AT&T Fiber vs. Comcast: How Do They Compare for Home Internet?

Getting fast, reliable home internet service is crucial in the digital age. Fiber and cable are leading broadband technologies that allow you to surf the web, stream shows, play games, and more with ease. AT&T Fiber and Comcast Xfinity are two of the biggest internet service providers (ISPs) in the United States when it comes to fiber and cable internet. But how exactly do their offerings stack up?

This in-depth guide compares AT&T Fiber and Comcast side-by-side. Read on for a breakdown of speeds, availability, pricing, and more to help you select the best option for your household.

Overview of AT&T and Comcast

First, let‘s briefly introduce the two telecommunications giants.


AT&T Inc. is the world‘s largest telecommunications company with nearly $170 billion in 2020 revenues. Though it started as a telephone service, AT&T has grown over 143 years through various mergers and acquisitions into a multinational conglomerate offering broadband, wireless service, fiber internet, cloud services, and more.

Key details:

  • Founded in 1885 in Dallas, Texas
  • Serves over 100 million mobile, broadband, and pay-TV subscribers
  • Owns WarnerMedia including CNN, HBO, Warner Bros.
  • Has over 230,000 employees globally


Comcast Corporation is another telecom titan, generating over $103 billion in 2020 revenue. Founded in 1963, it primarily operates as a cable TV and home internet provider under the brand name Xfinity.

Key details:

  • Based in Philadelphia, PA
  • Over 54 million cable subscribers
  • Owns NBC, Telemundo, E!, and other networks
  • Employs 190,000 people

Now let‘s explore how AT&T Fiber and Comcast Xfinity compare for home internet service.

Availability of Fiber Networks

The first major difference is accessibility—AT&T Fiber has way less coverage than Comcast nationwide.

AT&T Fiber internet is currently available in parts of just 21 states:

AT&T Fiber availability map showing rollout across 21 states

By comparison, Comcast has a cable infrastructure blanketting 40 states, with fiber internet available in select areas:

Comcast availability map showing service in 40 states

Why the difference? AT&T is still actively building out its fiber network to more neighborhoods while Comcast relies on existing cable technology most places.

Let‘s explore the technology powering the two networks.

Network Technology: Fiber vs. Cable

To understand the technology differences between AT&T Fiber and Comcast Xfinity, we first need quick primers on fiber and cable broadband.

What is Fiber Internet?

Fiber optic internet transmits data over glass fiber cables instead of traditional metal wire cables. Fiber allows for significantly faster speeds and higher capacity using pulses of light.

Benefits of fiber internet:

  • Extreme speeds up to 10 Gbps
  • Low latency for real-time applications
  • Symmetrical speeds (equal upload & download)
  • Scalability to meet future needs
  • Higher reliability than cable

Fiber networks require installing fiber optic cables straight to homes, a costly process completed in phases. That‘s why fiber coverage is still limited—it takes substantial build-out efforts.

What is Cable Internet?

Cable internet runs through the same coaxial cable infrastructure historically used for cable TV signals. Speeds vary based on the network technology:

  • DOCSIS 3.1: Typical speeds 0-1 Gbps
  • DOCSIS 4.0 (just launching): Multi-gig speeds, but fiber will still have an edge long-term

Benefits of cable internet:

  • Widely available across the U.S. already
  • Fast speeds at lower price points, generally
  • Doesn‘t usually require new wires to homes

The downside? Shared bandwidth among neighborhood nodes slows speeds during peak congestion times. Fiber connections are not shared the same way.

Now how does this translate to AT&T‘s and Comcast‘s networks?

AT&T Fiber

AT&T Fiber brings fiber optic cables straight to homes and businesses for a 100% fiber-optic network. This full fiber means consistently fast, symmetrical speeds.

However, availability is very limited since neighborhoods require fiber lines to be physically deployed. AT&T is actively expanding to more regions after initial builds concentrated in the Southeast.

Comcast Xfinity

Comcast primarily relies on hybrid fiber-coaxial network architecture. Fiber optic lines feed into neighborhood nodes, then existing coaxial cable connects to homes.

This allows Comcast to offer fiber speeds to tens of millions using largely existing cable wires. However, the coaxial portion can hamper consistency.

Comcast does offer true fiber internet in select areas, though—it‘s building out more fiber but cable makes up most of its infrastructure.

Speed Tiers: How Fast Can You Go?

Now, let‘s explore tiers and pricing. We‘ll start with AT&T Fiber, where you can get symmetrical, consistent speeds:

AT&T speed tiers and pricing table

With the 300 Mbps plan, you can comfortably stream, browse, and work from home. Gaming households or those with many connected devices may want to bump up to the 1 Gbps or higher tiers.

Comcast Xfinity offers a wide range of asymmetrical speed tiers, meaning slower upload vs. download speeds:

Comcast speed tiers and pricing table

The Performance Starter tier suits basic browsing needs. But you‘ll likely want 200 Mbps or higher download speeds for seamless streaming, gaming, video calls, and more across multiple devices.

Comparing top speeds, both providers actually go up to 5–6 Gbps in select areas. But that priciest tier isn‘t available to most residential customers or locations yet.

The fiber speed advantage goes to AT&T for now thanks to network consistency and symmetrical uploads. More on that next.

Reliability and Consistency

A benefit of AT&T Fiber is exceptional reliability and speed consistency, thanks to the dedicated fiber line straight to your home. You get full bandwidth capacity at all times.

By comparison, Comcast cable internet generally offers solid speeds but area network traffic can slow things down during peak evening hours when everyone‘s streaming. Resource contention on local nodes causes more variability.

Independent reporting verifies exceptional AT&T Fiber reliability:

Meanwhile, Comcast still struggles with slower-than-advertised speeds:

So AT&T Fiber edges out Comcast on consistency thanks to dedicated fiber lines avoiding node congestion.

