AT&T vs. Cox Internet: Which One Is Worth Your Money?

AT&T’s fiber service is way better for the price, but Cox still boasts a reliable connection and solid customer service

Most reliable
ATT
Overall Quality ⁃ 3.9/5
bullet 4.0/5 - Speed and reliability
bullet 3.8/5 - Dollar value
bullet 4.0/5 - Customer experience
Fewer fees
Cox Authorized Retailer
Overall Quality ⁃ 3.6/5
bullet 3.8/5 - Speed and reliability
bullet 3.3/5 - Dollar value
bullet 3.8/5 - Customer experience
Christian de Looper
Jul 08, 2024
Icon Time To Read8 min read

Although you can get solid internet from either AT&T or Cox, AT&T is the obvious pick—so long as you can get one of its fiber plans.

Ranked one of our best internet providers, AT&T Fiber offers faster speeds and better value—plus a better customer experience to boot. AT&T also maintains a nationwide cellular network, making it a perfect choice for cellular bundles.

Cox still gets users plenty of speed and reliability. Offering a range of cable internet plans, Cox’s prices start off generally lower for comparable plans.  Both internet providers have similarly fast download speeds. Read on for a full breakdown of how these two internet big-boys stack up against each other.

“I have no complaints at all (so far) about AT&T’s internet service,” says Lauren Hannula, an AT&T customer in San Diego, California. “I’ll remain loyal to AT&T internet as long as I’m able.”
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AT&T vs Cox: Plans, pricing, and speed

ProviderATTCox Authorized Retailer
Price per month$55-$245*$9.95-$150
Download speeds300-5000 Mbps100-2000 Mbps
Upload speeds300-5000 Mbps5-100 Mbps
Details
Data as of 04/05/2023. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* Price after $5/mo Autopay & Paperless bill discount (w/in 2 bills). Plus taxes $ fees. Limited availability. May not be available in your area.
Prices exclude taxes, surcharges, usage-based charges, certain equipment, and other fees or charges, which are subject to change.

AT&T mostly offers fiber-optic internet but also has DSL and fixed wireless internet in some areas. The fiber packages start at $55 a month and give you speeds ranging up to 5,000Mbps. You don't have to worry about contracts or data caps with its fiber plans. AT&T also has a wireless plan called AT&T Internet Air, which costs $55 per month and offers 225Mbps download speeds. It’s not widely available yet, and most should go for fiber anyway.

Cox is a cable internet provider with plans that start at $50 a month and download speeds up to 2,000Mbps. Its plans don't come with annual contracts, but you do have a 1,280GB monthly data cap.

Cox also offers the affordable Connect2Compete package, which costs $9.95 per month and is designed for low-income households with students.

Plans with 1,000Mbps speeds and higher get a $10 promotional discount that ends after 24 months.

“We had to sign up for Spectrum and experienced several outages during our seven months there, as well as regular lags in speed. Once we finally got back here to San Diego, I immediately signed back up for AT&T Fiber,” said Lauren Hannula.

AT&T vs. Cox: fees for modem and installation

Service
AT&T fee
Cox fee
Modem/router$10.00/mo.Free for 14 mos. Then $15.00/mo.
Self-installation kit and service activation$35.00Free
Professional installation $99.00$100.00
Overage feesN/A$10.00 per 50GB (up to $100.00/mo.)
Cancellation feeN/AN/A

What makes this review legit?

Our fact-based research process centers on interviews with internet customers across the country, helping us understand how internet services hold up against diverse needs and challenges.

To put together this review, we looked at results from our speed test, pulled data from customer satisfaction surveys, and pored over the fine print to compare prices and speeds between the two providers. To flesh out our analysis, we also interviewed AT&T and Cox customers to get their first-hand insights. We let their experiences guide our research and shape our conclusions. We also speak with ISP spokespeople and industry experts to get insights into connection types, speed capabilities, and other technical issues related to internet service.

how we review products and services

The matchup: How we rate AT&T vs. Cox

For all our internet reviews, we give a rating based on three main criteria—speed and reliability, dollar value, and customer experience—which we then average to make an overall score.

Here, we compare those ratings face to face. We then offer some analysis and context for important factors to keep in mind.

