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Cox Communications vs. EarthLink vs. Starry Internet plan comparison


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Researched by
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Reviewed by
Updated 6/26/24

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Cox
Staff rating
3.6
Customer rating
4.1
(122)

  • Plans starting at $20.00
  • Download speeds up to 2 Gbps
EarthLink brand
Staff rating
4.0
Customer rating
4.2
(5)

  • Plans starting at $59.95
  • Download speeds up to 100 Mbps
Starry
Staff rating
3.6
Customer rating
4.0
(1)

  • Plans starting at $15.00
  • Download speeds up to 1000 Mbps
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Cox
Staff rating
3.6

Low starting prices and reliable internet speeds

Cox provides a great customer experience and reliable speeds, but you’ll spend more for higher-speed plans, extra data, and add-ons.

What we like

  • Plan variety and options
  • Great customer experience
  • Generous, unthrottled data cap
What we dislike

  • Expensive plans
  • Steep data overages
  • So-so availability
Savings tip: Cox often has sign-up promotions for first-time customers. Call to ask a rep about current deals and discounts.
Check deals
EarthLink brand
Staff rating
4.0

Earthlink offers amazing customer experience at slightly more cost

If you're willing to pay a little bit more for an exceptional customer experience, EarthLink may be the right choice for your Internet service. EarthLink is an interesting Internet provider. Instead of serving internet through its own infrastructure, it partners with other internet providers to repackage their service, acting as a go-between. This means slightly higher prices, but EarthLink's superior customer experience delivers true value and peace of mind.

What we like

  • Wide availability
  • Amazing customer service
  • No price hikes
What we dislike

  • Premium prices
  • Plans vary greatly by area
Savings tip: EarthLink often has sign-up promotions for first-time customers. Call to ask a rep about current deals and discounts.
Check deals
Starry
Staff rating
3.6

Fast fixed wireless internet for city dwellers who want to save

Starry provides no-contract fixed wireless internet in just a handful of cities. Its cheap plans, free equipment, and high speeds make it a solid alternative to cable and fiber. Unfortunately, the company's financial instability makes it a poor choice for anyone with other options.

What we like

  • Simple pricing and good value
  • No contracts or data caps
  • Free equipment and installation
What we dislike

  • Slower upload speeds than fiber
  • Weather impact on reliability
  • Unstable company finances
Savings tip: Starry often has sign-up promotions for first-time customers. Call to ask a rep about current deals and discounts.
Check deals
Cox
Value
3.0
Good budget plans, but you’ll pay high prices for top speeds

Cox plans range from around $0.60/Mbps for low-speed plans to around $0.10/Mbps for the fastest plan, which is more expensive than other cable internet providers. The good news? Cox has more lower-speed plan options, so if your internet budget tops out at $50 a month, Cox might be your new best friend. At speeds of 200 Mbps and above, however, Cox loses the price war.

What you get for the money is pretty good. All plans have a 1.25 TB data cap (unless you pay an extra $50 per month for unlimited), but that’s more than most people need. And unlike providers where unlimited comes standard, Cox won’t throttle your speed if you get a little data-hungry. Just beware of overage charges (which can really add up) if you go over the limit.

Pricing details vary by location. Visit
Cox's website
or call 1-844-719-0028 to speak with a rep.
See pricing
EarthLink brand
Value
5.0
High value and superior customer experience

You often get what you pay for, and that's the case with EarthLink. Although EarthLink offers slightly higher pricing, you get value for your dollar, and you may even end up paying less than you would with competitors in the long-run.

There’s no getting around it: EarthLink's face-value prices are almost always higher than the competition. Although, depending on the area you're in, the difference can be as little as a few dollars per month. EarthLink's slightly elevated price tag equates to some of the best customer service from an internet provider.

EarthLink doesn’t actually have its own internet infrastructure. Instead, it partners with other local DSL and fiber internet providers, like AT&T and Frontier, and EarthLink uses their infrastructure. This costs EarthLink money, and some of this naturally gets passed down to customers. In return, you’re promised a superior customer experience.

