HomepageUtilitiesInternetThe Best Cable Internet
Last updated on Aug 27, 2020

The Best Cable Internet

High speeds and affordable pricing ​

How We Found the Best Cable Internet

related highlight icon

10 IT experts interviewed

related highlight icon

9 months of research

related highlight icon

4 providers evaluated

Advertiser Disclosure:
We recommend products and services based on unbiased research from our editorial team. We make money via affiliate links, which means if you click a link on our site, we may earn a commission. Any commissions we receive do not affect our recommendations; if you want to know more about how that works, read more.

The Best Cable Internet Providers

Consumers are spoiled for choices in many areas, and that includes when trying to choose an internet provider. This guide is going to compare 4 of the top cable internet providers in the U.S. to help you decide which is the best cable internet provider for your needs.

We considered criteria such as customer service, fastest speeds, data caps and pricing, although in most cases prices will be based on where you live and current deals.

The 4 Best Cable Internet Companies

The Best Cable Internet Providers: Summed Up


Charter SpectrumComcast XfinityMediacomCox Comm.
Best forNo Data CapsMost Plan OptionsFastest SpeedsGood Customer Service
States serviced4439 + DC2219
Data capUnlimited1 TB400 GB-6,000 GB1 TB
J.D. Power rating*2/52/52/53/5
ACSI score63/10066/10059/10061/100

Data as of 08/24/2020

Charter Spectrum

No Data Caps
Image for Spectrum Logo
Charter Spectrum

Charter Spectrum

Unlimited data paired with high speeds: an optimal combination for streaming and uploading.

Pros

  • No data caps
  • Contract buyout

Cons

  • Poor customer service

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 or limited Double Play promotion. 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. Fortunately, Spectrum has since listened to its customers and expanded its internet offerings. Spectrum currently offers plans with speeds of 30, 50, 100, 200, 300, 400 and 940 Mbps. In fact, they’ve gone from one of the most basic offerings to one of the most diverse.

Xfinity by Comcast

Most Plan Options
Image for Xfinity Logo
Comcast Xfinity

XFINITY by Comcast

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

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 Flex 4K streaming device, Voice Remote, and the new Peacock streaming service from NBCUniversal for free and a number of different television and mobile phone options.

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 and 2018, and a most recently 61/100 in 2019. In 2020 Xfinity has increased that dramatically to 66/100. For some context, in 2020 AT&T scored a 68/100 and Verizon earned a 73/100.

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

1.2 TB data cap

When it comes to data, Xfinity has a cap of 1.2 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.

Mediacom

Fastest Speeds
Image for Mediacom-Logo-Square
Mediacom

Mediacom

Impressively high speeds but poor customer service.

Pros

Super fast speeds
Package customization

Cons

Customer service

Pros

  • Super fast speeds
  • Package customization

Cons

  • Customer service

Why we chose it

Fastest 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 cutting back.

Package customization

Bundling your TV and internet service starts at just $49.99 per month in most locations. The base plan comes with 60 Mbps and 50+ channels, though Mediacom’s packages allow for easy customization. That customization is primarily in the number of packages they offer. The customization doesn’t stretch to choosing your own download speeds, or to increasing the data cap on any given plan. Speeds and data limits are set and tied to each other.

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 and Cox’s data caps.

Points to consider

Customer service

Unfortunately, Mediacom hits the lowest of the low for customer service. It falls behind Comcast, Cox and Spectrum with a 59/100 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 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 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.

Cox

Good Customer Service
Image for Cox-Logo-328x328
Cox

Cox Communications Internet

The slowest internet plans available, but solid customer service.

Pros

  • Good customer service
  • #1 for streaming video (Nielsen data)
  • No throttling

Cons

  • Limited selection of plans
  • Higher prices

Why we chose it

Customer service

Cox fares well when it comes to servicing its customers, ranking highly in J.D. Power customer satisfaction scores 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 Spectrum 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 $10.99 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 a great value. In most cities, 10 Mbps of speed costs $29.99 ($40 after the promotion expires), and an additional $10 gets you 30 Mbps. Comcast Xfinity’s most popular promotional deal, by comparison, is $34.99 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 We Chose the Best Cable Internet 

We looked at the nation’s four largest cable internet providers and dug into their packages, bundling options, and customer service reputations to see how they stacked up. The best internet service is fast, reliable, and painless to work with, but the right provider for you depends on what you prioritize in your service.

Availability

We should start by saying that your choices for a cable internet provider are likely limited; in fact, in many cases, you may not have any options at all. The limit in options is the result of regional monopolies and technological restrictions. Essentially, cable and internet providers won’t invest in building infrastructure and wiring if they have to compete with another company that already dominates that region. Our favorite providers were the ones with a nationwide presence who you were likely to encounter in your search.

Value

The best cable provider doesn’t just offer the cheapest price; it also comes with limited fees, a range of speed options, and bundling discounts. We also preferred features that added a more rounded value to your internet package — like price locks, advanced equipment, or no data caps.

Customer Service

Internet and cable providers are notorious for their mediocre customer service. From faulty equipment, surprise fees, incorrect bills, and endless phone trees, cable internet providers can be tough to deal with. We used third-party satisfaction surveys from J.D. Power and the American Customer Satisfaction Index to gauge the customer service of cable providers. High-scoring companies are more likely to tell you exactly what’s on your bill, promptly schedule installations, and provide promised speeds — all without forwarding your call to three different departments.

Our picks below offer a balance of fast speeds, decent customer service, and chances to save on your monthly bill. Once you’ve decided on your priorities and found out what’s available in your area, any of these options should seamlessly fit into your life.

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 rarest. Your first step should be checking which providers service your home. Our tool above can help you find the providers available in 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 DevicesLight UseModerate UseHigh UseVery High Use
1-35-10 Mbps15 Mbps25 Mbps50 Mbps
4-815 Mbps25 Mbps50 Mbps100 Mbps
8-1025 Mbps50 Mbps100 Mbps150 Mbps
10+50 Mbps100 Mbps150 Mbps200+ Mbps

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 

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:

About the Authors

Danika Miller

Danika Miller Internet & Entertainment Writer

Danika Miller has been writing for Reviews.com for three years, where she specializes in streaming, internet, and TV topics. She holds a bachelor’s degree in creative and technical writing from Western Washington University.