Your business needs internet, that’s a given. But the next step isn’t so clear cut. Which provider gives you the best value? What about speeds? Availability? The two main players in the U.S., Cox and CenturyLink, have different capabilities, prices, contracts, and customer services. Which one is best for you depends on the needs of your business.
Cox and CenturyLink at a glance
Take a look at the chart below to get an overview of the differences between the two providers, then read on for more detail.
The main difference between these two providers is how they deliver internet. CenturyLink uses digital subscriber lines (DSL), which means they re-purpose existing telephone lines for data transfer. COX delivers broadband internet via coaxial cables. Their new-age fiber lines run across the country, then split up into nodes that connect to coaxial cable, then to your modem.
Check provider availability in your area.
First things first: if there’s only one provider in your area, your decision is easy. The two maps below show which providers are available where.
You can see that CenturyLink covers a lot more area than COX, since their network uses the existing telephone lines that crisscross the country. But if you’re in an area like Nevada or Florida where both are available, it’s a good idea to compare some of the features of both providers to see which is a better fit for your business. And while the maps above indicate general provider availability, be aware that not all plans will be available in all areas.
Both providers offer comparable download speeds.
Download speeds influence how quickly you can do things like stream, surf the web, and download files. Both COX and CenturyLink can provide up to 1Gbps download speeds. It’s important to note, however, that the highest speeds CenturyLink has to offer are only possible with a fiber connection. If you are in an area without fiber, you can usually have lines run to your business, but it is costly to implement.
Since COX uses a mainline of fiber, as long as there is a node in your area, you can get the fastest speeds available. However, because everyone using the internet in a specific area shares the same node, if it goes bad or receives too much traffic at once, everyone in the area can experience connection issues.
CenturyLink offers the fastest upload speeds.
Upload speeds determine how fast you can transfer files and live stream from your computer. CenturyLink offers up to 1 Gbps upload speeds, while COX maxes out at a minuscule 35 Mbps. If you have a large number of users or you’re doing a lot of live streaming for video conferencing, for example, you need fast upload speeds and you’re likely better off with CenturyLink.
COX offers the cheapest bare-bones plan price.
Tasks like sending e-mails and opening your browser on occasion don’t take up a lot of bandwidth, so there’s no reason to shell out big bucks for lightening-fast internet. COX offers very low speeds of 10mbps for a more affordable price than CenturyLink.
CenturyLink’s price for this same speed is around $45 per month. But that’s where the simple apples-to-apples comparison ends. Pricing plans vary by area, speeds offered, and availability, so you’ll have to do a little legwork to get an accurate idea of which provider is going to offer the best value for your business
Be sure you understand the fine print.
Once you’ve researched provider availability in your area, figured out what kinds of speeds you need, and considered your budget, spend some time checking out current provider offers. Look carefully at plan contracts and pricing structures. Be sure you are aware of any hidden costs, like early cancellation fees or hardware rental fees. You’ll be glad you put forth the effort to make the best decision.
And, since technology changes all the time, double-check for new products and services available in your area. For example, CenturyLink has a new product called Fiber+, which is better than coaxial or DSL. The Fiber+ product gives customers symmetrical speeds, and in most areas, it’s about the same cost as coaxial or DSL.