Cox vs. CenturyLink Internet Review 2020

Cox’s value bundling and top-notch speeds compete with CenturyLink’s Price for Life guarantee and lack of contracts.
Best for Reliable Internet Speed
Monthly price
$29.99$99.99
Download speeds
10940 Mbps
Data cap
1 TB
Best for No Contracts, Price for Life
Monthly price
$45$85
Download speeds
101000 Mbps
Data cap
1 TBUnlimited
Recent Updates: 1 week ago
We're updating our CenturyLink bundle info, so stay tuned to this page for info. (And if you're curious, check out our Cox internet and TV bundles review.)
1 month ago
CenturyLink recently made some changes to its bundles. We'll update this page soon with CenturyLink's current bundle offerings.
More than 2 years
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.

Choosing between Cox and CenturyLink is no walk in the park. If they’re your only two internet options, 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 value reliable internet speed (Cox) or no contracts and consistent prices for life (CenturyLink).

Compare Cox and CenturyLink prices and plans in your area.

Cox vs. CenturyLink: Prices

We’ll come out and say it: CenturyLink’s Price for Life guarantee outshines Cox.

CenturyLink gives you contract-free internet at the same price . . . forever.  Well, yeah, you’ve gotta keep the same plan, address, and continue to be a model customer, but still. That’s the gold standard of internet deals, in our opinion.

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 or 30 Mbps, but Cox does—and at pretty affordable prices.

That means you’ll save tons of money if it’s just you hopping on the internet or if your family doesn’t need a lot of speed for streaming or gaming.

Cox prices and plans
PlanPriceDownload speedDetails
Cox Internet Starter 10$29.99*10 MbpsView Plan
Cox Internet Essential 30$39.99*30 MbpsView Plan
Cox Internet Preferred 150$59.99*150 MbpsView Plan
Cox Internet Ultimate$79.99*300 MbpsView Plan
Cox Gigablast$99.99*940 MbpsView Plan
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.

That said, we think the extra 20 Mbps of speed you get with the Cox Internet Essential 30 plan is worth paying $10 more per month compared to its 10 Mbps plan. The extra speed gives you a buffer in case you decide to blast your retinas by streaming the latest blockbuster in 4K or risk friendships by challenging your bestie to a battle royale game.

“We think the Cox Internet Essential 30 plan is worth the price.”
Cox Internet Essential 30
Cox Internet
Download speed:
30 Mbps
Data cap:
1 TB
$39.99 a month

But 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.

Data effective 11/19/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
Rate requires paperless billing and excludes taxes. Additional fees apply. Speeds may not be available in your area.

If you’re just interested in surfing the 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 locks in your price if you remain a model customer and stick with the same plan, while Cox’s price will likely go up a year later.

And thanks to that Price for Life guarantee, the CenturyLink Fiber Internet plan is one of the best-priced, almost-gig-speed plans we’ve seen.

“The CenturyLink Fiber Internet plan is one of the best-priced, almost-gig-speed plans we’ve seen.”
Centurylink Fiber Internet
CenturyLink Internet
Download speed:
940 Mbps
Data cap:
1 TB
$65 a month

For comparison, just look at Cox’s 940 Mbps plan, which costs about $100 a month. That’s a more common price for 940 to 1,000 Mbps, so CenturyLink’s $65-a-month price is saving you $35 a month. Yes, please.

Of course, that 940 Mbps CenturyLink plan is limited to certain areas only, but that doesn’t mean its lower-speed Price for Life plans aren’t a good deal too.

Cox vs. CenturyLink: Internet speed

Cox delivers reliably fast speeds, but CenturyLink speeds may hit patches of slow traffic.

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.

At first glance, Cox and CenturyLink offer almost the same range of speeds. We think each ISP serves up a nice variety of plans to cover just about any type of web surfer, from casual Facebook checkers and email forwarders to large families of streamers and gamers who live in a smart home.

Cox vs. CenturyLink download speed comparison
ProviderDownload speeds
Cox Internet10940 Mbps
CenturyLink Internet101000 Mbps

P.S. If you’re not sure what download speed is right for you, check out our guide on how much speed you need.

One difference to note is that Cox provides only cable internet, while CenturyLink offers both DSL and fiber connections. Of course, CenturyLink’s 940 Mbps fiber plan is the most expensive—but fiber tends to be the most reliable type of internet, so it usually has our vote.

When it comes to the speeds these two providers actually deliver, we think either one is a good choice. Why? Both Cox and CenturyLink internet nabbed an honorary mention in our list of the fastest ISPs.

But when you dig into the nitty-gritty, the latest Federal Communications Commission (FCC) report shows Cox over-delivering on the download speeds it promises, with an average actual speed of 103.9%.1

That means, if you grab the Internet Ultimate plan, those 300 Mbps speeds might actually hit 312 Mbps.

Cox vs. CenturyLink 2018 FCC speed scores1
ProviderAverage actual/advertised speed
Cox103.9%
CenturyLink94.2%

Data effective 12/31/2019. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

By contrast, CenturyLink’s average actual download speeds hit 94.2% in the FCC report.1 That means your 940 Mbps CenturyLink plan might top out at 885 Mbps. We’re cringing a little.

Wanna dig into more internet details? Check out info on data caps, contracts, and fees in our Cox review and CenturyLink review.

Cox vs. CenturyLink: 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.

Both Cox and CenturyLink improved by one point in 2019, but sadly these two ISPs still fall below the internet industry average score of 62 out of 100 on the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) report.2

Cox vs. CenturyLink customer service ratings comparison2
RatingCoxCenturyLink
ACSI 2018–201960 out of 10059 out of 100

We hope CenturyLink and Cox continue to improve their customer service. After all, happy customers, happy life. (Wait, that doesn’t rhyme . . . )

Cox vs. CenturyLink: Which is better?

Based on performance, we think Cox is best for anyone looking for reliable speeds—even if you just need to dip your toe in the internet pool with 10 Mbps. But if you’re a budget-savvy interwebs user who’s not relying on download speeds to keep streaming or gaming, CenturyLink’s Price for Life guarantee and lack of contracts is hard to beat.

  • 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.
  • Speed: Cox delivers faster download speeds than it advertises, so it’s clearly our pick for internet speed. CenturyLink tends to under-deliver, but should still do the trick if you’re not gaming or streaming.
  • TV + internet bundles: Well, well, well. Cox turns this battle around with a one-two punch and some serious bundling savings. CenturyLink just doesn’t stand a chance now that it offers only internet and phone bundles.
  • Customer service: 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.)

Find the best internet prices and speeds in your area.

Sources

  1. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), “2018 Fixed Broadband Report
  2. American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), “ACSI Telecommunications Report 2018–2019