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Cox Communications vs. Hargray vs. WOW! Internet plan comparison


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Researched by
Kathryn CasnaSenior Staff Writer
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Reviewed by
Updated 6/18/24

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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
Hargray
Staff rating
3.7
Customer rating
3.5
(2)

  • Plans starting at $20.00
  • Download speeds up to 1000 Mbps
WOW! brand
Staff rating
4.0
Customer rating
3.9
(12)

  • Plans starting at $9.99
  • Download speeds up to 1200 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
Hargray
Staff rating
3.7

Solid, well-priced internet for most households

Hargray is a good buy for most families willing to commit to at least a year of service, but its steep setup costs and early termination fees mean canceling too soon will cost you big. Meanwhile, YouTube creators wanting high-performance fiber internet should move on.

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What we like

  • Great service
  • Low price for the speed
  • Low equipment rental costs
What we dislike

  • Steep early termination fees
  • Underutilized fiber network
  • High installation costs
Savings tip: Hargray often has sign-up promotions for first-time customers. Call to ask a rep about current deals and discounts.
Check deals
WOW! brand
Staff rating
4.0

Wow! Internet earns its name

Fast, inexpensive internet with great customer service, equipment, and installation? Wow is right. This internet company is a solid choice for most people. But if you’re a heavy streamer, its cable and fiber networks might not be beefy enough in all locations.

What we like

  • Low costs
  • Optional contracts
  • Award-winning customer service
What we dislike

  • Limited upload speed
  • Not ideal for online gaming
  • Availability in only 9 states
Savings tip: WOW! 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
Hargray
Value
2.5
For the average household, it’s a great deal

Overall, Hargray offers a lot of speed for the price, and all plans come with unlimited data, which made us do happy dances. For the best deal (AKA the lowest price-to-speed ratio), stick with one of Hargray’s slowest plans—which are fast enough for most households anyway. This company’s 100 and 200 Mbps plans come in at just 45% of what most plans in the US cost, while its 1 Gig plans cost around 85% of the national benchmark (1).

Higher-speed plans also come with another downside: while Hargray boasts a fiber network, people who upload a lot of video will lament its slow (for fiber) upload speeds. In short, Hargray’s a great deal for most people, but if top performance is important to you, save your happy dance for another provider.

Pricing details vary by location. Visit
Hargray's website
or call 1-877-427-4729 to speak with a rep.
See pricing
WOW! brand
Value
4.0
Great value, whether you sign a contract or not

WOW! offers 100 Mbps to 5 Gbps plans at a great price, whether or not you sign up for an optional one- or two-year contract. If you don’t mind signing a contract, WOW!’s plans will cost you about 25% of the national benchmark for a similar plan (1). After that, prices transition to month-to-month rates, which are $10 to $15 higher but still well below the benchmark.

To get WOW!’s advertised prices, you need to sign up for both autopay and paperless billing (a $5 monthly savings) and commit to a two-year contract. If you’re not sure whether you want to be chained to WOW! for that long, don’t worry too much about it. If you duck out early, you’ll pay only $15 for each month left on your contract—which isn’t much more than you’d pay if you skip the contract from the start. (2)

There are data caps of either 1.5 TB or 3 TB, depending on your plan. These are pretty high, but if you’re a heavy user, you could be charged up to $50 extra every month and have your speed throttled.

Pricing details vary by location. Visit
WOW!'s website
or call 1-844-727-4910 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.
Hargray
Performance
4.5
Fast enough speeds for most, but we shed a tear for the unused potential

Hargray uses a fiber optic network, which is much more reliable than satellite or fixed wireless (like 5G) internet. Fiber is also capable of faster speeds (up to 5 Gigs for both download and upload) than any other kind of internet.

Unfortunately, Hargray isn’t using its fiber network to its fullest extent. Its fastest speed is only 1 gig, which most cable internet companies offer. It’s kinda bumming us out, like a straight-B student who could totally ace the class if only they’d apply themselves more. But the real bummer is that Hargray gives you only 20–50 Mbps for uploading, which is great but nowhere close to the symmetrical ideal that fiber can deliver. While most people will love how quickly they can upload a file to Google Drive or post to their Insta account, we think it’s a tragic underutilization of fiber technology. We know. #FirstWorldProblems.

Available speeds vary by location. Call 1-877-427-4729 to speak with a Hargray rep or
go to its website.
WOW! brand
Performance
4.0
Cable and fiber networks deliver fast, reliable download speeds

The majority of WOW!’s network is cable and fiber, though some customers in Alabama still have legacy DSL service. WOW!'s speeds top out at 5 gigs, but for most households, 250 Mbps is plenty fast. We generally don't recommend more than 1 gigs.

WOW's cable plans have upload speeds that cap out at 50 Mbps, but its fiber plans are symmetrical. That means you can upload as fast as you can download. Most people will be fine with 50 Mbps upload speeds, but if you upload a lot of photos or videos, WOW! fiber could save you some headaches.

