Windstream provides DSL Internet service throughout much of the USA, and recently began offering fiber or fiber-based service in select areas.

Overall, Windstream is a solid option for rural customers looking for an affordable and reliable alternative to satellite service.

Windstream also offers TV service through a partnership with DISH, as well as home phone service.

Pros

  • Good rural coverage
  • No data caps
  • Consistent speeds

Cons

  • Slow speeds
  • Higher prices
  • Mixed customer reviews

Windstream Plans Overview

DealsPrice MonthlyInternet SpeedPhone
High Speed Internet 25 $5000 25 Mbps DSL(888) 604-4799
Enhanced Kinetic Internet + Basic Cable $6275 25 Mbps DSL(888) 604-4799
25 Mbps + Basic Cable + Unlimited nationwide calling $8275 25 Mbps DSL(888) 604-4799
Premium Kinetic Internet + Basic Cable $7275 50 Mbps DSL(888) 604-4799
Premium Plus Kinetic Internet + Basic Cable $8275 100 Mbps DSL(888) 604-4799
Enhanced Kinetic Internet + Select Cable $9975 25 Mbps DSL(888) 604-4799
Premium Plus Kinetic Internet + Preferred Cable $12875 100 Mbps DSL(888) 604-4799
50 Mbps + Basic Cable + Unlimited nationwide calling $9275 50 Mbps DSL(888) 604-4799
100 Mbps + Basic Cable + Unlimited nationwide calling $10275 100 Mbps DSL(888) 604-4799
25 Mbps + Preferred Cable + Unlimited nationwide calling $12875 25 Mbps DSL(888) 604-4799
100 Mbps + Preferred Cable + Unlimited nationwide calling $14875 100 Mbps DSL(888) 604-4799
25 Mbps $5000 25 Mbps Fiber(888) 604-4799

If you're looking to compare plans, make sure to check out our detailed guide on the latest Windstream deals and promotions.

Like most internet plans, Windstream options are offered in tiers based on download speeds. In areas where only their DSL service is offered, speeds will generally be much lower than areas with fiber. Fiber service with their One Gig internet offers download speeds of up to 1000 Mbps, but the majority of service areas will only have access to plans that max out around 12–50 Mbps. This is still a respectable speed for general uses like streaming Netflix and surfing the web.

When it comes to TV, Windstream offers bundled deals with satellite TV provider DISH rather than their own TV plan. There are a variety of plans ranging from basic to premium, with sports addons for an additional price, and you’ll save around $10/month depending on local promos as a thank-you for buying both services together.

In general, Windstream’s plans are expensive compared to suburban and urban areas, but a good alternative to satellite, which comes with higher data costs and longer minimum contacts.

Windstream Speeds and Network Performance

Telephone wires delivering DSL service for Windstream.
Windstream uses DSL technology, which delivers Internet via a mix of fiber and copper telephone wires. Speeds in the 12–50 Mbps range are normal for DSL. Image Source: Shnya Kosaka/Unsplash

Windstream is largely a DSL provider, but has expanded into Fiber technology in certain areas. In areas with DSL service, speeds are slower (and usually somewhat more expensive) than cable.

This graph shows average speeds across Windstream’s entire network, including all plan types. This is based on customer speed test aggregates, so it reflects real-world performance and does not weigh “advertised prices” as a factor.

Windstream Download Speeds Over Time

This table shows average speeds in popular Windstream service areas. The “90th percentile” speeds in the right column are often more accurate, since speed tests run due to technical issues tend to weigh our results on the slow side:

CityWindstream Average SpeedWindstream Top 10% Speeds
Atlanta, Georgia15 Mbps43 Mbps
Austin, Texas22 Mbps62 Mbps
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma9.2 Mbps25 Mbps
Brooklyn, New York24 Mbps65 Mbps
Canton, Georgia9.5 Mbps21 Mbps
Charlotte, North Carolina29 Mbps59 Mbps
Chicago, Illinois22 Mbps53 Mbps
Concord, North Carolina32 Mbps102 Mbps
Dalton, Georgia7.6 Mbps15 Mbps
Elyria, Ohio6.4 Mbps13 Mbps
Houston, Texas13 Mbps34 Mbps
Lexington, Kentucky9.6 Mbps24 Mbps
Lexington, South Carolina9.6 Mbps22 Mbps
Lincoln, Nebraska12 Mbps23 Mbps
Matthews, North Carolina14 Mbps31 Mbps
Mooresville, North Carolina16 Mbps33 Mbps
New York, New York35 Mbps67 Mbps
San Antonio, Texas30 Mbps66 Mbps
Sanford, North Carolina11 Mbps17 Mbps
Sugar Land, Texas23 Mbps43 Mbps

Windstream DSL vs Cable and Fiber Alternatives

The majority of Windstream’s network uses Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) technology. This tech uses your phone lines to transmit data, and is generally slightly slower than Cable or Fiber. It has an advantage, however, in terms of reliability. With Cable connections, you’ll often find your network slowing down when everyone gets home and turns on netflix. DSL, on the other hand, is very consistent.

