September 25, 2014 Jessica Sims
Comcast Xfinity vs Verizon FiOS: A Thorough Comparison

Comcast Xfinity vs Verizon FiOS: A Thorough Comparison

Verizon FiOS TV, internet, and home phone deals updated 4 hours ago.

When comparing providers we all want the fasts speeds, the most channels, and the lowest prices.

While this would be a match made in heaven, I often saying that there are few industries where “You get what you pay for.” is more true than the Cable/Broadband industry.

Having been a customer of both Comcast Xfinity and Verizon FiOS at different houses, I decided it was time to do a proper comparison of the two companies, but if you are looking for a short comparison it comes down to this:

Which to Choose: Verizon or Comcast

If the thorough comparison doesn’t interest you here, is the short answer:

Heavy Internet Users: Choose Verizon FiOS »

If you fall into these categories then choosing FiOS is a “no brainer.”

  • You only want a internet connection because you watch TV online or via Netflix.
  • You or someone in your household identifies with the word “gamer” or “techie.”
  • You work from home or you want the fastest connection in your area.

60+ Hour a Week TV Watchers: Choose Comcast Xfinity »

  • If you spend 60+ hours a week catching up on the latest shows, then I’d recommend you go with Comcast Xfinity for it’s new X1 cable box.
  • People who don’t use Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.
  • People who use less than 250gb of data a month.

Everyone Else: Choose Verizon FiOS »

Having told every family member to switch to FiOS (if it’s available in their area), I’ll recommend the same to you and if the stats and figures below don’t convince you then this one fact alone should.

Verizon FiOS doesn’t charge you extra if you go over your monthly allotted data cap. In fact, Verizon FiOS doesn’t have a data cap where Comcast make this a core part of their business and their data cap is hilariously low at 250gb/mo, then it’s $10 per 50gb over.

Now while, most of the comparisons I write are in broader strokes, I decided it was time to write a more thorough comparison because there is no doubt that both Verizon FiOS and Comcast Xfinity are two of the companies leading the broadband industry, so it’s just right that we do an in-depth analysis instead of something more general.

Key Statistics Between Each Provider

While there are lots of statistics that different providers use to make themselves look better, when they are compared. The table below consists of the most important ones.

Verizon FiOS Comcast Xfinity
Fastest Speeds Offered 500mbps 150mbps
% of Advertised Download Speed Delivered [1] 120.27% 102.77%
Connection Type Fiber Optic Coaxial Cable
Average Latency by Technology [2] 24.28ms 30.92ms
Technology Available to Consumers 2006 1997
ACSI Customer Service Rating [3] 71/100 57/100

In all honesty, I looked hard to find statistics that made Comcast look good, but there are few relevant ones. The only one that isn’t included above is that they are the nations largest cable company. While that probably doesn’t mean anything important to you, it could be a “win” in someone’s book.

Comcast Xfinity vs Verizon FiOS Speedtest

To demonstrate the speed differences between Comcast Xfinity and Verizon FiOS, I asked a friend who was switching between providers to record a speedtest from both companies using the same server, same computer, and same time of day. Below is the video of the results.

As you can see from the video, Verizon FiOS’s 150/150mbps plan, one of their middle plans, is still faster than Comcast’s fastest plan. Not to mention the upload speed with Verizon FiOS is 32 times faster than with Comcast.

Overview of Verizon FiOS

Verizon FIOS Logo with TV, laptop, and phone in background.Verizon FiOS is the nation’s largest fiber provider. They operate in 13 states and cover over 40 million people.

Because Verizon FiOS deliveries their service over fiber optic cables instead of traditional coaxial or phone wiring, they are able to deliver faster speeds with lower latency.

While consumers routinely agree that the companies within the “internet service industry” are some of the worst companies for customer satisfaction, Verizon is the best in the category. [4]

While I’m not sure if there is any prize to be won for the “best of the worst” it does point to them doing something better than their competitors.

