You just want the fastest speeds at the most affordable price. Why does it have to be so difficult to pick a high-speed internet provider? At HSI, we don’t think it has to be. We’ll give you side by side brand comparisons with a complete breakdown on services, equipment, and satisfaction ratings so you can make the best decision for your connected home.
Should you choose Xfinity by Comcast or Windstream as your high-speed internet service provider?
Comcast is the largest cable provider in the U.S., serving roughly 113 million customers across 39 states. This telecom behemoth operates a coaxial cable network that delivers high-speed internet, TV, phone and home security services under the brand name XFINITY. For more information about XFINITY, visit our Comcast provider page.
Windstream serves 10 million customers in 20 states, focused mostly on the South and in more rural areas. Its main internet service is provided on a DSL network utilizing existing phone lines to provide customers with connectivity. For more information about Windstream, visit our Windstream provider page.
As we look at side-by-side comparisons of these two internet service providers, keep in mind that this is also a comparison of two different types of service. Cable differs from DSL in that it offers superior speeds and is more efficient because it uses a coaxial cable to deliver internet rather than the phone lines as DSL connections do. While Windstream does offer faster internet via a fiber network, those speeds are only available in three metro areas (Lexington, KY; Lincoln, NE; and Sugar Land, TX). Since Windstream’s fiber product, Kinetic, has such limited availability, your choice will depend on how much speed your household needs and what your service priorities are.
Customer Satisfaction Comparisons
Installation & Set-Up(3.6 / 5)
XFINITY promises to respect your time, with 2-hour appointment windows and free installation. It is not, apparently, enough to balance out the pain customers feel having to deal with a reputation for poor service and a 2-year contract.
Installation & Set-Up(3.4 / 5)
Windstream should be ahead of Comcast here with a cheaper installation fee and no contract option, but it appears problematic technical support and slow speeds are keeping customer unsatisfied with their installation and set-up experience.
Internet Speed(3.6 / 5)
Comcast’s cable network is fast and reliable. And compared to the slower speeds of DSL, it’s no contest. XFINITY surges ahead here with fairly affordable bundling and wide spread availability.
Internet Speed(3 / 5)
Windstream serves some pretty remote areas, so the slower DSL speeds they offer may be the best you can get. For the average internet consumer, however, these speeds top out at a rate that will be frustratingly slow for playing games, streaming video, and just about any fun you might want to have on the internet.
Reliability(3.6 / 5)
Comcast has a fairly reliable network, but their reputation for service concerns gets in the way. Customers sharing crowded hubs may also be experiencing frustration with slowing during peak hours. Comcast does, however, have more advanced technology that holds up better under weather-related outages than the older DSL lines Windstream uses.
Reliability(3.2 / 5)
Yes, Windstream is scraping the bottom of the barrel here, well below most DSL, satellite, and cable providers. The culprit? Likely remote areas that experience frequent weather-related outages and an aging infrastructure that remains susceptible to flooding, wind, and storms.
Monthly Bill (Pricing)(2.7 / 5)
If that rating looks pretty terrible to you, it’s because it is. Comcast has repeatedly frustrated customers with hidden fees, confusing billing structures, and dreaded data caps that are ridiculously low in some markets.
Monthly Bill (Pricing)(2.9 / 5)
Windstream offers affordable bundles up front, followed by price guarantees on many of their services to ensure customers won’t feel the pinch later. While this rating isn’t stellular, it beats out Comcast by enough to make it an area of strength for Windstream.
Tech Support & Customer Service(3.3 / 5)
Comcast has worked hard to improve their customer service reputation, and this rating reflects that. While they still aren’t earning excellent marks, XFINITY support isn’t scraping the bottom of the industry barrel either. Lots of self-install resources and 24/7 support is likely assisting this effort. Baby steps, people.
Technical Support & Customer Service(3.3 / 5)
It’s hard to beat Comcast at scoring poorly in this category, but Windstream has managed it. Frustration with outages and slow speeds may be at the heart of this lower than average performance in technical support and customer service.
Advantages vs. Disadvantages
XFINITY by Comcast
- Faster internet speeds
- Widely available
- More Wi-Fi Hotspots
- Free installation
- Self-install options available
- Home security services available
- 2-hour appointment windows
- Contract required
- Poor reputation for customer service
- Confusing billing and hidden fees
- Data caps enforced in some areas
- $50 installation fee
- Modem rental fee $10/month
- Flexible bundling with satellite providers
- No contract
- Affordable bundles
- No data caps
- 2-year TV-price guarantee
- Lifetime phone service price guarantee
- No dat caps
- Less expensive installation fee ($35)
- Less expensive monthly modem rental fee ($6.99)
- Lower internet speeds
- No home security
- Less Wi-Fi Hotspots
- Not as widely available
- Lower rated reliability, technical support and customer service
XFINITY by Comcast
- Connect up to 4 wired devices
- Built-in security
- VOIP support
- Monthly fee: $10
- Up to 24 Mbps
- Support 8 PVCs
- 6 KV Lightning Protection
- Built in Firewall
- Monthly fee: $6.99
XFINITY by Comcast TV Service
Satisfaction rating : (3.4 / 5)
- More on demand options
- Affordable bundles
- More channels available in basic packages
- More reliable signal than satellite TV
Windstream TV Service by Dish
Satisfaction Rating: (3.4 / 5)
- Free HD service
- Superior equipment with Hopper
- Some weather-related outages with satellite
- 2-year price guarantee
Get XFINITY for faster internet speeds. Get Windstream for superior TV service with DISH.
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Comcast’s robust cable broadband connections can blow past Windstream’s, but faster speeds aren’t the end of the story. A reputation for poor customer service, problematic billing practices, and contract requirements can make XFINITY a tough pill to swallow for some customers. If you don’t utilize the internet for more than email and browsing social media, Windstream’s DSL speeds will do you just fine. Like to stream Netflix in HD or do serious online gaming? You’ll have to go with XFINITY from Comcast to get the speeds you need.
Choose XFNITY by Comcast for faster internet speeds, greater reliability, and wider availability.
If you can handle the slower speeds of Windstream, you’ll get a better value overall with more affordable bundles and price guarantees. And if entertainment is your main concern, Windstream partners with satellite providers like Dish to deliver exceptional TV service. You’ll have more channels and more options with superior equipment like Dish’s Hopper. You won’t have to worry about a contract for internet service or the dreaded data caps that Comcast has imposed in several major metro areas across the United States.
Choose Windstream for affordability, no contract or data caps, and superior TV service and equipment when bundled with Dish.
If you’d like to learn more about XFINITY by Comcast or Windstream, please see our in-depth editorial provider reviews. They give a detailed look at each company’s services and history along with areas of concern, summaries of equipment, installation processes, fees, billing issues, package details, and much, much more.
Want to see the complete data and ratings for high-speed internet providers? Check out the full run-down from HSI’s 2016 Internet Service Provider Customer Satisfaction Survey here.