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

From fiber internet to TV bundles, we break down the biggest features of each provider.

Best for speed

Xfinity
Price:
$19.99–$85.00/mo.
Internet speeds: 75–6,000 Mbps

Xfinity
Price:
$19.99–$85.00/mo.
Internet speeds: 75–6,000 Mbps

Best for cheaper fiber

CenturyLink
Price:
$50.00–$75.00/mo.
Internet speeds: Up to 100–940 Mbps

CenturyLink
Price:
$50.00–$75.00/mo.
Internet speeds: Up to 100–940 Mbps

Is Xfinity or CenturyLink better?

Xfinity has fast, reliable cable internet packages and some super speedy (and super expensive) fiber plans. And its xFi Advanced Gateway is a pretty sweet modem/router combo.

But Xfinity charges more for no-contract plans, so if you want a more flexible option, go with CenturyLink. It has slower, less reliable DSL internet packages with fixed prices and no contracts, but you might get lucky and find yourself in a CenturyLink fiber internet location with superfast speeds.

We recommend Xfinity’s reliable cable internet over CenturyLink’s DSL internet for families looking to enjoy streaming and browsing at home. But CenturyLink’s fast fiber internet is a high-performing and affordable option (if you can get it).

Xfinity vs. CenturyLink: pros and cons

Xfinity

Fast, reliable speeds
xFi Advanced Gateway XB7 modem/router
✗  Fees for no-contract plans

Centurylink

 No contracts
Cheaper fiber service
✗ Poor range of speeds

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.

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How are Xfinity and CenturyLink different?

Xfinity CenturyLink
Type of service Cable, Fiber DSL, Fiber
Price $19.99–$85.00/mo. $50.00–$75.00/mo.*
Download speeds 75–6,000 Mbps Up to 100–940 Mbps
Data cap 1.2 TB Unlimited
Contract On most plans
(additional fee for no-contract plans)
None
Installation fee Self-installation: Free
Pro installation: $89.99
Standard installation: $15.00
Pro installation: $99.00
Modem/router rental fee $14.00/mo. $15.00/mo.
Customer satisfaction 4.03/5 4.09/5
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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.)

Xfinity vs. CenturyLink prices and plans

Xfinity prices and plans

Plans (West) Price Download speeds Upload speeds up to Connection type
Connect $19.99/mo.* 150 Mbps 10 Mbps Cable
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Connect More $30.00/mo.** 300 Mbps 10 Mbps Cable
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Fast $50.00/mo.** 500 Mbps 10 Mbps Cable
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Superfast $60.00/mo.** 800 Mbps 20 Mbps Cable
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Gigabit $65.00/mo.** 1,000 Mbps 20 Mbps Cable
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Gigabit Extra $70.00/mo.** 1,200 Mbps 35 Mbps Fiber
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* For 12 months with 1-year term contract. Taxes and equpiment not included. Includes $10/mo automatic payments and paperless billing discount. Prices may vary by location.
** For 24 months. No term contract. Taxes not included. Includes $10/mo automatic payments and paperless billing discount. Prices may vary by location.
Data effective as of publish date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

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 Connect ($19.99 a month) and Connect More ($30.00 a month) are cheaper than CenturyLink’s DSL plan, with guaranteed maximum download speeds.

The next plan up, Fast ($50.00 a month), gives you 400–500 Mbps. That’s more than triple CenturyLink’s highest DSL speed for the same price.

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

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CenturyLink prices and plans

Package Price Download speeds up to Upload speeds up to Connection type
CenturyLink Fiber Internet 500 Mbps $50.00/mo.* 500 Mbps 500 Mbps Fiber View plan
CenturyLink Fiber Gigabit $75.00/mo.† 940 Mbps 940 Mbps Fiber View plan
Simply Unlimited Internet Up to 40-80 Mbps $55.00/mo.* 80 Mbps 10 Mbps DSL View plan
Simply Unlimited Internet 100 Mbps $55.00/mo.‡ 100 Mbps 10 Mbps DSL View plan

Data effective as of publish date. Pricing and speeds are subject to change. Not all offers available in all areas.
* Service is not available everywhere. Offer is available to qualifying customers only. Limited time offer. Paperless billing required. Additional taxes, fees, and surcharges apply.
† Speed may not be available in your area. Maximum download/upload speed of up to 940 Mbps via a wired connection. Paperless billing required. Taxes and fees apply. Offer details. Offer includes professional installation at customer’s eligible location.
‡ Speed may not be available in your area. Paperless billing or prepay 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 Up to 40-80 Mbps DSL internet plan costs $55.00 whether you’re getting 40 or 80 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.

