In our increasingly connected world, few things are more important for a household than a strong connection to the internet. We rely on our computers, smartphones, and tablets more than any other devices, and these days, more and more of the tools and appliances in our homes are requiring an internet connection.
There’s no shortage of internet service providers that can get you connected to the internet, but it can be difficult to decide on the best ISP for your household with so many options. Today, we’re going to take a closer look at two of the most popular options available to see which company offers the best service between Earthlink vs. AT&T.
Earthlink Internet Explained
Earthlink is one of the oldest names in the game, and they’ve been providing internet to households since the days of the 28K modem. The company was originally founded in 1994 in Pasadena, CA, and after several mergers and acquisitions, they had over five million users by 2000.
Today, Earthlink is available in over 78 million households in America, making it one of the most widely available ISP on the market. They offer a variety of plans that range from $49.95-99.95 per month and some interesting add-on services that will be very attractive for families and anyone concerned with internet safety and privacy.
What Makes Earthlink Unique?
Compared to most ISPs that offer a litany of different products to consumers, Earthlink is strictly an internet provider. Many users are attracted to Earthlink because they can provide reliable and fast internet without bundling your service with a home phone or cable plan.
Cable is quickly declining in American households as more people turn towards streaming services for their entertainment needs. As cell phone service has become better and more reliable, many consumers are also cutting the cord on their home phone as well.
Not only do Earthlink users get to skip the pesky sales pitch about bundling the internet with cable and home phone service, but they also get clearer and more transparent pricing.
Many ISPs offer their services at an introductory rate that’s incredibly attractive, only to jack the price up significantly after the 12 or 24 month promo period expires. With Earthlink, your price isn’t tied to any sort of promotion or bundle package, and the price in month one will be the same as it is in month twenty-five.
Also, Earthlink doesn’t impose any data restrictions on its customers. Each plan includes unlimited data, so you’ll never have to worry about overage fees if you download more than usual on occasion.
Beyond their internet services, Earthlink offers a few add-ons that are perfect for families and users concerned with their privacy and safety while browsing the internet.
Smartphones and tablets are a catch 22 for parents. On the one hand, they’re like a magic bean for parents. Break out a screen, and kids are instantly entertained, allowing you to enjoy some peace and quiet, or get work done. But, there’s also plenty of trouble your children can get into on the internet.
No parent has time to police everything their child is doing on their smartphone or tablet, so it’s incredibly important that parents have tools to monitor kids’ activity and alert them of anything potentially dangerous.
That’s where Earthlink Guardian comes in. This AI-powered service connects to your devices and monitors activity, while also allowing you to set filters that restrict what children can and can’t do when they’re online.
If Guardian notices anything suspicious or dangerous, they’ll instantly alert you via text and email. This add-on service is available for $9.95 per month for each household, and the first three months are free.
Of course, children aren’t the only ones who need to say safe on the internet. For adults, there are tons of potential dangers lurking around every corner. In order to keep your computer and personal information safe, you need comprehensive tools.
Earthlink Protect provides you with a multi-tiered approach to internet safety and security, and it provides features like a smart firewall, VPN, virus, and malware protection. This service also monitors the dark web to see if any of your information has leaked, and provides you with free cloud storage.
Earthlink Protect is available as an add-on for their internet packages, and it costs $7.95 per month for up to five devices. You can protect an additional five devices for an extra dollar each month.
Earthlink’s affordable and transparent pricing is perhaps the most compelling reason to choose them as an ISP.
Earthlink’s plans start around $49.95 per month for a 50mbps connection. They offer several plans that deliver higher speeds, and each plan is $10 more expensive than the plan below it, topping off at $99.95 for a 1gb connection.
Customers can use their own modem and equipment if they choose, but most customers opt to rent Earthlink equipment. Earthlink charges $6.95 per month to rent a modem and any other necessary equipment. If your equipment ever breaks or malfunctions, they’ll dispatch a technician to replace it for you.
Customers also pay a one-time installation fee of $79.95 when they begin Earthlink service. This price includes a full-service installation of all equipment and cables.
