Switchful Logo

AT&T vs. Starlink Internet plan comparison


Headshot of Dave Schafer
Rebecca Palmer smiles for the camera
Headshot of Brittany McGhee
Researched by
Headshot of Bri Field
Headshot of Vilja Johnson
Headshot of Michal Ash
Reviewed by
Updated 6/18/24

We’re committed to transparency. We may earn money when you follow our recommendations, but compensation doesn’t affect our ratings. Learn more.
AT&T logo
Staff rating
4.5
Customer rating
4.1
(419)

  • Plans starting at $55.00
  • Download speeds up to 5000Mbps
Starlink
Staff rating
2.6
Customer rating
4.7
(4)

  • Plans starting at $120.00
  • Download speeds up to 100 Mbps
city map lines pattern
Check availability
See what providers service your area.
AT&T logo
Staff rating
4.5

Some of the best value for fiber internet

AT&T offers one of the best values in internet service—fast fiber internet speeds at reasonable prices, plus some of the best support in the business and rock-solid reliability. With no contracts, no data caps, and no monthly equipment fee, AT&T is one of the best home internet providers we tested.

What we like

  • Competitive fiber plans
  • Solid customer support
  • Excellent reliability
What we dislike

  • Expensive installation fees
  • Higher monthly prices than some competitors
  • Few TV bundling options
Savings tip: AT&T often has sign-up promotions for first-time customers. Call to ask a rep about current deals and discounts.
Check deals
Starlink
Staff rating
2.6

Satellite internet with cutting-edge technology

Starlink uses new low-orbit technology to deliver satellite internet to customers around the globe. The company got its start offering faster speeds and much lower latency than other satellite providers, but now offers download speeds comparable to those offered by other satellite providers. Starlink still offers decently low latency for satellite, but it can’t compete against fiber or cable internet providers.

What we like

  • Low latency
  • Expanding coverage
  • Options for mobile satellite connectivity
What we dislike

  • High upfront equipment cost
  • Slower speeds than originally advertised
  • Poor reputation for customer service
Savings tip: Starlink often has sign-up promotions for first-time customers. Call to ask a rep about current deals and discounts.
Check deals
AT&T logo
Value
4.0
Fiber internet is a great deal

The AT&T fiber plans represent an excellent value proposition. The speeds are competitive, and the prices at any given tier are lower than nearly every other provider. One exception, Xfinity, offers slightly cheaper gig plans in some markets. Another, Google Fiber, offers $10 less on gigabit speeds. However, AT&T is more likely to be available in areas that have cable internet from Spectrum and Cox, and we think AT&T fiber is usually the better deal.

For the money with AT&T, you get outstanding download speeds and excellent upload speeds. And with unlimited data on fiber internet plans, you can actually use your gigabit connection without worry.

Some legacy customers may have DSL internet from AT&T. The most affordable AT&T plan is more than $50 per month, but this can either be basic DSL (speeds up to 75 Mbps) or the excellent, fiber-based Internet 300. If you can get only AT&T fixed wireless, you’ll pay higher prices, face data caps, and suffer through 1 Mbps upload speeds. Other providers just offer much better deals on plans in these tiers.

Pricing details vary by location. Visit
AT&T's website
or call 1-833-804-1770 to speak with a rep.
See pricing
Starlink
Value
2.0
Average pricing among satellite providers

Starlink offers a variety of internet plans in four main categories: Standard, Priority, Mobile, and Mobile Priority. Its Standard plan is decent for home internet if you don’t have any fiber or cable internet options, but it will cost $90–$120. The Mobile plan is intended for RVs and travelers. These standard plans aren’t subject to official data caps, which is a nice change! If you go with the mobile option, you can pause it month to month but your traffic will be deprioritized relative to home and priority users.

Starlink’s most expensive plans are now named Priority plans, and there’s one for fixed locations and one for use on the go. Both have data caps, and both require a spendy high-performance receiver. Both plans cost at least $250 per month, with increased rates if you need more high-speed data. That’s some of the most expensive prices we’ve seen for internet anywhere, so these plans are pretty hard to recommend for most households.

Satellite internet provider Viasat has plans that are priced similarly to Starlink's standard options, but with data caps and much higher latency. That means that, while you can get a Viasat plan of 100 Mbps in some places, your connection will still feel very slow because it takes so long for data to get to and from the high-orbit satellites. HughesNet, the other big satellite provider in the US, has pricing similar to Starlink's but strict data caps and download speeds that reach only 25 Mbps.

Even with its benefits compared to other satellite providers, Starlink earned a pretty low score on value because the service is much slower and more expensive than home internet from cable or fiber internet providers. It doesn’t compete very well against DSL or fixed wireless internet either, but it’s a decent option of last resort if you are a digital nomad or live in a rural area.

