Comparison Shopping – CenturyLink or Cox Cable TV Service

CenturyLink has expanded quite a bit in the past three years, first with an acquisition of Embarq and then Qwest Communications last year.  With a presence now in 33 states, they compete with a number of cable television providers to offer both internet and phone service.  Additionally, Century Link is starting to deploy their own cable product called Prism TV in limited markets, while reselling DIRECTV in other areas they serve.  In this article, we will compare CenturyLink vs Cox Communications, evaluating your options if these providers serve your neighborhood.

The main difference beteeen Cox and CenturyLink is the last mile network built and service by each company.  CenturyLink was mainly a home telephone service provider, but now they use their copper network mainly for broadband internet along with dial-tone service.  Cox is a traditional cable television company, though they have upgraded their coaxial network to offer triple play packages including cable internet and phone service as well.

The main product customers will be considering when shopping these two companies is broadband internet service.  Both companies realize that this is fast becoming the most important communication product from the customers perspective.  With subscribers demanding a reliable and fast internet product, Cox and CenturyLink have made upgrades to their networks in recent years to bring even faster broadband speeds to the home.

CenturyLink offers a variety of speed with their internet product.  Because Qwest upgraded many highly populated areas with fiber optic fast internet, you may be able to get up to 40 Mbps in certain markets like Denver, Seattle, and Phoenix.  Other areas offer traditional DSL service, which may top out anywhere from 1.5 Mbps to 7 Mbps.  Obviously its wise to plug in your address on the CenturyLink website to see exactly what is available so you can make an accurate comparison to Cox internet service.

Cox offers broadband internet in the competing markets of Central Florida,  Las Vegas, Omaha, and Phoenix.   Cox Essential internet is the entry level plan available in all areas served by the cable company.  Offering download speeds up to 3 Mbps, you will double the speed of the basic CenturyLink internet plan.  From there, speeds go up significantly with Cox.  The Cox Internet Preferred plan offers speeds up to 15 Mbps, and PowerBoost up to 18 Mbps.  The Cox Premier Internet level moves up to 20 Mbps and PowerBoost up to 25 Mbps.

The top level Cox speed offered is the Ultimate plan, which is available in limited areas at this time.   Here with the PowerBoost feature you will top out at 55 Mbps, and the regular download speed is 50 Mbps.  This beats the top internet plan offered by CenturyLink which is 40 Mbps in the areas where available.

When comparing the options from Cox and CenturyLink internet, its important to figure out how much speed you need, and also factor in the bundle deals offered by each.  Cox deals are generally shorter in length, anywhere from four to six months depending on your area, while CenturyLink offers one and two year deals tied in with DIRECTV service in most areas.  Customers who have multiple users, work from home, or use streaming services like Netflix or Hulu will definitely want to go with a plan that offers more bandwidth than the entry level offers.

Now the next thing to consider when comparing Cox cable and CenturyLink side by side is the video service.  Cox Communications is a traditional cable operator, and they offer all of the things you would expect like pay per view, video on demand, and DVR service.  With CenturyLink, you will have two possibilities, as they offer their own Prism TV cable service in Las Vegas and a few other markets, otherwise you will have to go with DIRECTV satellite service.   If you are most interested in video service, you may want to read our Cox compared to DIRECTV article, which reviews both the pros and cons of each service.

While you will find similar channels with both Cox packages and DIRECTV, the main thing to look at here is the contract required if you go with satellite.  DIRECTV service requires a two year agreeement, and this holds true even if you get DIRECTV through CenturyLink.  Prism TV deals are better if you aren’t in a position to go with a two year agreement, as they offer a discount for six months of $20, then go to the regular price – with the option of being able to leave at any time without paying a penalty.   Prism TV operates much in the same way as cable, but uses the last mile telephone network instead of a cable connection.  This means no satellite dish is required to get service to your home.

The one thing you really might have to factor in when looking at the video options provided by these two companies is the Sunday Ticket package.  This football package has been a DIRECTV exclusive for more than a decade, and it is going to stay that way for at least a few more years.  If you live in an area served by Cox, you cannot get NFL Sunday Ticket, though the Red Zone channel is an option.   Hardcore fans displaced from their home NFL team will want to strongly consider a CenturyLink-DIRECTV bundle with the Sunday Ticket option, keeping in mind the  price is currently around $300 a season.

A final consideration for some will be the home phone options offered by CenturyLink and Cox.  While home phone service continues to be on the decline as smart phones become more popular, it is a nice option to have if cell phone reception isn’t good at your house.    So what options are available if you want a home phone line?

CenturyLink offers a five year price lock on their internet service, but the catch is you have to bundle service with a home phone line.  This works out if you want home phone service, though the price is $45 a month which includes unlimited nationwide calling along with eleven calling features.  With the price lock deal, subscribers get 1.5 Mbps internet for $19.95 monthly for five years with no contract.  As long as you keep your home phone line intact, you will not have any internet price increase.  Faster speeds are also available with the price lock guarantee, though you will pay $5 more for each speed increase at 12 Mbps, 20 Mbps, and 40 Mbps respectively.

Cox also offers multiple calling features with their home phone lines, with plans suited to your most important needs.  The Cox Essential home phone plan is $19.99 a month, with unlimited local calling, Caller ID and call waiting service.  A more inclusive option – Cox Premier Home Phone, runs $34.99 a month and includes unlimited long distance calling, plus quite a few additional calling features.  With either provider, you will have landline access to 911 emergency service 24 hours a day.

So which provider is better in the end?  It can be tricky to line up what each has to offer in a format that makes it easy to compare.  The best thing to do is decide what kind of services are most important before calling either company.  If a huge channel lineup is at the top of the list, start there and then add in the additional internet and phone features next.  Make sure to review each company’s website ahead of time to see what bundle options are available.  The Cox triple play is a good place to start initially, but once the regular price kicks in your bill goes up quite a bit.  Similarly, a CenturyLink bundle with DIRECTV is much cheaper during the first year, then prices revert to normal in months 13-24.


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