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Spectrum® vs Dish

Last updated: March 29, 2021

Starts at $44.99/mo
vs
Starts at $59.99/mo

Spectrum TV® is strong on pricing when bundled with their Spectrum Internet service.

Dish TV offers a bit more flexibility and a free DVR with twice the storage of what most cable companies are offering.

When it comes to deciding which TV provider to go for, it pays to shop around. Spectrum TV and Dish are two such providers: but there are some key differences between the two. Spectrum TV is a cable TV service that also offers phone and internet services over their network. Dish is a satellite TV provider solely, but can be bundled with other providers’ services.

Today I take a look at which network is best for which people, pros and cons of each, internet offerings, and more. Dive in to learn which of these two competitors might work well for your household. Both have solid budget deals.

Spectrum Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • No lock-in contracts
  • Internet speeds you can rely on of 200Mbps+ (wireless speeds may vary)
  • Up to $500 towards buying out your old TV contract

Cons:

  • Confusing billing structures
  • Be careful of second-year price increases
  • Selection of channels varies wildly depending on region

Dish Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Affordable pricing structure
  • Free HBO for 1st year
  • Live TV, recordings, on-demand all on mobile

Cons:

  • Internet bundles may be slow
  • 2-year lock-in contract required
  • Weather can affect satellite TV

Network and Coverage Differences

Dish coverage is near-universal in the USA

Since it comes from satellite, Dish TV coverage can be had pretty much anywhere with a view of the south (since the satellite is located there).

This can cause issues for customers who live next to tall buildings on the southern side or have dense foliage blocking their view.

Spectrum Internet runs their internet service over your cable TV connection. Dish, on the other hand, doesn’t offer their own internet service: this is provided through secondary partners. Dish’s partners include HughesNet satellite internet, Frontier DSL internet (and Frontier FiberOptic internet), and CenturyLink DSL internet. Satellite internet is available for virtually 100% of homes in the US. However, coverage for DSL and fiber optic depends on your region.

In terms of speeds, from slowest to fastest networks, typically you’re looking at satellite, then DSL, cable, and fiber optic. This all depends on provider, plan, and your location though.

Spectrum Internet vs Dish Internet Performance

Rather than giving customers the usual “you’ll get speeds of up to X Mbps”, Spectrum Internet promises their customers speeds upwards of 200Mbps (wireless speeds may vary). This is a refreshing twist for a network provider and really helps to understand the typical speeds you’ll actually be getting. Plus, Spectrum Internet is not allowed to impose data caps on their services as a condition of their merger with Time Warner Cable and Bright House, for at least 7 years.

For Dish, HughesNet Gen5 offers speeds of up to 25Mbps countrywide, Frontier broadband sees top speeds from 6 to 24Mbps (depending on your plan), Frontier ranges up to 150mbps in certain areas (but is only available in 24 states), and CenturyLink which offers speeds ranging from 12Mbps to 1000Mbps, depending on your plan and area. Depending on which internet provider you go with, there may be a data cap imposed.

To learn what speeds will be for your household, it’s best to have a chat with the provider directly.

Bundled Services

Spectrum is really built for Triple Play services – their Triple Play Select*, Silver**, and Gold*** are geared towards giving the most to customers. However, be aware of their pricing lingo – with Triple-Play from $29.99/month each for 12 months, you might think you’d be paying $29.99 for all three services, rather than $89.97 all up.

Dish is a satellite TV provider, they only offer bundled phone and internet services through secondary providers, and these vary widely, depending on your region. Have a talk to a local rep to find out what’s available in your area – and at what price.

Spectrum TV vs Dish TV Service

Spectrum TV offers customers the widest range of HD channels available, although, depending on your region, their actual channel choices might be lacking. Spectrum TV plans start from 125+ channels, through to 200+ channels – but this can vary wildly, with hundreds more. Dish starts from 190 channels on their lowest plan (America’s Top 120) through to 290 channels (America’s Top 250). Both offer mobile viewing, however, customers report that Dish’s mobile content is more reliable.

