Windstream vs Cox
Type of Service
Starts at $34.99 per month
$9.99 per month
$0 (self-installation), $35 (professional installation)
Type of Service
$29.99–$79.99 per month
$9.99 per month
$20 (self-installation), $75 (professional installation)
*Pricing and speeds are current as of 10/03/17. Pricing and speeds are subject to change. Not all offers are available in all areas.
Should I Choose Windstream or Cox as my High-Speed Internet Service Provider?
Choose Windstream for transparent pricing and billing practices. While few Internet Service Providers (ISPs) receive accolades for how they bill customers, Windstream offers some assurances that are hard to come by in this industry. The provider’s price guarantees and the lack of long-term contracts ensure that you’ll know what you’re paying for, why you’re paying for it, and when you’ll pay for it. In short, if pricing is your primary concern, give Windstream a closer look.
Choose Cox for reliable internet service. Reliability matters because it encompasses how steady your internet connection is and will reduce the risk of lag and interruptions to your service. As such, reliability affects everything, from online gaming to video conversations over Skype or FaceTime. Cox fulfills its promise of reliability through cable internet, a technology that often proves more consistent than DSL or satellite connections.
Find and compare Windstream and Cox plans and pricing in your area:
Coverage area refers to where you find Windstream and Cox. Cox tends toward the southern part of the United States, while Windstream hails from the Midwest.
Windstream more or less settles into the breadbasket of America in states like Nebraska, Iowa, and Kentucky. The ISP claims some outliers, with Maryland as a top state by coverage area along with North Carolina. Still, if you live in the center of the United States, Windstream will almost certainly be an available provider for internet service.
You usually find Cox in southern states, although a notable exception exists with Rhode Island. This state, all the way over on the Eastern Seaboard, stands as Cox’s second-most covered area by state. Of course, Rhode Island isn’t that large, so “widespread coverage” may need to be taken with a grain of salt.
- Rhode Island
Customer Satisfaction Ratings
Many customers rely on the recommendations of friends and family when deciding on which ISP to use. The following ratings act in a similar fashion, sharing what customers think about Windstream and Cox. The ratings, based on a five-point system, come courtesy of HighSpeedInternet.com’s “Best Internet Providers in Customer Satisfaction” survey.
Installation & Setup
The installation and setup score encompasses both professional installations and self-installations, making it hard to predict which option scored better than the other. Windstream’s ranking, though, offers some security. Closing in at almost four stars, Windstream will make it easy to self-install internet equipment or enjoy the technician’s professional assistance.
Cox and Windstream attain close marks for installation and setup, so this category might not be much of a differentiator for some consumers. You’ll likely be satisfied with this service no matter which of the brands you choose. Just keep in mind that Cox charges consumers for both professional installations ($75) and self-installations ($20).
Expecting a high internet speed score for DSL only leads to false hopes and broken dreams. DSL will never beat cable or fiber internet. However, DSL’s speed stands in good stead if most of what you want to do is check email or Facebook.
Cable internet almost always turns in good speed scores, and Cox is no exception. While you won’t get the “blazing fast” speeds of fiber internet, you will be able to stream and play games without experiencing latency.
DSL can be prone to interference, which makes for a connection that’s choppy at times. You can, however, improve reliability on your own. First, remember to place the router well away from other sources of interference and, second, invest in some DSL filters to separate internet and phone signals.
Cox turns in an even better score for reliability than for speed, and this is a good thing. High speeds without high reliability won’t get you very far, if anywhere. Cox’s reliability means movies and games won’t stall out mid-play.
Few ISPs stand out for their billing practices, so Windstream’s score shouldn’t cause too much alarm. In fact, it doesn’t quite tell the whole story. Windstream employs price guarantees and other measures to assuage your billing concerns. You, after all, have buying power, and Windstream knows it. The ISP has to capture your loyalty, and one of the best ways to do that is through transparent billing practices that will keep you happy and informed about where your money is going.
Cox struggles in the monthly bill category, but most ISPs do. As competition for your dollars heats up, you should expect Cox to make improvements to its billing practices. Cox wants your business, which means the ISP will have to do something to attract your attention and wallet. It’s just a matter of time.
Technical Support & Customer Service
Windstream might not get five out of five stars for technical support, but the ISP’s site boasts answers to questions consumers actually ask—things like monthly rental fees, data caps, and installation costs. Windstream also uses a chatbot, Wendy, to answer your questions.
Cox lands in the middle of the pack for technical support and customer service. The score could change this year as Cox clears up how and why it employs data caps. Most consumers wouldn’t ever hit the cap, but the limitation can still make people wary.
Advantages & Disadvantages
- No long-term contracts
- Enhanced online and over-the-phone support
- Monthly rental fee
- Website paywalls
- Free security and antivirus for internet plans
- Free professional installation with triple-play packages
- Data caps
- Monthly rental fee
Most ISPs sell more than internet. They span the telecommunications spectrum, offering internet, television, and telephone services. Some also offer home automation solutions or business internet services.
