AT&T Business Internet Review: 2018
A downtime guarantee of less than 45 minutes a month* is just one reason small businesses that need essentials-only internet should choose AT&T—even though it doesn’t offer the lowest prices.
Running most small businesses today requires a speedy internet connection—and with fiber plans up to 1 Gbps and a guaranteed uptime of 99.9%,1 AT&T business internet is one way to get your company connected fast.
AT&T business internet also offers an impressive and competitively priced suite of basic plans for small businesses. But with pricey high-speed plans, a still-lacking fiber internet footprint, and falling customer satisfaction ratings, you’ll want to shop around to ensure your business gets the right internet package.
AT&T business internet: best for small and new businesses
New businesses tend to have minimal internet needs. And if you have only a couple of connected devices, you can probably get away with speeds in the 25 to 50 Mbps range. At the base level, you can download large files and provide Wi-Fi for your employees and customers. At 50 Mbps, you can also stream videos interruption-free and hold video conferences with clients and partners.
If your needs go beyond these basic necessities—like running high-functioning SaaS and cloud computing services or connecting a high volume of devices and users—you’ll need higher speeds, which means AT&T may not be your best option thanks to its higher costs for premium plans.
What you should know about AT&T business internet
With origins dating back to Alexander Graham Bell, AT&T is a global telecommunications organization and Fortune 500 company. Today, the company boasts the most revenue of any communications corporation in the world and provides phone, television, and internet services across the globe.2
As a business internet provider (ISP), AT&T offers a range of products and services to organizations of any size. But AT&T isn’t perfect for every business. Its internet plans have a lot to like—but present some gaps that definitely make AT&T not a one-size-fits-all consideration.
Here’s what our research on AT&T business internet turned up, both the good and the not-so-great.
- Good value for bare-bones plans
- No contract required for fiber plans
- Unlimited data usage and cloud storage
- Free internet security software and support
- Free self-installation for DSL plans
- Expensive high-speed plans
- Limited fiber availability
- Falling customer satisfaction ratings
Pricing and speed breakdown by plan
When considering AT&T for your business internet needs, you have two major categories of service to choose from: DSL or fiber. Read more about the differences between DSL and fiber internet in our FAQ section below.
DSL-type connections use phone lines to provide internet and television services at varying rates of speed. AT&T’s DSL plans—which they name “high-speed internet” plans—comprise the base of the company’s business internet services.
|Plan||Starting Price||Download speed||Learn More|
|Internet 25||$60 / mo.||25 Mbps||View Plan|
|Internet 50||$85 / mo.||50 Mbps||View Plan|
|Internet 100||$115 / mo.||100 Mbps||View Plan|
|Internet 500||$250 / mo.||500 Mbps||View Plan|
Data effective 6/05/2018. At publishing time, pricing and speeds are current but are subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.
At $60 per month, the standard Internet 25 plan gives you basic speeds. If low cost is your key consideration and your business doesn’t demand super-fast speeds, consider this plan. At this level, you can download files and set up a basic Wi-Fi network for you and a few employees. You can also set up a basic AT&T Wi-Fi hot spot for a couple customers to use at a time.
For more complex computing needs or to connect multiple computers and devices, you’ll need to move up a few levels. At the top of the DSL product line, you get download speeds at 500 Mbps and boosted upload speeds at 8 Mbps. But at $250 per month, we recommend you shop around to see if you can get a lower price for similar speeds.
Fiber internet refers to the fiber-optic cables used to provide some of the fastest internet speeds available today. AT&T sells fiber internet plans in some US locations. These plans offer some of the fastest—and most expensive—connections available.
|Plan||Starting Price||Download speed||Learn More|
|Business Fiber 25†||$60 / mo.||25 Mbps||View Plan|
|Business Fiber 50†||$85 / mo.||50 Mbps||View Plan|
|Business Fiber 100||$140 / mo.||100 Mbps||View Plan|
|Business Fiber 500†||$300 / mo.||500 Mbps||View Plan|
|Business Fiber 1,000†||$500 / mo.||1 Gbps||View Plan|
†Symmetric fiber connection available.
Data effective 12/21/17. At publishing time, pricing and speeds are current but are subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.
If it’s available in your area, you may want to consider an AT&T fiber internet plan, with download speeds up to 1 Gbps (1,000 Mbps). And for the same download speeds as their DSL counterparts, AT&T’s fiber plans include faster upload speeds—helpful if you or your employees need to send large emails or upload several gigabytes of files to cloud services.
Most AT&T fiber plans also include an option for symmetric connections. Many businesses can get by with asymmetric (lower upload versus download) connections, but if you plan to set up VoIP systems for many real-time calls, consider a symmetric plan for your company.
Not sure which option will help you grow?
AT&T business bundles and value-added services
Small businesses have the option to bundle business internet with other AT&T services—like phone and television—and save money on the whole package.
Offers depend on your location, but we found an offer for a $50 per month bundle that includes high-speed (DSL) internet and phone services. An advantage of bundling is having one plan and one bill from a single provider for multiple services, saving you some time as well as budgeting and expensing hassles.
