Both AT&T and Cox offer internet, phone, and cable TV packages. They're two of the largest providers in the country, which means both might be available in your area. But which one is better and how should you choose?
Below, we offer an in-depth review of AT&T vs Cox, analyzing the companies' strengths and weaknesses, available packages, and pricing so you can find the best fit for your needs.
AT&T vs Cox overview
|J.D. Power Rating*||4/5||3/5|
|Bundles with||Internet, Satellite TV (DIRECTV), and Phone||Internet, Cable TV, and Phone|
|# of states serviced||21||19|
|Speed range||5 – 1,000 Mbps||10 – 1,000 Mbps|
|Internet type||DSL, Fiber||Cable|
|Other features||No internet data cap when bundling, 190+ TV channels, included Wi-Fi Gateway Router||Internet data cap of 1 TB/mo, 140+ TV channels, rented equipment starting at $9.99 per month|
|Price range||$30 – $90||$20 – $120|
|Contract length||1 year||2 years|
*Average of different regions
Data current as of 1/27/2020
AT&T and Cox deliver internet services in several ways. Cox's cable internet is usually faster than AT&T's DSL. Still, you're sharing bandwidth with neighbors who are hooked on the same cable line, which could affect your internet speed, especially if you live in a high-rise building or busy neighborhood. Meanwhile, AT&T Fiber offers speeds up to 1000Mbps, and you don't have to share it with neighbors.
If you stream movies and use a lot of bandwidth, an AT&T bundle may be better than a Cox bundle. AT&T does not include internet data caps when bundling, while Cox Wi-Fi caps you at 1TB per month. Additionally, AT&T offers added value by including a Wi-Fi Gateway Router for free, while Cox equipment starts at $9.99 per month. You might be able to save a few bucks with Cox if you own a Cox-compatible router/modem and you don't need unlimited broadband.
AT&T's contract length is one year vs Cox's two-year term. If you're not familiar with the companies and don't have solid recommendations from a friend or neighbor, you may be safer sticking with AT&T's one-year contract, so you have the option to switch in a shorter period of time.
|Speed packages||DSL: 5, 10, 25, 50, 75, 100 Mbps|
Fiber: 100, 300, 1,000 Mbps
|Cable: 10, 30, 100, 300, 1,000 Mbps|
Cox is a better deal than AT&T at the lower end, with compromises like data caps and shared cable service that can reduce speeds depending on how many people are online at the time.
Cox's top tiers are more expensive than comparable AT&T plans, making AT&T a better choice for the fastest speeds, especially since the company will not cap your data usage if you bundle your services. Plus, AT&T offers free and modems.
If you use a lot of internet data, then AT&T's bundles are ideal as the company doesn't cap internet usage with bundled services. And unlike most providers, you don't need to add a residential phone plan to get the best deals.
AT&T Uverse internet pairs with satellite through DIRECTV, a favorite in our best TV providers review. You get about 50 more channels through AT&T Uverse than through Cox's cable TV service, although satellite TV comes with its challenges. Inclement weather and very cloudy days can interrupt satellite transmission, while cable television is directly wired and unaffected by weather.
The AT&T Uverse internet/ TV bundle offers free installation (normally a $99 cost), no activation fee ($35 in savings), no equipment fees, and three free months of premium channels. However, you must sign a one-year contract to get these perks.
Cox's best deals come from its Triple Play internet, cable TV, and phone service bundles. However, the bundles don't offer the same value as AT&T bundles. The two lowest Cox tiers include a modem, but you have to sign up for a two-year contract. Make sure you understand the promo pricing, as you'll get the promo rate the first year and the regular rate for the second year. Cox charges between $25 to $50 for installation and various fees for tech support visits.
So, which is right for me?
|If you…||Then you should go with:||Here's why:|
|Need basic internet and TV on a budget||Cox||Cox's internet speed is similar to AT&T's, and the baseline packages are cheaper, especially if you have your own equipment and can avoid the $9.99 per month equipment fee.|
|Love getting the most bang for your buck||AT&T||AT&T packages are ideal because they include free equipment and free installation.|
|Stream movies and use a lot of data||AT&T||AT&T bundles don't include data caps so you can stream and download as much as you like.|
|Love sports||AT&T||AT&T UVerse service through DIRECTV offers an add-on sports package with over 30 premium and local sports channels.|
|Live in an area with heavy rains or severe weather and love watching TV||Cox||Cox's wired cable TV service isn't affected by heavy rains or severe weather like the AT&T Uverse satellite TV service.|
How to compare internet companies
Start with what's available in your area
Before deciding on what type of bundle you want, check the availability in your area. Most cities are limited to only a couple of internet and TV providers.
What are your priorities?
Determine what you need most. Do you prioritize a good selection of TV channels, or do you prefer to watch TV through streaming apps like Netflix and Hulu? Do you only use the internet occasionally to check emails, or are you on it all day? Answering these questions will help you decide whether you'd prefer a TV provider that offers internet or an internet service provider (ISP) with additional TV services.
Figure out your need for speed
While fiber, DSL, and cable internet offer similar maximum speeds, several factors can affect the speed on a daily basis. For example, too many neighbors using a cable internet service at once can dramatically reduce your speeds, making DSL or fiber-optic a better choice.
The faster the speed, the happier your household will be when several devices are using your home Wi-Fi. Here's a breakdown of the FCC's speed guide on how much speed is ideal according to your usage.
|Light Use||Moderate Use||High Use||Very High|
|1-3 devices||5–10 Mbps||15 Mbps||25 Mbps||50 Mbps|
|4-8 devices||15 Mbps||25 Mbps||50 Mbps||100 Mbps|
|8-10 devices||25 Mbps||50 Mbps||100 Mbps||150 Mbps|
|10+ devices||50 Mbps||100 Mbps||150 Mbps||200+ Mbps|
Don't forget about your data use
Multiple devices streaming HD video will use a lot of data, which is an issue with Cox because the company caps monthly data at 1TB. If you're a light-to-medium internet user, then 1TB per month should be enough. However, if you think you'll use more, then go with AT&T, which offers unlimited data.
Don't assume the lowest monthly price is the cheapest
$20 a month sounds great, but what are the hidden costs? Answer the following questions to determine your overall costs:
- What is the installation fee?
- Do you have to pay for equipment monthly?
- How long does your promotional monthly price last? (Some promotions make you sign a two-year contract but only offer the promo price the first year.)
- What will your monthly price be after the promo is over?
- Do you have to pay for tech and service visits?
- How much are early cancellation penalties?