The Best Cable Internet Providers

The best cable internet provider for you depends largely on what’s available at your address, as you may not have a choice at all. If you do, you’ll want to think about the speeds that you need and then compare packages to find the right price. We ranked some of the nation's largest cable internet service providers based on customer service, speed offerings, and extras like fees and bundling. Any of these providers are good options in your search for cable internet — we recommend using the ZIP tool above to get started.

The 4 Best Cable Internet Providers

No Data Caps
Charter Spectrum
Charter Spectrum
Unlimited data paired with high speeds: an optimal combination for streaming and uploading.
Pros
No data caps
Contract buyout
Cons
Only two plans

Why we chose it

No data caps

Charter Spectrum is our only top pick to offer no data caps. Mediacom comes close to offering a deal as generous with data caps that reach 6,000 GB — but internet junkies and workaholics will rejoice in an unlimited supply of uploading, downloading, and streaming. And while average households likely won’t reach the caps placed by other companies, Consumer Reports claims that as entertainment trends continue to advance and technology like 4K streaming normalizes, data demands will increase. Charter’s lack of data caps will ensure that your plan can keep up.

Contract buyout

For those looking to change providers, Charter Spectrum also offers a unique contract buyout promotion for qualifying Triple Play packages. After you’ve installed the service, Charter will cover any early termination fees from your current provider up to $500. That bundle comes with a free modem, free installation, and free DVR service — items for which other providers typically charge around $10 to $15 per month.

Points to consider

Only two plans

In 2016, Charter Communications bought Time Warner Cable and rebranded the collective service as Spectrum. Part of that rebrand was a focus on simplifying its services. The result? Only two speed options for your internet service: 60 Mbps and 100 Mbps. If your internet usage falls near either of these speeds, it’s an easy purchasing process, eliminating the debate between plans that differ by just 10 Mbps. But if you need far less than 60 Mbps (the average US internet speed is 39 Mbps), you may want to consider a provider like Comcast, which offers a more diverse range of options.

Most Plan Options
XFINITY by Comcast
Comcast Xfinity
A variety of speed and bundling options, with steady improvement on customer service.
Pros
Wide range of plans
Improving customer service
Cons
1 TB data cap

Why we chose it

Wide range of plans

Xfinity plans start at 10 Mbps and incrementally increase to 2,000 Mbps in select locations. Whether you’re doing basic web browsing or spending hours on “Fortnite,” you’ll find a plan that fits your needs. This customization extends to Xfinity’s bundling options: In most locations, you’ll have the opportunity to add basic TV for just $5 more per month.

Improving customer service

Though Xfinity has a notorious customer service reputation for pushy reps and long wait times, its rankings have improved over the past few years. Its ASCI ratings have trended upward, with a 56/100 in 2015, a 59/100 in 2016, and a 60/100 in 2017. For some context, in 2017 AT&T scored a 69/100 and Verizon a 71/100.

Comcast’s improvement isn’t sheer luck; the VP of Customer Service, Tom Karinshak, is actively working to overhaul its customer service. Two specific initiatives include a callback feature that enables customers to schedule a time for Comcast to call them (instead of waiting on hold) and an expansion on its digital care team.

Points to consider

1 TB data cap

When it comes to data, Xfinity has a cap of 1 TB (1,000 GB) on all plans. If you have a household of heavy internet users, the overage penalty is a $10 fee for every 50 GB over (after the third infraction). Comcast reports that 99% of its customers never even graze that limit. But if you have several people streaming, gaming, or uploading daily — 1 TB may be cutting it close.

Fastest Speeds
Mediacom
Mediacom
Impressively high speeds but poor customer service.
Pros
Super fast speeds
Package customization
Cons
Customer service

Why we chose it

Super fast speeds

A high-speed cable option with an impressive range, Mediacom’s plans start at 60 Mbps and rocket up to 1,000 Mbps. For internet-obsessed users, speed is the most important factor; and while Mediacom’s max offerings are astronomically excessive for the majority of households, these high speed options (in addition to high data limits) mean that heavy internet users will never have to worry about maxing out or culling back.

Package customization

Bundling your TV and internet service starts at just $40 per month in most locations. The base plan comes with 60 Mbps and 100+ channels, though Mediacom’s packages allow for easy customization. You aren’t limited to specific channel numbers or internet speeds if you want to bundle: Within each channel tier, you can choose any of the available internet speeds, so it’s simple to cater your plan to your needs.

You can also customize your data cap based on the speed you need. And while Mediacom doesn’t offer Charter’s unlimited data, the range is still impressive: 400 GB to 6,000 GB. That top tier is six times larger than Comcast’s data cap.

Points to consider

Customer service

Unfortunately, Mediacom hits the lowest of the low for customer service. It falls behind Comcast with a 58/100 from ACSI. Additionally, its J.D. Power scores were so low that it only ranked in the West region and with a 2/5 in all categories. In online forums and comment boxes, customers complain that issues are rarely resolved and that they experience frequent outages. Customers also note that they’re often double-billed and spend long periods of time waiting for customer service to respond.

If high speeds are worth a few phone calls or some occasional internet downtime, Mediacom is still a solid bet. It does offer a 90-day money-back guarantee, so if you experience any of these common grievances within the first three months, you can cancel your service without contract penalties.

