CenturyLink vs. Cox: Which Internet Provider Is Best for You?

We compare two major internet providers on price, contracts, and extra perks.

HighSpeedteck.com uses our proprietary data and expert insights to compare these internet service titans.

Best for affordable prices

affordable connectivity program centurylink CenturyLink internet plans Get internet, TV and home phone lines from CenturyLink. Bundle packages and save! CenturyLink Plans and Packages | HighSpeedteck.com
    • Customer rating: 3.7 / 5
    • Price: $49.99–$109.99/mo.
    • Speed: 100–1,000 Mbps
    • Internet type: Cable
    • Contract: Annual (month-to-month options available)

Best for big data users

Search Cox Availability Map to see if Cox Internet Plans is available in your area. Cox Internet Packages are fast and reliable
    • Customer rating: 3.5 / 5
    • Price: $50.00–$65.00/mo.
    • Speed: 1–940 Mbps
    • Internet type: Fiber, DSL
    • Contract: Month to month
affordable connectivity program centurylink CenturyLink internet plans Get internet, TV and home phone lines from CenturyLink. Bundle packages and save! CenturyLink Plans and Packages | HighSpeedteck.com


  • Wider availability of fast speeds
  • Excellent customer service ratings
  • Lots of bundle deals


  • Annual contracts
  • Data caps on all plans
Search Cox Availability Map to see if Cox Internet Plans is available in your area. Cox Internet Packages are fast and reliable


  • Unlimited data on all plans
  • Excellent price on fiber plan
  • No annual contracts


  • Slow speeds on DSL
  • Limited fiber availability

Plans and pricing: Cox vs. CenturyLink

Cox has a lot to choose from, including some impressive, budget-friendly packages. CenturyLink has just two packages—slow DSL or much faster fiber—but either way you get great perks like unlimited data and a month-to-month contract.


Cox plans and pricing

PackagePriceSpeed (download/upload)Details
Internet Essential 100$49.99/mo. ($10 more per mo. w/out annual contract)100 Mbps/3 MbpsView Plans
Internet Preferred 250$59.99/mo. ($10 more per mo. w/out annual contract)Up to 250 Mbps/10 MbpsView Plans
Internet Ultimate 500$69.99/mo. ($10 more per mo. w/out annual contract)500 Mbps/10 MbpsView Plans
Gigablast$109.99/mo. ($10 more per mo. w/out annual contract)1,000 Mbps/35 MbpsView Plans

Fast speeds and wide availability—but slow uploads and big price hikes

Cox has great prices (at least up front) and a lot of options for customers to pick from. The best plans are probably the fastest ones, Internet Ultimate 500 and Gigablast. Cox also offers a prepaid plan called StraightUp Internet, which we like because it doesn’t require an annual term agreement and comes with a modem as part of the monthly fee.

The speeds you’ll get on a Cox plan range from a modest 100 Mbps all the way up to 1,000 Mbps. The 100 Mbps Essential plan is relatively cheap up front, but we’re not so keen on the big price hikes that come after 12 months of service. Depending on the plan you have, your bill could go up significantly or even double in price after 12 months of service. That might put some of the faster plans out of reach for some users, while the budget plans aren’t as plum of a deal after a year.

Cox (whose parent company is cable TV provider Cox Communications) also charges some extra fees, not all of which you’ll have to deal with from CenturyLink. Cox’s internet plans come with annual contracts. If you cancel your plan before the year is up, you’ll have to pay $10 for every month left on your bill. You can waive the term agreement, but it will cost you $10 more per month on your bill.

Cox low-cost internet plans

Cox has two great low-cost internet plans for individuals and families receiving government assistance:

ConnectAssist package : up to 100 Mbps for individuals receiving government assistance.

Connect2Compete package : up to 100 Mbps for families with children K-12 receiving government assistance. 

CenturyLink plans and pricing

Simply Unlimited Internet$50.00/mo.Up to 100 Mbps/Up to 30 MbpsView Plans
CenturyLink Fiber Internet$65.00/mo.940 Mbps/940 MbpsView Plans

Fiber firepower or dozing DSL—take your pick

CenturyLink Fiber Internet delivers superb speeds at an unbeatable price—if it’s available in your area, then we say go for it. Costing $35 per month less than Cox’s gigabit plan, it matches Cox on speed and goes one further by giving you symmetrical upload speeds, which is perfect for backing up files to the cloud, spending time on Zoom, and posting to social media.

The only drawback to CenturyLink’s fiber plan is that it has much lower availability compared to Cox. And CenturyLink’s other option, Simply Unlimited Internet, isn’t quite as rosy—a straightforward DSL plan, it gives you unlimited data but relatively sluggish speeds. Technically a DSL connection can hit 100 Mbps, but what you can get depends on what’s available in your area, which could be much slower. The price also isn’t the best considering the technical limitations, although it’s more or less similar to Cox’s budget-tier plans.

Deals and promotions: Cox vs. CenturyLink

Extra fees: Cox vs. CenturyLink

 Equipment feeInstallation feeOther fees
Cox$12/mo.$100.00 for professional install; free for self-install kit$10/mo. (early termination), late fees based on state laws and regulations
CenturyLink$15/mo. or $200 to own$99.00 for professional install; free for self-install; $85.00 for phone jack install or DSL (if needed)Late fee is $5 or a percentage of your total bill

Cox and CenturyLink both charge fairly standard fees. Cox’s rental modem is cheaper than CenturyLink’s. But Cox also has early termination fees for customers who cancel an internet plan before their annual term agreement is up.

