THE QUICK AND DIRTY: Comcast and AT&T service have been competing for years, but it seems like we’re always finding new things that make these two different. We’ve racked our brains over pricing, long-term contracts, download speeds, channel selection, and nearly everything else to find out which is better: Comcast XFINITY or AT&T’s line of products?
Before You Keep Reading
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AT&T is pushing its recently acquired DIRECTV satellite TV service to the forefront and ignoring its inferior U-verse TV. DIRECTV is really a much better product than U-verse TV in almost every way possible (price, selection, service, etc.), so AT&T’s actions make sense. It’s also why we decided to forget U-verse TV in our comparison.
We’ll cover the TV-only winner, the internet-only winner, and we’ll follow up with the big finale: which company has the best TV/internet service bundle.
Comcast vs. AT&T U-verse—overall comparison (TV + internet)
|Comcast Xfinity||$79.99–129.99/mo.||25–100 Mbps||140–220||X1 (60 hrs)||View Plans|
|AT&T U-verse (DIRECTV)||$80.00–184.99/mo.||50–75 Mbps||150–325||Genie (200 hrs)||View Plans|
Best for most
For the best combination of TV and internet service, we gave Comcast XFINITY the win. We like TV and we love internet, and XFINITY’s internet speeds are much faster than AT&T’s (read more about it below), so we can watch Netflix without the buffering, and if we’re still not sufficiently entertained, we can tune into XFINITY TV’s cable channels to watch the latest shows and movies.
Of course, XFINITY isn’t without its drawbacks—Comcast customer service continues to be terrible—but we’ll talk more about that later. So XFINITY wins for the best TV/internet combo, but TV-only service is a different story.
XFINITY vs. AT&T U-verse — Internet Comparison
If speed matters most, go with XFINITY over AT&T.
With Comcast XFINITY internet, you can expect oddly named internet-only plans with the option of contract or no-contract service (having the option to choose is a plus). XFINITY uses cable technology for internet service, so it has an advantage over AT&T’s digital subscriber line (DSL)—namely, faster download and upload speeds. Believe it or not, XFINITY’s download speeds clock in faster than the majority of other internet service providers (ISPs), including AT&T.
Comcast Xfinity internet
|Performance Starter||$29.99/mo.||10 Mbps||1 TB||View Plan|
|Performance 25||$39.99/mo.||25 Mbps||1 TB||View Plan|
|Performance Pro||$49.99/mo.||75 Mbps||1 TB||View Plan|
|Blast! Pro||$59.99/mo.||150 Mbps||1 TB||View Plan|
AT&T U-verse has as many internet-only plans as Comcast XFINITY, but you’ll notice you get a little less speed for your dollar with AT&T. We’re not digging that. Also, the $40-a-month price for the first three plans is not a mistake; it’s possible to get faster speeds with AT&T for the same price if the right infrastructure is available in your area. Infrastructure is one reason we see location-based prices and speeds from ISPs in the first place, but we’re still not used to seeing it vary so much as it does here with AT&T’s U-verse internet.
AT&T U-verse internet
|Internet Basic 5||$40/mo.||5 Mbps||1 TB||View Plan|
|Internet 25||$40/mo.||25 Mbps||1 TB||View Plan|
|Internet 50||$40/mo.||50 Mbps||1 TB||View Plan|
|Internet 75||$60/mo.||75 Mbps||1 TB||View Plan|
Internet speed makes it no contest
For internet-only service, Comcast XFINITY handily beats AT&T U-verse. It simply comes down to a matter of value: if you have a budget of $60 a month to spend on internet, you could get 150 Mbps with XFINITY or 75 Mbps with AT&T. That’s twice the bang for your buck if you go with XFINITY.
In fact, whatever your internet budget is, you’re going to get more speed for your dollar with XFINITY than with AT&T. In our example above, we compared only advertised speeds, but when we checked actual speeds from the FCC, it turns out things look even worse for AT&T.
For internet-only service, Comcast XFINITY handily beats AT&T U-verse.
In the FCC’s annual Measuring Broadband report, XFINITY internet delivered close to 100% on its download speed compared to what it advertised. As for AT&T, well, it didn’t even come close.1 AT&T’s DSL internet scored the lowest percentage with a surprisingly low 35%.2 That means if you paid for a 10 Mbps internet plan with AT&T, there’s a good chance you’d get closer to 3.3 Mbps instead (ouch!). With XFINITY, you’d likely get what you paid for (10 Mbps). The numbers from the FCC are too much to ignore, so we have to hand the internet-only win to XFINITY.
Comcast vs. AT&T U-verse (DIRECTV) — TV Comparison
AT&T’s DIRECTV barely beats out XFINITY TV.
Even though AT&T now owns it, DIRECTV is still one of the better TV services out there. To start, DIRECTV is available anywhere in the United States, it carries NFL SUNDAY TICKET, and it includes a pretty sweet DVR, the Genie. However, simple pricing has never been a strong suit of DIRECTV, and there are other things to watch out for, like the long-term contract.
AT&T (DIRECTV) TV
|SELECT||$50.00/mo.||150||Genie (200 hrs.)||View Plan|
|ENTERTAINMENT||$55.00/mo.||155||Genie (200 hrs.)||View Plan|
|CHOICE||$60.00/mo.||185||Genie (200 hrs.)||View Plan|
|XTRA||$70.00/mo.||230||Genie (200 hrs.)||View Plan|
|ULTIMATE||$75.00/mo.||245||Genie (200 hrs.)||View Plan|
|PREMIER||$125.00/mo.||325||Genie (200 hrs.)||View Plan|
XFINITY TV has never knocked our socks off, but it’s still better than most subscription TV services. It has options for no-contract and contract pricing, and it offers a sizable selection of on-demand shows and movies (more than 160,000). The X1, Comcast’s flagship DVR, rocks some nifty bells and whistles like voice search, multi-screen sports viewing, etc., but recording hours pale in comparison to DIRECTV’s Genie DVR.
