AT&T is still one of the most familiar brand names in a world that is constantly expanding and evolving. As kids, we learned about Alexander Graham Bell’s invention of the telephone, and now our kids are essentially born holding phones.
But AT&T isn’t just about home phones and mobile plans. It has a number of broadband options and has announced plans for further fiber expansion. Let’s explore the options available if you want to get online with AT&T right now.
What internet plans does AT&T offer?
AT&T currently offers three fiber internet plans, none of which come with contracts or data caps. The company tells CNET that those fiber plans — Internet 100, Internet 300 and Internet 1000 — are available to just under a third of customers in the company’s footprint. The rest of the plans use a DSL/fiber hybrid approach to service the rest of AT&T’s customer base, though the addition of DSL infrastructure means that speeds are a lot slower.
Here’s your full list of options:
AT&T Home Internet Plans
|Plan||Max download speeds||Max upload speeds||Monthly cost (first year)||Monthly cost (after 12 months)||Additional monthly fees|
|AT&T Fixed Wireless||10Mbps||1Mbps||$70||$70||$10 equipment fee|
|AT&T Internet 10||10Mbps||1Mbps||$45||$55||$10 equipment fee|
|AT&T Internet 18||18Mbps||1Mbps||$45||$55||$10 equipment fee|
|AT&T Internet 25||25Mbps||2Mbps||$45||$55||$10 equipment fee|
|AT&T Internet 50||50Mbps||10Mbps||$45||$55||$10 equipment fee|
|AT&T Internet 100||100Mbps||100Mbps||$35||$55||$10 equipment fee|
|AT&T Internet 300||300Mbps||300Mbps||$45||$65||$10 equipment fee|
|AT&T Internet 1000||940Mbps||940Mbps||$60||$80||$10 equipment fee|
*Pricing per month plus taxes as of April 9, 2021. Additional fees and terms may apply. Pricing and promotional deals vary by location and availability. All prices subject to change. May or may not be available based on service address.
For most of its serviceable areas, AT&T offers at least three of the above plans. In a few geographic locations, mainly rural or suburban areas, you may only have access to AT&T Internet Basic (not shown in the table above), which features either a 5-megabits-per-second plan or one offering 1.5 or 0.8Mbps. Also not shown in the table — there’s an AT&T Internet 100 plan that has an asymmetrical upload speed of 20Mbps.
What type of connection is AT&T Internet?
There are a couple of potential outcomes when you seek to sign up for AT&T internet service. For the most part, if you see either the 100, 300 or 1000 speed tiers offered in your area, you’ll get AT&T’s fiber internet service, which uses 100% fiber technology. One of the biggest benefits of fiber, besides the overall faster speeds, is the similarly fast upload speeds. That’s particularly useful for videoconferencing, transferring files (for those of us working and schooling from home) and online gaming.
Outside of the three fiber plans, most of the rest of AT&T plans are ADSL, which is a hybrid of fiber-optic and copper cable. This means speeds are much slower than a pure fiber connection, and you won’t see upload speeds that are as high as your download speeds.
In addition to AT&T’s fiber and ADSL plans, the company offers a fixed wireless plan, which involves installing an antenna and wireless equipment within the home. Speeds won’t get much higher than 10Mbps with a connection like that — it’s intended mostly for homes that lack other options for getting online.
According to the most recent report from the Federal Communications Commission, AT&T Internet plans are 30% fiber, 7% fixed wireless and the rest are ADSL. But, as we’ve been hearing across the industry, these numbers are old and inaccurate. An AT&T spokesperson wouldn’t disclose the most current breakdown of its service plans when we asked, but the company says that its fiber footprint is larger than the FCC’s two-year-old data suggests, and growing.
Where is AT&T Internet available?
AT&T’s internet service area covers 21 states across the country. The list includes Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin. You can dig deeper on the AT&T coverage map to uncover the specific cities included within each state.
Are there other aspects of AT&T Internet you should know?
For the most part, AT&T Internet is straightforward. But there are a few differences from other internet service providers that are worth paying attention to.
Additional monthly fee
Whereas many ISPs — including Spectrum, Verizon and Xfinity, among others — give you the option to avoid a modem or router rental, you won’t be able to escape that charge with AT&T. You have to use the AT&T Wi-Fi Gateway, which adds an extra $10 a month to your bill, and there’s no option to skip that fee by using your own modem or router. That said, $10 isn’t as bad as it could be — the average ISP equipment rental fee is closer to $15 a month.
AT&T charges $99 for a full, in-home tech installation. For some addresses, there’s no self-install option (you have to go online to find out if you “qualify” for the self-install kit). On the positive side, you’ll frequently find online promos where the $99 fee is waived (typically for the higher-speed plans), so keep your eyes peeled for offers like that. If none are available, you could also try asking them to waive it when you’re calling to sign up.
If you’re struggling to get a signal in the far reaches of your home, AT&T will sell you a Smart Wi-Fi Extender — those will cost you $50 each.
No data caps — at least not with fiber
This is where things can get a little squirrelly. For the most part, AT&T Internet plans don’t come with data caps. Customers get unlimited data with all fiber plans. That means you won’t have to track your data usage for fear of fees or throttling issues once you hit some arbitrary threshold. But there’s still a decent chunk of AT&T’s geographic footprint where fiber isn’t yet available, and in those cases, there is a data allowance.
