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AT&T ISP Review & Reader Survey Results

Performance: 2 ½ Stars

Further disappointing customers, the price-to-performance ratio is staggering, topping out at over $16 per 1 Mb/s for basic Internet purchased by itself, explaining the 2 ¼-star price rating and 2 ½- star performance grade, with some of our surveyed readers describing the service as "low-speed and high-priced compared to competition," and having "exorbitant pricing for low DSL speeds." If that’s not bad enough, AT&T caps every plan at 250GB of data each month, with no clear documentation on the pricing of overage fees.

However, if you are lucky enough to have access to AT&T's Power 45 Internet service, the 45 Mb/s for $65 per month rate brings that ratio to a much more reasonable $1.44 cents per Mb/s, per month. Unfortunately, not many surveyed readers indicated they had access to this service, but it should be noted those users generally rated the price and performance of AT&T’s best offering above three stars.

Pricing for these DSL offerings are only slightly lower than the average cable Internet deals, with speeds nowhere in the ballpark of a cable connection. Why are so many people paying so much for less?

It's all about availability. AT&T is more accessible where some mainstream cable and fiber services aren't. Most of our surveyed readers who rated pricing at three stars or lower complained that it was the best they could get, with one respondent explaining, "It is just an average ISP [out of] very few available in my area." It should be no surprise that performance was rated the least-important factor when choosing an ISP by our surveyed AT&T users, as most seem complacent to pay for these services when there aren't many other options.

On a positive note, the promotional rates are the same length as the contract. Customers can choose to cancel their service after the promotion expires without getting slammed with a termination fee or being forced to pay higher prices for the same services for another year (like many ISPs).

Derek Forrest is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He writes hardware news and reviews gaming desktops and laptops.
  • jasonelmore
    I wish you guys would do ratings for the Other 3 DSL companies like Windstream and CenturyLink..

    Those 2 companies are the absolute worst broadband companies in the world. All DSL plans in my area are restricted to 1 Mbps because of over selling, and no upgrades are planned to ever increase these speeds.
    Reply
  • Achoo22
    I don't understand why the article states that it's impossible to measure downtime. My modem is pinged a couple of times a minute from multiple locations, all located on major backbones. This data, compiled, gives an excellent real-world representation of overall connection uptime and performance.

    Of course, it's overkill when first-hop pings exceed 300ms with 3% or more packet loss every night from 6PM to midnight or whenever demand goes up. The Windstream DSL service simply isn't engineered to support its users simultaneously.
    Reply
  • cohetedor
    Your pricing unbundled is way off on 6mbps DSL. I'm in MI and have to pay $57 a month. And Uverse starts as slow as 768k, I know because they tried to cut my regular DSL off last January and 768k was the fastest they could offer me.
    Reply
  • Kridian
    16986855 said:
    I'm in MI and have to pay $57 a month. And Uverse starts as slow as 768k, I know because they tried to cut my regular DSL off last January and 768k was the fastest they could offer me.
    Dear lord! My condolences.

    Reply
  • dorsai
    There is no better argument for municipal broadband projects in my opinion...these survey's make one thing clear...unless they are pushed by competition ISP's will not improve their service. Any speed below 15mbps in this day and age does not even qualify to be called "broadband". States should be pushing all of the companies offering anything below 15mbps speeds to upgrade their networks since they are suffering negative economic impacts by allowing the status quo...
    Reply
  • 10tacle
    I participated in this survey last month, so I'm glad to see the results. My two biggest complaints were outages (while relatively quick, still a PITA, especially when gaming online and recording on the DVR) and lower than what my speed should be that I'm paying for. The good news is that my city is one of the markets that will get ATT's gigabit fiber. I had Comcast in my previous home and while it was more expensive and the customer service was horrid, it was also faster for the same price tier and there were next to zero outages.
    Reply
  • dstarr3
    It's strange how this varies so wildly from my experience. I have had ZERO downtime in the past two years, I'm paying for 12mbps and I'm getting 15, and customer service has always been friendly and helpful. My bill went up after a year, and literally all I had to do was call and ask "Can you give me a discount?" and then my price went back down to normal. I'm very satisfied with U-Verse.
    Reply
  • Achoo22
    All DSL plans in my area are restricted to 1 Mbps because of over selling, and no upgrades are planned to ever increase these speeds.
    It's worse here. My neighbor, further from the DSLAM than I am, pays less for 6mb/s than I pay for 1mb/s and because his CO pin is hooked up to a less congested set of tspans than mine, his service is better. Meanwhile, I can't even get them to make a QOS filter setup so that my low-bandwidth, latency sensitive functions (eg, ssh and telnet to work) can function.

    I won't even be able to load bandwidth-heavy webpages (like Amazon, which is about 3MB/24mb per load and will give 404 blank pages if any of the connections stall) to shop from home during Black Friday/Cyber Monday until after midnight.
    Reply
  • Teamchaos
    I had AT&T DSL 18Mb/s for a few years. I never got more than 10-12Mb/s. Eventually I switched to Charter and now I enjoy 100Mb/s bandwidth that consistently exceeds what I'm paying for (typically 102Mb/s). AT&T may be reliable, but it's sloooow. My house is near the end of their line in my neighborhood and I'm sure that was a factor, but still shouldn't have had to pay for more than I received.
    Reply
  • ummduh
    I had the 45Mbps plan here in Napa, CA. I was usually able to get the rated speeds, but VERY often I could not stream anything more than 240 in youtube, and often Netflix wouldn't load in HD. Also, the pings were pretty bad, in the 60-90MS range. (speedtest.net tests) I'm talking literally every weekday after 3pm, and every weekend you couldn't use youtube. Netflix was more hit and miss.

    We ditched cable/tv service all together and switched to comcast 150Mbps service against my own will. Pings in the 10-16MS range (plus speedtests out to 18xMbps regularly), and haven't had any problems with youtube/netflix bufferings or loading in their highest resolutions and bitrates.
    Reply