Pricing details vary by location. Visit
Starlink's website
or call to speak with a rep.
See pricing
AT&T logo
Performance
5.0
Fast, reliable speeds any time of day

AT&T claims 99% reliability (1) for its fiber internet service, and that’s pretty accurate in our experience. In fact, over several years of constant daily use in a packed house (two people working from home, two kids doing schoolwork, lots of streaming video and calls), we haven’t had a single major disruption. This is a marked contrast to our previous provider.

Additionally, speeds are consistent, with little variation based on the time of day, activity, or even the particular speed test used. Its median download speeds are slightly slower than its cable and fiber internet competitors, but only by a matter of milliseconds (2). This all adds up to a great experience where the service “just works,” and nobody ever really needs to wonder if they’ll be able to do what they need to do.

It's also worth mentioning that because AT&T fiber internet uses fiber-optic cables, upload speeds are equal to download speeds. That means you can upload huge files in seconds, video chat, live stream game play, and more without a hiccup.

Available speeds vary by location. Call 1-833-804-1770 to speak with a AT&T rep or
go to its website.
Starlink
Performance
3.0
Speeds are slowing as more people sign up

Starlink once offered download speeds that were much, much faster than what satellite competitors could offer, but the company changed its plans and pricing in May of 2023. Today, the service sells home internet with download speeds of 25–100 Mbps, upload speeds of 5–10 Mbps, and latency in the range of 25–50 ms. Those speeds look fast enough for gaming and video conferencing on paper, but third-party research from Ookla found that Starlink users are getting average download speeds of about 66 Mbps, upload speeds of nearly 8 Mbps, and latency of a 62 ms in the first quarter of 2023. That kind of service might be good enough for online shopping or even streaming one show in high definition, but you wouldn’t be able to make video calls, play some online games, or livestream your gameplay. (1)

That same study showed Starlink performed better on all speed metrics than competitors Viasat or HughesNet, but was worse than cable and fiber providers across the board. Unfortunately, Starlink speeds are slowing as the company adds new subscribers because of network congestion. The change in plan offerings is the best evidence of that, but it's not hopeless. The company has launched nearly 4,000 satellites and is planning new launches with updated V2 equipment it says will improve reliability and handle much more bandwidth. (2)

Available speeds vary by location. Call to speak with a Starlink rep or
go to its website.
AT&T logo
Equipment and installation
4.0
Free equipment and free self-installs for fiber internet

AT&T fiber internet installation is about as simple as it gets. You have two options: a $99 professional installation by an AT&T technician or a DIY self-install kit.

If you can get only DSL with AT&T, the equipment is still free but you'll be charged a $49 activation fee. If you don't want to self-install, you can have a pro come out for an additional $99.

The self-install is very easy and comes with clear instructions, so we’d recommend that for pretty much everyone. Activation and configuration of your Wi-Fi network are handled through the simple AT&T Smart Home Manager app, so you don’t even need to log into the router settings page like with some other providers.

It is worth noting that both of these charges are a bit higher than what the competition charges. CenturyLink doesn’t charge for self-installation, for example, while Xfinity charges only $89.99 for a professional install.

That said, if you do need a professional to come out, you can count on fast and friendly service. We’ve personally had techs out on a couple of occasions and were happy with the experience.

Learn more about whether you need a professional installation.

Finally, the AT&T wireless gateway is surprisingly nice. Called AT&T Smart Wi-Fi, it’s super simple to set up, provides solid range, and looks decent on a desk. Compared to the routers and gateways provided by some other providers, this one’s a breath of fresh air.

Equipment and installation options can vary widely depending on
AT&T plans
available in your area.
View plans
Starlink
Equipment and installation
2.5
High upfront equipment costs but easy self installation with an app

Unlike other satellite internet providers, Starlink does not require (or even offer) professional installation. Instead, you will be sent a Starlink Kit that contains all the hardware you need to install a Starlink dish yourself. Although the kit comes with a satellite dish and a base, you may want to purchase a mount to place the dish above ground level for a clearer view of the sky.

If you need internet while traveling, you'll need one of Starlink’s mobile plans. If you don’t need to use the receiver while you’re traveling faster than 10 miles per hour, you can stick with the basic $600 model. If you need internet while your RV or boat is moving, though, you’ll need one of the Mobile Priority plans and the required high-performance receiver.

To install Starlink, download the app on your phone and follow the instructions to find an unobstructed view and complete the setup. The do-it-yourself installation is designed to be straightforward, but it can take several hours. If technical issues arise, you can turn to Starlink customer support or an unofficial online community for help.

