Cox Internet Review

Cox has more plans than you can shake a fist at, but its internet service is middle of the road.

Cox Internet Review Summary
Cox has more plans than you can shake a fist at, but its internet service is middle of the road.
Overall Rating2.5 out of 5
No-contract service
Good variety of plans
Higher-than-average prices

The quick and dirty on Cox internet: Cox internet service seems to be perfectly happy being average. It uses cable internet technology, so it has some advantage over DSL internet service, but most everything else about Cox inspires little more than a shoulder shrug. The monthly service price is higher than competing internet service providers (ISPs), and it landed a ho-hum score for customer satisfaction. But the biggest downside to Cox internet is speed.

Its speed pales in comparison to other cable internet providers like Comcast XFINITY, Time Warner Cable (now branded as Spectrum), and Optimum. If you’re okay with just-about-average internet and don’t want to bother with contracts, look no further. If you want something better, check out the Best Cable Internet.

Cox Internet prices and plans

Every time we review internet service, we always check the price tag first.

PlansAdvertised prices*Download speedsDetails
Internet Starter$29.99/mo.5 MbpsView Plans
Internet Essential$39.99/mo.15 MbpsView Plans
Internet Preferred$59.99/mo.50 MbpsView Plans
Internet Premier$69.99/mo.150 MbpsView Plans
Internet Ultimate$89.99/mo.300 MbpsView Plans

*Pricing varies by location.

The price for internet service is usually the biggest concern for customers, and why wouldn’t it be? It’s money. We love internet and can’t live without it, but we never want to pay more than it’s worth. Paying $30 per month for 5 Mbps download speed, which is where Cox’s internet service starts, doesn’t get us excited. Maybe it’s because we know what else is out there.

Cox’s lowest-priced plan, the Internet Starter, faces some serious competition. Comcast XFINITY’s lowest-priced plan, the Performance Starter, starts at $20 per month in most areas, and it doubles the download speed of Cox’s Internet Starter (10 Mbps vs. 5 Mbps). Double the download speed for $10 less a month? That sounds like a good deal to us. To give Cox some credit though, it has more plans to choose from than other ISPs we’ve reviewed (ahem, Charter Spectrum), but more doesn’t always mean better.

Cox Internet pricing and contract options

Internet pricing and contract options aren’t so straightforward with Cox, so we suggest familiarizing yourself with the ins and outs.

Cox’s starting price for monthly service can vary depending on where you live. For us, the actual price for internet service started at $44.99 per month, which is $15 a month more than what we saw advertised. Location-based price shenanigans are something we’ve seen from every ISP, so we can’t exactly take points away from Cox for following the norm (even if we don’t like it).

With other ISPs, pricing can also change depending on whether you enter a contract or not, but luckily, Cox service doesn’t deal in long-term contracts. That’s good because it means there’s no early termination fee (ETF) hanging over your head if you decide to cancel early. This may be especially appealing to apartment dwellers or people on the move. However, other ISPs will take some dollars off the monthly service price if you’re willing to sign on the dotted line and commit to a year or two of internet service. With Cox, that’s not an option, so the price you get is the price you get (unless you decide to add TV service and make it a bundle, which will typically get you lower pricing per service).

Recommendations

If you’re getting internet service just for yourself, we’d recommend Cox’s Internet Essential plan. The $40-per-month price tag for 15 Mbps download speed isn’t going to set the internet world on fire, but it gets the job done. With 15 Mbps speed, it will take about 20 minutes to download a two-hour movie in high definition (HD).1 It should also keep you from experiencing any buffering when relaxing and watching Netflix. However, we want to emphasize the “should” in that because if you have a bunch of internet-connected devices running (smartphone, tablet, computer, etc.), it’s going to take longer than 20 minutes to download that movie, and Netflix may start to buffer.

The “good enough for one person watching Netflix and surfing the web” plan

If you have other people or multiple internet-connected devices, we recommend going with the Internet Preferred plan. It’s $60 per month for 50 Mbps, which is more than three times the speed of the Internet Starter. We wouldn’t recommend using this plan with more than three people, but otherwise you should be fine to have two people watching Netflix with a third browsing the web. It’s by no means a heavy-duty internet plan, but you can get that from Cox’s Internet Ultimate plan ($89.99 per month for 300 Mbps).

