Spectrum Internet Review 2020
|Spectrum Internet||$49.99||100 Mbps||View Plan|
|Spectrum Internet Ultra||$69.99||400 Mbps||View Plan|
|Spectrum Internet GIG||$109.99||940 Mbps||View Plan|
If you’re hunting for an internet deal, chances are you’ve stumbled across Spectrum. And while this internet service provider (ISP) has received some not-so-great news coverage,1 we still think it offers up some good prices and download speeds.
To top that off, Spectrum internet plans come with a few extra perks you might not find elsewhere, like unlimited data. So is Spectrum the right internet provider for you? Let’s dig into the facts and find out.
- Good price for most speeds
- No contracts
- No data caps
- Download speeds that may be slower than advertised
- Poor customer service
Spectrum prices and plans
Spectrum has a couple good deals, but we’d love to see a lower price on its gig plan.
If you’re looking for fast download speeds that’ll keep a family gaming and streaming over the weekend, Spectrum has you covered. It offers three different plans with speeds ranging from 100 to 940 Mbps. Each of those speeds is juicy enough to keep that buffering icon away.
But we’re not gonna lie, we’d love to see more than just three plans from Spectrum. That’s because we love choices, and right now Spectrum doesn’t offer anything in the way of slower download speeds.
Sure, the price for its 100 Mbps plan is reasonable, but what about solo gamers or casual web surfers that don’t need that much speed? (Of course, more speed is better than less speed, so we still think Spectrum’s 100 Mbps plan is a deal.)
|Plan||Price||Download speed||Data cap||Details|
|Spectrum Internet||$49.99*||100 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plan|
|Spectrum Internet Ultra||$69.99||400 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plan|
|Spectrum Internet GIG||$109.99||940 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plan|
You might hear Spectrum compared to Xfinity. That’s because these two ISPs rival each other in size—both service a large part of the US.
But when it comes to plan variety, we think Xfinity has Spectrum beat. It offers more than double the number of download speed choices than Spectrum does, so you’re more likely to find a speed that matches your needs.
We find Xfinity’s prices to start out lower than Spectrum’s too. But the key here is those Xfinity prices come with a contract and only 1 terabyte (TB) of data. (The unlimited data comes with its expensive 2,000 Mbps plan.) Spectrum doesn’t have contracts and gives you unlimited data. Choices, choices.
|Provider||Monthly price||Download speeds||Data cap||Learn more|
|Spectrum Internet||$49.99–$109.99†||100–940 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plans|
|Xfinity Internet||$49.95–$299.95‡||25–2000 Mbps||1 TB–Unlimited||View Plans|
|AT&T Fiber||$49.99–$50^||100–940 Mbps||1 TB–Unlimited||View Plans|
But if it’s a gig plan you’re looking for, you’ll find lower prices elsewhere. Yes, you may have to sign a contract with a provider like AT&T Fiber to get it, but that low price for 1,000 Mbps download speeds is hard to beat.
Spectrum internet speed
Stream in 4K or download your entire Steam library without worrying about data charges.
We mentioned we wished Spectrum offered more choices for download speeds, but what speeds it does offer are great for streaming The Expanse on Amazon Prime Video or teaming up with your buddies in a PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds match.
The 100 Mbps plan should be hefty enough to keep parents happily streaming Schitt’s Creek while their kiddo watches Phineas and Ferb on Disney+. (Just maybe not in the same room.)
But if you’ve got more than a few connected devices, like cell phones, home security systems, and smart TVs, and still want to binge-watch The Great British Baking Show when you come home from work, you’ll probably want to bump up to Spectrum’s 400 Mbps plan.
And that 940 Mbps plan? That’s perfect for a large family who loves to do all of the above—or for serious gamers or adults who make a living working from home.
|Plan||Download speed||Upload speed||Data cap|
|Spectrum Internet||100 Mbps||10 Mbps||Unlimited|
|Spectrum Internet Ultra||400 Mbps||20 Mbps||Unlimited|
|Spectrum Internet GIG||940 Mbps||35 Mbps||Unlimited|
So what about all this news coverage of Spectrum’s slower-than-advertised speeds? Yeah, we’ve heard about that too, and it has us shaking our heads in disappointment.
The 2018 Federal Communications Commission (FCC) report did show that Spectrum typically delivers faster speeds than what it advertises. If you average out the scores for the four Spectrum plans the FCC analyzed, you’ll see that the report says Spectrum typically delivers 114.8% of the speeds it advertises.2
That gives us hope, but we’re still sending R2-D2 with a message that says Spectrum probably needs help in the speed department.
The somewhat silver lining is that Spectrum has no contracts. So if you find your download speeds waning and customer service is no help, it’s easy to put a stop to your Spectrum service and find someone else. You won’t get slapped with early termination fees either.
|Provider||Average actual/advertised speed|
Spectrum will neither throttle your speeds nor charge you extra for your data use. That’s the best kind of “no” we’ve ever heard.
While most ISPs offer only 1 TB of data (which is usually more than enough data for most of us), Spectrum’s unlimited data is a dream come true for anyone who uses the web for file sharing, (legally) downloading movies, or working from home.
Contracts, equipment, and fees
Spectrum comes with no contract, but you’ll still pay for installation and a Wi-Fi activation fee.
