Charter-owned cable internet provider is “fast” and “affordable,” users say, but customer service isn’t always great.
Spectrum Internet Review: Customers Call It “Standard and Reliable”
Spectrum Internet is the way to go if you need a reliable home Wi-Fi connection and can’t get fiber internet in your area. You would get faster speeds from most fiber providers, but Spectrum is much more widely available and still gets you excellent speeds at a reasonable price.
“I would say it’s standard and reliable,” Sakia Anwar, a Spectrum customer in Queens, New York, told Reviews.org in an interview. Like many of its customers, Anwar chose Spectrum because it’s the fastest and most reliable option in her area.
If you’re looking to save money, a 5G home internet provider like T-Mobile would be a better pick than Spectrum. But Spectrum’s cable connection is far more reliable and consistent than 5G. Plus, you can also take advantage of Spectrum’s regular slate of deals and promos—including a mobile phone bundle that gets you an Unlimited Mobile plan free for a year.
“They’re very affordable, and if I’m having an issue, they’re very good about troubleshooting,” Anwar said. “If needed, they’ll send a technician out right away and get it resolved.”
We took a deep dive into Spectrum Internet and spoke with customers and experts to see what it’s all about. Read on for our comprehensive review.
Guide to this Spectrum review:
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Get to know Spectrum Internet—the basics
|Spectrum Internet® Assist 30 Mbps
|Up to 30 Mbps
|Spectrum Internet® 100 Mbps
|Up to 100 Mbps
|Spectrum Internet® 300 Mbps
|$49.99/mo. for 12 mos.†
|Up to 300 Mbps
|Spectrum Internet Ultra
|Spectrum Internet® Gig
|$89.99/mo. for 12 mos.‡
|Up to 1000 Mbps
Speed tiers and prices from Spectrum vary slightly depending on the region you’re in. But a customer can get download speeds up to 1,000Mbps over Spectrum’s “hybrid fiber coaxial” network. Spectrum’s network mostly consists of cable coverage, but customers can get fiber-to-the-home connections in limited areas. Spectrum also has options for bundling internet with TV and mobile (through the Spectrum Mobile brand), and small businesses can sign up for Spectrum Business Internet.
You get a decent deal from Spectrum—compared to similar cable internet providers, the prices are similar and the terms are better. The modem includes an arbitrary-seeming $5 monthly fee just to use Wi-Fi, but that gets canceled out with a $5 monthly AutoPay discount. (You can also waive the $5 Wi-Fi fee if you buy your own modem.) The monthly bill goes up by $20 after a year of service, but customers get unlimited data and don’t have to sign an annual contract.
Spectrum fees for modem and installation
Spectrum modem with no Wi-Fi
Spectrum modem with Wi-Fi
Additional Wi-Fi pods
Self-installation kit and service activation
Early termination fee
Data overage fee
What makes this review legit?
Our fact-based research process centers around interviews with internet customers from across the country, helping us understand how internet services hold up against diverse needs and challenges.
To put together this review, we spoke with six customers over the phone and to two dozen others on Reddit and other online platforms. We let their experiences guide our research and shape our conclusions. We also spoke with a Spectrum spokesperson and an expert on internet technology to get answers about Spectrum’s so-called “hybrid fiber coaxial” network and its budding fiber-optic capabilities.
The rundown—Spectrum Internet by our criteria
For all our internet reviews, we give a rating based on three main criteria—speed and reliability, dollar value, and customer experience—which we then average to make an overall score.
Want to know how Spectrum Internet stacks up? See our full take below.
Speed and reliability
Reviews.org’s speed test results show that the average Spectrum customer gets speeds of 140Mbps. That’s considerably slower than what you get from fiber competitors like Google Fiber, and it also comes in behind cable competitors Cox, Optimum, and Xfinity. But it’s not slow by any means, and certainly much better than a DSL line.
The 300Mbps of the basic Spectrum Internet® plan is ideal for a mid-sized household, while Internet Gig is better for a content creator or large family. You don’t get symmetrical speeds either way, but most people don’t need them.
