• March 21, 2018 - For this update, we did a deep dive into our contenders to stay current on prices and policies. We’ve also expanded our buying guide to provide a more comprehensive picture of speed requirements, reliability, and data usage.
  • January 19, 2018 - We’ve updated this review to address facts and policies that have changed since originally published. We’ve also included summaries of more than just two providers. Most noteworthy, our previous runner up, Time Warner, was absorbed by Charter Communications, which has rebranded as Charter Spectrum. A full update and deep dive will be published in the coming months.

The Best Cable Internet

The best cable internet provider for you will depend 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.

Our Picks for the Best Cable Internet

No Data Caps
Charter Spectrum
Charter Spectrum
Unlimited data paired with high speeds: an optimal combo for streaming and uploading.
Speed Range (Mbps)
60-100
Actual Speeds
106.70%-121.96% of advertised
Data Cap
Unlimited
J.D. Power Customer Service Rating
5/5
BroadbandNow Customers Who Would Recommend
50.7% (from 49,398 customers)

Charter Spectrum is the only one of our top picks 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 cap will ensure your plan can keep up.

Charter Spectrum Coverage

Wondering where this provider has been all your life? 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? Just two speed options: 60 Mbps and 100 Mbps. If your internet usages falls near either of these speeds, it’s an easy purchasing process, eliminating the debate between plans that differ by just 10 Mbps. Both come with a free internet modem, and pricing usually starts at $30 per month.

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-$15 per month.

When it comes to customer service, Spectrum trends optimistically. It received an overall 5/5 from J.D. Power and a 65/100 from the ACSI. Both scores are improvements from Time Warner and Charter Communications’ separate scores in years past.

Most Plan Options
XFINITY by Comcast
XFINITY by Comcast
A variety of speed and bundling options, with steady improvement on customer service.
Speed Range (Mbps)
10-400
Actual Speeds
101.10%-115.58% of advertised
Data Cap
1 TB
J.D. Power Customer Service Rating
3/5
BroadbandNow Customers Who Would Recommend
40.5% (from 146,560 customers)

Comcast is one of the biggest names in the industry, offering widespread coverage and lots of plan options. Plans start at 10 Mbps and incrementally increase to 400 Mbps in some 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.

Service Map for XFINITY from Comcast

When it comes to data, Xfinity offers a generous cap of 1 TB (1,000 GB) on all plans, and it reports that 99 percent of its customers never even graze that limit. For context, it would take more than 200 hours of 4K video streaming to meet 1 TB — enough time to watch every episode of Law & Order: SVU. If you happen to have a household full of heavy internet users, the overage penalty is a $10 fee for every 50 GB over (after the third infraction).

Though its customer service ratings are fairly poor in comparison to AT&T and Verizon — with a notorious reputation for pushy reps and long wait times — Comcast’s 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, an indication that the company is making an effort to improve its reputation. 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.

Fastest Speeds
Mediacom
Mediacom
Impressively high speeds, but poor customer service.
Speed Range (Mbps)
60-1,000
Actual Speeds
88.20%-122.94% of advertised
Data Cap
400-6,000 GB
J.D. Power Customer Service Rating
2/5
BroadbandNow Customers Who Would Recommend
42.1% (from 7,775 customers)

A high-speed cable option with an impressive range, Mediacom’s plans start at 60 Mbps and rocket up to 1,000 Mbps. While it doesn’t offer Charter’s unlimited data, the range is still impressive: 400 GB-6,000 GB. 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 and large data limits mean that heavy internet users will never have to worry about maxing out or culling back.

Service Map for Mediacom Cable

Unfortunately, Mediacom hits the lowest of the low for customer service. It falls behind Comcast with a 58/100 from ACSI, and its scores were so low that it only ranked with J.D. Power 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.

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.

Good Customer Service
Cox Communications
Cox Communications
The slowest internet plans available, but solid customer service.
Speed Range (Mbps)
10-300
Actual Speeds
91.67%-104.52% of advertised
Data Cap
1 TB
J.D. Power Customer Service Rating
4/5
BroadbandNow Customers Who Would Recommend
45.1% (from 33,757 customers)

As one of the few internet service providers that offer plans with speeds below 10 Mbps, Cox may appeal to ultra-light internet users. Those plans don’t come at great value: In most cities, that speed will cost $20-$30, but for only $10 more you can leap to 50 Mbps. Charter’s most popular promotional deal, by comparison, is $30 for 100 Mbps. But 100 Mbps is major overkill for smaller households with few devices and basic internet activity. Cox Communications’ low-speed plans eliminate excess and cater to light users, and its good customer service may just sway you in its direction.

Service Map for Cox Communications

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.

Cox also strives to break out of the pack with its Panoramic WiFi, a router upgrade that is basically Cox Communication’s version of a WiFi 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 WiFi’s reach.

Know Your Cable Internet Plan

Buy your own router to boost your internet connection.

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 could jump into a faster lane.

You can also save about $10-$15 (the typical rental fee) each month by buying your own equipment. A wireless router will typically cost you 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 be sure it’s compatible.

Many cable providers are beginning to roll out fiber-optic 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, making it completely unaffected by environmental conditions and multiplying typical internet speeds.

Fiber providers are few and far between, with very 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.

If you’ve got the option, Verizon FiOS is an all-around winner for fiber service. At its peak, you can get around 1,000 Mbps for less than $100. That’s far more than any household would need, but a nice reassurance that you’ll never be suffering or buffering. Verizon is also best-in-class for customer service. It’s earned the highest scores from ASCI, and it won the J.D. Power customer satisfaction award in the East.

Our Cable Internet Review: Summed Up

Cable Internet
Best For...
Charter Spectrum
No Data Caps
XFINITY by Comcast
Plan Variety
Mediacom
Fast Speeds
Cox Communications
Customer Service

More Internet Reviews

We've been digging into a variety of internet providers and have published additional reviews for other types of internet. If cable internet isn't available in your area, check out our other reviews below: