AT&T vs. Cox
The Bottom Line
AT&T is ideal for customers who want the fastest speeds for the least amount of money. Its Internet 1000 plan gives you 1,000 Mbps (1 gig) for less than a hundred bucks a month. And its customer service is some of the best in the industry.
Cox also offers 1 gig speeds, but where it really shines is with slower speeds. Cox budget packages are perfect if you don’t need the fastest speeds (and most people don’t). It also boasts a faster average overall speed than AT&T.
AT&T vs. Cox Internet
Type of Service
Type of Service
$40.00–$90.00/mo. for 12 months
$29.99–$119.99/mo. for 12 months
Included in package price
Data effective 12/18/18. Not all offers available in all areas.
Packages & Pricing
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) offer different tiers of service through packages or plans. Usually the price increases along with the speed, and certain packages may be available only in certain areas. Let’s see how AT&T and Cox packages stack up.
|Internet Basic 5||$40/mo. for 12 mos.||5 Mbps||DSL|
|Internet 10/25/50/75/100*||$50/mo. for 12 mos.||10–100 Mbps*||DSL|
|Internet 100||$50/mo. for 12 mos.||100 Mbps||Fiber|
|Internet 300||$70/mo. for 12 mos.||300 Mbps||Fiber|
|Internet 1000||$90/mo. for 12 mos.||1,000 Mbps||Fiber|
|Package||Internet Basic 5|
|Price||$40/mo. for 12 mos.|
|Price||$50/mo. for 12 mos.|
|Price||$50/mo. for 12 mos.|
|Price||$70/mo. for 12 mos.|
|Price||$90/mo. for 12 mos.|
*Speed varies by service area.
AT&T service uses two different technologies: DSL and fiber. The type you get depends on where you live, with fiber mostly available in metropolitan areas for now. What’s the difference? Speed, speed, and speed. While AT&T’s DSL plans hit decent speeds, the big jumps happen when you hit fiber, going from 100 Mbps all the way up to 1,000 Mbps.
One thing to know is there are some AT&T DSL plans that work with a DSL-fiber hybrid technology—that means your signal will travel along fiber lines until it reaches your neighborhood, and then it will travel to your specific residence via a DSL connection. But AT&T isn’t forthcoming on whether or not your plan is just DSL or a hybrid, so it’s a mixed bag that depends on your area.
More good news is that AT&T pricing is competitive, especially at the higher tiers. Paying $90 per month for gigabit internet is a pretty great deal.
|Internet Starter 10||$29.99/mo. for 12 mos.||10 Mbps||Cable|
|Internet Essential 30||$39.99/mo. for 12 mos.||30 Mbps||Cable|
|Internet Preferred 100||$59.99/mo. for 12 mos.||100 Mbps||Cable|
|Internet Ultimate||$79.99/mo. for 12 mos.||300 Mbps||Cable|
|Package||Internet Starter 10|
|Price||$29.99/mo. for 12 mos.|
|Package||Internet Essential 30|
|Price||$39.99/mo. for 12 mos.|
|Package||Internet Preferred 100|
|Price||$59.99/mo. for 12 mos.|
|Price||$79.99/mo. for 12 mos.|
Cox packages are all the same type of service: cable. And they’re generally a better deal than AT&T at the lower end, but the top tiers are more expensive than comparable AT&T plans. Gigablast, in particular, is much more expensive than AT&T’s Internet 1000 plan. That said, if you don’t need superfast internet speeds because you routinely upload large files or game with your buds online, Cox is usually the better deal.
AT&T and Cox are neck and neck when it comes to speed. Each offers plans from just 5 or 10 Mbps up to 1,000 Mbps, which should be plenty of speed for whatever you need it for.
Advertised speeds aren’t always the same as actual speeds, but customers are still pretty happy with AT&T and Cox. Both providers tend to rank toward the top in our surveys.
Not sure how these speeds compare to your current plan? Use our speed test tool to see how your current service stacks up to what you could upgrade to.
AT&T uses DSL and fiber connections, while the Cox network is built on cable lines. In theory, cable should fall right between DSL and fiber in terms of speed and reliability. But in day-to-day use, we doubt you’ll notice the difference between comparable speed tiers. Both providers are reliable and should serve you well. The only major difference is that fiber lines are less common, so the fastest AT&T speeds are less available than cable.
AT&T and Cox both have 1 TB data caps. That’s going to be plenty for most users, though heavy streamers may run into some trouble. If you go with AT&T, they’ll waive the data cap when you bundle with TV service or subscribe to the Internet 1000 plan.
