AT&T vs. Comcast: Which Internet Provider Is Best for Small Businesses?
A better gigabit solution and no-contract fiber plans make one of these high-speed internet providers the clear winner for small businesses.
Cox is offering one free month of their Connect 2 Compete low-income internet program until May 12, 2020, in addition to providing free phone and remote desktop support.
Comcast Xfinity is offering two free months of their Internet Essentials package to new customers and increased internet speeds to all existing subscribers.
Also, anybody can use an Xfinity hotspot for free, and subscribers get unlimited data use for 60 days.
Although it’s a pretty close match, if you’re caught choosing between AT&T and Comcast—like many small-business owners are—we recommend AT&T.
AT&T offers the better business internet experience
The right provider and plan for your business will depend on which internet factors matter the most to you. But when it comes to affordability, fast speeds, and customer service, AT&T is the better choice.
|Fastest download plan||1,000 Mbps||1,000 Mbps|
|Contract Length||Fiber: None, DSL: Varies||Fiber: 24 months, HFC: 2 or 3 years|
|Early termination fee||Fiber: None, DSL: Varies||$200|
|Reliability||99.9% uptime||99.998% uptime|
|30-day free trial||✔||✔|
|Dedicated internet option||✔||✔|
|Rural fixed wireless option||✔||✖|
|24/7 technical support||✔||✔|
|Get Started||View Plans||View Plans|
AT&T business internet overview
- $60 monthly starter plan
- No-contract fiber plans
- Positive customer ratings
- Expensive higher speed plans
- $99 fiber installation fee
Comcast business internet overview
- Fast upload speeds
- Free installation
- 99.998% uptime guarantee
- Poor corporate reputation
- $200 early termination fee
Comcast is best known as a residential TV and cable internet service provider (under the name Xfinity). But the massive media company, which counts companies like Universal Pictures and NBC as assets, also provides internet plans to millions of US residential and business customers. Comcast business internet plans use either pure fiber-optic internet or hybrid fiber-coaxial (HFC) connections.
See our Comcast business internet review to learn more.
AT&T offers more affordable basic plans than Comcast
|DSL plan||Starting price/mo.||Download/upload speed (Mbps)|
AT&T business DSL plans come with a one-year contract and price guarantee. However, AT&T fiber plans are contract-free, and your price is guaranteed for 24 months.
|HFC plan||Starting price/mo.*||Download/upload speed (Mbps)|
|Deluxe 75 Internet||$149.95||75/15|
|Deluxe 150 Internet||$249.95||150/20|
|Deluxe 300 Internet||$349.95||300/25|
|Deluxe 500 Internet||$399.95||500/35|
|Business Internet 1 Gig||$499.95||1,000/35|
If you’re nervous about locking your business into a lengthy—and potentially costly—agreement with an internet provider, AT&T is the friendlier option.
Comcast plans all come with annual contract requirements. Fiber plan agreements are 24 months, while HFC plans can be either two or three years, depending on what’s available in your area.
However, both AT&T and Comcast offer a 30-day trial, allowing you to get your money back if you cancel within the first month. The trial may ease the worry of risking your budget with either provider.
When it comes to fees, Comcast has one edge. AT&T charges $99 to install a fiber connection or $200 for a DSL connection (though there’s also a free self-install option for DSL). We found Comcast offers free professional installation with every plan, saving you some significant up-front costs.
Both AT&T and Comcast offer a 30-day trial, allowing you to get your money back if you cancel within the first month.
What about early termination fees (ETFs)? Since you don’t have to sign a contract for AT&T fiber plans, ETFs don’t apply. However, canceling a DSL plan could cost you about $20 for every month left in your contract, or else 50% of your monthly rate for the remainder of your contract term. Comcast charges a flat $200 ETF on any plan, so make sure you’re happy with your service before that 30-day trial ends!
AT&T offers faster upload speeds
Are you looking for extremely high-speed internet service for your business? AT&T and Comcast offer some of the fastest commercially available internet plans around. In some areas, both internet service providers sell gigabit connections, which give you download speeds up to 1,000 megabits per second.
|Fiber plan||Starting price/mo.||Download/upload speed (Mbps)|
|Business Fiber 25||$60||25/5|
|Business Fiber 50||$85||50/10|
|Business Fiber 100||$140||100/20|
|Business Fiber 500||$300||500/100|
|Business Fiber 1,000||$500||1,000/200|
|Business Fiber 25s||$100||25/25|
|Business Fiber 50s||$200||50/50|
|Business Fiber 500s||$450||500/500|
|Business Fiber 1,000s||$650||1,000/1,000|
Download speeds that fast make it a breeze for dozens of employees to browse the internet, download large files, and stream audio and video.
AT&T ekes out a win here too. The gigabit plan we found from Comcast—an HFC connection—comes with upload speeds up to 35 Mbps. That’s pretty good for occasionally uploading large files and videoconferencing.
|Fiber plan||Starting price/mo.*||Download/upload speed (Mbps)|
|Deluxe 75 Internet||$149.95||75/75|
|Deluxe 150 Internet||$249.95||150/150|
|Deluxe 500 Internet||$399.95||500/500|
|Business Internet 1 Gig||$499.95||1,000/1,000|
Although gigabit connections offer supremely fast computing, you could pay at least $500 a month to max out your business internet speeds.