AT&T also entices small businesses to bundle with special offers. At publishing time, you could get a $125 gift card to either Amazon or Target for signing up for an AT&T internet and phone bundle.3
Reliability and support: AT&T offers solid service
Speed and price are important for business internet, but to keep things running smoothly, you have more to consider. Your internet connection reliability—and what the provider will do for you if something goes wrong—should hold the same importance when making a purchase decision.
“J.D. Power rated AT&T its highest score for the ‘small/medium’ market.”
So how does AT&T stack up? We dug into the details of the company’s business internet plans and uncovered some service level agreements related to reliability.
AT&T business internet (both DSL and fiber plans) come with an uptime guarantee of 99.9%. This means that the company agrees to keep your connection “up,” or online, 99.9% of a calendar month, which by our math translates to a maximum downtime of about 44 minutes a month.
So what happens if AT&T breaks the uptime guarantee? First, it’s important to note that AT&T doesn’t count certain instances in its “network availability” service level agreement, including scheduled network maintenance or force majeure (unavoidable or chance) events.
Barring those situations, if AT&T fails to meet the guarantee during any month, you’ll get one day’s credit of your monthly service fee. If your business operations rely heavily on an always-on internet connection, this may not seem like the greatest recourse.
Technical and customer support
For businesses that rely on steady internet connections for day-to-day operations, reliability is king. But what happens when something eventually does go wrong? No internet service is perfect, and you’re bound to face an outage at some point. It’s important to know if you can expect your ISP to respond to any problems and resolve them quickly.
So how does AT&T support measure up? Although it’s difficult to separate residential and commercial customer service ratings, we did find some details worth highlighting. J.D. Power and Associates, an esteemed US company rating organization, studies business internet providers and rates the customer satisfaction for providers in the industry each year. The customer satisfaction score comprises several factors, including reliability, cost, and customer service.
In 2015 and 2016, J.D. Power rated AT&T its highest score for the “small/medium” market, ahead of industry titans Verizon and Cox.4 5 AT&T also earned second place in the studies’ “very small” segment.
Since the 2016 study, AT&T’s ratings have fallen slightly. The 2017 study ranked AT&T in second place among “small/midsize” and “very small” businesses.6 However, after ranking low in the “large enterprise” market for several years, AT&T climbed to second place—just behind Verizon.
AT&T business internet: the fine print
Aside from monthly service costs, you may have to pay certain fees and sign a contract with AT&T business internet.
DSL plans come with free installation if you can do it yourself; otherwise, you’ll pay a one-time $200 fee for AT&T to install your equipment for you. If you have an IT team on hand, you can probably bypass the $200 fee and choose the self-install option.
“Fiber plans have a lower one-time installation fee of $99—but you can’t avoid the fee and install the equipment yourself.”
But if your team doesn’t have a lot of experience setting up communications services, we recommend paying the one-time fee because it could become a complicated process.
Fiber plans have a lower one-time installation fee of $99—but you can’t avoid the fee and install the equipment yourself because of the complexity of this type of connection.
Early termination fees (ETFs) also depend on your connection type. Fiber plans have no contract requirements, and thus no ETFs. However, you will pay an ETF for canceling a DSL plan early, and the amount depends on how many months you have left in your contract. For every month remaining, you’ll pay a $20 ETF. At this rate, canceling six months in would leave you on the hook for $360 on a two-year contract.
AT&T doesn’t require any contracts on any of its business fiber plans, and you get a 24-month price guarantee on these plans, making them an enticing opportunity. If you purchase a DSL plan, you have to sign a 12-month contract, but AT&T guarantees the price for the duration.
With any business plan from AT&T, you have 30 days to try out the service. If you’re not satisfied, you can return the equipment and have all charges reimbursed.
FAQs about AT&T business internet
Is there something about your business needs that we haven’t covered? Let’s see if we can answer some questions you might have.
What’s the difference between DSL and fiber?
DSL and fiber are the two major types of internet connections that AT&T provides its business customers.
DSL, which stands for digital subscriber line, is a type of high-speed connection sent through existing phone lines to deliver internet to customers. Because it uses readily available connections, DSL plans are usually cheaper than fiber connections. But DSL speed can vary depending on your distance from the port, or origin, of the connection.
Fiber internet is a more recently distributed technology that uses fiber-optic connections that send information at light speed through glass conductors. Fiber internet doesn’t rely on existing phone wires, and your physical distance from the connection’s origin doesn’t affect quality. The disadvantages? Fiber is costlier thanks to the newer, special cable installation. It’s also not as widely available as other internet connections, and rural fiber connections are rare.
How much download and upload speed does my business need?
At any AT&T business internet speed, even 25 Mbps, you should have no problem using the web and downloading files on a few devices. You can also set up a Wi-Fi network for your employees and customers to use. At 50 Mbps, you can more easily stream videos and set up internet voice and video conference calls.
If your needs go beyond these basic necessities—like running sophisticated cloud services or connecting many devices to the network—you’ll need higher speeds. Consider bumping your plans to the 100-plus download speed levels, getting symmetric connection plans, or—if available in your area—buying fiber-optic internet.
What if I don’t have access to fiber or DSL internet in my area?
