DSL Internet Providers
Although typically viewed as a secondary choice to broadband cable, DSL providers have improved a lot in recent years. All of the major U.S. DSL companies now offer some form of upgraded high speed Internet connection - either ADSL2+, VDSL2 or fiber optics.
Some DSL providers are even upgrading their copper lines with bonded ADSL2+ or bonded VDSL2. This allows them to double the download and upload speeds of their DSL lines.
However, the most exciting improvement is the transition to fiber optic lines. These modern broadband connections - AT&T U-Verse, Verizon FiOS, Frontier FiOS, and CenturyLink Prism - are pushing maximum download speeds from between 50 Mbps up to 1 Gbps.
Finally, if you live in the AT&T service area, another big change is that AT&T acquired DIRECTV in 2015. So, now you can easily bundle satellite TV with either AT&T U-verse or DSL.
DSL Internet Providers For Rural Areas
Most telecom companies are now split between copper and fiber optic lines. Your choice between DSL & fiber depends upon which type of line your home has.
The majority of American households are serviced by 5 major DSL providers that handle about 98% of all residential DSL service within the United States.
AT&T - In 2007, AT&T merged with BellSouth to become the largest Internet service provider in America. That title was lost to XFINITY in 2010, and then they recently lost 2nd place to Charter in 2016. Still, AT&T remains the largest DSL provider by far, with close to 16 million customers. Most of their urban service areas have U-verse fiber connections to some degree, but many rural areas still have AT&T DSL with speeds up to 6 Mbps.
Verizon - In recent years, Verizon has been divesting itself of older copper-based lines, most recently by ceding land-line operations in several western and southern states to Frontier Communications. This has reduced Verizon's total subscribers to just over 8 million. Verizon is hardly a DSL company any longer. Nearly all of their service area is covered by FiOS as of 2016. They are seeking to upgrade any remaining copper-lines to fiber in the near future.
CenturyLink - Mergers have been the name of the game in the telecom industry as of late, and nowhere is this more evident then with the creation of CenturyLink. First, the company known as CenturyTel merged with Embarq, and then in 2011, it has also merged with Qwest to finally become CenturyLink. The company serves just over 6 million subscribers. For the greater portion of their customers, the maximum download speed is up to 10 Mbps. However, in areas where they've installed fiber optics, customers can get up to 100 Mbps downstream.
Frontier - Rural Americans hoping for broadband in their area might want to look to Frontier. The company have acquired millions of customers from Verizon in 17 states. Frontier is now the largest provider of rural DSL Internet connections in the country. Since many of the areas where they took over from Verizon have FiOS, they are also a big player in fiber. Also, they took over all landlines from AT&T in Connecticut, which is a mix of DSL and U-verse, so which type of service Frontier can offer you depends upon exactly where you live.
Windstream - The fifth remaining major DSL provider is Windstream. They currently have a little over 1 million active accounts across 18 states. The company was created in 2006 as a spin-off from Alltel, and since that time they have acquired at least 5 other small telecoms to reach their current size. Windstream offers their customers Internet plans with maximum speeds of up to 12 Mbps downstream and even faster fiber connections in some limited areas.