Last month, we reached out to our community, asking readers to tell us what they thought about their Internet service providers (ISPs) in a survey rating price, performance, reliability and customer service. We have the results, and it's time to reveal your ISP ratings with our Tom's Hardware ISP Review!
Our survey garnered over 3100 results, with 271 votes reviewing AT&T. We arrived at our scores by calculating an average from the total score for each individual ISP and category using a one- to five-star rating, rounding to the nearest ¼ star. However, we also provide the mathematical average of each ISP’s survey results, for the sake of comparison later. It may become a very close race to see which ISP provides the best service.
The first company we're looking at is a mainstay in the communications industry with more than 130 years in the business. That makes it older than any of the other companies we are reviewing. That impressive claim is true...technically. However, the AT&T we know today isn't the same organization now as it was more than a century ago.
The American Telephone and Telegraph Co. began as the Bell Patent Association, a legal entity created in 1874 with the goal of protecting the patent rights of the telephone system's inventor, Alexander Graham Bell. The company was formalized in 1877 and dubbed the Bell Telephone Co. Five years later, a project known as "AT&T Long Lines," the first of its kind, was commissioned to create a nationwide communication network with a viable cost structure. The project was incorporated into a new company in New York state in 1885.
AT&T developed and maintained a monopoly on phone services in the United States and Canada throughout most of the 20th century by buying up small communications companies and making a pact with the government to maintain that monopoly status legally. That's not the greatest (or fairest) way of doing business, and in 1984, the massive communications giant was broken up into seven regional companies, referred to as the "Baby Bells."
Between 1996 and 2006, a company called SBC Communications (which itself was originally Southwestern Bell Corp., one of the seven companies created from the break-up) acquired four of the seven regional Baby Bell companies, and reincorporated as AT&T Inc. in 2005.
When AT&T was considered a monopoly, the government had to step in and break it into seven companies. But rejoining five of them under a new name seems to be fine for now. The company thrives today, boasting an impressive 12.2 million "U-verse" high-speed Internet customers, warranting its spot in our review.
Although AT&T is starting to offer fiber-optic Internet service in some regions, it is not widely available yet, and the majority of AT&T's customer base (and our surveyed readers) seem to be using its affordable U-Verse DSL options, offering varying plans with speeds from 1.5 Mb/s to 45 Mb/s.
|Speeds (In Mb/s)||Prices (Per Month, Non Promotional)||Primary Service Regions||Technology|
|1.5, 3, 6, 12, 18, 24, 45||$25, $30, $35, $40, $45, $55, $65||AL, AR, CA, FL, GA, IL, IN, KA, KE, NC, NV, OH, OK, SC, TN, TX, WS||DSL|
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.
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.
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.
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.