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Cox Communications vs. Frontier Communications vs. Windstream Communications Internet plan comparison


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Researched by
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Reviewed by
Bri FieldAssigning Editor
Updated 6/24/24

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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
Frontier Communications brand
Staff rating
4.2
Customer rating
3.9
(50)

  • Plans starting at $49.99
  • Download speeds up to 5000 Mbps
Windstream Communications brand
Staff rating
3.6
Customer rating
4.0
(22)

  • Plans starting at $39.99
  • Download speeds up to 100 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
Frontier Communications brand
Staff rating
4.2

Excellent fast fiber internet service at low prices

If you can get fiber internet from Frontier, it's fast, affordable and reliable. If you only have DSL from Frontier available in your area, the internet will be slower and more expensive for what you get. The good news is that Frontier is constantly expanding its 100% fiber network across the United States.

What we like

  • Well-priced fiber plans
  • Fast speeds
  • No data caps
What we dislike

  • Limited fiber availability
  • Some customer complaints
Savings tip: Frontier often has sign-up promotions for first-time customers. Call to ask a rep about current deals and discounts.
Check deals
Windstream Communications brand
Staff rating
3.6

Great rural internet provider, with some room to improve on customer service

Kinetic by Windstream aims to bring better internet to rural and remote areas. While it offers one of the best values in internet service anywhere, it’s hampered by a mediocre customer experience.

What we like

  • Good rural coverage
  • No data caps
  • No contracts
What we dislike

  • Limited fiber availability
  • So-so customer service
Savings tip: Windstream Communications 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
Frontier Communications brand
Value
4.0
Frontier offers excellent value on its fiber plans

Frontier offers exceptional fiber internet at a low price. Prices vary depending on your service area and eligibility, and starting prices are an amazing deal. Here are Frontier's current Fiber offerings, which includes a discounted price for 12 months when you sign up for autopay:

  • Fiber 200: 200 Mbps for $29.99/mo
  • Fiber 500: 500 Mbps for $44.99/mo
  • Fiber 1 Gig: 1,000 Mbps for $64.99/mo
  • Fiber 2 Gig: 2,000 Mbps for $99.99/mo
  • Fiber 5 Gig: 5,000 Mbps for $129.99/mo

Frontier fiber service is generally an excellent value. You can get 500 Mbps for around $45 per month or 1 gig for around $65, both of which are excellent prices well below the national benchmark for similar plans. (1) If you get 2 gigs for around $100 a month or 5 gigs at about $130, you'll enjoy excellent reliability and super fast speeds.

Some Frontier internet plans come with extras for free, depending on eligibility. If you sign up for the 5 gigs, free tech support is included. These are all great prices for the value you're getting. Some Frontier plans may come with expert installation or a Wi-Fi router included at no charge.

If you sign up for Frontier's DSL plan, it's quite a bit slower than fiber internet, but it's a great choice if you're in a rural area. Frontier's DSL plan is around $50 per month for up to 115 Mbps, but the actual speed varies heavily with the specific area you’re in. The good is that Frontier guarantees its DSL pricing for two years and doesn't require you to sign a contract. That's definitely a rare perk in the internet world!

Frontier offers fiber in a good portion of its coverage area, but if you're off the beaten path, DSL is a great solution and Frontier offers fast DSL speeds, depending on where you live. (4)

Pricing details vary by location. Visit
Frontier's website
or call 1-833-970-0804 to speak with a rep.
See pricing
Windstream Communications brand
Value
3.5
Kinetic by Windstream is one of the best values in internet service today

Windstream’s Kinetic internet service offers a surprisingly strong value. Prices are competitive—in fact, the 1 gig plan ties Google Fiber as the most affordable option we’ve seen for gigabit download speed. They both cost just over 50% of the national benchmark for similar plans (1).

The advertised prices are for a 12-month introductory period and will increase in the range of about $15 after the first year. This practice of second-year price hikes used to be the norm, but the best fiber internet providers we review have abandoned the practice.

Overall, Windstream represents one of the best values in home internet if you can get fiber. It's also a good deal if you can get only DSL, but your speeds will be much slower.

