Top cable internet providers of 2021
David Anders Last updated: July 30, 2021
Allconnect’s choice for cable internet: Xfinity
Our favorite cable internet provider is Xfinity internet. Not only are they widely available, they have great customer service, little outages, and high speeds. They also offer a plan for every budget. Their wide serviceability and reliability really are what put them over the top on our list!
We evaluate broadband providers in four categories: affordability, performance, value and customer satisfaction. Each category contains multiple sub-factors, all of which are weighted differently to impact the provider’s overall score.
For each sub-factor, we score all providers on a continuous scale of 1 to 5, relative to the industry as a whole. Because the average download speed in America is currently 180 Mbps, for example, we assigned all plans with download speeds between 100 and 299 Mbps a score between 3 and 4. Xfinity’s 200 Mbps plan received a 3.50 score for download speed, while Spectrum’s 400 Mbps plan got a 4.16.
We only considered standardized data points in our scoring system. More abstract data like consistency of service and brand reputation is still part of our analysis, but we opted to let our writers address them in the context of each review.Learn more about our methodology
What is cable internet?
Cable internet, much like cable TV service, uses coaxial cables that connect from your home through a modem receiver to a nearby node, and then to your internet service provider. The modem receives electrical signals, which then convert into internet service, similar to how a cable TV box receives a signal and displays an image.
What we like
Faster than DSL or satellite internet – Cable internet offers speeds up to 10x faster than DSL or satellite internet.
Widespread availability – Apart form satellite internet or fixed wireless, cable internet is the most available internet service, serving 89% of U.S. residents.
Easy installation – Cable internet is already installed in most homes, unlike fiber internet which requires a lengthy and expensive installation process for it to become available in your community.
Things to consider
Irregular internet speeds – You may find that during peak usage hours of the day, your internet will slow.
Potential data caps – Select cable internet providers have data caps and may throttle your internet speed or charge additional fees when you go over your limit.
Fiber is a better option – Cable internet is a good option, but it’s not the best option. Fiber internet has cable beat when it comes to cost, speed and reliability.
Shop internet plans near you
Unlimited data allowance
AT&T consumer home internet or Fixed Wireless Internet customers can use unlimited internet data through September 30, 2020.
Self-installation is the default installation option when available for customers.
Temporary speed upgrade
Get a temporary speed upgrade to 50 Mbps when you order Cox 10 & 30 Mbps internet plans. Offers valid through June 30, 2020.
Self-installation encouraged. Select your desired installation date, and a Cox representative will call to confirm or reschedule your appointment.
Safety-first Installation: A Frontier technician will perform your installation with appropriate safety protocols including wearing protective equipment and maintaining social distancing. In taking these precautions, it’s recommended that Frontier customers wear a face mask or face covering for the safety of technicians.
New TV plan
Introducing a new “Local 50” video plan to support contactless installation.
Contactless installation: Mediacom will send an installation kit and a technician to set up a single high-speed data connection, phone, or one local TV channel plan with the help of someone in your home.
Self-installation is encouraged. For professional installation, contact-free delivery is available for work done outside of the home. For customers moving more than 7 days from the date the order is placed, professional installation is available.
Free Contactless Delivery: An Xfinity technician will drop-off your equipment with installation instructions, then perform any outside work. Get your installation fees back in a customer credit for a no-charge installation.
All available cable internet providers
|Provider||Starting monthly price range||Speed range||Monthly data cap||Contract|
|$19.99-$199.99*||25-1,000 Mbps||250GB, unlimited with gig service||None|
|$29.99-$99.99*||10-940 Mbps||1 TB||One year|
|$19.99-$79.99*||60-1,000 Mbps||60GB -6TB||One year|
|$40.00-$175.00*||50-1,000 Mbps||500GB-3TB||One year|
|$29.99-$299.99*||25-2,000 Mbps||1 TB||None required with most plans|
*Pricing per month plus taxes for length of contract. Additional fees and terms may apply. Pricing varies by location and availability. All prices subject to change at any time. May or may not be available based on service address. Last updated 02/24/21.
Is cable internet right for your home?
Cable internet is a popular option for many homes as providers typically offer a range of speed options and high data allowances to support streaming, gaming online and other internet activities on multiple devices. Along with numerous internet plan options, cable companies are also likely to have TV and phone options available as well, and often come with monthly savings when bundled together.
Cable internet is good for:
- Speed options
- Data allowance
- Video conferencing
What cable internet is not ideal for – Uploading files
If your household will be using the internet to work from home or to learn remotely, cable internet is not as ideal of an option as fiber internet. Though cable internet can deliver fast upload speeds, upload speeds are commonly much slower. Slow upload speeds can hinder performance when making a video call or uploading large files, such as homework.
Best cable internet customer satisfaction ratings
While many cable internet providers increased their satisfaction scores in the past year, none received anything above what could be considered a “passing” grade. This isn’t uncommon as cable providers are somewhat notorious for poor customer satisfaction, but the year-over-year increases from many providers indicate a continued effort to better customer satisfaction in the industry.
|Provider||2020 ACSI score||2019 ACSI score||2018 ACSI score||Avg past 3 years|
Cable vs. DSL vs. fiber
Cable vs. DSL: While cable internet is integrated into the cable television infrastructure, DSL is integrated into the telephone line infrastructure. Both share similar availability, but a coaxial cable supports higher bandwidth than a telephone line, which gives cable internet a significant speed advantage over DSL internet. With greater speeds, you can stream and search the internet with multiple devices at a time.
Cable vs. fiber: Coaxial cables are more common and less expensive than fiber optic cables. This makes cable internet more widely-available and sometimes lower-priced than fiber optic internet service. Cable can also be more convenient as it is already installed in most homes, as opposed to fiber. While cable tends to provide faster internet speeds than DSL, fiber is known for providing faster and more reliable internet. One more thing to consider when comparing fiber vs. cable? Although fast, fiber only covers approximately 41% of the country. Cable, on the other hand, covers close to 90%.
Cable internet availability and coverage
Cable internet is the most widespread internet service option in the United States, with DSL as a close second. Although fiber internet is the most desirable option, it is also the least available.
Cable – 89%
DSL – 88%
Fiber – 41%
Our take on cable internet service
Cable internet is widely-available and presents many speed options, making it a great option for many households. The fast speeds and high data allowances – many providers even have unlimited data – are ideal for streaming, gaming and more.
Those needing fast upload speeds for video conferencing or uploading large files, however, may find cable internet a bit lacking. Furthermore, cable internet is more susceptible to slowed speeds during peak usage times.
Cable internet isn’t perfect, but it is one of the better internet connection options available.
Cable internet FAQs
Cable internet supports higher bandwidth and faster speeds than ADSL internet. Cable internet plans vary by location, but cable internet can deliver more than 10x the speeds of DSL in select areas.
Cable internet uses a coaxial cable, the same as cable TV service. Within the coaxial cable is a copper or copper-plated steel line which carries internet signals from a provider to a residence. Other cables used for internet include telephone lines and fiber optic cables.
No. Unlike DSL and dial-up internet, which require a phone line for service, cable internet uses a coaxial cable. Home phone services are available from most cable internet providers, but one is not required for internet service.
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Written by:David Anders
Senior Writer, Broadband Content
David joined the Allconnect team in 2017, specializing in broadband and TV content. His work has been referenced by a variety of sources, including ArcGIS, DIRECTV and more. As a Senior Writer, David is motivate… Read more
Edited by:Robin Layton
Editor, Broadband Content
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