Spectrum vs AT&T

For most people, most of the time, AT&T is going to be the best option. DIRECTV is consistently ranked as one of the best TV services in the country and offers significantly more channel variety than Spectrum.

OVERVIEW: For TV only, AT&T is a clear winner with its DIRECTV service. NFL SUNDAY TICKET, availability nearly anywhere, and good pricing make this choice simple.

For internet only, we’d go with AT&T if you live in a fiber service area. Otherwise, Spectrum is the way to go, with its zero data caps and consistent, fast speeds. It also delivers the advertised speed the majority of the time—something few ISPs can claim.

And if you’re bundling TV and internet, we’d recommend AT&T again, thanks to the larger selection of packages and clear, competitive pricing.

Spectrum vs. AT&T—overall comparison

SpectrumAT&T
Price$44.99–$139.97/mo.$35-$230/mo.
Download speeds100 Mbps5 Mbps–1000 Mbps
Channels125–200+155–330+
DVR75 HD hours200 HD hours
DetailsView PlansView Plans

Data effective 9/24/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

Find out which provider is available near you.

Best for most

ATT Logo

For most people, most of the time, AT&T is going to be the best option. DIRECTV is ranked as one of the best TV services in the country1 and offers significantly more channel variety than Spectrum. AT&T Internet is also fast and reliable, reaching up to 1000 Mbps in select areas while Spectrum offers only 100 Mbps. Not to mention the prices are competitive—AT&T scores very high in customer satisfaction surveys on pricing (among other things).2

The one major downside is AT&T’s one- and two-year contracts, while Spectrum has no contract. Spectrum also offers streamlined choices and some of the most reliable internet speeds of any ISP3, making it a great choice for folks who just want internet access.

Internet only—Spectrum vs AT&T

Spectrum is the way to go—unless you can get that sweet AT&T Fiber, that is.

If all you need is internet access, Spectrum’s ability to consistently deliver its advertised download speeds, combined with the relatively low availability of AT&T’s fiber service, makes Spectrum the best pick. The price is also quite reasonable for the speed, especially compared to AT&T. Not to mention Spectrum Internet has no data cap, which is somewhat rare for the industry and especially awesome for customers.

Spectrum internet

PlansPriceSpeedDataDetails
Spectrum Internet$44.99/mo.*100 MbpsUnlimitedView Plan

Data effective 8/28/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
*For the first 12 months.

When it comes to internet access, Spectrum is all about the basics. It only offers one internet plan option, which can be a bad thing or a good thing depending on your point of view.

On one hand, it makes the choice easy—since there really isn’t one.

On the other hand, Spectrum doesn’t offer much flexibility. If you don’t need 100 Mbps speeds or just don’t want to pay that much, you’re out of luck. Plus, there’s no great option for people who want faster speeds, either. And let’s face it—while 100 Mbps is plenty fast for most people, it is far from the fastest speed available.

AT&T Internet

PlansPriceSpeedDataDetails
Internet Basic 5$40/mo.5 Mbps1 TBView Plan
Internet 10-100$60/mo.10-100 Mbps1 TBView Plan
Internet 300 (fiber)$70/mo.300 Mbps1 TBView Plan
Internet 500 (fiber)$90/mo.500 Mbps1 TBView Plan
Internet 1000 (fiber)$90/mo.1000 Mbps (1 Gbps)UnlimitedView Plan

Data effective 8/28/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
*For the first 12 months with a 1-yr agmt

AT&T is the polar opposite. There are almost too many choices here. It should be noted, however, that not all speeds are available in all areas, hence the reason you’ll pay the same price for 10 Mbps as 100 Mbps. It all depends on what’s available where you live.

AT&T Fiber is still only available in a limited number of markets, but if you’re lucky enough to live in one, we would highly recommend it. AT&T’s fiber service is one of the fastest in the country. That means you’ll never have to worry about the connection slowing down. You can stream New Girl in one room, your roommate can binge on Game of Thrones in another, and you can download a couple movies for your Friday movie night—all at the same time. It’s pretty awesome.

Data

Many ISPs impose data caps on internet plans, but Spectrum isn’t one of them. Spectrum customers can stream, download, and game as much as they want without worrying about overages—now that’s a thing of beauty. We wish more ISPs would drop those silly data caps.

AT&T does impose a cap, but it’s a respectable 1 TB. While it’s still a limit, it is probably more than most people will be able to use in a month, so it could be worse. Keep in mind you’ll pay an additional $10 for every 150 GBs you use beyond that, up to a maximum overage of $100.

