Type of Service

DSL, Fiber

Type of Service

Cable

Download Speeds

40 Mbps–1G

Download Speeds

25 Mbps–2G

Price

$34.95–104.95/month

Price

$29.99–$299.95/month

Equipment Fees

$9.99 per month

Equipment Fees

$10 per month

Installation Fee

Varies

Installation Fee

Varies

Data Caps

150–250 GB per month

Data Caps

1 TB

Customer Satisfaction

3.37/5

Customer Satisfaction

3.37/5

Type of Service

DSL, Fiber

Download Speeds

40 Mbps–1G

Price

$34.95–104.95/month

Equipment Fees

$9.99 per month

Installation Fee

Varies

Data Caps

150–250 GB per month

Customer Satisfaction

3.37/5

Type of Service

Cable

Download Speeds

25 Mbps–2G

Price

$29.99–$299.95/month

Equipment Fees

$10 per month

Installation Fee

Varies

Data Caps

1 TB

Customer Satisfaction

3.37/5

Pricing and speeds are current as of 3/22/17. Pricing and speeds are subject to change. Not all offers available in all areas.

The Verdict

Choose CenturyLink for transparent billing practices. CenturyLink may clock in at slower speeds, but the speeds come with budget-friendly, transparent prices. The ISP receives relatively good marks in the monthly bill and pricing category, so you shouldn’t ever be surprised by a hidden fee or price increase. Plus, with CenturyLink expanding its fiber-optic network, you could eventually upgrade to a higher speed plan.

Choose XFINITY for high-speed internet and entertainment. If you enjoy streaming shows and playing online games without latency issues, you should choose XFINITY. It offers high speeds and a slew of entertainment bundles, including its streaming video application. Comcast understands customers are on the go and focuses heavily on developing products that meet that growing demand.

To help you choose between the two Internet Service Providers (ISPs), we’ll cover all the facts you need to know. You’ll read about the ISP-provided modems, customer satisfaction ratings, and the advantages and disadvantages of each. You’ll also learn about the different types of internet offered by CenturyLink and XFINITY, as well as some information regarding its latest mergers and acquisitions.

What to Consider When Choosing an Internet Provider:

DSL vs. Cable vs. Fiber Internet

CenturyLink and XFINITY deliver internet service differently. One type of internet offered by CenturyLink is DSL, which relies on standard phone lines. Consumers who use DSL from this provider connect a modem to a phone outlet to receive service. CenturyLink also provides fiber-based gigabit Internet, but it’s offered in select locations and is often tailored to business needs rather than residential. For the purposes of this comparison, we’ll focus primarily on CenturyLink High-Speed Internet.

In contrast, XFINITY uses cable television lines to deliver internet service. Instead of connecting a modem to a phone outlet, consumers plug a modem or cable box into a coaxial cable socket. They can then connect a router to extend wireless coverage throughout the home.

 

Coverage Area

With CenturyLink® available in thirty-six states and XFINITY® from Comcast in forty, overlap between the two mega-providers occurs semi-regularly, so chances are that your location alone won’t make your decision for you. Compare XFINITY and Centurylink packages and availability in your area:

Top 5 States:

  1. Utah
  2. Arizona
  3. Colorado
  4. New Mexico
  5. Minnesota

Xfinity from Comcast

Xfinity Availability map

Top 5 States:

  1. District of Columbia (DC)
  2. Utah
  3. Illinois
  4. Colorado
  5. Maryland

Customer Satisfaction Ratings

Customer satisfaction ratings come from the HighSpeedInternet.com annual survey. We poll thousands of high-speed internet customers about their ISPs and then tally the results to determine an overall rating, as well as scores specific to elements like technical support, speed, and reliability. You can view our latest survey here.

CenturyLink

Overall Customer Rating

(3.4 / 5)

XFINITY

Overall Customer Rating

(3.4 / 5)

Installation & Setup

CenturyLink

(3.6 / 5)

CenturyLink beats out XFINITY in this category by the smallest of percentiles. When it comes to installation and setup, comparing the two ISPs truly is apples to apples.

XFINITY

(3.6 / 5)

XFINITY and CenturyLink DSL differ by only a smidgen in the installation category, meaning you’ll probably enjoy a standard setup process, but nothing worth writing home about.