AT&T Internet Explained
AT&T is one of the biggest names in the business when it comes to phone and internet service, and they’ve recently started offering cable services as well. Like many large companies, AT&T offers bundling promotions that can save you money on your phone, internet, and cable services. Or, you can purchase services a la carte if you don’t need all three.
AT&T began offering internet services in 1996, not long after Earthlink was launched. The company continued to grow its internet business, and in 2016 they partnered with Synacor to expand their internet services division. Today, AT&T is the most widely available home internet service, covering more than 122 million people in the United States.
What Makes AT&T Unique
As a company offering a variety of different communication and entertainment products, AT&T has a few things that make them unique compared to providers like Earthlink.
AT&T offers home phone, mobile phone, internet, and cable tv services. While all of these services are available a la carte, many customers bundle the services together. Bundling multiple services will provide you with a deep discount on your total price, and it allows you to pay a single bill each month instead of individual bills for each service.
Perhaps AT&T’s most compelling feature is its expansive network of wifi hotspots. AT&T internet customers can connect to these hotspots to enjoy unlimited wifi on the go at thousands of mobile hot spots.
AT&T offers a few additional services you can add to your internet package to help keep you and your family safe on the internet.
AT&T Internet Security Suite
AT&T partners with Mcafee, a leader in anti-virus software, to deliver customers a suite of different security features to keep your computer and your family safe online.
The software includes anti-virus and anti-spyware protection as well as a firewall. The software also includes McAfee WebAdvisor, which gives a safety score to each website you visit so you can evaluate whether or not the site is safe.
This software is free with most of AT&T’s internet plans, except for their most affordable one. The Internet Security Suite can be added to that internet plan for an additional $5 per month.
AT&T provided free email security protection to all of its internet customers. This powerful software takes a three-pronged approach to email security by protecting you from spam and keeping your email address from falling into the hands of spam marketers. There’s also an anti-virus component that protects you from phishing, malware, and other scams.
When it comes to pricing, AT&T’s offerings aren’t as clear or transparent as some other ISPs. One reason is that they offer a variety of promotional pricing options, but it’s also because not all of their internet services are available in every market they have a presence in, and the company only shows prices for the products that are available in your area.
Depending on whether you bundle multiple services or what pricing promotions you’re eligible for, AT&T internet will cost you somewhere in the realm of $39.95-$59.95. Where available, AT&T starts all customers with their fastest option, which provides speeds of up to 1000mbps for $59.95, assuming you aren’t eligible for any promotional savings.
At the end of the promotional period, the price increases to whatever the prevailing rate is at that time. Customers should expect their bill to rise dramatically after their first year with AT&T and may want to consider downgrading their services to keep their bill around the same as what they were initially paying.
Beyond the price of service, AT&T also charges $10 per month for the use of their equipment, and there is a one-time installation fee of $99. The installation fee is waived for new AT&T customers.
AT&T does not offer free unlimited data transfer with their internet plans. Each plan includes 1TB of data per month, and users that exceed 1TB will be charged $10 for every 50gb of data they exceed over their limit for a maximum charge of up to $100.
While both Earthlink and AT&T provide reliable internet plans, there is a clear winner in the battle of Earthlink vs. AT&T internet.
While AT&T offers incredibly reliable service and it’s available in even more markets than Earthlink, its lack of pricing transparency is a major knock against their service. While their promotional prices for the first year are an incredible value, they will rise considerably in year two, leaving many customers scrambling to find a more affordable alternative.
Earthlink offers comparable speed and service to AT&T without any of the surprises on the bill. Their internet service may be a few more dollars per month than AT&T, but their equipment rental and installation charges are lower, and your bill will never be subject to promotional price hikes.
Customers interested in pairing their internet service with home phone and cable may find that AT&T is a better option for them, as bundling is an opportunity to save money while also streamlining your monthly bills.
For customers who only need access to the internet, Earthlink is our winner in the battle of Earthlink vs. AT&T internet.