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Spectrum Internet Review 2023
The nation’s second-largest cable internet provider has decent prices, fast speeds, no data caps, and no contracts
While the Spectrum Internet service received some not-so-great news coverage in the past, it offers good prices and download speeds compared to other internet service providers (ISPs) in the same locations. You get a few extra perks, too, like unlimited data and a rent-free modem.
So is Spectrum the right internet provider for you? Let's dig into the facts and find out.
Is Spectrum Internet right for you?
Spectrum is ideal if you want speeds faster than DSL internet and you don't have access to fiber. It's available in 42 states and offers speeds from up to 300–1000Mbps, perfect for most homes.
We also like that Spectrum is widely available across the US. Use that zip code internet finder above to see if you live in one of the 42 states it's available.
Spectrum only has three plans to choose from, and we wish their Gig plan was a little less expensive. In comparison to Xfinity internet, our top pick, Spectrum offers three fewer plans and the Gig internet is $15 more. And compared to Cox Internet, Spectrum has more expensive plans, especially after the second-year price hikes.
Also, Spectrum doesn't require you to sign a contract, but the Spectrum Internet service could be a little better (this is why it didn't make our top five).
Spectrum prices and plans
If you're looking for fast download speeds that'll keep a family gaming and streaming over the weekend, Spectrum has you covered.
Spectrum offers three plans with speeds ranging from 300–1000 Mbps—three fewer plans than Xfinity (our top pick). Spectrum's Gig plan is also $25 more expensive than Xfinity's Ultrafast plan—and that's during Spectrum's promotional pricing. But Spectrum is a better deal than Cox in our book, especially if you want gigabit speeds.
But we're not gonna lie: we'd love to see more plans from Spectrum because we love choices, and right now, Spectrum doesn't fully offer anything in the way of slower download speeds at lower prices.
Sure, the price for the base Spectrum Internet plan is reasonable, but solo gamers or casual web surfers may not need 330 Mbps. A 100Mbps plan would be a better option, but Spectrum only offers that to families who qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program.
|Spectrum Internet®||$49.99/mo. for 12 mos.*||Up to 300 Mbps†||Unlimited||View Plan|
|Spectrum Internet® Ultra||$69.99/mo. for 12 mos.*||Up to 500 Mbps†||Unlimited||View Plan|
|Spectrum Internet® Gig||$89.99/mo. for 12 mos.‡||Up to 1000 Mbps^||Unlimited||View Plan|
These providers aren’t one-to-one comparable because while Spectrum uses fiber as part of its cable line, it doesn’t have a fiber-only connection yet. So in many cases, we recommend AT&T Fiber or Frontier fiber over Spectrum cable.
We think AT&T Fiber offers the best value—and the lowest prices. Plus, fiber is usually more reliable than the cable internet connection Spectrum uses.
Then there’s Frontier. Frontier offers mostly DSL internet and some fiber, and it’s a great option if AT&T’s fiber internet isn’t available to you. Its gigabit fiber plan is $20 cheaper per month than Spectrum's cable, plus it has faster plans reaching up to 5000 Mbps, just like AT&T. In comparison, Spectrum's max speed is only 1000 Mbps (for now).
Just be wary with Frontier—the prices start out great but eventually skyrocket to the highest price we've seen for a gig speed plan.
|Spectrum Internet®||$19.99/mo.–$89.99/mo. for 12 mos.°||30–1000 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plans|
|AT&T Fiber||$55.00/mo.–$180.00/mo.**||300–5000 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plans|
|Frontier Fiber Internet||$49.99/mo. w/ Auto Pay and Paperless Bill–$154.99/mo. w/ Auto Pay and Paperless Bill††||500–5000 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plans|
Is Spectrum Internet available in your area?
Spectrum Internet is available in 42 states, so chances are pretty good it's available near you. Especially if you live in the northeastern US, where Spectrum focuses on connecting cities and towns to the World Wide Web.
To get a better idea of where Spectrum can be found, check out our Spectrum availability map!
Here are the top five states with the most availability:
- New York
- North Carolina
If you're not sure whether Spectrum Internet service is available in your area, we can help you out. Just enter your zip code below to see if Spectrum is an option for you.
Spectrum Internet speed
The up to 300 Mbps plan* should be hefty enough to keep parents happily streaming Schitt's Creek while their kiddo watches Phineas and Ferb on Disney+. (Just maybe not in the same room.)