Your provider will give you all the equipment you need to get online after you sign up. This includes a modem, a router, and a cable box or DVR if you get TV service.
The nice thing about included equipment is it’s guaranteed to work with your service, and if you run into trouble, it’ll be covered by your provider. But it isn’t always free. While AT&T doesn’t charge you extra for the equipment, Cox adds on a $9.99 per month rental fee.
Using Your Own Router
Most providers will allow you to use your own equipment and skip the rental fees if you like—there are lots of options out there. This can be nice if you like customizing your equipment For example, if you need something faster, check out a powerhouse like the NETGEAR Nighthawk X10. If you need more range, grab one of our recommended long-range routers for whole-home coverage.
Most people look at three things with internet service: availability, price, and speed. Those are all important, but there’s more to the customer experience than just the service itself. What’s the installation process like? How does the ISP treat its customers? All these factors can be just as important as speed and price.
Installation & Setup
AT&T and Cox both charge hefty fees for a professional installation, but there are a few tricks to help ease the bill:
- AT&T offers a free self-install kit, though they’ll tack a $35 activation fee onto your first bill. Still, that’s better than the $99 for professional installation.
- Cox also offers a self-install option. If you order internet alone, the kit costs $20. If you bundle with TV, the kit is free, and the professional install drops to $50. And if you get internet, TV, and phone, both installation options are free.
Both Verizon and Xfinity offer 24/7 customer support. You can access troubleshooting guides and online chat assistance from both Verizon and Xfinity. If you’d rather speak to a person, you can do that too. You’ll find the customer service phone numbers for each of these providers on their respective support pages listed below.
AT&T ranked second in 2018 for overall customer satisfaction, beating out every other provider except RCN. Cox also did very well, landing around the middle. There aren’t any glaring complaints about either service on our radar, and we think you’ll be very satisfied no matter which way you go. But if customer service is a big selling point for you, stick with AT&T.
AT&T and Cox offer handy mobile apps that let you access your account information, view and pay your bill, and more.
Availability and Coverage
Both providers offer service in a similar number of states: twenty-one states for AT&T and eighteen for Cox. There’s a big difference in overall availability though: AT&T is much more widespread, so if you ever need to move, you’re more likely to keep your service with AT&T.
Advantages and Disadvantages
- Affordable 1 gig plan
- Wide availability
- Great customer service
- No data caps on bundles and Internet 1000 plan
- No standout budget plans
- Expensive installation fees
- Great budget and mid-tier plans
- Fast 1 gig speeds
- Faster average speed than AT&T
- Affordable bundles
- All plans have data caps
- Gigabit package is more expensive than AT&T’s
Get fewer bills and save money by bundling.
It makes a lot of sense to bundle your internet and TV with one provider. Not only will you get a simpler bill, but you’ll also usually get a better deal.
AT&T customers actually get a couple options for TV bundling: AT&T U-verse and DIRECTV. U-verse is a great fiber TV service with a lot of channels, and DIRECTV is a satellite service with nearly nationwide availability and excellent sports coverage. We’re fans of the DIRECTV CHOICE + Internet package, with 185+ channels for $85 per month for 12 months.
Cox offers bundles with its own cable TV service, Cox Contour. Contour is a solid all-around TV service with a good channel selection. We like the Silver Triple Play, with 140+ channels (including HBO®, CINEMAX, and SHOWTIME), 300 Mbps internet, and phone service for $109.99.
FAQs about AT&T and Cox
What does 1 gig mean?
The term “1 gig” refers to plans with speeds of 1 gigabit per second (Gbps), or 1,000 Mbps. These plans are fast, making all your online activities better, from simple shopping to heavy streaming. And they’re getting more affordable and easy to find every year. If these plans are available in your area, we highly recommend trying out gig speeds.
Is fiber better than cable?
In theory, yes. Fiber-optic lines technically have higher capacity, so they can move more information faster. But in practice it really depends on the specific provider and how it built the network. Takeaway? Don’t be a fiber purist. There are plenty of cable internet packages out there with 1 gig speeds, for example, and we wouldn’t rule them out just because they’re not fiber.
AT&T and Cox both offer a lot of great plans, so this choice comes down to one thing: how much speed you need. AT&T is a better deal for faster plans while Cox is better for slower speeds that come with budget and mid-tier packages.
Dave is a freelance writer with a passion for tech and how it improves our lives. His work has been published on a variety of sites around the web.