EarthLink is an ISP that has seen better days. Since 2005, it has cut thousands of jobs and closed down in-house U.S. call centers. Since then customers have complained about inconsistent service and long waits on the phone to reach a customer service representative. However, this company still has more access numbers for dial-up than many ISP services and it has access to cable lines to provide fast internet connections in some areas. In an effort to improve, EarthLink has been expanding its fiber network for business customers.

This ISP offers low-priced dial-up services that include virus protection, an accelerator, 24/7 support, eight email addresses and a personal homepage. EarthLink offers DSL plans that range from 1.5 Mbps to 6 Mbps and cable connections ranging from 768Kbps to 15Mbps. It also offers satellite subscriptions through its partnership with HughesNet. As mentioned, this cheap internet service option provides more access numbers than most, which means its dial-up customers have a better chance at acquiring a good connection quickly. In fact, EarthLink provides over 50 in the Miami area and over 45 in the San Diego area. In our tests, EarthLink was able to provide services in all eight test areas, including DSL to rural parts of New Mexico and South Carolina. In total, this internet provider has about one million customers.

Some extras EarthLink offers include its protection center, Norton 360 Online, call waiting, home networking and data backup. The protection center is free to subscribers and includes virus scanning, email protection, antispyware, a firewall and IM/chat protection. EarthLink also offers Norton 360 for a low monthly fee and it includes internet protection as well as identity protection. Another option is backup services through EarthLink; this service can back up files for a low monthly fee. EarthLink's home networking service can help you distribute internet to four computers and share peripherals such as printers.

If you need assistance, you can contact EarthLink by telephone, email or chat. We contacted the company by email and received a response within a few days. However, customer complaints have increased since EarthLink shut down its stateside call centers and outsourced its customer support. Many report extremely long wait times and hard-to-understand customer service representatives. The indirect support options it offers include getting started guides, email help topics, troubleshooting guides and billing FAQs. EarthLink also posts information about known outages.

EarthLink Summary:
7.3/10

If dial-up is your only option, you may want to see if EarthLink can provide you with a long list of dial up access numbers in your area. We also suggest that you talk to others in your location to see if EarthLink provides them with sufficient speed, service and availability. If you live in a more populated area and have access to the cable internet packages EarthLink offers, we would suggest you cut out the intermediary and go with the larger ISP.

By
 

EarthLink

Pros
EarthLink has numerous access numbers for dial-up and provide cable and DSL connections in many areas.

Cons
EarthLink does not offer a program with parental controls, it outsources its support and often has third-party service technicians complete local repairs.

The Verdict
: 7.33/10

If you can find a fast cable or fiber optic option in your area, go for that. If not, investigate what kind of speed and service EarthLink offers in your area.