AT&T Review: Pricing, Speed, and Availability Comparison

Global PC evaluates all internet plans offered by AT&T. While fiber is great, DSL may not be the best option. We also provide a comprehensive review of the provider nationwide.

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Pros

  • No contract required for the lowest available prices
  • No data caps on any fiber plans
  • Great value perks and promotional offers

Cons

  • Much slower DSL plans are more common than fiber options
  • Data caps enforced on all non-fiber plans

AT&T offers various fiber internet plans without contracts or data caps. The company tells Global PC that three fiber plans—Internet 300, Internet 500, and Internet 1000—are available to approximately 21 million customers within its business footprint. Multiple performance plans are only available to a small fraction of this group, currently just over 7 million.

Which one is the best? Honestly, it’s a matter of which plan fits your monthly budget. All of AT&T’s fiber plans are solid choices, and the company’s overall fiber service consistently ranks highly in customer service surveys and polls.

The remaining plans utilize a DSL/fiber hybrid approach to serve the rest of AT&T’s customer base. The DSL infrastructure means much slower speeds.

AT&T offers at least three of the mentioned plans in most service areas. In a few geographic locations (primarily rural or suburban), you may only have access to AT&T Internet Basic (not shown in the table), which offers a package of 5 Mbps or provides 1.5 or 0.8 Mbps. “Basic” is the right word, but perhaps too generous.

AT&T Home Internet Review

A few years ago, AT&T announced the rollout of new multi-gigabit plans in over 100 cities, with the aim of providing “the best fixed broadband service in the market.” Over 7 million customers can now enjoy faster speeds, and that number is expected to continue growing. In fact, in mid-February, AT&T announced the expansion of fiber and multi-gigabit plans to Sevastopol, Wisconsin, covering over 2,000 locations.

Now, where does everything stand with AT&T? If you live in one of the 22 states where AT&T provides internet service and are among the nearly 21 million customers eligible for the company’s fiber plans, then you’re in a good position. AT&T’s fiber internet offers excellent value with premium connectivity. Many customers in AT&T’s service areas do not reside in homes with fiber connections. Instead, AT&T connects these customers using fixed wireless or DSL hybrid services. This translates to poorer value and much slower speeds compared to fiber.

In other words, recommending AT&T home internet service depends on where you live and what services are available at your address. If AT&T Fiber is an option, it’s a top choice. If you can’t access fiber, shop around for other available internet service providers to see if they offer better service than AT&T’s fixed wireless or DSL services.

Connection Types for AT&T Home Internet

When you seek to sign up for AT&T’s home internet service, there are some potential outcomes. If you see speed tiers like 300, 500, or gigabit at your address, you have access to AT&T’s fiber internet service, which utilizes 100% fiber technology. Fiber connections are designed to be symmetrical, meaning your upload speeds will be just as fast as your download speeds, unlike DSL, cable, and other internet modalities. This is particularly useful for video conferencing, file transfers (for those working and studying from home), and online gaming.

In addition to fiber plans, most of AT&T’s plans are DSL, a mix of fiber and copper wire. This means slower speeds than pure fiber connections, and you won’t see upload speeds as high.

In addition to AT&T’s fiber and DSL plans, the company offers fixed wireless options, which involve installing an antenna and wireless equipment in your home. With such a connection, speeds won’t exceed 25 Mbps—it’s mainly suitable for households lacking other internet options.

Furthermore, AT&T launched AT&T Internet Air in 2023, a new fixed wireless solution targeting existing customers subscribed to slower DSL packages. It offers a 7-day grace period, so you can try out Internet Air, and if you don’t like it better than the old DSL service, you can cancel risk-free.

Where Can You Get AT&T Home Internet?

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AT&T’s internet service area covers 22 states nationwide.

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Nevada
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Wisconsin

You can delve into AT&T’s coverage maps to see specific cities included in each state.

What to Expect from Your AT&T Home Internet Bill

Most of the time, AT&T’s internet service is straightforward. There are a few differences from other ISPs that you should be aware of.

You Can Skip Equipment Fees

AT&T used to charge an additional $10 per month to use its AT&T Wi-Fi gateway. If you have your own equipment, it didn’t matter. This fee was unavoidable. AT&T now includes the equipment rental fee in your monthly bill. This is good news for customers and a decent, fair move by AT&T.

One-Time Charges

AT&T’s full home tech installation fee is $99. There’s no self-install option for certain addresses (you’ll have to go online to see if you’re “eligible” for a self-install kit). On the positive side, you often find online promotions that waive the $99 fee (usually for high-speed packages), so keep an eye out for such offers. If none are available, you can also ask them to waive it when you call to sign up.

If you have trouble getting a signal in parts of your home, AT&T will sell you a smart Wi-Fi extender to pair with your gateway. These will cost you $50 each.

