THE QUICK AND DIRTY: We’ve picked Charter Spectrum as the fastest cable internet provider, but it also happens to be one of the better internet service providers (ISPs) overall. We checked the FCC’s annual report and found Charter Spectrum delivered faster download speeds than Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Cox. Also, Charter Spectrum doesn’t require a contract, so no need to worry about making a blood oath to get internet service. Not everything is sunny and clear skies, though—the Spectrum merger with Time Warner Cable has caused plenty of headaches and confusion.
Charter Spectrum price and plans
You’d think Charter Spectrum’s pricing would be more straightforward, especially since there’s only one internet plan to choose from. However, the advertised price is not the internet-only price.
Charter Spectrum internet deals: prices & speeds by plan
|Plan||Advertised price*||Download speed||Details|
|Charter Internet (bundle)||$29.99/mo.||60 Mbps||View Plan|
|Charter Internet Only||$44.99/mo.||60 Mbps||View Plan|
|Ultra Internet**||$89/mo.||100 Mbps||View Plan|
*Pricing varies by location. **Only available in very select areas.
The advertised price never tells the whole story, and it’s no different with Charter Spectrum. Charter Spectrum’s website lists internet service at $29.99 per month, but if you take a closer look at the fine print, you’ll notice the price is good only if you bundle internet with TV and phone service. That’s not a bad deal necessarily, but it’s not the internet-only price.
FYI: Time Warner Cable is now owned by Charter Spectrum
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Spectrum, Charter Spectrum, and Time Warner Cable are now all the same company: Spectrum. In this review, we used data and research specific to Charter Spectrum’s internet service from 2016 to 2017. In the future, we’ll review Spectrum as one service.
We had to make some calls and stumble around the Charter Spectrum website for the internet-only price. Where we tested Charter Spectrum service, the internet-only option was $44.99 per month. That’s $15 a month more than the advertised price we found on the Spectrum website. In other words, it’s a 50% price increase from $29.99 per month.
That might seem like not-so-amazing pricing for internet service. However, we have to point out it’s not a bad price for 60 Mbps download speed. In our case, we were bumped up to a 100 Mbps plan for the same $44.99-per-month price, but only because we happened to live in the right place. We don’t like how far off the advertised price is from the actual price, but we think there’s still value to be found here. Besides, there are a few other ways to shave some dollars off the monthly service price.
Pricing and contract options
Other ISPs have plans and prices coming out of their figurative ears, but Charter Spectrum keeps it simple—perhaps too simple.
We try to emphasize that pricing can vary, especially with ISPs. However, for most Charter Spectrum customers, they’ll be able to choose only one plan. To compare, when we researched Comcast’s XFINITY internet service, some locations had six or more service plans. Charter Spectrum has one, and it’s called “Charter Spectrum Internet.” It’s as simple as that.
Charter Spectrum’s discount lasts one year, and then the price goes up.
With some ISPs, you can get a lower price if you submit yourself to the confines of a long-term contract, but Charter Spectrum gets bonus points for doing away with such nonsense. You can cancel Charter Spectrum service anytime you want, and while that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re immune from any and all fees, you’re not subject to the dreaded early termination fee (ETF). We’ve seen ETFs for hundreds of dollars, so we’re more than happy it’s absent here.
There is a pricing shenanigan to be aware of, though. The monthly price will always increase over time. (Yes, other ISPs do this too.) If you land a discount, you’ll see it marked as the “promotional rate” on your monthly bill. Charter Spectrum’s discount lasts one year, and then the price goes up. It will go up again after the second year, too. We can’t tell you the exact amount of the price increase because it’s not the same for everyone.
The “single internet-only option that’s actually pretty good” plan
|Charter Internet||$29.99/mo.||60 Mbps.||View Plan|
We know there’s only one Charter Spectrum internet plan, but we still feel good recommending it since the majority of people will start with 60 Mbps download speeds. That’s twelve times the speed Netflix recommends to watch its service in HD (720p), so no need to buffer your way through season two of Master of None. Not to mention you could even get more than 60 Mbps download speed if you live in the right place (we did!).
