Spectrum vs. AT&T Internet Review

AT&T’s fiber internet is the best pick for most users, but Spectrum may offer a better deal in certain areas

Best fiber speeds
Monthly price
$55.00–$225.00/mo.
Download speeds
140—5,000Mbps
Data Cap
Unlimited
Technology Type Name
Fiber and 5G home internet
Best coverage
Monthly price
$49.99-$79.99/mo.
Download Speeds
30-1000 Mbps
Data Cap
Unlimited
Technology Type Name
Cable
Easton Smith
Mar 29, 2024
Icon Time To Read7 min read

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AT&T’s fiber internet is among the best internet services in the country, offering incredibly fast symmetrical speeds. It will give you more bang for your buck than Spectrum, where it’s available.

But there are many areas where AT&T doesn’t yet offer fiber internet, and Frontier’s cable internet plans are a fast and affordable alternative in those areas.

We spent days testing and researching both of these internet service providers (ISPs) so that we can give you the lowdown. Here’s everything you need to know about their prices, contracts, performance, and more.

Spectrum vs. AT&T Internet plans and pricing

AT&T’s plans offer more and have more transparent pricing, but Spectrum’s performance may be better in certain areas

At first glance, Spectrum and AT&T may look like they offer a similar lineup of plans. Both of them specialize in the mid-to-high range of speeds that are great for large families, work-from-home professionals, serious gamers, and other households that need a lot of internet bandwidth.

But there are some key differences in the technology that these two ISPs use and in some of their policies. Let’s dive into the details, starting with AT&T.

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AT&T Internet pricing and plans

AT&T Internet plans and pricing
Plan
Price
Download speed
Details
AT&T Internet 300$55/mo.*300 Mbps
AT&T Internet 500$65/mo.*500 Mbps
AT&T Internet 1 Gig$80/mo.1000 Mbps
AT&T Internet 2 Gig$125/mo.Up to 2000 Mbps
AT&T Internet 5 Gig$225/mo.Up to 5000 Mbps
* Price after $5/mo Autopay & Paperless bill discount (w/in 2 bills). Plus taxes & fees. Monthly State Cost Recovery Charge in TX, OH, NV applies. One time install chrg may apply. Ltd. avail/areas. Call or go to www.fiber.att.com to see if you qualify. Speeds based on wired connection. Actual speeds may vary. For more info, go to www.att.com/speed101.
Price after $5/mo Autopay & Paperless bill discount (w/in 2 bills). Plus taxes & fees. Monthly State Cost Recovery Charge in TX, OH, NV applies. Ltd. availability/areas. Speeds based on wired connection. Actual speeds may vary. For more info, go to www.att.com/speed101.

As you can see, AT&T has a wide range of plans that go from the affordable $55 a month all the way up to $225 a month! All of AT&T’s plans come with unlimited data and they never require a contract.

The cheapest fiber-optic plan is the Internet 300 plan. This is a great plan that has plenty of speed for most small-medium sized families. If you need more speed than that, AT&T has you covered. You can get up to 5Gbps of symmetrical speed! With plans like this, AT&T can easily go toe-to-toe with the fastest internet providers in the country.

Sadly, folks in rural areas won’t be able to snag a fiber plan of any sort. If this is you, you might want to check out AT&T Internet Air, which is AT&T’s new 5G home internet. 5G internet uses mobile technology to provide homes with fast and reliable internet. AT&T Internet Air normally costs $55 per month, but AT&T wireless customers get a discounted rate of $35 per month.

AT&T Internet fees and contracts

Diligent internet customers should always be on the lookout for hidden fees and weird contract fine print. Luckily, AT&T doesn’t have any red flags.

First of all, none of AT&T’s plans require a contract. That means you can cancel anytime without a penalty.

In terms of fees, there are only a couple that you have to think about:

  • Equipment rental fee: $10 a month
  • Professional installation fee: $99
  • Self-installation fee: $35

We would recommend opting for the self-installation option if you feel relatively comfortable with technology. A friend of the site, Andrew, told us that the process was quick and easy.

“They shipped the box on Monday. It came on Wednesday, and my girlfriend hooked it up and followed the instructions. The box activated itself, and she was up and running,” he says. 

If you want to save even more money, you can buy your own modem and router. That way you can have state-of-the-art equipment and skip that $10 rental fee each month.

Spectrum Internet plans and pricing

Spectrum Internet prices and plans
Plan
Price
Download speed
Details
Spectrum Internet® $49.99/mo. for 12 mos.Up to 300 Mbps
Spectrum Internet Ultra$69.99/mo. for 24 mo500 Mbps
Spectrum Internet® Gig$79.99/mo. for 24 mos.^Up to 1000 Mbps
For 12 months when bundled. Limited time offer; subject to change; valid to qualified residential customers who have not subscribed to any services within the previous 30 days and who have no outstanding obligation to Charter.
^ For 24 months when bundled. Limited time offer; subject to change; valid to qualified residential customers who have not subscribed to any services within the previous 30 days and who have no outstanding obligation to Charter.

