5 Best Routers for Cox in 2019
You just moved into your new place. You got the 75” 4K TV and you’re going with Cox Communications for your internet and cable service. You put a lot of thought into which channel package to choose. Definitely important. But there’s another critical choice you need to make. Which WiFi router should you get? We’ll review five routers that work best with Cox Communications. Select any one of these routers and you’ll be ready to binge watch your fave shows.
Why Should I Buy My Own Router for Cox Cable?
It may make sense for you to buy or rent a router directly from Cox. You can be sure that it’s certified by Cox Communications and, if anything goes wrong, it’s the company’s responsibility to deal with it. But you’ll pay top dollar for it – and it may not be the latest and greatest technology. Rent instead of buy and the router will really cost you. Anywhere from $6.99 to $9.99 a month plus tax on top of your regular bill. It starts to add up.
Buy your own and, in most cases, you’ll start to see the return on your investment after the first year. Most vendors have a return policy and offer an optional warranty. So, you can save money and have peace of mind.
Router or Modem?
Before you run out and buy a router, let’s explain the difference between a router and a modem.
In order for your computers to communicate with the internet, you must have a modem. The signal used by Cox to move data from the internet into your home cannot be directly understood by your computer and other devices. The modem acts as a translator between the internet and your devices. The modem you select must specifically work with your Internet Service Provider (ISP), in this case Cox.
The router connects to the modem and creates a private wireless network within your home. This allows all of your devices – televisions, printers, phones, laptops, and computers to access the internet. The router can also connect a wireless security system, smart speakers like the Amazon Echo, and other smart products like lights and thermostats.
Combo Modem / Router
You can buy a device that is both a modem and a router. This saves some space and may save money. We recommend you keep these devices separate. This gives you more flexibility as technology inevitably evolves over time.
Wi-Fi Mesh Network
In very large homes, or in homes that have a complex layout, the signal from the router may weaken as it travels farther away from it. With a mesh network, additional “nodes” are added to areas of the home to boost the signal. The signal moves from the router through the nodes. The nodes communicate with each other, so the signal does not weaken. Think of moving buckets of water from one place to another. You could have 10 people walking to and from the source of water separately – or 10 people can form a chain and pass the bucket from one to the next. It’s faster and more efficient.
What Type of Modem Do I Need?
Cox has a list of certified modems that meet the requirements of their different packages. (https://www.cox.com/residential/support/cox-certified-cable-modems.html) You’ll need a Cox certified modem. The vendor will list which cable companies their modem is compatible with. You can check Cox’s list of certified modems online. Since the list isn’t always current, we recommend you call Cox before you buy to make sure the modem will work with their service.
Here are the key modem specifications and what they mean for you.
DOCSIS stands for Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification. It is an international telecommunications standard. This is what enables the cable companies to provide high-bandwidth data transfer over a coaxial cable TV system. Cox requires all new customers to have at least DOCSIS 3.0. DOCSIS 3.0 works with both the Ultimate and Preferred 100 plans. DOCSIS 3.1 is the latest version and Cox requires it for their Gigablast plan. DOCSYS 3.1 will work with any of the plans.
Number of Channels
Think of channels as the number of lanes in a highway. A 32×8 modem uses 32 “lanes” to move data down from the internet and 8 lanes to move data back up to the internet. The number of download channels is always much larger as most people are streaming data (like a movie) down to their devices. Uploading, for example, a YouTube video is less data intensive. Cox Preferred 100 plan uses 8×4, Ultimate requires 16×4, and Gigablast needs 32×8. You can use a 32×8 for the Preferred 100 and Ultimate plans, the service just can’t take advantage of the extra data throughput.
What Type of Router Do I Need?
You need a router that can handle the Cox Communications internet plan that you choose. The service you select depends on how many devices you have, what types of devices they are, and how many will be used at the same time. You’ll also need to factor in the size of your home and complexity of the layout. For example, a 3-story home or one with a lot of walls needs a more powerful router.
These are the key attributes that impact whether your router can handle the internet speed you require.
802.11 is a standard protocol that was created for wireless networks. Later revisions can handle more bandwidth. Cox recommends a router compatible with the 802.11ac standard. One new feature of this revision is beamforming. Beamforming allows for a more reliable connection in crowded areas (like a major city) by targeting their signals in the specific direction of receiving antennas. This is an optional feature that may or may not be included with the router.
Number of Radio Bands
A single band router gives your devices access to the slower 2.4GHz radio frequency. Dual band routers give you access to both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies. (You select which one to use in the setup.) With simultaneous dual band, the router puts out signals to both at the same time. 5GHz handles more data than the 2.4GHz and is faster. Older devices will use the 2.4GHz. A tri-band router has one 2.4GHz and two 5GHz bands. This allows the router to split the load between the two 5GHz bands. Cox recommends dual band if you mainly use the internet for wireless devices.
MU-MIMO (multi-user, multiple input, multiple output) is a technology that splits up the available bandwidth into individual streams so that multiple users can experience similar speeds for their devices. Older technology worked on a “first come, first serve” basis.
- Ease of setup
- App for remote management
- Parental controls
Top 5 Routers for Cox Communications Internet
Our recommendations are based on the different types of packages offered by Cox.
Preferred 100 – Arris SBG6700-AC
If you are household of 1-2 people who basically watch one TV, have a shared wireless printer, one or two laptops, and a couple of smart phones, the Preferred 100 plan will likely meet your needs. It offers download speeds of up to 100 Mbps and upload speeds of up to 10Mbps. Assuming you live in a home under 2000 square feet with 1-2 stories, to save money and space, we’re going to break our rule and recommend a combo modem / router. The specifications on the Arris SBG6700-AC include DOCSIS 3.0, 8×4 channels, 802.11ac compatibility, beamforming, and simultaneous dual-band. Price is about $60. Detailed Specifications
Ultimate – TP-Link AC1900 or Netgear R7000P Nighthawk
The Ultimate plan will work fine for your average family of four with a typical number of devices. (A couple of TVs, a few laptops, a basic security system, and a half-dozen smartphones and tablets.) It offers download speeds up to 300Mbps and upload speeds up to 30Mbps.
The TP-Link AC1900 has a lot of power for under $100. 802.11ac compatibility, MU-MIMO, beamforming, and simultaneous dual-band. Also includes parental controls and a smartphone app for remote management. Detailed Specifications.
For under $200, the Netgear R7000P Nighthawk can handle up to 35 devices in a home up to 2000 square feet. Netgear offers versions that handle more devices and larger homes. Detailed Specifications.
Gigablast – Netgear Nighthawk RAX80 or Netgear Orbi AC3000 Mesh Network
The Gigablast plan is for larger households with many devices being used simultaneously. Perfect for serious gamers or a home-based business. Download speed is up to 1Gbps. (10x more than the Preferred 100 plan.)
Netgear Nighthawk RAX80
For about $300 you can get ready for the future. The Netgear Nighthawk uses the latest 802.11ax standard. It can handle speeds far beyond Gigablast. When Cox catches up, you won’t need to upgrade your router. MU-MIMO, beamforming, and simultaneous dual-band. It is backwards compatible with 802.11ac. Detailed Specifications.
Netgear Orbi AC3000
The Netgear Orbi AC3000 mesh network is for very large homes. The base router plus one satellite costs about $300 and covers 5000 square feet. Add satellites for more coverage. It’s 802.11ac tri-band and can handle download speeds up to 3Gbps. Easy setup, parental controls, and app for remote management. Detailed Specifications.
Selecting the best router for Cox Communications is a balance between features and price. First, make sure you are using a Cox certified modem. Use the router we recommend for your Cox package and you’re good to go.