Pricing details vary by location. Visit
Windstream Communications's website
or call 1-833-970-0802 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.
Frontier Communications brand
Performance
5.0
Outstanding fiber performance and standard DSL service

Frontier's fiber internet performance is excellent, with speeds up to 5,000 Mbps and no data caps to limit you. In fact, Frontier's fiber plans are some of the fastest (2). Frontier's fiber internet has the fastest ping of any provider, according and a study by the FCC (3), and it's neck and neck with the competition in terms of speed and reliability. These fiber plans also offer symmetrical speeds, which means the upload speed is equal to the download speed. This is crucial if you upload or share a lot of large files, do video calls, or play games online in real-time.

Where fiber isn't available, Frontier offers pretty fast DSL internet. Frontier offers upload speeds up to 115 Mbps, but the speed you get relies heavily on where you live. For many households, 115 Mbps is plenty, especially if you don't stream HD video or have multiple people online at the same time trying to do video calls or gaming online.

Available speeds vary by location. Call 1-833-970-0804 to speak with a Frontier rep or
go to its website.
Windstream Communications brand
Performance
5.0
Excellent performance for rural internet, particularly compared to competitors

Kinetic by Windstream is a fiber and DSL internet service. Normally, that would mean two sides to the performance story—excellent speed, reliability, and consistency with fiber, and then DSL. That’s technically true of Windstream, but there’s a big “but” to consider.

The “but” is that Windstream is primarily targeted at rural areas, where other internet options may be limited to satellite or even dial-up (yes, that’s still a thing). In these markets, the Kinetic service can actually be a breath of fresh air—including its DSL. Plus, there are no data caps to worry about, which is a major limitation with satellite. Finally, the fiber performance is excellent, with speeds up to 2 gigs.

Available speeds vary by location. Call 1-833-970-0802 to speak with a Windstream Communications 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
Frontier Communications brand
Equipment and installation
5.0
No charges for equipment—seriously

Frontier offers fantastic value when it comes to equipment and installation. If you have Frontier's DSL internet, the equipment itself is fairly standard. It's free, which is nice, but you might still want to use your own gear if you need more control over which devices on your network get bandwidth priority. DSL installation typically costs $85, and there's no self-install option. Depending on your plan and service area, you may qualify for free installation.

If you have fiber internet from Frontier, you're in luck! You get free rental of an eero 6 on the Fiber 1 Gig plan or an eero6E mesh Wi-Fi system, on the Fiber 2 Gig plan. If you have the 5 Gig plan, you'll get the TP-Link AXE300 6E with an optional TP-Link RE815XE Wi-Fi extender for an extra $10 per month. You could still technically use your own gear, but it's hard to do any better than the latest and greatest from eero and TP-Link.

If you're eligible, you may be able to get a Frontier self-install kit—otherwise, a professional will come to your house to install the internet for you. If you need a pro to come out, you may be charged $50 on your first bill. In some areas, professional installation is included free, if you're eligible.

Frontier makes cancellations easy. Cancellation is also free, but some customers are charged a $20 restocking fee for rented fiber gear and a $50 restocking fee on DSL gear.

Equipment and installation options can vary widely depending on
Frontier plans
available in your area.
View plans
Windstream Communications brand
Equipment and installation
3.5
Misleading installation costs, but otherwise a decent experience

Windstream charges a pretty standard $10–$12 per month for equipment rental if you are in its fiber service area. This gets you a very usable wireless gateway.

If you are in a DSL area, you'll be charged a $10 monthly modem fee but will also need a router. You can technically bring your own equipment, but Windstream officially supports a very limited number of modems, so it might be easier just to rent one.

The Windstream professional installation fee seems very reasonable at first—just $35 (or free, with some promotions). However, there’s a $50 activation fee on your first bill that brings it more in line with other providers. If you need a phone jack installed, you’ll be charged another $65 on top of the other fees. Ouch.

You can install your DSL connection for free if you're home is already wired correctly, and online instructions make it a breeze.

