Centurylink is one of the best options for less urban customers, offering services to customers who don’t otherwise have a lot of options. The pricing is also upfront and consistent, meaning you won’t be hit with a ton of unexpected fees.

Xfinity is certainly the more premium option, offering some of the best download speeds among cable providers in the US. [1] The installation is easy and you can do it yourself, and the provider offers a number of affordable TV options. However, their pricing can be confusing and tends to rise over a multi-year service agreement, making the ultimate price higher than it appears when you sign up.

Quick Picks

Compare CenturyLink and XFINITY from Comcast at a Glance

StatisticCenturyLinkXFINITY from Comcast
Price Range$45.00 - $75.00/mo+$39.99 - $149.99/mo+
Connection Type(s) DSL & Fiber Cable
Customer Recommendation Rating on BroadbandNow.com35.2%40.9%
ACSI Customer Service Rating63/10059/100
Netflix Ranking43rd2nd
Population Served48,437,525111,218,631

Centurylink vs Xfinity Network Coverage

CenturyLink Coverage & Availability Map

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COVERAGE CENSUS TRACTS

XFINITY from Comcast Coverage & Availability Map

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COVERAGE CENSUS TRACTS

Centurylink Speed tests vs Xfinity Speed Tests

As mentioned above, Centurylink usually uses a DSL connection which is almost always going to be slower than a cable provider like Xfinity. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that not all users will need blazing fast internet speeds. A DSL connection is more than sufficient for web browsing, Skype, and even some streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. Where the technology begins to suffer, however, is when you’re dealing with a large amount of users on the same network.

Xfinity is largely the faster option, but Centurylink does actually offer 1 Gbps options in several locations. If you’re lucky enough to have access to that service, the speeds will usually be faster than even Xfinity’s top plan.

CenturyLink average download speeds

XFINITY from Comcast average download speeds

CityCenturyLink SpeedXFINITY from Comcast Speed
Albuquerque22.73 Mbps86.81 Mbps
Aurora43.17 Mbps131.64 Mbps
Colorado Springs50.73 Mbps111.49 Mbps
Denver68.87 Mbps120.53 Mbps
Kansas City42.51 Mbps125.91 Mbps
Kissimmee34.65 Mbps104.14 Mbps
Littleton36.61 Mbps165.26 Mbps
Minneapolis41.32 Mbps131.7 Mbps
Naples75.34 Mbps114.39 Mbps
Orlando97.65 Mbps96.71 Mbps
Portland66.93 Mbps119.76 Mbps
Saint Paul33.23 Mbps162.88 Mbps
Salt Lake City33.73 Mbps120.28 Mbps
Seattle80.83 Mbps133.66 Mbps
Shreveport8.32 Mbps78.39 Mbps
Spokane20.73 Mbps96.24 Mbps
Tacoma57.43 Mbps120.58 Mbps
Tallahassee18.01 Mbps100.3 Mbps
Tampa119 Mbps7.22 Mbps
Tucson25.13 Mbps97.97 Mbps

Centurylink vs Xfinity Network Differences

DSL and Cable both have their pros and cons, and Centurylink and Xfinity both do better at different things.

DSL, or Digital Subscriber Lines, use your telephone line to deliver internet service. These speeds are slower than most alternatives, but it’s one of the best options in terms of reliability. While you may not get speeds that are higher than 25 Mbps even with higher tier plans, you’ll get what you pay for. Regardless of the current situation, you can usually rely on getting the same speeds, day or night.

Cable, on the other hand, delivers content through the auxiliary cables used for TV service. This connection is much faster than DSL, but it does have its drawbacks. Cable networks can struggle under heavy loads, so while your speeds may be faster overall, they will likely drop when everyone in your neighborhood gets home and fires up Netflix. And while the availability of Xfinity’s network is pretty wide, cable coverage is generally lower than that of DSL.

In select areas where Fiber service is available, Centurylink uses technology that delivers data through light that bounces through glass or plastic fibers in fiber-optic cables. Fiber networks are extremely expensive to expand, but it’s the gold standard of internet in the areas lucky enough to have this service.

Centurylink vs Xfinity: Which is Best for Cheap Internet?

Xfinity sign.
Xfinity service comes with access to their nationwide hotspot network for public Wi-Fi. Image via Mike Mozart/Flickr.

If budget is a concern, your best bet is actually Comcast. Their cheapest plan offers 25 Mbps for less than $30. Centurylink’s main draw is their wide availability, but while their prices are affordable, they’re generally a little higher than Xfinity.

While DSL often has a reputation for being less expensive than cable, in this case it’ll cost you a little more for a little less.

Installation differences

Getting your service up and running can be a convoluted process in some cases, and for Centurylink, how extensive installation will be can vary greatly depending on whether you’re opting for TV, internet, or both.

Television service through the provider is offered through DirecTV, so if you’re on a DSL connection you’ll need to have a satellite dish installed. With fiber connections, you’ll be able to stream your shows over an internet connection, but for the majority of customers that’s not an option. Self installation is largely not an option, and a professional install will generally cost you around $60.

Xfinity installation is a little cheaper at around $50, but in most cases it’s as simple as plugging in your equipment. We highly recommend you save yourself some money and just set it up yourself.