Non-fiber AT&T Internet plans (0.8Mpbs-50Mpbs, and in some cases, Internet 100) have a data cap of 1 terabyte. This means that if you go over that monthly limit, you’ll incur a $10 charge for each additional 50GB of data that you use, up to a total of $100 a month. If you think you’re likely to surpass that data allowance, you can buy unlimited data for an additional $30 a month. Another option is to choose a TV and internet bundle, which would allow you to get unlimited data at no extra charge.
One last caveat — the data allowance for AT&T Fixed Wireless Internet is actually 350GB a month, and while the $10 charge for each additional 50GB you use is the same as above, fixed wireless customers can be billed up to a total of $200 extra a month for overage fees.
Access to the AT&T Wi-Fi Hot Spot Network is free
AT&T’s nationwide network of over 30,000 hotspots is free to all AT&T Internet customers. This allows you to be connected when you’re away from home without using up your mobile data. Check out AT&T’s mobile hotspot map to get a sense of where you can find those available locations.
Does AT&T Internet offer any deals or promotions?
AT&T likes to run short-term promotions and deals throughout the year. At the time of this writing, one of the main promos offered is a $100 AT&T Visa Reward Card for new fiber customers that order online.
If you opt for the company’s fastest plan, Internet 1000, AT&T will throw in a free subscription to HBO Max, which it owns. That’s a decent value, and HBO Max regularly costs $15 a month. That might be extra interesting in 2021, as Warner Bros. (also part of AT&T) announced that all of its theatrical films — including blockbusters like The Suicide Squad, Matrix 4 and Dune — will be released simultaneously on HBO Max this year. I love going to the movies more than anyone I know, but if I can see In the Heights for free while sitting on my couch, I’ll take it.
How does AT&T Internet rank on customer satisfaction?
AT&T boasts “you deserve the best” and it points to its stellar showing in 2020’s J.D. Power US Residential Internet Service Provider Satisfaction Study as proof that it’s got what you deserve. AT&T nabbed the top spot in the North Central, South and West regions, with an average score of 751 on a 1,000-point scale. Only Verizon can point to a higher average in the survey (769), but it was competing in only one region.
AT&T Internet fared decently in the 2020 American Customer Satisfaction Index as well. It’s score of 68/100 was second only to Verizon Fios, and well ahead of all other competitors and the industry average overall. One slight demerit though — in a year when most providers saw an average increase of nearly 5% in customer satisfaction ratings, AT&T’s numbers were actually down by a percentage point in comparison to the previous year.
Lastly, AT&T Internet actually slipped further down the list with the ACSI when it comes to Wi-Fi equipment, earning a satisfaction score of 70/100. That dropped it to fourth place, behind Verizon Fios (again), as well as Xfinity and Cox. This is somewhat notable because AT&T doesn’t let you use any other modem in place of its own gateway, though you’re free to bypass its built-in router and plug in a router of your own.
AT&T Internet FAQs
Does AT&T Internet service require a contract?
No. While the promo price typically expires after your first year of service, you don’t have to sign a term agreement to receive that price.
What ways can I save with AT&T Internet?
Besides taking advantage of various promos that AT&T might offer (like the $100 gift card mentioned earlier), customers can also find savings by bundling their internet service with another AT&T service, like AT&T TV. This move can save you $10 a month for a year on your TV service. Similarly, AT&T Fixed Wireless customers can save $10 a month on their internet service when they bundle it with DirecTV.
One item to consider however — although no contracts are needed for internet service, customers will be required to sign a two-year agreement on their AT&T TV or DirecTV services.
Is AT&T Internet fast?
The answer to this question always depends on which plans are available in your area. No matter the fastest plan that any provider might offer (say, the 2,000Mbps Gigabit Pro plan from Xfinity), it’s moot if it isn’t available at your address. So, for example, AT&T’s Internet 1000 plan is plenty fast, but it’s not available to all AT&T areas. As of now, AT&T fiber is available to 14 million households across 90 metro areas. The company’s goal is to add another 3 million residential and business locations by the end of 2021.
For a third-party perspective on what’s fast, the speed-testing website Ookla tracks ISPs based on its own scoring system that looks at both download and upload speeds. Using the most recent metrics, taken during the fourth quarter of 2020, AT&T came in fifth place, behind Verizon, Cox, Xfinity and Spectrum (in that order).
Similarly, AT&T ranks in fifth place when you look at Ookla’s Consistency Score — a different measure showing how often providers deliver broadband speeds to customers. Surprisingly, it wasn’t even that close, with AT&T Internet at 73.8% and the same four providers ahead of them at either 80% or higher.
Does AT&T offer any low-cost internet options?
Yes. AT&T Access is an affordable option for eligible households within the 21 states that AT&T services. Internet service for $10 a month may be available for limited-income households who are part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or get Supplemental Security Income benefits. Also, during the COVID-19 public health crisis, AT&T has opened up eligibility requirements to include household income and participation in Head Start and National School Lunch programs. These adjustments are effective through June 30, 2021.
How can I cancel my AT&T Internet?
You can start the process by going to the AT&T Contact Us page. You can cancel your AT&T Internet service at any time without an early termination fee since no contracts are required for service. However, since you get billed on a month-to-month basis, you will not receive a refund or credit if you cancel before the end of your billing cycle.
Also, pay attention to the small print of some of your promo offers. If you have an internet plan that gets you free HBO Max, for example, you’ll lose that access upon cancellation.
Lastly, if you desire to transfer your service, rather than cancel (for a pending move, for example), you can contact an AT&T moving specialist at 800-288-2020.