Att fiber optic: Fastest Fiber Optic Internet

Back in May 2021, AT&T CEO John Stankey declared the company would put greater focus on expanding its fiber footprint. In fact, he went further and said AT&T would home in on “the single goal of offering the best fixed-broadband service in the market.”

In 2022, AT&T has leaned into that goal by announcing new multi-gig plans in more than 100 cities. The faster speeds are available to just over 7 million customers, and that number is expected to grow throughout 2022. 

So, where does that put AT&T now? If you’re living in one of the 21 states where AT&T provides internet service and eligible for one of the company’s fiber plans, then you’re in a perfect spot. AT&T’s fiber internet offers a great connection at a terrific value. However, most customers within AT&T’s service area aren’t living in homes wired for fiber. Instead, AT&T connects those customers using fixed wireless or a DSL hybrid service. That means less value and much slower speeds than what you’ll get with fiber. 

In other words, recommending AT&T Internet comes down to where you live and what’s available at your address. If AT&T Fiber is an option, then move it right to the top of your list. But if you’re not serviceable for fiber, shop around to see if you can do better than AT&T’s fixed wireless or DSL solutions.

AT&T Internet speeds, plans and prices

AT&T offers several fiber internet plans, none of which come with contracts or data caps. The company tells CNET that three of those fiber plans — Internet 300, Internet 500 and Internet 1000 — are available to just under a third of customers in the company’s footprint. The multi-gig plans are available to a smaller portion of that base, currently just over 7 million.

The rest of the plans use a DSL/fiber hybrid approach to service the rest of AT&T’s customer base, though the addition of DSL infrastructure means that speeds are a lot slower.

Here’s your full list of options:

AT&T home internet plans

PlanMax speedsPromo price (first 12 months)Regular monthly cost (after 12 months)Equipment feeData cap
AT&T Fixed Wireless25Mbps download, 1Mbps upload$70$70None350GB
AT&T Internet 1010Mbps download, 1Mbps upload$55$70None1TB
AT&T Internet 1818Mbps download, 1Mbps upload$55$70None1TB
AT&T Internet 2525Mbps download, 2Mbps upload$55$70None1TB
AT&T Internet 5050Mbps download, 10Mbps upload$55$70None1TB
AT&T Internet 100100Mbps download, 20Mbps upload$55$70NoneNone
AT&T Fiber – Internet 300300Mbps download, 300Mbps upload$55$55NoneNone
AT&T Fiber – Internet 500500Mbps download, 500Mbps upload$65$65NoneNone
AT&T Fiber – Internet 1000940Mbps download, 880Mbps upload$80$80NoneNone
AT&T Fiber – Internet 20002Gbps download, 2Gbps upload$110$110NoneNone
AT&T Fiber – Internet 50005Gbps download, 5Gbps upload$180$180NoneNone

AT&T offers at least three of the above plans for most of its serviceable areas. In a few geographic locations, mainly rural or suburban areas, you may only have access to AT&T Internet Basic (not shown in the table above), which features either a 5-megabits-per-second plan or one offering 1.5 or 0.8Mbps. Basic is the right word for it and perhaps that’s too generous.

AT&T Internet connection types

There are a couple of potential outcomes when you seek to sign up for AT&T Internet. If you see any of the 300, 500 or gigabit speed tiers offered at your address, you have access to AT&T’s fiber internet service, which uses 100% fiber technology. Fiber connections are symmetrical by design, which means that your upload speeds will be just as fast as your downloads, unlike DSL, cable and other modes of internet. That’s particularly useful for videoconferencing, transferring files (for those of us working and schooling from home) and online gaming.

Outside of the fiber plans, most of AT&T’s plans are DSL, a hybrid of fiber-optic and copper cable. This means speeds are much slower than a pure fiber connection, and you won’t see upload speeds as high as your download speeds. 

In addition to AT&T’s fiber and DSL plans, the company offers a fixed-wireless option, which involves installing an antenna and wireless equipment within the home. Speeds won’t get much higher than 25Mbps with a connection like that — it’s intended mostly for homes that lack other options for getting online.

According to the most recent report from the Federal Communications Commission, AT&T Internet plans are 30% fiber, 7% fixed wireless and the rest are DSL. That said, the FCC’s numbers are out of date (and the data comes with plenty of other flaws, too). 

An AT&T spokesperson wouldn’t disclose the most current breakdown of its service plans when we asked, but the company says its fiber footprint is larger than the FCC’s data suggests. As we mentioned at the top of the page, AT&T’s CEO has doubled down on the company’s commitment to fiber expansion.

