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Clearwave Fiber vs. Sparklight vs. Xfinity Internet plan comparison


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Researched by
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Reviewed by
Updated 6/26/24

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Clearwave Logo
Staff rating
3.8

  • Plans starting at $65.00
  • Download speeds up to 1000 Mbps
Sparklight
Staff rating
3.2
Customer rating
0.0
(0)

  • Plans starting at $35.00
  • Download speeds up to 940 Mbps
Xfinity brand
Staff rating
4.2
Customer rating
4.1
(479)

  • Plans starting at $19.99
  • Download speeds up to 6000 Mbps
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Clearwave Logo
Staff rating
3.8

Strong value and performance from a smaller brand

Overall, we like Clearwave Fiber. It’s a speedy fiber provider with decent pricing and good customer service. Our main complaint is that it’s just not as competitive on the pricing as it could be. In general, though, we think people will be happy with Clearwave Fiber.

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What we like

  • Symmetrical speeds
  • Unlimited data
  • No contracts
What we dislike

  • Price hikes after 12 months
  • Relatively new, unproven company
Savings tip: Clearwave Fiber often has sign-up promotions for first-time customers. Call to ask a rep about current deals and discounts.
Check deals
Sparklight
Staff rating
3.2

No-contract cable internet worth considering in areas without fiber

Sparklight, formerly known as Cable One, is a cable internet provider primarily serving suburbs and rural areas in over a dozen states. Its no-contract plans offer good download speeds to areas fiber doesn’t often reach, but its data caps aren’t ideal.

What we like

  • No contracts
  • Simple pricing
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
What we dislike

  • Data caps for most plans
  • Expensive Gig plan
Savings tip: Sparklight often has sign-up promotions for first-time customers. Call to ask a rep about current deals and discounts.
Check deals
Xfinity brand
Staff rating
4.2

Lightning-fast, reliable internet at an excellent price

Xfinity is a fantastic provider overall. It offers fast speeds, reliable service, and reasonable prices. Some plans still require contracts, and others still have data limits. Watch out for Xfinity’s hidden fees and spotty customer service record, but it may not be as bad as it once was.

What we like

  • Consistently fast speeds
  • Wide availability
  • Excellent pricing
What we dislike

  • Data caps on some plans
  • Some billing complaints
Savings tip: Xfinity often has sign-up promotions for first-time customers. Call to ask a rep about current deals and discounts.
Check deals
Clearwave Logo
Value
3.5
Solid value and transparent pricing

Clearwave Fiber fares decently overall in the value department, in large part because fiber just tends to be a good value. With faster plans, like Fiber 1 Gig, Clearwave is competitive and the performance is excellent. This package offers 11.75 Mbps per dollar spent, compared to the Fiber 500 plan at 6.67 Mbps per dollar. Although the latter is cheaper per month, you can clearly see how you get more for each dollar spent with the top-tier plan.

However, compared to competitors like AT&T, Clearwave is definitely more expensive. This difference is more pronounced with the lower-tier packages, where you get a lot more for your money with other providers.

It’s not all bad news, however. You do get unlimited data on all the plans by default—some providers, notably Xfinity, charge quite a lot for this. The equipment costs are also low, at $10 per month.

Additionally, while the price does increase after 12 months, the bump is relatively small at just $15 per month. Clearwave is very up front about this, which is a refreshing change—normally we have to dig to find out how much a plan’s price will increase after promotional periods end.

Pricing details vary by location. Visit
Clearwave Fiber's website
or call to speak with a rep.
See pricing
Sparklight
Value
2.5
Sparklight’s plans are a decent value for casual users without access to fiber

Sparklight’s no-contract cable internet plans are generally a decent value compared to other providers available in the communities the company serves. While you might not be able to get fiber in these areas, you’re likely to find DSL, satellite, or other cable internet service providers (ISPs). The speed you get for the price is comparable to other cable providers or a bit cheaper, and the performance surpasses DSL and satellite. All of this means Sparklight’s plans are worth strongly considering if your address is in one of its service areas.