Equipment and installation options can vary widely depending on
Windstream Communications 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
Frontier Communications brand
Customer experience
3.0
Can't sign up for service online

The Frontier customer experience is a mixed bag. The service itself is fairly reliable—especially the fiber. The DSL service is relatively stable, but more prone to slowdowns during heavy traffic times (which is typical with all DSL internet).

Frontier has received low scores in customer satisfaction from organizations like the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). (3) The provider ranked second-worst in overall satisfaction in the most recent surveys, falling below average. The complaints we’ve seen point generally to a broad pattern of poor customer service, so if that’s a key factor in your choice of provider, you might want to steer clear until Frontier can sort out its issues.

If you order Frontier internet, the only way to order internet service is to call in. It works okay for most people, but some folks love the convenience of handling everything without having to deal with phone trees, wait on hold, or talk to a live human. At least the hold music is nice, though, and you can enter info via text message!

Visit Frontier's website
or call 1-833-970-0804 for more information on contracts and money-back guarantees.
Go to provider
Windstream Communications brand
Customer experience
2.5
Windstream’s otherwise-good service is brought down by lackluster customer service

The customer experience with Windstream leaves something to be desired. The provider ranks low in independent industry benchmarks like the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) (2), with a score of 62 out of 100. This is slightly below the industry average of 64.

Customer reviews of Windstream are generally mixed, with some pointing out that since they are often the only decent choice in an area, they try to get away with the bare minimum customer service. Customers also complain about frequent outages that sometimes last for days (3). That said, if your only other option is satellite internet (with its high prices and higher latency), it may be worth dealing with less-than-stellar customer service.

Visit Windstream Communications's website
or call 1-833-970-0802 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.
Frontier Communications
3.9
(50)
5 Star
26%
4 Star
46%
3 Star
22%
2 Star
6%
1 Star
0%
L
Lucyfrom Englewood, FL
Frontier Communications Customer for 8+ years
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
there are to many breaks in service, but they do repair very quickly they should be able to stop the breaks better than do now
D
Douglasfrom Murphy, NC
Frontier Communications Customer for 4+ years
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
Good speed and network reliabilty. Customer service is very good and solve problems. The cost is a little high; sometimes worth it.
C
Cayleefrom Murphy, NC
Frontier Communications Customer for 4+ years
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
Frontier has been a great company for internet. I like how high speed it is and how great the customer service is. It never fails to impress me. I think that they are great on every aspect.
R
Robertfrom Middletown, NY
Frontier Communications Customer for 8+ years
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
It seems Frontier gives us very slow internet service.
Windstream Communications
4.0
(22)
5 Star
32%
4 Star
45%
3 Star
18%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
5%
D
Dillon from Lexington , SC
Windstream Communications Customer for 1+ years
Reviewed on: 6-24-2022
Service crashes all the time, customer service is not very knowledgeable, I feel like they train them for a day or two and then let them start answering phones after that whether they're ready or not
R
Ricofrom Lexington, KY
Windstream Communications Customer for 1+ years
Reviewed on: 6-22-2022
They are too expensive, other than that no issues
A
Anonymous
Windstream Communications Customer for 8+ years
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
Windstream has work to be done. Sometimes the internet speed can be consistent but most of the time not so much.
S
Sandrafrom Coweta, OK
Windstream Communications Customer for 1+ years
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
Reliability is terrible, customer service is the worst.
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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
1. “2022 Urban Rate Survey – Fixed Broadband Service,” FCC. Accessed 19 October 2022.2. "The Fastest ISPs of 2022," PC Mag. Accessed 19 October 2022.Internet Service Providers,” American Customer Satisfaction Index. Accessed 14 June 2022.3. "Measuring Broadband America," FCC. Accessed Dec. 9, 2022.4. "FCC National Broadband Map," FCC. Accessed Dec. 9. 2022. As an Amazon Associate, Switchful.com may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.
Endnotes and sources
1. “2022 Urban Rate Survey – Fixed Broadband Service,” FCC. Accessed 17 June 2022.2. “Internet Service Providers,” American Customer Satisfaction Index. Accessed 17 June 2022.3. "Windstream outages reported in the last 24 hours," Downdetector. Accessed 16 December 2022.