2021 Comparison: AT&T vs CENTURYLINK

2021 Comparison: AT&T vs CENTURYLINK
Internet Bundles Broadband Deals cable deal

Best for customer care: AT&T

Best for budget options: CenturyLink

Cheap starting price on gigabit internet Sure Price for Life on DSL internet plans
Credible customer satisfaction ratings Nationwide availability for internet plans
But with limited availability for fiber plans But unpredictable DSL speeds
Plans start at $35/mo. Plans start at $49/mo

 

AT&T provides great fiber internet at a great price, making it the obvious first choice here—but keep an eye out for price increases in the next 12 months. It's also likely that it won't be available in your area because the fiber choices are small. CenturyLink is also a good choice, particularly if you're sick of price rises and promotional gimmicks. It offers Price for Life deals on DSL plans, as well as free self-installation and other cost-cutting options.

Current Internet Deals

Check some of the perks that come with AT&T and CenturyLink Plans

CenturyLink

- DSL Price for life guarantees.
- Free router for Fiber gigabit plans
- Free Self-Installation

view centurylink plans

AT&T

- Starting plan is super low with only $35/mo for the first 12 months. CenturyLink's start at $65/mo.

view at&t plans

PRICE AND PACKAGES

DSL and fiber internet is also available from AT&T and CenturyLink. Their DSL packages are reasonably priced, and their fiber connections are lightning-fast.

Customer reviews, pricing, and additional features distinguish the two internet service providers (ISPs). As an alternative to a costly cable package, AT&T offers internet bundles with DIRECTV or AT&T TV. AT&T still has some of the highest customer satisfaction rates in the industry, so you won't have to worry about technical support or customer service.

CenturyLink, but on the other hand, is a good option if you only need to save money. All of its DSL plans come with a Price for Life guarantee. You can purchase a CenturyLink modem rather than lease one, and you can get free installation if you do it yourself.

AT&T Packages

Package : Fiber Internet 100    
Price:  $35.00/mo.    
Speed: 100 Mbps    
Internet Type: Fiber

Package : Fiber Internet 300    
Price: $45.00/mo.    
Speed: 300 Mbps    
Internet Type: Fiber

Package : Internet 1000    
Price: $60.00/mo.    
Speed: 1,000 Mbps    
Internet Type: Fiber

Package : AT&T Fixed-Wireless Internet    
Price:  $59.99/mo.    
Speed: Approx. 25 Mbps    
Internet Type: Fixed wireless

Since AT&T's DSL service was recently stopped, fiber is now the only option for most subscribers. We like AT&T's Internet 1000 plan because it offers high speeds at a low price. Free access to HBO Max, AT&T's flagship streaming platform, is included with the Internet 1000 package.

However, its Fiber Internet 100 and Fiber Internet 300 plans are likely to satisfy you just as well. Both are connected to a fiber-optic network and provide excellent capacity, with upload speeds of 100 Mbps and 300 Mbps, respectively. They're both extremely affordable, much cheaper than CenturyLink's slower DSL plan.

If you'd like a comprehensive TV plan, AT&T offers DIRECTV satellite TV packages and AT&T TV subscription bundles, which are intended to help cord-cutters move to a world of live TV streams and on-demand viewing.

CenturyLink Packages

Package: Price for Life Up to 100 Mbps    
Price: $49/mo.    
Speed: Up to 100 Mbps    
Internet Typer: DSL

Package: Fiber Internet    
Price: $65/mo.    
Speed: 1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps)    
Internet Typre: Fiber

If you're looking for a good value on fiber or DSL internet, CenturyLink is a good choice. Price for Life guarantees is included in CenturyLink's DSL plans, ensuring that the price will never go up—a welcome relief given that price spikes are a common feature of internet plans.

The fiber gigabit plan from CenturyLink is also fairly priced. Although the monthly charge isn't as low as AT&T's gigabit plan, CenturyLink's deal includes a router and installation at no additional cost. You get limitless data and there are no commitments, so you can cancel at any time. Oh, boo-yah!

