AT&T Internet Review
Our AT&T Internet Review
With affordable broadband speeds and high levels of customer satisfaction, AT&T Internet is a solid choice for your internet needs. AT&T Internet refers exclusively to AT&T’s DSL service — though the more limited AT&T Fiber service is often mistakenly lumped under that label. DSL may be slower than fiber, but it can often compete with cable internet, and AT&T Internet has upped its speeds in recent years. Its plans range from 50 Mbps to 100 Mbps based on location, which is enough for three- to four-person households to regularly stream Netflix and browse social media.
In addition to improved speeds, AT&T Internet ranks higher in customer satisfaction than other major cable companies. It helps that the company offers perks like a steep 1 TB data allowance and money-saving TV bundling options. Ultimately, if it’s available in your area, AT&T Internet is a safe bet for good speeds that won’t break the bank.
AT&T Internet's Claim
AT&T is #1 in customer satisfaction compared to other major cable internet providers.
Is it true?
According to the 2017 ACSI Telecommunications Report, AT&T is in second place for customer satisfaction. It falls only behind Verizon Fios — a fiber internet provider — meaning it still ranks higher than all major cable internet providers. In fact, even when other companies slipped in the rankings, AT&T’s scores jumped 8% from 2016 to 2017.
Though AT&T Internet is a DSL service, news articles (and AT&T itself) often lump claims about this service with AT&T Fiber. This can make navigating its website and understanding the brand confusing. One of the biggest examples of this conflation is AT&T claiming its internet is 99% reliable, which is “based on U-verse High Speed Internet service.” Not only was the “U-verse” branding of internet phased out late last year, but there’s no way to tell if AT&T is referencing its DSL or fiber internet — “high speed internet service” could refer to anything, so it’s impossible to verify this reliability claim.
The speeds you do need are largely determined by how you use the internet and how many devices you’d like to connect. If you’re a three- or four-person household looking primarily to binge-watch Netflix while browsing articles and social media, chances are you should have enough speed with AT&T Internet. Plans start 50 Mbps, suitable for connecting around five devices at any given time. If you live with three or more people, it might be worth seeing if the 75 Mbps or 100 Mbps plans are options in your area. However, if you like gaming online or have a larger household connecting 10 or more devices at once, DSL won’t cut it — you may be better suited for 1,000 Mbps AT&T Fiber, if it’s available where you live.
A Closer Look at AT&T Internet's Features
|$40-$60 per month. Pricing increases $10 per month after 12 month contract.|
|#2 in customer service among all internet providers|
|People who place a high value on customer satisfaction or those looking to save cash by bundling with other AT&T services like DIRECTV|
|Those who need higher speeds for online gaming|
|50 Mbps-100 Mbps|
|12 month agreement required|
|Internet costs $10 less when bundled with TV.|
Our Deep Dive
AT&T Internet Speeds and Reliability
- DSL Internet: AT&T Internet, like all DSL providers, delivers internet over phone lines that are already installed in your home. Unlike dial-up, you can still use the phone while surfing the web. However, because data is received faster than it sends, you may have trouble doing things like Skyping or playing games online — and the farther you are from the provider’s central hub, the slower speeds will get.
- 99% Reliability: At this time, AT&T’s claim about 99% reliability is unsupported by any studies. The company’s fine print says it’s “based on U-verse High Speed Internet service,” but it’s unclear what that means, especially considering “High Speed Internet” could refer to either DSL or fiber.
- Brand Confusion: Even though AT&T rebranded its internet service a year ago, there are instances on its website that refer to AT&T Internet as “U-verse.” Although U-verse used to refer to both AT&T’s internet and television services, U-verse now only refers to AT&T TV. Still, news articles and surveys still sometimes conflate the two. This lack of clarity often causes confusion over which service is offered where. When looking into AT&T as your internet provider, it’s worth speaking to a sales rep to make sure you’re getting the service you actually want.
- Data Allowance: AT&T Internet has a 1 TB monthly data allowance on its standalone service, but that’s more than enough data for most families. In fact, you’d have to work pretty hard to use up that much data: According to Consumer Reports, a family of four would “each need to watch 104 videos per month, or more than five hours of Netflix every day.” If you’re still worried about reaching your limit, you can purchase unlimited data for an extra $30 per month, or get it for free when you bundle internet and TV.
Customize Your AT&T Internet Experience
- Bundling Discount: Regardless of which type of internet you choose, AT&T offers $10 off when bundling with TV. If you’re also in the market for a TV provider, it might be worth pairing internet with DIRECTV to save money.
- Customer Ranking: According to the 2017 ACSI Telecommunications Report, AT&T Internet ranks as number two for customer satisfaction, leading the pack over popular cable internet service providers like Optimum, Spectrum, and Comcast Xfinity. The only service ranking higher, Verizon Fios, is fiber optic internet. The 2017 ACSI Telecommunications Report links AT&T Internet’s customer satisfaction to the expansion of its fiber service, but the company’s sales reps might also have a positive impact on its score. The reps we spoke with were kind, helpful, and patient with our questions. They also didn’t pressure us to buy or try to keep us talking.
