Spectrum vs. AT&T Internet

Spectrum’s prices are great, but AT&T’s speeds have them beat in most areas.
Best Speeds + Bundling

Spectrum and AT&T are two of the largest and best internet service providers (ISPs) in the U.S. Spectrum, formerly Charter Communication’s “Time Warner,” has millions of customers in it’s nationwide service area. AT&T is the biggest telecommunications company in the world, with plans available in a few more states than Spectrum.

Because these ISPs have heavily-overlapping coverage areas, you’ll likely run into both of them when searching for a good internet provider. They offer comparable internet, as well as TV and home phone services, but you’ll find varying speeds, prices, and bundles between the two.

That said, if you’re tired of endless loading screens, data cap overage fees, or just all-around headaches, either provider will help you out.

But which one is the best overall? And which one is going to be best for you? We compared speed and price, plus other important things like coverage, customer service, and bundling options to help you figure that out.

Let’s dive in.

Spectrum vs. AT&T: Internet Plans + Pricing

Provider Package name Download speed up to Data cap Price (First 12 months/After) View plans
AT&T Internet Basic 5 (DSL) 5 Mbps 1 TB $40/mo.*/ $50/mo. View plans
AT&T Internet 10, Internet 25, Internet 50, Internet 75, Internet 100 (DSL) 10 to 100 Mbps** 1 TB $50/mo.*/ $60/mo. View plans
AT&T Internet 10, Internet 25, Internet 50, Internet 75, Internet 100 (DSL) 10 to 100 Mbps** 1 TB $50/mo.*/ $60/mo. View plans
AT&T Internet 100 (Fiber) 100 Mbps 1 TB $50/mo.*/ $60/mo. View plans
AT&T Internet 300 (Fiber) 300 Mbps 1 TB $70/mo.*/ $80/mo. View plans
AT&T Internet 1000 (Fiber) 1000 Mbps 999.999 TB $90/mo.*/ $100/mo. View plans
Spectrum Internet 30 30 Mbps Unlimited $44.99/mo.*/$64.99/mo. View plans
Spectrum Internet 60 60 Mbps Unlimited $44.99/mo.*/$64.99/mo. View plans
Spectrum Internet 100 100 Mbps Unlimited $44.99/mo.*/$64.99/mo. View plans
Spectrum Internet 200 200 Mbps Unlimited $44.99/mo.*/$64.99/mo. View plans
Spectrum Internet 400 400 Mbps Unlimited $44.99/mo.*/$64.99/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.

**Speed dependent on area.

In essence, all but the super-using speedsters will be just fine with Spectrum’s plans. They advertise just one internet-only plan: 100Mbps, for $44.99 for the first year. So why the different speeds? Because in actuality, depending on your area, you can speeds much higher or much lower than that.

That’s a double-edged sword – you can get a great deal if you’re able to get 100 or 200 (or 400!) Mbps speeds; but on the other hand, if only 30 or 60Mpbs are available in your area, you may be better off with one of AT&T’s plans.

Speaking of, AT&T offers a much wider variety: you’ve got the basic 5Mbps plan and the Internet 10/25/50/75/100 for DSL, or the increasingly fast fiber-optic plans which run from 100-1000Mbps speeds. Overall, prices tend to be higher for megabits than Spectrum’s.

But again, if you’ve only got 30-60Mbps of speed available in your area with Spectrum, but 75 or 100 with AT&T — well, the better option may be AT&T. But, if Spectrum has 400Mbps speed available to you, it’s much cheaper than AT&T’s 300Mbps Fiber plan — although you won’t get the symmetrical download/upload speeds.

Keep in mind that both ISPs have a considerable monthly price jump after the first 12 months – about $10 and $20, respectively. But, you may be able to call and get yourself a different deal that keeps your cost similar.

Unless you only have slower speeds available to you, our pick for best in price is Spectrum.

