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
Download speeds
10940 Mbps
Data cap
11.25 TB
Best for No Contracts, Price for Life
Monthly price
Download speeds
15940 Mbps
Data cap
1 TBUnlimited

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$19.99*10 MbpsView Plan
Cox Internet Essential 30$39.9930 MbpsView Plan
Cox Internet Preferred 150$49.99150 MbpsView Plan
Cox Internet Ultimate$69.99500 MbpsView Plan
Cox Gigablast$99.99940 MbpsView Plan
Data effective 11/19/18. 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.

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. 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.

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:
$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

Our money’s on Cox for faster, more reliable download speeds.

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 Internet15940 Mbps

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.

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Not sure what download speed is right for you?
We feel you. That’s why we put together a download speed guide, plus recommendations for what you can do with 25, 100, and even 1,000 Mbps. (And speeds in between.)

Cox vs. CenturyLink: which ISP is faster?

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.

So how do Cox and CenturyLink stack up when it comes to the download speeds their customers get? We can’t compare exact download speeds to the plan a customer pays for, but we can get a general idea of how well both of these ISPs perform.

In our analysis of the fastest internet providers in the US, Cox ranked 16th out of 38 total ISPs. On the other hand, CenturyLink ranked 28th out of 38. That said, we think Cox is the better bet for faster, more reliable download speeds.

  • Cox: 16th out of 38
  • CenturyLink: 28th out of 38
Cox vs. CenturyLink speed scores1 weighted speed score
Cox33.4 out of 100
CenturyLink20.2 out of 100

And when we looked at our weighted scores, Cox came out ahead by more than 10 points.

Just a note, though: those weighted scores don’t represent an actual download speed in Mbps. Instead, they’re a combo of the average download speeds, upload speeds, and latency that Cox and CenturyLink customers saw when they took speed tests between January 1 and December 31, 2019.

Those scores may seem low, but other cable and DSL internet providers also scored in the 30s and 40s:

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
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.


  1. Catherine McNally,, “Fastest Internet Providers 2020,” August 2020. Accessed August 20, 2020.
  2. American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), “ACSI Telecommunications Report 2019–2020,” June 2020. Accessed August 20, 2020.