But if you have more than a few connected devices (like cell phones, home security systems, and smart TVs) and still want to binge-watch The Great British Baking Show when you come home from work, you'll probably want to upgrade to the Spectrum Internet Ultra plan with speeds of up to 500Mbps.
The Spectrum Internet Gig plan is perfect for large families who love to do all of the above—or for serious gamers or adults who make a living working from home.
Spectrum is one of the largest cable TV and internet providers in the country. If you're considering Spectrum TV in your area, then Spectrum mobile is probably an option for you too. Check out Spectrum's mobile plans to see if it makes sense to bundle your services—Spectrum bundles are the most cost-effective way to use Spectrum.
|Spectrum Internet®||Up to 300 Mbps†||10 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plan|
|Spectrum Internet® Ultra||Up to 500 Mbps†||20 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plan|
|Spectrum Internet® Gig||Up to 1000 Mbps^||35 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plan|
So what about all this news coverage of Spectrum's slower-than-advertised speeds? Yeah, we've heard about that too, and it has us shaking our heads.
You'll likely get slower speeds than what you pay for with Spectrum. And while it’s not an excuse (it’s frankly not okay to advertise one thing and provide another), that’s the reality of most internet providers: they almost always overpromise and underdeliver on both upload speed and download speed. So if you really need a specific speed, you sadly might want to consider paying for the next level above what you actually need.
The somewhat silver lining is that Spectrum has no contracts. So if your download speeds wane and customer service is no help, it's easy to put a stop to your service and find someone else. You won't get slapped with early termination fees either.
Spectrum doesn't have data caps, so there's nothing to see here. By comparison, Xfinity has a 1.2TB monthly data cap, which you can remove by paying an extra $30 each month. Cox does something similar.
Spectrum contracts, equipment, and fees
Here’s an idea of what you'll rent from Spectrum and the costs involved.
Spectrum doesn't have contracts, but you must keep the service for at least a month to get the discounted pricing. After that, you can cancel the service at any time.
We like that Spectrum offers a no-contract internet option because it frees you up to switch providers if you’re unsatisfied or moving elsewhere. That's perfect if you're renting, temporarily in a city for work, or just don't like commitments. (We get it.)
The only contract issues we have with Spectrum are its additional fees. Those fees are a confusing bunch, so we'll try to clear them up for you in a minute.
For the duration of your internet contract, Spectrum throws in a free modem, which is pretty nice of them. Most other companies charge anywhere from $10 to $20 extra a month to rent equipment.
However, WiFi costs $5 per month unless you have the Gig plan. This fee applies if you have Spectrum's gateway or one of its standalone routers. The only way to bypass this fee is you use your own router. We're fans of this ARRIS SURFboard SBG6950AC2 modem router combo from Amazon.
If you opt for Spectrum's whole-home WiFi service, each Spectrum WiFi Pod costs $3 per month. So, if you get three pods plus WiFi, your monthly cost is $14.
Spectrum encourages self-installation because most homes already have cable TV lines, making it super easy to install internet yourself. You can get a pro install if you need it, but Spectrum usually reserves the pro install for homes without cable TV lines, or if something isn't working during the self-install.
The pro install fee is one of the most reasonable we've seen. Take a look:
- Pro installation fees: $59.99
- Self-installation fee: $24.99
- WiFi Pod install: $49.99
- Internet Gig equipment upgrade fee: $19.99
- Early termination fees: No contract means no early termination fee. Yay!
Spectrum customer service
The professional installation fee for the Spectrum Internet and Spectrum Internet Ultra plans is one of the most reasonable we've seen. Spectrum also gives its customers the option to self-install.
Internet service as a whole doesn't do well in the customer service department. We know that's no excuse, but we want to put the situation in perspective before we dive into how Spectrum's customer service performs.
The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) scores ISPs for customer service each year, and the internet industry averaged a score of 66 out of 100 for 2022.3 So if you look at Spectrum's latest score of 63 out of 100, it may not seem that great. But that score is still a major improvement from two years ago, when Spectrum scored a lackluster 59 out of 100.
So, while we're pleased to see Spectrum improved over the past couple of years, we're still expecting bigger and better things from it.
