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About cable

When most people think about pay-TV service, they think of cable. This means that other pay-TV services, like fiber and satellite, are often mistakenly called “cable”—but cable is the only service that truly merits the name.

With the help of coaxial copper cables, cable service delivers TV and internet straight to your home, connecting it through the round, twist-on outlet on your wall.

Cable is a popular service type offered through many providers. You may already know some of them:

Where you live will determine which cable providers you can sign up with. Enter your ZIP code to see if any cable providers offer service near you:

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Bottom line: Is cable worth it?

With fast download speeds and access to many HD channels, cable internet and cable TV are excellent options for your home entertainment.

You can get much faster speeds from cable internet than from DSL. And while fiber tends to have the best service and pricing, it usually covers only metropolitan areas. That means cable has a higher chance of being available in your area.

Cable TV and internet providers

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Cable TV and internet providerChannel countDownload speedLearn more
Cox250+Up to 1,000 MbpsVIEW PLANS
Mediacom170+Up to 1,000 MbpsVIEW PLANS
Optimum420+Up to 400 MbpsVIEW PLANS
RCN275+Up to 1,000 MbpsVIEW PLANS
Spectrum200+Up to 200 MbpsVIEW PLANS
Suddenlink340+Up to 1,000 MbpsVIEW PLANS
Xfinity260+Up to 2,000 MbpsVIEW PLANS

If you still have questions about the best provider for you, check out the comparison reviews we have on the most popular providers. But before you get too far in the weeds, double-check which providers cover your ZIP code:

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Pros and cons of cable

Pros of cable

  • Availability: With cable service accessible in all fifty states, you probably have a cable provider ready and waiting to get you started. It’s unlikely you’ll have trouble getting set up, since most modern homes have wiring for cable TV.
  • Speed: Cable providers can hook you up with fast internet speeds. Getting 100 Mbps might cost more with a cable provider than a fiber provider, but it’s still an option in many areas, which is more than DSL providers can say.
  • Bundles: Most cable providers offer TV and internet service, and they have special discounts when you sign up for both services in a bundle.

Cons of cable

  • Prices: Like most TV and internet providers, cable companies promote their special introductory pricing. These prices usually jump after one year of service, which leads many customers to search out a new provider to capitalize on another round of introductory pricing.
  • Customer service: Honestly, cable’s bad rap for customer service comes from just how many providers there are. When you get a big enough barrel, there are bound to be some rotten apples. Despite this, a few cable companies—including Optimum—maintain an excellent reputation for helping their customers.

Cable vs. fiber vs. DSL vs. satellite

Depending on where you live, you could have multiple service options for internet and TV providers. Let’s take a quick look at the types of technology you might encounter.

Cable

This service type uses coaxial cables for TV and internet connections. Bundling both services through one cable provider is easy and cost-effective. Refer to the list above to see which providers offer cable.

Fiber

Offering fast download speeds at affordable prices, fiber is the most advanced service type currently available. AT&T and Frontier both provide fiber options.

DSL

Though DSL doesn’t support TV, it offers internet service through phone ports in the walls of your home. AT&T, CenturyLink, Frontier, and many smaller local companies provide DSL service.

Satellite

If you’ve heard of DISH or DIRECTV, you’re already familiar with satellite TV providers. Satellite internet is also an option, though restricted data allowances make it less popular.

Cable internet

Cable is more than a TV technology type—it’s also a popular internet option. Thanks to advances in technology, you can get incredibly high speeds to your home with cable internet using a DOCSIS 3.0 or 3.1 cable modem.

While it’s difficult or impossible to get low-income cable TV (TV discounts for low-income families), many cable companies offer low-income internet plans. Staying connected to the internet at a reasonable price builds education opportunities for low-income families.

See what internet and TV providers are available in your area

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How does cable internet compare?

Internet options in towns and small cities

Many suburban areas will have access to both cable and DSL internet. As a general rule, cable internet comes with faster download speeds than DSL internet, or at least the same speeds at a lower cost.

Additionally, many DSL internet providers don’t offer their own TV packages. Most cable companies have both internet and TV, and they’ll give you a significant discount if you bundle both services through them.
Internet options in big cities
If you’re in or near a large city, you may have a choice between fiber and cable internet. Consider cost before you get swept up in the speed of 1 Gbps (1,000 Mbps) fiber internet. While that’s one of the fastest speeds on the market, it’s probably more than you need.

Pay attention to the less expensive packages from fiber internet providers. Their lower speeds are usually similar to cable internet’s fastest packages, and you can generally get a better deal on them through fiber than through cable.

Fiber providers usually have TV services as well, which come with bundles that give cable bundles a run for their money.

Our recommendation

In short, cable internet is usually better than DSL internet, but fiber companies tend to beat out cable companies.]

Cable’s got it all.

With the right cable package, you can access all your favorite channels in crisp HD and enjoy download speeds that will take care of your whole household, making cable the happiest medium for your entertainment.

Finding available cable providers in your area is as simple as entering your ZIP code. Use the tool below to get started:

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