- AT&T Smart Home Manager: AT&T Internet’s Smart Home Manager lets you control your home network from anywhere. Have a friend visiting for the weekend? You can invite them to join your Wi-Fi network with the touch of a button. And when they leave, easily disconnect their device via the tool.
AT&T Internet's Expanding Fiber Network
- AT&T Fiber: AT&T continues to roll out fiber nationwide and, at this time, the company says it’s expanding to nearly 50 cities. Fiber is the fastest type of internet on the market. With fiber, you can do just about anything — like downloading a two-hour long HD movie in a matter of seconds — with virtually no interference. However, even if AT&T Fiber becomes available in your city, there’s a possibility it might not be available at your home, since availability can change based on which part of the city you live in. As with internet service providers, just because the neighborhood a few miles away gets fiber doesn’t mean yours will, too.
AT&T Internet vs. The Competition
AT&T Internet vs. CenturyLink
The second largest DSL provider in the country, CenturyLink, offers comparable speeds and pricing to AT&T Internet. There’s little overlap between the two companies’ territories, with AT&T Internet mainly servicing parts of the midwest and southeast and CenturyLink focusing on states in the midwest and western US. Both are great options, offering broadband speeds at competitive prices. CenturyLink’s plans vary from 25 Mbps (starting at $45 per month) to 100-150 Mbps (starting at $60 per month), which is ideal for bigger households who primarily want to stream Netflix, browse the internet, and check email. CenturyLink ensures customers that their prices won’t change as long as they remain with the company with a “Price for Life” guarantee. Even better: It doesn’t require a contract.
AT&T Internet vs. Comcast Xfinity
Comcast Xfinity, the largest cable provider in the US, offers relatively consistent speeds ranging from 25 Mbps to 350 Mbps. The company’s speeds are faster than AT&T Internet because it’s a cable service. But when it comes to customer satisfaction, AT&T Internet has Xfinity beat. The same ACSI survey that ranked AT&T Internet at number two placed Xfinity toward the bottom of the pack — ninth out of 13 providers. Though Xfinity’s scores jumped 2% between 2016 and 2017, it’s still not delivering the same level of customer satisfaction as AT&T and Verizon. ASCI attributes the 2% gain to Xfinity increasing internet speeds “16 times over for the past 14 years.” Like AT&T’s Fiber, Xfinity also has a fiber service, with speeds up to 2,000 Mbps. However, this plan is pricey, clocking in at around $300 a month. Most households don’t even need this much speed; it’s like taking a rocket ship to the grocery store when your car does the job just fine. As with all fiber services, it’s also not available in many areas. Unless you prioritize hyper-fast speeds over service, AT&T Internet is likely a better bet. Xfinity pricing starts at $24.99 a month for 25 Mbps with a one-year agreement to 2,000 Mbps for $299.95 a month with a two-year agreement.
AT&T Internet vs. Spectrum
Spectrum is just as fast as AT&T Internet, starting at 100 Mbps for $44.99 per month for the first year. A few unique features help Spectrum shine: 24/7 tech support, a free modem included with service, and the promise to buy out early termination fees for your old provider (up to $500). But even with all these benefits, Spectrum still ranks lower than AT&T Internet on the 2017 ASCI Telecommunications Report, coming in fifth out of 13 with a 3% boost between 2016 and 2017. While it doesn’t stack up against AT&T Internet in terms of customer satisfaction, it may be worth looking into if you want to bump up your speed. Spectrum Internet Gig — it’s fiber internet service — is relatively new, but Spectrum intends on rolling it out in additional cities soon.
What Others Are Saying
ArsTechnica admires AT&T's attempts at expansion.
AT&T is pushing to provide fiber services in select apartment complexes in cities outside of its current 21-state territory, and ArsTechnica believes that this could benefit customers and help create healthy competition in the internet service provider space. Even though this new reach is constrained to specific buildings in metro areas, ArsTechnica maintains that this might break up provider monopolies and give customers better options, which ultimately boosts the company’s positive reputation.
While Business Insider agrees that the company’s possible merger with Time Warner might benefit AT&T customers, it could also become problematic.
“For example, [AT&T] could potentially create new Harry Potter videos or shows involving characters from the DC Comics universe and only allow its customers to watch them. If you were a customer of Verizon or some other service, you would be out of luck.” This merger likely won’t impact AT&T Internet customers, though it’s good to be aware of the company’s larger business dealings.
The Bottom Line - AT&T Internet Review
If you’re looking for a DSL internet service provider with decent broadband speeds and a high level of customer satisfaction, AT&T Internet is a great choice. AT&T puts an emphasis on delivering quality service at prices that won’t break the bank, with high data allowances and cost-effective bundling options. And even though AT&T Fiber isn’t available everywhere just yet, AT&T’s push toward higher speeds and wider availability is a sign that the company is making strides to change the internet service provider game across the nation.