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Astound Broadband vs. EarthLink vs. Smithville Internet plan comparison


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Headshot of Dave Schafer
Researched by
Headshot of Bri Field
Headshot of Kathryn Casna
Reviewed by
Updated 6/18/24

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Astound Broadband
Staff rating
4.1
Customer rating
4.0
(13)

  • Plans starting at $19.99
  • Download speeds up to 1200 Mbps
EarthLink brand
Staff rating
4.0
Customer rating
4.2
(5)

  • Plans starting at $59.95
  • Download speeds up to 100 Mbps
Smithville brand
Staff rating
3.8

  • Plans starting at $29.05
  • Download speeds up to 1 Gbps
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See what providers service your area.
Astound Broadband
Staff rating
4.1

Extremely cheap internet—for a year

Top-notch customer service and shockingly low intro pricing make switching to one of Astound’s brands (Wave, RCN, Grande, or enTouch) an easy choice. But opting for gear rental or sticking with Astound for longer than a year will cost you. Big.

What we like

  • Award-winning service and speed
  • Low introductory prices
  • No contract required
What we dislike

  • Super steep price hikes
  • Expensive installation and equipment
Savings tip: Astound Broadband often has sign-up promotions for first-time customers. Call to ask a rep about current deals and discounts.
Check deals
EarthLink brand
Staff rating
4.0

Earthlink offers amazing customer experience at slightly more cost

If you're willing to pay a little bit more for an exceptional customer experience, EarthLink may be the right choice for your Internet service. EarthLink is an interesting Internet provider. Instead of serving internet through its own infrastructure, it partners with other internet providers to repackage their service, acting as a go-between. This means slightly higher prices, but EarthLink's superior customer experience delivers true value and peace of mind.

What we like

  • Wide availability
  • Amazing customer service
  • No price hikes
What we dislike

  • Premium prices
  • Plans vary greatly by area
Savings tip: EarthLink often has sign-up promotions for first-time customers. Call to ask a rep about current deals and discounts.
Check deals
Smithville brand
Staff rating
3.8

Fast, inexpensive internet for rural Hoosiers

Rural south and central Indianans can get this company’s affordable, high-speed, reliable fiber internet with no contract and no data cap. And if you don’t have access to Smithville yet, you might soon. It’s expanding fast!

What we like

  • High-speed, reliable rural internet
  • Low cost
  • No contract
What we dislike

  • No self-setup option
  • Costly customer support
  • Possible legacy DSL speeds
Savings tip: Smithville often has sign-up promotions for first-time customers. Call to ask a rep about current deals and discounts.
Check deals
Astound Broadband
Value
4.5
Mark your calendar now for internet shopping next year

Astound offers supercheap DSL, cable, and fiber internet plans with at least three plan options and no data caps in most areas. Nearly all plans are priced under $50 for the first year, and if you’re paying that much, you’re likely getting at least 940 Mbps of speed. National benchmarks for similar plans are in the $130 range, so you’ll be getting a great deal. (1)

Unfortunately, after a year, prices skyrocket, with some of the lowest-tier plans reaching nearly 10x your introductory price—which is quite a bit higher than the national benchmark. As long as you don’t stick around longer than that (and Astound won’t force you into a multi-year contract), this internet service provider (ISP) will probably be your best value option. We recommend shopping around for internet service at least annually anyway, so this might not be a big deal for a lot of people.

Pricing details vary by location. Visit
Astound Broadband's website
or call 1-844-716-2786 to speak with a rep.
See pricing
EarthLink brand
Value
5.0
High value and superior customer experience

You often get what you pay for, and that's the case with EarthLink. Although EarthLink offers slightly higher pricing, you get value for your dollar, and you may even end up paying less than you would with competitors in the long-run.

There’s no getting around it: EarthLink's face-value prices are almost always higher than the competition. Although, depending on the area you're in, the difference can be as little as a few dollars per month. EarthLink's slightly elevated price tag equates to some of the best customer service from an internet provider.

EarthLink doesn’t actually have its own internet infrastructure. Instead, it partners with other local DSL and fiber internet providers, like AT&T and Frontier, and EarthLink uses their infrastructure. This costs EarthLink money, and some of this naturally gets passed down to customers. In return, you’re promised a superior customer experience.

The other reason that EarthLink may offer slightly higher prices: it skips the introductory promotional pricing most internet service providers advertise. For example, when AT&T or Spectrum quote you a price, it’s often for an introductory period of 12 or 24 months. After that introductory period, the price may increase (sometimes dramatically). EarthLink doesn’t do this, which is a plus in our book. It means that EarthLink pricing is straightforward, without any hidden fees, complicated pricing structures, or gimmicks. This also means EarthLink may end up being slightly less expensive in the long-run if you intend to keep it for a couple of years.