The other reason that EarthLink may offer slightly higher prices: it skips the introductory promotional pricing most internet service providers advertise. For example, when AT&T or Spectrum quote you a price, it’s often for an introductory period of 12 or 24 months. After that introductory period, the price may increase (sometimes dramatically). EarthLink doesn’t do this, which is a plus in our book. It means that EarthLink pricing is straightforward, without any hidden fees, complicated pricing structures, or gimmicks. This also means EarthLink may end up being slightly less expensive in the long-run if you intend to keep it for a couple of years.

Pricing details vary by location. Visit
EarthLink's website
or call 1-833-804-4930 to speak with a rep.
See pricing
Starry
Value
4.0
Starry's plans can compete with cable and fiber

Starry’s fixed wireless plans are straightforward and attractive. There are no contracts or data caps. Equipment and installation are provided for free. Prices are subject to change, but there are no price hikes built in since the company doesn’t offer large short-term discounts to new customers like other internet service providers (ISPs) do. It is worth checking for ongoing promotions before you sign up. Starry sometimes offers deals on its plans, like 200 Mbps for $30 per month, which is an even better value than usual.

The Starry Plus plan has 200 Mbps download speeds, which gives you more than enough speed for working from home, streaming, and browsing the web on multiple devices. Starry’s prices and upload speeds tend to beat cable plans with comparable download speeds. At gigabit download speed with Starry, you get half the upload speed of comparable fiber plans, but it’s still more than enough for most people and often cheaper.

Pricing details vary by location. Visit
Starry's website
or call 1-888-231-9403 to speak with a rep.
See pricing
Cox
Performance
4.5
Speeds are very reliable, but expect minor slowdowns at peak times

Generally, Cox delivers the speeds it says it does, sometimes even a bit higher—though the speed you experience also depends on lots of factors, such as the equipment you’re using and your distance from the router.

Cox specializes in cable internet, which is faster than DSL and satellite, but slower and less reliable than fiber. It’s also typically cheaper and more reliable than wireless internet. The US Federal Communication Commission, in fact, says actual speeds from Cox are faster than advertised and nearly identical to competitor Optimum. Those speeds are stable, too. The report found slowdowns less than 5% of the time. (1) However, cable internet is known to be slower during peak usage times because you and your neighbors are all using the same street lines.

Available speeds vary by location. Call 1-844-719-0028 to speak with a Cox rep or
go to its website.
EarthLink brand
Performance
4.0
Solid performance and fast speeds, but depends on area

EarthLink's performance is tough to rate. Because it is essentially reselling other providers’ services, the speed and reliability are highly dependent on which partners it uses in a given area.

That said, performance is generally good, and there are a wide range of high-speed internet plans available in most areas, so you can get exactly how much you need—up to 5 gigs in some places. Much of the service is fiber, which means performance is reliably consistent. Best of all, every plan has unlimited data, so whatever speed you opt for, you can use it without worry.

Available speeds vary by location. Call 1-833-804-4930 to speak with a EarthLink rep or
go to its website.
Starry
Performance
4.0
Fast fixed wireless that lives up to its promises

Starry offers fixed wireless internet service with performance that rivals most other connection types available in the urban areas it serves. Fixed wireless is, of course, wireless. But unlike mobile internet, which allows you to access the internet wirelessly with your phone anywhere, it works by beaming the internet connection directly to equipment mounted on top of your building. Starry sets itself apart from other fixed wireless providers because it takes advantage of high-frequency spectrum, which allows it to achieve up to gigabit speeds.

Actual speeds vary based on several factors, like how many devices are being used on your network and which apps you’re using. In Q3 of 2022, Starry reported its customers had an average download speed of 196 Mbps, upload speed of 104 Mbps, and latency of 20.3 ms. (1) Speeds have slowed a little over time, but only by a matter of milliseconds.