In areas with Fiber service — the current gold standard of internet connections — speeds can reach 1,000 Mbps, but Windstream’s Fiber coverage is limited due to the massive expense of building a new network.

Windstream Availability

Windstream Coverage & Availability Map

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COVERAGE CENSUS TRACTS

Windstream offers service in 18 states including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas. Most of the company’s attention is on providing service to over 3.3 million customers in rural areas that are much more likely to have access to DSL than Cable or Fiber. [1]

Windstream’s fiber coverage is available mostly in Lincoln, Nebraska, Lexington, Kentucky, Sugarland, Texas, and multiple North Carolina communities. Less than 50,000 of the company’s customers had access to Fiber as of April, 2016. [2]

Windstream Installation Options and Installation Fees

Windstream offers customers the option to either have a professional install their service or to install it themselves. The installation fee for a Windstream technician to set up your service is reasonable when compared to a typical Cable company, but it’s more than possible to install DSL equipment on your own. Fiber installation is a little more involved, so we recommend going with professional installation if you’re one of the few Fiber customers.

A big benefit to Windstream is that they don’t charge an Early Termination Fee (ETF) if you decide to cancel your subscription, so there’s very little risk in giving their service a try. [3] Be sure to return the modem if you do cancel, however, as they charge a $100 fee for customers who fail to return equipment.

Windstream Misc Fees
Installation fee$35
Gateway rental fee$9.99/month
DISH Hopper DVR rental fee$15/month
Early Termination Fee (ETF)$0

Windstream Equipment Options

Windstream offers two different gateways for DSL service: [4]

Sagemcom 2705

This is Windstream’s basic option, with a single 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi network, ADSL2 support, and two 802.11n antennas.

Actiontec T3200

The Actiontec is a step up, supporting VDSL2, GBOND, FTTP, and VBOND, as well as two seperate networks (2.4 GHZ and 5 GHz). This is convenient for busy homes where you can boost speeds by putting newer devices on the 5 GHz band.

It’s also possible to use your own modem, but Windstream recommends against it because customer support will be unable to assist you if anything were to go wrong.

Both gateways act as both a modem and router, and are capable enough to handle basic DSL speeds.

Is Windstream Enough for Streaming and Gaming?

Rural Speed Variance

While Windstream is available in many rural areas, it’s important to recognize that DSL speeds can vary based on your distance from the nearest fiber line.

While the speed you get will generally be consistent, it may be lower than what you were expecting due to your physical distance from the Windstream DSLAM or local office (where fiber lines switch over to DSL).

Streaming and Gaming

More and more people are cutting the cord and swapping to online services like Netflix and Hulu, and the population of online gamers continues to grow. DSL speeds that are fast enough will generally be tolerable for online gaming, and will often also be okay for streaming video.

In any sort of data transfer situation, however, faster is going to be better. Cable connections, provided they’re not extremely congested, will generally provide a better experience. If you have the choice between the two, we recommend Cable. But DSL will do in a pinch.

Windstream TV

As mentioned above, internet with Windstream is offered through DISH Network. DISH is a satellite TV provider that covers most of the U.S., and has a variety of plans at varying service levels and price points.

Channel offerings vary from 190+ to 290+, and there are often discounts for bundling service together with Windstream’s internet. There are also a large amount of sports options available, so you’ll be able to keep up with your favorite teams, too.

DISH Windstream Equipment Options
DISH Hopper$15/month2 TB
ViP 722K HD DVR$15/month500 GB

Conclusion: Windstream Is a High-Speed Alternative to Satellite

While Windstream’s DSL generally can’t compete with Cable or Fiber providers in terms of speed or pricing, they cover a large geographic area and provide service to customers who don’t have access to these newer technologies. Additionally, their partnership with DISH gives customers access to a high-quality TV provider regardless of their location.

Overall, Windstream’s service is less impressive than an average Cable company, but it provides a valuable service to customers who lack access to these more advanced networks.

Windstream at a Glance

StatisticWindstream
Price Range$50.00 - $148.75/mo+
Connection Type(s) DSL, Copper, Fixed Wireless, Cable & Fiber
Customer Recommendation Rating on BroadbandNow.com33.6%
ACSI Customer Service Rating 
Netflix Ranking45th
Population Served15,233,640

Experts

James Webb

James Webb

James Webb is a tech and gadgets expert with a focus on educational content development. He draws on his background in the startup world to make complicated technologies and topics easy to understand for normal folks.

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