Qwest and EarthLink offer high-speed Internet using DSL technology to households in the United States. Both Internet service providers offer plans with a range of connection speeds that cater to different types of Internet users. Faster speeds are suitable for customers who use the Internet for downloading and streaming videos and online gaming, as well as for households with multiple users. Plans offered by the companies also include a suite of features, from security protection to customer support services.
EarthLink Plans and Features
In addition to dial-up, cable and satellite Internet service, EarthLink provides high-speed DSL Internet plans. EarthLink's DSL service includes 24-hour technical support, a high-speed DSL modem, a dial-up backup account and a security suite with anti-virus and anti-spyware protection, as well as parental controls and a pop-up blocker. Customers can also register up to eight email accounts. EarthLink also offers a Freestanding DSL service, which does not require an active telephone line for customers to access the Internet.
Qwest Plans and Features
Qwest Internet plans include Qwest @Ease, a suite with Norton AntiVirus Online, equipment warranty, online data backup and support services. Customers can also opt to upgrade their suite to increase online backup space, upgrade security options and enhance other support services. Subscribers can also access Wi-Fi Internet powered by AT&T at hotspot locations throughout the AT&T wireless network. Qwest customers can register up to 11 email accounts. Subscribers to a Qwest plan must rent a wireless modem to access the Internet, and they can opt to purchase a wireless adaptor for computers without wireless technology.
Three plans are available with EarthLink, offering download speeds of up to 1.5, 3 and 6 Mbps. When customers bundle their Internet service with EarthLink's telephone service they can also opt for an Internet plan with download speeds of up to 8 Mbps. Qwest offers five plans with download speeds of 1.5, 7, 12, 20 and 40 Mbps. In a study of connection speeds in 2010, PC Magazine ranked EarthLink's DSL service eighth among 14 national Internet service providers. Qwest's DSL service was ranked 10th in the study, with an average surf speed of 683 Kbps compared to 882 Kbps for EarthLink.
At the time of publication, monthly rates for Qwest's 1.5 Mbps service was $14.95 in comparison to EarthLink's regular monthly rate of between $29.95 and $39.95 for the same connection speed. Qwest's other monthly rates are $19.95 for its 7 Mbps service, $24.95 for the 12 Mbps service, $34.95 for the 20 Mbps service, and $44.95 for its 40 Mbps plan. Depending on the subscriber's location, regular monthly rates for EarthLink's remaining plans ranged from $34.95 to $44.95 for the 3 Mbps service and from $39.95 to $44.95 for the 6 Mbps service. EarthLink also offered an introductory monthly rate of $14.95 for the first three months for all of its DSL plans.
Data Cap Comparison
Although Qwest does not have an official data or bandwidth cap, under its Excessive Use Policy the company reserves the right to contact customers who engage in high-volume use. Qwest representatives will talk to customers who violate the policy to determine other Internet plans that might meet the customers' needs. Examples of excessive use include 300,000 to 500,000 photo downloads or 40,000 to 80,000 typically sized MP3 downloads in one month. At the time of publication, EarthLink has not introduced a data cap for its DSL service.
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