Key Highlights

  • Upside: FiOS is Fiber: Verizon FiOS’s fiber network allows them to offer blazing fast broadband speeds up to 500/500mbps. These speeds are only trumped by smaller fiber providers like that of Chattanooga and Google Fiber.
  • Upside: Symmetrical Plans: FiOS just recently upgrade all of their “FiOS Quantum” internet plans to be “symmetrical” which means they offer the same upload speeds as their download speeds. This means if you work from home, do video conferencing, or upload large files often, you’ll see a huge boost in some of the tasks you do.
  • Upside: Best in Industry Customer Service: Like I said before, being the best of the worst, isn’t great, but it’s something.
  • Upside: Solid Deals / Bundles: Verizon FiOS is typically a little more expensive than Xfinity, but if you are comparing bundles and triple play plans typically you can find cost effective solutions.

Verizon FiOS Availability Map

While many customers wish they could have access to Verizon FiOS service, it isn’t available in all locations. Below is a map of where FiOS offers services, but to check your availability, use this page on Verizon’s website.

Verizon FiOS Broadband Map

Overview Comcast Xfinity

comcast xfinity logoComcast is the nation’s largest cable provider. They operate in 39 states and cover over 113 million people. Over the recent years Comcast has upgraded the speeds of many of their services and the underlying technology behind their service. That said, their service is still based on wires that have been around, in many cases, for decades.

Additionally Comcast’s customers routinely rate Comcast as the worst company for customer satisfaction in the industry. And while this low rating is no surprise considering their recent PR disaster, [5] choosing Comcast as your provider does have 1 distinct upside when compared to FiOS.

Key Insights:

  • Upside: Xfinity X1 Box: Comcast’s new cable box is a upgrade over that of other providers. Having used both FiOS’s new Quantum TV box and Comcast’s new X1 box, it’s easy to notice the upgrade. If you’re a HUGE TV watcher then this is something you may want to pay attention to. You can learn more about the box here.
  • Downside: Comcast has a 250gb data cap meaning that if you use a lot of data or Netflix you’ll be paying a bunch more than what you see on your first bill, every month.

Comcast Availability Map

Comcast offers coverage across 39 states as show in the map below. To see if you can get Comcast, you can check your availability here

Comcast Broadband Map

Verizon FiOS vs Xfinity in a Nutshell

Verizon FiOS Summary:

Verizon FiOS “Quantum” uses new faster technologies to deliver some of the fastest internet speeds in the country at a price that is still surprisingly cost effective.You should definitely choose FiOS, if you are an avid gamer, tech junky, heavy internet users, or someone who works from home.

While FiOS TV’s new box is new and improved, it is still a bit behind the new Xfinity X1 TV box. That said, don’t be scared off by it unless you watch A LOT of television because only the most avid TV watchers will notice the difference.

Comcast XFinity Summary:

If you spend 60+ hours a week watching TV, then I’d recommend you choose Comcast because their new X1 box is fantastic.
While Comcast’s TV is good, their internet is lousy. Comcast uses older technology than FiOS, so they can’t offer the same speeds as FiOS and they force you to have a 250gb data cap.

The Real Winner

Which do You Prefer? Verizon FiOS or Comcast Xfinity

When you boil it all down, having options between both FiOS and Xfinity is a good problem to have. Right now there are millions of Americans who only have access to one provider… so the fact that you have competition in your area means the providers have to work harder to keep you as a customer — meaning you are the real winner.

While this FiOS vs Comcast comparison ended up significantly longer than I wanted, having been a customer of both FiOS and Comcast 2 times respectively. (I’ve moved A LOT in the past 3 years) I recommend FiOS hands down.

If you have any questions feel free to drop them in the comments.

References and Footnotes

  1. In 2012, the FCC showed that not all providers offered the speeds they advertised. While Comcast and FiOS both showed above average speeds, other providers didn't. See the full 2012 report on the FCC's website.
  2. Every year the FCC measures the US's broadband. In the 2014 report the FCC showed that all fiber connections have a lower average ping than other connection types. For more details visit the FCC's website.
  3. The ACSI rates and compares companies across different industries. The score is based on an index of 100. For more details visit the ACSI home page.
  4. See footnote #3
  5. When a customer called to cancel their service, one of the customer service representatives gave them a hard time for almost 10 minutes. This call went viral. See the video here.

18 comments on “Comcast Xfinity vs Verizon FiOS: A Thorough Comparison”

  1. Timothy says:

    I’m not sure, I really do love Xfinity’s new X1 box, but I don’t spend that much time on TV. Do you really think I should switch to FiOS? My contract is expiring this fall. Thanks in advance.