Pro tip: Buy a router to save money

Renting a router from your provider is the easiest way to go, but it isn’t very cost effective—you’ll be running up rental costs till the end of time when you could simply buy your own equipment instead.

Buying your own modem and router also lets you choose more up-to-date equipment with additional speed, security, and parental features.

We have more info on buying routers farther down on this page, so take a gander for recommendations into the best equipment.

Customer ratings: Cox vs. CenturyLink

 OverallReliabilityCustomer serviceSpeedPrice

Cox has much better ratings than CenturyLink in our annual customer satisfaction survey. Out of 12 providers examined, Cox comes in third place for overall satisfaction and also ranks towards the top for speed, reliability, and customer service. Cox is especially well known for its customer service, so it’s no surprise that it performs well in that category. If you’re having any issues with Cox’s service, you can call its 24/7 tech support service or consult Cox’s live chat.

CenturyLink comes in last for overall satisfaction and most other categories. However, it’s worth noting that CenturyLink’s fiber customers actually seem quite pleased—fiber customers we surveyed gave CenturyLink a high score of 3.7 for reliability. An impressive 56% of CenturyLink’s customers also told us in our survey that they haven’t dealt with any unexpected price hikes or hidden fees.

Best TV and internet bundles

PackageInternet speedTV channelsPriceDetails
Cox Internet Essential 100 + Contour Starter100 Mbps75+$115.99/mo.View Plans
Cox Internet Ultimate 500 + Contour Preferred500 Mbps140+$190.99/mo.View Plans

CenturyLink doesn’t offer any bundle deals on internet and TV service. But Cox offers some solid bundles through its cable TV service, Cox Contour . Bundles give you a bit of a discount on TV and internet by letting you combine them. The cheapest Cox bundle gets you 100 Mbps of internet speed and 75 channels, but you have Cox bundling options that go up to 1,000 Mbps and 250 channels.

Internet types: Cox vs. CenturyLink

 Internet typeDetails
Cox Communications
CableView Plans
Fiber, DSLView Plans

Cox has cable internet, which runs over the same coaxial copper wiring as a cable TV network. Cable is fast, reliable, and widely available—our only quibble is that it doesn’t give you gigabit upload speeds like you can get with fiber.

CenturyLink delivers both DSL and fiber internet. Fiber-optic internet is by far the best internet around, since it can hit the fastest speeds possible and is impervious to the kinds of electromagnetic interference that can hamper cable and DSL lines. It has a much lower availability nationwide, but hopefully that changes in the coming years.

DSL is an old-school type of internet that gives you a connection over the copper wiring of your landline phone network. It tops out at 100 Mbps—a fraction of the speed you can get over cable or fiber—so it’s best if you have minimal internet needs and if you don’t share your Wi-Fi with more than a few others in your household.

Data caps: Cox vs. CenturyLink

 Data capOverage feeDetails
Cox Communications
1.25 TB$10 per 50 GBView Plans
UnlimitedN/AView Plans

Cox has a 1.25 TB cap on all of its internet plans. That’s a pretty generous cap—it will be just fine for most people, but you’ll need to be more budget-conscious of your data use if you live with a lot of people and like to stream video in 4K. The more users on your Wi-Fi, the faster you’ll burn through data, and overage charges can really add up.

CenturyLink, on the other hand, has no data caps—yay! That means you can spend all the time you want attending Zoom meetings, streaming movies and TV shows, and downloading files from your email. No need to worry about network slowdowns or overage charges.

Pro tip:

A lot of internet providers have raised their data caps over the years, and some don’t have data caps at all. See our guide to data caps to find out which providers give you data limits and which don’t.

Contracts: Cox vs. CenturyLink

 Contract lengthEarly termination feeDetails
Cox Communications
1 yr., month-to-month option for $10/mo. extra$10 per each month left on contract (up to $120 or $240 depending on length of contract)View Plans
Month-to-monthN/AView Plans

CenturyLink has month-to-month contracts with annual term agreements. That means you can cancel your internet any time and you won’t have to pay an early termination fee, the dreaded fee that goes up with each month you have left on your contract.

Cox lets you choose between getting a package with an annual contract or without. If you cancel early on a plan with a contract, you’re on the hook for $10 for each month you have left in the agreement. If you pick a plan with no annual contract, well, you pay $10 extra per month on your bill. You’re not gaining much that way, so you may as well just sign up for the plan with the annual contract.

Installation: Cox vs. CenturyLink

 Installation optionsDetails
Cox Communications
$100.00 for professional install; free for self-install kitView Plans
$99.00 for professional install; free for self-install; $85.00 for phone jack install or DSL (if needed)View Plans

The official price for professional installation from CenturyLink is $99—but lately the internet provider has been offering installation free of charge, with no extra charges added to your bill. However, you may need to pay an additional $85 to install a phone jack for DSL service if you don’t already have one in your house.

Cox charges $100 for professional installation, which means a technician will come over to your home and set everything up. You can save money by installing your new cable setup yourself—an Easy Connect self-install kit doesn’t cost anything extra.

Availability: Cox vs. CenturyLink

Cox is available in 29 states, and you can find CenturyLink in 36 states. CenturyLink has a much bigger US network overall—more than twice the size of Cox’s service footprint. But there’s a lot of overlap between the two providers, and the best way to figure out availability where you live is by using our zip code tool below.