Windstream TV and Bundles
Windstream delivers the trifecta: television, telephone, and internet. For television, Windstream bundles with DISH® TV, which comes with the option of adding on the acclaimed Hopper® 3 DVR. The digital TV service combined with the DVR lets you record up to sixteen shows simultaneously. Windstream’s home phone service is relatively basic, but it gets the job done. Windstream offers several bundles, allowing you to choose the plan that best fits your needs and budget.
Cox TV and Internet Bundles
Like Windstream, Cox provides residential telephone, television, and internet services. The services can be purchased a la carte or bundled together, an option some consumers use to get price breaks, locked-in prices, or other perks. Cox offers a branded TV experience, called Contour TV, and the Record 6 DVR with select packages. Cox also sells home phone service, with a variety of plans ranging from emergency calls only to international calls.
Windstream employs a couple of modem-routers, what the ISP calls a “Wireless Gateway.” The most common models are the Sagem 2705 and Actiontec T3200. You may be more likely to receive the latter since it features dual-band capabilities and beamforming technologies. Windstream says you can use your own equipment, but the ISP warns you could experience issues if you do. Self-install your Windstream Wireless Gateway.
Our modem-router recommendation for Winstream:
The Actiontec operates as a modem and router, minimizing the number of devices you need to connect to the internet. According to the product description, it comes equipped with a high-grade firewall, parental controls, and “smart antenna technology.” The third feature helps extend your internet signal throughout the home and to multiple devices.
Our modem-router recommendation for Cox:
NETGEAR’s modem-router serves as an upgrade to the Actiontec. You should purchase the NETGEAR if you need additional Ethernet ports or want dual-band connectivity. The dual-band feature can further minimize latency and service interruptions because it acts as a sort of “traffic cop,” monitoring and managing internet traffic inside your home.
For television, Windstream offers the option of bundling with DISH, which affords you access to the Hopper 3 DVR. The Hopper 3 allows you to record sixteen shows simultaneously. It comes with a price tag of $10 per month. If you own multiple television sets, you’ll also need additional receivers, called “Joeys,” to extend DVR capabilities throughout the home. Each Joey costs $7 per month.
Cox provides customers with a DOCSIS 3.0 Wi-Fi modem. It features dual-band technology, which helps with traffic and interference. Cox also provides optional Actiontec 802.11ac extenders to increase connectivity across your home. You can use your own modem, however, to avoid rental and installation fees. Cox provides a list of compatible modem-routers for all plans, excluding Gigablast. Self-install your Cox Wi-Fi modem.
Motorola’s cable modem and router comes with a “power boost,” a feature that can increase overall speed and range. The equipment also includes beamforming technology to strengthen performance. If you live in a large home or endure dead zones, you may want to give the Motorola cable modem-router a try.
If price is no barrier, give the ARRIS Surfboard a glance. Additionally, this cable modem and router offers a third function: telephone. The feature makes the equipment ideal for a home-based business owner. The cable modem-router also enables download speeds up to 1 Gbps, which may be of interest if you plan to upgrade your internet service at some point.
For TV, Cox provides the Record 6 or Record 2 HD-DVR. Both come with a monthly rental fee ranging from $21.49 to $28.49. The fees don’t stop there; each TV you have needs a Contour HD Receiver, and the receivers cost $8.50 per month. To avoid the fees, you can use your own equipment, but you’ll need to purchase the Cox CableCard ($1.99 per month) first.
What You Should Consider When Comparing Windstream and Cox
Types of Connections
You should start first with a consideration of internet type. Cox and Windstream use different mechanisms to deliver internet service, and these mechanisms affect speed and reliability. They can also impact price, installation, and setup.
Windstream provides DSL internet, using existing phone lines to deliver internet to your residence. DSL works great—as long as you aren’t trying to stream videos or host videoconference calls on multiple devices at once. DSL started as a single line to the home; it was never meant for six devices or more.
Cox offers cable internet, and it runs on coaxial cables, which are the same cables that cable television uses. Cable supports the high speeds necessary to stream games and movies. Cable, however, is typically dispersed throughout neighborhoods, meaning you share the connection with every other subscriber in the vicinity. Because of that, you may experience slower connections and download speeds during peak periods, like when everyone logs on after work or on the weekends.
About the Providers
Windstream got its start in Little Rock, Arkansas, as the Allied Telephone Company in 1943. In 2006, several companies merged together to create the Windstream of today, a telecommunications company that offers DSL internet, digital television, and home telephone, as well as some business and government services. Windstream continues to headquarter in Little Rock.
Cox Communications makes its home in Atlanta, Georgia, and serves as but one of many arms of Cox Enterprises. Maybe more interesting is that Cox continues to be managed by family members of the man who started it all: James Cox. His initial ambition was to own a newspaper, and the dream expanded from there. Today, Cox Enterprises provides internet, television, and telephone services through Cox Communications; continues to work in the media via Cox Media Group; and sells automobiles through Cox Automotive.
Now that you know more about Cox and Windstream, you can decide which ISP best meets your needs. To streamline the decision further, use the zip code tool below. Input your zip code, and it will show the ISPs available in your area.
Erin is a freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. She has over ten years of experience, with a background in marketing and creative writing