The “please add hundreds of TV channels to my internet” plan
|Charter Internet + TV Silver||$59.99/mo.||60 Mbps.||View Plan|
We usually don’t bring up TV in our internet service recommendations, but we think Charter Spectrum’s bundle special deserves a shoutout. It’s basically adding Charter Spectrum’s TV to the internet plan we mentioned. For $30 more a month, you get 175 channels, which includes HBO, ESPN, AMC, and more, as well as on-demand programming (10,000+ shows and movies).
Service fees for Charter Spectrum
Every rose has its thorn, and every ISP has its fees. However, we could find only one or two with Charter Spectrum.
- Installation: When we ordered internet-only service, we were quoted an installation fee of $35. When we ordered the Charter Internet + TV Silver bundle, we were told the installation was free. It goes to show you’re never quite sure what you’ll pay, but we think it’s wise to always try and talk your way to into getting a free installation. (We usually just ask nicely.)
- Wi-Fi modem: We discuss this more below, but if you want a Wi-Fi enabled modem from Charter Spectrum, it will cost an extra $5 per month.
Charter Spectrum deal alert: $500 contract buyout
Charter Spectrum deal alert: $500 contract buyout//=$callout_box_copy; ?>
You know how we mentioned the dreaded early termination fee? If you sign up with Charter Spectrum, you can get up to $500 reimbursed for leaving your previous provider. It’s part of Charter Spectrum’s contract buyout program, and it’s worth checking out if you’re looking to get out of your current service but don’t want to get hit with cancellation fees. Ask your customer rep for more details.
Charter Spectrum equipment fees
If you’re paying to lease a modem, you might as well be throwing your hard-earned money down the drain (okay, maybe that’s overdramatic). Luckily, Charter Spectrum has no modem fee, so if you don’t have a cable modem, by all means, borrow one from Charter Spectrum. Will the modem you get be amazing? Not likely (models aren’t specified), but there’s no cost to you, so why not try it? We should mention there is a catch, though, and it’s going to be a big one for most people.
Can I get my own router and modem?
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If you need a modem/Wi-Fi router combo, we suggest this one from Amazon. Trust us—it’s a smart and simple way to save money on internet service down the road.
Charter Spectrum’s free modem doesn’t include Wi-Fi, which means you’re without a wireless connection. If you already have a Wi-Fi router, then don’t sweat it. If you want or need a modem/Wi-Fi router combo, you can pay an extra $5 per month to get one from Charter Spectrum, or you can buy one yourself. We recommend the latter because it saves so much money in the long run.
Charter Spectrum speed and data
Actual speed vs. advertised speed
When it comes to speed and data, Charter Spectrum doesn’t disappoint. We picked Charter Spectrum for the Best Cable Internet this year, and the biggest reason it won is its download speed. From what we hear from customers, actual download speed is what matters most, and Charter Spectrum gives 100% of its advertised speed (60 Mbps) to its customers. We didn’t pull that percentage out of thin air—it comes from the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) annual report.1
The FCC report surveyed tens of thousands of internet users, and it found that 80% of customers experience 100% download speeds 80% of the time with Charter Spectrum. The FCC calls this measurement 80/80 speed, and it matters because it means Charter Spectrum delivers the speeds you pay for. You may think, “what’s the big deal about getting the speed I paid for?” Well, most other ISPs don’t deliver the speeds they advertise.
For example, Cox, another cable internet provider, came in at 75% download speed using the same 80/80 speed measurement. Even worse, AT&T’s DSL internet delivered only 45% of the download speed it advertised (again, using the same 80/80 measurement). In fact, the majority of ISPs don’t deliver 100% or more of the speed they advertise.2
Charter Spectrum gets a thumbs up because it does what it says it does, and we like not worrying about how much data we’re using.
What’s Charter Spectrum’s data limit?