Contracts

AT&T requires you to sign a 1-year contract with them. Cancel it ahead of your due date, and you’ll be stuck paying $15 for every month left on your contract. Spectrum, on the other hand, doesn’t make you sign any contracts, and they’ll even buy out your old one when you switch to them from another ISP — up to $500.

Keep in mind, however, that regardless of either provider’s contract-status, both have a considerable monthly price jump after the first 12 months – about $10 and $20, respectively. But, you may be able to call and get yourself a different deal that keeps your cost similar.

Fees

AT&T charges you some fees, too: there’s the $99 professional installation ($35 for DIY), plus the overage charge of $10 for every 50GB of data past your cap, with a max of $100 a month.

Spectrum, in contrast, has just two extra fees: installation is $49.99, and Wi-Fi activation is $9.99. There’s no equipment rental or data overage fees (makes sense, as data is unlimited).

Unless you only have slower speeds available to you, our pick for best in price is Spectrum.

Spectrum vs. AT&T: Internet Speed + Performance

If you’re the typical household of internet users, Spectrum’s 100Mbps standard plan should be able to handle your needs pretty easily. For reference, someone who games or watches a fair amount of HD video will still be fine.

But even so, AT&T has the advantage for speed, particularly with their fiber-optic plans. 300 and 1000Mbps? That bandwidth is massive, and the upload speeds are just as fast as download with fiber — Spectrum’s cable can’t say the same.

The downside is that fiber isn’t widely available, although they’re working on expanding. If it’s in your area and you need the speed for gaming, streaming, downloading, whatever – get it.

But if you only need 100Mbps, Spectrum might be the better option. They got 2nd-place for speed according to Netflix’s speed index, while AT&T Fiber (“U-Verse”) got 8th, and AT&T DSL got 13th.

That said, take those numbers with a grain of salt. The speed test is a “measure of prime time Netflix performance… not a measure of overall performance for other services/data.” So if you just need 100Mbps, go with Spectrum - if you need more, go with AT&T.

Data caps

Spectrum tends to win with data caps – they’re unlimited. AT&T, however, has 1TB data caps (with unlimited data for the 1000Mbps Fiber plan). If you pass those, you’ll be charged $10 for every 50GB of data you use, up to $100 per month. Ouch.

Good news is, with such high data caps, you’re unlikely to pass them — it would take you something like 5 hours of constant Netflix streaming every day to exceed that limit.

If you’re good with 100Mbps, Spectrum will deliver. But if you need more data speeds, AT&T has the goods.

DSL vs. Cable vs. Fiber

We’ve mentioned these terms a few times by now, so I figured it’s time to explain them in a bit more detail.

  • AT&T comes in DSL and fiber-optic.
  • Spectrum uses cable.

Fiber transmits data by means of reflected light through miniscule-thin pieces of plastic and glass, allowing it to provide the fastest speeds available, particularly in upload speeds.

DSL runs by telephone lines, providing speeds faster than satellite internet, but much slower than fiber.

Cable lands between the two, sometimes providing speeds as fast as fiber, but due to the nature of copper coaxial cable, speed is diminished the greater the distance from the source.

Spectrum vs. AT&T: Internet Coverage

Spectrum and AT&T’s coverage overlaps a lot, but there are still differences, so it’s an important consideration when comparing the two. In terms of overall number of states covered, Spectrum takes it — they’re available in 43 states, making it the 2nd-largest cable provider.

AT&T, by contrast, is the largest DSL provider, but is available in just 21 states.

To see which provider is available near you, check out their tools: Spectrum here and AT&T here.

Spectrum vs. AT&T: Customer support

The internet industry -- and telecommunications as a whole -- has a poor reputation for customer service. That’s just a fact. It doesn’t matter if it’s a billing issue, sitting on hold for 2 hours, technicians not showing up, or something else -- dealing with your ISP tends to be a hassle. So to find out where Spectrum and AT&T stand by the numbers, we dug into the American Customer Satisfaction Index and J.D. Power rankings.

