Which broadband provider saves you the most money?

Comparing Centurylink and Cox Cable

PHOENIX - Every day we are bombarded with TV ads, mail fliers and radio commercials for home Internet service.  

Cox claims it has the best price, Centurylink claims the same. We decided to look at the prices, with and without bundling, to find out which makes the most sense for you.

Internet Only (No Bundle)
Cox Cable's cheapest advertised Internet only service plan is $39.99 per month. You'll pay $19.99 for the first 6 months before it goes up to the regular price. It offers download speeds of 3 Mbps and upload speeds of 384 Kbps.  
Centurylink's cheapest advertised Internet only service plan is about the same price, $40 per month. You'll pay $29.99 for the first 6 months before it goes up to the regular price. That discount isn't as good as the Cox discount. It offers download speeds of 1.5 Mbps and upload speeds of 896 Kbps.  
Best option for Internet only
I give this one to Cox. When it comes down to it, the pricing is slightly better on Cox. Sure, you'll get a faster upload speed on Centurylink but Cox gives you twice the download speed. Most users will get more benefit out of the added download speed than extra upload bandwidth.  
Bundled Deals
This is where things get tricky. Bundles can be confusing. I decided to break it down by looking at how much the Internet portion of the bundle is after you add one service to it.  
Centurylink will give you a special price of $19.99 per month on their 12 Mbps download / 896 Kbps upload plan for 5 years when you bundle with phone service.  
Cox Cable is running a promotion right now that will give you Internet service for only $25 per month but you have to bundle it with television and phone service. When I built a bundle on the Cox.com website including an entry level television package and the basic Internet package, it priced the Internet at $39.99.  You could still get the above mentioned Internet only plan for $19.99 per month for 6 months but it will go back up to $37.99 per month after that. 
Best option for bundled deal
Centurylink takes this one. Cox has better speeds in many cases but it's just impossible to beat the $19.99 per month for 5 years offered by Centurylink. This is contingent on you having home phone service, which many people are opting to abandon these days for cell phones.  If you bundle with another service, like DirecTV, you'll only get the $19.99 per month price for 12 months. That's still a good deal.  Cox offers good prices on bundles but you won't get the best price unless you add television and phone service.  

DSL versus cable

What's the difference between DSL and cable service?  It's tough to explain but fundamentally cable Internet is shared among your neighbors whereas DSL is shared among the entire town. Some claim that this gives DSL users a more guaranteed speed but I haven't seen it in real use.  Both services have proven consistent in most cases.  Read more about the difference between the two services here.
Bundle Bundle Bundle
The easiest way to get a deal on either provider is to bundle as much as you can. Cox will be happy to add phone service and television to your Internet connection.  It could save you a bunch of money.  Centurylink can bundle more than just phone service. They work with DirecTV and Verizon Wireless to bundle services and save you more.
Let's make a deal
Don't be afraid to call and ask for a better deal. Often times, if you are willing to switch to another provider, that will be enough encouragement for your existing provider to slash the price.  Call customer service and tell them you're ready to switch.  More importantly, be willing to switch services if possible. It's not fun or easy but if your current company won't give you the price or service that you want, pull the plug.
Unadvertised options
The prices I'm talking about are what Cox and Centurylink advertise on their websites and in their mailers.  What you may not know is they have other options that they DON'T advertise. Cox has a "Starter" plan that is $28.99 per month alone or $25.99 per month if you bundle it with another service. The speeds aren't very impressive at 1 Mbps download / 256 Kbps upload. If you're looking to save money and are willing to sacrifice speed, this could be a great option with a consistently low price.
Centurylink doesn't offer any special low prices for everyday users but if you're low income and meet certain requirements you can qualify for their internet basics plan.  You'll pay $9.95 per month for the first year and $14.95 per month after that.  This includes download speeds of up to 1.5 Mbps. Upload speeds are not listed on their website.  There is no cost for the modem and you can also get discounts on netbook computers.  You will have to go through an application process to get this service and price.  More information is available on their site
Cellular Internet plans
All of the major
cell phone companies offer wireless hotspots which allow you to setup WiFi anywhere and access the Internet through the cell network. You will have to buy the hardware and sign a contract.  On at&t, T-Mobile and Verizon, monthly service will run about $50 per month while Sprint charges $60 per month. Many technology experts agree that while this service is great for people who are always on the go, it's not ready to be a full time home broadband replacement.  Speed and latency is an issue as well as limits.  All 4 carriers cap your usage at 5GB.  Afterwards, you will have to pay to use more.  
Hopefully that helps you get a head start on your efforts to find the best Internet service for the best price. I'd love to know what works for you! Comment below or continue the conversation on Facebook  and  Twitter .
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