So, after 12+ years on Cox internet service, I really never thought to run speed tests... I mean it always felt snappy enough (never as good as the office, but hey, we had metro-E)... Turns out I shoulda checked a long time ago.
Last week I subscribed to CenturyLink (motivated by Cox customer service related to my digital phone service, and because CenturyLink had put in a fiber node down the street). The price is 40% less and the speed claims where roughly equal (Cox = "up to" 18M down, 4M up, CenturyLink = 20M down, 5M up).
Well, since I'm waiting for DirecTV install this coming week, I figured I'd keep both services and cancel all of Cox at once - so I had them running side by side... When I switched back & forth, I was like, "whoa". The DSL connection seemed so much snappier. So, over the past week, I've hit speedtest.net, speakeasy.net, and downloadable test from DSLReports (I know, not exactly scientific). The results were eye-opening. Cox was consistently 4-6M down and 3-4M up. CenturyLink? 18.5-19.8M down and 4.5-4.9M up - at 40% less.
How long has Cox been ripping me off? Bummer...
It's amazing to me that they can go out and advertise speeds of 18M while delivering 5M and their fine print keeps them legal. I can understand a little optimistic testing on speeds, but delivering 30% of what you flash on your ads? Seriously? And, of course, Cox is fully aware of this I assume - otherwise, they'd provide some guidance on "typical" performance (vs. the perfect-world performance they put in their ads), but instead they just throw out the blanket disclaimer:
"Service disclaimer:Internet service packages shown are not available in all areas. DOCSIS 3 cable modem required for certain service packages. For users with Microsoft operating systems: If you are using an MS operating system other than Vista/Windows 7 (e.g., Microsoft XP), your registry keys must be updated to enable maximum speed performance. Actual speeds experienced will vary and uninterrupted or error-free service is not guaranteed..."
Gotta love the fine print about Windows and the registry hacking required... yeah, put it in the fine print because no one uses Windows! Ha! (BTW - I have Windows 7 Enterprise and have been paying for a Cox modem since two years ago, so according to Cox, I'm configured for maximum performance...
To be fair, it's not anything like unusably slow by any means, but clearly, it's definitely a rip-off. And it's not to say CenturyLink is some kinda panacea, but at least they deliver somewhat close to what they advertise.
If you're not on Cox, really pay attention to the disclaimers before you decide. If you are, and maybe you have this impression of them as a great service company (as I did from my experience many years ago), look at your bill. Test your speed. Call customer service. Then, think about whether you really want to stay.