Spectrum is the brand name used by Charter Communications to market their cable TV, phone, and internet services. With internet coverage spanning 46 states and an estimated 102.5 million customers, they’re the 2nd-largest cable internet service provider (ISP) in the U.S. - only Comcast Xfinity has more customers.
When it comes to Spectrum’s internet service, their top-speeds get beat pretty handily by Xfinity and even non-cable competitor AT&T Internet. But for most people, Spectrum’s speed-to-price ratio provides some of the best overall deals out there.
So saying that, what kind of plans does Spectrum actually offer? How fast are they, and what do they cost?
Spectrum Plans + Prices
|Internet 30||30 Mbps||$44.99/mo.*/$64.99/mo.||View plans|
|Internet 60||60 Mbps||$44.99/mo.*/$64.99/mo.||View plans|
|Internet 100||100 Mbps||$44.99/mo.*/$64.99/mo.||View plans|
|Internet 200||200 Mbps||$44.99/mo.*/$64.99/mo.||View plans|
|Internet 400||400 Mbps||$44.99/mo.*/$64.99/mo.||View plans|
|Internet Gig||940Mbps||$104.99/mo.||View plans|
*Starting price for the first 12 months, effective 06/13/19. All offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
When you visit Spectrum’s website, you’ll find yourself facing just 1 plan. That’s pretty unique for the industry. In the past, before the merging of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Network to form Spectrum, Time Warner Cable offered “extreme internet”, with speeds starting at 100Mbps and ranging up to 400Mbps.
Their new, single plan as Spectrum is advertised as 100Mbps starting speeds for just $44.99 a month.
That’s not too bad: Cox’s most similar plan is 150Mbps for $15 bucks more per month, which comes out to about the same cost for each megabyte. But, Xfinity’s $44.99/month plan gives you 50Mbps (150Mbps) more than Spectrum does for the same price.
So Spectrum’s pricing there is “okay,” just not great, and you can get more value from competitor Xfinity for the same monthly rate.
But thankfully, Spectrum’s “only 1 plan” isn’t actually all they offer – not on the surface. The speeds you get can vary anywhere from 30Mbps all the way up to 200 or even 400Mbps – for the same price as the advertised 100Mbps plan.
Written another way: you could get 200Mbps or 400Mbps for just $44.99 a month (for the first 12 months). That’s better than either Xfinity or Cox by at least 50Mbps and as much as $15 a month.
After the first 12 months, that potential better value does drop a bit – you can get 250Mbps from Xfinity for $59.99 or 400Mbps for $74.99/month, while Spectrum’s goes up to $64.99 a month regardless of 200- or 400Mbps-speeds.
Depending on what speed you actually get, either may be better than the other.
In the second year, Spectrum does still beat Cox’s pricing, though – so really only Xfinity provides any challenge to Charter’s internet.
Spectrum does have an internet plan that goes up to 940Mbps of download speed (“Internet Gig”), but it’s super-limited in availability. You’ll probably only see one of Spectrum’s internet plans when you type in your address; for us, it was the 100Mbps plan. Others might see 200Mbps.
|Sample Bundle||Price||View bundles|
|TV Select + Internet||$89.98/mo.||View bundles|
|Internet + Voice||$59.98/mo.||View bundles|
|Triple Play Select (TV, Internet, Voice)||$99.97/mo.||View bundles|
|Triple Play Silver (TV, Internet, Voice)||$119.97/mo.||View bundles|
|Triple Play Gold (TV, Internet, Voice)||$139.97/mo.||View bundles|
When it comes to saving by bundling your internet with TV and phone service, Spectrum does give you some decent deals. Grab a triple play and you can save up to about $20 bucks a month.
Each bundle comes with “speeds starting at 100Mbps,” and a starting channel count of over 125, all the way up to 200+ with the Gold bundle. You get HBO, SHOWTIME, and NFL Network with the Silver package; and Gold gives you the rest of the premiums plus apps for each, and NFL Redzone, too.
While not advertised as “double-play” packages, Spectrum also provides “TV Select + Internet” and “Internet + Voice” – but you don’t actually save anything with either of those: you just get a combined bill.
All that being said, Xfinity has better bundling options – they’ve got Double and Quad options in addition to Triple Plays – and the more you bundle, the more you save: up to $60 bucks a month.
Contracts, fees, and extras
Spectrum doesn’t do contracts – awesome. Of course, their advertised price does last just 12 months, then spike up by about $20 bucks a month; but again, only Xfinity offers competition on price after that initial year – and then only if you sign Comcast’s 2-year agreement.
Regarding extra fees, Spectrum has just a few:
- Installation – $49.99
- Wi-Fi activation – $9.99
- Wi-Fi with 200Mbps-and-up plans – $5/month.