Who has the fastest internet speed?

INTERNET SPEEDS

AT&T and CenturyLink both deliver some of the fastest internet speeds in the world. Their fiber internet plans all offer download speeds of up to 940 Mbps, making them suitable for large families, gamers, TV binge-watchers, and work-from-home who spend a lot of time on Zoom.

To begin with, AT&T's fiber gigabit plan is marginally less costly than CenturyLink's, however, after a year, AT&T's gigabit plan increases to $80 per month. So sticking with CenturyLink's fiber gigabit plan would save you money in the long run. However, in our most recent customer satisfaction survey, AT&T earned higher scores than CenturyLink.

If none of these companies can supply fiber, they both provide DSL internet plans. Sadly, DSL isn't known for its speed—it tops out at about 100 Mbps, and there's no assurance you'll be able to get DSL that fasts where you live.

DSL is akin to driving a Ford Fiesta rather than a Ferrari. It can still get you good speeds, but not Ferrari-like ones. For a modestly sized household with multiple people using multiple devices, speeds of 50–100 Mbps would suffice.

INTERNET TYPES

DSL and fiber internet is accessible from AT&T and CenturyLink.

By far, fiber internet is the best form of internet available. It's the quickest, the most dependable, and (drum roll, please) the rarest. Fiber is only accessible in a few places where ISPs have spent a lot of money to construct highly expensive fiber networks.

If one of these companies offers fiber Wi-Fi, you can certainly take advantage of it. On the best kind of internet infrastructure, you'll also get the highest speed.

DSL is a bit of an outcast among internet technologies. It plods along at speeds of less than 100 megabits per second through your old copper phone lines. However, DSL plans are less costly while also offering a secure link and acceptable speeds.

Fixed-wireless broadband is mostly beneficial to rural consumers who have no other options in their region other than satellite internet. Although it is reasonably fast, AT&T's fixed-wireless plan has a strict monthly data limit of only 350 GB, with additional fees if you go over.

AT&T Bundles

AT&T TV is a perfect way to ditch your cable TV subscription in favor of a more convenient streaming-only option. It actually replaced U-verse as AT&T's television channel, and it provides live news, sports, and entertainment programming. There are also tens of thousands of on-demand titles and a plethora of games, such as Netflix and Pandora.

DIRECTV, a satellite television service operated by AT&T, is also available. It provides premium television with all of your favorite channels, Spanish-language bundles, and 4K programming. DIRECTV also offers NFL SUNDAY TICKET, a popular sports package that includes live broadcasts of every NFL game, including games that would otherwise be unavailable in your region.

Fees and Contracts

The thing about internet packages is that the monthly sticker price, whether you prefer AT&T or CenturyLink (or some other ISP), is not the total price. Installation costs, taxes, and other expenses can swell your bill like a spring-loaded jack-in-the-box toy.

We took initiative and gathered all of those fees and put them on this table. This is for the sake of your education and the advancement of a more open society.

AT&T FEES

Modem Rental    $10
Installation    $35 (self-install) or $99 (professional install)
Late fees    Up to $10
Data overages    $10 per 50 GB (fixed-wireless plans only)
Taxes    Cost may vary

You have the option of installing your AT&T Internet yourself or having it installed by a skilled technician. You'll have to pay $35 for an "activation fee" if you plan to install it yourself. You'll pay $99. if you hire a pro to do it. It's all up to you.

CenturyLink Fees

Modem rental    $15/mo. (or $150 flat fee)
Installation    $99 (free for self-installation)
Secure Wi-Fi service    $5/mo. (optional)
Declined payment    $10–$25
Late fees    $15
Taxes    Cost may vary

When it comes to deployment, a skilled technician can charge a flat fee of $99 to set up Wi-Fi in your home. If you're confident in your ability to install it yourself, CenturyLink will send you a free self-installation package.

