Best Cable Internet Providers of 2024

Among the many providers available nationwide, which is best? Here's a look at the best cable internet providers, including the fastest and cheapest ISPs.

Article updated on January 10, 2024 at 9:00 AM PST

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Written by 
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
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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Spectrum - Best cable internet provider overall
  • Prices: $30- $90 per month
  • Speeds: 100 - 1,000Mbps
  • Key Info: Unlimited data, simple pricing, no contracts, modem included, free access to nationwide Wi-Fi hotspots
Or call to learn more: (855) 800-4017
Xfinity - Fastest cable internet plans
  • Prices: $20 - $120 per month
  • Speeds: 75 - 2,000Mbps
  • Key Info: Data caps on some plans, lots of plan options, solid customer satisfaction numbers
Or call to learn more: (855) 861-3990
Mediacom - Best rural cable ISP
  • Prices: $25 - $80 per month
  • Speeds: 100 - 1,000Mbps
  • Key Info: Up to 6TB monthly data allowance, low introductory rates, no contracts
Or call to learn more: (888) 962-4198
Cox Communications - Best cable ISP for gamers
  • Prices: $40 - $100 per month
  • Speeds: 25 - 2,000Mbps
  • Key Info: 1.25TB monthly data allowance, lots of plan options, unique gaming add-on
Or call to learn more: (877) 451-6113
WideOpenWest - Best cheap cable internet provider
  • Prices: $20 - $95 per month
  • Speeds: 100 - 1,200Mbps
  • Key Info: Good promo prices, no contracts, unlimited data on some plans
Or call to learn more: (877) 508-8980

Best cable internet provider overall

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of cable internet providers nationwide, but Spectrum stands out as the best cable internet provider overall thanks to its broad coverage area, fast speeds and straightforward pricing. 

Xfinity, the nation’s largest cable ISP, is another solid choice, particularly if you’re looking for a wide variety of high-speed options, the fastest being up to 1,200 or 2,000 megabits per second. WideOpenWest, where available, is likely to be your cheapest cable internet provider with service starting at $20 per month in many areas. 

Regardless of the available cable internet provider or providers at your address, service is likely to come with a few internet speed options including a gigabit speed tier and lots of data (or unlimited data) from each. Unlike fiber internet, upload speeds won’t match downloads and are typically much lower -- something to be aware of when shopping for cable internet service.

All cable ISPs aren't the same, as you'll find pricing, service terms and customer satisfaction vary by provider. Considering these factors and others, select cable ISPs rise to the top. Here are my picks for the best cable internet providers.

Locating local internet providers

Best cable internet in 2024

5 Internet providers
SORT BY
Product image
Connection
Cable
Speed range
100 - 1,000 Mbps
Price range
$30- $90 per month

Spectrum

Best cable internet provider overall

Our take - Spectrum doesn't have the cheapest internet plan, but speeds are high -- download speeds start at 100Mbps -- and Spectrum ends up with an average cost per Mbps lower than many rival providers, including Xfinity and Cox. The high speeds and low cost per Mbps, along with unlimited data, no contracts and a low equipment fee of just $5 puts Spectrum firmly on our list of the best internet providers.

Read full review
Or call to learn more: (855) 800-4017
Check with Spectrum
Connection
Cable
Speed range
100 - 1,000 Mbps
Price range
$30- $90 per month
Show more details
Product image
Connection
Cable
Speed range
75 - 2,000 Mbps
Price range
$20 - $120 per month

Xfinity

Fastest cable internet plans

Our take - Comcast Xfinity is not only the largest cable internet provider, it's also the fastest in many areas. The Xfinity Gigabit plan offers download speeds up to 2,000 megabits per second, twice the speed available from most other cable ISPs, and for around the same price (or lower).

Read full review
Or call to learn more: (855) 861-3990
Check with Xfinity
Connection
Cable
Speed range
75 - 2,000 Mbps
Price range
$20 - $120 per month
Show more details
Product image
Connection
Cable
Speed range
100 - 1,000 Mbps
Price range
$25 - $80 per month

Mediacom

Best rural cable ISP

Our take - Other than Mediacom's cheap internet plan -- which starts at just $35 per month for speeds up to 100Mbps -- there's nothing particularly special about the provider, but it does boast terrific availability. Where providers like Xfinity, Spectrum, Cox and Optimum primarily stick to the big cities, Mediacom caters to much of America's heartland, extending broadband availability to rural areas throughout much of the Midwest and South. 

Read full review
Or call to learn more: (888) 962-4198
Check with Mediacom
Connection
Cable
Speed range
100 - 1,000 Mbps
Price range
$25 - $80 per month
Show more details
Product image
Connection
Cable, some fiber
Speed range
25 - 2,000 Mbps
Price range
$40 - $100 per month

Cox Communications

Best cable ISP for gamers

Our take - Cox Communications is the third-largest cable internet provider in the US, behind Xfinity and Spectrum. As far as speeds and pricing go, Cox is more or less comparable to any other cable ISP -- but the provider's appeal to online gamers is something you won't find anywhere else.

