Choosing an Internet service provider (ISP) can be a daunting task. So many of us are increasingly reliant on the Internet–not just to check our email or update Facebook, but to stream games and movies, research everything from doctors to electricians, plan vacations, and work from home. Having a reliable and fast Internet connection is a top priority for most consumers, but at the same time, customers want to get the best value. No one wants to spend more money than they have to! Many parts of the country have only one ISP, so there really is no decision to be made. In other areas, customers have a choice of cable Internet or DSL. Some parts of the country are served by both Cox cable and Windstream DSL. If you live in one of these areas, how should you choose between Cox Internet and Windstream Internet?
|Price||Starting at $30 a month||
Starting at $35 per month
|Data Cap||1 TB||No cap|
|Speeds||Up to 1000 Mbps||Up to 100 Mbps|
|Extra Fees||$75 installation fee||
$35 installation fee (optional)
|Contracts||1 year||None Required|
What Is The Difference Between Cable Internet and DSL?
When deciding between Cox Internet service and Windstream Internet service, you first need to understand the difference between cable and DSL. Cable Internet and DSL differ in how they deliver Internet service to your location:
- DSL Internet comes in over the existing phone lines. For typical use, DSL service will be fine. But if you place too much demand on it–say, running more than 6 devices at once, streaming multiple videos at one time, or holding multiple teleconferences–your phone lines simply cannot provide adequate service. So if you are running a business out of your home or have a bunch of teenagers streaming games and videos, DSL may not be the best choice for you.
- Cable Internet uses coaxial cable lines–the same cables that provide you with cable television. These cables can handle a greater load, so if you have teenagers or run a business out of your house, cable is probably the better choice for you. The only caveat is that your neighbors share those same cables, so when demand is high throughout the neighborhood, your service may slow a little bit. Your Internet service speed may suffer at peak times.
Pricing For Internet Service from Cox and Windstream
For some people, money is no object. For the rest of us, price matters! There are some key differences in how Cox and Windstream price their Internet service.
- Windstream DSL starts at $34.99 a month plus $9.99 each month in equipment fees. If you choose to install the equipment yourself, that’s free. If not, Windstream will send out a professional for $35. As a nice bonus, Windstream offers a 30-day money back guarantee including service charges plus equipment and installation fees. Windstream also offers no-contract plans, which gives customers a nice feeling of freedom.
- Cox Internet starts at $29.99 per month but can go as high as $79.99 a month, plus $9.99 in monthly equipment fees. Cox will install your equipment for $75, or you can do it yourself for $20.
If the bottom line is your biggest concern, Cox Cable offers the cheapest plan. But if not, play around with the variety of packages offered from both providers. For example, the fastest plans from Cox and Windstream offer the same speed at very different prices. A 1,000 Mbps plan from Cox costs $119.99 per month, but only $55 a month from Windstream. However, this plan is available in a wider area with Cox service. Which provider is right for you will change depending on your needs and your location.
Internet Speed from Cox and Windstream
If downloading speed is very important to you, Cox Cable is the provider you should choose. While most of Windstream’s packages have a speed ranging from 5-100 Mbps, Cox offers plans with speeds as high as 1000 Mbps. Cox cable Internet provides reliably fast speeds, so you should be able to stream and play games without experiencing any latency. DSL is more prone to interference, so Internet service from Windstream may be choppy at times. All in all, for basic use such as checking your email and updating Facebook, Windstream Internet is fine. If you are relying on your Internet service for work or stream a lot of games and movies, Cox Internet is the better choice.
Service Locations from Cox and Windstream
Neither Cox nor Windstream serves the whole country, so you will need to check for coverage before deciding which service you want. Windstream offers extensive coverage throughout the Midwest, with additional service in other areas. Cox offers some coverage in the Midwest with pockets in the South, Southwest, California, and Rhode Island.
Bundling Options from Cox and Windstream
Many ISPs offer not just access to the Internet, but packages of Internet, television, and telephone service. Cox Cable and Windstream DSL are no different. Both offer a variety of telecommunications bundles. We have already gone over some of the differences in Internet service. Both offer a variety of telephone service options as well, ranging from emergency calls only to international plans and everything in between. There is something for everybody, so you are sure to find the phone plan that meets your needs. The main differences in the bundling options come down to the television packages. Cox offers its own Cox Contour television service, whereas Windstream partners with DirecTV. If you are looking at bundling options, television service may be the deciding factor.
- Cox Internet: Cox Contour packages start at $64.99 per month. This includes 140 channels, but if you want more, additional channel Paks start at $10 per month. There are a total of 250 channels available. You can customize your service beyond the basic plan by adding channel Paks, Netflix, and DVR rental. The basic DVR allows you to record 2 shows at once, while premium DVR allows you to record up to 6 shows at once, with storage of up to 1,000 hours. A nice selling point is that there is no contract. Beyond the starting price of $64.99, other fees include:
- $75 installation fee ($20 if you do it yourself)
- $8.50 per month for each HD receiver beyond the one that is included
- $12.99-$19.99 for a DVR rental
- Windstream/DirecTV: Windstream’s DirecTV starts at $34.99. This includes 155 channels, but if you want more, you can add channel packages. There are a total of 2520 channels available. Some very specific channel packages are offered through DirecTV, including NFL SUNDAY TICKET, 6 other sports packages, 26 international channel packages, and movie packages. The DirecTV Genie DVR allows you to record up to 5 shows at once and store up to 200 hours. Windstream’s DirecTV bundles require a two-year contract. Beyond the starting price of $34.99, other fees include:
- $35 activation fee
- $7 per month for each additional DVR beyond the one that is included
If you are a big sports fan, the Windstream/DirecTV bundle is the better choice. Certain channels are only available through DirecTV, including NFL SUNDAY TICKET, NFL Network, NBC Sports Network, MLB Network, SEC Network, and the Big Ten Network.
Unique Features of Cox Internet and Windstream Internet
Each of these ISPs has a few features that the other does not.
- Cox Cable offers Cox Homelife, a remote monitoring system for your home. With Cox Homelife, you can monitor your home security system and other smart home technology with your mobile device. Certain bundles from Cox Internet come with home monitoring cameras. This is an especially useful feature if you travel regularly.
- Cox Internet service comes with a 1 TB data cap, whereas Windstream DSL has no data caps.
- Windstream DSL offers a 30-day money back guarantee. This includes service charges, installation charges, and equipment fees. In some areas, Windstream even offers a one-time bill credit for new customers. This offer allows customers the freedom to try Windstream DSL. If you are on the fence about whether or not Windstream DSL is for you, this money back guarantee gives you some piece of mind.
Customer Satisfaction for Cox Internet and Windstream Internet
Both Cox Internet and Windstream Internet have fairly good customer satisfaction. According to an American Customer Satisfaction Index survey, Cox Cable received a 59 out of 100 for customer satisfaction, while Windstream DSL received a 56. From Consumer Affairs, Cox received 1.6 stars while Windstream received 1.2. The two ISPs have received similar ratings for technical support, but Windstream gets a shout-out for its straightforward Frequently Asked Questions page. The page includes answers to real questions, such as monthly rental fees, installation costs, and data caps. If you have additional questions, its chatbot, Wendy, is happy to help. In an era when customer service reps may dodge questions about fees and total pricing plans, this candor is refreshing.
Choosing an ISP may feel overwhelming, but with the right information, it doesn’t have to be. Cox Internet and Windstream Internet are both good options with good customer service reputations. Figure out what you need from your Internet service, then choose the provider that can give you what you need at the best price.