Symmetrical Speeds

With AT&T Fiber, upload and download speeds are symmetrical—you get 300 Mbps up and down on the basic package. Comcast cable tiers generally have much slower upload vs. download throughput.

This symmetry gives AT&T Fiber an advantage for:

  • Video calls and conferencing
  • Cloud data backups
  • Multiplayer gaming
  • Smart home device communications

Households with several connected devices and users will appreciate AT&T Fiber allowing everyone to seamlessly upload and download simultaneously. No lopsided performance dragging activities down.

Now how do the provider‘s fees and pricing models compare?

Pricing, Fees and Caps

Pricing and extra fees also differ substantially between the two ISPs.

AT&T Fiber Cost Breakdown

AT&T Fiber pricing is pleasingly simple and straightforward:

  • No contracts, so you can cancel anytime
  • No data caps, so use as much as you want
  • No TV bundles required to get best promo rates
  • No price hikes at 12 months—rates are fixed

You‘ll pay:

  • $99 fiber installation fee
  • $10/month gateway equipment fee

Total first-year cost for 1 Gbps fiber is $1,029 before taxes.

Comcast Xfinity Cost Breakdown

Comcast Xfinity pricing is unfortunately convoluted:

  • Teaser rates for 12 months then price jumps
  • Long contracts for the best promos
  • Data overage charges if you pass 1.2 TB monthly allowance
  • Varied pricing by location beyond the advertised rates

Expect to pay:

  • $100 installation fee
  • $14/month gateway rental
  • $10–$50 more monthly after 12 months

Total first-year cost for equivalent 1 Gbps tier is $1,038 plus overage fees and local rate premiums. Promo rates require a 2-year contract.

The numbers are comparable initially but AT&T Fiber guarantees fixed pricing long-term.

Bundled Services

You aren‘t required to bundle TV or other services with your internet plan. But bundles can offer perks and savings for households that want a package deal.

AT&T Fiber lets you add:

  • AT&T TV: Streams live & on-demand shows
  • AT&T TV Now: Cable-style channel packages
  • AT&T Wireless: Cell phone service
  • AT&T Home Phone

Bundling internet with another AT&T service scores a $10/month discount.

Meanwhile, Comcast Xfinity bundles benefit from the company‘s media properties:

  • Xfinity Mobile: Cell service leaning on Comcast Wi-Fi
  • Xfinity Home: Smart home security
  • Xfinity TV: Tons of channel packages

Comcast bundles can knock $20–$30 off your monthly bill. Both companies offer solid options to customize your services.

Customer Service

Customer service and support used to be pain points for both AT&T and Comcast. But the providers have upped their games recently.

Third-party satisfaction scores show solid improvement—for example, AT&T climbed 27 places year-over-year on ACSI‘s telecom industry ranking. But there‘s still room to improve.

Here are some ratings snapshots:

AT&T Internet

  • ACSI: 64/100 — Industry average 65 (2022 report)
  • BBB: A+ rating (
  • Great support once connected, but complaints of long hold times

Comcast Xfinity

  • ACSI: 62/100 — Industry average 65
  • BBB: B rating
  • Mix of positive & negative reviews on availability, tech arrival times

The numbers show both AT&T and Comcast hovering around industry averages. But consumers seem happier with AT&T Fiber‘s dedicated teams for fiber customers versus Comcast‘s larger shared support staff.

Future Expansion Plans

Looking ahead, AT&T appears more aggressive about fiber network expansion despite already trailing Comcast‘s cable infrastructure reach today.

Announcing 2021 plans to invest $6–8 billion in fiber over the following years, AT&T said:

"We’re accelerating and expanding our existing fiber build to cover 30 million customer locations with AT&T Fiber by year-end 2025."

Meanwhile, Comcast is touting DOCSIS 4.0 upgrades to squeeze more speed from existing cable lines. But its fiber expansion remains limited compared to AT&T:

"We do not have plans to build out an all-FTTH network, but we continue to examine economically viable options to deliver multi-gigabit symmetrical speeds at scale, including FTTH."

So in the long run, AT&T Fiber availability looks primed to rival and possibly overtake Comcast.

Verdict: Which is Better for Home Internet?

AT&T Fiber is the superior option thanks to full fiber-to-the-home connections. The technology allows for symmetrical, ultra-fast speeds that never waiver. Despite the limited rollout so far concentrated on the coasts, AT&T Fiber wins on consistency and future-proofing.

Comcast Xfinity cable leverages existing infrastructure to offer solid speeds at low prices. But peak congestion and local node bottlenecks can hamper reliability. And upload performance drags, hindering real-time collaboration usage.

Households with routine video calls, heavy cloud syncing, large downloads, and multiplayer gaming will want to choose AT&T Fiber over Comcast. The full fiber network offers a premium experience. Wait for AT&T Fiber availability if you can.

However, Comcast Xfinity presents a fine fallback for casual browsing and video streaming if AT&T fiber isn‘t available in your area yet. The cost savings over fiber may appeal to budgets. Just keep expectations in check on upload speeds and evening congestion.

Weigh your usage requirements, desired speeds, and budget to pick between AT&T Fiber and Comcast. Check fiber availability in your neighborhood as the first step when comparing your home internet options.

The Bottom Line

AT&T vs Comcast Infographic

Key Advantages of AT&T Fiber:

  • True fiber-to-the-home network
  • Fast, symmetrical speed tiers
  • Very reliable and consistent performance
  • No contracts or data caps
  • Aggressive fiber expansion plans

Key Advantages of Comcast:

  • Better availability nationwide
  • Lower upfront pricing on speed tiers
  • Bundles can offer added savings
  • Familiar brand with cable TV legacy

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