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Does AT&T offer good quality internet service? Find out in our hands-on review.
AT&T offers fiber optic internet throughout most of the United States. It’s no secret that their strongest network is in California, Texas, and Florida. Being a California resident, I’ve been lucky enough to benefit from the high speeds and affordable rates that AT&T offers in my area. However, when it comes to internet service, price is only one thing you should consider. With that in mind, I have a few more things to tell you about my experience with AT&T.
In this review, I’ll go over AT&T’s pricing, plans, equipment, customer service, and any additional fees they may charge you. I’ll also show you how well the service works at my house, share my speed test results and my experiences with AT&T’s customer service, and show you how to sign up for AT&T Internet yourself. By the end, I think you’ll see why I consider AT&T a great option for internet — as long as you live in an area where AT&T offers a strong, reliable connection and a great cost-to-speed ratio.
Long before the internet even existed, AT&T was a household name in the telecommunications space. These days, it’s famous for internet service, too. You may have used this provider to power your cell service, but it’s no secret that they’re also a popular TV and internet service provider.
Like most people, I like my internet to be as fast as possible. So I’m glad to see that AT&T is pushing its network into the future with more fiber connections — even though that also means the end of its once-futuristic DSL network. As of October 1, 2020, AT&T discontinued the sale of its DSL internet service. You can keep AT&T’s DSL service if you already have it, but you won’t be able to change plan details like speed or keep your plan if you move.
That doesn’t bother me, though: I’m all for moving on to fiber networks, which are the speeder and more reliable future of internet connections. My experience with AT&T’s internet includes using both its DSL service and its newer fiber-optic service. Both have been great, but there’s no question that AT&T’s fiber plans are speedier than the old DSL options.
Speed is a big deal to me, because I use the internet for a lot. Fast and reliable internet is a must-have for my work life, my video calls with family, and my weekend nights streaming Netflix. With AT&T Internet, I can connect as many devices as I want without worrying about slow download speeds or dropped connections. At the time of this writing, my family has three laptops connected to my Wi-Fi network, including two using Zoom. At the same time, my smart TV is streaming Netflix and another member of my family is downloading a video game — oh, and I currently have Spotify running, too! Even with all of this going on, my internet still feels pretty fast.
I’ve been able to use AT&T’s incredibly fast fiber connection without experiencing buffering or lagging issues. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that AT&T Internet is always like this. I get this kind of performance because I’m lucky enough to live in one of the major cities where AT&T’s service is truly top tier. Some AT&T customers report slower speeds. So, while my experience has been great, it’s important to note that AT&T Internet’s speeds may vary depending on where you live.
When you start looking into AT&T, you may notice that they don’t have many different options for download speeds. I don’t consider this to be a big deal, though — the speeds that they do offer go up to 940 Mbps and are priced reasonably.
Before I get any further into the specifics of AT&T’s plans, pricing, and fine print, here are some of my top pros and cons you may want to consider.
You most likely won’t find AT&T fiber internet in rural places or smaller cities, but if it’s available in your area, it’s worth giving it a shot. There are only a handful of fiber internet plans offered by AT&T, and the ones available to you depend solely on where you live. Most of this provider’s fiber coverage area spans across the East Coast and the South.
Though no internet provider can fully guarantee download speeds, I’ve found that AT&T usually delivers speeds that are reasonably close to what they advertise. I have the up to 100 Mbps plan and get speeds closer to 90 Mbps the majority of the day, which is closer than many other ISPs get to their advertised speeds.
About those advertised speeds: AT&T’s Internet 1000 plan gets you download speeds of up to 940 Mbps. Pair that with 880 Mbps upload speeds, and you’ve get a plan that’s perfect for large families, those working from home, YouTubers, gamers, or anyone who just likes lightning-fast download speeds at their fingertips (and who doesn’t?).
So which of these plans will give you the most bang for your buck? In my opinion, the Internet 300 plan offers the most value. It’s not AT&T’s fastest plan, but I think you’ll find that it’s more than enough for small to medium-sized households. This plan will keep you up to speed while you work from home — and up to speed on all your favorite streaming shows, too.
Based on my experience with similar plans from other service providers, the price of AT&T’s Internet 300 looks pretty typical. At $45 per month, it’s right in the middle of the pack in price and value.
Keep in mind that, like most ISPs, AT&T uses introductory rates to woo new customers. You’ll get these prices if you sign up, but you can expect your prices to go up by about $20 a month after the first year (you can take my word for it, because I saw my own bill go from $35 a month to $55 a month). Still, the Internet 1000 plan is by far one of the best deals in the market (only CenturyLink’s Price for Life deal can compete). There aren’t many internet service providers that can come close to this kind of speed at such low prices.
I’m not a big fan of data caps — with all of the work Zooms and video streaming going on in my house, caps would cost me pretty dearly. So I was pretty happy to see that all of AT&T’s fiber internet plans come with unlimited data. With unlimited data, you don’t have to worry about binge-watching The Mandalorian or downloading the next 60 GB update for Call of Duty: Warzone.
