Cox vs. CenturyLink

Cox’s speed makes it the best choice for most people, but CenturyLink’s lower prices will appeal to the budget-minded.
Recent Updates: Less than 6 months
Heads up: CenturyLink is discontinuing its CenturyLink Prism TV service nationwide. However, CenturyLink will continue to offer TV service as a bundle deal through its partnership with DIRECTV. We will update our analysis of how this compares to Cox, but we don't anticipate any changes to our overall ranking as it stands.


The overriding theme of Cox vs. CenturyLink is fast internet vs. affordable internet. If you need the speed, Cox has it, and it offers a solid TV service along with its bundles. If you don’t need super fast internet, CenturyLink is cheaper, and you can bundle it with DIRECTV for a killer TV service. For most people, though, and especially families with several individuals online at once, we recommend Cox.

Overall winner: Cox

Cox vs. CenturyLink—overall comparison

Monthly pricing$29.99–$129.99 per mo.$45–$124.99 per mo.
Download speeds5–300 Mbps7–100 Mbps
DVR storage340 HD hours200 HD hours
DetailsView PlanView Plans

*Pricing and availability may vary depending on location.

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Internet only—Cox vs. CenturyLink

Cox’s is best for speed, but CenturyLink’s prices are hard to beat.

For internet service, the choice between Cox and CenturyLink comes down to one thing—price. Cox’s service is better in nearly every way—there are more package choices, the speeds are much faster, the data cap is much higher—so there’s no reason not to choose Cox, unless you’re on a tight budget or just don’t need the speed.

All this assumes both providers are available in your area, though. It’s worth noting that CenturyLink is more widely available than Cox. You can check out the Cox coverage map here and the CenturyLink coverage map here.

All in all, if you want good internet service, choose Cox. If you want cheap internet service, choose CenturyLink. Simple as that.

Cox internet

PlansMonthly priceDownload speedDataDetails
Internet Starter$29.995 Mbps1 TBView Plan
Internet Essential$39.9915 Mbps1 TBView Plan
Internet Preferred$59.9950 Mbps1 TBView Plan
Internet Ultimate$89.99300 Mbps1 TBView Plan

Pricing and availability may vary depending on location.

Cox’s internet package tiers are simple and easy to understand, which we love. Just figure out how fast you need your connection to be, find the closest matching package, and you’re all set. To see how fast your current connection is, we recommend Ookla’s Speed Test. The prices are about on par with other competitors. CenturyLink is cheaper, but the speeds are also much lower, so it’s not as easy to compare directly.

Check out our complete review of Cox internet service.

CenturyLink internet

PlansMonthly priceDownload speedDataDetails
High Speed Internet$45Up to 20 Mbps250 GBView Plan
High Speed Internet$55Up to 80 Mbps250 GBView Plan
1 Gig*$851 Gig (1,000 Mbps)250 GBView Plan

* Limited availability. Pricing and availability may vary depending on location.

CenturyLink’s internet service is an excellent value. Like with Cox, the plans are simple to follow, with each price tier coming with a solid speed boost and excellent prices. If you just need to get online and don’t care how fast your connection is, going with CenturyLink could be a great way to save some cash.

Note that CenturyLink caps its data at 250 GB. While we aren’t fans of data caps period, 250 GB is disappointingly low. If you stream a lot of video, you’ll blow through that pretty quick. At least Cox’s 1 TB cap is high enough that many people will never reach it.

As for the 1 Gig Internet option, it would seem to solve many of the issues with CenturyLink’s speed, while remaining rather affordable. Unfortunately, it’s only available in a handful of markets, meaning most people won’t be able to take advantage of it. You can check availability online or check out our complete coverage of CenturyLink internet service for more information on this provider.

Cox vs. CenturyLink—which should you pick?

For most people, we recommend Cox. You’ll pay a little more, but you’ll get a lot more bandwidth. That translates to a smoother, more pleasant experience, especially if you do a lot of HD streaming or have several people in the house online at the same time—both of which are very common these days.