We recommend choosing a Sparklight plan with at least 200 Mbps of download speed, but ideally more if it’s in your budget. Since Sparklight is a cable provider, upload speeds tend to be far below the download speeds. Upload speeds increase with each pricing tier, so if you work from home and have multiple connected devices you may want to pick one of the more expensive plans for seamless video calls.

All of Sparklight’s plans have data caps, except for its most expensive Gig plan. Data caps are typical for cable providers. While some competitors offer data caps over 1 TB for all of their plans, Sparklight’s plans have data caps that range from 100 GB to 1.5 TB. You can get 100 GB blocks of additional data for $10 during months when you need it, or you can upgrade to unlimited data with any plan for an extra $30/month. When calculating your needs, consider that the average person uses 536 GB of data per month (1).

The Gig plan offers the most data for your dollar and the highest speeds, but it’s more expensive than fiber plans with comparable download speeds, at least in some of the service areas. If you don’t want to pay top dollar, the Internet 300 and 500 plans also offer good speeds and high enough data caps for the needs of most households. We wouldn’t recommend the Internet 25 plan because its low speeds and data cap won’t comfortably meet most people’s needs.

Pricing details vary by location. Visit
Sparklight's website
or call 1-877-687-1332 to speak with a rep.
See pricing
Xfinity brand
Value
4.0
Fast internet speeds at a great price

Xfinity is generally a very good value, especially at the middle and lower tiers. In fact, it offers some of the best budget plans of any of the major internet service providers. Eligible households may qualify for high-speed internet as low as $9.95 a month with unlimited data and equipment.

Depending on your area, you can get a 50 Mbps Internet Essentials plan for less than $20 per month and a 400 Mbps plan for $50 per month. Those plans have a data cap of 1.2 terabytes which is a high data cap. Data caps are common among cable internet service providers (ISPs). Removing it costs an extra $30. But overall, this pricing is an excellent deal for the speeds you're getting.

The 400 Mbps plan, which is about right for an average family that's online a lot, is also a great price. It rings in at about 36% of the national benchmark in its range. (1) That means you're paying just $0.18 per megabit, with plenty of megabits to go around.

Faster internet plans are available from Xfinity. Some areas can get speeds up to 2 Gbps, and others can get plans as fast as 6 Gbps. For reference, 6 Mbps is ridiculously fast, and it also comes at a higher price. Most households don’t need 6 Gbps internet speeds unless they’re streaming a ton of 4K content or have several people gaming online at the same time. These fast internet plans do come with unlimited data, though, so it might still be worth it for some households.

Pricing details vary by location. Visit
Xfinity's website
or call 1-844-716-2783 to speak with a rep.
See pricing
Clearwave Logo
Performance
5.0
Fast fiber speeds and unlimited data

Clearwave Fiber does better in the performance department. Speeds are fast—up to 1 Gbps—and all the fiber plans offer symmetrical speeds. This means the download and upload speeds are the same.

With something like cable your upload is normally about 10% of your download speed, if that. This helps a lot with live streaming, video calls, and sharing large files like videos.

As for reliability, fiber is generally pretty solid. However, Clearwave is a newer company, so it’s hard to say how well the service will hold up. Here’s what we can say: in some markets, Clearwave has taken over Hargray’s fiber services, which we have found to be somewhat unreliable in the past. Hopefully Clearwave makes improvements for customers going forward.

