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The best DSL internet: Reliable, lower-priced, and available nationwide

DSL is a great choice when you can't get fiber. It's reliable, lower-priced, and readily available nationwide.
Written by Cynthia Bowman, Contributor
AT&T | Best clearest pricing plan
Best clearest pricing plan
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CenturyLink | Best downtime compensation
Best downtime compensation
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Frontier | No contract required
No contract required
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Verizon | Highest-rated customer service
Highest-rated customer service
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DSL is a good option for businesses and consumers in search of internet service. It may not be as fast as fiber-optic internet, but it's reliable, lower-priced, and readily available nationwide. We've reviewed DSL service providers by comparing the plans each company offers, internet speeds, and customer service ratings. The criteria were established so you can make an informed choice when choosing your company's internet service.

Provider score: 4/5

✓ Best For:

  •  Businesses needing a standard plan 
  • Consumers needing custom features

  ✗ Not For:

  • Companies in search of high speeds 
  • Businesses not ready for a longer contract

AT&T makes shopping and comparing DSL internet plans simple. The website features clearly listed plans, including all the information you need at a quick glance, including internet speeds, pricing, contract lengths, and equipment fees. 

AT&T's Business DSL service can support an entire company's internet needs with fast downloading speeds for sharing large files.  

Availability: 3/5

AT&T's services are available in 21 states. Its coverage area is mainly focused on the Southeast and Midwest regions, although business coverage is also available in select areas of Nevada and California.

Bandwidth: 4/5

AT&T offers up to 75Mbps speeds for Business DSL customers, one of the fastest business DSL service speeds you'll find in the market.

Customer Service: 5/5

AT&T earned second place in the 2019 American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) with a 69 out of 100 and five out of five stars in the J.D. Power Internet Service Provider Satisfaction Study.

Provider score: 3/5

✓ Best For:

  • Businesses that can't afford internet interruptions
  • People needing excellent customer support

  ✗ Not For:

  • Flexible contractual commitments
  • Businesses that would suffer from a 1TB monthly data cap

No one wants to deal with constant Internet outages. As little as an hour of internet interruption could mean lost productivity and hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost credit card sales or missed customer orders. Most internet providers have very low downtimes, but CenturyLink provides another layer of reliability by crediting you one day of DSL service for every thirty minutes of downtime your business suffers.

For smaller businesses, this added incentive can be critical when internet outages prevent revenue streams from increasing.

Availability: 3/5

CenturyLink is available in 36 states, providing a large national network. The internet service provider (ISP) isn't found in some larger states, including California and New York.

Bandwidth: 3/5

As with most ISPs, speeds vary by area and depends on the infrastructure. CenturyLink's DSL bandwidth runs up to 140Mbps, which allows employees to simultaneously conduct online tasks.

Customer Service: 3/5

CenturyLink's customer service rating from the 2019 American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) was below average at 59 out of 100. The ratings from J.D. Power were average at three out of five stars.

Frontier Communications

Provider score: 2/5

✓ Best For:

  • Consumers wanting to avoid long contracts    
  • Companies that need excellent customer support 

  ✗ Not For:

  • Users needing unlimited data

New businesses or consumers on a monthly budget may not be ready to commit to a long-term contract. Or you or your company may foresee moving within a year, which makes Frontier's no-contract plans a nice incentive due to not having to pay cancellation fees if you need to change services.

Availability: 3/5

Frontier offers internet service in 29 states, and although the internet may be available in your state, it's common for service to vary from city to city within a state. It's always best to check for availability online by entering your zip code.

Bandwidth: 3/5

Customers will get speeds of up to 115Mbps, which should be enough for basic business tasks such as sending and receiving emails, creating cloud backups, running online accounting software, and participating in an occasional video conference.

Customer Service: 1/5

Frontier has a long way to go to improve its customer service rating. The DSL internet provider was near the bottom of the 2019 American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) with a rating of 55 out of 100. Frontier came in last or next to last in all regions of the  J.D. Power Study with just two out of five stars for customer service.

Provider score: 3/5

✓ Best For:

  • New businesses needing more technical support than average
  • Users outside the Northeast

  ✗ Not For:

  • Consumers needing fast and reliable DSL connectivity

A new customer or small business may not be able to afford its own IT department yet and may need to rely on customer service and tech support for help.  For customers with fewer resources to solve technical issues, Verizon ranks high in customer service, so there's quality help available when your company needs it.

Availability: 1/5

Verizon internet is only available in eight U.S. states and the District of Columbia or now. Even in the few states covered, DSL service may not be as widespread.

Bandwidth: 3/5

Verizon offers high-speed internet for any size business and customer need. DSL business plans come with a bandwidth of up to 15Mbps.

Customer Service: 5/5

Verizon ranks No. 1 in customer service with a score of 70 out of 100 in the 2019 American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). The ISP also wins J.D. Power's Internet Service Satisfaction Study with four out of five stars.

How to choose your provider

Evaluate speed options

DSL speeds can vary from one internet service provider to the next. It's best to compare more than one business DSL provider in your area (if there's more than one) to determine the best bandwidth offer. Choose a higher speed tier than you think you'll need -- as your business grows, you may need more bandwidth.

Prep your home for DSL

If your home or business is not wired for DSL service yet, your service provider will send a technician to install the product. Please make sure the area where the cables will be run is free and clear so the technician can access them quickly. Choose a central spot so that a connected router can transmit wifi throughout the property.

Test your speeds

Once you know the speed your ISP claims you'll receive, test your internet speed regularly to ensure your service isn't declining in bandwidth. If you notice a decline in your company's DSL speeds, contact your service provider right away so you can receive guided troubleshooting to pinpoint and fix the issue.

Consider fiber or cable

Some DSL internet providers offer more than one type of internet service. Fiber is the fastest form of internet service today. Cable is similar in speeds to DSL, but it can be affected if others in the area are online, with everyone in a neighborhood sharing the same bandwidth. 

If you have the option to subscribe to fiber, it will be well worth it. Fiber speeds are as high as 1,000 Mbps, compared to a mere 100Mbps for some of the faster DSL internet packages.

How we found the best DSL internet

We reviewed customer service ratings from top surveyors, including J.D. Power and the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), compared bandwidth and speeds, examined plans and pricing, and considered contract commitment lengths to determine which DSL internet providers are the best for businesses.  

What type of internet is best?

Fiber optic internet service is currently the fastest internet to date, although availability is often limited to major cities. If fiber optic internet isn't available, DSL is a good and reliable option.

How much bandwidth do I need?

Verizon lists the typical bandwidth according to internet use per device:

  • Basic emails:  1Mbps each
  • Cloud backups:  2Mbps
  • Web browsing:  0.33Mbps
  • Online bookkeeping:  2Mbps
  • Streaming webinars: 5Mbps
  • Video conferencing:  4Mbps

Why is business internet more expensive than residential service?

ISPs charge businesses higher for services because companies typically use more bandwidth. A residential customer usually spends less time at home and online than a business connected online for most of the day.

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