Most US businesses can get fiber or DSL internet, but rural locations may not have access to either of these connections. AT&T offers a solution for this situation with its Fixed Wireless Internet service.
“Fixed Wireless beams you speeds of up to 10 Mbps—good enough for basic downloading, streaming, and web surfing.”
With this setup, AT&T delivers internet from nearby cell towers to a wireless antenna in your business. Fixed Wireless beams you speeds of up to 10 Mbps—good enough for basic downloading, streaming, and web surfing. This service is only available in certain areas, so enter your address here to see if it’s an option for your business.
What if I need super-high internet speeds and reliability for my business?
If your business requires top-of-the-line speeds, reliability, and support, consider AT&T Dedicated Internet Access. AT&T designed this service for companies with many locations that need constant connection and ultimate performance. You’ll get dedicated, 24/7 customer support and monitoring services plus enhanced service level agreements to keep your business running at lightning speeds.
Of course, all this extra service will cost you. For even the lowest-speed plan at 10 Mbps, you could pay more than $500 per month. At the top of the scale with 250 Mbps and private Wi-Fi services, expect to pay more than $1,600 each month.7
What is AT&T U-verse business internet?
AT&T used to brand its TV, phone, and internet services with the U-verse trademark. But the company recently rebranded its internet and phone services as simply AT&T Internet and AT&T Phone. Although you may still encounter a few instances of the U-verse name on various business plans, the company now uses the trademark for only its TV services.
We’ve been there—when we first started researching and reviewing internet companies, we didn’t know our bandwidth from our asymmetric connections. Read on for some explanations of terms you might come across in your quest for internet.
Asymmetric vs. symmetric speeds
Fiber-optic internet connections offer some of the highest speeds in the market. But with most plans, your upload speeds are much lower than your download speeds. These connections are called asymmetric, and they’re fine for most businesses. But if you and your employees regularly upload large files or use high-end video conferencing services, you might need a symmetric connection that gives you the same upload and download speeds.
Bandwidth vs. speed
As an overused piece of business jargon, bandwidth refers to someone’s ability to handle tasks. The term comes from the internet world, and its true meaning is the capacity of an internet connection to transmit data. Bandwidth measures the greatest number of kilobits, megabits, or gigabits a connection can transfer each second.
People often confuse bandwidth with speed, which refers to how fast a certain connection transfers data. When you see AT&T marketing a plan as 25 Mbps, they mean the connection has the bandwidth, or capacity, to carry speeds up to 25 Mbps. But your actual speed may vary depending on factors like distance from the port (for DSL lines) and the number of users currently using the connection.
Bandwidth and speed aren’t the only factors important to business internet connections—latency makes a big difference too. Latency (sometimes called ping or lag) is the time it takes for a packet of information to get from one end of an internet connection to the other and then back again. This delay—represented in milliseconds—can be affected by distance, bandwidth, and the type of connection. Fiber connections, which operate using pulses of light, offer lower latency rates than DSL connections. AT&T business internet guarantees a maximum latency rate of 40 ms, which fits most activities.
Static IP address
Every computer on the internet is assigned a unique internet protocol (IP) address, and IPs can be either dynamic (change over time) or static (stay the same). You may want a static IP address for your business if you operate your own web server or use remote connecting services like VPN. Most AT&T business plans let you purchase static IPs for about $15 to $25 each.
One of your top concerns should be uptime, or the total amount of online connection time. Uptime is represented as a percentage of a year or month. It’s common in the industry to refer to the number of nines a company offers you in their guarantee. AT&T, for example, guarantees uptime at 99.90%, or three nines. Some companies’ guarantees can go as high as four or five nines, giving you significantly less internet downtime over the course of the year.
Thanks to a wide and reasonably priced line of basic DSL plans, AT&T business internet is a great choice for newer, smaller businesses. Consider these plans for your business:
- For budget-sensitive businesses, AT&T Internet 25 is a decent DSL plan at around $40 per month. If you’re capable, avoid the $200 installation fee by installing the equipment yourself.
- Or if it’s available in your area, opt for the AT&T Business Fiber 25 plan for the same download speed, a bit more upload speed, a 24-month price guarantee, and no contract.
- Rural business owner? See if you can buy AT&T Fixed Wireless Internet. You can get speeds up to a decent 10 Mbps and free installation.
We want to hear your business’s experience with AT&T internet. Leave your own review, send us your questions, or tell us your concerns below—we learn and grow from your feedback!
*Based on AT&T’s published 99.90% uptime service level agreement.
At Business.org, our research is meant to offer general product and service recommendations. We don’t guarantee that our suggestions will work best for each individual or business, so consider your unique needs when choosing products and services.
1. AT&T, “AT&T High Speed Business Edition Internet Service Level Agreement”
2. AT&T, “Company Profile”
3. AT&T Small Business, “Bundle Phone, Internet, and TV Offers”
4. J.D. Power, “2015 US Business Wireline Satisfaction Study”
5. J.D. Power, “2016 US Business Wireline Satisfaction Study”
6. J.D. Power, “2017 US Business Wireline Satisfaction Study”
7. AT&T, “Small Business Dedicated Internet and Wi-Fi”