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.
Verizon Fios offers fast, reliable fiber internet, along with one of the best overall customer experiences in the business. Verizon Fios is highly recommended, and it's one of the best home internet providers we reviewed.
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.
Verizon Fios is an excellent value overall. The provider offers three fiber-to-the-home plans, starting at about $50 per month for 300 Mbps, which is more for the money than you’ll get with many competitors.
Even though this is Verizon’s “slowest” offering, it’s still extremely fast and should cover a wide variety of households. In fact, we interviewed one customer who lives in a household of five internet users—two adults working full time from home, three children streaming videos and playing video games, and a plethora of internet-enabled smart home devices. She feels like they pay a good price for the 300 Mbps plan without losing out on speed. "I rarely have to think about it," she said. "If I don't have to think about it, then it's working."
The mid-tier plan is also a solid value. The highest-tier gigabit option is less competitively priced, at closer to $90 per month. However, that's still about 25% lower than the national benchmark for similar plans. (1) And you do get the benefit of symmetrical download and upload speeds with all of Verizon’s fiber internet plans, which you won’t find with every provider. This helps offset the cost somewhat. For an additional $10 each month at the highest tier, you get 2 TB of cloud storage, a subscription to Disney+, and a MoCA adapter for internet gaming.
It's worth noting that Verizon also offers DSL internet in some areas, with download speeds as high as 15 Mbps and bundled prices in the range of $75 per month, but is phasing it out in 2023. That's awfully slow compared to fiber internet, and quite expensive, but it's better than nothing. The good news is Verizon is rapidly building out its fiber-to-the-home network, so many households that have been stuck with DSL may soon be eligible for Fios.
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.
Performance is where Verizon Fios really shines. PCMag named it the fastest Major Internet Service Provider in 2022—and the 9 years before that. (2) The fiber-optic connections are rock solid, and the speeds offered are excellent.
Additionally, all plans have symmetrical download and upload speeds, which is ideal for anyone who uploads a lot of content. Some competitors have started offering 2,000 Mbps (or faster), but the vast majority of households won’t need those multi-gig speeds, so Verizon customers aren’t really missing out.
The likelihood of maintaining those fast advertised speeds reliably is also better with a fiber provider like Verizon than it is with some other internet types, but your experience may vary by location. In an interview, a Fios customer of over three years said that she sticks with Verizon because of the reliability even more than the price. At her current home in Buffalo, NY, she didn’t have any service outages or slowdowns even through the massive blizzards in 2022. When she previously used Verizon Fios in the Bronx, NY, the infrastructure had more outages and maintenance, though it was still faster and more reliable than another provider she tried in the area.
If you can get only DSL with Verizon, you'll only be able to download at speeds up to 15 Mbps and will pay a lot for the privilege. If you have any other option, we'd usually recommend it.
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.
Verizon Fios offers a pretty standard equipment setup for fiber: an optical network terminal (ONT) and a wireless router. Routers are included at no extra cost on each plan, and the fastest plan comes with an included mesh network called Whole-Home Wi-Fi.
Installation costs $99, and there’s no self-install option. A current Verizon Fios customer who moved from one city to another said that they didn’t have to pay for pro install because they use their own equipment and their new home was previously wired for Fios, so it’s worth checking whether you need installation at your address. If you do need installation and order online, Verizon will waive the fee. This can be an easy way to save some money on your first internet bill. That said, while the fee is expensive, it’s not unheard of among internet service providers.
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.
If there’s a leader in internet customer experience, it’s probably Verizon Fios. The service is absolutely rock solid, with hardly a hiccup. This, combined with the excellent speeds, makes for a seamless internet experience—it just works.
Verizon also consistently scores well in customer satisfaction. In fact, it took the top spot this year in the ACSI benchmarks (3), tied with AT&T. Meanwhile, PCMag's readers rank Verizon Fios third in overall satisfaction (4).
Connecting away from home is the only place Verizon falls short. With services such as AT&T and Xfinity, subscribers get access to a nationwide network of free hotspots. Verizon doesn't have this offering (but also doesn't trick you into using your home router to let strangers connect).