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EarthLink vs. T-Mobile Internet plan comparison


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Headshot of Kathryn Casna
Researched by
Headshot of Kathryn Casna
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Reviewed by
Updated 2/7/23

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EarthLink brand
Staff rating
3.8
Customer rating
4.3
(3)

  • Plans starting at $59.95
  • Download speeds up to 100 Mbps
T-Mobile brand
Staff rating
3.6
Customer rating
4.3
(96)

  • Plans starting at $50.00
  • Download speeds up to 182 Mbps
EarthLink brand
Staff rating
3.8

Pay more for a better customer experience with EarthLink

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.

What we like

  • Wide availability
  • Strong customer service
  • No price hikes
What we dislike

  • High prices
  • Widely differing plans based on area
T-Mobile brand
Staff rating
3.6

Inexpensive high-speed internet with no contracts

T-Mobile provides an inexpensive 5G internet plan with no contract and decent speed, but not a lot of choices or professional installation.

What we like

  • One low price
  • No commitment
  • Relatively fast
What we dislike

  • Not widely available
  • No professional installation available
  • Inconsistent speeds
EarthLink brand
Value
3.5
Above-average prices, but they’re more constant than other providers

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.

T-Mobile brand
Value
3.0
One plan, one very low price

T-Mobile 5G Home Internet comes in one download speed (100 Mbps), which is fast enough for a lot of people but slower than most cable plans (up to 1 Gbps) and fiber plans (up to 5 Gbps). The good news? T-Mobile’s plan includes unlimited data, but there may be slowdowns when the network is congested. It’ll cost you $50, which is $0.50 per Mbps, and about right for 5G plans. However, overall, 5G internet is super cheap compared to other kinds of broadband internet. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) benchmarks similar broadband plans at $105.67/month, (1) which comes out to more than a dollar per Mbps!

Even better, if you’re already a T-Mobile customer with a qualifying Magenta plan, your rate is $25/month. If max download speeds of 100 Mbps works for you, T-Mobile 5G Home Internet is a pretty sweet deal, especially if you’re already a customer. But if you’re looking for more plan options, you won’t find them here.

EarthLink brand
Performance
4.0
Generally solid performance and fast speeds, but wide variation from place to place

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.

T-Mobile brand
Performance
3.0
Faster than advertised, but awkwardly unpredictable

As with any fixed wireless internet provider, speeds fluctuate widely and can be affected by weather, terrain, peak hours, and more. That means you’ll rarely get a steady 100 Mbps. T-Mobile says you’ll likely see anywhere from 33 to 182 Mbps for download and 8 to 25 Mbps for upload. (2) But we think T-Mobile should toot its horn a little louder. Independent research shows speeds average out to around 119 Mbps for download and 16 Mbps for upload—both of which leave other wireless ISPs in the dust. (3)

Generally, 5G internet isn’t as fast as cable internet (up to 1,000 Mbps, or 1 Gbps) or fiber (up to 5 Gbps). But for most people, it’ll feel pretty zippy. Unfortunately, if you’re using your connection for gaming, the inconsistency could cause unpredictable, frustrating lags.

EarthLink brand
Equipment and Installation
3.5
Reasonable prices, but wide variation from place to place (again)

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.

T-Mobile brand
Equipment and installation
4.0
You’ll need an app for that

T-Mobile uses a 5G gateway (included at no additional cost) to turn cell signal into Wi-Fi for your home. It’s strong enough to send signal about 30 feet away, depending on how many walls are in the way. It’s compatible with most mesh network extenders. Plus, you can create up to four separate networks, so you can create one for Airbnb guests or your least favorite roommate.

According to T-Mobile, installation should take around 15 minutes—if you have an Android or iOS phone and can download the T-Mobile internet app. If that doesn’t work out, you can call T-Mobile customer service and someone will help you get set up. If you don’t get cell signal or a landline at home, though, you’re going to have a rough day.

EarthLink brand
Customer Experience
4.5
EarthLink provides a surprisingly great experience from an ISP.

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.

T-Mobile brand
Customer experience
4.5
Award-winning customer service, but a lackluster guarantee

T-Mobile is fairly new to providing home internet, but it has a solid track record of providing great service to its mobile customers. Both contract and non-contract customers see the best service in the industry, according to J.D. Power. (4)

We don’t like T-Mobile’s short 15-day money-back guarantee, which doesn’t give you much time for a test drive. (We much prefer Starry’s 30-day guarantee.) Even worse, your countdown starts when T-Mobile ships your 5G Gateway, not when it arrives. If there are any shipping delays or it takes you a day or two to get set up, you’ll run out of testing time fast.

Endnotes and sources
Endnotes and sources
1. “2022 Urban Rate Survey – Fixed Broadband Service,” FCC. Accessed 12 December 2022.2. “Policies, Open Internet,” T-Mobile. Accessed 12 December 2022.3. “USA 5G Experience Report October 2021,” Opensignal. Accessed 12 December 2022.4. "Wireless Customer Care Satisfaction Declines as Staff Turnover Rises, J.D. Power Finds,” J.D. Power. Accessed 12 December 2022.
EarthLink
4.3
(3)
5 Star
33%
4 Star
67%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
P
Parker from Lancaster, PA
EarthLink Customer for 4+ years
Reviewed on: 2022-10-10
Earthlink is good for the basic things I use it for. I'm happy.
J
J.J.from Dominguez, CA
EarthLink Customer for 1+ years
Reviewed on: 2022-08-10
been an ok provider so far. nothing outstanding, nothing to complain about.
V
Veronica from Macon, GA
EarthLink Customer for Less than a year
Reviewed on: 2022-08-01
Fast internet service, cloud storage
T-Mobile
4.3
(96)
5 Star
50%
4 Star
38%
3 Star
11%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
1%
T
Theresafrom Austin, TX
T-Mobile Customer for Less than a year
Reviewed on: 2022-09-04
Was previously with Sprint. Not too familiar with T mobile
C
Ceciliafrom Hoboken, NJ
T-Mobile Customer for Less than a year
Reviewed on: 2022-08-14
Have been with tmobile 20+ years with cell service
J
Joefrom Hewitt, NJ
T-Mobile Customer for Less than a year
Reviewed on: 2022-07-11
it is a seamless experience
J
Jordanfrom Atlanta, GA
T-Mobile Customer for 1+ years
Reviewed on: 2022-06-19
For the price I’m paying, I would say my internet is fairly good and is fast and reliant.
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