While it’s not as good as fiber, this is more than adequate for streaming, gaming, video chats, and other intense use on multiple devices simultaneously. Since Starry’s internet service uses fixed wireless rather than a wired connection, weather can affect signal range and reliability. Some users have reported slowdowns and outages due to rain and snow. (2)

Available speeds vary by location. Call 1-888-231-9403 to speak with a Starry rep or
go to its website.
Cox
Equipment and installation
3.5
Rent a Gateway or bring your own networking equipment

Cox’s Panoramic Wi-Fi Gateway ($13/month to rent) is a modem and router in one, and you can purchase (but not rent) additional Wi-Fi pods ($129.99 each) that plug into a regular power outlet to reduce dead spots in your home. Because these pods can be used only with Cox, they're only an ideal solution if you plan to be with Cox for several years. The good news is Cox is also compatible with tons of other modems and routers, so you could save a few bucks while using your own gear.

With Cox, a self-installation kit is free. But if getting set up on your own makes you sweat, a Cox professional can install it for $100... but that installation cost goes up if your home isn’t already wired up and ready to go. They’ll ensure cabling makes it from the street into your home, but you might need to hire a contractor or handyman to run wires to a specific room.

Equipment and installation options can vary widely depending on
Cox plans
available in your area.
View plans
EarthLink brand
Equipment and Installation
2.5
Reasonably priced equipment, but varies by area

This is another category that’s tough to rate. Since EarthLink partners with other internet service providers (ISPs) to provide service, it doesn’t actually issue its own equipment. Instead, you’ll get equipment from whichever partner EarthLink uses in your area. The good news is that EarthLink does set the fees, and they’re reasonable: $9.95 per month.

It’s a similar story for installation—your service will be installed and set up by a rep from the partner company, not EarthLink itself. The installation fee is $79.95, which isn’t the highest we’ve seen. That said, we’d rather see installation included in the price, particularly since EarthLink’s overall prices tend to be on the high side. Self-install is available only in some service areas.

Equipment and installation options can vary widely depending on
EarthLink plans
available in your area.
View plans
Starry
Equipment and installation
4.0
Free router and professional installation

All Starry internet customers get free professional installation and are provided with equipment to use at no cost while their service is active. The included ZyXEL router is functional and easy to use, but the company doesn't publicize whether you can use your own instead. Either way, there's no extra equipment cost.

Installation appointments have 30-minute arrival windows, which is respectful of customers’ time. The installation process takes 1–2 hours. The installer will activate the service, make sure it works in every room, and set up your router and devices. There is no self-installation option.

Equipment and installation options can vary widely depending on
Starry plans
available in your area.
View plans
Cox
Customer experience
3.5
Decent customer service, and you can pay for extra tech help

Reviews for internet service providers are notoriously low in general, but Cox does pretty well according to our real customer reviews. The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ASCI) ranks Cox ninth in customer satisfaction among internet service providers—the same as Frontier. (2) That's lower than average, but not by much.

We think Cox’s 30-day, no hassle money-back guarantee is solid. And in our own experience with Cox, we've had solid customer service interactions. If you opt for self-installation, you can still get plenty of help online or by phone if needed. But if you use your own gear or technology isn’t your thing, $10/month will get you extra help, day or night, for things like malware removal, software installation and reconfiguration, and general troubleshooting.

Visit Cox's website
or call 1-844-719-0028 for more information on contracts and money-back guarantees.
Go to provider
EarthLink brand
Customer Experience
4.5
EarthLink provides a surprisingly exceptional customer service.

Customer service is where EarthLink really shines. The company claims to prioritize customer service and experience, and users seem to agree. The company actually ranks first in some user-driven surveys of internet satisfaction, beating out providers like AT&T and Verizon, despite the slightly higher prices.

From a practical standpoint, it seems that EarthLink representatives are friendlier, more helpful, and more knowledgeable than those we’ve dealt with at other companies. However, we've seen reports that in some places, customer service is handled by the end provider instead, resulting in worse customer service.