Spectrum’s pricing structure includes discounted promotional rates for the first year, followed by a $20/mo. price hike on all plans after those first twelve months. There is no annual contract or early cancelation fee on Spectrum plans, so you can switch to a different provider if you don’t feel like paying the regular rate, or call customer service and try to haggle it down.
Typical to a cable provider, Spectrum also imposes extra fees for things that fiber-optic and 5G home providers don’t charge for—you have to fork over $30 for the self-install kit, for example. And while Spectrum technically doesn’t charge for renting a modem, it does have a $5 monthly fee just to use the Wi-Fi. You don't have to pay the fee when you bring your own modem, though.
Despite the extra fees, you still get a decent deal. You don’t have to worry about data caps or early termination fees when you cancel your service. New customers are eligible for a $5 monthly Autopay discount and a $100 Visa Rewards Card. And you get a free Unlimited Mobile cellular line for one year with any internet plan.
Spectrum gets mostly average ratings in public surveys. The provider ranked right in the middle for overall satisfaction, price, and customer service in HighSpeedInternet.com’s 2023 customer satisfaction survey, and it got a couple points below average in the 2022-2023 ACSI Telecommunications Study.
The customers that Reviews.org spoke with mostly are happy with their service, but some give marks down for technical support. “It’s totally fine. It’s fast and we’ve never had an outage,” said Anna Harsanyi in New York City. “Just hope you don’t need help from customer service,” said Robyn Straw in St. Cloud, Minnesota.
Opinions on Spectrum Internet’s customer service swerve between good and bad—some have positive experience while other customers report dealing with pushy customer service agents and unreliable support on the My Spectrum app.
Despite the extra fees and limited fiber availability, Spectrum’s robust range of plan options and reliable cable connectivity make it a solid pick for most internet users.
Don’t expect the provider to exceed your expectations, necessarily: You aren’t going to get symmetrical speeds or multi-gig capabilities unless you can get Spectrum’s fiber service in your area, and that’s rare. But you still get a fast, reliable connection with infrequent outages, and the regular deals help counterbalance the $5 Wi-Fi fee (if you rent a modem) and 12-month price hike.
Spectrum Internet—What deals and promotions can you get?
Spectrum has stepped up its efforts to give customers a good deal. New customers are eligible for a $100 Visa Rewards Card when you get a plan with 300Mbps speeds or faster, and Spectrum Internet also comes with a 90-day trial of Peacock Premium. Through Spectrum’s wireless brand, Spectrum Mobile, you can also get a free Unlimited Mobile plan.
Sign up for a qualifying Spectrum Internet plan to claim this massive deal. Phone line is $29.99/month after the free 12 months is over.
Spectrum add-ons and perks
Free Peacock Premium for 90 days ($5.99/mo. value)
$100 Visa Rewards Card
$5 monthly discount
What do customers think of Spectrum Internet?
Most of the customers we spoke to about Spectrum decided to sign up because they had no other viable options. Cable internet companies tend to hold a lot of sway in the regions where they operate, and it’s not uncommon for a brand like Spectrum to be the only high-speed internet option in an area.
“Spectrum was the only service provider that offered anything faster than 100Mbps download,” said Sean Huntley, a documentary producer who lives in Glendale, California with his girlfriend, Alex Brown.
“What, are you going to go to a different water company? It’s a water company,” he said.
Huntley and Brown both work in the film industry (Brown is a film editor) and their jobs require them to have a gigabit home internet plan to work from home. So they go for the fastest-possible Spectrum plan. Their speeds usually clock in at around 400–500Mbps. That’s below the 1,000Mbps ceiling that is advertised on their plan, but it’s common for internet connections to fall short of the absolute max. They still get plenty of bandwidth to handle downloading large video files, although uploads take longer.
They have rare outages, and setup was quick. All in all, they’re pleased with their service, even if they would prefer fiber. “It’s been competent—and compulsory,” Huntley jokes.
Some users report poor customer service and inconsistent speeds
Conrad Burnham, a Spectrum user in Los Angeles, doesn’t have to wait long if there is an outage in his area. “They seem to respond quickly and take care of problems pretty fast,” he said.
