AT&T Home Internet Review: Fiber's Real Nice, but if You Can Only Get DSL, Think Twice

This telecom giant offers broadband service to nearly half the states in the US, but not all customers can get AT&T Fiber.

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AT&T home internet rating

How we calculated our rating

/ 10
Customer Care
  • No contracts required to receive the lowest available price
  • No data caps for any fiber plans
  • Valuable perks and promotional offers
  • Much slower DSL plans are more prevalent than fiber options
  • Data caps enforced on all non-fiber plans

In 2022, AT&T leaned into its goal of "offering the best fixed-broadband service in the market" by announcing new multigig plans in more than 100 cities. The faster speeds are available to just over 7 million customers, a number that should continue growing. Indeed, AT&T announced in mid-July that it would be expanding its fiber and multigig plans to Kentucky's Oldham County, covering over 20,000 locations. Even more recently, AT&T declared it would start offering its version of 5G home internet, AT&T Internet Air, to 16 states nationwide.

Where does all that put AT&T now? If you're living in one of the 21 states where AT&T provides internet service and are one of the 20 million customers eligible for the company's fiber plans, you're in a great spot. AT&T's fiber internet offers a great connection at a terrific value. However, many of AT&T's service area customers aren't living in homes wired for fiber. Instead, AT&T connects those customers using fixed wireless or a DSL hybrid service. That means worse value and much slower speeds than you'll get with fiber. 

In other words, recommending AT&T home internet service depends on where you live and what's available at your address. If AT&T Fiber is an option, move it to the top of your list. But if you aren't serviceable for fiber, shop around for other available internet service providers to see if you can do better than AT&T's fixed wireless or DSL services.

Locating local internet providers

AT&T home internet: Plans and pricing

AT&T offers several fiber internet plans, none with contracts or data caps. The company tells CNET that three of those fiber plans -- Internet 300, Internet 500 and Internet 1000 -- are available to approximately 20 million customers in the company's footprint. The multi-gig plans are available to a smaller portion of that base, currently just over 7 million.

The rest of the plans use a DSL/fiber hybrid approach to service the rest of AT&T's customer base. That DSL infrastructure means that speeds are a lot slower.

Locating local internet providers

Here's your full list of options:

AT&T home internet plans

PlanMax speedsPromo price (first 12 months)Regular monthly cost (after 12 months)Equipment feeData Cap
AT&T Fixed Wireless 25Mbps download, 1Mbps upload$70 $70 None350GB
AT&T Internet 10 10Mbps download, 1Mbps upload$55 $70 None1.5TB
AT&T Internet 18 18Mbps download, 1Mbps upload$55 $70 None1.5TB
AT&T Internet 25 25Mbps download, 2Mbps upload$55 $70 None1.5TB
AT&T Internet 50 50Mbps download, 10Mbps upload$55 $70 None1.5TB
AT&T Internet 100 100Mbps download, 20Mbps upload$55 $70 NoneNone
AT&T Internet Air 40-140Mbps download, 5-25Mbps upload$55 $55 NoneNone
AT&T Fiber - Internet 300 300Mbps download, 300Mbps upload$55 $55 NoneNone
AT&T Fiber - Internet 500 500Mbps download, 500Mbps upload$65 $65 NoneNone
AT&T Fiber - Internet 1000 1,000Mbps download, 1,000Mbps upload$80 $80 NoneNone
AT&T Fiber - Internet 2000 2Gbps download, 2Gbps upload$150 $150 NoneNone
AT&T Fiber - Internet 5000 5Gbps download, 5Gbps upload$250 $250 NoneNone
Show more (7 items)

AT&T offers at least three of the above plans for most of its serviceable areas. 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 a 5-megabits-per-second plan or one offering 1.5 or 0.8Mbps. Basic is the right word, and perhaps that's too generous.

AT&T trucks installing fiber-optic broadband

AT&T noted during its April earnings call that it's on target to expand its fiber service to over 30 million customer locations by 2025.