Read full review
Or call to learn more: (877) 451-6113
Check with Cox
Connection
Cable, some fiber
Speed range
25 - 2,000 Mbps
Price range
$40 - $100 per month
Show more details
Product image
Connection
Cable
Speed range
100 - 1,200 Mbps
Price range
$20 - $95 per month

WideOpenWest

Best cheap cable internet provider

Our take - Thanks to its current promotional offers, which take anywhere from $10 to $15 off the standard price for the first year, WideOpenWest boasts some of the cheapest pricing you'll find from any cable internet provider. 

Read full review
Or call to learn more: (877) 508-8980
Check with WOW!
Connection
Cable
Speed range
100 - 1,200 Mbps
Price range
$20 - $95 per month
Show more details

Best cable internet providers overview

ProviderStarting price rangeDownload speed rangeUpload speed rangeEquipment feeData capContract
Spectrum
Read full review
$30-$90100-940Mbps10-35Mbps$5 (optional) NoneNone
Xfinity
Read full review
$20-$8575-2,000Mbps10-50Mbps$15 (optional) 1.2TB or unlimited1 year (for lowest pricing in select locations)
Mediacom $35-$65100-1,000Mbps5-50Mbps$14 200GB-3TBNone
Cox
Read full review
$50-$100100-940Mbps3-35Mbps$13 (optional) 1.28TB1 year (for lowest pricing in select locations)
WOW $20-$95100-1,200Mbps5-50Mbps$14 (optional)NoneNone

Cable internet versus cable TV service

"Cable" has become so synonymous with "TV service" that it's easy to confuse cable internet with a TV and internet bundle. However, cable internet is broadband through and through. It just uses a coaxial cable -- yes, the same one as for your cable TV -- to deliver service. In fact, it's the most widely available internet connection outside of satellite internet, covering 89% of US households and 97% of urban areas. As such, there's a good chance that you have available cable internet access in your area. And it's not a bad option, if you don't want to shell out the big bucks for fiber optic internet.

Image of a coaxial cable
Getty Images

What is a coaxial cable?

A coaxial cable is a copper line surrounded by an insulated shield and protective plastic sheath (usually black) used to transmit television, internet and telephone signals. The cables can also be used to carry weak electrical currents, like those to power a satellite dish.

If you have cable TV or a satellite TV service with an HD or DVR box, the line that connects to the back of your box is likely a coaxial cable. With cable internet service, that same cable type plugs into your modem and sends internet data instead of TV signals. 

Coaxial cables are capable of supporting higher bandwidth than DSL (which uses telephone lines), but they fall short of fiber-optic cables. Most cable internet providers can offer download speeds up to 1,000Mbps or slightly higher, though upload speeds are significantly slower, often 10 to 50Mbps. Fiber internet, on the other hand, can deliver multigigabit download and upload speeds of 10,000Mbps and higher.

How to choose the best cable internet provider

Cable internet providers operate in specific areas, often with little overlap of other cable internet providers, so choosing the best cable ISP starts with identifying the available providers in your area.

If you have the choice of two or more cable internet providers, you’ll want to compare those options the same as you would any other available ISPs. Here’s how to choose the best cable internet provider for your home:

  • Know what speeds you need. Identify the providers that offer those speeds or close.
  • Compare pricing. Be sure to take into account promotional rates, how long they last and how much your rate will increase after the promotional period ends.
  • Consider any bundle offers. Cable internet providers are often the best source for TV and internet bundles. If you’re interested in getting the two together, compare available speeds and channel packages to find the one that best fits your household’s speed and entertainment demands.
  • Understand the fine print. Whether it’s with standalone internet service or an internet and TV bundle, it’s important to be aware of any added fees, such as equipment rental fees, data caps and contract requirements.

It’s possible only one cable internet provider will be available at your address. In that case, you’ll want to compare speeds, pricing and service terms such as equipment fees and data caps to ISPs of other connection types like fiber or fixed wireless.

How CNET determined the best cable internet providers

Cable internet service providers are numerous and regional. Unlike the latest smartphone, laptop, router or kitchen tool, it’s impractical to personally test every cable ISP. To evaluate the top providers, we start by researching the availability, pricing and speed information of the top providers, drawing on our own historical ISP data, the provider sites and mapping information from the Federal Communications Commission at FCC.gov.

We also input addresses on provider websites to find and compare specific options. We look at sources, including the American Customer Satisfaction Index and J.D. Power, to evaluate how content customers are with an ISP’s service. ISP plans and prices are subject to frequent changes; all information provided is accurate as of publication.

To explore our process in more depth, visit our how we test ISPs page.

Best cable ISPs honorable mentions

These cable internet providers also offer decent pricing and speeds. If any are available in your area, they are also worth a look. 