Want to know more? Read our full-length AT&T review and Cox review.

Speed and reliability

internet speed
AT&T: 4.0/5.0 | Cox: 3.8/5.0

AT&T offers clearly faster plans than Cox. AT&T’s slowest plans start at 300Mbps and go up to a huge 5,000Mbps, or 5Gbps. AT&T isn’t in our top five fastest internet providers, but its speeds are still way faster than Cox’s. According to a thousand speed test results from AT&T users in 2023, its average download speed was 106Mbps, while its average upload speed was 119Mbps. That’s relatively impressive, especially when it comes to the fast upload speeds, which are almost always lower than download speeds with other providers.

Cox has a slightly lower speed rating, but in testing, its average speeds are faster. Our speed test results show that Cox’s download speeds are 160Mbps on average—however its average upload speeds are much lower at 26Mbps, which isn’t great. On top of the lower upload speeds, Cox’s fastest plan is much slower than AT&T’s fastest plan—sitting in at 2Gbps, compared to 5Gbps.

Cox is primarily a cable internet provider, so you get much slower upload speeds and you can’t expect the same level of reliability as you can from AT&T Fiber. Cox only offers fiber connectivity in some areas, and it might not be the “fiber-to-the-home” service that AT&T boasts.

When it comes to reliability, AT&T wins too. AT&T is ranked fourth in the reliability category of HighSpeedInternet.com’s 2023 customer satisfaction survey, beating out Cox’s fifth place. To be fair, ranking fourth versus fifth isn’t a radical difference, so expect reasonable reliability from both providers.

Dollar value

dollar value
AT&T: 3.8/5.0 | Cox: 3.3/5.0

AT&T’s pricing isn’t amazing amongst fiber providers, but it isn’t terrible either. However, it is more expensive than many cable providers. Considering the fact that most of the time Cox’s service involves a cable connection at some point, it’s not surprising that AT&T’s plans are a little higher for similar speeds. For example, it costs $55 per month for 300Mbps download speeds on AT&T, while Cox’s 250Mbps plan costs only $40 per month.

While a Cox customer may pay less for similar download speeds, AT&T Fiber is worth the extra because it offers consistently higher upload speeds—that’s critical for things like online gaming, video-chatting, and more. AT&T also doesn’t impose data caps on its plans, while Cox plans come with a monthly cap (albeit a generous one that works for most people).

Customer experience

customer experience
AT&T: 4.0/5.0 | Cox: 3.8/5.0

Internet providers as a whole have notoriously bad reputations for customer service, but AT&T has gotten surprisingly high marks for its customer service in public surveys. The American Consumer Satisfaction Survey—which has respondents rate home service experiences on a 1-to-5 scale—ranks AT&T as the best fiber provider in customer service. HighSpeedInternet.com also gave AT&T above-average scores in its satisfaction survey.

On the other hand, Cox is in eighth place in the American Customer Satisfaction Survey—even lower than the “all others” category that included much smaller providers. It came in fifth for customer service at HighSpeedInternet.com.

In our review of AT&T’s customer service, we noted that it took around nine minutes to get an agent on the phone through the AT&T phone tree, which isn’t terrible—and a callback option was available. With Cox, it took only one minute to get an agent on the line, but current and former Cox customer reviews note that it can often take much longer. Additionally, the AT&T chat option, while not great, was more helpful than Cox’s.

Overall quality: Which internet provider should you pick?

Overall, AT&T’s fiber service is a better choice than Cox. AT&T offers faster plans, and they’re more reliable thanks to AT&T’s fiber-to-the-home connection—giving you much faster upload speeds and superb reliability overall. AT&T also has a better customer service record.

However, that’s not to say that Cox is no good. In fact, you can probably get a better price from Cox, considering that its mainline base plan is slightly cheaper than AT&T’s. Cox also offers a low-cost $9.95-per-month plan that’s perfect for low-income households with children. And if you can only get DSL or AT&T Internet Air in your area, then Cox is definitely the faster and more reliable pick.

deals badge

AT&T vs. Cox: What deals and promotions can you get?

