Posted by: Scott Teran Updated: 1/16/2017
The Bottom Line
Charter Spectrum’s internet service is unlike other ISPs: there’s no equipment fee for Charter’s modem, and its basic internet plan starts at 60 Mbps (download speed). Charter doesn’t require a contract either, so you’re not locked into a one- or two-year service agreement. However, there are a few odd things about Charter. For instance, you’ll probably have only one Charter internet plan in your area.
Is it Right for Me?
- If you want to drop another service for Charter. Charter offers a $500 contract-buyout promotion.
- If you want no-contract internet.
- If you want unlimited data (no data caps).
- If you don’t want to pay a modem fee.
- If you want to bundle services (add TV, phone, etc.).
- If you’re in a remote or rural location and need satellite internet.
- If you want options; it’s likely you’ll only have one Charter plan in your area.
- If you want upload speeds faster than 4 Mbps.
- If you want to avoid a professional installation fee, there’s no self-installation for new customers.
PRICE & PLANS 8/10
Plans are limited, but pricing is better than average.
Charter internet only
If you want Charter internet only service, you’ll likely have just one or two options. Luckily, Charter’s basic internet plan is pretty impressive; it has high speeds and doesn’t require a contract.
|Plan||Advertised price||Regular price||Download speed||Contract|
|Charter Internet||$2999/mo||$3999/mo||60 Mbps||None|
|Ultra Internet*||$89/mo||$99/mo||100 Mbps||None|
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Updated 8/25/16. Pricing and availability may change depending on location. *Only available in select areas.
Charter’s advertised price is what you’ll find on Charter’s website, and to get that price you’ll have to bundle internet service with TV and phone. The regular price is the actual internet only price, and it’s good for one year—no contract required.
Charter internet (+TV/phone)
|Plan||Services||Advertised price||Download speed|
|Internet + Phone||Internet/Phone||$4999/mo||768 Kbps|
|Triple Play Select||Internet/TV/Phone||$9999/mo||1.5 Mbps|
|Internet + Phone|
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|Triple Play Select|
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Updated 8/25/16. Pricing and availability may change depending on location.
If you want to include TV or phone with internet service, you can. Charter offers service bundles for internet, TV, and phone. Most of Charter’s bundles compare favorably with the competition, but we included two of the more popular bundles in the chart above. As always, we recommend calling a representative to see what’s available in your area.
What’s the real price?
How much is Charter internet? It might not be easy to tell at first because all prices on Charter Spectrum’s website are for bundles. If you want to find the price of internet-only service, you’ll have to go through the checkout process online or call and ask a representative. For example, the internet only plan is $29.99 a month for one year, but the standard rate, which is $49.99 a month, isn’t shown until you get to the checkout screen. This isn’t unusual, but other internet providers do a better job of being upfront with standard prices.
Heads up – Charter’s $500 Contract Buyout Promotion Charter Spectrum is running a promotion we haven’t seen from an internet service: a contract buyout. If you order a Charter Spectrum Triple Play, you can get up to $500 towards your old internet service contract. Of course, there are some stipulations. You’ll need to fill out a one-page form (it’s surprisingly short) and send in a copy of your final bill from your previous ISP. We couldn’t find details on when this promotion ends, so if you’re interested it wouldn’t hurt to call and speak with a representative sooner than later.
There’s no modem fee for Charter Spectrum, but if you want a Wi-Fi enabled modem (which should be standard by now) you’ll have to pay an extra $5 a month. Most other ISPs offer Wi-Fi enabled modems, but they typically charge $10 a month.
Be aware of the following fees:
Professional installation (ETF)
Professional installation is required for all new customers; there is no option for self-installation. Ours was a one-time fee of $49.99, but we also received a $15 discount. If you don’t see a discount yourself, it doesn’t hurt to ask for one.
Wi-Fi activation fee
If you want to rent a Wi-Fi modem from Charter, you’ll have to pay a one-time Wi-Fi activation fee of $9.99.
Wi-Fi monthly fee
There’s a $5-a-month fee for Wi-Fi service. We think this fee is a bit ridiculous, but on the other hand Charter doesn’t charge any equipment fees, which are usually close to $10 a month. (Comcast charges $10 a month for its modem.)
