What’s the Best DSL Internet Provider?
If you live in a rural area where fiber and cable internet are not accessible, then DSL internet might be the best option for you. And while DSL may not be as fast as fiber or cable internet, many areas have DSL home networks that are wired into a fiber connection, creating a faster and more reliable internet option.
Of course, the value of the DSL and the quality of the internet service provider’s (ISP) connection depends on your location and which ISPs are available at your address. CenturyLink may be a strong option for those in remote areas where other ISPs may not be available. EarthLink provides a reliable connection, particularly for those who depend on their internet connection for work or online gaming. Those on a budget will appreciate Frontier’s affordable plans, while Kinetic by Windstream may be best for fast upload and download speeds. In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at the top DSL internet providers, including their speeds, plans, pricing, and customer reviews.
Who this is for
Before you sign up with a DSL internet provider, it’s important to look at what plans and speeds are available in your area. DSL is popular for its wide availability, low cost, speed and ease of installation. That said, some areas have internet speeds of 6Mbps or lower, which is quite slow if you want to enjoy streaming, and online gaming. Others have speeds as high as 100Mbps, which is a sufficient internet speed for most streaming and video conferencing needs.
CenturyLink’s DSL plans give you the speed, performance, and network reliability that you need, and is a great all-around option for those in remote areas. With fast speeds of up to 100Mbps, users can stream on multiple devices, binge content, and share and upload photos and videos on social media. With plans starting at $50/month, you get great speed options with no data cap.
EarthLink internet plans offer a wide range of connection types. However, EarthLink’s DSL plan ranges from 1.5Mbps to 15Mbps download speed, and is known for offering a reliable connection in remote areas without a variety of ISP options. Whether you’re doing online research, checking email, connecting with family and friends, or enjoy online gaming, EarthLink’s DSL plan can deliver.
Frontier’s DSL plans offer speeds of up to 115Mbps in most areas, which is enough for people working from home, streaming online videos, and even gaming. With plans starting at just $37.99/month, Frontier offers an affordable DSL internet option.
Most of Windstream’s plans are DSL-based services. With download speeds up to 232Mbps and uploads up to 25Mbps, Kinetic internet provides the best speeds of all DSL internet options. Their plans feature reliable speed for streaming shows and movies on multiple screens, multi-player online gaming, making video calls, and downloading files with lightning speed. Also, Kinetic DSL plans require no contract and come with an unlimited data cap.*
It’s rare to find incredibly fast upload speeds on DSL internet, which are necessary for online gaming, video calls, and uploading large files. Luckily, CenturyLink offers super-fast upload speeds of up to 30Mbps in some areas, and download speeds of up to 100Mbps. Not only does CenturyLink work great in remote areas or places with a lower population, it’s also widely available.
While the price for EarthLink may be higher than other providers, it’s among the most reliable DSL internet options in the country. EarthLink DSL plans offer speeds of up to 15Mbps on a dedicated connection starting at $39.95/month. They also offer a high-speed satellite internet connection for less populated areas with a download speed of up to 100Mbps.
Windstream specializes in serving rural areas with impressive download speeds of up to 232Mbps, which is double the maximum download speed of any other ISP on this list. However, this type of speed is only available in some locations, and the majority of Kinetic internet users will have speeds of around 100Mbps. This makes Kinetic internet the top DSL service for households with multiple streamers, online gamers, and who frequently do video conferencing requiring a fast internet connection.
Low prices make Frontier’s lower-speed plans ideal for people on a budget. They offer three plans with speeds that vary based on your location. What’s impressive about this ISP is that you won’t need to sign a contract to get Frontier DSL internet and you get unlimited data. Customers can enjoy speeds up to 115Mbps, which is enough to do basic business tasks such as uploading photos and videos, sending and receiving emails, creating online presentations, and participating in occasional video calls.
What others are saying
So, how satisfied are people with these DSL internet providers?
CenturyLink saw an increase in their customer satisfaction score in 2021, earning a 6.3 out of 10 ranking from the American Customer Satisfaction Index, its highest score since 2016. EarthLink didn’t fare quite as well; the Better Business Bureau awarded the ISP a customer review score of just 1 out of 5. However, based on the types of complaints filed by customers, the BBB still awarded the company an A-plus rating.
According to CNET, the average industry customer rating score for ISPs is 6.5 out of 10 and Frontier earned a customer rating of 5.7, just below the average. CNET reported that this lower than average score is largely due to service interruptions and lack of speed upgrade options in rural areas.
Windstream also falls below average in terms of customer satisfaction. The American Customer Satisfaction Index have the company a 6.1 out of 10 in terms of customer satisfaction, citing slow and less reliable service as a reason.
DSL internet provider FAQs
How fast is DSL internet?
DSL internet speeds range from 1Mbps to 50Mbps across the US, which makes it nearly as fast as cable. But it’s slightly slower than fiber-optic internet. The quality of your phone lines and how far you are from the service provider can affect the speed of your DSL internet.
Is DSL internet better than cable internet?
Cable usually offers faster internet speeds than DSL, at a relatively lower price. However, some fast-speed DSL services like Kinetic by Windstream can offer high speeds that rival other midlevel tiers available from a cable or fiber-optic internet provider.
Where is DSL internet available?
Despite being a wired internet service, DSL is available in much of the US, including in remote and rural areas.
Does weather affect DSL internet?
Yes. Much like fiber and cable internet options, severe weather may affect your DSL internet service. It’s also prone to damage and subsequent outages as a result of construction projects.
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*Pricing varies by location and availability. Speeds may vary. All prices subject to change; for current pricing and availability visit our internet service page. Prices as of 2/15/22.
Disclosure | Updater articles are based on our own data and research, independent from partner relationships. We are not compensated by partners for information and opinions presented here. Our Editorial Terms of Service can be found here.