The CenturyLink Fiber Gigabit plan ($75.00 a month) gives you download and upload speeds up to 940 Mbps. For around the same price, Xfinity’s Gigabit plan ($60.00–$75.00 monthly) gives you 1,000 Mbps. Xfinity’s faster Gigabit Extra plan runs $70.00-$80.00 a month for 1,200 Mbps.

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 of 1,200 Mbps (download) and 35 Mbps (upload). CenturyLink’s Fiber Internet gives you more reliability, plus up to 940 Mbps (down and up)—for around the same price per month.

So, if you can get fiber where you live, that’s what you want. CenturyLink’s Simply Unlimited Internet 100 Mbps can work if your address gets a download speed of at least 100 Mbps, but if you can’t, it’s much less of a deal.

Our recommendation

If you can’t get fiber at your location, any Xfinity plan from Connect to Fast gives you more bang for your buck than CenturyLink’s Simply Unlimited Internet DSL plans.

Deals and promotions

New customers can get unlimited Gig-speed internet and streaming for $50/mo. for the first two years when they sign up for a mobile plan with Xfinity. Learn more about Xfinity deals here.

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

Xfinity vs. CenturyLink fees and extra charges

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

Installation

Xfinity CenturyLink
Professional installation fee $89.99 $99.00
Standard installation fee N/A $15.00
Self-installation fee Free N/A
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In the chart above, CenturyLink requires us to refer to its cheaper installation as “standard installation,” but don’t get it twisted—you’ll still be doing most of the install yourself. Xfinity’s self-installation is cheaper (yay, free!) and more forthright. Names aside, the cheaper DIY options are the way to go.

But 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 Xfinity xFi Advanced Gateway (XB7) CenturyLink mystery modem/router
Rental price $14/mo. $15/mo. (included with fiber plans)
Purchase price (through provider) Rental only $200
Supported speeds 300 Mbps–1.5 Gbps 15–940 Mbps
Standard DOCSIS 3.0 DOCSIS 3.0
Modem channels Four dual-band Unavailable
Ethernet ports 4 (one 2.5 Gbps, three 1 Gbps) Unavailable
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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 customer satisfaction survey of 25 internet providers, Xfinity finished in 17th with 64% approval. CenturyLink came in 21st place with 54% approval—both bad, bad showings.

Xfinity trounced CenturyLink across the board in our survey, although CenturyLink customers still liked the internet provider’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 two- and three-service bundles that include up to 260+ channels and internet speeds up to 1,200 Mbps.

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.

As of November 2023, Xfinity Flex is no longer available.

CenturyLink vs. Xfinity: which is better?

For equipment, reliability, speed, and value, Xfinity is your best bet. Xfinity’s cable plans all are better values than CenturyLink’s DSL plans, with Xfinity’s Fast plan providing 400–500 Mbps for around $50.00 per month, quadruple CenturyLink’s highest DSL speed for almost the same monthly price. 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.

Ready to shop around?

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

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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.

What is the difference between Xfinity and CenturyLink?

Xfinity and CenturyLink are two of the largest ISPs in the nation. While Xfinity is mainly cable internet, CenturyLink has both DSL and fiber connections depending on where you live. Find out if these providers are available in your area here.

 

Methodology

To figure out which ISP reigns supreme, we analyzed factors including the internet plans and fine print for each provider. We also used our annual customer satisfaction survey to find out what real customers really think about Xfinity and CenturyLink.

Check out our How We Rank page to learn more about our review process.

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