AT&T vs. Xfinity: Which Internet Provider Is Best?

AT&T and Xfinity are two of the biggest names in home internet. Here's how they compare and why you may want to choose one over the other.

When shopping for home internet in your area, it's possible you'll come across AT&T and Xfinity as options. They are, after all, the two largest providers of their connection type. Cable internet from Xfinity is available to more than a third of US households while AT&T reaches around 30% of residences nationwide thanks to its copper-based and fiber-optic networks.

If the two providers are available at your address, you'll have a nice selection of high-speed, high-value plans, particularly if your home is serviceable for AT&T Fiber. The fast speeds, fair pricing, and favorable service terms have earned both providers high customer satisfaction ratings. AT&T and Xfinity finished with above-average ratings among major internet providers in the most recent surveys from the American Customer Satisfaction Index and J.D. Power and Associates.

Which of these two ISPs best fits your home networking needs? Glad you asked -- let's take a close look at how they stack up and help you decide. 

Locating local internet providers

AT&T vs. Xfinity Overview

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AT&TXfinity
Internet technology DSL/fiberCable
Monthly price range $55-$250$20-$300
Speed range 10-5,000Mbps75-6,000Mbps
Equipment costs None$15 per month (skippable)
Data cap Fiber none, 1.5TB DSLVaries, up to 1.2TB
Contract NoneVaries (often 1-2 years)
CNET review score 7.47
Show more (3 items)
Sarah Tew/CNET
Price range $55 - $250 per monthSpeed range 300 - 5,000MbpsConnection FiberKey Info Unlimited data, no contracts, equipment included

AT&T fiber plans are hard to beat: 300Mbps starting at $55 per month, 500Mbps for $65 and gigabit service starting at just $80 per month. On top of that, over 100 AT&T cities nationwide are eligible for the company's fastest fiber plans: 2Gbps for $150 and 5Gbps for $250.

AT&T Internet, a copper-based service, and AT&T fixed wireless plans are more of a mixed bag as far as speeds and value, but they still may be worth a look depending on where you live and what other internet options may be available. Unlike AT&T Fiber, you will have a data cap with both services and your price will increase after a year.

Read our AT&T internet review.

Sarah Tew/CNET
Price range $20 - $120 per monthSpeed range 75 - 2,000MbpsConnection CableKey Info Data caps on some plans, lots of plan options, solid customer satisfaction numbers

Xfinity has the largest cable network of any major provider. Consequently, Xfinity and AT&T service areas overlap in many regions, particularly in the Southeast, Midwest and central California. Given a choice between the two, why choose Xfinity over AT&T?

Xfinity will offer more plan options and the cheapest plan, though speeds with the said plan will be much lower than the lowest-priced AT&T Fiber plan. Just watch out for a price increase after your promotional period -- it could add as much as $20-$50 to your bill, depending on where you live and the plan you choose.

Read our Xfinity internet review.

AT&T vs. Xfinity: Coverage maps compared

at-t-internet-vs-comcast-xfinity-coverage-map
FCC/Mapbox

First, let's take a look at where both providers offer service. A product of the nation's largest cable provider, Xfinity Internet, is available in select regions across 39 states and Washington, DC, covering about one-third of the entire population of the US. Comcast splits that coverage map into three divisions -- West, Central and Northeast. Each has its own set of speed tiers, prices and terms, which gets confusing. More on that in just a minute, after we get some coffee.

As for AT&T, the telecom company offers home internet plans in 21 states, with service covering much of the South, Midwest, and West Coast. Both providers may be available at your address in some parts of the country, including parts of Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Memphis, Miami and San Francisco.

Locating local internet providers

AT&T vs. Xfinity: Plans, pricing and speeds

We hope you like charts. We've got a bunch of 'em.

Blame Comcast. With several different speed tiers and separate sets of prices and terms for each of its three main coverage regions, summing up the company's internet offerings gets chart-drunk in a hurry. Just know that the price you pay will depend on what part of the country you live in (and if you live in the South, you're lumped in with the Central division).

Keep in mind that plans and pricing are subject to change. Your particular internet service options -- including prices and speeds -- depend on your address and may differ from those detailed here.