No Data Caps (Unless There Are)

This is where things get a little weird. Most of the time, AT&T home internet plans come with no data caps. Customers get unlimited data with all fiber plans. Once you hit some arbitrary threshold, you don’t have to worry about tracking your data usage for fear of fees or restrictions. AT&T still has a significant portion of areas without fiber. In many cases, there are data allowances.

Data caps for AT&T internet plans ranging from 0.8 to 75Mbps are set at 1.5TB (1,500GB). If you exceed the monthly limit, you’ll need to pay $10 for each additional 50GB of data, up to a maximum of $100 per month. This is comparable to other major providers enforcing data caps (including Xfinity and Cox), but both offer slightly lower caps, around 1.25TB. Cox also waives all your overage fees for the first month you go over the limit. Don’t expect AT&T to offer such a free pass.

If you anticipate exceeding AT&T’s data cap, you can pay an additional $30 per month to upgrade your plan to include unlimited data. Another option is to choose a TV and internet bundle, which will get you unlimited data at no extra cost—though any bundled service usually involves a contract.

Lastly, it’s worth noting that the data cap for AT&T Fixed Wireless Internet is 350GB per month. While there’s a $10 charge for each additional 50GB used, fixed wireless customers can pay up to an additional $200 per month for overage fees. This can lead to bill shock, so if you’re a fixed wireless user, you’ll need to be especially careful with your data usage.

Good Benefits and Promotions

AT&T often hosts short-term promotions and offers throughout the year. The current major promotion offers an AT&T Visa Reward Card for new fiber customers who order online. The amount ranges from $50 to $150 depending on the speed tier you choose.

Additionally, AT&T offers access to over 30,000 nationwide hotspots for all AT&T home internet customers for free. This allows you to stay connected while on the go without using mobile data.

Final Thoughts on AT&T Home Internet

If AT&T Fiber is available at your address, finding a better combination of service and affordability is challenging. What’s the catch? AT&T’s fiber plans are not available in about half of the company’s coverage area. All other AT&T plans come with issues that fiber does not, from slower download speeds to data caps. In short, if you can sign up for an AT&T fiber plan, don’t hesitate, but if only lower-speed options are available in your area, research your alternatives.

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AT&T Home Internet FAQs

Does AT&T Internet service require a contract?

No. While promotional prices for certain plans may expire after your first year of use, you don’t need to sign a term agreement to get the price. An exception is if you’re seeking to sign a bundled deal. Stand-alone internet service does not require a contract, but bundling broadband with other services may require a term agreement.

Is AT&T internet fast?

The answer to this question always depends on the plans available in your area. No matter what speeds any provider may offer as their fastest plans (e.g., Xfinity’s 10,000Mbps Gigabit Pro plan), if that plan isn’t available at your address, it’s meaningless. For instance, AT&T’s Internet 5000 plan is one of the fastest residential plans you can find from a national ISP, but not all areas covered by AT&T can access this plan. It covers over 7 million households in about 100 metro areas.

For third-party perspectives on speed tests, Ookla, a speed testing website, tracks ISPs based on its score system, which considers both download and upload speeds. According to the latest metrics from the fourth quarter of 2023, AT&T ranks third, behind Cox and Spectrum.

When you look at Ookla’s Consistency Score, AT&T ranks sixth, a different measure showing how frequently providers deliver broadband speeds to customers. Surprisingly, the gap isn’t even that close, with AT&T Internet boasting an 87% support rate, trailing Spectrum, Xfinity, Cox, Optimum, and Verizon, which range from 88% to 92% support.

Finally, remember that these scores account for all AT&T plans, not just the speedy fiber options. AT&T’s slower DSL and fixed wireless packages play a role here as well.

Does AT&T offer any low-cost internet options?

Yes. For eligible households in the 22 states where AT&T offers service, accessing AT&T is an affordable choice. There are two tiers available. The first offers internet speeds of up to 10Mbps for $5-10 per month. The latest tier offers symmetrical speeds of up to 100Mbps for $30 per month. Both plans are available to limited-income households participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or receiving Supplemental Security Income benefits.

How do I cancel my AT&T Internet service?

You can begin this process by going to the AT&T Contact Us page. You can cancel AT&T Internet at any time without an early termination fee since the service doesn’t require a contract. Since you’re billed monthly, you won’t receive a refund or prorate if you cancel before the end of a billing cycle.

Additionally, be mindful of the fine print regarding promotional offers. For example, if you have an internet package that includes free access to HBO Max, canceling would mean losing that access.

Finally, if you wish to transfer service rather than cancel it (e.g., for a pending move), you can contact AT&T’s moving experts at 800-288-2020.

 

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