Cord Cutting Guides, News, and Reviews
CenturyLink vs Cox
September 29, 2020
Both Centurylink and Cox are reliable providers for TV and internet service, but some key differences make each company better suited for different users. Centurylink offers a reliable internet service with wide coverage for rural customers. The pricing is sometimes higher than the alternatives, but it’s both clear and consistent. You’ll get what you pay for without any billing headaches.
Cox internet service features a wider range of speeds and perks any household would love. It's a good option for techies, larger families, or daily TV watchers who want premium channels and sports bundled in.
CenturyLink internet is available in all 50 states, with its DSL network reaching nearly 50 million people alone. Cox internet is available in 18 states, with its largest coverage areas in Arizona, California, and Virginia. As a result, Cox cable internet only reaches a little over 21 million people.
Not only do these providers cover different areas, but they also offer very different internet plans. CenturyLink has two primary forms of internet: DSL and fiber. DSL internet makes up the majority of CenturyLink’s network. Their fiber internet is limited to highly populated cities like Phoenix, AZ, Seattle, WA, and Las Vegas, NV. As limited as CenturyLink’s fiber internet coverage is, it still gives them the upper hand on Cox, which only offers fiber internet to business customers.
Normally, a plan with speeds up to 100 Mbps is suitable for most households — for example, my plan allows my family to have at least two screens streaming simultaneously and about four devices connected to our Wi-Fi at all times. However, DSL tends to be slower than both cable and fiber. The actual speed you’ll get with CenturyLink DSL will likely be about 25 percent lower than the advertised speed, especially if you live in Arizona. That said, CenturyLink’s fiber plans are more reliable and offer speeds up to 940 Mbps.
Cox cable internet has a wide variety of plans, ranging from 10 Mbps to 940 Mbps. There’s no denying that Cox cable internet provides faster, more reliable speeds than CenturyLink’s DSL plans. But cable is susceptible to network congestion issues, meaning your internet may be slower during the mornings or evenings when most people get online. In any case, if you’re a streamer looking for fast internet, CenturyLink fiber or Cox cable internet are your best options.
There are a few perks that apply to all of CenturyLink’s internet-only plans. First, all but the Fiber Gigabit plan come with a Price for Life guarantee. This means that you will pay the same monthly premium for as long as you keep the plan. It’s hard to tell if the price increases on the Fiber Gigabit plan after a certain amount of time, but CenturyLink doesn’t require you to sign a contract to get such low pricing. All of CenturyLink’s plans are contract-free. You can stop or even temporarily pause your service at any time without penalty.
Cox offers six different cable internet plans, ranging from 10-940 Mbps in download speeds and 1-35 Mbps in upload speeds. Cox pricing may not seem high compared to CenturyLink since they offer faster speeds, but you’ll get a better deal with CenturyLink if you want speeds up to 940 Mbps.
Cox is less convenient for streamers who don’t want to feel tied down by contracts. You could pay an extra $10 a month for a month-to-month plan, but Cox pricing after the first year is one of the highest I’ve seen for a cable internet provider. You may not mind the higher pricing, since Cox includes internet security, a modem/router that can blanket your home with a strong Wi-Fi signal, and millions of public hotspots. But I still recommend CenturyLink over Cox if you have access to one of CenturyLink’s fiber plans.
Internet + TV: starting at $54.99 per month
Internet + Phone + TV: starting at $64.99 per month
CenturyLink does not offer a lot of bundling options. The only official bundle they have available combines CenturyLink’s internet and phone service. However, CenturyLink does offer TV service through third-party providers, including Dish, DirectTV, and AT&T TV. They also partner with live streaming services like YouTube TV, Philo, fuboTV, and Sling TV. Unfortunately, you won’t get a discount when you bundle TV into your plan.
Cox has plenty of bundling options for internet, TV, phone, and even home automation and security. There isn’t much of a discount if you bundle internet and TV, but you can save about $15 a month on Cox Voice Home Phone service if you add home phone to any plan. You can also save $10-20 a month on Cox Homelife Automation and Homelife Security if you bundle with internet and/or TV. Cox Homelife Automation turns your home into a smart home while Homelife Security provides smart home features and 24/7 professional monitoring.
Professional installation: up to $129
Equipment rental fee: $10 per month
Professional installation: $100
Equipment rental fee: $10.99 per month
Both CenturyLink and Cox allow you to set up your internet by yourself for free. However, if you prefer to have a professional to do the installation, then you can expect to pay as much as $129 with Centurylink or $100 with Cox. It will cost you $10 per month to rent a CenturyLink modem. Fortunately, you have the option to purchase your own modem and router as long as they’re compatible with CenturyLink internet. Cox charges $10.99 per month for their Panoramic Wi-Fi modem. For that price, I’d recommend sticking with Cox’s modem since most providers charge a similar rate for a basic modem. If you’re not too concerned with how far your Wi-Fi can reach, Cox also gives you the option to save money by getting your own modem/router.
Though CenturyLink offers the largest coverage area, its old-fashioned DSL plans are no match for most cable or fiber plans. Fortunately, CenturyLink has an ever-growing fiber network that’s available in parts of almost every state in the country. With the Price for Life guarantee and a 940 Mbps plan at just $65 a month, CenturyLink’s fiber plan is a great bargain for streamers.
However, not everyone has access to fiber internet yet. If you have to choose between CenturyLink DSL and Cox cable internet, Cox is the better choice. Not only does Cox offer more speed options, but it also offers a wide range of features that make it easier to pay their higher-than-average prices.
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