Cox vs. CenturyLink Internet Review 2021

Cox’s faster internet speeds compete with CenturyLink’s Price for Life guarantee and lack of contracts.
Fastest Internet Speeds
Monthly price
$29.99$99.99
Download speeds
10940 Mbps
Data cap
11.25 TB
Best for Price for Life
Monthly price
$49$65
Download speeds
15940 Mbps
Data cap
1 TBUnlimited

If you’re after fast internet speeds, Cox is your best bet. But if you’re budget-savvy, you may not want to pass up CenturyLink’s Price for Life guarantee on its DSL internet plans.

We sifted through details on pricing, speed and data, and customer service for these two internet service providers (ISPs). Let’s dig in and find out which is better for you, Cox or CenturyLink.

Cox internet pros and cons

Pros

  • Some low-cost plans
  • Lots of speeds to choose from
  • No contract on most plans

Cons

  • Costly high-end plans
  • Poor customer service

CenturyLink internet pros and cons

Pros

  • Price for Life guarantee
  • No contracts
  • Fiber option for some cities

Cons

  • Confusing download speeds
  • Poor speed performance
  • Not-so-great customer service

Compare Cox and CenturyLink internet prices and speeds in your area.

Prices and plans: Cox vs. CenturyLink

The winner: CenturyLink’s Price for Life plans

Cox and CenturyLink internet comparison
ProviderMonthly priceDownload speedsData capLearn more
Cox Internet$29.99$99.99*10940 Mbps11.25 TBView Plans
CenturyLink Internet$49$6515940 Mbps1 TBUnlimitedView Plans
Data effective 10/26/20. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* For the first 12 months with a 1-year agreement.
New customers only. Rate requires paperless billing and excludes taxes. Additional fees apply.

When comparing prices and speeds, Cox starts out as the better deal. Cox offers plans with anywhere from 10 Mbps up to 940 Mbps, and its prices range from about $30 a month to $100 a month.

Cox internet promotional prices
PlanPriceDownload speedConnection typeDetails
Cox Internet Starter 10$29.9910 MbpsCableView Plan
Cox Internet Essential 50$39.99^50 MbpsCableView Plan
Cox Internet Preferred 150$59.99^150 MbpsCableView Plan
Cox Internet Ultimate$79.99^500 MbpsCableView Plan
Cox Gigablast$99.99^940 MbpsCableView Plan
Data effective 10/26/20. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
for 12 months with 1-yr. svc. agr. + Easy Pay.
^ for 36 months. No annual contract required.

Cox’s 50 and 150 Mbps plans are kind of the sweet spot when it comes to price for the speed you get. The 50 Mbps plan is a good starting point for a single internet user who’s not doing anything outrageous online. You know, like going live on YouTube or becoming the next Shark Tank winner with your home business.

The 150 Mbps plan is good for a family of light internet users or a couple of heavy internet users. Some folks on our team are die-hard gamers, and they play online with speeds around 150 to 200 Mbps.

View Cox Plans | Read the Cox Internet Review

But if you can get CenturyLink’s faster speeds, it quickly topples Cox as the best value internet provider. CenturyLink’s DSL internet comes in speeds of 15 to 100 Mbps, and each plan costs just under $50 a month—a price that’s guaranteed not to change. And CenturyLink’s fiber internet delivers speeds of 940 Mbps for about $65 a month.

CenturyLink internet promotional prices
PlanPriceDownload speedConnection typeDetails
Price for Life 15 Mbps$49°15 MbpsDSLView Plan
Price for Life 20 Mbps$49°20 MbpsDSLView Plan
Price for Life 40 Mbps$49°40 MbpsDSLView Plan
Price for Life 80 Mbps$49°80 MbpsDSLView Plan
Price for Life 100 Mbps$49°100 MbpsDSLView Plan
CenturyLink Fiber Internet$65**940 MbpsFiberView Plan
Data effective 11/04/20. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
° Rate requires paperless billing. Additional taxes, fees, and surcharges apply. Speeds may not be available in your area.
** Rate requires paperless billing. Additional taxes, fees, and surcharges apply. Speeds may not be available in your area. Maximum download/upload speed of up to 940 Mbps via a wired connection.

The not-so-great news? With CenturyLink, it’s kind of hard to tell what download speed you’ll get until you sign up. (Except for its Fiber Internet plan, which comes with gig speeds and gig speeds only.) The ISP offers you the fastest speeds available in your area when you sign up, and those speeds range from 15 to 100 Mbps.

That’s why all of CenturyLink’s Price for Life DSL internet plans cost the same each month. So CenturyLink plans could be a pretty good deal if you can get 100 Mbps speeds in your area—or they could be a bad deal if you’re stuck with only 15 Mbps.

But CenturyLink’s Price for Life guarantee hooks you up with internet for the same monthly 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.

View CenturyLink Plans | Read the CenturyLink Review

On the other hand, Cox does offer promotional prices for three whole years on its 50 Mbps and faster plans. That’s a long time to stick with a price in internet land, where most ISPs jack up your price after only 12 months. But it’s not a price for life either.

One important note: we wouldn’t advise anyone to get Cox’s 10 Mbps plan. That speed is far too slow to do much of anything online, let alone support a household of internet users. (The same goes for CenturyLink’s 15 and 20 Mbps plans.)

If your internet needs to support a large family or your home office, you’ll need more speed. But we think you’ll find better deals than Cox’s 500 and 940 Mbps plans. Especially if you live in a city where you can get CenturyLink’s fiber internet. CenturyLink’s price for gig speeds is one of the lowest around.

Find out what Cox and CenturyLink speeds are available in your area.