Att fiber optic
AT&T home internet is available in 21 states throughout the South, the West and the Midwest. FCC/Mapbox

AT&T Internet availability and coverage map

AT&T’s internet service area covers 21 states across the country:

FloridaMichiganSouth Carolina
IndianaNorth CarolinaWisconsin

You can dig deeper on the AT&T coverage map to see the specific cities included within each state.

Here’s what you can expect from your AT&T Internet bill

For the most part, AT&T Internet is straightforward. But there are a few differences from other internet service providers worth paying attention to. 

You can now skip the equipment fee

Through 2021, AT&T charged an extra $10 a month to use its AT&T Wi-Fi Gateway. It didn’t matter if you had your own equipment. That fee was inescapable. Now, in 2022, AT&T includes the equipment rental in your monthly fee. This is great news for customers and a decent, fair move by AT&T. 

One-time fees

AT&T charges $99 for a full, in-home tech installation. For some addresses, there’s no self-install option (you have to go online to find out if you “qualify” for the self-install kit). On the positive side, you’ll frequently find online promos where the $99 fee is waived (typically for the higher-speed plans), so keep your eyes peeled for offers like that. If none are available, you could also ask them to waive it when you’re calling to sign up.

If you’re struggling to get a signal in the far reaches of your home, AT&T will sell you a Smart Wi-Fi Extender to pair with the gateway. Those will cost you $50 each.

No data caps (except when there are)

This is where things get a little squirrelly. For the most part, AT&T Internet plans don’t come with data caps. Customers get unlimited data with all fiber plans. That means you won’t have to track your data usage for fear of fees or throttling issues once you hit some arbitrary threshold. But there’s still a decent chunk of AT&T’s geographic footprint where fiber isn’t yet available. In many of those cases, there is a data allowance. 

AT&T Internet plans from 0.8Mbps-75Mbps have a data cap of 1 terabyte (1,000 gigabytes). If you go over that monthly limit, you’ll incur a $10 charge for each additional 50GB of data that you use, up to $100 a month. That’s right on par with other major providers who enforce a data cap, including Comcast Xfinity and Cox, but both offer a slightly higher cap, at around 1.25TB. Cox also waives all of your overage charges the first month you break the cap. But don’t expect a free pass like that from AT&T.

If you think you’re likely to surpass AT&T’s data allowance, you can upgrade your plan to include unlimited data for an additional $30 a month. Another option is to choose a TV and internet bundle, which would allow you to get unlimited data at no extra charge — though there’s usually a contract involved with any bundling of services.

One last caveat — the data allowance for AT&T Fixed Wireless Internet is 350GB a month. While the $10 charge for each additional 50GB you use is the same as above, fixed wireless customers can be billed up to $200 extra per month for overage fees. That’s a recipe for sticker shock, so you’ll want to be extra cautious with your data usage if you’re a fixed wireless subscriber.

AT&T Internet offers nice perks and promotions

AT&T likes to run short-term promotions and deals throughout the year. One of the main promos offered is a $200 AT&T Visa Reward Card for new fiber customers who order online.

In addition, AT&T’s nationwide network of over 30,000 hotspots is free to all AT&T Internet customers. This allows you to connect when you’re away from home without using your mobile data. 

Chart showing customer satisfaction for internet service providers

AT&T Internet flexes strong customer satisfaction numbers

AT&T crows that “you deserve the best,” and the company points to its stellar showing in J.D. Power’s US Residential Internet Service Provider Satisfaction Study as evidence that it’s delivering. AT&T nabbed the top spot in that study’s North Central and South regions, with an average score of 738 on a 1,000-point scale. Only Verizon (758) and Midcontinent (754) can point to a higher average in the survey, but they each only competed in one region. AT&T locked horns with the competition in three areas.

AT&T Internet also fared well with the American Customer Satisfaction Index, which releases a yearly customer satisfaction survey for internet providers. AT&T’s 2022 score of 69/100 was well ahead of the industry average of 64. Although those numbers were down a bit from the previous year, AT&T still managed to finish in the top three among all major ISPs.

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Summary of AT&T Internet

If AT&T Fiber is an option for your address, it’s tough to find a better combination of service and affordability. The catch? AT&T’s fiber plans aren’t an option for approximately two-thirds of the company’s coverage area. All other AT&T plans are fraught with issues not faced by fiber, from slower download speeds to data caps. Simply put, don’t hesitate if you can hop on an AT&T Fiber plan, but research your options if only lower speeds are offered in your area.