We like that Spectrum offers a no-contract internet option because it frees you up to switch providers if you’re moving homes or unsatisfied with the service. That’s perfect if you’re renting, temporarily in a city for work, or just don’t like commitments. (We get it.)
The only issues we have with Spectrum are it’s additional fees. Those fees are a confusing bunch, so we’ll try to clear them up for you.
Spectrum throws in a free modem with your internet, which is pretty nice of them. Most other companies charge anywhere from $10 to $20 extra a month to rent equipment.
Of course, you can still bring your own modem and router combo if you prefer. If you need a recommendation, we’re fans of this ARRIS SURFboard modem router combo from Amazon.
The professional installation fee for Spectrum’s 100 and 400 Mbps plans is one of the most reasonable we’ve seen. But the fee for its 940 Mbps plan is outrageous at best.
Also, what the heck is up with that Wi-Fi activation fee? No one knows, but it’s been a hot topic of discussion for a few years at least. We’ve never seen a similar fee from any other ISP, so we really don’t get why Spectrum feels the need to charge for your Wi-Fi set up.
- Pro installation fees: $49.99 for Spectrum Internet and Spectrum Internet Ultra plans, $199.99 for Spectrum Gig plan
- Self installation fee: $9.99
- Wi-Fi activation fee: $9.99
- Early termination fees: No contract means no early termination fee. Yay!
Spectrum’s customer service improved over the last year, but there’s still room for more improvement.
Internet service as a whole doesn’t do well in the customer service department. We know that’s no excuse, but we want to put the situation in perspective before we dive into how Spectrum’s customer service performs.
The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) scores ISPs for customer service each year, and the internet industry averaged a score of 65 out of 100 for 2020.3 So if you look at Spectrum’s latest score of 63 out of 100, it may not seem that great. But that score is still a major improvement from last year, when Spectrum scored a lackluster 59 out of 100.
|Customer service rating||Spectrum|
|ACSI 2020||63 out of 100|
So, while we’re pleased to see Spectrum improved over the past year, we’re still expecting bigger and better things from it.
But if you have no other choice but to call customer service, what can you do? First thing’s first, take a deep breath and grab a pen and paper.
- Use online chat or email if you can. Chat and email free you up to continue living your life without a cell phone attached to your ear. Both of these methods also keep a log of what was said or promised, which is perfect if you need to refer back to it for proof.
- Advocate for yourself. If your current customer service rep isn’t cutting it, ask to speak to someone else—or their manager. It may seem disrespectful, but at the end of the day you’re the customer and you deserve fair and respectful treatment!
- Negotiate. Spectrum doesn’t have contracts, so this can be a huge bargaining chip for you. Research other internet providers’ prices and speeds before you call or chat, and don’t be afraid to say you’ll cancel your service if Spectrum can’t give you what you’re asking for.
Our picks: The best Spectrum internet plan
Best budget pick for most families: Spectrum Internet
Who it’s best for: If your family loves to stream videos or play Farming Simulator 19 together online, the Spectrum Internet plan’s 100 Mbps is fast enough to keep you connected on a budget.
But hey, if your house is home to a large family, you’ve got kiddos uploading YouTube videos, or a partner who works from home, you’ll want to look into the 400 or 940 Mbps plans instead.
Why we picked it: The price Spectrum charges for its 100 Mbps plan isn’t the best out there, but it’s still reasonable. We also think it’s the best deal of all three Spectrum plans available. So if you’re stuck on a budget but still love to game and stream the new season of The Magicians, we think this plan is the perfect compromise.
Recap: Is Spectrum internet good?
Spectrum’s got okay pricing and customer service, but on the plus side it pairs its fast speeds with unlimited data and no contracts.
As the nation’s second largest internet provider, Spectrum has to compete with big dogs like Xfinity, Verizon, and AT&T.
How does it stack up? Mmm, so-so if you ask us.
But its confusing fees—including a bogus Wi-Fi activation fee—and iffy customer service make us hesitate. Can you find better than Spectrum? Yes. But are there worse ISPs out there? Again, yes.
Spectrum internet prices and plans recap
- Spectrum Internet: $49.99/mo.,* 100 Mbps download speeds, no data cap
- Spectrum Internet Ultra: $69.99/mo.,* 400 Mbps download speeds, no data cap
- Spectrum Internet GIG: $104.99/mo.,* 940 Mbps download speeds, no data cap
Data effective 12/18/2019. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* For the first 12 months.
Who owns Spectrum internet?
Back in 2016, Charter Communications bought both Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. Now, all that ISP prowess is housed under one name, making Charter the proud new owner of Spectrum.
How much is Spectrum internet after 12 months?
After 12 months of service, your prices will increase by $21 for internet only and by $25 for bundles. Since Spectrum doesn’t require a contract, your promotional price isn’t guaranteed after the first year (although it’s worth calling and negotiating for if you’re an existing customer).
How do I install Spectrum internet?
If you already have a cable connection and basic knowledge of modems and routers, you can set it up yourself. It’s straightforward enough if you’ve set-up a Wi-Fi network before, but there’s a Spectrum video if you haven’t.
1. WBEN, “Slow Internet Still Plagues Rural Areas of Niagara County”
2. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), “2018 Measuring Broadband Across America: Fixed Broadband Report”
3. American Customer Satisfaction Index (ASCI), “ACSI Telecommunications Report 2019–2020”