We were extremely impressed with Brightspeed’s prices—you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better deal on gigabit fiber internet. While its fiber coverage area is growing, it currently remains very small. Plus, it's a brand-new provider so there are still a lot of unknowns.
Hargray is a good buy for most families willing to commit to at least a year of service, but its steep setup costs and early termination fees mean canceling too soon will cost you big. Meanwhile, YouTube creators wanting high-performance fiber internet should move on.
Brightspeed is slowly building out a fiber network that offers a pretty great value at $65 per month for up to 940 Mbps. That’s just 7 cents per Mbps, which puts it right in line with top fiber providers like AT&T. Unfortunately, this fiber service is still not widely available.
Because Brightspeed’s fiber footprint is still fairly small, the vast majority of Brightspeed’s current service offerings are DSL. That means that you’re going to pay more money for less speed—it’s just the nature of the DSL beast.
The upshot is that Brightspeed’s DSL prices are actually pretty competitive, starting at $50 per month. With advertised speeds of up to 140 Mbps (but often lower, depending on where you live), that puts the provider at about 36 cents per Mbps. This, of course, falls far short of most cable and fiber providers.
Learn more about the differences between fiber and DSL internet.
Overall, Hargray offers a lot of speed for the price, and all plans come with unlimited data, which made us do happy dances. For the best deal (AKA the lowest price-to-speed ratio), stick with one of Hargray’s slowest plans—which are fast enough for most households anyway. This company’s 100 and 200 Mbps plans come in at just 45% of what most plans in the US cost, while its 1 Gig plans cost around 85% of the national benchmark (1).
Higher-speed plans also come with another downside: while Hargray boasts a fiber network, people who upload a lot of video will lament its slow (for fiber) upload speeds. In short, Hargray’s a great deal for most people, but if top performance is important to you, save your happy dance for another provider.
Impressive is definitely the right word to describe Brightspeed’s performance. The fiber service is excellent, with symmetrical speeds up to 940 Mbps. Symmetrical speed means the upload and download speeds are equal, which makes for much better overall performance compared to typical services where upload is significantly slower.
The DSL service is competitive with most other DSL providers, and seems to be fairly reliable—although we have heard some complaints of outages and interruptions. That said, it is DSL, so you’re only going to get limited speeds.
Our main concern with Brightspeed’s performance is simply how new the company is. It hasn’t had a chance to prove itself yet, and there may be growing pains as it builds out its fiber network. That said, we don’t expect many issues with DSL, since Brightspeed basically inherited the infrastructure directly from CenturyLink.
Hargray uses a fiber optic network, which is much more reliable than satellite or fixed wireless (like 5G) internet. Fiber is also capable of faster speeds (up to 5 Gigs for both download and upload) than any other kind of internet.
Unfortunately, Hargray isn’t using its fiber network to its fullest extent. Its fastest speed is only 1 gig, which most cable internet companies offer. It’s kinda bumming us out, like a straight-B student who could totally ace the class if only they’d apply themselves more. But the real bummer is that Hargray gives you only 20–50 Mbps for uploading, which is great but nowhere close to the symmetrical ideal that fiber can deliver. While most people will love how quickly they can upload a file to Google Drive or post to their Insta account, we think it’s a tragic underutilization of fiber technology. We know. #FirstWorldProblems.
Brightspeed installation is relatively straightforward. The professional installation has a $99 fee attached, which is pretty standard, but self-installation is free. You’ll probably have to go for the pro install with a fiber plan, since you’ll need an optical network terminal (ONT) installed.
For DSL service, you have a choice of professional installation or self-installation, though you can only self-install DSL service if you already have a phone jack in your home. If you don’t, a technician will have to come out and add one.
The equipment is also straightforward. You get a basic wireless gateway (a combination modem and router) that’ll get you online and handle the speeds for your plan. There are none of the mesh systems and other fancy extras some providers offer, but it’ll do the job. Equipment rental will run you $15 per month, which is fairly standard.
That’s kind of the theme with Brightspeed’s equipment and installation process. There’s nothing bad or out of the ordinary, but there’s also nothing particularly interesting or exciting about it.
Hargray’s equipment rental prices are super reasonable. You can rent a modem for just $4 per month, which makes the hassle of using your own gear a lot less appealing. Unless, of course, you’re a technophile who has a favorite modem (more power to you!). You can use most modems. Hargray’s Wi-Fi gear is also inexpensive, coming in at $10 per month. The price includes at least two extenders and free Wi-Fi setup to make sure your signal is dialed. That’s a sweet deal.
The rest of your internet installation will cost you, though. Professional installation costs around $100. Self-setup is technically free, but you have to cough up a $99 activation fee. The activation fee is refundable after your first year of service, but it still hurts, and you’ll probably forget you have a refund coming long before it hits your account anyway. Still, with self-setup, you’ll get to skip the dreaded installation appointment window, so it might still be worth it.
If one area will make or break Brightspeed, it’s customer experience. The provider got its start by acquiring a large number of DSL markets from CenturyLink, so a lot of customers had their internet service transition from one provider to another. A sudden shift in customer experience here could have been really bad.
Opinions of the service are quite mixed so far. Some customers seem to be having a fine experience, with no noticeable change from how things were with CenturyLink. Others have had a rockier transition, with major complaints about speed and customer service.
These types of reports may give you pause, but since the provider is new and the transition from CenturyLink is still happening, things may improve.
Hargray has two levels of customer service (2), and they’re both pretty solid. The first is what you’d expect: you pay full price for all technician visits ($65) and the cost of any repairs, troubleshooting, or installation of new wires and jacks. Other than the cost of work done, there’s no additional charge for this service level.
If connection issues make you nervous or you want Hargray’s highest level of service, you might want to spring for Hargray’s Connected Home Plan for about $6 per month. With that, you’re covered for repairs of common equipment, like wiring, jacks, and splitters—whether the damage was caused by you or an act of God. For services that aren’t fully covered (like learning how to use your Hargray modem or troubleshooting your own router) you pay just $35 per visit.