Visit EarthLink's website
or call 1-833-804-4930 for more information on contracts and money-back guarantees.
Go to provider
Starry
Customer experience
2.5
Impressive customer service, at least for now

Starry has a great reputation for customer service, but has recently been in the news for mass layoffs and even pulling out of one of its newest service areas—Columbus, Ohio. (3)

If you can still get Starry, you'll benefit from a 30-day satisfaction guarantee and no contracts. Starry will refund you for service interruptions that last longer than 24 hours if you request the credit within 30 days, unless the outage is because of scheduled maintenance, power outage, weather, or something else beyond the company’s control.

Customer service is impressively responsive. Support is offered by phone, email, and social media. The website offers plenty of help articles, and the app has a chatbot that can inform you of outages at your address. Starry reports it has a Net Promoter Score of 69 (excellent) while other broadband providers have an average of 0 (neutral), meaning customer satisfaction with the brand is unusually high. (4)

Visit Starry's website
or call 1-888-231-9403 for more information on contracts and money-back guarantees.
Go to provider
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Cox Communications
4.1
(122)
5 Star
43%
4 Star
33%
3 Star
21%
2 Star
2%
1 Star
1%
M
Michaelfrom Las Vegas, NV
Cox Communications Customer for 8+ years
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
been with cox for quire a few years. service is ok
C
Cindyfrom Virginia Beach, VA
Cox Communications Customer for 8+ years
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
My review for Cox is a pleasant experience overall. Sometimes the reliability and speed is not consistent. This makes me long for a more reliable service.
T
Tiffaniefrom Las Vegas, NV
Cox Communications Customer for 1+ years
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
the value of cox i would say is just decent. they do not go above and beyond like they use to but its okay. the speed is hit or miss. and honestly its not very reliable as we always are having connectivity isuues. its crap to keep it sweet
M
Matthewfrom Alexandria, VA
Cox Communications Customer for 1+ years
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
Cox has been very reliable over the past 18 months. The technician who came to my house was friendly and good at his job. I would love if their prices were a little lower, especially for cable.
EarthLink
4.2
(5)
5 Star
40%
4 Star
40%
3 Star
20%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
M
Marstonfrom Brooklyn , NY
EarthLink Customer for 4+ years
Reviewed on: 4-4-2023
Earthlink is good internet, but not better than anyone else. I haven't had problems, but I don't expect to have problems.
J
Jerryfrom Elkin, NC
EarthLink Customer for 8+ years
Reviewed on: 3-14-2023
Earthlink has been pretty good for what I use it for. It's a little expensive but not bad
J
J.J.from Dominguez, CA
EarthLink Customer for 1+ years
Reviewed on: 8-29-2022
been an ok provider so far. nothing outstanding, nothing to complain about.
V
Veronica from Macon, GA
EarthLink Customer for Less than a year
Reviewed on: 8-29-2022
Fast internet service, cloud storage
Starry
4.0
(1)
5 Star
0%
4 Star
100%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
A
Annfrom Poteau, OK
Starry Customer for 8+ years
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
They are Always quick to help With any problem. Customer service workers are polite and well educated. Service has never failed me when I needed it the most.
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Endnotes and sources
  1. "Measuring Fixed Broadband - Tenth Report," FCC. Accessed 5 August 2022.
  2. Internet Service Providers,” ASCI. Accessed 7 December 2022.
Endnotes and sources
Endnotes and sources
(1) “We Support Net Neutrality,” Starry Internet. Accessed 19 December 2022.(2) “Starry Internet,” Reddit. Accessed 19 July 2022.(3) "Starry internet shutting down Columbus operations," The Columbus Dispatch. Accessed 9 February 2023.(3) “Form 10-K,” United States Securities and Exchange Commission. Accessed 8 July 2022.As an Amazon Associate, Switchful.com may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.