Xfinity vs. CenturyLink Internet Review 2020
Sometimes picking an internet plan is like you’re standing in front of Door #1 and Door #2. You have to decide which door hides a new car and which one hides a trip to Hawaii—but both prizes come with a few surprises.
If you’re choosing between CenturyLink and Xfinity for internet, that probably sums up how you feel about the whole dilemma. I know it did for me. And while I ended up going with Xfinity, there are definitely some perks to choosing CenturyLink instead. Here’s why.
Xfinity vs. CenturyLink: Prices
Depending on where you live, CenturyLink’s speeds vary for the same price, while Xfinity’s prices vary for the same speeds.
Okay, before we dig into the nitty-gritty, let’s chat about where you call home.
Hometown pride aside, your location is important because it affects which Xfinity prices you see and which CenturyLink speeds you get.
Weird, huh? Yeah, we thought so too. Here’s how that cookie crumbles:
- Xfinity prices change based on which region of the US you live in: West, Central, or Northeast. But the speeds it offers remain the same, with a few changes here and there.
- CenturyLink speeds change based on where you live—but CenturyLink will pair you up with the fastest speed you can get in your area up to 100 Mbps for the same monthly price. (Excluding its 940 Mbps fiber plan.)
Got all that? Great, now we’re ready to dive head-first into the cookie jar.
|Plan||Price||Download speed||Data cap||Details|
|Performance Starter||$29.99*||15 Mbps||1 TB||View Plan|
|Performance Plus||$39.99*||60 Mbps||1 TB||View Plan|
|Performance Pro||$44.99*||175 Mbps||1 TB||View Plan|
|Blast! Pro||$59.99*||275 Mbps||1 TB||View Plan|
|Extreme Pro||$60*||500 Mbps||1 TB||View Plan|
|Gigabit||$70*||1000 Mbps||1 TB||View Plan|
|Gigabit Pro||$299.95†||2000 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plan|
Prices for Xfinity’s internet plans start out much lower than CenturyLink’s, but the speed you get for the price you pay quickly evens out between the two internet service providers (ISPs).
Of course, Xfinity’s whopper of a bill for its 2,000 Mbps plan—which happens to be limited to certain areas of the US—skews things a little. Okay, a lot.
But if you cut off Xfinity’s price range at the much more reasonable $70 a month for the more widely available 1,000 Mbps plan, you get a clearer picture of how Xfinity measures up to CenturyLink. Which seems to be a pretty even match.
What doesn’t match between the two ISPs is which speed each one offers. CenturyLink connects you to the web at 15 to 100 Mbps or at 940 Mbps, but Xfinity has a bunch of speeds in between to choose from. We’d say that makes plans like Xfinity’s Performance Pro and Blast! Pro a better choice for families of streamers or gamers.
All right, we don’t mean to rain on CenturyLink’s parade. Especially since CenturyLink has a Price for Life guarantee and Xfinity doesn’t. (Though Xfinity does offer some no-contract plans, typically at a higher monthly price than its contract plans.)
With CenturyLink Price for Life, the price you sign up for is the price you’ll pay forever. (As long as you remain a CenturyLink customer, keep the same service, and pay your bills on time, of course.)
And while the 940 Mbps plan isn’t eligible for Price for Life, CenturyLink’s dedication to keeping your price locked in is still refreshingly straightforward. So much so that it made us look twice at CenturyLink. Especially when our Xfinity bill went up after our two-year contract was over. Guh.
|Plan||Price||Download speed||Data cap||Details|
|Price for Life 15 Mbps||$49‡||15 Mbps||1 TB||View Plan|
|Price for Life 20 Mbps||$49‡||20 Mbps||1 TB||View Plan|
|Price for Life 40 Mbps||$49‡||40 Mbps||1 TB||View Plan|
|Price for Life 80 Mbps||$49‡||80 Mbps||1 TB||View Plan|
|Price for Life 100 Mbps||$49‡||100 Mbps||1 TB||View Plan|
|Centurylink Fiber Internet||$65||940 Mbps||1 TB||View Plan|
CenturyLink’s Price for Life guarantee is what makes its Price for Life 80 Mbps and Price for Life 100 Mbps plans a steal for any budget-minded individuals or small families who enjoy watching the latest season of The Dragon Prince together or taking down the enemy team in a PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds match.
For large families and anyone who wants their internet to pack the biggest punch possible, we also think CenturyLink’s Fiber Internet plan is a steal. (If it’s available to you.)
It rings up at a lower monthly price than Xfinity’s gig speed plan—and is even a better deal than Verizon Fios’s and AT&T Fiber’s gig plans, though it doesn’t come with CenturyLink’s infamous Price for Life deal.
Xfinity vs. CenturyLink: Internet speed
There’s no tortoise and the hare story here—Xfinity wins the race.
Both CenturyLink and Xfinity offer quite a few speed options, but like we mentioned before, Xfinity’s plans cover a wider range of speeds. There’s quite a gap between CenturyLink’s 100 Mbps and 940 Mbps plans.
But hey, don’t let Xfinity’s top-tier 2,000 Mbps plan sweep you off your feet. It’s far more likely you’ll get to choose its 1,000 Mbps plan. Besides, you’ll need to fork over about $300 for those 2,000 Mbps speeds.
|Xfinity Internet||15–2000 Mbps|
|CenturyLink Internet||10–1000 Mbps|
Data effective 11/25/2019. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
Now, if you want to talk actual speed performance, we’ll point you to Xfinity.
The latest Federal Communications Commission (FCC) report found that Xfinity’s download speeds typically exceeded what it advertised. But CenturyLink’s download speeds fell behind enough to pull its average actual speed down below 100%.1
|Provider||Average actual/advertised speed|
We’re going to point out that the FCC report measured both Xfinity and CenturyLink back in 2017, and both ISPs have made a lot of changes since then. So take these percentages with a grain of salt.