All of the above goes for AT&T’s fiber plans, but we should also talk about the old DSL plans. The DSL plans do have data caps, so you’ll have to be a little more conservative with your downloads. With that said, all of AT&T’s DSL plans came with a reasonably generous cap of 1 TB. A terabyte of data is a lot, so I think you’d find it quite difficult to go through in a month — though it can be done. If you do go over, AT&T will charge you $50 for every 50 GB of additional data used. Remember, though, these caps are only on DSL plans, and AT&T doesn’t sell those anymore. If you’re not already one of AT&T’s DSL customers, you don’t need to worry about these caps.
Another thing to remember about the DSL plans is that you can’t switch between them. Even if you have DSL internet with AT&T, you may be forced to change your whole internet plan to fiber or fixed wireless if you try to make any changes to it. In other words, you can keep your DSL plan, but only that exact DSL plan!
For most of us, all of this is academic. New customers can only get what AT&T offers right now — and what AT&T offers right now are fiber plans with no data caps at all. That’s great news for anyone who uses as much data as I do.
When I signed up for AT&T Internet, I had a couple of different installation options. AT&T could deliver the equipment straight to my door, and I was allowed to install it myself, which would have kept start-up fees down to a pretty reasonable $35. I didn’t choose this option, but I think you’ll be perfectly happy if you do: By all accounts, self-installation is not a very difficult process. As long as you follow the instructions, the equipment will activate itself. The DIY option will cost you $35, compared to the $99 I paid to have AT&T Internet professionally installed.
As for the professional installation, I found it to be pretty stress-free. AT&T warns that installation can take about four hours, but mine took less than two. The tech was in and out a lot and had to contact technical support twice, but it saved me the trouble of dealing with those issues myself, and I haven’t had any serious issues with my router since installation.
When you sign up for any of AT&T’s internet plans, you’ll have to agree to a minimum 1-year contract for their promotional pricing. You could get a contract-free plan, but at a higher monthly rate.
As much as I dislike contracts, AT&T made it hard not to sign one when they offered me a $200 VISA gift card. My contract length aligned with my lease at the time and my price stayed consistent until the contract ended, so it was easy to stay with AT&T. If there’s any benefit to signing a contract, it’s the perks and discounts providers offer. AT&T Internet rates increase by about $20 without a promotional contract.
If you decide to cancel your contract before the year is up, you’ll have to pay an early termination fee (ETF) of $15 for every month that’s left on the contract. Nobody likes ETFs, but AT&T’s are similar to most internet providers, so I don’t fault AT&T too much here. Besides, ETFs aren’t as big of a concern anymore now that multiple internet providers offer contract buyout deals.
Although AT&T requires a contract, its self-installation option and low equipment fees are pretty sweet deals. When you sign up with AT&T, you’ll get a Wi-Fi gateway modem and router combo called the “Gateway.”
Below is a picture of my Gateway. AT&T’s Gateway is a modem/router combo offering many of the same features we see with other ISP-provided modem/router combos, i.e. dual-band Wi-Fi, ability to handle gigabit speeds, parental controls, and remote control access via AT&T’s Smart Home Manager app. My favorite thing about AT&T’s Gateway is its price and size. It’s out of the way, and it only costs $10 per month to rent which is low for a fiber internet provider.
There was a period of time where my Gateway was having trouble connecting to AT&T’s network. It was obvious each time when I saw the “Wi-Fi” or one of the “broadband” lights blinking red. All it took was a simple reset (unplug, wait, replug) to get it back to normal. One trick I learned after this is to keep your Gateway off of the floor. The Gateway has an easier time transmitting signals when it’s not surrounded by too many walls or items (or books on your office floor).
My biggest concerns when I contact customer service are fast responses and that there will be someone respectful on the other end of the line. Although I rarely contacted AT&T, I can say they’re easy to reach, quick to help, and patient. Compared to other ISPs, AT&T’s customer service tends to score better than most. This year the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) ranked AT&T 68 out of 100, making it one of the top-ranking internet providers. For one reason or another, customer service always seems to be a struggle amongst ISPs, AT&T included.
If you need to talk to an agent, don’t sweat it. There are several ways of getting in touch: phone, online chat, Facebook, or Twitter (@ATTcares).
I’ve only had to contact AT&T for customer support one time, and it was a pretty painless experience. I used the company’s online chat feature, because I figured that would be easier than picking up the phone. I waited less than two minutes before chatting with a live agent, and I found the representative to be very polite and helpful. I explained my issue — a connection problem with my Gateway modem/router device — and, since I was already logged into my account, they were able to tell me how to manually reset my gateway quickly. (It’s easier for online chat agents to provide support when you’re already logged in, giving them access to your account.)
To me, great internet service boils down to two things: high speeds and low prices. AT&T offers both, and compared to other ISPs, AT&T is one of the lower-priced options since they charge less for similar speeds. Regardless of which internet plan you end up getting, you will get your money’s worth. Since AT&T no longer offers DSL internet for new customers, you’ll find their download speeds to be above 100 Mbps. If signing an annual contract puts you off, you might find balance in AT&T’s low fees and great new customer deals. Overall, I think AT&T is one of the better internet providers in the market.
Do you have internet service in Lino Lakes. I’m interested in your packages.
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