Pricing details vary by location. Visit
EarthLink's website
or call 1-833-804-4930 to speak with a rep.
See pricing
Smithville brand
Value
4.0
Uncommonly high speeds and low costs for rural internet

Smithville Communications offers just one fiber internet plan, serving up 1 Gbps and unlimited data for less than about $0.70 per Mbps. Compared to the US benchmark plan for similar service ($134.62) (1), Smithville is a pretty sweet deal. And you won’t have to sign a contract to get it.

This low price is particularly impressive for fiber in rural areas since building infrastructure outside of urban centers can be incredibly costly. Smithville could easily charge higher rates for bringing fiber to rural Indiana, but it doesn’t. And we applaud that.

Pricing details vary by location. Visit
Smithville's website
or call 1-844-719-8071 to speak with a rep.
See pricing
Astound Broadband
Performance
4.5
Award-winning speed—on average

Astound Broadband is very fast. That said, as with most ISPs, you may not experience the speeds advertised for your plan because speeds fluctuate based on numerous conditions.

With Astound, the speed on your plan is the “average” that customers see, so your speeds will vary depending on the gear you’re using, time of day, how many devices are using your Wi-Fi, and more. If you see persistent speed issues, Astound encourages you to call customer service to get help figuring out the issue.

Available speeds vary by location. Call 1-844-716-2786 to speak with a Astound Broadband rep or
go to its website.
EarthLink brand
Performance
4.0
Solid performance and fast speeds, but depends on area

EarthLink's performance is tough to rate. Because it is essentially reselling other providers’ services, the speed and reliability are highly dependent on which partners it uses in a given area.

That said, performance is generally good, and there are a wide range of high-speed internet plans available in most areas, so you can get exactly how much you need—up to 5 gigs in some places. Much of the service is fiber, which means performance is reliably consistent. Best of all, every plan has unlimited data, so whatever speed you opt for, you can use it without worry.

Available speeds vary by location. Call 1-833-804-4930 to speak with a EarthLink rep or
go to its website.
Smithville brand
Performance
5.0
Get 1 Gbps speeds and unlimited data—unless you’re in a legacy DSL area

Fiber is the fastest and most reliable type of internet available, and download speeds max out around 5 Gbps. Smithville fiber reaches only 1 Gbps, but for most people frustrated by slow or unreliable rural internet, it’ll feel like your browser just got a turbo boost. You’ll also see 1 Gbps upload speeds, which is less common among non-fiber internet types like DSL and cable. Everyone—from heavy streamers and online gamers to remote workers and avid YouTube creators—will have plenty of juice (and unlimited data) when they need it.

Unfortunately, there’s one caveat: In some areas, Smithville is still using legacy DSL infrastructure, so you might not be able to sign up for fiber just yet. Smithville is phasing out this infrastructure as it lays more fiber lines, and it was named one of the Top 100 Fiber-to-the-Home organizations by Broadband Communities magazine for its efforts in helping bring fiber internet to rural communities (2). Luckily, Smithville won’t lock you into a contract, so if you’re not happy with your DSL, you can cancel any time and come back later when you have access to fiber.

Available speeds vary by location. Call 1-844-719-8071 to speak with a Smithville rep or
go to its website.
Astound Broadband
Equipment and installation
3.0
DIY your equipment and installation for more savings

You can rent a modem and one of two Wi-Fi routers from Astound, bringing your total monthly equipment costs between $17 and $27 or more—which is on the high side. For most people, the Whole Home Wi-Fi router option will be the right choice. It includes an eero router and an extender, and you can add more extenders to ensure coverage throughout your entire home. Gamers and other heavy streamers should consider the Nighthawk Pro gaming router to reduce lag spikes and achieve more consistent speeds.

To save money, consider using your own gear or use Astound’s free self-setup option, which is available in most areas. But you'll pay around $10 to activate your service. Even if you’re not tech savvy, this provider’s detailed online instructions and videos make it easy. If you do want professional help or your home isn’t already properly wired, professional installation starts around $80, which is about average.

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Equipment and installation options can vary widely depending on
Astound Broadband plans
available in your area.
View plans
EarthLink brand
Equipment and Installation
2.5
Reasonably priced equipment, but varies by area

This is another category that’s tough to rate. Since EarthLink partners with other internet service providers (ISPs) to provide service, it doesn’t actually issue its own equipment. Instead, you’ll get equipment from whichever partner EarthLink uses in your area. The good news is that EarthLink does set the fees, and they’re reasonable: $9.95 per month.

It’s a similar story for installation—your service will be installed and set up by a rep from the partner company, not EarthLink itself. The installation fee is $79.95, which isn’t the highest we’ve seen. That said, we’d rather see installation included in the price, particularly since EarthLink’s overall prices tend to be on the high side. Self-install is available only in some service areas.

Equipment and installation options can vary widely depending on
EarthLink plans
available in your area.
View plans
Smithville brand
Equipment and installation
3.5
Free equipment, but you’ll have to pay for activation and possibly installation

Smithville provides a wireless router to all customers with no additional rental fees, which is a good deal. You will pay an activation fee of $25, and if you need any lines run or jacks installed, you’ll pay for those too.