If you happen to live in an area where Charter’s Ultra internet plan is available, be aware there is a one-time fee of $199 to get started.
Like other ISPs, Charter Spectrum requires its own modem or an authorized modem for internet service.
In our other ISP reviews, we’ve recommended purchasing your own modem. Charter is a little different. If you already have a compatible wireless router or you don’t need Wi-Fi, go with Charter’s free modem. For every other situation, we recommend getting a modem/router combo (modem and Wi-Fi router) from Charter’s authorized modem list. A modem/router combo can pay for itself within a year, and you never know what make or model of modem you’d get from Charter.
There are limited options for speed, but at least Charter starts high.
|Plan||Download Speed||Upload Speed|
|Charter Internet||60 Mbps||4 Mbps|
|Ultra Internet||100 Mbps||4 Mbps|
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What internet speeds do I really get?
Charter Spectrum’s download speeds start high at 60 Mbps, which means you’ll never need to worry about Netflix buffering (even in HD), but there’s also really no other option for speed from Charter. Yes, there is the Ultra internet plan, which has a download speed of 100 Mbps, but its coverage is limited to select metro areas.
If you want high upload speeds, you’ll be disappointed with Charter internet. No matter the plan, you only get 4 Mbps of upload speed. This might be an issue if you’re constantly backing up your computer to the cloud or uploading photos or videos online. Of course, upload speed isn’t important to everyone, so it might not make a difference for you. If it does, a different internet service provider would be better for you.
What speed is right for me?
Internet speeds are not guaranteed.The factors you should consider are:
Computer hardware and software
Below are the FCC’s minimum broadband speed requirements for a single user.
|Activity (single user)||Minimum Download Speed|
|Web browsing||1 Mbps|
|Watching video||4 Mbps|
|Video conferencing||4 Mbps|
|Online gaming||5 Mbps|
No limits on your data means less stress.
There are no data limits (i.e., data caps) for Charter’s internet service.
Other ISPs, such as AT&T and Comcast, have data limits (300 GB and 1,000 GB respectively). Though Charter isn’t the only ISP with unlimited data (Time Warner Cable and Verizon have it as well), it’s definitely worth mentioning
|ASCI 2016 Rating||JD Power|
Charter Spectrum’s support is just average, but it does have some interesting service features (contract buy-out and no-contract service).
According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), Charter Spectrum scored a 63 on a 100-point scale for customer satisfaction in 2016. That’s an improvement from a score of 57 in 2015, but Charter’s 2016 rating makes it land right in the middle of the best and worst ISPs.
The 2015 U.S. Residential Internet Service Provider Customer Satisfaction Study from J.D. Power gives Charter Spectrum a 3 out of 5 rating, which means Charter is “about average.” We agree.
We tried multiple times to use Charter’s online support chat, but it didn’t work. When we called support to ask about other Charter plans, we could only get information after providing our address. This is typical, but we still hope that representatives would be more eager to answer our questions without getting our info first.
If you have a question for Charter Spectrum, you’ll have to call, but it’s not a terrible experience…it’s just okay.
Charter Spectrum internet has few options, but plenty of perks.
If 60 Mbps download speed and 4 Mbps upload speed sounds good to you (it’s more than enough speed for the average household), Charter is worth checking out. Charter also has some excellent benefits: no modem fees, contract buyouts, unlimited data, and no-contract service.
Our Recommendation: Charter Spectrum Internet
Charter Spectrum internet has 60 Mbps download speed for $39.99 a month, and that’s a good deal when compared other ISPs. For example, Verizon Fios’ 50/50 plan with a 50 Mbps download speed is $49.99 a month and requires a one-year contract (it does have better upload speeds though).
Other great options:
– If you want to add TV to your internet service, the TV Select + Internet plan starts at $79.99 a month.
– The Triple Play Select has all three home services: internet, TV, and phone for $89.99 a month.
All in all, decent speeds for a decent price. You won’t have a ton of customization options in the packages available to you, but the plans that are available should offer enough speed to serve any household.
By: Scott Teran