Available speeds vary by location. Call to speak with a Clearwave Fiber rep or
go to its website.
Sparklight
Performance
4.0
Good download speeds, but data caps hold it back

Sparklight is available in mostly rural and suburban areas where customers probably won’t be able to get fiber internet. This makes Sparklight’s cable internet speeds the best option in some communities that are otherwise served only by DSL or satellite, which can be slow and unreliable. According to a report from Ookla, Sparklight had the highest download speeds among fixed broadband providers in North Dakota and New Mexico. (2)

Sparklight is a fiber-rich cable provider, meaning it delivers service using a mix of fiber and coaxial cables. While it can achieve download speeds of up to 940 Mbps, its upload speeds are much lower than that, reaching 50 Mbps. This is a technical limitation of cable connections that those with fiber connections won’t experience. While this isn’t ideal for households with several people who want to do heavy gaming or take video calls at the same time, Sparklight’s download and upload speeds are generally still sufficient for most households. And for regular browsing and streaming for multiple users, it's just fine. However, the data caps may hold you back if you’re a heavy internet user. Occasional outages and inconsistent speeds do affect service according to customer reports on Downdetector. (3)

Available speeds vary by location. Call 1-877-687-1332 to speak with a Sparklight rep or
go to its website.
Xfinity brand
Performance
5.0
Some of the best internet reliability

Xfinity internet performance is excellent. Its speeds are fast and reliable. In fact, in many markets, it has one of the fastest internet speeds around. Xfinity's internet service is reliable and consistent. If outages occur, Xfinity is responsive and generally restores service within hours. Xfinity internet is also highly rated for speed (2), and research from the US Federal Communication Commission (FCC) scored it among the top for reliability (3).

Available speeds vary by location. Call 1-844-716-2783 to speak with a Xfinity rep or
go to its website.
Clearwave Logo
Equipment and installation
3.5
No surprises here

Clearwave Fiber offers what it calls the Clearwave Fiber Router. Combined with a whole-home Wi-Fi system and a smartphone app, customers are promised wall-to-wall coverage and a slew of features to help make the experience better. These include individual profiles for people and rooms, bandwidth tests, guest networks, and parental controls. That’s a pretty solid package for $10 per month.

Installation is the typical fiber deal—you’ll need a tech to come out and install the Optical Network Terminal (ONT), which is basically the modem for your fiber network. After that, you can either use Clearwave’s router or bring your own. There’s a $99 installation fee, which is pretty standard.

Equipment and installation options can vary widely depending on
Clearwave Fiber plans
available in your area.
View plans
Sparklight
Equipment and installation
3.5
Low equipment costs and simple installation

When you sign up for Sparklight internet service, you can call to schedule professional installation or choose self-installation. Both options are reasonably fast according to customer reviews. Professional installation is typically free and can be scheduled at your convenience. There's technically a $90 professional installation fee, but it is waived as part of a "permanent promotion." Self-installation is free and should take about 15 minutes once you receive your equipment in the mail.

You can choose to purchase your own Sparklight-supported modem or lease a modem from Sparklight for just over $10/month, less than some other providers. The installation cost, activation fee, and any equipment deposits may be waived for qualifying new customers.

Equipment and installation options can vary widely depending on
Sparklight plans
available in your area.
View plans
Xfinity brand
Equipment and installation
4.0
DIY or professional install and Wi-Fi equipment

Xfinity internet offers the choice of professional and self-installation. The professional option is often more affordable than competitors, at $100. It's required if you haven't had Xfinity service at the address for more than 12 months. The self-install kit is free, but you may pay for shipping and handling. If you have trouble installing yourself, you can contact customer service for help, but beware that you may face long hold times.

As for equipment, the Xfinity xFi gateway is fairly typical (and costs a fairly typical $14 per month). You can add a Wi-Fi extender (and unlimited data) if you bump up to xFi Complete for about $15 per month for the first two years (and $25 per month starting in year 3). This is a bit steep for just the extender—you can grab an excellent Wi-Fi extender for right around $50. However, using Xfinity's equipment gives you unlimited data, and you qualify for a free upgrade after three years.

Read more about how internet bills work.

If you use your own equipment, unlimited data costs an extra $30 per month for lower tier plans, but is included for plans of at least 1 Gbps.

