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Xfinity vs. AT&T Internet



Best for speed

Xfinity vs AT&T review | Cabletv.com

Price: $29.99–$299.99/mo.*

(4.03 /5)

Best for budgets

Xfinity vs AT&T review | Cabletv.comPrice: $50–$90/mo.

(4.09 /5)

The bottom line

Xfinity cable internet is not only available nearly everywhere, but also fast anywhere you get it. Cable is already the second-best connection out there, and Xfinity is building infrastructure toward the first-best connection: fiber. Unfortunately, the company’s fiber coverage is still limited, and its overall customer service reputation is the stuff of internet legend (read: full-scale contempt).

According to the numbers, AT&T does better by its customers, and its internet coverage is close to that of Xfinity’s. But right now, that coverage is mostly telephone-line DSL, the slowest connection available above old-school dial-up (yes, that’s still a thing) and satellite internet (which isn’t as fast as you’d assume). Like with Xfinity, AT&T’s fiber footprint is still toddler-sized.

 

Xfinity vs. AT&T Internet pros and cons

Xfinity

  • Pro: Fast speeds
  • Pro: Wide availability
  • Con: Terrible customer service reputation

AT&T

  • Pro: Excellent customer satisfaction
  • Pro: Wide availability
  • Con: Limited fiber coverage

Deals and promotions

Xfinity offers various discounted internet/TV bundles, some of which include HBO®, SHOWTIME®, and even Netflix service in the price for the length of the initial two-year contract.

If you order AT&T internet online and bundle AT&T Internet & DIRECTV, you can receive a $100 AT&T Visa(R) Reward Card.

How are Xfinity vs. AT&T different?

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ProviderXfinityAT&T
Type of serviceCable, fiberDSL, Fiber
Download speeds15 Mbps–2,000 Mbps5 Mbps–1,000 Mbps
Data cap1 TB1 TB
Contract1–2 yrs.1 yr.
Installation fee$60+$99
Customer satisfaction4.03/54.09/5
More infoView plansView plans

Data effective 11/8/19. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

 

On most fronts, Xfinity internet and AT&T internet aren’t drastically different. Xfinity’s speed range is higher thanks to its legacy coaxial cable lines, but its promise of 2,000 Mbps fiber comes with several caveats regarding availability and required equipment.

AT&T’s 1,000 Mbps connection—known as AT&T Fiber—is closer to the fiber norm, which would put both providers on equal footing once complete US fiber coverage happens. That’s still years away, though—by then, we could have bioengineered telepathic internet. Those could be some wild service reviews: stay tuned.

Get the hookup

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Xfinity vs. AT&T prices and plans

Xfinity pricing and plans

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PlanPriceMax download speedConnection type
Performance Starter $29.99/mo.15 MbpsCable
Performance Plus$39.99/mo.60 MbpsCable
Performance Pro$54.99/mo.150 MbpsCable
Blast! Pro$69.99/mo.250 MbpsCable
Gigabit$109.99/mo.1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps)Cable
X1 Gigabit Pro$299.99/mo.2,000 Mbps (2 Gbps)Cable

Data effective 11/8/19. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
For the first 12 months with a 1-year agreement.

Not all of Xfinity’s plans are available in all service areas. Being fiber-based, the insanely fast (and expensive) X1 Gigabit Pro will be the most difficult to get. You’d also need the gear to keep up with it—your five-year-old laptop probably won’t be able to achieve 2,000 Mbps, as Xfinity lays out.

The rest of the plans are cable internet, ranging from the aptly named Performance Starter (15 Mbps) to the impressive-for-cable Gigabit (1,000 Mbps). For the average user, we like middle plans Performance Plus (60 Mbps) and Performance Pro (150 Mbps), both of which offer plenty of speed at a manageable price.

Editor’s note

“I personally have the Xfinity Performance Plus plan. I chose it based on the price-to-download-speed ratio. It’s only $29.99 per month in my area and generally performs well. But I do get some buffering when I’m streaming Netflix and Hulu in the evening, which is probably because I share bandwidth with the other Xfinity customers in my building.

Other than that, the price makes it worth it, especially since I haven’t had any customer service problems like other online reviewers have experienced.”

—Mike Strayer, Managing Editor

If you’re running a home business where speed really counts, Blast! Pro (250 Mbps) or Gigabit might be a smarter option. Keep in mind that cable (and DSL) internet download speeds don’t mean equal upload speeds: for example, 150 Mbps download will get you only about 10 Mbps upload.

AT&T pricing and plans

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PlanPrice§Max download speedType
Internet 5–100$50/mo.5 Mbps–100 MbpsDSL
Internet 100$50/mo.100 MbpsFiber
Internet 300$70/mo.300 MbpsFiber
Internet 1000$90/mo.1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps) Fiber

Data effective 11/8/19. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
§For the first 12 months with a 1-year agreement.

Let’s just ignore AT&T’s Internet Basic plan—5 Mbps is barely adequate to send an email that simply says, “Couldn’t upload the attachment; will drop off a floppy disk.” So 1999.

The speed range of the Internet 5-100 package only looks confusing because it is; it’s dependent on the infrastructure of your area. Some locales have the line capacity to deliver only 10 Mbps, others can do 100 Mbps. DSL is uneven like that.

Fiber is a more uniform internet experience, in more ways than one. Unlike cable and DSL, fiber internet’s upload speeds mirror its download speeds—which means no more waiting for an hour for the latest episode of your Typography Talk podcast to upload.

Obviously, in the DSL tier, we’d recommend the fastest plan available. Also, any of AT&T’s fiber plans, compared to what you get with Xfinity, are a great deal price-to-speed-wise. If fiber is available in your neighborhood, we say jump on it.

Xfinity vs. AT&T fees and extra charges

 

Xfinity fees and extra charges

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FeesAmountMore info
Pro installation$60Learn more
Self-installation$29.95Learn more
Modem/router rental$11/mo.Learn more
Data overage fee$10 per 50 GB over 1 TBLearn more
Reactivation fee$6Learn more
Late payment fee$10Learn more
Taxes and surchargesVary by areaLearn more

Data effective 11/8/19.

As with any provider, most one-time fees are unavoidable—but you can purchase your own modem/router to use with Xfinity internet, which eventually saves you money over renting month to month. Just be prepared to do most of your own troubleshooting.

If you somehow surpass Xfinity’s monthly internet data cap (1 TB), you’ll be charged $10 for every 50 GB you go over. How much is a TB (terabyte) of data? You’d have to stream over 11 hours of Hulu shows every day for a month to hit it. (We’d be willing to put Letterkenny on a perpetual loop to test this, btw.)

 

AT&T internet fees and extra charges

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FeesAmountMore info
Pro installation$0–$99Learn more
Self-installation$35Learn more
Modem/router rentalIncludedLearn more
Data overage fee$10 per 50 GB over 1 TBLearn more
Reactivation fee$35Learn more
Late payment fee$10Learn more
Taxes and surchargesVary by areaLearn more

Data effective 11/8/19.

Unlike Xfinity, AT&T doesn’t have a rental option for its modems/routers: you either take the company equipment (included with install price) or shop for your own. Either way, you own it.

With the exception of the $35 reactivation fee (ouch), AT&T’s extra fees aren’t much different than Xfinity’s—including the 1 TB data cap. Our Letterkenny challenge still stands.

Installation

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ProviderXfinityAT&T
Installation fee$29.95–$60$0–$99
Type of installationSelf-installation/proSelf-installation/pro
More infoSchedule an installationSchedule an installation

Data effective 11/8/19.

Both Xfinity and AT&T can mail kits to your home for self-installation, which is a cheaper route if you’re looking at a simple setup. You shouldn’t need a technician to connect to a previously-installed cable or DSL line, since most what you’ll need is already in place.

From-scratch installation in a home or office with no existing internet hookup, on the other hand, will likely need a professional’s touch. The same goes for a new fiber installation, which uses different lines and equipment than cable or DSL. If you don’t know, call a pro.

Important note: Xfinity offers a 30-day money-back guarantee on its service, whereas AT&T allows only a 14-day trial period.

Equipment

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Modem/router model Xfinity
xFi Wireless Gateway
AT&T
ADSL Wi-Fi Gateway
Monthly price$11$10
StandardDOCSIS 3.0ADSL
Ethernet ports24
More infoView plansView plans

Xfinity and AT&T make their own modem/routers available for new customers, which can be helpful. Both providers offer 24/7 support and regular software updates.

If you don’t want to use the company gear and would rather buy your own third-party modem/router, there are several alternatives available for Xfinity and AT&T service.

Customer satisfaction

Overall Customer Rating
(4.03 /5)

Overall Customer Rating
(4.09 /5)

CableTV.com’s 2019 Internet Provider Customer Satisfaction Survey places Xfinity and AT&T near the top in overall rankings, with AT&T holding a slight edge. But when the numbers are broken down, each has its strong (and weak) points.

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XfinityAT&T
Overall score: 4.03/5Overall score: 4.09/5
Pros

  • High speeds
  • Excellent modem/router
  • Pros

  • Strong customer service reputation
  • Included Wi-Fi gateway
  • No data cap on Internet 1,000
  • Cons

  • Weak customer support
  • High prices
  • Cons

  • Limited fiber availability
  • 1-year contract
  • Low DSL speeds in some areas
  • View Xfinity plansView AT&T plans

    Bundling with TV

    Need TV service to go with your internet? Not a problem: Xfinity was a cable TV company long before it was an internet provider, and AT&T owns DIRECTV. We’ve reviewed them head-to-head, and we like both TV services for different reasons—either could complete a cool bundle.

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    Find your service

    Need to know more? Enter your ZIP code, and we’ll let you know if Xfinity and AT&T service your part of the country.

     

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    Our final take

    Xfinity offers more speed in more places, plain and simple. Its cables cover a good chunk of the US, and cable internet has upped its tech considerably in recent years to keep up with fiber. But more speed and more availability costs more money, and Xfinity’s customer-service reputation has inspired more angry internet threads than politics and Kardashians combined. (Maybe not more, but it’s close.)

    AT&T’s DSL internet, while not as fast as Xfinity’s, still hits decent speeds that an average household could make use of and more easily afford. AT&T Fiber is an especially great deal, if you can get it—since it’s rolling out aggressively, it could be available near you sooner than Xfinity’s fiber alternative. AT&T customers also seem to be happier—and you can’t put a price on that.

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    Xfinity vs. AT&T FAQ

    Which has faster internet, Xfinity or AT&T?

    Comparing base delivery systems, Xfinity’s cable internet has faster speeds than AT&T’s phone-line DSL—more than double, in some cases. Most internet surfers probably wouldn’t see much difference between 100 Mbps (AT&T’s top DSL speed) and 250 Mbps (Xfinity’s second-best cable speed), but connection speed becomes more dramatically noticeable in the 1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps) range.

    What’s the difference between DSL, cable, and fiber internet?

    DSL (digital subscriber line) uses telephone wires, while cable internet is delivered through cable TV lines. Fiber, the newest (and least available) internet upgrade, uses fiber-optic glass strands to transfer data as bursts of light. It’s the fastest and most efficient internet connection there is in 2019, but the infrastructure hasn’t yet caught up to the demand.

    How do I find out if Xfinity or AT&T is available in my area?

    You can use CableTV.com’s handy Availability Map to see if Xfinity or AT&T (or another internet provider) services your ZIP code.

    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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