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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.