AT&T offers solid deals for customers who want to bundle internet plans with mobile phone lines, along with other deals for those willing to switch from their existing provider. Cox doesn’t have quite as many deals or promotions, but you can save $14.99 per month on an internet plan if you bundle with Cox Mobile, which is Cox’s prepaid cellular brand that runs on Verizon’s network.

ATT
Get a $150 gift card when you switch
You can get up to $150 in a Visa gift card when you switch to AT&T Fiber, to cover any contract cancellation fees that you might incur.
Cox
Save $14.99 per month when you bundle with a Cox Mobile service
If you bundle your internet plan with a Cox Mobile prepaid phone plan, you save up to $14.99 per month.

AT&T add-ons and perks


AT&T Smart Home Manager helps you keep an eye on your internet service


AT&T ActiveArmor helps you protect yourself from identity theft, for $7.00/mo.


Get DIRECTV bundled into your bill starting at $69.99/mo.


Cox add-ons and perks


Get unlimited data on your internet plan for $49.99/mo.


AT&T vs. Cox: What do customers think?

ATT

AT&T customers generally quite like AT&T. We talked to four AT&T customers, and three of them had almost nothing bad to say about the service. That’s uncommon when it comes to internet service providers.

Jane Collins, a retired healthcare administrator in Detroit, says that AT&T is the best of three services that she’s tried. “I would say their internet is reliable. It’s been relatively trouble free,” she says. “The pricing has been stable.”

Danny Flanagan, an AT&T user in Ohio, was very enthusiastic about his experience with the provider, noting that everything about the service has been “fantastic” for him. AT&T Internet impressed him so much that he says that he’s “looking forward to moving over to the mobile side in the next few months.”

Of course, not every single person is completely happy with AT&T service—which is to be expected. Hayden, in Illinois, prefers AT&T to Xfinity, which was his last provider. But in his opinion, it’s not head and shoulders above the competition. For example, Hayden notes that his Wi-Fi extender frequently stops working properly. “I wouldn’t say it’s a good deal, but it’s comparable to the other ISPs I’ve used,” he says, calling it “better than the alternative in this town.”

“AT&T’s fiber network is fast and reliable.” —Lauren Hannula
Cox

Cox customers aren’t quite as sweet on their provider as AT&T customers are on AT&T. Isaac Chandler, the manager of an esports lounge in Tulsa, Oklahoma, says the price for his Cox plan is too high for the kinds of speeds he gets. He’s experienced outages and feels that the cable connection isn’t super reliable. Still, he gets by with his Cox internet.

"It's pretty easy to set up and doesn’t require any weird cabling,” he says, adding that he’s had positive experiences with Cox customer service. “They solve my problems pretty quickly.”

Other customers also felt that they’re paying too much for their Cox packages. "But I still do it because I get everything I need with a minimum of fuss and bother," shrugged M.J. Stevens, a Cox bundler in San Diego.

While some customers find customer service to be easy to deal with, others have had different experiences. Lindsey Scotney owns a hospitality staffing company in Tulsa, and recently had to call customer service after becoming suspicious that her speeds were being throttled despite her unlimited data plan. Scotney says that the rep kept interrupting her as she was trying to find out information.

“He hung up on me intentionally after telling me I was being abusive,” Scotney recalls. “I literally did not raise my voice at all and in a very calm voice just asked him to please let me finish what I was saying.”

"[Cox is] pretty easy to set up and doesn’t require any weird cabling." —Isaac Chandler

Want AT&T or Cox? Find it in your area

AT&T is the standout option when it comes to these two providers, offering generally faster plans, better customer service, and better reliability. Cox isn’t terrible, but given the choice between the two, you should go for AT&T. Of course, you might not always have the choice—AT&T’s reliable services aren’t available everywhere, and in fact, AT&T fiber is available in only 21 states. That’s more than Cox, which is in 19 states, however you still might find that only Cox is available in your area.

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Find AT&T or Cox in your area.
Christian de Looper
Written by
Christian de Looper is a technology journalist based in sunny Santa Cruz, California. Christian has over 10 years of experience covering all aspects of the consumer tech industry, with bylines in Digital Trends, Tom’s Guide, Forbes, CNN Underscored, PCMag, and more. When he’s not obsessing over the latest and greatest tech, he can be found hanging out with his family or trying and failing to train his cat.

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