The “plenty of speed for a small family or a few friends” plan

Cox service fees

Cox could be clearer about what fees you’ll have to deal with. For example, when we were ordering Cox internet service, we noticed a “one-time charge” of $20. It wasn’t immediately clear what it was for, so we looked around and found it was listed as a “self-installment and shipment fee.” We assumed it was because we ordered a modem from Cox, but when we put in another order without a modem, we still had to deal with the $20 fee. Not a cool move—though compared to Comcast’s and Time Warner Cable’s fees, Cox’s $20 fee isn’t so bad.

Despite the one-time fee we got stuck with, you won’t have to deal with other service fees. Like we said, Cox deals in no-contract service, which is not the norm for ISPs. We like not being trapped by an ISP because once you enter a contract service, you’ll have an early termination fee (ETF) to deal with if you try to escape, and getting hit with one of those can cost you hundreds of dollars.

Cox equipments charges

Compared to other ISPs, Cox has pretty much the same equipment fees. If you’re without a Wi-Fi modem, Cox will rent you one for $9.99 per month, which is par for the course when it comes to rental pricing. You can also buy the same Wi-Fi modem from Cox for $179. We couldn’t find details on the exact make and model offered, but it’s listed as a DOCSIS 3.0 Wi-Fi modem, which is to say it’s a modem and wireless router.

Little pin Little pin

TIP: Buy your modem, don't rent

TIP: Buy your modem, don't rent

Renting a modem for two years = $240. Buying a brand new modem = $120. We say skip renting and save yourself money in the long run by buying a modem.

We’ve never come across an ISP-provided modem that knocked our socks off, so we think it’s best to get your own. If buying your own modem seems daunting, don’t get hung up on the tech jargon.

One of the best-selling modems on Amazon happens to be one we also highly recommend—the ARRIS Surfboard. It’s $50 less than Cox’s modem, and it’s compatible with most ISPs, which means you can use it if you decide to leave Cox for another ISP. If you already have a modem, you can check if it’s compatible with Cox service here.

Cox Internet speed

Cox’s actual speed vs. advertised speed

Here comes some bad news: compared to its two biggest competitors, Comcast XFINITY and Time Warner Cable (Spectrum), Cox’s download speeds are underwhelming. We use the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) annual measuring broadband report to get some hard numbers on how ISPs are performing. As it turns out, Cox isn’t delivering the download speeds it advertises.

...Cox isn’t delivering the download speeds it advertises.

The FCC measured tens of thousands of internet users and found that the actual download speed for Cox was measured at 75%.2 That means people paying for 50 Mbps were experiencing download speeds closer to 37.5 Mbps. To be fair, the FCC data represents what 80% of internet users experience 80% of the time (something the FCC calls 80/80 speed).3 Chances are you could be in the minority of users who don’t experience slower download speeds, but the inverse rule applies as well, and you could experience even slower speeds.

Other cable internet providers perform better than Cox when it comes to speed. For example, the actual speed for XFINITY was measured at 99%, and Time Warner Cable was 100%.4 Those numbers make Cox look not so hot. However, compared to DSL internet providers (AT&T, Centurylink, etc.), Cox doesn’t look as bad. For example, AT&T’s DSL service came in at an actual download speed of 45%5, so if it’s a choice between Cox and AT&T DSL, hands down we’d go with Cox.

Cox data caps

What about Cox’s data limit?

If you’re an internet junky, you’ll want to be aware of Cox’s data limit. Every Cox internet plan has a 1 TB (1,024 GB) monthly data limit. If you’re not sure how much data that is, it’s helpful to know that 1 TB is equal to watching about 400 hours of HD TV or movies. Needless to say, that’s a lot of screen time.

If you consider yourself just an average internet user—you casually surf the web and watch an hour or two of streaming video each day—there’s no way you’ll hit that 1 TB data limit. Still, if you’re sharing internet with two roommates who happen to be shut-ins and never turn Netflix off, you’ll want to check in on how much data your place is using.

Customer satisfaction

Cox’s customer satisfaction has improved since last year, but it still needs some work. We checked the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), which surveys tens of thousands of customers, and found that Cox lands right in the middle—it scored 63 out of 100.6 The average ISP score is 64, and the year previous, Cox scored a 58.