Spectrum TV vs Dish Sports Packages

Both Spectrum TV and Dish provide fee-free regional sports and ESPN. Other sports add-ons are available for a fee with both providers. The NFL Network is available on the Spectrum TV Silver Plan****, and MFL Network + NFL Redzone available on their Gold Plan*****. Currently, Dish also offers customers an included Multi-Sport pack on all plans except the lowest plan – which may be an appealing option if you’re into sports. This includes NFL Network + Redzone, MLB, BeIN, and more – 35 extra sports channels. Dish allows you to purchase add-on sports packages for an additional fee including MLB Extra Innings, NBA League Pass, NHL Center Ice, Fox Soccer Plus, Outdoor Package, Willow Cricket HD, and Racetrack Television Network.

Spectrum TV vs Dish Equipment

Dish’s Hopper 3 DVR is one of the best devices out there, with up to 2000 hours of recording and up to 16 channels at once, so there really is no competition with the Spectrum TV DVR (300 hours and 8 channels) – although Spectrum TV is 3D capable, if you have a 3D TV.

Spectrum's Strength: Fast, reliable internet

Spectrum’s best feature isn’t in their TV service package, it’s with their bundled internet. I love the fact that they promise a minimum of 200Mbps instead of other company’s traditional maximum speeds (wireless speeds may vary).

Dish TV's Strength: Watch all live, on-demand and recorded TV anywhere on mobile

While Spectrum offers a similar service, their app isn’t as stable and doesn’t offer as much functionality as Dish. If you want to watch TV everywhere then Dish is a better option – depending on the reliability of your mobile network of course.

Spectrum vs Dish Equipment and Installation Considerations

Spectrum offers customers free installation, as well as WiFi and DVR setup. Your DVR itself comes with an added rental cost per month (currently $5.99/month) – although you can use your own DVR if you know how to set it up. If you choose to rent more than one DVR from Spectrum, you’ll be charged an additional DVR service fee per month. In terms of installation, you’ll be provided with a 2-hour window within which your technician will come out.

Dish comes with free installation and satellite Dish hire. Your DVR option is the Hopper 3, which currently costs an extra $15 per month on top of your bill, however it’s a top of the line box with great capabilities. Dish offers a 75-minute window within which their technician will come to your home to set everything up – which can be a great time saver.

Our Pick: Dish, for Their Wide Range of Channel Offerings

When it comes to comparable package selections, Dish really outshines Spectrum – offering more channels for your dollar. Pair this with their available sports options and you’ll be pleasantly surprised with your viewing options. Dish’s top of the line DVR means that you’ll never have to miss any programming you’re keen to view, either. However, if you really don’t want to be locked into a 2-year contract, then Spectrum might be the clever option for your household.

*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 TV® Select promotion price is $44.99/mo; standard rates apply after yr. 1. Spectrum Internet® promotion price is $44.99/mo; standard rates apply after yr. 1. Spectrum Voice®: Price is $12.99/mo when bundled. Taxes, fees and surcharges (broadcast surcharge up to $16.45/mo) extra and subject to change during and after the promotional period; installation/network activation, equipment and additional services are extra. General Terms: INTERNET: Speed based on wired connection and may vary by address. Wireless speeds may vary. TV: TV equipment required; charges may apply. Channel and HD programming availability based on level of service. Account credentials may be required to stream some TV content online. HOME PHONE: Unlimited calling includes calls within the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands and more. Services subject to all applicable service terms and conditions, subject to change. Services not available in all areas. Restrictions apply. Enter your address to determine availability. ©2021 Charter Communications.
**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 TV® Silver promotion price is $74.99/mo; standard rates apply after yr. 1. Spectrum Internet® promotion price is $44.99/mo; standard rates apply after yr. 1. Spectrum Voice®: Price is $12.99/mo when bundled. Taxes, fees and surcharges (broadcast surcharge up to $16.45/mo) extra and subject to change during and after the promotional period; installation/network activation, equipment and additional services are extra. General Terms: INTERNET: Speed based on wired connection and may vary by address. Wireless speeds may vary. TV: TV equipment required; charges may apply. Channel and HD programming availability based on level of service. Account credentials may be required to stream some TV content online. HOME PHONE: Unlimited calling includes calls within the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands and more. Services subject to all applicable service terms and conditions, subject to change. Services not available in all areas. Restrictions apply. Enter your address to determine availability. ©2021 Charter Communications.​
***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 TV® Gold promotion price is $94.99/mo; standard rates apply after yr. 1. Spectrum Internet® promotion price is $44.99/mo; standard rates apply after yr. 1. Spectrum Voice®: Price is $12.99/mo when bundled. Taxes, fees and surcharges (broadcast surcharge up to $16.45/mo) extra and subject to change during and after the promotional period; installation/network activation, equipment and additional services are extra. General Terms: INTERNET: Speed based on wired connection and may vary by address. Wireless speeds may vary. TV: TV equipment required; charges may apply. Channel and HD programming availability based on level of service. Account credentials may be required to stream some TV content online. HOME PHONE: Unlimited calling includes calls within the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands and more. Services subject to all applicable service terms and conditions, subject to change. Services not available in all areas. Restrictions apply. Enter your address to determine availability. ©2021 Charter Communications.​
****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 TV® Silver promotion price is $74.99/mo; standard rates apply after yr. 1. Taxes, fees and surcharges (broadcast surcharge up to $16.45/mo) extra and subject to change during and after the promotional period; installation/network activation, equipment and additional services are extra. General Terms: TV: TV equipment required; charges may apply. Channel and HD programming availability based on level of service. Account credentials may be required to stream some TV content online. Services subject to all applicable service terms and conditions, subject to change. Services not available in all areas. Restrictions apply. Enter your address to determine availability. ©2021 Charter Communications.
*****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 TV® Gold promotion price is $94.99/mo; standard rates apply after yr. 1. Taxes, fees and surcharges (broadcast surcharge up to $16.45/mo) extra and subject to change during and after the promotional period; installation/network activation, equipment and additional services are extra. General Terms: TV: TV equipment required; charges may apply. Channel and HD programming availability based on level of service. Account credentials may be required to stream some TV content online. Services subject to all applicable service terms and conditions, subject to change. Services not available in all areas. Restrictions apply. Enter your address to determine availability. ©2021 Charter Communications.​