But if you have no other choice but to call customer service, what can you do? First thing's first, take a deep breath and grab a pen and paper.
- Use online chat or email if you can. Chat and email free you up to continue living your life without a cell phone attached to your ear. Both of these methods also keep a log of what was said or promised, which is perfect if you need to refer back to it for proof.
- Advocate for yourself. If your current customer service rep isn't cutting it, ask to speak to someone else—or their manager. It may seem disrespectful, but at the end of the day you're the customer and you deserve fair and respectful treatment!
- Negotiate. Spectrum doesn't have contracts, so this can be a huge bargaining chip for you. Research other internet providers' prices and speeds before you call or chat, and don't be afraid to say you'll cancel your service if Spectrum can't give you what you're asking for.
Get in touch with Spectrum here:
How does Spectrum Internet compare to the competitors?
Spectrum Internet doesn't always compare favorably against our top internet service provider picks.
Although it's still a good provider for some, we'll give you some context of how Spectrum stacks up against other top internet providers.
|$19.99/mo.–$89.99/mo. for 12 mos.°||30–1000 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plans|
|$19.99–$70‡‡||75–1200 Mbps||1.2 TB||View Plans|
|$55–$180**||300–5000 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plans|
|$49.99–$119.99^^||300–2300 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plans|
|$59.99–$299.99°°||12–150 Mbps||35 GB–Unlimited||View Plans|
Our picks: The best Spectrum Internet plan
Best budget pick for most families: Spectrum Internet
Who it’s best for: If your family loves to stream videos or play Farming Simulator 19 together online, Spectrum Internet with up to 300 Mbps* is fast enough to keep you connected on a budget.
But if you have a large family with kiddos uploading YouTube videos, or a partner who works from home, get the Ultra or Gig plan instead.
Why we picked it: The Spectrum Internet plan with up to 300Mbps is the best deal for most homes. It's easy on the wallet and provides enough speed to play games online and stream reruns of Parks and Recreation simultaneously.
Recap: Is Spectrum Internet good?
As the nation’s second largest internet provider, Spectrum has to compete with big dogs like Xfinity, Verizon Wireless, and AT&T.
How does it stack up? Mmm, so-so if you ask us.
But its confusing fees and iffy customer service make us hesitate. Can you find better than Spectrum? Yes. But are there worse ISPs out there? Again, yes.
Spectrum internet prices and plans recap
- Spectrum Internet: $49.99/mo. for the first 12 months, up to 300 Mbps download speeds,* no data cap
- Spectrum Internet Ultra: $69.99/mo. for the first 12 months, up to 500 Mbps download speeds,* no data cap
- Spectrum Internet Gig: $89.99/mo. for the first 12 months, up to 1,000 Mbps download speeds,* no data cap
Data effective 05/19/2023. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
We research and rate our internet providers based on the following criteria:
- Speed scores
- Customer service scores
- Connection type
After comparing the criteria, we give you our honest opinion about each provider while giving you the information you need to know before signing up.
We took Spectrum’s price, availability, scores, etc. and spent hours cross-comparing it to competitors to ensure we could accurately represent the service and how it falls in the market.
Spectrum is a subsidiary of Charter Communications. The brand combines former networks managed by Charter Internet, Time Warner Cable, and Bright House Networks.
After 12 months of service, your prices will increase by up to $25 each month. Since Spectrum doesn’t require a contract, your promotional price isn’t guaranteed after the first year (although it’s worth calling and negotiating if you’re an existing customer).
If you already have a cable connection and basic knowledge of modems and routers, you can set it up yourself. It’s straightforward enough if you’ve set-up a Wi-Fi network before, but Spectrum provides instructions if you haven’t.
“Throttling” is when your ISP purposely puts a bottleneck on your internet connection. There are lots of reasons for this, including making sure your internet connection doesn’t exceed the advertised bandwidth. Another motive is to lower congestion on the provider internet network.
Refreshingly, instead of giving a non-answer to this question, Spectrum outright says, “We may temporarily reduce the available bandwidth to customers using high amounts of bandwidth as necessary to reduce congestion.” So yeah, expect a little throttling.
*Wireless speeds may vary.
°Speed based on wired connection. Available Internet speeds may vary by address. Gig capable modem required for Gig speed. For a list of Gig capable modems, visit Spectrum.net/modem.