Some people just don’t need the bandwidth, though. If that’s you, CenturyLink can save you some money. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recommends certain minimum speed requirements for various activities, which you can see below.

Activity (single user)Minimum download speed
Web browsing1 Mbps
Watching video4 Mbps
Video conferencing4 Mbps
Online gaming5 Mbps

Keep in mind, this is the minimum, and it’s also for a single user. You’ll probably want more than the recommendation to ensure a consistent, good experience.

Cox vs. CenturyLink internet only summary:

  • If you want faster speeds, Cox is the way to go.
  • If you just need basic internet, go with CenturyLink.
  • If budget is a concern, go with CenturyLink.

TV only—Cox vs. CenturyLink

Cox TV wins in both channel count and value for the money.

This one is oddly one-sided. If you’re looking for TV service only, we just don’t see much reason to choose CenturyLink over Cox. Cox offers both cheaper packages at the low end and more channels at the high end, while also providing a powerful and well-rounded DVR.

Cox Contour TV

PackagesMonthly priceChannelsDVR storageDetails
Advanced Economy$31.99 per mo.40+340 HD hoursView Plan
Contour TV$59.99 per mo.220+340 HD hoursView Plan
Preferred$71.49 per mo.280+340 HD hoursView Plan
Ultimate$144.99 per mo.380+340 HD hoursView Plan

 Pricing and availability may vary depending on location.

Cox’s TV packages mirror its internet selection, and that’s a good thing. With each tier, there is a clear benefit of increased channel selection, and Cox offers a lot, with 380+ channels to choose from in the Ultimate package. The DVR offers a nifty voice-controlled remote that lets you change channels and find programs without having to hunt for them, plus a ton of HD storage. To put it in perspective, 340 hours is over two weeks of continuous video. Better save up those vacation days!

Check out our full review of Cox TV.

CenturyLink TV

PackagesMonthly priceChannelsDVR storageDetails
Prism Essential$69.99150+91 HD hoursView Plan
Prism Complete$75.99200+91 HD hoursView Plan
Prism Preferred$89.99310+91 HD hoursView Plan
Prism Preferred$124.99340+91 HD hoursView Plan

 Pricing and availability may vary depending on location.

CenturyLink’s standalone fiber TV service, Prism, is not quite as exciting. Compared to Cox, you have fewer package options, though they are clearly differentiated. Prism TV lacks an affordable low-end package, as well, with the cheapest option clocking in at $70 per month. The DVR also lacks storage capacity compared to the competition.

Cox vs. CenturyLink TV—which is best?

While we don’t think CenturyLink’s TV service is bad, per se, it just doesn’t offer much excitement. Cox offers cheaper packages for those on a budget (or who just don’t watch much TV) while also offering plans with more channels for the true TV junkies out there.

CenturyLink’s Prism makes sense to us in a bundle situation only where you want the internet service and don’t want to go to another provider for TV. However, CenturyLink offers another—better—TV option that’s available only when you bundle: DIRECTV (more on that in the next section).

Cox vs. CenturyLink TV only summary:

  • If you’re looking at CenturyLink vs. Cox, and all you need is standalone TV service, we recommend Cox. It just wins on every front for us.

TV + internet—Cox vs. CenturyLink

Cox offers faster internet speeds, but CenturyLink is more affordable.

Much like the internet-only section, Cox brings its solid TV service and fast internet to the table. CenturyLink’s prices are great, though, and it partners with DIRECTV for TV service, which makes it very attractive. Wait, DIRECTV? Yup—CenturyLink offers two TV options for bundlers. The first is its own Prism fiber optic TV service, and the second is DIRECTV satellite service.

We’d still recommend Cox to most people for the great speed and channel selection. But if you don’t care about internet speed, CenturyLink with DIRECTV makes a compelling choice. CenturyLink’s Prism service falls short of DIRECTV in every way, so we just can’t recommend it over the DIRECTV option. If you want a CenturyLink bundle, go with DIRECTV.

