Cox vs. CenturyLink

Cox’s value bundling and top-notch speeds compete with CenturyLink’s Price for Life guarantee and lack of contracts.
Best for Most
Advertised Price
$29.99$119.99
Download speeds
101000 Mbps
Data Cap
1 TB
Best Value
Advertised Price
$45$85
Download speeds
201000 Mbps
Data Cap
1 TBUnlimited
Recent Updates: 2 months ago
CenturyLink made a lot of changes in the past year, including changing its pricing structure and eliminating Prism TV. We've revisited this review to reflect these changes, but overall Cox kept its edge as best for most wherever available. Read on to learn more.
More 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.

OVERVIEW: 

Choosing between Cox and CenturyLink is no walk in the park. If they’re your only two options for internet, it might be hard to see a clear winner.

Reputations aside, we’ll help you compare these two internet service providers (ISPs). But it’s up to you to decide if you want value bundling and reliable speed (Cox), or lots of transparency and prices for life (CenturyLink).

Cox vs. CenturyLink comparison

ProviderCox InternetCenturyLink Internet
Advertised Price$29.99$119.99*$45$85
Download speeds101000 Mbps201000 Mbps
Data Cap1 TB1 TBUnlimited
Learn moreView PlansView Plans
Data effective 11/19/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* For the first 12 months with a 1-year agreement.

Find the best Internet provider near you.

CenturyLink vs. Cox internet speeds

Cox takes the lead when it comes to speed—but CenturyLink continues to improve.

If you’re looking for internet and only internet, CenturyLink’s Price for Life guarantee outshines Cox.

That said, there’s still a lot of value tucked into Cox’s internet plans. Most ISPs don’t offer speeds as low as 10 Mbps, but Cox does—and at an affordable price.

That means you’ll save tons of money (and hundreds of Mbps) if you don’t need to stream Spotify or Hulu.

Cox Communications prices and plans

NamePriceDownload speedView plan
Cox Internet Starter 10$29.99/mo.10 MbpsVIEW PLAN
Cox Internet Essential 30$39.99/mo.30 MbpsVIEW PLAN
Cox Internet Preferred 100$59.99/mo.100 MbpsVIEW PLAN
Cox Internet Ultimate$79.99/mo.300 MbpsVIEW PLAN
Data effective 11/19/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
For 12 months with a 1-year agreement.

CenturyLink internet prices and speeds

NamePriceDownload speedView plan
Price for Life 20 Mbps$45/mo.20 MbpsView Plans
Price for Life 80 Mbps$55/mo.80 MbpsView Plans
Price for Life 100 Mbps$65/mo.100 MbpsView Plans
Price for Life 1 Gbps$85/mo.1000 MbpsView Plans

Data effective 9/18/2018. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

We’ll be the first to admit it, we get hyped when an ISP offers no contracts, and CenturyLink does just that.

CenturyLink also locks you into the prices you see below with its Price for Life guarantee. That’s right, no need to scour the fine print to make sure you won’t fall prey to price hikes a year or two from now. Miracles do happen.

How do these ISPs’ prices compare?

CenturyLink knows what we all want: no contracts and prices that don’t rise year after year, but Cox still packs value into its low-speed internet plans. Cox is also cheaper if you’re looking for a middle-of-the-road 100 Mbps plan—at least for the first year.

If you’re just interested in internet and plan to stay with one provider for a while, we think CenturyLink is the way to go. Sure, Cox’s prices start out lower (for the most part), but CenturyLink’s Price for Life guarantee pretty much locks in your price, while Cox’s price will likely go up a year later.

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What internet plan is best for streaming . . .

Music? Netflix? In HD? You asked, and we answered in our Best Internet for Streaming Guide

CenturyLink vs. Cox internet speeds

Cox takes the lead when it comes to speed—but CenturyLink continues to improve.

Prices aside, we also place a lot of weight on an ISP’s speeds. Not just the speeds they advertise, but the speeds they actually deliver, mind you.

The speed difference between Cox and CenturyLink is clear: Netflix ranked Cox second and CenturyLink tenth for prime-time Netflix streaming speeds in August 2018.1

Cox vs. CenturyLink internet speed comparison

CoxCenturyLink
August 2018 Netflix rank2nd10th

Netflix ranking trends for both Cox and CenturyLink have held steady for 2018—but both have improved. Cox boosted speeds from 3.9 Mbps in January 2018 to 4.19 Mbps in August 2018, and CenturyLink zipped up from 3.24 Mbps in January 2018 to 3.51 Mbps in August 2018.2

My buddy JT, who lives in Nevada, games on Cox internet and has no problems with latency or slow speeds. (Wanna know what the heck that means? Check out our Best ISPs for Gaming review.) CenturyLink would have to move mountains to get him to switch.

One more big difference to note is that Cox provides only cable internet, while CenturyLink offers both DSL and fiber connections. Of course, its 1,000 Mbps fiber plan is the most expensive—but fiber tends to be the most reliable type of internet, so it usually has our vote.

