Kinetic Windstream Review – 2020

In February 2019, Windstream changed the brand of its residential services to Kinetic. The company is the sixth-largest DSL internet provider in the United States.

Pros of Kinetic Windstream

  • Offers DSL, fiber-optic, and cable internet, though not all in the same areas
  • Offers bundles that include internet, TV, and/or telephone service
  • No contracts
  • No data caps
  • Offers a discounted package to low-income households

Cons of Kinetic Windstream

  • The coverage area is widely scattered in small pockets
  • Service quality varies dramatically from zone to zone
  • Pricing is inconsistent with large variations

Table of Contents

Overview of Kinetic Windstream Internet Services

Windstream is the ninth-largest residential telephone network in the United States. It also offers DSL internet service in the form of ADSL Broadband and works as an agent for DirecTV. The company also offers fiber Broadband to residential customers and it is the seventh-largest internet provider in that connection category and has a cable network that runs an internet service to homes. It is not a major player in the cable internet league, coming eighteenth in that market. Windstream has a fixed wireless operation as well, but it only offers that service to business customers.

From March 2017, Windstream was technically the USA’s largest internet provider because it bought EarthLink, which is the largest DSL internet provider in America by service coverage area. However, Windstream never fully integrated the new division and sold EarthLink on to a private investment house in January 2019, shortly before the launch of Kinetic. The sale of EarthLink recreated a major rival for Windstream in the DSL and fiber-optic internet markets. EarthLink is a bigger operator in both of those markets than Windstream is.

Some Points About Kinetic Windstream

The Windstream network didn’t evolve organically. It was not developed by the company, rather it was acquired bit by bit as Windstream bought up other, smaller telephone companies and cable providers.

As a result, the company has a presence in every state, but in some, it has only a small block of territory, in others a series of disjointed patches, and solid blocks of service areas in a few states. The company has a wide presence in Southern California and also in Illinois/Wisconsin border areas and the North East.

Another consequence of the piecemeal accumulation of infrastructure is its inconsistency. Windstream offers Gigabit internet speeds in many states, such as Virginia, Wisconsin, and New Jersey, but a maximum speed of 100 Mbps in West Virginia, Minnesota, and New York. Customers in Hawaii can only have a maximum speed of 7 Mbps, North Dakota users get just 6 Mbps, Montana gets 3 Mbps, Wyoming only 1.5 Mbps and the best speed that Windstream can offer in Alaska is 0.786 Mbps.

Windstream also doesn’t impose a national price tariff either. Prices vary across the nation with customers in some states paying more for slower connections than users with faster speeds pay in other parts of the country.

These variations are due to local state divisions setting their prices according to the costs they experience in running the infrastructure they inherited from amalgamated companies.

The Federal Communications Commission publishes the Report on Consumer Fixed Broadband Performance in the United States every year. The latest edition was released in December 2018. One of the indicators studied in the report is the actual speed performance of major ISPs in the USA compared to the claims that they make in their advertising.

Of the 17 ISPs under consideration, 12 actually exceeded their claims, but five underperformed. Windstream was one of the ISPs that didn’t match their promises with real-world performance. In order to gather their statistics, the FCC measured the upload and download speeds experienced by a panel of customers, dotted around the country and accessing the internet at peak usage times. The performance of the Windstream internet service is so inconsistent that the results of the sampling could have been either much better or much worse, depending on which states the FCC performed its tests in. Essentially, Windstream is a collection of seemingly unrelated internet businesses that share a logo.

The variability in price and service quality makes it very difficult to advise a national audience on whether or not Windstream offers a good deal. It also makes factors such as average customer satisfaction ratings meaningless. Customers with good quality reliable service, high speeds, and low prices are naturally going to be a lot more satisfied than customers of the same internet provider in another state where the service is poor, slow, and overpriced. So, averaging the opinions of those two types of customers would produce a score than neither happy nor angry customers would have given.

Each year, the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) produces a survey on customer approval ratings for a range of telecommunications service providers. This is called the ACSI Telecommunications Report. Its 2019 release rates the USA’s major ISP according to customer satisfaction ratings. The report showed results for both 2018 and 2019. In both years, the average score for all ISPs stood at 62%. Windstream scored below that bar in both years – 56% in 2018 and 57% in 2019.  The service appeared in ninth place in both years.

Kinetic Windstream Plans

Here is a selection of Windstream’s internet-only plans.

 

Plan Download Speed Minimum Term Contract Data Cap
Kinetic Internet 25 Up to 25 Mbps 12 months None None
Kinetic Internet 100 50 – 100 Mbps 12 months None None
Kinetic Internet 200 Up to 200 Mbps 12 months None None
Kinetic Internet 400 300 – 400 Mbps 12 months None None
Kinetic Internet 500 Up to 500 Mbps 12 months None None
Kinetic Gig Up to 1 Gbps 12 months None None

Not all of these speeds will be available in all areas. In some states, none of these plans will be available.

Kinetic Windstream Pricing Overview

The table below shows a selection of Windstreams’s internet service plans and their prices.

 

Plan Promotion Price per Month Regular Price per Month Setup Cost Account Activation Equipment Cost/Month
Kinetic Internet 25 $36 $45 $0 $50 $10
Kinetic Internet 100 $36 $45 $0 $50 $10
Kinetic Internet 200 $36 $45 $0 $50 $10
Kinetic Internet 400 $46 $55 $0 $50 $10
Kinetic Internet 500 $56 $65 $0 $50 $10
Kinetic Gig $66 $75 $0 $50 $10

All prices are all subject to tax. The above prices and plans are offered in Cleburne, Texas. Prices in other areas might not be the same.

Customers of Kinetic plans can apply to the FCC’s Lifeline program. This gives low-income households a discount of $9.25 per month on the price of an internet plan subscription.

Windstream also offers bundles for TV, internet and landline telephone combinations.

All plans include a 30-day money-back guarantee and Windstream currently offers those who order on the internet their first month of service for free.

Kinetic Windstream Customer Service

Customers can access an account area on the Windstream website. This section of the site allows users to view and pay bills, raise support tickets, receive replies, and notify the company of an imminent house move.

Most customers find using the customer area on the website easier than using the helpline phone number.

The Support section of the website includes a searchable knowledge base. This contains tips and assistance information, such as troubleshooting guides. The contact options, apart from over the phone, are by email or through a live chat facility at the Windstream website. The live chat desk is manned from 8 am to 6 pm Monday to Friday and also from 8:30 am to 5 pm on Saturdays. Those times are in Eastern Standard Time.

Choosing Kinetic Windstream Plans

Windstream has made its job of pleasing its customers a lot harder by keeping all of its legacy systems aligned with their past and not with each other. The service coverage area is very intermittent with many towns having Windstream services in some streets and not in others. The service is available in every region of the United States but it doesn’t have complete coverage in any. Nor is there any state that is entirely covered by Windstream.

The broken service coverage area must make it difficult for the company to find efficient advertising channels. Whichever TV station, radio station, or publication that the company advertises in, it will always be spending money on reaching a lot of people that it cannot serve. Even marketing through the internet doesn’t provide a targeted channel. Many people who visit the site and read through all of the sales copy will only discover that their homes are not in the Windstream service area once they have made the decision to sign up.