Cox TV + internet

PackagesMonthly priceDownload speedsChannelsDetails
Contour TV + High Speed Internet Preferred$89.99 per mo.100 Mbps220+View Plan
Silver Triple Play$109.99 per mo.300 Mbps220+View Plan
Gold Triple Play$129.99 per mo 300 Mbps340+View Plan

 Pricing and availability may vary depending on location.

Cox offers some great deals on bundles. All three of these packages are attractive, with a good number of channels and excellent internet speeds for the money.

CenturyLink TV + internet

PackagesMonthly priceDownload speedsChannelsDetails
Prism Essential + Pure Broadband Internet$89.99Up to 12 Mbps150+View Plan
Internet + DIRECTV ULTIMATE Double Play$79.95Up to 12 Mbps240+View Plan
Internet + Phone + DIRECTV CHOICE Triple Play$104.94Up to 12 Mbps175+View Plan

 Pricing and availability may vary depending on location.

Here’s where things get interesting for CenturyLink customers. You have two choices for TV service when you bundle with CenturyLink—Prism or DIRECTV.

For most people, we’d highly recommend going with DIRECTV. It’s one of the best TV services in the country, with excellent features, wide availability, and tons of sports programming—including NFL SUNDAY TICKET. In fact, as long as you don’t need a ton of internet speed, CenturyLink internet and DIRECTV in the ULTIMATE Double Play plan is very attractive for just $80 per month. That’s only $5 more than just getting DIRECTV ULTIMATE on its own, which makes it a no-brainer.

Check out our full review of DIRECTV.

Cox vs. CenturyLink—who does bundles better?

The race between these two companies gets closer when looking at their bundles, as each provider offers a unique advantage. Cox provides blazing fast internet speeds and high channel counts, but CenturyLink offers more affordable bundles with the awesome DIRECTV.

This one comes down to internet speeds: the speed demons are better off with Cox, while those who don’t care can save money with CenturyLink and DIRECTV.

Cox vs. CenturyLink TV + internet summary:

  • Choose Cox if you need fast internet.
  • Choose CenturyLink with DIRECTV for cheaper service and better sports packages.

Cox vs. CenturyLink recap

  • Internet: Cox offers more package choices and faster speeds. For most people, we think Cox is the way to go, but CenturyLink is a good option for folks on a budget.
  • TV: Cox wins this one by a landslide. The Contour TV service is just better—more channels, better DVR, and better prices. There’s really no reason to choose CenturyLink Prism without internet service.
  • Bundling TV and internet: For bundles, Cox offers the same fast internet speeds and solid pricing, along with large channel selections. CenturyLink gets competitive with a DIRECTV bundle option, which adds cheap internet to one of the best TV services in the biz. We still recommend Cox, but if you don’t need fast internet speeds, CenturyLink with DIRECTV is a compelling option.

And that’s all, folks! As always, if you have any questions or feel we missed something, please drop us a comment and let us know!

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Is CenturyLink DSL or cable internet?

CenturyLink is a Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) service. A fiber service is also available in select markets. You can check availability here.

Is Cox cable internet or DSL?

Cox is a cable service.

Is CenturyLink Prism TV fiber or cable?

CenturyLink Prism is a fiber service.

Where is Cox available?

Cox is available in eighteen states around the country. The largest coverage areas are in Arizona, Rhode Island, and Nevada. You can view the complete Cox coverage map here.

Where is CenturyLink available?

CenturyLink is available in 36 states. The top service areas are Utah, Arizona, and Colorado. The complete CenturyLink coverage map is available here.

Which is better, Cox or CenturyLink?

We feel Cox has a slight advantage, with faster internet and a stronger TV offering. CenturyLink’s cheap internet bundled with DIRECTV shines for people who don’t need fast internet speeds.