Xfinity internet plans (West division)

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PlanMax speedsFirst-year promo rateStandard rate (after promo period)Equipment feeData capTerm agreement
Connect 75Mbps download, 10Mbps upload$25 $50 (after 24 months)$15 gateway rental (skippable)Yes (1.2TB)None
Connect More 200Mbps download, 10Mbps upload$40 $60 (after 24 months)$15 gateway rental (skippable)Yes (1.2TB)None
Fast 400Mbps download, 10Mbps upload$55 $70 (after 24 months)$15 gateway rental (skippable)NoneNone
Superfast 800Mbps download, 15Mbps upload$65 $80 (after 24 months)$15 gateway rental (skippable)  NoneNone
Ultrafast 1,000Mbps download, 20Mbps upload$75 $90 (after 24 months)$15 gateway rental (skippable)  NoneNone
Gigabit Extra 1,200Mbps download, 35Mbps upload$80 $100 (after 24 months)$15 gateway rental (skippable)  NoneNone
Gigabit Pro 6,000Mbps download, 6,000Mbps upload$300 $300 $25 gateway rental (required)None2 years
Show more (2 items)

Xfinity internet plans (Central division)

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PlanMax speedsFirst-year promo rateStandard rate (after promo period)Equipment feeData capTerm agreement
Connect 75Mbps download, 10Mbps upload$30 $49 $15 gateway rental (skippable)  Yes (1.2TB)1 year
Connect More 200Mbps download, 10Mbps upload$40 $69 $15 gateway rental (skippable)  Yes (1.2TB)1 year
Fast 400Mbps download, 10Mbps upload$55 $79 $15 gateway rental (skippable)  None1 year
Superfast 800Mbps download, 15Mbps upload$70 $89 $15 gateway rental (skippable)  None1 year
Ultrafast 1,000Mbps download, 20Mbps upload$75 $99 $15 gateway rental (skippable)  None1 year
Gigabit Extra 1,200Mbps download, 35Mbps upload$80 $109 $15 gateway rental (skippable)  None1 year
Gigabit Pro 6,000Mbps download, 6,000Mbps upload$300 $300 $25 gateway rental (required)None2 years
Show more (2 items)

Xfinity internet plans (Northeast division)

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PlanMax speedsFirst-year promo rateStandard rate (after promo period)Equipment feeData capTerm agreement
Performance Starter 75Mbps download, 10Mbps upload$65 $65 $15 gateway rental (skippable)  NoNone
Performance 200Mbps download, 10Mbps upload$84 $84 $15 gateway rental (skippable)  NoNone
Performance Pro 400Mbps download, 10Mbps upload$40 $89 (after 24 months)$15 gateway rental (skippable)  NoNone
Blast! 800Mbps download, 20Mbps upload$60 $94 (after 24 months)$15 gateway rental (skippable)  NoNone
Extreme Pro 1,000Mbps download, 20Mbps upload$70 $99 (after 24 months)$15 gateway rental (skippable)  NoNone
Gigabit Plus 1,200Mbps download, 35Mbps upload$80 $104 (after 24 months)$14 gateway rental (skippable)NoNone
Gigabit Pro 3,000Mbps download, 3,000Mbps upload$300 $300 $25 gateway rental (required)No2 years
Show more (2 items)

The speed tiers themselves are pretty similar across all three Xfinity regions. Meanwhile, Comcast's fastest plan, Gigabit Pro, cranks those downloads up to 6,000Mbps -- that's 6 gigabits per second -- complete with upload speeds to match.

Pricing across the regions is much more varied. For instance, that entry-level 75Mbps Performance Starter plan will cost you $25-$30 per month in the West and Central divisions, but the cost jumps to $65 per month if you live in the Northeast. That's an availability quirk, as in most parts of the Northeast, it'll be the 200Mbps Performance plan that's actually the cheapest one available. It costs $25 per month, and availability depends upon your home address.

One constant? That Gigabit Pro plan. Across all three regions, the eye-popping multigigabit speeds come with an eye-popping price tag of $300 per month, plus a two-year service contract. The speed is impressive, but that $300 price point is tough to get past.

One more thing -- service contracts. Comcast requires them with many of its plans, but not all of them, and like the prices, those contract requirements differ from region to region. The contract locks you in as a customer but also shields you from higher costs. That means that once your agreement is up, your monthly rate will go up -- in some cases, by as much as $50 -- but you'll also be free to cancel service without penalty. You can pay the higher post-contract price from the start if you don't want a contract.