Stephen Shankland/CNET

AT&T home internet: Connection types

A couple of potential outcomes exist when you seek to sign up for AT&T's home internet service. If you see the 300, 500 or gigabit speed tiers offered at your address, you can access AT&T's fiber internet service, which uses 100% fiber technology. Fiber connections are symmetrical by design, which means that your upload speeds will be just as fast as your downloads, unlike DSL, cable and other modes of internet. That's particularly useful for videoconferencing, transferring files (for those working and schooling from home) and online gaming.

Outside of the fiber plans, most of AT&T's plans are DSL, 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 as high as your downloads. 

In addition to AT&T's fiber and DSL plans, the company offers a fixed-wireless option, which involves installing an antenna and wireless equipment within the home. Speeds won't get much higher than 25Mbps with a connection like that -- it's intended mostly for homes that lack other options for getting online.

Additionally, in 2023, AT&T introduced AT&T Internet Air, a new fixed wireless solution targeted to current customers who are subscribed to slower DSL plans. It's offering a seven-day grace period where you can try Internet Air and cancel, risk-free, if you don't prefer it over your old DSL service.

Map showing AT&T coverage

AT&T's internet service is available in 21 states across the country.


AT&T home internet: Where can you get it?

AT&T's internet service area covers 21 states across the country:

Alabama KansasNevada
Arkansas KentuckyOhio
California LouisianaOklahoma
Florida MichiganSouth Carolina
Georgia MissouriTennessee
Illinois MississippiTexas
Indiana North CarolinaWisconsin
Show more (2 items)

You can dig deeper on the AT&T coverage map to see the specific cities included within each state.

What to expect from your AT&T home internet bill

For the most part, AT&T's internet service is straightforward. But a few differences from other ISPs should get your attention. 

You can skip the equipment fee

AT&T used to charge an extra $10 monthly to use its AT&T Wi-Fi Gateway. It didn't matter if you had your own equipment. That fee was inescapable. But starting in 2022, AT&T now includes the equipment rental in your monthly fee. This is great news for customers and a decent, fair move by AT&T. 

One-time fees

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 ask 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 to pair with the gateway. Those will cost you $50 each.

No data caps (except when there are)

This is where things get a little squirrelly. For the most part, AT&T home internet plans don't come with data caps. Customers get unlimited data with all fiber plans. 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 available. In many of those cases, there is a data allowance. 

AT&T Internet plans from 0.8 to 75Mbps have a data cap of 1.5 terabytes (1,500 gigabytes). If you exceed that monthly limit, you'll incur a $10 charge for each additional 50GB of data you use, up to $100 monthly. That's on par with other major providers who enforce a data cap, including Comcast Xfinity and Cox, but both offer a slightly lower cap, at around 1.25TB. Cox also waives all your overage charges the first month you break the cap. But don't expect a free pass like that from AT&T.

If you think you'll surpass AT&T's data allowance, you can upgrade your plan to include unlimited data for an additional $30 monthly. Another option is to choose a TV and internet bundle, which would allow you to get unlimited data at no extra charge -- though there's usually a contract involved with any bundling of services.

One last caveat -- the data allowance for AT&T Fixed Wireless Internet is 350GB a month. While the $10 charge for each additional 50GB you use is the same as above, fixed wireless customers can be billed up to $200 extra per month for overage fees. That's a recipe for sticker shock, so you'll want to be extra cautious with your data usage if you're a fixed wireless subscriber.

Nice perks and promotions

AT&T likes to run short-term promotions and deals throughout the year. The main promo right now is an AT&T Visa Reward Card for new fiber customers who order online. Depending on your selected speed tier, the amount ranges from $100 to $150.

In addition, AT&T's nationwide network of over 30,000 hotspots is free to all AT&T home internet customers. This allows you to connect while away from home without using your mobile data. 

ACSI 2023 rankings for US customer satisfaction with fiber internet service providers

AT&T Fiber vaulted to the top of the chart in the ACSI's latest survey.


