AT&T vs. Xfinity
More affordable 1 Gig plan
Top-notch customer satisfaction
Fiber coverage areas are limited
The Bottom Line
AT&T is a perfect choice for customers who want fast speeds and strong customer service. It ranked second place in our annual survey for customer satisfaction, and as fiber coverage grows, the fastest plans will be available for more users in more places. The Internet 1000 plan is also significantly cheaper than Xfinity’s equivalent offering.
Xfinity is best for those that need even faster speeds over a wider coverage area. Xfinity availability is outstanding, and it offers some of the fastest speeds you’ll find from any provider. It ranks lower in customer satisfaction, though, so there’s a tradeoff.
Type of Service
Type of Service
$40.00–$90.00 per month
$29.99–$299.95 per month
Included in package price
Start at $11.00 per month
$99.00; waived when purchasing a Triple Play bundle
Starts at $60.00
Data effective 10/12/18. Not all offers available in all areas.
Plans & Pricing
Let’s jump straight into the nitty-gritty details of what each provider offers and see how they stack up to one another.
|Internet Basic 5||$40.00 per month for 12 months||5 Mbps||DSL|
|Internet 10/25/50/75/100||$50.00 per month for 12 months||10–100 Mbps||DSL|
|Internet 100||$50.00 per month for 12 months||100 Mbps||Fiber|
|Internet 300||$70.00 per month for 12 months||300 Mbps||Fiber|
|Internet 1000||$90.00 per month for 12 months||1,000 Mbps||Fiber|
|Package||Internet Basic 5|
|Price||$40.00 per month for 12 months|
|Price||$50.00 per month for 12 months|
|Price||$50.00 per month for 12 months|
|Price||$70.00 per month for 12 months|
|Price||$90.00 per month for 12 months|
AT&T packages run the gamut from tortoise to hare. One thing they all have in common is affordability—they all represent a good price for the speed you get. The only possible exception is Internet 5, which offers a lot less bang for the buck than any of the others.
The big spread of plans at the $50.00 price point is mainly the result of different infrastructure in different areas. You’re not likely to see all these at the same price in a given location, since everyone would take the fastest speed. Some areas have the lines to push 75 or 100 Mbps, while others can only support 10 or 25.
|Performance Starter||$29.99 per month*||15 Mbps||Cable|
|Performance Plus||$39.99 per month*||60 Mbps||Cable|
|Performance Pro||$54.99 per month*||150 Mbps||Cable|
|Blast! Pro||$69.99 per month*||250 Mbps||Cable|
|Gigabit||$109.99 per month *||1,000 Mbps||Cable|
|X1 Gigabit Pro||$299.95 per month||2,000 Mbps||Fiber|
|Price||$29.99 per month*|
|Price||$39.99 per month*|
|Price||$54.99 per month*|
|Price||$69.99 per month*|
|Price||$109.99 per month *|
|Package||X1 Gigabit Pro|
|Price||$299.95 per month|
*For the first 12 months with a 1-year agreement.
Xfinity also offers a large range of packages, from the affordable 15 Mbps Performance Starter to the ludicrously fast (and expensive) 2,000 Mbps X1 Gigabit Pro. Did we mention that’s 2,000 Mbps download and upload? Yup.
When you’re comparing AT&T and Xfinity, you’ll see the speeds are pretty similar, but AT&T tends to be slightly cheaper for a given speed range. This is most noticeable at the Gigabit level, where AT&T Internet 1000 is $90.00 per month and Xfinity Gigabit is $109.99—that’s a twenty-dollar difference.
One thing to keep in mind with Xfinity plans is that they vary quite a bit from one place to another. Depending on where you live, you may see only a few of these, or you may see some options that aren’t on this list at all. These are the most common packages offered, though.
AT&T and Xfinity both offer a similar range of speeds in their plans—until you get to the high end. The Xfinity X1 Gigabit Pro package, at 2,000 Mbps, is one of the fastest internet packages available, and AT&T just doesn’t offer anything comparable. That said, Gigabit Pro availability is still limited, and the price probably puts it out of reach for most.
Apart from that, these two providers are pretty evenly matched when it comes to speed.
AT&T plans are either DSL or fiber, and the one you end up with depends on which plan you pick and where you’re located. Fiber availability is still somewhat limited, though it’s improving.
Xfinity is mostly cable, the one exception being the fiber-optic Gigabit Pro. In practical terms, this means Xfinity tends to have faster speeds available over a wider area—, though again, this can depend a lot on where you live.
AT&T plans—with the important exception of Internet 1000—all come with 1 TB data caps. Once you’ve reached your limit for the month, you can pay $10.00 per 50 GB for additional data. The fastest plan, AT&T 1000, comes with unlimited data, so you can enjoy those 1 Gig speeds without worry.
