddsing, loved the installation experience. “My Windstream install tech was great,” they tell Reviews.org, adding that when they pushed back with a technician about superfluous equipment, rather than insisting he was right, the technician did a little research. Eventually, he agreed with toddsing that no more equipment was needed.

But other Windstream customers felt that the service leaves something to be desired.

When Ron Ames moved homes in 2019, he planned to sign up for Spectrum Internet. However, he learned that Spectrum service ended half a mile down the road, leaving him with Windstream. "I have no other provider, too, so I'm essentially captive,” he says. “Not even cellular wireless is available to me."

Ames bemoans Windstream for not investing in fiber infrastructure earlier. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2019, and Ames is still dealing with what he feels is subpar service. His DSL download speeds reach only 35Mbps “on a good day,” and his upload speeds max out at a mere 2Mbps. Those speeds are well below federal broadband standards, but he still pays a painfully high price.

"Kinetic Fiber is around $50 to $60, and they're charging their slowest speed customers more than that," he says, noting that he pays $82 a month (after all the fees and taxes) for his DSL plan.

“Do I think I’m getting a good deal? Absolutely not.” —Ron Ames

Some customers seem to have reached the end of their rope with the provider. “They lie,” vents Mikayla, a small business owner in Bent, New Mexico. She’s had Windstream since 2006 and feels the brand hasn’t been truthful with her on multiple levels. “They lie about their service, their speeds, their price. We were told in 2016 we would have fiber within the year. We still don't have it today and later found out that Windstream never had any plans to bring fiber to our neighborhood.”

Mikayla preferred not to share her last name due to harassment she’s allegedly received from Windstream personnel in the past.

And Reddit user, 223pk, says it’s been a pain trying to get a store-bought router set up over Windstream’s Kinetic Fiber network. “My understanding was that I could use my own router instead of paying a monthly fee for theirs,” the Redditor says. But the router is still not connected, with no help coming from the customer service department.

“My options are to cancel and go back to Spectrum or pay their modem fee and run my Wi-Fi network off their router,” they said, adding three question marks at the end of their statement to emphasize how ridiculous they feel this is.

“I like absolutely nothing about this company.” —Mikayla

Need to contact Windstream customer service or tech support?

There are a few options to get the help you need:

Digging deeper: Who can get Windstream fiber plans?

Windstream offers two different service plans: DSL and fiber. DSL, or digital subscriber line, works off an old-school telephone setup, while fiber internet uses bundled strands of fiber-optic cabling to send photon signals. DSL has been on the outs over the past several years, and lack of investment in infrastructure improvements means it tends to be slow, buggy, and not too reliable. Fiber is the complete opposite.

“Fiber transmits data at speeds of up to 70% the speed of light, exceeding other technologies,” explains Dave Faggard, Kinetic Senior Director of Reputation, Social Media and PR. “It can do this because fiber-optic technology uses light instead of electricity to transmit data at higher frequencies.”

Windstream’s DSL availability is fairly limited, and the fiber service (Kinetic Fiber) is even more restricted. Availability maps from the Federal Communications Commission indicate that Windstream’s fiber to DSL ratio is about 1:4. So the likelihood of living in a Kinetic Fiber area is possible but not large.

Still, according to Faggard, that’s not for lack of trying.

“Kinetic is committed to our communities and investing a multi-billion-dollar effort to provide many underserved and unserved Americans access to high-speed internet. With Kinetic Fiber, customers get reliable and faster-than-ever internet speeds needed for today’s digital demands, ensuring that no community is left behind,” Faggard says. “We are busy making rural, often-forgotten towns and counties multi-gig ready.”

If you want Kinetic Fiber but need to know if you're eligible, you can look up your address on the Windstream website.

Where is Windstream available?

Windstream is available in 18 states in the South, on the East Coast, and in the Midwest. Some locations have DSL, and some have fiber—it all depends on your city and neighborhood.

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See if you live in a Windstream-eligible area.

Windstream vs. the competition

Windstream's prices compare favorably to those of other providers during the promo period but fall short once regular prices kick in.

Kinetic Fiber prices are neck and neck with Google Fiber during the promotional period, and $50 a month is pretty average for DSL. After these prices wear off after one, two, or three years, Windstream becomes less of a budget provider and more of a luxury-priced one. This makes Kinetic Fiber less of a bargain—most fiber providers give you a flat rate with no price hikes.

But Windstream shines in other aspects. Unlike Xfinity, it has no data caps. And while we don’t usually recommend DSL, if your area has a dearth of other internet providers, it’s nice to have Windstream as an option.

Compare internet providers and prices
Service
Prices
Download speed
Upload speed
Connection type
Details
Windstream Internet$39.99-$169.99°100-2000 Mbps100-2000 MbpsDSL/Fiber
Google Fiber$70-$150**1000-8000 Mbps1000-8000 MbpsFiber
AT&T Fiber$55-$225††300-5000 Mbps300-5000 MbpsFiber
T-Mobile 5G Home Internet$60-$60‡‡245-245 Mbps31-31 MbpsFixed Wireless
Verizon Fios Home Internet$49.99-$89.99^^300-2300 Mbps10-2300 MbpsFiber
Spectrum Internet®$19.99-$89.9930-1000 Mbps°°4-35 MbpsCable
Data as of 04/05/2023. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
° With Auto Pay for 12 months
** Plus taxes and fees. Upload/download speed and device streaming claims are based on maximum wired speeds. Actual Internet speeds are not guaranteed and may vary based on factors such as hardware and software limitations, latency, packet loss, etc.
†† Price after $5/mo Autopay & Paperless bill discount (w/in 2 bills). Plus taxes $ fees. Limited availability. May not be available in your area.
‡‡ w/ Auto Pay. Regulatory fees included in monthly price for qualified accounts. See full terms.
^^ Price per month with Auto Pay & without select 5G mobile plans. Fios plan prices include taxes & fees
°° Limited time offer; subject to change; valid to qualified residential customers who have not subscribed to any services within the previous 30 days and who have no outstanding obligation to Charter.

Want Windstream? Find it in your area.

Is Windstream for you? Then try our zip finder to see if you’re eligible.

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Check and see if Windstream DSL or fiber is available at your address.
Brianne Sandorf
Written by
Brianne Sandorf
Brianne has a degree in English and creative writing from Westminster College and has spent 6+ years writing professional, research-based content. Before joining Reviews.org, she wrote safety and security content for ASecureLife.com. Her pieces and quotes are published across the web, including on MSN.com, Social Catfish, and Parents.com. Hobbies include wearing a seatbelt, wearing a life jacket, and keeping her arms and legs inside the ride at all times. Contact her at brianne@reviews.org.

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