AT&T home internet plans

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PlanMax speedsPromo price (first 12 months)Regular monthly cost (after 12 months)Equipment feeData Cap
AT&T Fixed Wireless 25Mbps download, 1Mbps upload$70 $70 None350GB
AT&T Internet 10 10Mbps download, 1Mbps upload$55 $70 None1.5TB
AT&T Internet 18 18Mbps download, 1Mbps upload$55 $70 None1.5TB
AT&T Internet 25 25Mbps download, 2Mbps upload$55 $70 None1.5TB
AT&T Internet 50 50Mbps download, 10Mbps upload$55 $70 None1.5TB
AT&T Internet 100 100Mbps download, 20Mbps upload$55 $70 None1.5TB
AT&T Fiber - Internet 300 300Mbps download, 300Mbps upload$55 $55 NoneNone
AT&T Fiber - Internet 500 500Mbps download, 500Mbps upload$65 $65 NoneNone
AT&T Fiber - Internet 1000 940Mbps download, 880Mbps upload$80 $80 NoneNone
AT&T Fiber - Internet 2000 2Gbps download, 2Gbps upload$150 $150 NoneNone
AT&T Fiber - Internet 5000 5Gbps download, 5Gbps upload$250 $250 NoneNone
Show more (6 items)

Meanwhile, AT&T's plans mercifully fit in a single chart because they offer the same prices, speeds and terms regardless of what part of the country you live in. Per the Federal Communications Commission, the company's fiber plans are available to approximately one-third of residential customers. AT&T pegs the number of households with access to fiber at approximately 18 million, spanning over 100 metro areas. The company says it plans to expand fiber access to millions more homes by the end of 2023, including the rollout of its multigigabit plans.

For the rest, there's AT&T Fixed Wireless, which uses a satellite mounted at your home to receive a wireless signal, and AT&T Internet plans, which use DSL copper cable connections in combination with the company's fiber infrastructure to deliver service to people's homes, albeit it at much slower speeds.

AT&T plans don't come with service contracts, but your bill will go up after the promo period if you have DSL or fixed wireless. None of the plans will jump by more than $15, though, so the increase isn't as steep as you might see with Comcast Xfinity.

Comcast's xFi gateway sitting on top of a table

You'll need to add $14 per month to your Comcast bill to use its xFi Gateway -- but you can skip that fee by using your own modem and router. 

Comcast

Fees, data caps and other potential sticking points

Let's get back to the topic of your monthly bill because there's more to consider than the baseline cost. Both providers will tack on taxes and monthly fees each month, and in some cases, you'll also need to manage a data cap.

Additional fees

First, the fees. Like most providers, AT&T and Comcast Xfinity will charge you a bit extra each month if you don't enroll in autopay or paperless billing, but those fees are easy enough to dodge. Just, you know, enroll in autopay and paperless billing. Problem solved.

The equipment fees are another story. With AT&T, you won't need to pay extra to use AT&T's Wi-Fi gateway. That's included in the regular monthly fee. With Comcast Xfinity, the cost to rent the xFi Gateway is $15 per month. Still, you can bypass it by using your own equipment, provided it's approved to work with Xfinity, and you're OK with the fact that Comcast will no longer be able to offer device-specific technical support.

Data caps

As for data caps, AT&T doesn't use them with any of its fiber plans, so we'll give it some credit. There is, however, a data cap for AT&T's nonfiber plans, which is why we said just a little bit of credit.

Once you've used terabyte and a half of data (1.5TB) in a given month of service, the cap kicks in. You'll get charged $10 for every additional 50GB of data your home uses. That additional charge gets capped at $100, so once you've eaten up at least 500GB of extra data, AT&T throws its hands up and says, "see you next month." If you think you need unlimited data, you can upgrade your plan for an extra $30 per month to sidestep the data cap altogether, and you can also ditch the data cap by bundling home internet with other AT&T services.

Another point of note: the data cap with AT&T Fixed Wireless is much lower, kicking in at 300GB. You'll still get charged $10 for each additional 50GB of data you use, but AT&T caps the charge at $200 instead of $100. Be mindful of falling asleep during a Netflix binge, AT&T Fixed Wireless customers.

Xfinity, meanwhile, enforces the same data cap of 1.2TB per month, but some locations and plans may have no data cap at all. If you have a cap, going over may cost you $10 for every 50GB of excess data used, capped at $100.