Comcast Xfinity TV
|Digital Starter||$50.00/mo.||150||Genie (200 hrs.)||View Plan|
|Digital Preferred||$55.00/mo.||155||Genie (200 hrs.)||View Plan|
|Digital Premier||$60.00/mo.||185||Genie (200 hrs.)||View Plan|
The thing about those XFINITY and DIRECTV contracts
XFINITY TV has an advantage over AT&T’s DIRECTV on pricing—but barely. XFINITY has a no-contract option, which may be its biggest price advantage. If you have to move in the next two years, don’t get DIRECTV—DIRECTV requires a two-year contract, and you’ll have to pay an early termination fee (ETF) to end it, which can run hundreds of dollars. To be fair, it does take some work to install a satellite dish, so we see why DIRECTV doesn’t want you quitting on it after a month of service. Still, if contracts are a deal-breaker, then XFINITY is the way to go.
To be clear, XFINITY does offer long-term contract options. You can get a lower price if you enter into a contract with XFINITY, and that’s fine. Sometimes we even prefer it so we can save a few bucks a month. But keep in mind XFINITY will raise prices as soon as the contract is up (DIRECTV will too).
But getting good TV isn’t just all about contracts, and DIRECTV redeems itself when you talk about anything other than its long-term contract.
DIRECTV makes its case for TV service
We’re of the opinion that more channels doesn’t always equal more value, but we have no problem if you disagree. If you happen to be a channel hoarder, most of AT&T’s DIRECTV packages offer more channels per dollar than XFINITY TV. If you have a must-watch channel or show, we suggest you start by checking XFINITY’s channels or DIRECTV’s channels online. (You can always call and ask too.)
For example, we like a handful of shows on the FX channel, like The Americans and Legion, so we’d probably start by finding the lowest-priced package that offers both (SELECT package from DIRECTV and the Digital Starter from XFINITY).
If you care more about how you watch TV, it helps to know the difference between each service’s DVRs. XFINITY’s X1 lets you watch Netflix (DIRECTV’s Genie does not), and you can find four times the amount of on-demand shows and movies compared to DIRECTV. On the other hand, DIRECTV’s Genie has four times the storage size of the X1, so no need to worry about deleting those reruns of Golden Girls you’ve been saving for a rainy day. As for simultaneous recording, the X1 can handle six shows at once and the Genie can manage five at once, so either way you don’t need to sweat recording everything at primetime on Sunday.
It’s almost too close to call, but we have to go with AT&T’s DIRECTV for TV service. There’s more to watch, including NFL SUNDAY TICKET (NFL subscription), and we like having more storage for the movies and shows we might watch. Besides, we never get tired of The Shawshank Redemption, so don’t make us delete it to make room for other movies.
Comcast XFINITY vs. AT&T — Bundles Comparison
If we’re going to get TV and internet service together, we’re getting Comcast XFINITY.
AT&T bundles its U-verse internet with DIRECTV’s satellite TV, and the results are a little surprising. For instance, $80 a month for 50 Mbps internet and DIRECTV service is not too shabby, but when we reached out to representatives to discuss any price increases during the two-year contract, we couldn’t get a straight answer.
We say if it sounds too good to be true, it is. However, if you score a sweet deal on TV and internet, make sure to get an email confirmation with any and all details included so you’re covered if any issues arise.
AT&T TV + internet
|TV + internet bundle||Price||Speed||Channels||Details|
|DIRECTV SELECT + Internet 50||$80.00/mo||50 Mbps||150||View Bundle|
|DIRECTV CHOICE + Internet 50||$90.00/mo.||50 Mbps||185||View Bundle|
XFINITY’s TV and internet bundles appeal to us more than AT&T’s, but we know we’ll have to get all the details in writing to make sure we don’t run into surprise fees or price increases.
Comcast TV + internet
|TV + internet bundle||Price||Speed||Channels||Details|
|X1 Saver||$79.99/mo.||25 Mbps||140||View Plan|
|X1 Starter||$89.99/mo||100 Mbps||140||View Plan|
|X1 Preferred||$109.99/mo||100 Mbps||220||View Plan|
|Premier||$129.99/mo.||100 Mbps||220||View Plan|
|Preferred XF||$89.99/mo.||100 Mbps||220||View Plan|
|Premier XF||$109.99/mo||100 Mbps||260||View Plan|
So which is it, XFINITY or AT&T for TV & internet?
It can be difficult to compare AT&T and Comcast services when there are so many different promotions and plans, but we say this:
- If you use internet more than TV but still want both, go with Comcast’s XFINITY service.
- If you use TV more than internet but need both, you’d be fine with AT&T U-verse/DIRECTV.
We put a little more value in internet service because you can use it to stream live TV (DIRECTV Now, Sling TV, etc.) and on-demand shows and movies (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, etc.,) so that factored into our decision.
Comcast Xfinity vs. AT&T U-verse Summary
Between AT&T and Comcast, there isn’t one bundle that we’d call a “must have.” However, if you’re weighing your options, we recommend keeping this article open when you call. Pricing and plans may change depending on where you’re living, but if you call Comcast be sure to bring up what AT&T is offering and vice versa.
We’re big believers in making these companies work for your hard-earned money. If XFINITY’s X1 Saver Double Play bundle is looking mighty appealing, why not bring up AT&T’s DIRECTV SELECT + Internet 50 bundle when you’re talking with a representative? You might eke out a better deal by bringing up what the competition is offering, and the more specific you are with pricing and details, the better the chances are of you getting a good deal. It’s worked for us, and we’ll do it again.