To score 63 out of 100 may seem like nothing to brag about, but it’s better than Comcast XFINITY, which received a score of 59. Cox’s other major competitor, Time Warner Cable (Spectrum), fared better with score of 66. You’ll notice no ISP is hitting it out of the ballpark when it comes to customer satisfaction, and it’s most likely because ISPs keep bungling customer service.

How to handle Cox customer service

If you’re ordering service from Cox for the first time, there’s a chance your experience may not be so bad. Ours wasn’t—the customer service representative was nice and surprisingly helpful. Still, we had to ask plenty of questions to make sure we were getting what we wanted.

We highly recommend that you ask and repeat questions, take notes (including the name of the representative, time of the phone call, billing date, etc.), and request an email with all the service details. It’s a bit of a bummer, but the responsibility falls more on the customer when it comes to making sure you get everything you want from your internet service.

Overall recommendation

Cox’s so-so internet service doesn’t make our first choice

We’d take Cox’s cable internet service over DSL competitors (AT&T, Centurylink, etc.), but it’s just not as good as its two biggest cable-internet competitors: Comcast and Time Warner Cable (Spectrum). We want the speed we pay for, and we also know that Comcast and TWC have lower monthly pricing.

But if you can’t get Comcast or Time Warner Cable (Spectrum) where you live, then give Cox a try. Its no-contract service is a huge plus, so you can always cancel if you’re not happy.

Find the best internet providers in your area.

Have questions? Ask us.

Got questions about Cox’s internet service that we didn’t answer? Let us know in the comments section below.

Have a complaint? If you want your complaint to be heard, tell the FCC at its Consumer Complaint Center.

Sources

  1. Cox, High Speed Internet
  2. Federal Communications Commission, Measuring Broadband in America Report
  3. Federal Communications Commission, Measuring Broadband in America Report
  4. Federal Communications Commission, Measuring Broadband in America Report
  5. Federal Communications Commission, Measuring Broadband in America Report
  6. American Customer Satisfaction Index, Telecommunications Report
  • Jeremiah Mills

    Regional fees are an issue here in Norfolk, Virginia. Any service Cox advertises add $25-$30 and that is the actual price after taxes and fees are added. Their call center people will not tell you or even give a good estimate of what your actual bill will be, they are trained not to. Your bill is going to be over $60 on that $39.99 plan. Also, most of the Cox plans skyrocket after the first 12 months. They had a monopoly in this region for a long time and are not adapting to a competitive market. I recommend using one of the on-demand or streaming services for the cable shows you really want. Cable TV is dead, I work with a lot of folks under 30 in my occupation and none of them have cable TV. This old dog learned from the younger ones, cut the cord, got an alternate ISP with phone (Verizon, in my case) and a good streaming service with a Mohu antenna. I have the same amount of actual channels, sufficient latency and download speed for gaming / streaming video / web browsing, and home phone as the Cox Bronze Bundle. By actual channels I mean HBO,TBS, ESPN, Cartoon Network, HIstory, AMC, etc. These are the 50 or so channels that most people actually watch. Nobody gives a rat’s butt about channel 805 with live coverage of Yacht racing. That Cox Bronze Bundle is is well over $200 a month after the introductory 12 months which itself is over $100 after all the fees are added. I pay $105 month for the ISP+phone+streaming channel package and that is TOTAL with all the fees included in the $105 I actually pay. You will never see a Cox bill in this region that is anywhere near the price they advertise to you, and after 12 months they are really going to screw you over. I’ve stayed away from Cox for the last 5 years. I asked my neighbor to show me her bill recently (she has Cox) and they have not changed at all.

  • Richard Montalvo

    What is the speed best for playing online games for the PS4? I won’t be uploading or streaming anything.

  • baton rouge user

    cox sucks! our internet is awful! I hate it! no costumer service, creepy speed, and it is a monopoly! there are no other options for our zip code! Shame on you for charging us and not providing us with internet service!