  2. David Andrews says:

    I hate comcast, anything is better than that garbage.

  3. Nancy says:

    I listened to the comcast PR disaster phone call. Too funny.
    Thanks for the write up, definitely not switching to comcast.

  4. Larry says:

    My kids are gamers, which is better to keep them from whining?

    • admin says:

      We’d definitely recommend you get FiOS. As mentioned in the article, lower ping will allow them to have a better experience.

  5. Kelly Saunders says:

    Wow, great writeup.

    I took your advice and signed up for the FiOS bundle you recommened. It saved me $30/month and I now have speeds 40mbps faster than I did with xfinity.

    Thank you.

  6. Gail P says:

    Jess – Once again, your reviews are the best in the business. this comparison is great.

    Not only did I learn a ton about FiOS, but more about fiber optics in general.

    Very cool to see the speed test.

  7. Jan says:

    Just the article I was looking for, but unfortunately you seem to have only compared the fastest (and most expensive) internet speeds from both companies. From a price comparison, Comcast offers the Blast service for $55 monthly (first year) and then $77 monthly, which is supposed to deliver 105 MBS, while FIOS offers its 50/50 service for $93 monthly. The price differences are significant with FIOS consistently more expensive. They have increased my cost over 25% in the last 2 years. Also, I cannot find anywhere that comcast limits downloads to 250GB in Maryland.

  8. Confused says:

    My town does not have Fios but from reading the great info you have I am well informed now.
    Unfortunately that means that I will go with comcast because it’s the only option.

  9. Dennis says:

    Thanks for the post. I joined FiOS few years ago, it was a welcomed upgrade from my previous provider. HOWEVER….

    I have to mention that Verizon FiOS is not really interested in keeping customers. The package/ price I had a few years ago was excellent and competitive. Now that my contract is up…the potential “upgrades” and “discounts” are almost insulting. The only option provided was a $10/ month discount from the regular package price (zero channel or internet speed upgrades). PLUS, the costs for live TV pause/rewind capability is hidden with FiOS. I have to rent separate DVRs for multiple TVs to have option to rewind/ pause live TV; which costs approx. $20/mo per DVR. For a TV without a DVR, the pause/rewind function is not available and costs $12/mo to rent.

    As a note of caution. I had major pixilation on a certain TV on specific channels. The result of (several months of trouble calls) was the DVR is receiving interference from AT&T cell phone towers. The frequency of a section of channels is near the frequency range of AT&T wireless…every time my phone reaches out to the tower…I get major pixilation on the channel.

    I hope this helps. The base price/ speed may be good for a single TV and limited internet users……but if you look for returning customer discounts or have multiple TVs….make sure you take an extra look at the “shiny” deal that Verizon FiOS offers.

  10. Michael newton says:

    I still have an issue with fios…. I understand that at high end speeds fios is far superior to comcast; however, I have the 25 Mbps comcast service ($55/ mo). Yes, it’s horribly inconsistent, (I get as low as 12 Meg’s during peak times. But calling to switch, fios wants to charge me $55 for 6 meg download speed. I don’t see how paying double for each Mbps makes monetary sense, even if the service is consistent in the speed it offers.

    Where am I mistaken in this comparison?

    • admin says:

      Michael — Are you sure that FiOS is available in your area? Sounds like you are shopping for Verizon DSL which is much different than FiOS.

  11. Peter says:

    I recently switched to Verizon FiOS and should have done it long ago. It’s wonderful. They truly deliver what they offer. Had Comcast for more than five years, started out ok, but then became a terrible experience, to the point where I could no longer enjoy having internet. It was once recommended by an Apple technician who told me Verizon FiOS is their ISP and that Verizon uses the latest technology, whereas Comcast’s equipment is old and outdated. I would have done the switch sooner, but had to wait until it was available in my area. Even Comcast’s customer service is awful, it was always like speaking with someone in a third world country, whenever I contacted them. The difference is night and day.

  12. Ken Dibble says:

    What would be your suggestion regarding Internet streaming only? We are wiring our new home for internet only and trying to cut the cord on cable. Which company offers the best speeds, etc? Any thoughts on how to get your ESPN fix as a video streamer? Also, I don’t watch much live TV. I hate commercials, so I tape almost everything? Thoughts?

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