Spectrum vs. AT&T internet-only summary:

Price, speed, and no data caps make Spectrum the best for most people. If you can get its fiber service, though, AT&T makes a compelling choice for speed freaks.

TV only—Spectrum vs. AT&T

AT&T’s DIRECTV is the main winner, but Spectrum could be a good choice if you hate contracts.

Spectrum falls short on the TV end, with high prices, limited choices, low channel counts, and minimal DVR storage. You’ll still get what you need with Spectrum, of course, but it’s hard to recommend it over AT&T’s DIRECTV.

It’s worth noting AT&T offers another option: U-verse. But AT&T doesn’t push U-verse very hard anymore. Since picking up DIRECTV, the company has chosen to focus on it, and for good reason. DIRECTV is much more widely available and is overall just a better option for TV. That said, U-verse is still available if you ask for it. If you’re interested, you can learn more in our in-depth review.

Still, it might make sense to choose Spectrum if the satellite technology AT&T uses poses a problem for you—maybe you’re concerned about weather interference, which is rare but possible. In that case, Spectrum’s good, old-fashioned cable tech might be the right fit.

Spectrum TV

PackagesPriceChannelsDVRDetails
TV Select$44.99/mo.*125+75 HD hoursView Plan
TV Silver$84.99/mo.*175+75 HD hoursView Plan
TV Gold$104.99/mo.*200+75 HD hoursView Plan

Data effective 9/24/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
*For the first 12 months

Spectrum continues its pattern of streamlined choices with just three packages in the TV department. The progression is pretty linear, with TV Select being basic and affordable. TV Silver adds a couple of premium channels and other extras, while TV Gold gets you the total package. Unfortunately, even the TV Gold package is pretty small. 200 channels just isn’t a lot these days—DIRECTV’s top-tier package will net you over 330 channels, and even that is on the lower end. That said, you’ll still find plenty to watch here with all the most popular channels available.

The big story with Spectrum TV is the contract—there isn’t one. You get to enjoy Spectrum for as long as you want, and if you decide after fifteen months to move on, you don’t have to worry about dropping a few hundred dollars on early termination fees (ETFs) to do so. That’s a huge plus in our book.

AT&T DIRECTV

PackagesPriceChannelsDVRDetails
SELECT™$35/mo.155+200 HD hoursView Plan
ENTERTAINMENT$40/mo.160+200 HD hoursView Plan
CHOICE™$45/mo.185+200 HD hoursView Plan
XTRA$55/mo.235+200 HD hoursView Plan
ULTIMATE$60/mo.250+200 HD hoursView Plan
PREMIER™$110/mo.330+200 HD hoursView Plan

Data effective 8/28/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
*For 12 months with a 2-yr contract, paperless bill, & autopay. Price increases for months 13-24.

AT&T’s TV service comes in the form of DIRECTV satellite television—since the company acquired DIRECTV in 2015, it has steadily phased out its old U-verse service. That’s just fine with us, because DIRECTV is great. You get service nearly anywhere in the country, with a solid channel selection, reasonable prices, and the best sports packages in the business.

There isn’t much negative to say about DIRECTV. The only major knock is the contract. You’ll have to commit for two years if you want DIRECTV service and your price will increase after the first year of the contract.

Spectrum vs. AT&T TV-only summary:

AT&T’s DIRECTV is the better service here, in our opinion. It offers more channels, better pricing, and better sports packages including NFL SUNDAY TICKET. Spectrum redeems itself with a contract-free experience though, so for folks who like their freedom, it’s the way to go.

TV + internet bundles—Spectrum vs. AT&T

AT&T offers great pricing and variety, but Spectrum’s streamlined options could be appealing to some.

Many people like bundling internet and TV service together to take advantage of special pricing. You can usually save a good chunk of money by getting both services from the same provider. When it comes to bundles, our pattern continues—AT&T offers a lot of variety, while Spectrum’s bundles are streamlined, simple, and easy to choose.

Charter Spectrum bundles

PackagesPriceDownload speedChannelsDetails
Spectrum Select Triple Play$99.97/mo.*100 Mbps125+View Plan
Spectrum Silver Triple Play$119.97/mo.*100 Mbps175+View Plan
Spectrum Gold Triple Play$139.97/mo.*100 Mbps200+View Plan

Data effective 9/24/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
*For the first 12 months.