But things haven’t gone as smoothly for other Spectrum users—experiences that mirror Spectrum’s middling ratings for customer service. When New York City customer Sakia Anwar experienced a service outage recently, she contacted technical support, only to get stuck on the phone with an upselling customer service agent. He tried to sell her a cable TV plan as she raced to get her internet back up to make it to a work call.
“I told him three or four times, ‘No, I am not interested,’ and he just would not stop,” Anwar recalls. “I think he was reading off a script or something. He was like, ‘Oh, okay, thank you for your feedback,’ and he would keep going on. I wanted to punch him in the throat.”
Robyn Straw, a Spectrum user in St. Cloud, experienced daily outages in summer 2023 that took hours each time to fix. She has missed work calls over Zoom and is now fed up with the long waits that come when she contacts customer service through the My Spectrum app.
“It’s not very customer friendly,” she said, noting that she’s now considering a switch to satellite provider Starlink.
Digging deeper: Does Spectrum have fiber internet?
Spectrum’s internet runs over what it calls a “hybrid fiber coaxial” network. That’s a fancy term used to describe a typical cable internet network: fiber-optic infrastructure makes up a provider’s regional backbone, and then the network switches to coaxial cable for the “last mile” to deliver data into peoples’ homes. That’s not to be confused with a fiber-optic internet service, often referred to as fiber-to-the-home (FTTH), which delivers internet entirely over a fiber network.
But while the bulk of its customers get cable internet only, Spectrum has actually been offering fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) in parts of the country. “It’s a real thing. The company installs it in ‘green’ markets not claimed by other fiber providers,” said Kevin Parrish, a staff writer (and longtime Spectrum customer) at HighSpeedInternet.com. “What it doesn’t do is install FTTH in areas it already delivers cable internet.”
It’s not clear how many homes Spectrum has connected to fiber so far—a spokesperson declined to give Reviews.org an exact number. Regardless of the network size, Spectrum’s cable offerings could eventually become as powerful as fiber as the company works to upgrade its core network to support 10Gbps symmetrical speeds.
“Our multiyear network evolution now underway will give us the ability to deliver symmetrical and multi-gigabit speeds across our entire footprint in the coming years,” Bret Picciolo, Vice President of Communications at Charter Communications, tells Reviews.org in an email.
We’re eager to hear from internet customers about their experiences with their home Wi-Fi. Contact us at email@example.com to share your thoughts, recommendations, and hot tips.
Where is Spectrum Internet available?
Since Charter’s acquisition of Time Warner Cable in 2016, Spectrum has risen to become one of the most widely available internet service providers in the United States. Search your zip code below to see if you can find it where you live.
Spectrum Internet vs. the competition
Although Spectrum has plans in the making to compete with fiber, it still can’t top fiber-optic rivals like Verizon or Google Fiber in terms of speed or price.
Spectrum’s cable internet customers simply don’t get the symmetrical upload speeds that fiber internet customers do. With slower uploads, you get longer wait times and more buffering when you upload large files, post to social media, or host a livestream. Many fiber internet providers also don’t impose price hikes on their plans, so you end up paying less over time than you would with a cable provider like Spectrum.
“Spectrum needs to get rid of promo rates and drastically lower their regular rates to be competitive in areas with fiber,” one Reddit user, teavoo, told Reviews.org. “I would need a very significant discount to give up fiber for Spectrum, like maybe $35 [per month] on a regular [rate], not a promo rate.”
Compare internet providers and prices
|T-Mobile 5G Home Internet
|Verizon Fios Home Internet
|Verizon 5G Home Internet
5G home internet is a low-cost Spectrum alternative
Spectrum also isn’t as affordable as 5G home internet options from T-Mobile or Verizon. However, you're better off with Spectrum if you need fast speeds and a reliable connection.
With price hikes baked into the deal, Spectrum’s plans end up costing customers more than a 5G plan, which usually comes with a fixed price for two years or longer. 5G home internet also doesn’t have extra fees for things like installation or equipment.
However, Spectrum still beats 5G when it comes to speed—a cable connection is much more consistent than a wireless connection beamed from a cellular tower.
Want Spectrum Internet? Find it in your area
Spectrum offers a solid deal on reliable internet, so it’s worth signing up. Run a search below to see if Spectrum is available where you live.