Buckeye Broadband offers a good internet experience for residents of the Toledo area. However, substantial price hikes, high prices on the faster plans, and a reputation for poor customer service make it tough to recommend for certain customers.
EarthLink is an interesting 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 higher prices, but a reputation for great customer service might make EarthLink worth it.
Buckeye Broadband isn't a bad deal if you're looking at the introductory price. In fact, for the first six months of service, you can often get a better deal with Buckeye than with the major national players. However, while most providers will guarantee prices for a year or two, you'll see significant price hikes from Buckeye after only six months if you have one of their cable plans. Fiber plans are a bit better, with promotional prices that last 12 months.
In most cases, the month seven price hike will amount to an additional $20 per month on your bill. Then, once the regular rate is applied, it is often double the advertised promotional price. Most Buckeye plans don't have contracts, but you might be locked into these higher prices if you sign one to get a specific deal. We also don't like that the length of the promotional period isn't obvious unless you read the fine print.
There’s no getting around it: EarthLink prices are almost always higher than the competition. Depending on the area, the difference can be as little as a few dollars per month, but it’s still there. That said, there are actually legitimate reasons for this.
First, 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 uses their infrastructure. This costs EarthLink money, and some of this naturally gets passed down to customers. In return, you’re promised a better customer experience.
The other reason is that EarthLink skips the usual promotional pricing most ISPs 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 which that price may increase (sometimes dramatically). EarthLink doesn’t do this, which is a plus in our book. This also means EarthLink may end up slightly less expensive if you intend to keep it for a couple of years.
In terms of speed, Buckeye Broadband competes well. The company offers a range of speeds up to 1 gig, with a good spread of package tiers. There are two types of service—cable internet and fiber—and both offer speedy downloads. The fiber plans also come with symmetrical speeds, meaning the upload speed and download speed are equal—excellent for content creators and anyone else who uploads and shares lots of large files.
Additionally, Buckeye Broadband offers unlimited data. We're happy about this update since cable plans used to only come with 250 GB of data. For a modern household, that's not nearly enough--on average, people typically use around 536 GB of data per month (1). You could upgrade to unlimited data for $30 per month before, but we're happy to see it included from the get-go.
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.
Buckeye Broadband's equipment situation depends on whether you have cable or fiber.
Buckeye uses pretty standard Arris wireless gateways for its cable plans. Customers can rent one from the provider for $14 per month, which is in line with most other providers. You can also opt to bring your own equipment—the provider has a list of supported modems to choose from.
Fiber plans include free SmartNet routers powered by eero. However, after chatting with a customer service rep about unclear terms of service, we found out there is a $120 activation fee for any SmartNet services unless you sign a 12-month contract. Since you can keep your promotional price for the length of the contract, that's not a deal-breaker, but it is something to keep in mind.
As for installation, Buckeye doesn’t charge a fee for either installation or service activation with most plans. In the event you somehow land on a package that doesn’t waive the installation fee, it’s only $10, which is lower than most providers—it’s usually closer to $100 for a professional installation.
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.
The combination of solid performance and minimal fees makes for a good overall experience with Buckeye. However, as with all internet providers, there are some issues. The first is that the prices increase substantially after the introductory period. This is normal internet provider stuff, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it.
The second issue is a general reputation for poor customer service. You’ll quickly find complaints online about communication difficulties and service reliability.
In our research, we thought some of the terms were pretty hard to find on the website, but it only took a few minutes to get in contact with a customer service rep via their online chat feature, and they were able to answer our questions.
Not everyone has a bad experience with Buckeye, but clearly, not everyone has a good experience, either, so just be aware of what you’re getting into.
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 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 some customers don't get the Earthlink customer experience. In some places, customer service is handled by the end provider instead.