Unlike HughesNet and Viasat, Starlink doesn’t offer a leasing option for its equipment in the US, or require an activation fee. Instead, customers have to buy the basic Starlink Kit for a high upfront cost of $599. That averages to about $25 per month if you spread the cost over two years, which is more than you would pay for Viasat or HughesNet equipment. If you need the high-performance Starlink kit because of either extreme weather or your Priority service plan, setup starts at $2,500 before taxes.

Equipment and installation options can vary widely depending on
Starlink plans
available in your area.
View plans
AT&T logo
Customer experience
5.0
Better customer service, with more options

Internet providers have traditionally had a terrible reputation for customer service, but AT&T scores above average with national rating organizations like the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). These ratings have improved over the last few years, which is encouraging.

AT&T offers several options for getting help:

The support site also has lots of information available. It’s easy to use, and if you do need more help, the options involving service reps usually get a quick, friendly response. While it’s not perfect 100% of the time, AT&T customer support tends to be better than average.

AT&T makes it easy to stay connected away from home, too. Subscribers get access to a nationwide network of free Wi-Fi hotspots. Since AT&T offers mobile phone service in addition to internet, you'll be able to log on in from almost anywhere.

Visit AT&T's website
or call 1-833-804-1770 for more information on contracts and money-back guarantees.
Go to provider
Starlink
Customer experience
3.0
Tech-savvy customers with a do-it-yourself attitude will have the best experience with Starlink

Starlink’s customer support seems to be struggling to keep up with the needs of its growing customer base. Along with sometimes inconsistent speeds and connectivity issues, this is leading to mixed experiences with the service.

Elon Musk, CEO of Starlink, recently said delays were most common in highly populated areas, but rural areas are the best place for the service, anyway. (3) There have also been reports of long delays in receiving Starlink equipment due to the effects of the global chip shortage on production. (4) Some customers who pre-ordered Starlink kits have had to wait more than a year to receive them and received few updates from the company (5), but you can look up your address using this Starlink map to find out what to expect.

Other internet providers tend to offer more customer support options and be more reachable than Starlink. Starlink’s website offers a customer support FAQ section, but there is no public contact phone number or email address. To contact the company directly for assistance, you have to log in and send customer support a message. On the plus side, it is possible to find help elsewhere. Starlink has an enthusiastic community of users who post helpful videos on YouTube and answer questions on Reddit.

Visit Starlink's website
or call for more information on contracts and money-back guarantees.
Go to provider
city map lines pattern
Made up your mind?
Find out what providers are available near you.
AT&T
4.1
(419)
5 Star
40%
4 Star
40%
3 Star
14%
2 Star
3%
1 Star
3%
L
Lisafrom New Baltimore, MI
AT&T Customer for 4+ years
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
The service is acceptable with very few outtages however it is a bit pricey
A
Anonymous
AT&T Customer for 8+ years
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
It is ok, speed, reliability are ok
C
Christinefrom Houston, TX
AT&T Customer for 8+ years
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
The internet service is generally reliable. The reliability has improved in recent years. The service when contacted is not good. The sales people, service people, and service techs do not communicate.
K
Kathleenfrom San Diego, CA
AT&T Customer for 1+ years
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
Everyone can improve. My service is ok but the inconsisting of the pricing is terrible. Customer service is something else. Can never get anyone that you have talked to before
Starlink
4.7
(4)
5 Star
75%
4 Star
25%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
J
Johnfrom Hebron, MD
Starlink Customer for Less than a year
Reviewed on: 4-22-2023
Starlink works well in our area. Where we live, cell service and cable do not exist. The speed is comparable to cable speeds.
B
Bonniefrom Palestine, TX
Starlink Customer for Less than a year
Reviewed on: 4-2-2023
The speed of the internet is great. The improvement would be to have a dark dish instead a white one for aesthetic purposes. As well, for the pricing to not increase after just a few months of usage after a year of waiting to receive the service.
A
Amir Khubanifrom Demarest, NJ
Starlink Customer for Less than a year
Reviewed on: 9-11-2022
It is very reliable, since I can use it without an actual connection. It is pretty expensive.
B
Briana from Boise, ID
Starlink Customer for 4+ years
Reviewed on: 8-29-2022
It's pretty good, though the box is a bit old and they tend to not be the best with tech support. Overall we're happy with it.
city map lines pattern
Providers near you
See all options in your area within seconds.
Endnotes and sources
(1) "Internet," AT&T. Accessed August 2, 2022.(2) "Fastest Providers," Speedtest.net. Accessed Dec. 9, 2022.
Popular Internet alternatives
Click on a provider to compare.
Cox Communications
Google Fiber
CenturyLink
Verizon Fios
Astound Broadband
Hawaiian Telcom
Frontier Communications
Smithville
Ziply Fiber
Sparklight