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Best Cable Internet Providers of 2019

Xfinity

Best overall

Spectrum

Best value

Cox

Best basic service


The bottom line

Coaxial cable-delivered internet may be two decades old, but it’s still one of the fastest and most readily available ways to get connected to the web.

If you’ve outgrown DSL (which is likely) and fiber hasn’t yet reached your neighborhood (even more likely), cable is your best ‘net bet.

The choices aren’t numerous, but they are varied. We’ve reviewed five cable internet providers based on price, speed, and contract length, as well as US coverage.

Before you read any further, you may want to check out our availability map tool to see which services are in your area. Don’t be surprised if there’s only one; we live in an age of overnight acquisitions and consolidations.

Best cable internet packages

Starting price Download speeds Contract length Plans
$29.99/mo.* 15–1000 Mbps 1 yr.
$44.99/mo.** 100 – 400 Mbps 1 yr.
$19.99/mo.*** 10–1000 Mbps 1 yr.
$39.99/mo.**** 60–1000 Mbps 1 yr.
$44.99/mo.***** 200–400 Mbps 1 yr.

Data as of 08/05/19. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

*For the first 12 or 24 months. Some packages require a 1- or 2-year agreement.
**For the first 12 months.
***For the first 12 months with a 1-year agreement.
****Plus, activation, installation and monthly modem rental fees.
*****For the first 12 months.

Besides availability, one of the most convenient aspects of cable internet is being able to bundle it with TV and phone service at a discount—which any provider will hound you about. We think that’s fine if you want it, but you’ll want to read the fine print to avoid getting locked in to an extra service you may not need.

Xfinity

Best Overall

The specs

  • Pricing: $29.99–$69.99/mo.
  • Download speeds: 15–250 Mbps

Pros

  • Wide availability
  • Variety of plans

Cons

  • Slow upload speeds
  • Lackluster customer service

Xfinity, part of Comcast, is the o.g. of cable internet and has the widest availability of all the providers reviewed here.

Both East and West Coasts are almost completely wired for Xfinity, as are several pockets of the country in between—like the Rockies in particular.

Since Xfinity was originally a TV service, you’ll be sold hard to bundle cable TV with your internet hookup—and a landline digital phone, too, because that’s still a thing.

Whether or not you’ll want those additional services is up to you. But, as a straight-up internet provider, Xfinity offers some high-speed packages at competitive prices—even in areas where there’s no cable internet competition.

You can use your own modem and router with Xfinity cable internet service, but the provider’s xFi Gateway modem/router is a slick piece of Wi-Fi tech you might want to take advantage of. It can power a full home security system and you can add xFi pods to create a Wi-Fi mesh system that eliminates signal dead spots in your house.

We recommend Xfinity’s Performance Pro plan, which delivers 150 Mbps of download speed for $54.99 a month. Combined with Xfinity’s bundle options and xFi extras, it’s one of the best, and fastest, deals in cable internet.

Xfinity plans

Price Download speed Contract length
$29.99/mo. 15 Mbps 1 yr.
$39.99/mo. 60 Mbps 1 yr.
$54.99/mo. 150 Mbps 1 yr.
$69.99/mo. 250 Mbps 1 yr.
$70.00/mo. 1000 Mbps 1 yr.

Data as of 08/05/19. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. Pricing shown for the first 12 months with a 1-year agreement.

Spectrum

Best value

The specs

  • Pricing: $44.99/mo.
  • Download speeds: up to 100 Mbps

Pros

  • Low price
  • High speed

Cons

  • One plan
  • Brand confusion

In 2015, Charter Communications acquired rivals Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks and moved all residential cable internet operations over to the Spectrum brand.

This resulted in a whole lot of cable internet coverage—Spectrum is second only to Xfinity in reach—and a bit of brand-name confusion.

Boring corporate-speak aside, you just want to know where Spectrum is available and if it’s any good, right? The answers are pretty much everywhere in the eastern, western, and northern US, and the service is speedy and solid.

It’s also ridiculously simple, as Spectrum offers just one cable internet plan—indecisive shoppers rejoice.

The 100 Mbps Spectrum Internet plan goes for $44.99 a month (guaranteed for 12 months). That price includes the modem rental fee, and Wi-Fi connectivity to Spectrum mobile hotspots.

So we recommend Spectrum’s 100 Mbps plan because, well, it’s the only one.

Spectrum plan

Price Download speed Contract length
$44.99/mo. 100 Mbps 1 yr.
$69.99/mo. 400 Mbps

All package and pricing information is current as of 08/05/19 and subject to change.

Cox

Best basic service

The specs

  • Pricing: $19.99–$69.99/mo.
    Download speeds: 10–300 Mbps

Pros

  • High speeds
  • Variety of bundles

Cons

  • Limited availability

Cox Communications internet service covers just 18 states, concentrated mostly in the southwest, the eastern, the southeast, and the central US.

It’s not the most widely available cable internet provider, but it is among the fastest. Cox promises up to 300 Mbps of download power, near the ceiling for cable internet speed.

The Ultimate Internet 300 Mbps plan is a little on the pricey side at $69.99 a month, but Cox offers three cheaper cable internet alternatives for those on tighter budgets. There are also a variety of bundling options that can include TV service, digital phone service, or both if you want.