In fairness, 1.2TB is a lot of data, but it's not unreasonable to think that a busy household would occasionally need more. For example, on my network, where I work from home, stream plenty of movies in 4K, and live with a roommate who's just as online as I am, we went through about 320GB of data here in the first nine days of the month. That put us on pace to use just over 1TB by the end of the month. 

If you live with, say, two roommates -- or with a whole family of internet users -- then data caps like those might be something you'd want to steer clear of if you could.

Installation costs

AT&T charges $99 for professional, in-home installation, but self-installation kits are available in some cases, too. Check with the company to see if that's an option for you. If not, asking the salesperson if they'll waive the installation fee is probably worth the attempt, as AT&T often waives it during seasonal promos.

With Xfinity, professional installation costs less at $40, and you don't have to "qualify" for the self-installation option like you do with AT&T. Point Comcast.

AT&T vs. Xfinity: Decent customer satisfaction scores for both

ACSI rankings for US customer satisfaction with internet service providers

AT&T and Comcast Xfinity both do well for customer satisfaction among internet providers.

ACSI

Everyone loves to hate their internet provider, so it's no surprise that customer satisfaction scores for the ISP industry aren't anything impressive. Still, AT&T and Comcast Xfinity are relatively strong performers here. Each finished with an above-average score from the American Customer Satisfaction Index in 2023, good enough to place both among the top four of all ISPs surveyed.

Meanwhile, AT&T grabbed the top spot in the South and West regions in the most recent J.D. Power US Residential Internet Service Provider Satisfaction Study for 2022. The average score of 738 out of 1,000 was good enough for second place overall, trailing only Verizon's 758 (and it's worth noting that Verizon only competed in one region, whereas AT&T rumbled in three different areas). Xfinity wasn't too far behind, competing in all four areas and finishing with an overall average of 714, which is better than the overall ISP category average of 710.

AT&T vs. Xfinity FAQs

Which is better -- AT&T or Xfinity?

It depends on how you judge "better." Xfinity has the fastest plan between the two (the Gigabit Pro plan at 6,000Mbps), but at $300 per month, it's also the most expensive. AT&T has a 5,000Mbps plan that's a bit cheaper at $250 a month. We might lean towards AT&T because of its fiber internet plans, but those are not available to all customers within its footprint. Others might have to settle for DSL. In those cases, Xfinity and its cable internet plans would be preferable. 

Is Xfinity cheaper than AT&T?

Among their regular offerings, Xfinity's cheapest plan, depending on where you live, ranges from $25-$30 per month, while AT&T's cheapest tier starts at $55 monthly. However, both providers also offer discounted plans for low-income households. Access from AT&T features a 100Mbps plan for $30 per month, while Xfinity has Internet Essentials, a 50Mbps plan for $10 a month.

Can you get fiber internet service from AT&T or Xfinity?

Yes. AT&T's fiber internet offerings are more widely available. Per the FCC's latest information, AT&T provides fiber internet to about a third of its customers. Meanwhile, Xfinity is mostly a hybrid of cable and fiber, though its Gigabit Pro tier is a 100% fiber connection.

Updated Sept. 28, 2023 11:33 a.m. PT

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Written by  Ry Crist David Anders
CNET staff -- not advertisers, partners or business interests -- determine how we review the products and services we cover. If you buy through our links, we may get paid. Reviews ethics statement
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Ry Crist Senior Editor / Reviews - Labs
Originally hailing from Troy, Ohio, Ry Crist is a writer, a text-based adventure connoisseur, a lover of terrible movies and an enthusiastic yet mediocre cook. A CNET editor since 2013, Ry's beats include smart home tech, lighting, appliances, broadband and home networking.
Expertise Smart home technology and wireless connectivity Credentials
  • 10 years product testing experience with the CNET Home team
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David Anders Senior Writer
David Anders is a senior writer for CNET covering broadband providers, smart home devices and security products. Prior to joining CNET, David built his industry expertise writing for the broadband marketplace Allconnect. In his 5 plus years covering broadband, David's work has been referenced by a variety of sources including ArcGIS, DIRECTV and more. David is from and currently resides in the Charlotte area with his wife, son and two cats.
Expertise Broadband providers, Home internet, Security Cameras
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