Astound

Astound, formerly known as RCN, is available in a few major cities including Boston, Chicago and Washington, DC. Unfortunately, plans, prices and speeds vary by each location, but customers can expect these factors to be comparable to other major cable companies.

Atlantic Broadband

As the name implies, Atlantic Broadband offers service primarily along the East Coast. Introductory pricing ranges from $40 to $80 per month for speeds ranging from 50Mbps to 1,000Mbps. 

Optimum

Optimum is one of the largest cable ISPs in the US, covering much of the greater New York City area along with smaller markets in 21 states since parent company Altice rebranded Suddenlink under the Optimum brand. Pricing and service terms are comparable to most major cable internet providers, but pricing has gone up while customer satisfaction and upload speeds have gone down in recent years.

Sparklight

Formerly known as Cable One, Sparklight is another cable provider that largely serves rural and suburban areas. Plans range from $39 for up to 100Mbps to $125 per month for gig service, which is a bit higher than most ISPs.

Best cable ISPs recap

Cable internet boasts almost the same availability as DSL but can deliver much faster speeds and better connection quality, making it a top choice for broadband, especially in markets where fiber is unavailable. For the most part, cable ISPs have similar speeds and pricing, but those featured in our list of the best -- Xfinity, Spectrum, Mediacom, Cox and WOW -- stand out for their exceptional speeds, customer-friendly service terms and/or unique services. 

Read more: The best high-speed ISPs for gigabit internet

Locating local internet providers

Cable internet FAQs

What is the best coaxial cable for high-speed internet?

Your cable internet provider should provide you with any coaxial cables needed for home internet service. If, however, you need additional cables, RG6 coaxial cables are best suited for home broadband due to their flexibility, reliability and capability to carry large amounts of data.

Fiber vs. cable internet: what’s the difference and which is better?

Cable internet is available to twice the number of households as fiber optic and can support similar download speeds, but its advantages over fiber largely end there. Fiber internet typically comes with faster upload speeds and better speed reliability than cable, often for a lower price than you'll pay for cable internet, depending on which providers are available in your area.

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Which cable company has the fastest internet?

Xfinity offers the fastest cable internet plan of any major internet provider with download speeds up to 2,000Mbps available in select areas. Xfinity also offers a 1,200Mbps plan throughout much of its service area, as does WideOpenWest.

Astound, a cable internet provider with service areas in New York City, Chicago and other major markets across the US, has max download speeds up to 1,500Mbps.

Most other cable ISPs, including Spectrum, Cox, Mediacom and Optimum, top out at max download speeds around 1,000Mbps.

How does cable and DSL internet compare?

Cable internet is preferable to DSL in the same way fiber internet is more desirable than cable service. Cable internet has a faster max speed potential -- up to 1,000Mbps or higher -- than DSL service, which tops out at around 100Mbps. Cable internet also provides a more reliable connection than DSL, especially over long distances. Given the choice of cable or DSL internet service, cable is almost always the better option.

What is a coaxial cable splitter and do I need one?

A coaxial cable splitter allows you to connect multiple devices, such as a cable TV box and an internet modem, to the same line. If one is needed for your home networking, your cable ISP should provide one at the time of installation.

Why are cable internet upload speeds so slow?

Cable internet providers use coaxial cables, the same ones used for cable TV, to run internet service the last mile or so to your home. These cables do not have the same bandwidth capacity as fiber-optic cables and therefore cannot support symmetrical download and upload speeds. As a result, cable internet upload speeds often range from 1 to 50Mbps, though the download speeds may be much higher.

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Why do I only have one cable internet provider?

Operating costs are the biggest obstacle preventing multiple cable providers from offering service in the same market. However, more people have access to more than one provider with cable internet than any other service type (excluding satellite). According to the FCC, multiple cable internet providers are available to around 7% of US residents, compared with less than 4% with fiber and 3% with DSL service.

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What cable internet deals are available to seniors?

Cable internet providers, including Xfinity, Spectrum, Mediacom and others, offer internet plans intended for low-income households. Additionally, the Affordable Connectivity Program grants qualifying households up to $30 per month to use toward the cost of home internet. View our guides to internet deals and how to apply for the ACP credit for more information.

Which cable internet service is available near me?

Cable internet providers operate in specific locations, so the ISP near you will depend on your address. That said, there are a few cable internet providers that are available in more areas than others. Xfinity boasts the largest availability, covering 36% of the US population. Spectrum is right behind Xfinity at 33%, followed by Cox (7%), Altice brands Optimum and Suddenlink (5.6% total), RCN (2.6%), WideOpenWest (2.3%) and Mediacom (2%). There are also dozens of regional cable internet providers that operate in hyper-local markets that your address could be serviceable for.

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Why do we ask for your address?
We ask for your address to help pinpoint which providers and plans are available in your area.
Prefer to speak with an expert live? Call (833) 888-6076 for availability in your area.