AT&T home internet vs. the competition: Flexing strong customer satisfaction numbers

AT&T crows that "you deserve the best," and the company points to its stellar showing in J.D. Power's US Residential Internet Service Provider Satisfaction Study as evidence that it's delivering. AT&T nabbed the top spot in that study's South and West regions, with an average score of 745 on a 1,000-point scale. Only Verizon (758) can point to a higher average in the survey, but it only competed in one region. AT&T locked horns with the competition in three areas.

AT&T also fared extremely well with the American Customer Satisfaction Index, which releases a yearly customer satisfaction survey for internet providers. AT&T Fiber's 2023 score of 80/100 was tops among all ISPs and well ahead of the industry average of 68 (75 among fiber providers). This was the first year the ACSI differentiated between fiber and non-fiber providers, and AT&T benefitted from that move. Even the company's non-fiber numbers were decent -- it scored a 72 in that category, second only to T-Mobile Home Internet.

AT&T home internet: Final thoughts

If AT&T Fiber is an option for your address, finding a better combination of service and affordability is tough. The catch? AT&T's fiber plans aren't an option for approximately half of the company's coverage area. All other AT&T plans are fraught with issues not faced by fiber, from slower download speeds to data caps. Simply put, don't hesitate if you can hop on an AT&T Fiber plan, but research your options if only lower speeds are offered in your area.

AT&T home internet FAQ

Does AT&T Internet Service require a contract?

No. While the promo price on some plans expires after your first year of service, you don't have to sign a term agreement to receive that price. The one exception is if you seek to sign a bundle deal. Standalone internet service doesn't require a contract, but if you bundle your broadband with another service, you may be required to sign a term agreement.

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 6,000Mbps Gigabit Pro plan from Xfinity), it's moot if it isn't available at your address. For example, AT&T's Internet 5000 plan is one of the fastest residential plans you can find from a national ISP, but it's not available to all AT&T areas. It covers just over 7 million households across approximately 100 metro areas. 

For a third-party perspective on what's fast, the speed-testing website Ookla tracks ISPs based on its scoring system that looks at both download and upload speeds. Using the most recent metrics taken during the first quarter of 2023, AT&T came in seventh place, behind Spectrum, Xfinity, Cox, Optimum, Frontier and Verizon (in that order). 

Similarly, AT&T ranks sixth 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 just above 82% and the same list of providers (except Frontier) ahead of them between 87% to 92%. 

Finally, remember that those scores consider all AT&T plans, not just the speedy fiber options. So the slower numbers from AT&T's DSL and fixed wireless plans come into play here, too.

Does AT&T offer any low-cost internet options?

Yes. Access from AT&T is an affordable option for eligible households within the 21 states that AT&T services. There are two tiers available. The first features internet service up to 10Mbps for $5-$10 a month. The newest tier features up to 100Mbps symmetrical speeds for $30 monthly.

Both plans are available for limited-income households participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or getting Supplemental Security Income benefits. All households that qualify for the government's Affordable Connectivity Program will also qualify for Access from AT&T.

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 AT&T Internet anytime without an early termination fee since no contracts are required for service. However, since you get billed month-to-month, 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 your promo offers. For example, if you have an internet plan that gets you free HBO Max, 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.

Updated Aug. 31, 2023 8:31 a.m. PT

Written by  Trey Paul
CNET staff -- not advertisers, partners or business interests -- determine how we review the products and services we cover. If you buy through our links, we may get paid. Reviews ethics statement
Trey Paul Senior Editor
Trey Paul is a CNET senior editor covering broadband. His 20+ years of experience as a writer and editor include time at CNET's sister site, Allconnect, and working with clients like Yahoo!, Google, The New York Times and Choice Hotels. An avid movie fan, Trey's career also includes being a film and TV critic while pursuing a degree in New York.
Expertise Home internet and broadband, including plans, providers, internet speeds and connection types. Movies and film studies. Credentials
  • Master's degree in Cinema Studies from NYU and interviews with Conan O'Brien, Stan Lee and some of his biggest Star Trek childhood idols
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