In addition to very few extra fees, Spectrum will even buy out your current ISP’s contract if you switch to them – up to $500. Xfinity and Cox can’t say the same.
Spectrum Speeds, Data, and Coverage
As mentioned earlier, Spectrum is available in 46 states, so chances are that they’ll be available in your area (large sections of the west and midwest accepted).
With wide-ranging speeds from 30Mbps up to 400 and 940Mbps, for now most of us will see the 100Mbps and 200Mbps plans exclusively. Spectrum is working on expanding the availability of their 400 and 940Mbps plans, though – so hopefully you’ll see those options in your area in the near future.
According to Netflix’s Speed Index, which measures performance during peak viewing times, Spectrum took 2nd place overall behind Verizon Fios – which also means that Spectrum performed best of all the cable ISPs during the tested times, Xfinity included (3rd place).
But as Netflix’s disclaimer says, these rankings don’t reflect performance of the overall network, just a small portion, during a small amount of time. To accurately measure Spectrum’s overall performance for speeds, we turned to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC):
The green line in the graph represents advertised speeds, while the blue columns represent actual speeds reached by each provider. As you can see, each of these cable providers exceeded those speeds, both in peak usage (dark blue) and regular-usage (light blue) times.
So basically – Spectrum does just fine in delivering speeds for most users, most of the time. But as their highest speed offerings aren’t widely available, if you want faster than 100 or 200Mbps – go with Xfinity (up to 2GBps speeds).
Ah, data caps. For heavy data users or those with large households, even a 1TB cap can feel like the bane of your existence if you often surpass it.
If that’s you, you’ll be happy to hear that Spectrum has no data cap – they offer truly unlimited data to all users. Spectrum also claims no throttling, but without a data cap, it’s hard to say whether that’s true. You’ll have to check for yourself.
In comparison, Xfinity, Cox, and CenturyLink all have 1TB data caps, with only CenturyLink having no recourse to overages – Xfinity and Cox each charge you $10/50GB you go over.
No data caps actually makes Spectrum’s pricing look more competitive in comparison to Xfinity and Cox, quite possibly tipping the scale in Spectrum’s favor.
Spectrum Customer Service
The entire telecommunications industry – that’s phone and TV, as well as internet services – has a pretty cruddy record for the quality of their customer service. So since online customer reviews tend to skew negative across the board, we’re sticking with the hard numbers from the America Customer Satisfaction Index and the J.D. Power rankings.
Spectrum took 8th place according to the ACSI, well below other cable ISPs. But things fare a little better for Spectrum according to J.D. Power:
- In the North Central region, Spectrum had 3 power circles in customer service to Xfinity’s 2;
- In the South region, Spectrum tied with Xfinity for 3 power circles in that category, while Cox had 5;
- And in the West, Spectrum tied for 4 power circles with Cox, beating out Xfinity (3 circles) and CenturyLink (2 circles).
So while not great, Spectrum’s customer service could certainly be worse. Hopefully, they’ll keep working to improve it for the future.
Spectrum delivers solid starting speeds for middle-of-the-road rates. Add in wide availability of 100Mbps and (unadvertised) 200Mbps plans – plus no data caps – and you’ve got a great performer for most people.
But the unadvertised faster speeds (200, 400, and 940Mbps) aren’t widely available, and you wouldn’t know they exist unless they happen to be in your area. So if you need blazing speeds – Spectrum probably won’t have you covered. Go with someone like Xfinity, who has the fastest top speeds in the industry for that.
But for everyone else, Spectrum internet provides a very solid option for browsing, streaming, and casual gaming.
Is Spectrum internet any good?
For most people, yes. 100Mpbs for $44.99/month isn’t bad pricing. But if you need faster speeds than that, go with Comcast Xfinity.
Is Spectrum Internet fast?
Spectrum advertises starting speeds of 100Mbps. For the most part, they deliver the speeds they promise. They also have unadvertised speeds reaching 200, 400, and even 940Mbps, as well. But most people will only have the 100 and 200Mbps plans available to them.
So if you need more than 100 or 200Mbps – you’ll be better off looking into an ISP like Xfinity, CenturyLink, or Cox, who all offer similar plans as well as those reaching 1-2Gbps.
Is Spectrum better than AT&T?
You can dig in deeper to our answer in our Spectrum vs. AT&T review, but here’s the short of it: we picked Spectrum for their solid speeds, cheaper prices, and wider availability. But if you need faster top speeds and better customer service, AT&T is the better option for you of the two.
Does Spectrum offer any internet only deals?
No. Spectrum offers only bundling deals that can save you up to $20 bucks a month overall.