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.

WINNER
Contract-free fiber internet
Best customer ratings
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WORTHY CONTENDER
Zero-cost fiber installation
Stellar reliability guarantee
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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.

Compare AT&T business internet and Comcast business internet

FeaturesAT&TComcast
Lowest-priced plan$60/mo.$69.95/mo.
Fastest download plan1,000 Mbps1,000 Mbps
Contract LengthFiber: None, DSL: VariesFiber: 24 months, HFC: 2 or 3 years
Early termination feeFiber: None, DSL: Varies$200
Customer Satisfaction1839/1000799/1000
Reliability99.9% uptime99.998% uptime
30-day free trial
Dedicated internet option
Rural fixed wireless option
24/7 technical support
Free installation
Get StartedView PlansView Plans

Data effective 6/18/18. At publishing time, pricing and speeds are current but are subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.

AT&T business internet overview

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Strengths

  • $60 monthly starter plan
  • No-contract fiber plans
  • Positive customer ratings
Thumbs Down

Weaknesses

  • Expensive higher speed plans
  • $99 fiber installation fee

AT&T is a national provider of phone, TV, and high-speed internet access. Formerly known as AT&T U-verse, the suite of AT&T internet plans offered to US businesses come in two connection types: fiber-optic network and digital subscriber line (DSL).

Read more in our AT&T business internet review.

Comcast business internet overview

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Strengths

  • Fast upload speeds
  • Free installation
  • 99.998% uptime guarantee
Thumbs Down

Weaknesses

  • 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

AT&T business DSL internet plans and pricing

DSL planStarting price/mo.Download/upload speed (Mbps)Contract length
Internet 25$6025/1.512 months
Internet 50$8550/312 months
Internet 100$115100/612 months
Internet 500$250500/812 months

Data effective 6/5/2018. At publishing time, pricing and speeds are current but are subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.

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.

Comcast business HFC internet plans and pricing

HFC planStarting price/mo.Download/upload speed (Mbps)Contract length
Starter Internet$84.9025/52- or 3-year term
Deluxe 50 Internet$124.9050/102- or 3-year term
Deluxe 75 Internet$164.9075/152- or 3-year term
Deluxe 100 Internet$214.90100/202- or 3-year term
Deluxe 150 Internet$264.90150/202- or 3-year term
Deluxe 250 Internet$364.90250/252- or 3-year term
Deluxe 500 Internet$414.90500/352- or 3-year term
Business Internet 1 Gig$514.901,000/352- or 3-year term

Data effective 6/18/18. At publishing time, pricing and speeds are current but are subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.

Look out

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 12 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 DSL line or $200 for a fiber connection. 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. 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.

AT&T business fiber internet plans and pricing

Fiber planStarting price/mo.Download/upload speed (Mbps)Contract length
Business Fiber 25$6025/5None
Business Fiber 50$8550/10None
Business Fiber 100$140100/20None
Business Fiber 500$300500/100None
Business Fiber 1,000$5001,000/200None
Business Fiber 25s$10025/25None
Business Fiber 50s$20050/50None
Business Fiber 100s$300100/100None
Business Fiber 500s$450500/500None
Business Fiber 1,000s$6501,000/1,000None

Data effective 6/4/2018. At publishing time, pricing and speeds are current but are subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.

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 video conferencing.

Comcast business fiber internet plans and pricing

Fiber planStarting price/mo.Download/upload speed (Mbps)Contract length
Starter Internet$69.9525/2524 months
Deluxe 50 Internet$109.9550/5024 months
Deluxe 75 Internet$149.9575/7524 months
Deluxe 100 Internet$199.95100/10024 months
Deluxe 150 Internet$249.95150/15024 months

Data effective 6/4/2018. At publishing time, pricing and speeds are current but are subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.

Although gigabit connections offer supremely fast computing, you could pay at least $500 a month to max out your business internet speeds.

Business Fiber 1,000 (symmetrical)

For $500 per month, you can get blazing speeds up to 1 Gbps download and upload for complex cloud computing, VoIP calling, and large file uploading.

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 video conferencing 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.

One caveat: when we spoke to Comcast representatives, they told us that the company’s download speeds represent “minimum” speeds. You can expect 110% to 115% faster speeds than what you paid for, according to the rep.

Comcast beats AT&T in reliability

Compare AT&T and Comcast business internet reliability

Reliability statAT&TComcast
Uptime guarantee99.9%
(fiber plans)
99.998%
(fiber plans)
Downtime per month43.8 minutes52.56 seconds
Downtime per year8.76 hours10.51 minutes
Latency guarantee40 msN/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 2017 J.D. Power study of business internet customers.2 While AT&T didn’t rank as well as some competitors—like Verizon and Cox—it beat Comcast in all 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.”

J.D. Power customer service satisfaction rankings for AT&T and Comcast

SegmentAT&T rankingComcast ranking
Very Small Business3rd4th
Small/Midsize Business2nd4th
Large Enterprise2nd3rd

If you’re a small-business owner, you may want to remember this illuminating quote from the J.D. Power study press release: “The small business telecom customer experience is very similar to the residential customer experience vs. large enterprise customers who are receiving a much higher level of dedicated service.”

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 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.

Business internet download speed recommendations

SpeedWhat it means
1 to 4 MbpsAllows one to three users to do light web surfing, email, online computing, and standard-definition video streaming and conferencing.
5 to 19 MbpsConnects 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 MbpsSeveral 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 MbpsAbout 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 MbpsSuits 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 GbpsThe 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.

The takeaway

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.

Disclaimer

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.

Sources

  1. J.D. Power, “Business Wireline Customer Satisfaction Increases with Solid Communications (2018)”
  2. J.D. Power, “Business Wireline Satisfaction Study (2017)