You do have the option of using your own equipment, but you’ll have to contact customer service to find out if your gear is compatible because this info isn’t available on the Smithville website. And if you need help troubleshooting your equipment, you’re on your own.

Equipment and installation options can vary widely depending on
Smithville plans
available in your area.
View plans
Astound Broadband
Customer experience
4.5
Award-winning customer service, many times over

Astound has (sorry in advance) astounding customer service. This company won fifth place in PCMag's Reader's Choice award in 2022 (2), and before it consolidated them under the Astound brand, Grande, Wave, RCN, and WOW! were all recognized in 2021 (3) and we can see why Astound is a fan favorite. You don't have to sign a contract if you don't want to, your plan comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, and if your technician is late for your appointment, Astound will pay you $20 for the inconvenience. Put it all together, and you get a top-notch customer experience.

Visit Astound Broadband's website
or call 1-844-716-2786 for more information on contracts and money-back guarantees.
Go to provider
EarthLink brand
Customer Experience
4.5
EarthLink provides a surprisingly exceptional customer service.

Customer service is where EarthLink really shines. The company claims to prioritize customer service and experience, and users seem to agree. The company actually ranks first in some user-driven surveys of internet satisfaction, beating out providers like AT&T and Verizon, despite the slightly higher prices.

From a practical standpoint, it seems that EarthLink representatives are friendlier, more helpful, and more knowledgeable than those we’ve dealt with at other companies. However, we've seen reports that in some places, customer service is handled by the end provider instead, resulting in worse customer service.

Visit EarthLink's website
or call 1-833-804-4930 for more information on contracts and money-back guarantees.
Go to provider
Smithville brand
Customer experience
3.0
Around-the-clock tech support—at a cost

Smithville offers 24/7 tech support to all customers, which is helpful if you have trouble with its router, need wiring repairs or a jack replacement, or your service is otherwise interrupted and it’s the company's fault.

If a visiting technician discovers the problem was out of Smithville’s control, you’ll have to pay a $35 service fee and $90 technician fee for help. Most companies charge you only one of these fees. Smithville will waive these charges if you buy its Connection Protection plan for at least one year, at a cost of $3.95 per month. But technicians still won’t help you with your own equipment.

Visit Smithville's website
or call 1-844-719-8071 for more information on contracts and money-back guarantees.
Go to provider
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Astound Broadband
4.0
(13)
5 Star
23%
4 Star
54%
3 Star
23%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
P
Paulfrom Catasauqua, PA
Astound Broadband Customer for 4+ years
Reviewed on: 6-24-2022
I think they charge much too much for their dservice. Lower prices
J
Juliefrom Passaic, NJ
Astound Broadband Customer for 8+ years
Reviewed on: 6-24-2022
I hope the Internet speed is faster and the price is lower
M
Margaretfrom New York, NY
Astound Broadband Customer for 1+ years
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
Astound 5G wifi have increased the speed from my previous internet. I was very happy with the promotion price at $39.99 but when my contract expired my payments doubled. With the spottiness and occasional dropped connections each month, I don't see the value I am paying for.
L
Lynfrom Somerville, MA
Astound Broadband Customer for 1+ years
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
I am satisfied with my Astound (formally RCN) service. The signal is consistent. I have no suggestions for improvement.
EarthLink
4.2
(5)
5 Star
40%
4 Star
40%
3 Star
20%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
M
Marstonfrom Brooklyn , NY
EarthLink Customer for 4+ years
Reviewed on: 4-4-2023
Earthlink is good internet, but not better than anyone else. I haven't had problems, but I don't expect to have problems.
J
Jerryfrom Elkin, NC
EarthLink Customer for 8+ years
Reviewed on: 3-14-2023
Earthlink has been pretty good for what I use it for. It's a little expensive but not bad
J
J.J.from Dominguez, CA
EarthLink Customer for 1+ years
Reviewed on: 8-29-2022
been an ok provider so far. nothing outstanding, nothing to complain about.
V
Veronica from Macon, GA
EarthLink Customer for Less than a year
Reviewed on: 8-29-2022
Fast internet service, cloud storage
Smithville
0.0
(0)
5 Star
0%
4 Star
0%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
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Endnotes and sources
  1. 2022 Urban Rate Survey – Fixed Broadband Service,” FCC. Accessed 9 December 2022.
  2. Readers’ Choice 2022: Your Favorite ISPs for Any Type of Broadband,” PCMag. Accessed 9 December 2022.
  3. Readers’ Choice 2021: Internet Service Providers,” PCMag. Accessed 9 December 2022.
Endnotes and sources
Endnotes and sources
1. “2022 Urban Rate Survey – Fixed Broadband Service,” FCC. Accessed 9 December 2022.2. “2022 Fiber-To-The-Home Top 100.” Broadband Communities Magazine. Accessed 9 December 2022.