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.
Kinetic by Windstream aims to bring better internet to rural and remote areas. While it offers one of the best values in internet service anywhere, it’s hampered by a mediocre customer experience.
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.
Windstream’s Kinetic internet service offers a surprisingly strong value. Prices are competitive—in fact, the 1 gig plan ties Google Fiber as the most affordable option we’ve seen for gigabit download speed. They both cost just over 50% of the national benchmark for similar plans (1).
The advertised prices are for a 12-month introductory period and will increase in the range of about $15 after the first year. This practice of second-year price hikes used to be the norm, but the best fiber internet providers we review have abandoned the practice.
Overall, Windstream represents one of the best values in home internet if you can get fiber. It's also a good deal if you can get only DSL, but your speeds will be much slower.
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.
Kinetic by Windstream is a fiber and DSL internet service. Normally, that would mean two sides to the performance story—excellent speed, reliability, and consistency with fiber, and then DSL. That’s technically true of Windstream, but there’s a big “but” to consider.
The “but” is that Windstream is primarily targeted at rural areas, where other internet options may be limited to satellite or even dial-up (yes, that’s still a thing). In these markets, the Kinetic service can actually be a breath of fresh air—including its DSL. Plus, there are no data caps to worry about, which is a major limitation with satellite. Finally, the fiber performance is excellent, with speeds up to 2 gigs.
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.
Windstream charges a pretty standard $10–$12 per month for equipment rental if you are in its fiber service area. This gets you a very usable wireless gateway.
If you are in a DSL area, you'll be charged a $10 monthly modem fee but will also need a router. You can technically bring your own equipment, but Windstream officially supports a very limited number of modems, so it might be easier just to rent one.
The Windstream professional installation fee seems very reasonable at first—just $35 (or free, with some promotions). However, there’s a $50 activation fee on your first bill that brings it more in line with other providers. If you need a phone jack installed, you’ll be charged another $65 on top of the other fees. Ouch.
You can install your DSL connection for free if you're home is already wired correctly, and online instructions make it a breeze.
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.
The customer experience with Windstream leaves something to be desired. The provider ranks low in independent industry benchmarks like the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) (2), with a score of 62 out of 100. This is slightly below the industry average of 64.
Customer reviews of Windstream are generally mixed, with some pointing out that since they are often the only decent choice in an area, they try to get away with the bare minimum customer service. Customers also complain about frequent outages that sometimes last for days (3). That said, if your only other option is satellite internet (with its high prices and higher latency), it may be worth dealing with less-than-stellar customer service.