CONTRACTS

For their internet packages, AT&T and CenturyLink do not really require annual commitments. Their services are month-to-month, meaning you can cancel at any time without incurring an early termination charge (ETF).

CenturyLink goes a step further by offering Price for Life guarantees on all of its DSL contracts, ensuring that your internet bill will never increase. That's what we refer to as a slam dunk.

AT&T's internet plans have a 12-month price guarantee. Following that, you will see an increase in the price of your bill.

If you order AT&T TV, you will not be able to get a no-contract bill. We called customer support to find out more, and an AT&T representative informed us that AT&T TV needs a 24-month commitment.

EQUIPMENT

Renting a modem and router

We assume that renting devices straight from ISPs is a great choice because it guarantees that you get something which is consistent with the company's system and simple to troubleshoot or replace.

Buying a modem and router

If you're a techie who wants more choices for things like online gaming, link aggregation, or setting up a guest network, buying a modem and router is a smart idea. If you need a long-range router to shore up Wi-Fi dead zones, your own router will help.

CenturyLink also offers the option of buying a router rather than renting one month at a time. If you ask us, it is the best choice because you can save money and be able to retain it in the long run.

Purchasing your own modem and router would save you money in the long run. Just ensure your equipment works with your internet provider's network.

Customer Service

In terms of customer service and technical support, AT&T ranks in the center. In our customer satisfaction survey, it ranks seventh and tenth among 15 major ISPs, respectively.

In our customer satisfaction survey, CenturyLink also receives a middle rating.

INSTALLATION AND SETUP

AT&T 

FEE: $355 OR 99
INSTALLATION TYPE: Pro and Self-install
Customer satisfaction: 4.05/5

CenturyLink

Fee: $99 (free for self-install)
Type: Pro and self-install
Customer satisfaction rating: 3.96/5

In our customer satisfaction survey, AT&T won high marks for installation and configuration, ranking third out of fifteen firms. In terms of installation, CenturyLink is ranked seventh.

If you want to mount your Wi-Fi yourself, AT&T will charge you $35; otherwise, you'll have to pay $99 to have it done by a specialist. CenturyLink will give you a free self-installation package, but establishing your own internet isn't always straightforward.

The self-installation method will be relatively simple if you're a helpful person in general. It's normally just a matter of having to plug power cords and Ethernet cables into the appropriate equipment, then doing some mild troubleshooting to ensure everything is switched on and functioning properly. As long as there are no technical problems and all you need is included in your self-install package, it shouldn't take more than a couple of hours.

Customer Satisfaction

When it comes to customer loyalty, AT&T receives mixed feedback. In our customer satisfaction survey, it comes in the sixth position for overall results, right in the middle of the pack.

In our consumer poll, CenturyLink comes in just behind AT&T. CenturyLink is ranked eighth in our survey for overall satisfaction.

PROS AND CONS

AT&T

PROS

Unbeatable fiber gigabit price
Solid customer ratings
Great bundle options for cord-cutters

CONS

The annoying activation fee for self-installation
Limited fiber availability
Inconsistent DSL speeds

CENTURYLINK

PROS
Guaranteed Price for Life on DSL
Free router with fiber internet
No cost for self-installation

CONS
Poor customer ratings
Limited fiber availability
Slow DSL in some areas

We believe AT&T is the better of these two behemoth ISPs because it offers the fastest, most stable internet at the most affordable price.

You'll get decent speeds (most of the time) for a low price with CenturyLink. The fiber gigabit package includes free self-installation and a free modem. We're also impressed by the DSL plans' Price for Life guarantees. Simply ensure that you have adequate DSL speeds in your region. Don't waste your mun-muns if the only speeds available are less than 25 Mbps.

In the end, however, AT&T is the clear winner between the two. AT&T has excellent consumer reviews, competitive pricing, and an interesting TV subscription service. If the fiber gigabit internet plan is available in your city, you should take advantage of it because it's a great deal for some of the fastest internet available. However, bear in mind that the price will rise after the initial 12-month promotion period.