Spectrum has fewer plans to choose from than AT&T. In fact, it has just three standard plans, ranging in price from $50 to $80 a month (for the first 12 to 24 months). However, some customers who qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program may be able to nab a different, 100Mbps plan from Spectrum

At the cheapest end of the spectrum (see what I did there?), we have the 300Mbps plan. That’s plenty of speed for most small-medium sized households. Couples who work from home and do some light online gaming will be fine with this plan. So will families with a couple of kids who like to stream a lot of TV.

For those who have larger families, do serious online gaming, or have very demanding online careers may want to opt for the 500Mbps or 1,000Mbps plans. With these plans, bandwidth should almost never be a problem. Though it’s worth noting that Spectrum’s cable internet infrastructure will never quite live up to the speed and reliability offered by fiber internet providers, like AT&T.

Where Spectrum does have the upper hand over AT&T is in its availability. The company offers coverage in 42 states. There are many suburban and rural areas where AT&T only offers 5G home internet service (or no service at all), making Spectrum a much better option.

How fast should my internet really be?
Megaphone

Determining how much speed you need can be complex. Check out our article about internet speeds to learn more about how much bandwidth you need to meet the needs of everyone in your household.

Spectrum Internet fees and contracts

Spectrum’s plans are all contract free. That means you don’t have to worry about any fees if you want to cancel. But it also means that your prices can go up. And they probably will.

The prices you see above are the promotional prices for Spectrum’s internet service. After the first 12 or 24 months, depending on your plan, they will likely go up by about $25 a month! That’s a steep increase. To be frank, we’re a little suspicious of companies that do this.

Besides the price increases, you’ll also have to worry about some fees. Including:

  • Pro installation fee: $59.99
  • Self-installation fee: $24.99
  • WiFi Pod installation fee: $49.99
  • Internet equipment fee: Free!

Spectrum vs. AT&T Internet bundles

Both companies can help you save money and simplify your bills with bundling

Sure, getting a good deal on a high-speed internet plan is great. But you know what’s even better? Getting a deal on internet, cable TV, and cell phone service at the same time. It’s called bundling, and both AT&T and Spectrum do it.

AT&T offers a huge variety of bundles that mix various DIRECTV, fiber internet, and wireless phone service. We can’t list them all here, but these are a few of our favorites.

AT&T internet, TV, and phone bundle deals
Plan
Price
Internet download speed
TV channel count
Details
DIRECTV ENTERTAINMENT + AT&T Fiber Internet 300$124.99/mo.°300 Mbps75+
DIRECTV CHOICE + AT&T Internet 300$139.99/mo.Up to 300 Mbps105+
DIRECTV PREMIER™ + AT&T Internet + Phone Unlimited$234.98/mo.**100 Mbps150+
° Internet: Price after $5/mo Autopay & Paperless bill discount (w/in 2 bills). Plus taxes & fees. Monthly State Cost Recovery Charge in TX, OH, NV applies. One time install chrg may apply. Ltd. avail/areas. TV: w/ 24-mo. agmt. AutoPay and Paperless Bill req’d. Advanced Receiver Service Fee $15/mo. is extra and applies.
** Internet: For 12 mo. plus tax. Autopay & Paperless bill req'd. Price after $5/mo autopay & paperless bill discount (w/in 2 bills). Monthly state recovery charge in TX, OH, NV applies. One time install chrg. may apply. Ltd. avail/areas TV: w/ 24-mo. agmt. AutoPay and Paperless Bill req’d. Advanced Receiver Service Fee $15/mo. and Regional Sports Fee up to $13.99/mo. are extra & apply.

With Spectrum, you can pick and choose which services you want to have and then see a clear list of all the bundles that are available. Again, we can’t list them all here. But here are some choice picks that should work for many families.

Spectrum internet, TV, and phone bundle deals
Plan
Price
Internet download speed
TV channel count
Details
Internet + Spectrum TV Stream$89.98/moUp to300 Mbps80+
Spectrum Internet + TV Select Plus$124.98/moUp to300 Mbps160+
Internet Ultra + TV Select Signature$139.98/mo. for 12 mos.††Up to 500 Mbps155+
Internet Gig + TV Select $149.98/mo. for 12 mos.††Up to 1000 Mbps155+
Internet Gig + TV Select Plus$154.98/moUp to1000 Mbps160+
†† Limited time offer; subject to change; valid to qualified residential customers who have not subscribed to any services within the previous 30 days and who have no outstanding obligation to Charter.

With all of Spectrum’s bundle plans, you can add unlimited nationwide calls on a home phone line for an additional $19.99 a month.

It’s hard to say which company offers the better bundle deals overall, but we do tend to like AT&T’s straightforward pricing more than Spectrum’s. Plus, AT&T’s Wireless service is definitely among the best.