Internet speed and data: Cox vs. CenturyLink

The winner: Cox

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. But remember, CenturyLink internet speeds will vary based on where you live. So even though it advertises 15 to 100 Mbps speeds for its DSL service, you might see only certain speeds advertised in your area.

Cox vs. CenturyLink download speeds and upload speeds
ProviderDownload speedsUpload speedsLearn more
Cox Internet10940 Mbps135 MbpsView Plans
CenturyLink Internet15940 Mbps1940 MbpsView Plans

We mentioned before that Cox offers cable internet, while CenturyLink offers both DSL and fiber connections. Of course, CenturyLink’s fiber internet 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: Which is faster?

Cox is the better bet for faster, more reliable download speeds, according to our latest report on the fastest ISPs in the US.

Advertised download speeds are all well and good, but you want to pay attention to how well your internet provider delivers on the speeds it promises too.

In our analysis of what internet speeds Cox and CenturyLink customers saw, Cox ranked 16th out of 38 total ISPs. On the other hand, CenturyLink ranked 28th out of 38.

Cox vs. CenturyLink internet speed scores
ProviderOverall rankRank by connection typeDetails
Cox16th out of 38 ISPs8th out of 22 cable ISPsView Plans
CenturyLink28th out of 38 ISPs9th out of 10 DSL ISPsView Plans

These rankings are a combo of average download speeds, upload speeds, and latency. And they’re based on speed test results that Cox and CenturyLink customers saw between January 1 and December 31, 2019.

We can only hope both ISPs improve their speeds in the future, and we fully expect CenturyLink’s fiber internet service to zoom past its DSL internet.

Heads Up icon
Suffering from slow internet?
We feel your pain. To help out, we put together 10 easy tips for speeding up your internet. Give them a try and hopefully your internet speeds will perk back up.

Cox vs. CenturyLink: Data caps

Both Cox and CenturyLink cap data on most of their plans around 1 TB. Of course, you’ll get a tiny bit more data with Cox’s internet plans (1.25 TB), but the real winner is CenturyLink’s Fiber Internet plan.

CenturyLink Fiber Internet comes with unlimited data, so you won’t need to worry about downloading 15 new games during the Steam summer sale or juggling multiple large files while you hammer out work projects at home.

  • Cox data cap: 25 TB
  • CenturyLink DSL data cap: 1 TB
  • CenturyLink fiber data cap: Unlimited

Customer service: Cox vs. CenturyLink

The winner: Neither

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 their customer service scores in the past year, but sadly these two ISPs still fall below the internet industry average score of 65 out of 100 on the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) report.1

Cox vs. CenturyLink customer service comparison
ProviderACSI 2019–2020 rating
Cox61 out of 100
CenturyLink63 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 … )

If you do need to call your ISP, take a deep breath and try some of these customer service tips on for size. They might get you through your customer service call without flipping a table.

  • Cox customer service: 1-800-234-3993
  • CenturyLink customer service: 1-866-642-0444

Cox vs. CenturyLink: Which is better?

Based on performance, we think Cox is best for anyone looking for reliable speeds—unless you can get CenturyLink fiber internet in your area.

But if you’re a budget-savvy internet user who’s not relying on download speeds to keep streaming or gaming, CenturyLink’s Price for Life guarantee is hard to beat.

  • Prices: CenturyLink. We’re mighty impressed with CenturyLink’s Price for Life guarantee. Cox does offer competitive prices, yes, but they’ll get bumped up after one or three years.
  • Internet speed: Cox delivers faster download speeds than it advertises, so it’s clearly our pick for internet speed. CenturyLink tends to underdeliver, and its fiber internet remains unproven so far.
  • Data: Both ISPs give you about 1 TB of data. The only exception is the CenturyLink Fiber Internet plan, which comes with the winningest amount of data: unlimited.
  • Customer service: Both Cox and CenturyLink need to work on their customer service. Just like most ISPs.
Cox versus CenturyLink internet
ProviderMonthly priceDownload speedsData capLearn more
Cox Internet$29.99$99.99*10940 Mbps11.25 TBView Plans
CenturyLink Internet$49$6515940 Mbps1 TBUnlimitedView Plans
Data effective 10/26/20. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* For the first 12 months with a 1-year agreement.
New customers only. Rate requires paperless billing and excludes taxes. Additional fees apply.

Methodology

We spent hours comparing prices, internet speeds, availability, and customer service data to rate Cox and CenturyLink internet. We focused our review on which provider and plans offer the best value, which ISP delivers the fastest speeds, and what you can expect when it comes to dealing with customer service.

We also gathered our own in-house data on how these ISPs perform when it comes to speed so you can get an idea of what it’s actually like to use these internet providers.

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Cox vs. CenturyLink: FAQ

What is the data cap limit on CenturyLink data plans?

The data cap limit on your CenturyLink internet plan depends on whether you have DSL or fiber internet. For CenturyLink DSL plans, the data cap is 1 TB, and for CenturyLink fiber plans, the data cap is unlimited.

What is the data cap limit on Cox data plans?

Cox internet has a 1.25 TB data cap on all of its plans.

Is CenturyLink a DSL or cable provider?

CenturyLink is primarily a DSL internet provider, but it also offers a fiber internet plan in certain cities across the US.

Is Cox a DSL or cable provider?

Cox provides cable internet to 19 states.

What bundling options does CenturyLink have?

You can bundle your CenturyLink internet with phone service or with DIRECTV satellite TV service. Check out our review of CenturyLink bundle options, and don’t miss our TV experts’ take on DIRECTV.

What bundling options does Cox have?

Cox lets you bundle your internet with its own TV service, and you also have the option to add phone service. We’ll help you weigh all your Cox bundling options in our review.

Sources

  1. American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), “ACSI Telecommunications Report 2019–2020,” June 2020. Accessed August 20, 2020.