Cox vs. CenturyLink TV and internet bundles

Your choice: save money with Cox or get coveted DIRECTV service with CenturyLink.

Bundling with Cox could get you more channels than if you bought its stand-alone Contour TV package, which offers only 140+ channels.

If that’s not incentive enough, the Bronze Double Play package also saves you quite a bit of money—and there’s a lot of value in the Silver and Gold Double Play packages: they get you more channels and more Mbps too.

Cox TV and internet bundle prices

PackagesMonthly priceDownload speedsChannelsDetails
Bronze Double Play$89.99 per mo.100 Mbps140+View bundle
Silver Double Play$109.99 per mo 300 Mbps140+View bundle
Gold Double Play$129.99 per mo 300 Mbps250+View bundle

Data effective 9/18/2018. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* For 12 months with a 2-year contract.

On the other hand, bundling with CenturyLink doesn’t save you money, but you’ll get those sweet, sweet DIRECTV channels. (Seriously, there’s a lot to love about DIRECTV.)

Here are some of the ways you can mix and match DIRECTV packages with CenturyLink’s internet service.

CenturyLink TV and internet bundle prices

PackagesMonthly priceSpeedChannelsDetails
DIRECTV SELECT™ + 80 Mbps$90/mo.80 Mbps155+View Plan
DIRECTV CHOICE™ + 100 Mbps$110/mo. 100 Mbps185+View Plan
DIRECTV PREMIER™ + 100 Mbps$175/mo. 100 Mbps330+View Plan

Data effective 9/18/2018. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* Prices listed are for the first 12 months with a 2-year contract, paperless billing, and autopay. DIRECTV price increases after the first year.

But is that worth a contract?

See, we’re not mad, just disappointed. Because CenturyLink’s bundles pull you into a two-year contract—though it’s technically only a TV service contract. Your internet is still contract-free—and the price won’t rise (but your DIRECTV price will).

But that’s still a bit too restrictive for our taste. (Even though Cox takes it a step further and makes you sign a two-year contract—then jacks the price of your bundle up after the first year.)

So how do these bundles compare?

We think Cox has the upper hand here, since its bundles offer significant savings and CenturyLink’s bundles offer no savings. But that still doesn’t keep us from ogling that DIRECTV service that comes with CenturyLink’s bundles. Oh là là!

CenturyLink vs. Cox Communications customer service

Both CenturyLink and Cox fall below the average ISP customer service score.

We won’t beat around the bush: ISPs have a bad rep when it comes to customer service. Sadly, Cox and CenturyLink are no different.

ACSI ratings for Cox and CenturyLink

Cox CommunicationsCenturyLink
ACSI Rating59 out of 10058 out of 100

Both ISPs scored almost the same on the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) report: Cox edged ahead by a nose with a score of 59 out of 100 and CenturyLink earned 58 out of 100.3 But that doesn’t change the fact that both were below the average score of 62 out of 100.

We hope both companies will continue to improve their customer service. After all, happy customers, happy life. (Wait, that doesn’t rhyme . . . )

Recap—CenturyLink vs. Cox Communications

The win goes to Cox, but CenturyLink still has a lot to offer.

Based on performance, bundle prices, and speeds offered, we think Cox is best for most interwebs users. But we can’t easily dismiss CenturyLink’s Price for Life guarantee and lack of contracts, which mean no price hikes and no fine-print shenanigans.

Best for Most
Cox Internet
Our rating:
3.5 out of 5 stars
Download speeds:
101000 Mbps
Starting at $29.99 a month
Best Value
CenturyLink Internet
Our rating:
3 out of 5 stars
Download speeds:
201000 Mbps
Starting at $45 a month
  • Pricing: We’re mighty impressed with CenturyLink’s Price for Life guarantee and no-contract approach. Cox does offer competitive prices, yes, but you’ll have to sign a contract—and prices get bumped up after one year.
  • TV + internet bundles: Well, well, well. Cox turns this battle around with a one-two punch and some serious bundling savings. However, if you’re a DIRECTV fan, you should know CenturyLink bundles its internet with DIRECTV’s satellite TV service.
  • Speed: Cox ranks second on the Netflix ISP leaderboard, and it’s shown continuous improvement since January this year. CenturyLink falls behind into tenth place, but it’s also improving.
  • Customer service: Tie. Well, both Cox and CenturyLink score below the average ISP score on the ACSI report, so we’d like to see each one focus on playing nice with others. (Others being us, the customers.)

Want to dig into all the details for Cox and CenturyLink? Check out our full reviews here:

Which of these two ISPs has your vote? Let us know in the comments below.

Find the best internet providers in your area.

Sources

1.  Netflix, “ISP Leaderboard – August 2018
2.  Netflix, “ISP Leaderboard – August 2018
3.  American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), “ACSI Telecommunications Report 2018