Charter Spectrum doesn’t bother with a data limit, so go ahead and open Spotify and put Earth, Wind & Fire on repeat because you’ll never need to worry about paying extra to groove nonstop. The same goes for streaming entertainment. With no data worries, we’re watching the first two seasons of Rick and Morty over and over in order to prepare for the end-of-summer season three premiere.
Charter Spectrum customer satisfaction
We’re pretty sure you won’t be surprised to hear that customer satisfaction for ISPs is less than satisfactory. To be specific, the American Customer Service Index (ACSI) surveyed 43 industries, including subscription TV and telephone service, and found ISPs to be the worst industry with an average score of 64 out of 100.3 That’s a D grade!
Because every ISP could improve, we can only compare Charter Spectrum against other ISPs (i.e., mostly D students). How does Charter Spectrum fare? It scored a 63 out of 100 in the latest ACSI report.4 We think it’s a fair assessment. In a sea of lackluster customer satisfaction and service, Charter Spectrum looks and acts like most other fish—it’s average, and the average is not very good. Don’t despair, though: we have some tips on how to deal with Charter Spectrum.
How to handle Charter Spectrum customer service
Charter Spectrum may test the patience of even the most saint-like among us, so we recommend tempering your expectations and using a few tricks to maintain your sanity.
For starters, if you call to speak with a representative, being nice will go a long way. If you start yelling, there’s a good chance you’ll “accidentally” get disconnected. Also, be sure to use the representative’s name when you speak to them. This all sounds like basic manners (because it is), but being nice is going to make things go so much more smoothly.
Charter Spectrum may test the patience of even the most saint-like among us...
Now that we’ve tried to develop some empathy for the people you’ll be talking to, why not treat yourself right. Grab a pint of Rocky Road ice cream or another favorite treat before you call. If you’re feeling good, talking to customer service representatives is going to be a lot less painful.
One last thing, and we know we’ve been a little tongue-in-cheek mostly, but it doesn’t hurt to use a notepad. After all, you’ll want to take notes of who you spoke to and any other important details that are related to your service. Being informed and asking plenty of questions is the secret to being a happy customer, so get comfortable, be polite, and write down the details.
The one-hour installation window
If you’re wondering about the installation process, Charter Spectrum prides itself on offering a one-hour appointment window. In other words, a technician won’t be more than an hour late. That sort of promise doesn’t make our hearts flutter, but it’s better than the competition. (We’re looking at you, Comcast.)
The bottom line
Charter Spectrum has unlimited data, little-to-no fees, and as-advertised speeds—it’s better than good.
We’ve mentioned the confusion around Charter Spectrum, Time Warner Cable, and Spectrum service, so it doesn’t hurt to ask plenty of questions about which service you’ll actually get. It’s also a good idea to inquire about the contract buyout option, which could get some dollars back into your pocket if you qualify.
Because the internet service price varies by location, double-check the price you’ll pay the first year (the discount price) and the price you’ll pay when the first year is up. Charter Spectrum doesn’t require a contract, so set yourself a reminder in your calendar (digital or otherwise) to call the month before it ends to negotiate a new price when the discount expires—we say the best way to do this is to come prepared with an offer from another ISP and calmly mention that you’ll be leaving Charter Spectrum for someone else. After all, Charter Spectrum should be working hard to keep you.
Charter Spectrum FAQs
Q: How much is just internet with Charter Spectrum?
It depends where you live, but the price we were quoted was $44.99 per month for the first year. We recommend calling to get the exact price, but be aware that representatives are pressured to upsell other services, like TV or phone service.
Q: What is Spectrum TV?
Q: How much is Charter Spectrum internet after the discount ends?
Pricing isn’t the same for everyone because it’s based on where you live. For us, the price for internet-only service increased by about $15 after the first-year discount, and it will increase again after the second year is over. But we won’t let that happen because we’ll always call to renegotiate pricing.
Have questions? Ask us.
Got a question about Charter Spectrum internet service that we didn’t answer? Check out our FAQs or leave a comment below.
Have a complaint? Make it count and tell the FCC. If you want to help an ISP improve its service, tell the FCC. The FCC’s Consumer Complaint Center is the best place to be heard.