Pros and Cons of EarthLink Internet Service at a Glance
To EarthLink's credit, it has three plan options when it comes to internet service, which are listed below. There are plans with very low pricing available, and EarthLink is available in quite a few areas with different connection options.
There are, unfortunately, a couple key areas where EarthLink comes up short. Unlike many other internet service providers (ISPs), EarthLink doesn't give users any kind of parental control options. Support is a weak point of the company, as it uses outsourcing for support calls and service requests. When local repairs are necessary, it's frequently third-party technicians who do the work. This isn't always a bad thing, but the quality can be hit or miss.
Internet Service Plans Available with EarthLink
EarthLink has three types of internet service available.
The most inexpensive and basic option is the DSL Internet plan, which has speeds of up to 15 Mbps. This plan starts as low as $14.95 per month. The user doesn't need home phone service for this plan.
Users who want the fastest internet speeds they can get will want the Hyperlink Internet plan, which has speeds up to 75 Mbps. Pricing starts at $39.95 per month, and this plan uses fiber-optic technology.
EarthLink also offers a Satellite Internet plan, which has speeds up to 25 Mbps and starts as low as $49.99 per month. This type of plan is available nationwide, and it comes with a larger data allowance of up to 50 GB per month.
While these are EarthLink's standard plans, pricing and speed can vary depending on the customer's location. These are typically only starter prices that last for the first three months of the customer's contract.
An In-Depth Look at EarthLink
As an ISP, EarthLink has its advantages, but it also has some very noticeable disadvantages. While it has survived for many years, it certainly hasn't been thriving, as it has needed to let thousands of employees go and shut down its call centers based in the United States, which is why it now outsources customer support. This has led to quite a few service issues, with customers noting that service is hit or miss and it often takes a long time to get connected with a representative when calling in.
To EarthLink's credit, it has plenty of access numbers for dial-up, along with cable lines in certain places. It has also been making headway on developing its network of fiber-optic cables. These developments could lead to faster internet speeds and greater reliability.
Even EarthLink's basic plan provides the user with up to eight email addresses, their own personal homepage and virus protection. There is also support available at all hours, although it is outsourced support much of the time. Due to how many access numbers EarthLink has at its disposal, customers who have dial-up internet service through this ISP can usually get a solid connection without needing to wait long. To provide an idea of how many access numbers EarthLink has, it boasts more than 45 in the greater San Diego area and over 50 throughout the Miami area.
EarthLink also has a good number of extras for customers to take advantage of. These include a free protection center with a virus scanner tool, anti-spyware, a firewall, and protection with instant messaging and email services. If the user wants a greater level of protection, EarthLink has Norton 360 available for a small fee every month. This gives the user both internet protection and identity protection. For another small monthly fee, there's a file backup service available through EarthLink.
When it comes to support options, customers can get in touch with EarthLink through emails, live chat, and by phone. The wait time depends significantly on how busy the company is, and in one test of its email response time, the reply from EarthLink took a few days. Customer complaints have been on a steady uptick since back in 2005, when it needed to start closing down call centers and letting employees go. In terms of phone support, it can sometimes take a while to reach a representative, and these representatives aren't always easy to understand. EarthLink does make plenty of information readily available on its site, as it has guides to getting started and troubleshooting problems, FAQs regarding billing, and other assorted help topics. It also provides info on any outages as soon as it's aware of them. Of course, online info doesn't make up for lackluster support.
The Final Word
EarthLink isn't necessarily a bad ISP, and it has its share of satisfied customers. That being said, it simply isn't up to providing the same level of service as some of the larger ISPs. Its plans are comparable with those of other ISPs, but its lack of high-quality customer support puts it at a serious disadvantage.
Customers who are in well-populated areas with a variety of internet service options would be better off looking at other options first. If they're still thinking about EarthLink, it would be best to check with people they know who have EarthLink or look at customer reviews for EarthLink in their area. This can provide a fairly accurate idea of just how good the ISP's service is there and whether EarthLink is worth the money.
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