Equipment and installation options can vary widely depending on
Xfinity plans
available in your area.
View plans
Clearwave Logo
Customer experience
3.5
Quick and helpful service

Since Clearwave is fairly new, the customer experience is a bit of a question mark. We’ve not seen a ton of user comments about the provider, but the few we have seen have been generally positive, citing good reliability, lack of data caps, and local customer support. This includes both former Hargray customers as well as new Clearwave customers.

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Additionally, while the company’s website lacks self-help options, we chatted with customer service reps several times and were able to consistently get a response within a minute or two. The reps were direct, helpful, and friendly, and we appreciated the speed of the responses.

Visit Clearwave Fiber's website
or call for more information on contracts and money-back guarantees.
Go to provider
Sparklight
Customer experience
3.0
Average customer service and occasional slowdowns and outages

Customer experience with Sparklight is about average compared to other providers. Tech support is available 24/7 by phone or email, and there are plenty of help articles available online. Like most other providers, equipment installation is straightforward whether you have it done professionally or do it yourself.

Common complaints include unplanned outages, inconsistent speeds, and long wait times to reach Sparklight support by phone, according to user reports on Downdetector. (4) If you try Sparklight’s internet service and it doesn’t live up to expectations, the company offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Visit Sparklight's website
or call 1-877-687-1332 for more information on contracts and money-back guarantees.
Go to provider
Xfinity brand
Customer experience
4.0
Rapidly improving customer service scores

The Xfinity internet customer experience is a mixed bag. On the one hand, you have reliable service, with the option for unlimited data if you want it. This makes for a great day-to-day experience with Xfinity.

On the other hand, Xfinity internet has a spotty customer service track record. It ranks above average on customer surveys (4). While customer service seems to be above average, not everyone has a great experience, and we've seen some complaints about billing issues and miscommunication between the company and their technicians.

If you need to connect with the company, we recommend using its customer service portal and downloading the Xfinity app first before trying to reach reps by phone.

Visit Xfinity's website
or call 1-844-716-2783 for more information on contracts and money-back guarantees.
Go to provider
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Clearwave Fiber
0.0
(0)
5 Star
0%
4 Star
0%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Sparklight
0.0
(0)
5 Star
0%
4 Star
0%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Xfinity
4.1
(479)
5 Star
41%
4 Star
41%
3 Star
14%
2 Star
2%
1 Star
2%
R
Ronfrom Red Bank, NJ
Xfinity Customer for 8+ years
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
The service offered and the connection and the costs all meet my desires
R
Rebeccafrom Olathe, KS
Xfinity Customer for 4+ years
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
Xfinity has been a great service provider. Fast speeds and good customer service. I like the flexibility of different programs available. I also like the cost. It is pretty compareable and a manageable month payment.
D
Davidfrom Aurora, CO
Xfinity Customer for 8+ years
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
I think I pay too much, especially when I hear the offers to potential new customers. No attention is given to reducing the cost for us loyal customers. Phoning Customer Service is a nightmare I will avoid sat all costs. Reliability is good, speeds questionable at times, Flex is a great product.
D
Darrylfrom Monroe, GA
Xfinity Customer for 8+ years
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
It is very fast and reliable. It always has a good signal. They do not need to improve.
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Endnotes and sources
Endnotes and sources
1. "Broadband Insights Report (OVBI)," OpenVault. Accessed 17 October 2022.2. “Here’s Where Smaller ISPs Are Blazing Ahead in the United States,” Ookla. Accessed 8 July 2022.3. “Sparklight outage or service down?,” Downdetector. Accessed 8 July 2022.4. “Sparklight outage or service down?,” Downdetector. Accessed 8 July 2022.
Endnotes and sources
As an Amazon Associate, Switchful.com may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.
1. "2022 Urban Rate Survey," FCC. Retrieved Dec. 7, 2022.2. "Speed Test Global Index," SpeedTest.net. Accessed 19 October, 2022.3. "Measuring Broadband America," Federal Communications Commission. Accessed 19 October 2022 4. "Internet Service Providers," American Customer Satisfaction Index. Accessed 19 October 2022.