Spectrum vs. AT&T Internet speed

AT&T’s fiber-optic network is top-tier

As you can see, both AT&T and Spectrum offer very respectable download speeds. Few people will need more than Spectrum’s 1,000Mbps plan (though AT&T can get you up to 5,000Mbps if you need it). But how do the companies’ real-world speeds actually stack up against their advertised speeds?

Unfortunately, according to our own proprietary data from over 100,000 internet users, both companies can fail to live up to their advertised speeds. There are cases where AT&T fiber customers are seeing speeds under 100Mbps, and Spectrum customers are routinely receiving speeds well under what they’re paying for.

That said, AT&T’s fiber-optic network is generally a more reliable choice. Plus, it gives users symmetrical upload speeds. Faster upload speeds are important for uploading large files, video conferencing, and some online video games.

Spectrum vs. AT&T Internet internet speed
Provider
Download speeds
Upload speeds
Details
AT&T Fiber300-5000 Mbps300-5000 Mbps
Spectrum Internet®30-1000 Mbps††4-35 Mbps
Data as of 04/05/2023. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
†† Limited time offer; subject to change; valid to qualified residential customers who have not subscribed to any services within the previous 30 days and who have no outstanding obligation to Charter.

While Spectrum claims that its network is “fiber-rich,” it clearly can’t compete with AT&T when it comes to upload speeds. That’s because, despite the fancy name, the company’s network is still mostly cable.

Spectrum vs. AT&T Internet availability

AT&T’s reach is impressive, but it pales in comparison to Spectrum’s

One of the reasons that we’re taking all of this time comparing Spectrum and AT&T internet is that they have a lot of overlapping coverage. They are the two big names in much of the South and the Midwest.

You can see AT&T’s coverage here.

A map of the US showing the 21 states where AT&T internet is available.

While this map looks pretty good, there is a caveat. Much of AT&T’s coverage is only serviced by its 5G home internet technology. For fiber service you’ll have to be in more suburban and metropolitan areas.

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Meanwhile, Spectrum’s coverage map has a lot more blue in it, and all of it represents relatively fast cable internet coverage.

spectrum internet availability map

Spectrum vs. AT&T Internet customer service

AT&T’s customers are slightly happier than Spectrum’s, on average

Let’s be honest, internet service providers aren’t always the best at picking up the phone when there’s an issue. But some companies are better at customer service than others. So, what do customers say about AT&T and Spectrum?

Well, according to Highspeedinternet.com’s 2023 Customer Satisfaction Survey, AT&T is well-liked. It has an above average score of 3.9/5 and takes fourth place overall among U.S. internet service providers.

On the other hand, Spectrum scores a 3.7/9, which is exactly the average of all ISPs, and it comes in seventh place overall.

If you need to reach either AT&T or Spectrum to get help with your service, you can see their contact information below. Don’t forget these handy customer service tips when you’re reaching out.

How to reach AT&T internet customer service:

  • Call +1-800-321-2000, or
  • Contact online at https://www.att.com/support/internet/

How to reach Spectrum internet customer service:

  • Call +1-888-369-2408
  • Contact online at https://www.spectrum.net/contact-us

Spectrum vs. AT&T Internet Internet: Which ISP is the best fit for you?

AT&T and Spectrum both offer high-speed internet that’s great for streaming, gaming, and working from home. In general, AT&T’s plans give you more bang for your buck, but there are certain areas where Spectrum’s cable plans might be better.

Here’s a quick review of the key facts to help you make your final decision.

  • Plans and price: AT&T’s fiber internet plans are among the best in the industry from both a price and a performance perspective. Spectrum’s internet plans are less impressive and have nasty price hikes after 12 to 24 months. 
  • Internet speed: Spectrum’s cable internet plans can give you speeds up to 1,000Mbps, which is plenty for most customers. However, if you want the fastest and most consistent internet, you’ll want to go with AT&T fiber.
  • Availability: Spectrum’s cable internet service is available in most states. AT&T’s availability is more limited, especially for its fiber internet service.
  • Customer service: AT&T’s customers give it above-average marks on customer service and satisfaction, while Spectrum scores right in the middle of the pack.

Methodology

We do everything we can to provide the most accurate, up-to-date, and informative reviews on the web so that our readers can pick the perfect internet service plan. In order to do this, we always begin with a lot of research.

For this particular article, we began by looking at all of the information we could find about AT&T and Spectrum, including: customer reviews, third-party performance reviews, contract details, first-party publications, and our own proprietary data from over 100,000 internet customers.

We put that information about both ISPs side-by-side to analyze each company in a number of key areas, including price, contracts, performance, and customer service. Ultimately, our recommendations were based on what we think would be best for various different kinds of internet users.

Easton Smith
Written by
Easton Smith
Easton has worked as a freelance writer and researcher for several years, reviewing health, lifestyle, and technology products. He has probably read more Terms of Use contracts than any human alive. When he’s not sitting in front of a computer, Easton spends his time camping, climbing, and volunteering with humanitarian aid organizations.

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