Good Customer Service
Cox Communications
Cox Communications
The slowest internet plans available, but solid customer service.
Pros
Customer service
Panoramic Wi-Fi
Cons
Poor value

Why we chose it

Customer service

Cox fares well when it comes to servicing its customers, winning the J.D. Power customer satisfaction award for the West region. Its worst score comes from the Cost of Service metric, aligning with what we found on its poorly valued plans. But, overall, customers are generally more satisfied with Cox than Comcast or Mediacom. The company tends to have reliable service and decent customer interaction, a rarity within the cable internet space.

Panoramic Wi-Fi

Cox also strives to break out of the pack with its Panoramic Wi-Fi, a router upgrade that is basically Cox Communication’s version of a Wi-Fi Mesh system. This system extends its wireless farther, eliminates dead zones, and covers your whole home with fast connections. It comes with a free professional install but will cost you $10 per month. If you live in a large home with many areas that struggle to maintain a strong signal, this could be a convenient solution, although it may not be worth the cost if you’ve never had issues with your Wi-Fi’s reach.

Points to consider

Poor value

While Cox’s low speeds of 10 Mbps may appeal to ultra-light internet users, those plans don’t come at great value. In most cities, 10 Mbps of speed costs $30 ($40 after the promotion expires), and an additional $10 gets you 30 Mbps. Charter’s most popular promotional deal, by comparison, is $30 for 100 Mbps. Smaller households with few devices and basic internet activity, may be interested in Cox’s light plans, but you can get much faster speeds for the same price from other providers.

How to Find the Right Cable Internet Provider for You

Find your local providers

According to the FCC’s Broadband Progress Report, 70% of Americans have fewer than three provider options (and that's counting all internet types). Satellite internet is available nationwide and is usually one of those options. DSL and cable have pretty varied availability based on state, and fiber-optic internet is the most rare. You first step should be checking which providers service your home. Our tool above can help you find the providers available to your ZIP code.

Audit your speed needs

When it comes time to purchase your internet plan, you’ll need to know how much speed your household needs. Internet service is sold in speed-based packages, measured in Mbps (megabits per second). Typically, cable internet packages range between 10 Mbps and 100 Mbps and accommodate HD video streaming, online gaming, and file downloading. If you only use the internet to check email or social media and you don’t want to pay for excess speed, DSL or satellite internet might be best for you. Keep in mind, these slower speeds usually come at a poorer value.

Determining your needs depends on your usage habits. A couple of things play into usage demands, including the number of connected devices and the type of internet activity. Internet speed works kind of like a traffic highway: The more people using it, the slower you’ll have to go. High-demand usage like video conferencing or real-time gaming requires higher speeds and more monthly data.

Number of Devices
Light Use
Moderate Use
High Use
Very High Use
1-3
5-10 Mbps
15 Mbps
25 Mbps
50 Mbps
4-8
15 Mbps
25 Mbps
50 Mbps
100 Mbps
8-10
25 Mbps
50 Mbps
100 Mbps
150 Mbps
10+
50 Mbps
100 Mbps
150 Mbps
200+ Mbps

Light use: emails, web browsing, social media, SD video streaming
Moderate use: music streaming, occasional online gaming, streaming HD video on one or two devices
High use: Multiple devices streaming HD video simultaneously, real-time gaming, video conferencing
Very high use: Multiple devices streaming HD or 4K video simultaneously, large file downloading, real-time gaming, video conferencing

Determine your data requirements

Internet data works similarly to your phone data plans in that you receive a certain allotment of gigabytes (GB) to "spend" over the course of a month based on your online activity. Most cable internet companies implement data caps starting at 250 GB. For some context, 1 GB is needed for about one hour of Netflix SD streaming and 3 GB per hour for HD streaming. If you’re just using the internet for light emailing and web browsing, you can stay near 50 GB per month. Heavy users should look for a plan with around 500 GB of data or more. If you happen to go over your data limit, providers will issue a warning and eventually charge a fee for more data.

Cable Internet FAQ

What's the difference between fiber and cable internet?

Though fiber-optic internet is run with literal cables, it’s quite different from traditional cable internet. Fiber transmits the internet through strands of glass rather than copper; as such, it’s completely unaffected by environmental conditions and it multiplies typical internet speeds.

Fiber providers are few and far between, with minimal availability. Traditional cable providers like Comcast are beginning to introduce fiber service, but it has a long way to go before reaching the same nationwide availability as other internet types.

Should I buy my own router?

We’d highly recommend it. There’s a fair chance that all of your neighbors are renting the same stock equipment from your local internet provider, and you’ll have more network issues because of it. These routers are on the same frequency, and that’ll slow traffic down for everyone during prime surfing hours. By purchasing your own unique router, you can jump into a faster lane.

You can also save about $10 to $15 (the typical rental fee) each month by buying your own equipment. A wireless router typically costs between $60 and $200 upfront, but without the provider’s monthly fees, it will start paying for itself after a year or so. Just check with your internet provider to make sure it’s compatible.

The Best Cable Internet Providers: Summed Up

Charter Spectrum
Comcast Xfinity
Mediacom
Cox Comm.
No Data Caps
Most Plan Options
Fastest Speeds
Good Customer Service
Our review
Our review
Our review
Our review
States serviced
45
39
21
18
Data cap
Unlimited
1 TB
400 GB-6,000 GB
1 TB
J.D. Power rating
5/5
3/5
2/5
4/5
Consumer Reports reader score
66/100
66/100
61/100
66/100
ACSI score
60/100
60/100
53/100
59/100

Our Other Internet Reviews

We've been digging into a variety of internet providers over the years, and we’ve found the best providers for other internet types. If cable internet isn't available in your area, check out our other reviews below: