Optimum Internet Review 2020
- No service disconnects for residential or small business customers
- Waived late fees
- Public Wi-Fi hotspots for anyone in the US
At first glance, Optimum’s internet plans don’t seem very special. The speeds cap out at 400 Mbps while other internet service providers (ISPs) deliver up to 1,000 Mbps, and the price for its 400 Mbps plan is expensive compared to other providers too.
But keep digging and you’ll find some hidden gems, like the Price for Life guarantee on Optimum’s 400 Mbps plan, unlimited data, and no-contract packages.
You could say those perks might make Optimum a pretty . . . optimal choice when it comes to internet. *Puts on sunglasses as the CSI: Miami intro music plays*
- Price for Life guarantee on 400 Mbps plan
- No data caps
- No contracts
- Few packages to choose from
- High-ish prices for speeds offered
Optimum prices and plans
Optimum internet comes at a high price, but that price might stay the same for life.
One thing we like to see when choosing internet is options. Unfortunately, Optimum has only two internet plan options, and they don’t offer a variety of speeds.
Still, we’re happy those speeds are 300–400 Mbps, since that’s a pretty sweet spot for anyone who loves gaming or streaming. Or even for a family with connected smart home and security systems, smart TVs, and other devices hooked up to the internet.
And you can’t talk about Optimum’s prices without mentioning that its 400 Mbps plan comes with a Price for Life guarantee (as long as you remain in good standing, of course). But as it turns out, you end up paying more for the 400 Mbps plan compared to similar plans from other ISPs.
But we should point out that the Optimum 300 plan price is pretty stellar, even when compared with the competition.
|Plan||Price||Download speed||Data cap||Details|
|Optimum 300||$39.99/mo.*||300 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plan|
|Optimum 400||$64.99/mo.†||400 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plan|
RCN offers a 500 Mbps plan for about $50 a month in Chicago, which is less than Optimum’s price for its 400 Mbps plan. And Xfinity’s 600 Mbps plan, Extreme Pro, comes in at just about $5 more per month compared to Optimum’s 400 Mbps plan—but you get faster download speeds.
|Provider||Monthly price||Download speeds||Learn more|
|Optimum Internet||$39.99–$64.99†||200–400 Mbps||View Plans|
|RCN Internet||$19.99–$59.99‡||25–1000 Mbps||View Plans|
|Xfinity Internet||$39.99–$299.95^||25–2000 Mbps||View Plans|
|CenturyLink Internet||$49–$65°||15–940 Mbps||View Plans|
CenturyLink, another ISP that offers a Price for Life guarantee, steps it up even further. For about the same price as Optimum’s 400 Mbps plan, you can get CenturyLink’s fiber internet with speeds of 1,000 Mbps.
Another way that Optimum lacks variety is its geographical footprint: it’s just not available everywhere. You’ll find it in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania only.
If you are in Optimum’s service area, you can get an even better deal by bundling your internet with an Optimum TV package. Those bundles start out with 220+ channels, which is more than most TV providers will give you for the cheapest price.
Optimum free Wi-Fi hotspots
You’re already paying for internet at home, so it’s a real bummer when you’re out running errands but can’t find a public Wi-Fi connection to save your life.
Not all ISPs offer free Wi-Fi hotspots with their service, but Optimum does. To the tune of more than 2 million Wi-Fi access points, including select NJ Transit stations. Yow!
Optimum internet speed
Optimum doesn’t offer many speed choices, but what it does offer, it delivers on.
Optimum is like the Goldilocks of ISPs—not too fast, not too slow, but just in the middle, with speeds ranging from 300 Mbps to 400 Mbps.
And that might be just right for you. But if you compare this to the offerings of providers on our list of the best ISPs, like Xfinity (15–2,000 Mbps) or AT&T (100–1,000 Mbps), Optimum begins to feel a bit claustrophobic.
But remember, internet speed is more than just what your ISP advertises. You also want to take a look at the speeds your ISP actually delivers.
|Provider||Download speeds||Upload speeds|
|Optimum Internet||200–400 Mbps||35–40 Mbps|
In its 2018 report, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) found that Optimum often over-delivered on the speeds it advertised. If you average out the two scores Optimum received in the FCC report, you’ll find this ISP tends to deliver about 112% of the speeds its customers paid for.1 Not bad!
|Provider||Average actual/advertised speed|
Data effective 3/3/2020. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
It’s all fun and games (and movies and music) until your ISP comes and caps your data.
In Optimum’s open disclosure statement, the company does state, basically, that they cap users who use excessive data because typical users rarely go overboard on their data, so you shouldn’t need to, either.2
What does that mean in plain English? Well, if you use up tons of data by torrenting or downloading large files (like, say, all of Wikipedia), Optimum will stop that nonsense faster than you can say “data cap.” But for most of us, Optimum’s unlimited data means we shouldn’t have to worry about slowed speeds because we used up too much data.
And while we think unlimited data should be the norm, this is different from companies like Xfinity, AT&T, and CenturyLink, which have hard data caps at 1 TB (and charge you extra if you go over).
Contracts, equipment, and fees
No contract, no problem.
Contracts are annoying, we get it. So when we saw Optimum doesn’t hook you with a one-year or two-year contract, we got super excited. Like, happy-jazz-hands excited.
Paired with its Price for Life guarantee, Optimum’s no-contract policy makes it a huge win for anyone who hates being tied down forever in one spot, like college students and renters. (And, you know, anyone who likes the freedom to make adult decisions about utilities. Right.)
Optimum will charge you $10 a month to rent its ARRIS TM804G modem, and you can add a smart router onto that for no extra cost.
However, if you’ve done the math, you probably realized that $10 a month rental fee totals up to $120 at the end of the year. That’s more than the cost of for your own modem, like this ARRIS SURFboard modem/Wi-Fi router combo from Amazon.
If you do buy your own modem, we recommend double-checking that it’s compatible with Optimum’s service and download speeds.
No contracts means no early termination fees, but it wouldn’t be the internet without installation or activation fees, sadly.
But one thing we like to see is Optimum’s clear list of fees, including explanations for most. To sum it up, here’s what you might see when it comes to Optimum fees:
- Standard installation fee: $99 to install a coaxial cable, one wireless device setup, and set up two outlets.3
- Premium installation fee: $149.99 to hard-wire a smart TV, gaming console, computer, or alarm system, plus set up a wireless device (no limit) and set up three outlets. If you need more than three outlets set up, there’s an extra charge of $25 per outlet past the initial three.3
- Activation fee: Not on the list but just as important, Optimum’s activation fee (or “security deposit”) may affect you if you’re building or rebuilding credit. The good news is, Optimum’s terms state your deposit is refunded within 60 days after you cancel—as long as you’ve remained in good standing, paid your bills on time, and returned your equipment.4
Optimum has better customer service than most—which isn’t saying much.
When it comes to ISP customer service, we grade on a curve. Otherwise, no one would be passing this class.
For instance, the American Customer Satisfaction Index’s (ACSI’s) 2018–2019 report gives Optimum internet a score of 63 out of 100.5 That would normally be a “D,” but since the top ISP only scores a 70, we’re going to give Optimum a “B-” instead.
|Optimum ACSI 2019 rating|
|63 out of 100|
Our picks: The best Optimum internet plans
Best for savings over the long-haul: Optimum 300
Who it’s best for: Budget-minded internet users who still want a lot of bang for their buck
Why we picked it: While 300 Mbps is the slowest Optimum plan, it’s more than enough speed for most people.
You could easily have three to four devices streaming at the same time with 300 Mbps. You could play your PlayStation 4 and keep your smart home system connected on top of that, and we still doubt it’d lag. And the monthly cost coupled with the fact that you’re not roped into a contract makes it a deal worth checking out.
Best for gamers and home businesses: Optimum 400
Who it’s best for: Gamers, large families, and home businesses
Why we picked it: Along with incredible download speeds, the Optimum 400 plan equips you with up to 40 Mbps upload speed.
That’s more than enough to stream on Twitch or Mixer. And if you’re video-calling in to a work meeting, it’ll keep your face looking crystal-clear.
Plus, this Optimum plan comes with a Price for Life guarantee. That means that as long as you remain a customer in good standing (pay your bill on time and don’t change your service), your price stays the same month after month, year after year.
Recap: Is Optimum good?
Optimum is a pretty solid choice for your average internet-loving family. If, however, you want faster speeds for streaming all the things or need less speed at a cheaper cost, we recommend checking out our lists of the fastest internet providers and the cheapest ISPs.
- Prices and plans: Optimum’s price for its 300 Mbps plan is right in line with competitors, but you’ll find a better price and faster speeds than its 400 Mbps plan. Still, Optimum manages to even things out by not making you commit to a contract for either of its plans and a Price for Life guarantee on its 400 Mbps plan.
- Speed: We wish Optimum offered at least one low-speed plan and maybe one gig plan, but it offers only a 300 Mbps and a 400 Mbps plan. But the good news is that for the speeds Optimum does offer, it definitely delivers on.
- Contracts, equipment, and fees: You’re not hearing things: Optimum said the magic words: “no contracts.” And hey, your bill for the Optimum 400 plan won’t go up if you remain a good customer, thanks to its Price for Life deal.
- Customer service: No internet provider gets top marks for customer service, but Optimum rates above average.
Optimum internet prices and plans recap
Data effective 3/19/2020. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
*for 1-yr. Plus taxes, fees, and other charges.
**Plus taxes, fees, and other charges. Price for Life. Customer must remain in good standing and up to date on bill payments to remain on Price For Life.
Q: Does Optimum throttle content from certain sites?
With recent changes in net neutrality laws, this is a question on many people’s minds. Optimum’s Open Internet Disclosure clearly states that it doesn’t block or slow anyone’s access to lawful internet content or services.2 But it does reserve the right to prevent harmful or illegal activity online, which mitigates threats such as viruses and other malware.
P.S. If you suspect your slow connection isn’t your fault, here’s how to tell if your ISP is throttling your speed.
Q: If I move, can my Optimum service move with me?
Yes! Optimum even offers loyalty discounts if you stay with them, so we recommend following the moving instructions on Optimum’s site.
But remember that Optimum’s service “footprint” is mostly confined to the Tri-State area of Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York.
- Federal Communications Commission (FCC), “2018 Measuring Broadband Across America: Fixed Broadband Report”
- Optimum, “Open Internet Disclosure”
- Optimum, “Installation Station: What You Need to Know”
- Optimum, “Additional Terms of Service for Optimum Online (Residential)”
- American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), “ACSI Telecommunications Report 2018–2019”