The ACSI ranked AT&T considerably higher than Spectrum — 10 points to be exact. J.D. Power confirms this higher ranking in the NorthCentral and South regions, with Spectrum taking 3rd-place in each. Neither provider took home the gold in the West, but Spectrum edged out AT&T in customer service by 1 power circle.

In any case, both providers consistently rank pretty well, but AT&T usually takes the cake here.

Spectrum vs. AT&T: Bundling

Provider Plans Speeds Price View plans
AT&T DIRECTV + Internet Basic 5 5 Mbps DIRECTV package price + $30/mo. View plans
AT&T DIRECTV + Internet 100 100Mbps DIRECTV package price + $40/mo. View plans
AT&T DIRECTV + Internet 300 300Mbps DIRECTV package price + $50/mo. View plans
AT&T DIRECTV + Internet 1000 1000Mbps DIRECTV package price + $70/mo. View plans
Spectrum Select Double Play 100Mbps $89.98/mo. View plans
Spectrum Silver Double Play 100Mbps $109.98/mo. View plans
Spectrum Gold Double Play 100Mbps $129.98/mo. View plans

Bundling your telecommunication services can save you a lot of money in some cases — so long as you use the other services, that is. If you don’t, it’s just throwing away extra money. But when it comes to bundles, both ISPs give you plenty of options.

With Spectrum, the first TV + Internet option — Select — doesn’t save you anything, it just gives you one bill. But Silver and Gold will save you about $20 bucks a month — nice.

For AT&T, you get DIRECTV when you bundle Internet + TV — one of the best TV services around, especially for sports fans. You get a better selection of speeds (although Spectrum’s may be faster or slower than the advertised 100Mbps, of course), and you’ll save $10 bucks a month, regardless of the plan.

For us, that means AT&T takes this category home.

Recap

So, how does the comparison come out?

Price: Spectrum wins in most cases.

Speed: Spectrum advertises 100Mbps, and for some people higher speeds are available, but AT&T offers the higher top-end speeds for more users.

Availability: Spectrum is available in more states.

Bundling: AT&T offers DIRECTV, the better TV service than Spectrum’s TV offering, with solid savings.

Customer support: AT&T ranks higher in most studies than Spectrum.

Overall: Our pick is Spectrum. Solid speeds, cheaper prices than AT&T, and a wider availability make it the best choice for most people. But if you need faster top-end speeds or poor customer support experiences leave a bad taste, or you really like DIRECTV — go with AT&T.

FAQs

Is AT&T U-Verse still around?

AT&T acquired DIRECTV in 2015, and since then they have been slowly phasing out U-Verse. It’s still around and available for purchase, but you’ll have to do some searching to find it.

Is AT&T or Spectrum Internet better?

Our pick is for Spectrum, but it depends on your usage. AT&T’s fiber has faster speeds, but lower availability than Spectrum. But, Spectrum has faster speeds and greater availability for DSL than AT&T, plus typically lower prices.

So if you use a lot of data and AT&T’s fiber is available to you, they may be the better pick. But if that doesn’t matter as much to you, or you’re more budget-conscious, Spectrum’s price makes it the better choice for most people.  

How much does Spectrum increase after 12 months?

Spectrum increases by about $20 a month, not counting taxes.

How much does AT&T increase after 12 months?

AT&T increases by $10 a month.

Is Spectrum the same as Time Warner?

Yes. Charter Communications has merged Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks into Spectrum. The combined companies are still merging all their services together into the one company, Charter Spectrum.

Is Spectrum cable or DSL?

Spectrum is a cable internet provider. That means it can actually provide faster speeds than DSL connections, in some locations — although fiber-optic has both beat for speed.

Luke Pensworth Written by: Luke Pensworth

Luke is the managing editor and site manager of Dailywireless. As a wireless enthusiast/consumer, he reviews a lot of services based on his own experience. Disgruntled as he may be, he tries to keep his articles as honest as possible.

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