Cox internet service comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, up to 10 @cox email addresses, and McAfee premium virus protection at no extra charge.

Of Cox’s plans, we recommend the Internet Preferred 100 Mbps cable internet plan, which offers plenty of family bandwidth for a not-astronomical $49.99 a month.

Cox plans

Price Download speed Contract length
$19.99/mo. 10 Mbps 1 yr.
$29.99/mo. 30 Mbps 1 yr.
$49.99/mo. 100 Mbps 1 yr.
$69.99/mo. 300 Mbps 1 yr.
$99.99/mo. 1000 Mbps 1 yr.

Data as of 08/05/19. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. Pricing shown for the first 12 months with a 1-year agreement.

Mediacom

Best bundles

The specs

  • Pricing: $39.99–$69.98/mo.
    Download speeds: 60–500 Mbps

Pros

  • High download speeds
  • Low prices

Cons

  • Limited choices
  • Slow upload speeds

Mediacom cable internet in available in 21 states in the Midwest, the South, and the Southwest. The provider offers similar price-to-speed ratios as other providers reviewed here, as well as bundles with TV and phone service.

Mediacom doesn’t bother with low cable internet speeds. Its plans start with a 60 Mbps hookup at $39.99 a month, topping out at a 100 Mbps (bundled) plan at $99.98 a month. Those are decent download speeds considering the price points.

We recommend Mediacom’s Internet 60 plan at $39.99 a month for straight-up cable internet. Since Mediacom’s bundles are particularly good deals, we’ll also suggest the Xtream 100 Silver plan, which includes 100 Mbps of download speed, 170-channel TV service, and digital phone.

Mediacom plans

Price* Download speed Contract length
$39.99/mo. 60 Mbps 1 yr.
$49.99/mo. 100 Mbps 1 yr.
$99.98/mo. 100 Mbps 1 yr.
$59.99/mo. 200 Mbps 1 yr.
$69.99/mo. 500 Mbps 1 yr

Data as of 08/05/19. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
*For 12 months. Plus, activation, installation and monthly modem rental fees.

Optimum

Best speeds

The specs

  • Pricing: $44.99–64.99/mo.
  • Download speeds: 200–400 Mbps

Pros

  • High speeds
  • Low prices

Cons

  • Limited availability
  • Expensive bundles

Optimum provides cable internet service to New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut. The company, owned by Altice since 2016, also delivers TV and digital phone services.

Sheer speed is Optimum’s biggest selling point: the cable internet plans start at 200 Mbps, maxing out at 400 Mbps.

Those aren’t quite fiber-optic speed numbers, but they’re still higher than most other cable internet providers can claim.

We recommend the Optimum 200 cable internet plan, which delivers a more-than-adequate 200 Mbps of download speed (and 35 Mbps of upload speed) for just $44.99 a month.

Optimum plans

Price Download speed Contract length
$44.99/mo. 200 Mbps 1 yr.
$54.99/mo. 300 Mbps 1 yr.
$64.99/mo. 400 Mbps 1 yr.

Data as of 08/05/2019. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. Pricing shown for the first 12 months.

Cable internet factors to consider

How much speed do you need?

Triple-digit download speeds look impressive, but do they really affect your internet experience? Well, it depends on what you’re doing and how many others are doing it at the same time.

Cable internet performance can be slowed by not only usage in your household, but also the neighborhood—cable shares bandwidth, so peak hours (like when everyone jumps online after work around 5 p.m.) will sometimes be noticeably sluggish.

Here are some basic cable internet download speed guidelines to follow:

  • 25–50 Mbps: One- or two-person household; internet browsing, video streaming.
  • 50–100 Mbps: Four- or five-person household; internet, video streaming, gaming.
  • 100–200 Mbps: Six-or-more-person household; internet, video streaming, gaming, work-from-home activity.
  • 200–500 Mbps: Internet to your heart’s content.

What about upload speed?

If you’re working from home, chances are you’ll be uploading large files and video-conferencing between gaming sessions and YouTube breaks (no judgement here).

If that’s the case, you’ll need to know that cable internet upload speeds, as with DSL, are typically half of its download speeds or less.

Depending on your baseline cable internet speed, it could take an hour or more to upload the latest episode of your true-crime podcast—can your fans wait that long?

If you need faster upload times, look into fiber internet, which offers equal download/upload speeds.

And what about data caps?

Data caps are evil; look out for them.

Depending on the cable internet provider and plan, exceeding a predetermined data limit (typically 1 TB) will cost you a penalty fee.

Sure, a terabyte is a lot of data—almost 120 hours of HD video, for reference—but cap-free unlimited internet plans are still preferable where available. You never know when the urge to binge-watch all five seasons of Ghost Whisperer will strike (though the apparition in your attic does).

About the Author

Bill Frost has been a journalist and TV reviewer since the 4:3-aspect-ratio ’90s. His pulse-pounding prose has been featured in The Salt Lake Tribune, Pacific Northwest Inlander, Las Vegas Weekly, and many other dead-tree publications. In addition to his CableTV.com work, Bill is currently a senior writer and streaming TV columnist at SLUGMag.com. By night, Bill cranks a Flying V with his band at the bar.

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