AT&T sells a gigabit fiber plan with symmetric speeds, which means you get 1,000 Mbps downstream and upstream. If you and your employees frequently use videoconferencing and complex data sharing services, the AT&T plan is your best bet.
However, these plans do come at a premium. You’ll pay at least $500 a month to max out your business internet speeds.
Comcast beats AT&T in reliability
|Downtime per month||43.8 minutes||52.56 seconds|
|Downtime per year||8.76 hours||10.51 minutes|
|Latency guarantee||40 ms||N/A|
*Uptime guarantees confirmed from online chat conversations with internet service provider representatives.
Comcast includes the strongest uptime guarantee we’ve found from any business internet provider. At 99.998% for its fiber plans, you can count on your internet connection to be up and running nearly every minute of the year.
AT&T guarantees 99.9% uptime for fiber connections. That’s not too shabby, but over the course of an entire year, the fractional difference adds up.
Comcast and AT&T offer similar extras. However, some services—like data backups and security packages—are a bit cheaper with AT&T.
Comcast loses the customer service round
Do any digging around online for “Comcast” and “customer service,” and you’re bound to end up worried. The mega-corporation has a downright terrible reputation with the general public, which would give any decision maker pause.
Does AT&T fare any better? We looked at a few markers for customer and technical support, and while Comcast Business customers tend to be satisfied with their internet service, AT&T seems to be the safer choice.
One key indicator of AT&T’s edge in customer satisfaction is the results of a 2019 J.D. Power study of business internet customers.1 While AT&T didn’t rank as well as some competitors—like Verizon and Cox—it beat Comcast in two of the three business markets J.D. Power surveyed.
J.D. Power bases its customer satisfaction rankings on six factors: “performance and reliability; cost of service; communications; sales representatives and account executives; billing; and customer service.”
|Segment||AT&T ranking||Comcast ranking|
|Very Small Business||4th||3rd|
If you’re a small-business owner, you may want to remember this illuminating quote from the J.D. Power study press release: “Smaller business customers may be less profitable, but if wireline companies can address the opportunities in very small business customer service, they will see an increase in satisfaction and, ultimately, retention.”2
Considering the malice that many Comcast residential customers show for the provider, we’re comfortable giving AT&T the win for this category.
How to compare business internet providers
In talking to business decision makers, three factors emerged as the most important when choosing an internet service provider: speed, price, and reliability.
Bandwidth and speed
Choosing an internet plan usually starts with deciding how much speed you need. In other words, how fast do you want your internet connection to work?
Although the words bandwidth and speed have technically distinct meanings, internet providers often use the terms loosely. When comparing internet plans from different service providers, the number accompanying the plan name usually denotes its bandwidth. For example, AT&T’s Business Fiber 100 plan is capable of delivering 100 Mbps of download data.
|Speed||What it means|
|1 to 4 Mbps||Allows one to three users to do light web surfing, email, online computing, and standard-definition video streaming and conferencing.|
|5 to 19 Mbps||Connects a few employees and adds the ability to easily transfer files, run e-commerce services, and stream and conference in high definition.|
|20 to 49 Mbps||Several employees can download big files and stream and communicate online with little interruption. You can also set up well-functioning Wi-Fi for employees and customers at this level.|
|50 to 99 Mbps||About a dozen employees can work, conference, and collaborate in real time. File sharing is easier, and downloads and backups are faster. Hi-def streaming and conferencing are clear.|
|100 to 499 Mbps||Suits internet-heavy business operations with many users who access applications and files on the cloud. Supports website services with lots of online traffic and activity.|
|500 Mbps to 1 Gbps||The fastest business internet available. As you approach 1,000 Mbps, all the previous activity and more become near-instantaneous, and you rarely wait for any service to function.|
Uploads are the other side of internet speed. Frequently uploading files to the internet and making audio or video calls requires faster upload speeds. So consider plans that offer high upload speeds—or equal upload speeds, as with some AT&T business fiber plans.
One more thing: consider what the future holds for your business needs. Do you expect substantial growth? Adding more employees could mean heavier internet use, which can bog down slower internet plans. As a growing business, you should choose a plan that works for you now and in the future.
Although Comcast has a few good features—like free installation and an unmatched reliability guarantee—AT&T offers more affordable, faster plans and better customer experience.
Comcast Business isn’t a terrible choice—especially if you want to save on installation fees or need near-perfect connection uptime. Yet, AT&T customers are decidedly more satisfied with their business internet plans, which are often more affordable and faster than the competition.
Want to dig deeper into your internet options? Read through our Comcast review to get more in-depth information before making a decision.
At Business.org, our research is meant to offer general product and service recommendations. We don’t guarantee that our suggestions will work best for each individual or business, so consider your unique needs when choosing products and services.
1. J.D. Power, “Satisfaction Gap Between Large and Small Business Wireline Customers Increases, J.D. Power Finds”
2. J.D. Power, “Satisfaction Gap Between Large and Small Business Wireline Customers Increases, J.D. Power Finds“