EarthLink is an old school internet provider with some hit or miss service and speeds. The company has struggled in recent years now that the internet has gotten faster and more readily available. Still, it does have some key advantages to a subset of the consumer base.
So what does EarthLink have to offer than other, bigger name internet providers don’t? Can you make EarthLink’s plans and pricing work for your wallet and unique situation? Let’s break it all down to see if this is the right move for you to make for your internet needs in 2020.
The EarthLink Story
EarthLink has been around since 1994, launching in California as part of an initiative to provide internet to a broader customer base. At the time, it was a pioneer of dial-up internet and one of the first to offer unlimited data for one flat rate.
In the late ‘90s, the company was heralded by experts like CNET and PC World for its quality and customer service, but technology moves fast, and EarthLink hasn’t been able to keep up with those early accolades. Today, the company mostly outsources its customer service lines to third party companies overseas and deploys third-party technicians for maintenance and troubleshooting.
Despite these hit and miss services, the company continues to fill a niche in the dial-up internet world for customers who don’t need what we consider to be the typical internet load. It provides simple internet services for customers who mostly need it to check email from time to time.
The company has expanded its services into the fiber internet world, joining companies like Google in providing this area of high-speed internet. While this does bode well for the company, the changes in plan options and pricing based on location could put a dent in its popularity still.
EarthLink Plans and Pricing
You have to call EarthLink to get specific plans and pricing for your area, but the basic choices offer plans based on speed. Many areas have multiple plan choices, and if the company isn’t able to provide internet in your area, they can often offer partnerships with providers like AT&T.
It’s challenging to figure out precisely what EarthLink plans are because of location changes. However, for some of you, EarthLink may be able to offer a competitive advantage based on your location. And because it has fiber options, it could be worth checking out.
General pricing ranges from $49.95 for 15 Mbps to $99.95 for 1000 Mbps. These require a one year contract, after which your prices are subject to change, and are entirely dependent on your location. These prices do not include taxes, equipment fees, and other fees.
With all EarthLink plans, customers receive:
- Internet capability with no caps and no throttling
- Premium email access with space for up to eight email addresses
- EarthLink portal, a customizable home page to make internet browsing more convenient
- Support services, including online self-help, phone support, and live chat
- My Account services for handling password changes and other administrative tasks
How to Set Up EarthLink
To get started with EarthLink, customers must first call the customer service line or check the EarthLink website to find out if EarthLink is available in their area. If it is, calling the customer service number reveals plan choices and local pricing options.
Be aware that EarthLink outsources their customer service links, so primary language may be an issue. For most encounters, this is relatively straightforward and shouldn’t cause much of a problem. If you find that you are having trouble, you can end the call and try again with someone else.
Setting up requires professional installation for a one time fee, but many times there is a promotion to reduce or eliminate this fee altogether. Also, you’ll have to rent their standard modem and won’t be able to use one of your own. EarthLink is upfront about this additional monthly cost. In most areas, the price is less than $10 per month.
Their fiber service, AKA Hyperlink, isn’t available in every state, but other types of internet service typically are. As fiber continues to roll out, we should see an increase in availability.
What We Like About EarthLink
- Variety of speeds and plans
- Affordable basic internet
- Fiber options
- No speed throttling or data caps
Fiber internet is still relatively expensive and not widely available, so EarthLink’s option is helpful to expand the market. Although the inconsistency in pricing and coverage makes it difficult to pin down for a review, for some of you, this could be good news. You’ll get a deal based on your location.
EarthLink has a long history of reliable service, and that hasn’t changed with modern internet. It still has slower dial-up options and simple, standard internet choices for those who don’t need or want fiber internet. And with a contract, you know what you’ll pay for the year without worrying about price increases.
EarthLink doesn’t throttle internet speeds for unlimited data, unlike some other big-name providers. Whether you use a lot or a little, your speeds will remain the same throughout the month.
EarthLink is always unlimited, and plans are based solely on speed. This is a good choice if your internet usage is high month to month or you vary quite a bit between months.
What We Didn’t Like
- Inconsistent pricing and speeds based on location
- Fiber is still expensive
- Customer service is outsourced and overseas
- Service technicians come from third-party companies
EarthLink plans are impossible to figure out unless you call for your specific location. That can make it difficult to compare plans, and for some of you, your location will make EarthLink an expensive option.
EarthLink is still relatively expensive across the board when it comes to fiber internet connections. Plus, you must rent their equipment and only theirs, so this will be an added expense no matter what.
EarthLink’s biggest downside at the moment is their customer service and service technician side. Because they outsource to third parties, and customer service is overseas, this can create some headaches and inconsistencies in service.
Is EarthLink Worth It?
If you live in a large urban area where there are lots of choices, your best option is to check out everyone else before you go with EarthLink. While we might still call just to see what’s available, there’s a good chance that Google or AT&T will already have a plan that covers your needs for a better price.
Until EarthLink’s general pricing structure comes down a bit, it’s going to be hard for them to compete with other big names in the ISP game. The plans are too inconsistent to list EarthLink as a viable option in most markets.
However, if you live in an area where the internet is difficult to get, or you don’t need anything more than a few Mbps to check your email a few times a week, this could be a viable choice. Their simple plans are affordable, and they do make equipment rental straightforward. Plus, with email domains, you can get set up on an email address relatively easily.
A Final Word on EarthLink Internet
EarthLink internet isn’t going to be worth it for most customers, but the best bet is to call and see what they have to offer. In a handful of cases, they may be able to hook you up with a deal or promotion. They may also be able to provide an agreement with a partner provider if they aren’t in your area.
If EarthLink can regain their momentum with fiber internet as it rolls out in more and more areas, we may see improvements in their overall package structure. Until then, it’s probably not going to work for what you need at a price you like.