Available speeds vary by location. Call 1-844-727-4910 to speak with a WOW! 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
Hargray
Equipment and installation
3.0
Low-cost equipment rentals, high-cost installation

Hargray’s equipment rental prices are super reasonable. You can rent a modem for just $4 per month, which makes the hassle of using your own gear a lot less appealing. Unless, of course, you’re a technophile who has a favorite modem (more power to you!). You can use most modems. Hargray’s Wi-Fi gear is also inexpensive, coming in at $10 per month. The price includes at least two extenders and free Wi-Fi setup to make sure your signal is dialed. That’s a sweet deal.

The rest of your internet installation will cost you, though. Professional installation costs around $100. Self-setup is technically free, but you have to cough up a $99 activation fee. The activation fee is refundable after your first year of service, but it still hurts, and you’ll probably forget you have a refund coming long before it hits your account anyway. Still, with self-setup, you’ll get to skip the dreaded installation appointment window, so it might still be worth it.

Equipment and installation options can vary widely depending on
Hargray plans
available in your area.
View plans
WOW! brand
Equipment and installation
3.5
Competitive Wi-Fi gear and installation

WOW! includes a free modem for your first year ($14/month after that), and fiber plans come with a free Wi-Fi router too. If you have cable service, you can rent a Whole Home Wi-Fi system, which includes a coveted eero base and one extender for $9.99. Additional extenders are $5.99 each, but most households won’t need more than one because eero’s that good. eero comes with an app you can use to manage your network, and you can add security services for an additional cost (under $10/month) if you want ad-blocking, malware protection, or parental controls.

A free self-startup kit is available to most new customers, but if you prefer professional installation, it’ll cost you $75. The good news is that with professional installation, WOW! waives its $10 activation fee, so it’s really just $65 more to have a technician’s help.

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Equipment and installation options can vary widely depending on
WOW! 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
Hargray
Customer experience
5.0
Inexpensive technician visits and top-notch premium service plan

Hargray has two levels of customer service (2), and they’re both pretty solid. The first is what you’d expect: you pay full price for all technician visits ($65) and the cost of any repairs, troubleshooting, or installation of new wires and jacks. Other than the cost of work done, there’s no additional charge for this service level.

If connection issues make you nervous or you want Hargray’s highest level of service, you might want to spring for Hargray’s Connected Home Plan for about $6 per month. With that, you’re covered for repairs of common equipment, like wiring, jacks, and splitters—whether the damage was caused by you or an act of God. For services that aren’t fully covered (like learning how to use your Hargray modem or troubleshooting your own router) you pay just $35 per visit.

Visit Hargray's website
or call 1-877-427-4729 for more information on contracts and money-back guarantees.
Go to provider
WOW! brand
Customer experience
4.5
Award-winning customer service, even in areas under new management

WOW! provides an award-winning customer experience, ranking fourth-highest in J.D. Power’s ISP Satisfaction list in the North Central US region in 2022. (3)

We should note that in 2021 WOW! sold a couple regions of its business (Evansville, IN and Chicago) to Astound broadband, so customers may see some changes in their service. That said, Astound ranks fifth on P.C. Mag's Readers' Choice awards, so you're probably in good hands. (4)

Visit WOW!'s website
or call 1-844-727-4910 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.
Hargray
3.5
(2)
5 Star
0%
4 Star
50%
3 Star
50%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
B
Brian Hillfrom Newark, NJ
Hargray Customer for 1+ years
Reviewed on: 11-14-2022
I have been with them for a good few years. They have been professional and have done good work. My internet is the fastest it has ever been.
E
Earlfrom Danielson, CT
Hargray Customer for 8+ years
Reviewed on: 8-29-2022
They are always there when i want to use them but the price is a bit too high
WOW!
3.9
(12)
5 Star
33%
4 Star
33%
3 Star
25%
2 Star
9%
1 Star
0%
A
Annfrom Sterling Heights , MI
WOW! Customer for 4+ years
Reviewed on: 6-22-2022
Nothing is good. The internet is too slow. It sucks.
R
Rickfrom Canton, MI
WOW! Customer for 8+ years
Reviewed on: 6-22-2022
WOW started off fine for years. In recent years there service has gone down hill. There are more interuptions and slower speeds.
M
Mercedesfrom Knoxville, TN
WOW! Customer for 4+ years
Reviewed on: 6-22-2022
I think that wow is a great internet service company, they get the job done and are always there when you need them. I think that they could improve by offering more services to the public
A
Angelfrom Leslie, MI
WOW! Customer for 4+ years
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
I THINK IT IS TOO EXPENSIVE FOR BASIC PHONE AND INTERNET
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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 12 December 2022.2. "Connected Home Plan," Hargray. Accessed 12 December 2022
Endnotes and sources
1. “2022 Urban Rate Survey – Fixed Broadband Service,” FCC. Accessed 21 June 2022.2. "WOW! Internet - Terms of Service," Wide Open West. Accessed 12 October 20223. "Price of Residential Internet Drives Customer Choice, J.D. Power Finds," J. D. Power. Accessed 7 December 2022.4. “Readers’ Choice 2022: Your Favorite ISPs for Any Type of Broadband,” PCMag. Accessed 7 December 2022.