Cox’s StraightUp Internet is our top pick for prepaid cable internet plans. It has ample speeds for several devices to use the internet at the same time, plus free equipment. If Cox has been installed in your home previously, you can do self-installation for $20. But if not, you’ll need to pay $75 for installation. You can get a free refurbished modem/router when you start your service, which saves you a monthly equipment lease fee or a hefty one-time modem purchase fee.
As far as speeds go, Cox’s StraightUp Internet plan offers good speeds of up to 50 Mbps download, which is fast for prepaid but certainly not Cox’s fastest plan. Other Cox internet plans can give you speeds as fast as 500 Mbps. But, if you only have a couple of devices and you need a contract-free internet plan, you will probably be able to do most things online with Cox's prepaid plan. A speed of 25 Mbps can support streaming in DVD quality on a couple of devices, gaming, and video conferencing.
But remember, Cox might not be available in your neighborhood. Cable providers seldom overlap, so you’ll only have one cable company in your neighborhood. Some cable companies don’t offer a prepaid or contract-free option. Spectrum, for example, requires at least a 12-month contract to sign up. RCN doesn’t require a contract, but they don’t have any prepaid options. If you want to sign up for RCN internet, you will need to pay the installation fee but you won’t be stuck with early termination fees if you cancel service early.
The long and short of it is that if you can get Cox StraightUp Internet, it’ll provide steady service with no up-front cost. It works well for short-term internet service, although if you want more speed you’ll have to upgrade to a plan with a 12-month contract.