Xfinity packages all come with 1 TB caps, as well. That includes the Gigabit and Gigabit Pro plans, which is unfortunate, since you could eat through that limit pretty quick at those speeds. Like AT&T, you pay $10.00 per 50GB over the cap to keep using your service at full speed.
Xfinity also allows you to purchase an unlimited option with any plan for an extra $50.00 per month, though, which is a great option for those who consistently go over the cap. While we’d prefer straight-up unlimited data be included with every plan, that’s just not the world we live in, so we’ll take what we can get!
AT&T and Xfinity both provide modems and routers you can rent online. The equipment is decent—it can handle the speeds each provider offers, and it’ll let you to set up a home Wi-Fi network. For most users, we think the provided equipment is plenty, but if you feel your network is slower than it should be, or you have specific needs (like a very large home), you also have the option of using your own gear.
The nice thing about renting ISP equipment is that it’s usually either very affordable or simply rolled into the price of your internet plan, so you never feel like you’re shelling out big bucks. That’s true for both AT&T and Xfinity: AT&T includes it’s gear in the monthly package rates, while Xfinity charges a reasonable $11.00 per month for basic equipment.
Using Your Own Equipment
As we mentioned above, ISP-provided equipment tends to be pretty basic, especially in the router department. It gets the job done, but it often lacks some of the advanced features of dedicated third-party wireless routers.
If you need a little more juice from your networking equipment, we recommend picking up your own wireless router. This also has the advantage of saving you the $11.00 monthly equipment fee if you have Xfinity.
Here are a few great routers we recommend for various needs:
Stats and advertised services are one thing—what’s it like to actually live with AT&T or Xfinity for a year or two?
Both providers charge an installation fee. Xfinity starts at $60.00 and goes up from there based on what equipment or additional work is needed. AT&T starts at a whopping $99.00—one of the highest in the industry. However, you can have it waived if you order a Triple Play bundle, which is a nice bonus.
How do these providers stack up in terms of customer service? Pretty good, it turns out. AT&T is one of the highest-ranked providers in our customer satisfaction survey, and Xfinity has made great strides to improve its reputation following a few rocky years. Each has plenty of ways to contact them should you need help, including online chat, DIY support guides, and good old telephone.
No company is perfect, but we think you’ll be happy with the service from either provider. That said, AT&T does get the nod here.
Both providers offer mobile apps to allow account management from your iPhone, iPad, and Android device. Typically, these provider apps have low ratings and tons of user complaints about performance. Both AT&T and Xfinity manage to avoid that with solid user experiences that make the apps actually useful.
Availability and Coverage
When it comes to availability, Xfinity is in more states (40, compared to 21 for AT&T), but AT&T has service where it counts, and as a result actually covers more customers. Still, these are some of the most widespread internet service providers in the US—we doubt you’ll have a hard time getting service with either.
Advantages and Disadvantages of AT&T and Xfinity
Let’s sum up the pros and cons of each provider.
- Strong customer service scores
- Fast speeds
- Affordable 1 Gig plan
- Excellent bundles with DIRECTV
- Limited fiber availability
- Limits on data use for most plans
- Top-tier speeds
- Wide availability
- Unlimited data options on all plans
- High marks for reliability
- More expensive for similar speeds
- Fastest plans have limited availability
Get More Value with a Bundled Package
If you’re going to have both internet and TV service, it almost always makes sense to bundle with the same provider. You can save quite a bit of money this way, and it’s just more convenient.
Xfinity and AT&T both offer great TV services. For AT&T customers, we recommend DIRECTV. Since they’re owned by the same company, you can get bundles easily, and DIRECTV is one of the best TV services on the market. We especially like the ULTIMATE package, with 250+ channels for $60.00 per month. Xfinity has Triple Plays with 140+ channels starting at just $89.99 per month.
Want to Know More?
Here are answers to some of the most common questions we see.
What is Gigabit internet?
Gigabit internet is internet service with speeds of around 1,000 Mbps (or more). And it is fast. To put that in perspective, you can download a whole HD-quality movie onto your hard drive in under two minutes. Look out, Usain Bolt.
Why does fiber still have such limited availability?
Basically, it’s expensive. Many cities have fiber lines already installed, but they’re not run directly to homes, which is what would allow you to get fiber access for your home network. Instead, these lines have to be installed separately for each customer, and it adds up. Coverage is expanding gradually, though.
Is cable or fiber internet better?
Fiber has the potential to be a lot faster than traditional cable lines, simply due to the technology involved. The first widely available Gigabit plans were fiber-based for this reason. However, there are some cable providers that manage to get Gigabit speeds on the older coaxial cable lines, like Xfinity.
This really isn’t a clear-cut match-up. It’s honestly hard to go wrong with either of these ISPs. In the end, though, we recommend AT&T for those who value customer service but still want fast speeds. For those that need some of the fastest speeds around, though, Xfinity is tough to beat with that 2,000 Mbps Gigabit Pro plan.
Do you have a favorite? Let us know in the comments.
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.