Internet Speed

CenturyLink

(3.6 / 5)

DSL tends to operate at slower speeds, so the lower score in this category is no surprise. Unfortunately, this score may never ascend the rankings; consumers increasingly demand higher speeds, and DSL, by its nature, struggles to supply them.

XFINITY

(3.6 / 5)

XFINITY scores higher than CenturyLink DSL, but the better performance score is to be expected: cable internet almost always delivers faster speeds than DSL.

Reliability

CenturyLink

(3.5 / 5)

CenturyLink’s reliability score rests on the lower end of the spectrum. The recent acquisition of Level 3 may help improve the score this year, but only time and customer feedback will tell.

XFINITY

(3.6 / 5)

XFINITY falls near the middle in terms of reliability, a term describing speed consistency and overall performance. Cable tends to be reliable until peak periods, where the internet slows due to traffic congestion.

Monthly Bill

CenturyLink

(3 / 5)

CenturyLink doesn’t take home gold trophies in the billing category, but it far surpasses XFINITY. The ISP also ranks ahead of Spectrum Cable (formerly Time Warner Cable).

XFINITY

(2.7 / 5)

XFINITY surpasses only Mediacom in the pricing category. Customers have complained about complicated and confusing bills, surprise fees, and price hikes following a promotional period.

Tech Support & Customer Service

CenturyLink

(3.3 / 5)

Let’s just say CenturyLink probably won’t steal customers’ hearts with its score in this category, where it’s essentially tied with XFINITY.

XFINITY

(3.3 / 5)

Neither XFINITY nor CenturyLink put in stellar scores here, but XFINITY comes in a little higher.

Advantages and Disadvantages

CenturyLink

Advantages

  • Reasonable prices
  • Reliable pricing, especially with AutoPay enrollment

Disadvantages

  • Rental fees
  • Slower speeds
  • Hit-or-miss costumer service

Xfinity

Advantages

  • High download speeds (maximum download speed is 150 Mbps)
  • Constant Guard from Norton (included with all internet plans)
  • Consistent performance

Disadvantages

  • Rental fees for equipment
  • Cancellation fees
  • Complex contracts

Equipment

CenturyLink

CenturyLink prioritizes wireless modems, although its FAQ refers to the existence of a basic modem. The ISP typically supplies one of four models: Actiontec, ZyXEL, Westell, and Technicolor. The benefits listed below apply to the ZyXEL C2100Z:

  • Dual-band Wi-Fi
  • Four Ethernet ports
  • USB host port
  • Full-service CenturyLink technical support

For information about other modems, visit the CenturyLink Modem Compatibility page.

Xfinity

With XFINITY, you receive two choices: a modem or a wireless gateway. Many consumers prefer the latter since it’s a Wi-Fi modem, meaning it combines the functionality of a modem and router. To date, XFINITY Internet features three gateway models. The wireless gateways provide the following benefits:

  • Dual-band Wi-Fi
  • Multiple Ethernet ports
  • Backwards compatibility
  • Beamforming, a technology that extends Wi-Fi signal transmission and range
  • Preset security settings

About the Providers

CenturyLink makes its headquarters in Monroe, Louisiana, but its largest coverage area rests several states away in Utah. The ISP’s reach could be due to acquiring entities like Qwest Communications International Inc., and, most recently, Level 3 Communications.

Buying out the other companies gives CenturyLink access to infrastructure, which is precisely the point. With more connections in place via telephone lines and fiber-optic networks, the ISP can offer a greater range of services to a larger number of people.

When it comes to faster speeds, CenturyLink’s primary goal seems to be in the business realm. Many of its High-Speed Internet packages serve businesses rather than homes. However, CenturyLink still offers several affordable high-speed internet packages and select gigabit offerings to residential customers.

Comcast Corporation’s claim to fame is that it stands as the largest telecommunications conglomerate in the world by revenue. Comcast owns a number of companies, including NBCUniversal and Midcontinent Communications. This variety aids Comcast in delivering quality telephone and cable television and internet to millions.

Comcast headquarters in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with its largest internet coverage area falling in the nearby District of Columbia. Its second-largest area competes directly with CenturyLink; Comcast boasts a 78% penetration in Utah. The provider retains a more residential focus, as evidenced by its soon-to-be released XFINITY Stream application.

It can be hard to choose between CenturyLink and XFINITY, but you can make the choice easy: do you want faster speeds or lower, consistent prices? Whichever feature is the priority in your mind will determine where you send your purchasing power.

Find and compare high speed internet providers in your area: