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Xfinity vs. CenturyLink Internet 2021: Plans, Prices, and More

From fiber internet to the Xfinity Flex, we break down the biggest features of each provider.

Best for speed

Price: $29.00–$299.95/mo.
Internet speeds: 15–2,000 Mbps

Best for cheaper fiber

Price: $50.00–$65.00/mo.
Internet speeds: 15–940 Mbps

Xfinity has fast, reliable cable internet packages and one super speedy (and super expensive) fiber plan—some of which are available without contracts (for a fee). And its xFi Advanced Gateway is a pretty sweet modem/router combo.

If you’re an internet god with disposable income, or a large family in need of maximum bandwidth, Xfinity’s equipment, reliability, speed, and value are for you.

CenturyLink has slower, less reliable DSL internet packages with fixed prices and no contracts. It also has a fiber plan that’s half the speed of Xfinity’s, but 80% cheaper—and still plenty fast. But CenturyLink’s modems are a mystery.

We recommend CenturyLink for everyone from independent singles to couples to families who don’t need super-fast speeds or surprise rate hikes.

Xfinity vs. CenturyLink: pros and cons

Xfinity

Fast, reliable speeds
xFi Advanced Gateway XB7 modem/router
Free Flex streaming device/service
✗  Fees for no-contract plans

Centurylink

 No contracts
Cheaper fiber service
✗ Poor range of speeds

Deals and promotions

Xfinity offers its internet-only customers a free streaming device/service called Flex. It offers hundreds of live TV channels and many thousands of on-demand movies and shows from Xfinity’s deep on-demand library as well as its integration of free streaming services like Pluto, Xumo, and Tubi.

Flex also works with your Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, and HBO subscriptions, along with Hulu and NBC’s Peacock services.

CenturyLink offers a free modem and installation (combined $299 value) for new customers when they sign up for the Fiber Gigabit plan online.

How are Xfinity and CenturyLink different?

Toe-to-toe: Xfinity vs. CenturyLink

Type of service
Price
Download speeds
Data cap
Contract
Installation fee
Modem/router rental fee
Customer satisfaction
Xfinity CenturyLink
Cable DSL, Fiber
$29.99–$299.95/mo. $50.00–$65.00/mo.*
15–2,000 Mbps 15–940 Mbps
1 TB Unlimited
On most plans
(additional fee for no-contract plans)
None
Self-installation: starts at $15.00
Pro installation: $89.99
Self-installation: free
Pro installation: $99.00
$14.00/mo. $10.00/mo.
4.03/5 4.09/5
View Xfinity plans View CenturyLink plans

Data effective as of publish date. Pricing and speeds are subject to change. Not all offers available in all areas.
*Paperless billing or prepaid required. Additional taxes, fees, and surcharges apply. Get the fastest Internet speed available at your location (max speed is up to 100 Mbps.)

You have choices.

Xfinity and CenturyLink are the primary providers in several areas. But you might have a third or fourth option you didn’t realize. Put in your ZIP code below, and we’ll list your area’s providers.

Please enter a valid zip code.

Xfinity vs. CenturyLink prices and plans

Xfinity prices and plans

Price Download and upload speed
$19.99/mo. Download: 25 Mbps

Upload: 2 Mbps
$34.99/mo. Download: 100 Mbps

Upload: 5 Mbps
$49.99/mo. Download: 200 Mbps

Upload: 5 Mbps
$64.99/mo. Download: 400 Mbps

Upload: 10 Mbps
$74.99/mo. Download: 600 Mbps

Upload: 15 Mbps
$84.99/mo. Download: 1,000 Mbps

Upload: 35 Mbps
$90.00/mo. Download: 600 Mbps

Upload: 15 Mbps
$299.95/mo.* Download: 2,000 Mbps

Upload: 2,000 Mbps

Data effective as of publish date. Pricing and speeds are subject to change. Not all offers available in all areas.
 For the first 12 months with a 1-year agreement. * With a 2-year agreement

Since cable internet technology is faster and more reliable than DSL, Xfinity has the edge over most CenturyLink plans. Most Xfinity plans require contracts (some are available month-to-month for a fee), but most of CenturyLink’s plans do not.

Regarding value, Xfinity’s cable plans are generally a better value than CenturyLink’s DSL plan. Xfinity’s Performance Starter Plus ($19.99 a month) and Performance Select ($34.99 a month) are 30%–33% cheaper than CenturyLink’s DSL plan, with 20%–40% faster speeds.

The next plan up, Performance Pro ($49.99 a month), gives you 200 Mbps. That’s double CenturyLink’s highest DSL speed for only a dollar more (CenturyLink’s DSL plans are all $50 monthly, regardless of speed).

Plot twist! When we get into fiber speeds, CenturyLink’s a better value than Xfinity. We explore this more after the table.

Choose Xfinity internet

CenturyLink prices and plans

Price‡ Download and upload speed
$65.00/mo. Download: 940 Mbps

Upload: 940 Mbps
$50.00/mo. Download: 100 Mbps

Upload: 30 Mbps

Data effective as of publish date. Pricing and speeds are subject to change. Not all offers available in all areas.
*Paperless billing or prepaid required. Additional taxes, fees, and surcharges apply. Get the fastest Internet speed available at your location (max speed is up to 100 Mbps.)

CenturyLink’s Simply Unlimited Internet DSL internet plan costs $50 whether you’re getting 15 or 100 Mbps, thanks to the unpredictability of CenturyLink’s DSL network. On the plan, you’ll get the maximum internet speed that’s available at your address. But with CenturyLink’s no-contract pricing, you’ll pay the same rate and won’t have to worry about annual price increases in the future.

CenturyLink Fiber Internet plan ($65 a month) gives you download and upload speeds up to 940 Mbps. For the same 65 bucks, Xfinity’s Blast! Pro ($64.99 a month) offers only 300 Mbps, and Extreme Pro ($74.99) gives you 600 Mbps. When Xfinity finally gets up to 1,000 Mbps with the Gigabit plan, it runs $84.99 a month.

But now, instead of comparing CenturyLink DSL plans with Xfinity cable plans, we’re comparing Xfinity’s cable speeds with CenturyLink’s fiber internet. Fiber is faster and more reliable than cable, and only fiber gives you symmetrical download and upload speeds.

What does that mean? Well, with Xfinity’s cable Gigabit plan, you get speeds up to 1,000 Mbps (download) and 35 Mbps (upload). CenturyLink’s Fiber Internet gives you more reliability, plus up to 940 Mbps (down and up)—for $20 less per month.

So, if you can get fiber where you live, that’s what you want. CenturyLink’s Simply Unlimited Internet can work if your address gets a download speed of at least 80 Mbps, but if you can’t, it’s much less of a deal.

Choose CenturyLink internet

Our recommendation

Xfinity does have a fiber plan—Gigabit Pro, with download and upload speeds up to 2,000 Mbps. That’s impressive speed. But at $299.95 a month, it’s nearly 5x the cost of CenturyLink’s Fiber Internet ($65), which we recommend instead.

If you can’t get fiber at your location, any Xfinity plan from Performance Starter Plus through Performance Pro gives you more bang for your buck than CenturyLink’s Simply Unlimited Internet DSL plans.

Xfinity vs. CenturyLink fees and extra charges

Neither Xfinity nor CenturyLink hit you with fees or extra charges on your monthly bill. Huzzah!

Installation

Professional installation fee
Self-installation fee

Both Xfinity and CenturyLink offer self-installation at a deep discount (83% and 100%, respectively), so DIY is the way to go.

Don’t fret, technophobes: self-installation is easy. You don’t even have to do it yourself. Just order the self-installation kits and offer 20 bucks to a friend or neighbor. You’ll still save big over the pro-install price—and you won’t have to take time off of work to meet the installation tech.

Then again, letting the professionals do it does give you peace of mind. And it’s probably going to go faster since they do this stuff all the time, which means you can enjoy most of that half-day escape from work. Is that worth $90–$100, though? That’s up to you.

Modems

Whose computer-talk box is better?

Modem/router model
Rental price
Purchase price (through provider)
Supported speeds
Standard
Modem channels
Ethernet ports
Xfinity xFi Advanced Gateway (XB7) CenturyLink mystery modem/router
$14/mo. $15/mo.
Rental only $200
300 Mbps–1.5 Gbps 15–940 Mbps
DOCSIS 3.0 DOCSIS 3.0
Four dual-band Unavailable
4 (one 2.5 Gbps, three 1 Gbps) Unavailable
View Xfinity plans View CenturyLink plans

Xfinity’s xFi Gateway modem/router combos are popular with its customers—79% of them use one instead of a third-party option. The xFi Advanced Gateway XB7 is brand new and made for connections of at least 300 Mbps up to 1.5 Gbps.

You can’t buy the XB7 outright—you have to lease one from Xfinity for $14 a month. But leasing isn’t all bad because you’ll get free replacements if the unit fails and a free subscription to Xfinity’s Advanced Cybersecurity service (reg. $5.99 a month).

CenturyLink rents modem/routers for $15 a month and sells them for $200. But it won’t tell us which models go for that price. Instead, a rep sent us a list of CenturyLink-compatible devices. If you’d like to learn about those, here’s our guide to the best CenturyLink-compatible modems.

Although it’s 40% more expensive, we recommend Xfinity’s souped-up xFi Advanced Gateway over CenturyLink’s mystery box.

Customer satisfaction

In our 2020 customer satisfaction survey of internet providers, Xfinity finished in 2nd place with an overall score of 4.15 out of 5. CenturyLink came in 9th place out of 10 providers with 3.80.

Xfinity trounced CenturyLink across the board in our survey, although CenturyLink customers still liked the ISP’s strong value and relatively low costs.

CableTV.com’s experiences with Xfinity and CenturyLink internet

Members of our team include both Xfinity and CenturyLink customers. We also do some secret shopping with the providers we cover. Here are some of our takeaways.

Xfinity

The Good: I have the Performance Starter plan, and my bill is only $29.99 a month for 60 Mbps. That said, I don’t always get that download speed and, at times, have to suffer through some buffering while I’m peeping Big Mouth. But it’s cheap, cheap, cheap, so I’m happy to suffer a little. —Mike Strayer, Managing Editor

The Bad: I’ve been with Xfinity for close to 20 years. New customers pay $34.99/mo. for the Performance plan. My current rate, which includes a longtime customer discount of $17 per month, is $49.99. —Randy Harward, Staff Writer

CenturyLink

The Good: I’ve had CenturyLink DSL in the past. It wasn’t bad. I now have fiber and it’s been great. As far as I can tell, it hasn’t gone down once. —Bill Frost, Staff Writer

The Bad: I qualified for up to 1.5 Mbps, which is soooo bad. Despite this, CenturyLink still pushed me its base plan (15 Mbps) for $49.99, and the rep insisted that 1.5 Mbps would easily support multiple simultaneous HD streams and online gaming. Wow. —Randy Harward, Staff Writer

Bundling Xfinity internet or CenturyLink internet with TV

Xfinity offers double- and triple-play bundles that include up to 260+ channels and internet speeds up to 500 Mbps. Double-play bundles range from $79.99 to $139.99 a month. Triple-play bundles run from $119.99 to $159.99 a month.

Unfortunately, since breaking off its relationship with DIRECTV, CenturyLink does not currently offer bundling with TV—just home phone service. We’ll update this article if CenturyLink pairs up with a new TV provider.

Don’t wanna spend a bundle on a bundle? Try Xfinity Flex.

Xfinity offers its streaming device and service, Flex, free to its internet-only customers. You’ll get 200+ free channels of live TV, access to Xfinity’s vast on-demand catalog, a sweet XR15 voice remote, and access to paid subscription service apps like Amazon Prime Video and Netflix. Check out our Xfinity Flex review for more details.

Shop around

Wanna know what else is out there besides Xfinity and CenturyLink? Use this handy ZIP-finder tool to see offers from other internet providers in your area.

Please enter a valid zip code.

Final take

For equipment, reliability, speed, and value, Xfinity is your best bet. CenturyLink is limited by its DSL plans and mixed customer service, although its fiber internet plan is a great deal if it’s available in your area.

Xfinity vs. CenturyLink FAQ

Is CenturyLink DSL or cable?

CenturyLink’s internet plans are DSL and fiber.

What kind of internet service is Xfinity?

Xfinity is mainly a cable internet service provider, but it also offers a single fiber internet plan.

What is a good internet speed?

We suggest a minimum of 25 Mbps to accommodate all of the devices and services in your home. You can do a lot of streaming and gaming with that much speed, even on multiple devices at once.

Remember, though, that internet service providers guarantee only up to whatever speed comes with your plan. So you’ll first want to check with your provider to see what speeds you can get at your location.

If, after checking, you qualify for more speed than you need—and it fits your budget—consider paying for the next-fastest plan to accommodate for slow-downs that may occur.

Is DSL good for streaming?

DSL is good for streaming, but cable and fiber internet are faster and more reliable.

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