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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.