In fact, both Xfinity and CenturyLink made an appearance in our list of the fastest ISPs—Xfinity as the fastest cable internet and CenturyLink as an honorable mention for fastest DSL internet.
CenturyLink vs. Xfinity: Internet and TV bundles
Xfinity bundles can save you some money, but CenturyLink bundles with DIRECTV.
Typically, bundling your internet with TV service from the same provider saves you some cash. But if you dig into the costs of Xfinity’s and CenturyLink’s bundles, you’ll find this isn’t always true.
One thing’s for sure, though, you’ll save money with most of Xfinity’s bundles versus paying for your internet and TV service separately.
|Plan||Price||Internet download speed||TV channel count||Details|
|Performance Plus Saver Double Play||$49.99^||60 Mbps||140+||View Plan|
|X1 Starter Pro Double Play with Performance Pro Internet||$79.99^||150 Mbps||140+||View Plan|
|X1 Preferred Double Play with Performance Pro Internet||$89.99^||150 Mbps||220+||View Plan|
|X1 Starter Pro Triple Play with Blast Pro||$119.99°||275 Mbps||140+||View Plan|
|Preferred Plus XF Triple Play with Blast Pro||$139.99°||275 Mbps||220+||View Plan|
|X1 Premier Double Play with Extreme Pro||$144.99^||500 Mbps||260+||View Plan|
|XF HD Premier Triple Play with Blast Pro||$159.99°||275 Mbps||260+||View Plan|
We’re happy to see Xfinity’s bundle channel counts keep up with CenturyLink’s—a pretty epic feat considering CenturyLink bundles with DIRECTV.
If you’re curious about whether Xfinity offers your favorite channels or not, check out our full-length Xfinity TV review.
Yup, when it comes to bundling internet with TV, good ol’ CenturyLink is going big instead of going home. Since it cut its CenturyLink Prism TV service a few years back, DIRECTV has been CenturyLink’s TV provider of choice.
Sadly, you won’t find many savings around here. Unlike AT&T, which also bundles internet with DIRECTV, CenturyLink’s bundle prices come out to the same price as paying for TV and internet separately. (Sad trombone.)
|Plan||Price||Internet download speed||TV channel count||Details|
|DIRECTV® SELECT ALL INCLUDED + CENTURYLINK INTERNET 20 Mbps||$108.99**||20 Mbps||155+||View Plan|
|DIRECTV® CHOICE ALL INCLUDED + CENTURYLINK INTERNET 100 Mbps||$118.99††||100 Mbps||185+||View Plan|
|DIRECTV® SELECT ALL INCLUDED + CENTURYLINK INTERNET FIBER GIGABIT||$124.99‡‡||940 Mbps||155+||View Plan|
|DIRECTV CHOICE™ All Included + Price for Life 20 Mbps + Phone||$130||20 Mbps||185+||View Plan|
|DIRECTV PREMIER™ All Included + Price for Life 100 Mbps + Phone||$215||100 Mbps||330+||View Plan|
Still, you’re getting all that DIRECTV channel love by bundling with CenturyLink. Just watch out for that price hike after your first year of DIRECTV service.
Find out why we love DIRECTV so much—even with the price jump—in our DIRECTV review.
Xfinity vs. CenturyLink: Customer service
Both CenturyLink and Xfinity have lots of room to improve, customer service–wise.
Customer service is a touchy issue for ISPs, and we don’t need to tell you why. You’ve been there.
Unfortunately, both Xfinity’s and CenturyLink’s reputations don’t make us feel better about the whole customer service deal. According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), both ISPs scored lower than the industry average of 62 out of 100.2 (But both did improve by one point.)
|ACSI 2018–2019||61 out of 100||59 out of 100|
So whaddya do if you have to call Xfinity or CenturyLink? First off, take a deep breath and channel your inner Mother Teresa. Omm . . .
. . . Seriously, though, there’s no point in getting angry or frustrated. Here are some more tips for navigating what feels like trench warfare with customer service:
- Use email, live chat, or social media instead of calling so you can unload the dishwasher, play games, or make the bed while you wait.
- Get any promises or details in writing—screenshot your chat logs and save those emails.
- Ask for a manager if your current representative isn’t helpful.
Recap: Xfinity vs. CenturyLink
If you’re comparing Xfinity and CenturyLink internet, there’s no clear winner.
The good news is, Xfinity is a clear choice if you’re looking for reliably fast internet with lots of download speed options and don’t mind a higher price. And CenturyLink’s Price for Life guarantee is almost irresistible for anyone who’d rather save some money on internet than get the fastest speeds.
- Pricing: CenturyLink. Both Xfinity and CenturyLink have reasonable prices for the speeds each one offers—but only CenturyLink gives you that Price for Life guarantee.
- Speed: Xfinity. Xfinity offers up more download speed options—and tends to be good on its word when it comes to delivering those speeds.
- TV + internet bundles: Depending on what you want out of your internet and TV bundle, both Xfinity and CenturyLink can be the pick of the pack. Xfinity has fewer bundle options but will probably save you some cash, while CenturyLink focuses less on savings and more on the deliciousness that is DIRECTV.
- Customer service: Neither. Both ISPs have a lot of work to do when it comes to improving customer service. Neither one scored higher than the internet industry average ACSI score—though they did both improve by one point over last year’s scores.
|Provider||Xfinity Internet||CenturyLink Internet|
|Download speeds||15–2000 Mbps||10–1000 Mbps|
|Learn more||View Plans||View Plans|
- Federal Communications Commission (FCC), “2018 Measuring Broadband Across America: Fixed Broadband Report”
- American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), “ACSI Telecommunications Report 2018–2019”