4 thoughts on “Spectrum vs Dish Networks: Start Here to Compare the Differences

  1. critterdoc93@gmail.com says:

    CharterSpectrum has terrible billing/service record. Net connections unstable at best. Ask any customer to send you speed test records. Their install/service crews are the best at your home, but even they will tell you that system servie/repair work nights. We get billed for “up to 73 Mbps” My usual speeds run around 32, if I’m not disconnected. Running a business on CharterSpectrum must be a nightmare. CharterSpectrum ads tell customers they will get 100Mbps. Good luck with that! And don’t do your batch work after hours. Failures come without warning and will cost you money when you must re-do your Net traffic next next day. You long for two cans and a string!

  2. Warren says:

    Both company’s try cheat you on billing starting with first bill received

  3. Dewey says:

    I’ve had Dish for > 15 years, we’ve had very reliable service except for the occasional very heavy rain or heavy snow fall blocking the dish. After our initial start up period discount, Dish raised our rates considerably. I contacted them and we were able to get the price down with the removal of certain fees. One fee I totally abhor is equipment maintenance fee. Dish will charge you for equipment rental then also charge a maintenance fee while stating it is their equipment. I guess in some cases you can have your cake AND eat it too (at the customers expense). When I realized this I immediately removed this cost and have saved considerably. Hopper relies on your internet upload speed to function properly. Having a 768 Kb effectively eliminates most of Hopper’s benefits. We currently enjoy Dish/DVR on 2 TVs (1 receiver). I have also eliminated the local channel fees by installing antennas in my attic pointing different directions while combining those signals onto 1 coax. I then purchased a local antenna module for the Dish DVR/Receiver. Cancelling locals (was about $5/month) has provided significantly more local channels (OTR) than dish. The only issue is programming is not available for most channels in Dish guide. 20 years ago I lived “in town” and enjoyed Time-Warner cable although with the shared internet the service was greatly reduced between 5 PM and about 10 – 11 PM. Charter/Spectrum/Time Warner have recently presented us with Internet at our new location (finally) after years of false advertising stating it was available in our area, we would request installation only to be told it wasn’t available in our area. I am very reluctant to sign up for the entire package (phone, TV and Internet) as I’ve never been totally on-board with VoIP even at work in a large town VoIP is not totally reliable. With only 4 MB download, I will take the plunge for Internet while initially running both Internet services to confirm Spectrum’s reliability. Having Internet is required for my job. Also, I’m looking into if owning cable boxes is worth the cost as I do not view the cable box requirement with the fees as anything but a method to prevent cable theft. Requiring customers to rent the boxes is a money making deal for Spectrum I do not suscribe to these additional fees where only Charter benefits.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Guess I’ll stay with Dish-Love the Hopper!

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