Centurylink vs Xfinity Fees and Modem/Router cost

Unfortunately, there are often some extra fees tagged onto your service that can be confusing to navigate.

For Centurylink, you’ll be paying a gateway rental fee of $15 per month, but you can skip the monthly bill and buy the modem outright for $150. The DVR service is roughly $5 per receiver after your first one. If you decide to cancel your service early, an early termination fee of up to $200 will be applied based on the remainder of your current contract.

Xfinity charges $10 a month for their gateway rental, but you can avoid this charge by buying your own equipment. Fortunately, the provider makes it relatively easy to use your own modem and router, so the initial investment will pay off without too much extra hassle. For a standard definition DVR, it will run you about $8 per month, but Comcast is largely phasing out their SD equipment. An HD DVR costs around $17 per month, which is significantly more expensive than Centurylink. An early termination fee of $220 will be applied if you end your contract prematurely.

Centurylink vs Xfinity TV Options

Both Centurylink and Xfinity offer TV options, with the former offering service primarily through DirecTV. Although PRISM TV from Centurylink is also an option, it’s generally inferior to DirecTV in almost all situations. Xfinity, as a cable provider, offers its own form of television service.

DirecTV through Centurylink is one of the best options on the market. The service is available nearly nationwide, and offers up to 350 channels based on your plan. Additionally, it’s the best option for sports fans due to exclusive access to NFL Sunday Ticket — the perfect option for keeping up with your favorite teams. DirecTV also offers superior DVR options with the TiVo Genie DVR.

Xfinity is a much more traditional TV provider, and includes fewer channels than DirecTV. However, you’ll generally save more money if you bundle services together, allowing you to pay less than you would with Centurylink’s internet and TV bundle. You can actually get internet and basic TV service for less than $40 a month — that’s less expensive than the 10 Mbps internet alone from Centurylink.

Ultimately, if you’re after the maximum amount of channels or you’re an serious sports watcher, DirecTV is probably going to be the better option. If you’re looking to save money while bundling, Xfinity is the more economical choice. At the end of the day, both services will serve you just fine. We feel that Centurylink takes the upper edge in TV offerings, however, with a wider selection of channels and more robust support for sports.

Centurylink vs Xfinity DVR Options

Centurylink’s service through DirecTV offers TiVO Genie DVRs in multiple tiers. If you opt for the Genie HD DVR — their most premium model — you’ll be able to record up to 200 hours worth of programming. Additionally, you’ll have access to a suite of features from TiVo that make TV watching an easier and more convenient experience. Your first Genie HD DVR is included with your DirecTV plan at no additional cost. If you add the Genie Mini to your home, you can stream your recorded content to any TV in the house. For a one-time fee of $99, you can upgrade your Mini to a wireless option.

Xfinity has more options when it comes to DVRs, but they lack some of the features included with the Genie DVR. A table listing options for both providers is included below.

CenturylinkXfinity
Storage1 TB80-500 GB
Hours of Programming200 hrs HD shows45-60 hrs HD shows

Centurylink Pros and Cons

Pros

  • High Rural Availability
  • Clear Pricing
  • DirecTV Sports Coverage

Cons

  • Slower Internet
  • More Expensive
  • Data Caps

Xfinity Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Affordable Service
  • Fast Internet
  • Simple Installation Process

Cons

  • Mixed Customer Reviews
  • Data Caps In Some Areas
  • Aggressive Upsells

Our pick: Centurylink wins our pick for Rural Availability And Sports, while Xfinity wins our pick for Internet Speeds and Price

While Centurylink has a wide availability for customers without any other options, as well as exclusive access to NFL Sunday Ticket through DirecTV, it’s overall more expensive and offers slower internet speeds.

Overall, we recommend Xfinity as the best option in this comparison. If it’s available in your area, it’s an excellent option for a fast connection and affordable bundle deals that will get you both internet and TV service for a reasonable price.


Experts

James Webb

James Webb

James Webb is a tech and gadgets expert with a focus on educational content development. He draws on his background in the startup world to make complicated technologies and topics easy to understand for normal folks.

Questions & Answers

3 ANSWERED QUESTIONS

What is centurylink 1gb? Is it faster than xfinity cable?

As mentioned above, Centurylink provides fiber service in select areas. While in most cases the service from the provider is slower than Comcast, the 1 Gbps service from Centurylink is much faster than anything Xfinity offers. Fiber is the best technology available when it comes to internet speeds, and while it’s only available in a few areas, Centurylink 1 Gb is the superior choice if you’re choosing between that and Xfinity.

Is centurylink cheaper than xfinity for wifi?

While it’s not exactly less expensive, Centurylink is more reliable when it comes to your monthly bill. Xfinity has billing practices that aren’t always transparent, so while you’ll agree to a price that’s lower than Centurylink, there may be a bunch of additional fees you didn’t take into account.

If you want a clear picture of what exactly you’ll be paying each month, Centurylink may be worth looking into. It’s possible to understand all the charges with Xfinity, but it may take some digging to fully understand your bill.

Should I Switch to Centurylink if Xfinity is Too Expensive?

DSL usually has a reputation for being cheaper than cable, but in this case, Xfinity offers faster lower tier plans for better prices. However, as the plans get more comprehensive, there are certain tiers in which Centurylink pulls ahead. Comparing prices between the two services will help you figure out whether it’s worth the switch.

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