Since Spectrum only offers the one internet package in most areas, the bundle prices are based on which TV service you choose—Select, Silver, or Gold. The only difference between these three is the number of channels you get. This approach is great for simplifying options that cable providers sometimes overwhelm you with, but that can be a double-edged sword since it also restricts your watching choices. If you don’t need home phone service, there are also bundles available without it.

Data effective 8/28/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
*For 12 months with a 2-yr TV and 1-yr internet agreement, paperless bill, & autopay. Price increases for months 13-24.

AT&T offers a great selection for a variety of budgets, whether you want TV, internet, phone, or all three. The top-tier triple play packages can get a little pricey, but at least it gives you the total up front. You’ll have to really like the price, though, because the two-year contract means you’ll be stuck with them for a while.

Spectrum vs. AT&T TV + Internet bundles summary:

AT&T’s various options cater to the whole spectrum—whether you just want the basics or the whole shebang, you can find a package with AT&T. Spectrum brings the simplicity again, and it continues to be both a blessing and a curse. While it certainly makes shopping easier, the lack of options could potentially turn people away if none fit their needs.

The takeaway

This was a tough one. Apart from DIRECTV’s attractiveness as a TV option, Spectrum and AT&T sit neck and neck in a lot of ways. They almost balance each other out—Spectrum provides easy-to-understand packages with no commitment, while AT&T has slightly more attractive pricing, but it requires that two-year contract.

In the end, though, we have to give it to AT&T for the robustness of its services.

Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Internet: Spectrum offers unlimited data, reliable speeds, and competitive prices. AT&T offers more plan choices and fiber internet in select areas, but for most people, we’d go with Spectrum—unless you can get AT&T Fiber.
  • TV: Spectrum offers three packages, each with more channels than the last. But AT&T’s DIRECTV casts a big shadow here, with killer sports programming like NFL SUNDAY TICKET, a great channel selection, and competitive pricing. Naturally, those benefits make AT&T our pick for TV-only service.
  • Bundling TV and internet: If you’re looking to bundle, Spectrum maintains its simplicity with just three offerings based on the TV package you want. AT&T offers a much larger selection to fit different needs and budgets, and for that reason it’s our recommendation for anyone who wants to bundle and doesn’t mind a contract.

Is Charter or AT&T available near you?

FAQs on Spectrum vs. AT&T

How much is Spectrum Internet by itself?

Spectrum Internet starts at $44.99 per month.

What is Spectrum Internet’s speed?

Spectrum Internet offers 100 Mbps download speeds.

How much is Spectrum after 12 months/1 year?

Spectrum’s advertised rates are only guaranteed for twelve months. After that, they’ll increase. The exact amount of that increase depends on location, though. In general, for a service like Spectrum Internet, you can expect around a $15 per month hike after one year, and another increase after two years.

Where is Spectrum available?

To check availability, use this coverage map tool. Just put in your ZIP code or choose a state, and you’ll get a list of packages available in your area.

What happened to AT&T U-verse?

Since acquiring DIRECTV in 2015, AT&T has been phasing out the U-verse brand and TV service to focus on DIRECTV. You can still buy U-verse TV, but you’ll have to dig a little to find info on it.

Does the price for DIRECTV increase after 12 months?

AT&T requires two-year contracts on its DIRECTV service, but the price does go up after a year—even when you bundle it with other services.

Check out our full DIRECTV review to find out how much the price increases after your first year.

Where is AT&T available?

The best way to check availability is to use this coverage map tool. Put in your ZIP code or choose a state, and you’ll get a list of packages available in your area.

Sources

1.    American Customer Satisfaction Index, Telecommunications Report
2.    CableTV.com, 2017’s Best TV Providers in Customer Satisfaction
3.    Federal Communications Commission, Measuring Broadband in America Report

  • Margarita Gonzalez

    I have Spectrum for my internet services and Direct TV for cable Tv. In my area, Spectrum offers 100 mbps. I have been considering bundling all my services by adding AT&T and cancelling my Spectrum service. AT&T advised me that their internet service is only 50 mbps. They say that even though 100 mbps is greater then 50 mbps, the AT&T service would be better due to the fiber optic delivery. Is that true?

  • joy

    I had AT&T but switched to Spectrum. Spectrum is cheaper and faster, but Spectrum is not as reliable. My internet is constantly going down. This week, it has gone down everyday except for Wednesday. I am thinking of switching back to AT&T. When I average the time that my internet is available with the price I pay each month, I am actually paying more per hour for Spectrum.