  • hates cox user

    worst company to deal with they over charge lie about costs and threaten to mess your credit up when they mess up on charges. I got cox internet only for $89.99 deal for 300 MBs. I decided I wanted to add cable. They had a gold special bundle cable, phone and 300 internet for $159 per month. I got my first bill and it was over $300. I called they said the promo code dropped off because I said I didn’t need the phone when they called to verify service. I said thats fine just send the phone and credit my account. I got my new bill it was $800. $400 per month. I called they said because I did not pay the pass due I was no longer eligible for promo codes and the monthly rate without a promo is $400. I could not get my service back on without paying the $400 balance and if I refused they would contact the credit agencies and mess my credit score up and send the full amount to aggressive collectors. I could not believe it. I work from home and my new born baby heart monitor works using wifi. I could no longer work or keep track of my new born baby. It was a nightmare. Cox didn’t care. I decided to go with Dish and get a layer to fight cox for bait and switch and affecting my job and new born baby health. Do your self a favor and avoid this horrible company!

  • davemon

    My Jan 2018 bill just went from $176 to $229. I will dump them fast. Maybe if they didn’t spend my much overhead on diversity BS they could be more competitive. The game is to switch every year or so to FIOS and then back to Cox since their best deals are not for loyal longtime customers, just new ones. Also want to try Google TV streaming.

  • davemon

    Thats the old scam, drop a service and price goes up! Same thing with me. Arrogant $%^#&s

  • Cox is sketchy

    Cox can’t tell me what exactly uses my data and I have random unexpected spikes for 60g a day on days that Im not even home. One time I was gone for 5 days out of the week it said I had the highest usage. But they won’t tell me or show proof of what is using the data or how it’s possible.

  • RCam

    I had COX for over 25 years(Ca.)…I had had enough. My son decided that he would get cox in his name in our home after they decided to charge us $280 for 140 channels no HBO or anything like that and internet of 150 speed…oh and 2 land lines. Use land lines for work. Anyway we said cancel our acct. When they were putting it into my sons name, it was for 200+ channels, 2 phones, internet 300 speed, HBO,Showtime and 3 other channels like that. Rice $179.00 a mo. WELL….the next thing I know his bill is $390.00 😮 WHAT! so round and round I went getting this fixed(son wks at night so Im on his acct to fix stuff for him…he is 24)…it was a nightmare…same thing..threats…refusing to let me talk with a supervisor, and when I would hang up and call back till I found one that would switch me, everyone said everyone else was wrong and they were right…no one had a clue what they were talking about. Also they put him on the wrong bundle. Soooo much more that I have no room to post it all ….so waiting to see what the next bill will be, it is supposed to be $198.00 a month…because well everyone that said all the different prices were wrong…UGH. Also not sure why but going through internet data usage like crazy…never before has this happened. Son streams for a living with gaming and youtube, but he is not using anymore time doing this than before. Something is clearly not right. And if I ask why they will only give me the wrong answer every single time because they have no clue what they are all talking about. After all according to everyone I spoke to the person before they said was all wrong and had no clue….good luck.

    • Michael Daniel

      Very similar experience with them. I have faithfully paid my cox bill for 24 years since starting with them. When I switched cable companies in 2017 they charged me $350 for a DVR from 2007 and 250 for a receiver from 2010. Supervisor was a moron and tried to tell me her hands were tied and nothing she could do. I asked her to email me with an official and final position from Cox and shr saidsshe could not do that. I finally was able to get her to admit my case could be escalated and they would contact me in 24 to 36 hours. It’s been 26. Still haven’t heard from them but hope I do!!!

  • starride

    I just moved to tulsa Ok from Cincinnati OH. Cox Cable absolutely sucks compared to what you can get in Cincy.

  • Joel Laguna

    Cox has a page explaining why “cutting the cable” is such a bad idea. Even comparing parting with them as a type of divorce. Wow, sounds like someone is butt-hurt. They explain that you won’t be able to watch HBO, Showtime, etc… But with so much new great content out there HBO is no longer king of new and innovative content. All for a low price and all you need is a Chromecast and a TV. They even make sure that you think you need an HDMI cable for your tv, not needed with Chromecast. Anyway, Cox is going many changes, they now offer internet only without TV as part of their service. This was not the case a few months ago. They offer bundles where you can remove the TV services, which is fine. All content is now moving to the internet, and those channels that have not, are dying. No one watches TV anymore, Why would you pay to watch commercials?