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Spectrum vs Comcast

Last updated: September 29, 2020

Starts at $44.99/mo
vs
Starts at $24.99/mo

You’re probably well aware of the cable companies Spectrum and Xfinity, but it’s unlikely that you’ll see both available in one neighborhood. There is usually only one cable provider available per neighborhood, even if there is more than one available in the same city. But in the rare case that both providers are available to you, you’ll have a choice to make! I think you’ll find that one of the few similarities between these two providers is their technology. The many differences, on the other hand, mostly boil down to price: Simply put, Spectrum is more affordable than Xfinity.

Spectrum vs Xfinity in a Nutshell

Xfinity Spectrum
  • Available in 40 states
  • Over one million hotspots
  • Free Peacock subscription and 4K streaming device
  • Contract free plans available for an additional fee per month
  • Available in 44 states
  • No contract plans
  • No data caps
  • Up to $500 contract buyout incentive

Network Coverage Comparison for Spectrum and Xfinity

Xfinity’s availability extends to fewer states than Spectrum, but Xfinity is still the largest cable provider in the US. You’re more likely to see Xfinity in densely populated cities, which explains why there are almost nine million more people with access to Xfinity than Spectrum. I’ve seen Spectrum available in less populous places, like my own low-profile town. The next city over from me is well-known for its wineries — and has Xfinity available in place of Spectrum.

Fiber internet is available from both providers, but I think you’ll be better off finding a provider who prioritizes their fiber internet. Spectrum and Xfinity’s fiber networks have limited availability: Xfinity’s fiber network is available to about 20,000 people in the US, while Spectrum only offers its fiber plans to business customers.

Xfinity vs. Spectrum: Speed and Internet Performance

Plan Download (Mbps) Data Cap Monthly Rate
Spectrum Up to 200-940 Mbps No data cap $49.99-109.99 per month
Xfinity Up to 25-940 Mbps 1.2 TB $24.99-84.99 per month
Xfinity (fiber) Up to 2,000 Mbps 1.2 TB $299.99 per month

Spectrum’s entry-level plan has speeds up to 200 Mbps, but the actual speed you get may vary depending on where you live. Spectrum’s entry-level plan used to have speeds up to 100 Mbps, but it has since gone up to the aforementioned 200 Mbps.

The only times I have ever had an issue with my connection speed as a Spectrum customer has been during peak hours. This isn’t unusual: Cable internet can slow down when your neighbors hop online. Fortunately for Spectrum, they’re still recognized as the fastest internet provider in five states and as one of the top ten fastest internet providers in the country.

Xfinity, though, is recognized as the fastest internet provider in three times as many states as Spectrum. Customers even have a higher average download speed with Xfinity (around 267 Mbps) than with Spectrum (almost 230 Mbps). But Xfinity’s high speeds come at a high price, much higher than Spectrum’s.

Spectrum vs. Xfinity Pricing and Plan Features

Spectrum’s promotional pricing is almost identical to Xfinity’s (or maybe it’s the other way around). After the first year, both providers increase their monthly rates by about $20 each month. For example, Spectrum’s up to 200 Mbps plan costs $49.99 for the first 12 months and $69.99 per month afterwards; Xfinity charges $49.99 for the first year for their up to 200 Mbps plan and $70 per month after the first year.

Xfinity, however, has more valuable plans due to the number of perks they offer. With Xfinity, you can get a free streaming device, access to more than one million hotspots, a free streaming service subscription, and an Xfinity xFi gateway. The gateway alone is a great reason to choose Xfinity: It comes with built-in security and creates a network that guests can connect to without sharing your password.

Spectrum may not include the same bells and whistles, but they do offer Wi-Fi hotspots, free antivirus software, and no data caps on all plans. Data caps are a deal-breaker for some, but Xfinity’s data cap is reasonable considering most of their internet users only use about 200 GB per month. As much as I don’t like having restrictions like a data cap, I’d still choose Xfinity over Spectrum.

Spectrum vs. Xfinity Bundles

Spectrum Xfinity
Internet + Phone: starting at $59.98 per month

Internet + TV: starting at $89.98 per month

Internet + Phone + TV: starting at $99.97 per month

Internet + Phone: starting at $40 per month

Internet + TV: starting at $79.99 per month

Internet + Phone + TV: starting at $104.99 per month

The biggest differences between Spectrum and Xfinity bundle options are pricing and the number of channels available. Spectrum’s Double Play bundles (internet and phone or internet and TV)  cost more than Xfinity’s equivalent bundles despite having a smaller channel lineup. Xfinity offers 140-220+ channels, while Spectrum offers 125-200+ channels.

Not only are Xfinity’s bundles less costly, but the perks of being an Xfinity TV subscriber outweigh those of being a Spectrum TV subscriber. Xfinity TV customers get a standard cable box and Xfinity X1, which does double-duty as a cable box and a streaming device. If you have a 4K TV, choose Xfinity. The X1 supports 4K; Spectrum’s cable box only supports HD.

Spectrum vs. Xfinity: Equipment and Installation

Xfinity Spectrum
Professional Installation: $89.99

Self-installation: $15

Equipment fee: $14 per month

Professional installation: $49.99

Professional installation (for Gig plan): $199.99

Self-installation: $9.99

Equipment fee: Included

Wi-Fi fee: $5 per month

Wi-Fi activation fee: $9.99

Although Spectrum has more fees than Xfinity, they cost less overall. I’m not a fan of the Wi-Fi fees, though — I’ve never before seen a provider charge extra to use the wireless capabilities already included in their modem. If your home requires professional installation, Spectrum’s professional installation plus their Wi-Fi activation fee still costs less in total than Xfinity’s professional installation fee does. Still, I recommend choosing Xfinity if you want gigabit speeds. Xfinity’s professional installation is a flat-rate fee — unlike Spectrum’s, which significantly increases if you choose the Spectrum Internet Gig plan.

Xfinity’s fee can cost more over time even though there are fewer individual fees compared to Spectrum. Xfinity’s equipment fee is one of the more costly equipment fees I’ve seen. But if you have your own compatible modem and router and are confident in your tech support skills, you could avoid the equipment fee and save money. You could also buy your own wireless router to save money on Spectrum's Wi-Fi fees.

Spectrum vs. Xfinity: Spectrum Leads for Affordability

As much as I like Xfinity’s extra features and proprietary equipment, Spectrum is a better choice for cord cutters. Xfinity’s contract requirements and high up-front fees make it hard to find a budget-friendly, high-speed Xfinity internet plan.

Spectrum does not have as many features as Xfinity, but you can purchase an Apple TV 4K from Spectrum for $7.50 a month for two years (which equates to what you’d pay for the 32GB model). That’s less than what you’d pay for Xfinity’s own streaming device. If you want to know more about each provider, check out this year’s reviews for Xfinity and Spectrum.

One thought on “Spectrum vs Xfinity: Who has the Best Cable and Internet Service?

  1. Avatar D, yourman says:

    xfinity sucks sooooooo bad!!! aweful, aweful customer service. Wifi speeds not another close to what you pay for. Had 300mbps plan got 150, “upgraded” to 600mbps and got a whopping 230!!! I would LOVE to talk to their President

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