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Spectrum® vs Dish

Last updated: July 13, 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.

8 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!

  5. TW says:

    We were Dish customers nearly 16 years – with service in 7 rooms & 2 DVR’s – and LOVED Dish. We switched Q4 of 2020 – enticed by the heavy Spectrum advertising about lower cost & no contract. Over the years, door-to-door reps from other companies (U-Verse, etc) would try to say their services would be less expensive, but every time – if devoting the time to really price compare, I found NO company out there could beat Dish’s pricing of $225/month for the Top 250 channels, 7 rooms & 2 DVRs (each providing DVR service to 2 rooms, aka 4 rooms in total with access to DVR), Stars/Encore/TheMovieChannel/HBO (back when DISH had HBO), Showtime, Cinemax. NO company out there beat Dish’s $225/mo price for us. But then came Spectrum. They quoted us $199/mo for 7 rooms + taxes/fees, BUT… that included home phone service of $9.99/mo (for 36 months, after which would be $12.99/mo) + internet & WiFi service of $24.99/mo (for 36 months, after which I’ll likely be finding a different option as it will increase by another $69, or $93.99/mo after 36 mos). BUT – the beautiful thing financially is – for now – I was able to END AT&T service (had been paying $135/mo total for 2 home phone lines-1 for upstairs & 1 for downstairs in home, + internet).
    So with Dish – $225/mo (when no extra movie rentals and no late fees) + AT&T $135/mo, previously paid total of $360/mo (AND, was willing to pay this monthly for years because of medically disabled folks at home that benefit greatly from access to great programming, yet are unable to navigate as would be needed to cut the cord & switch to streaming like so many are doing these days).
    On Switch to Spectrum we are paying: $249.75/mo Total (eliminated AT&T entirely & are content with just 1 home phone line with Spectrum rather than 2), for a monthly savings of $110.25/month! (or $1,323/year saved!) for service in 7 rooms, + 2 DVR’s – though DVR’s only serve 1 room each (big disappointment not to have 2 rooms served each, and bigger disappointment NOT to have whole home DVR). we had some other key disappointing surprises we have learned we are able to live with for the time being – though will likely later switch back to Dish one day; to be revisited as we near end of 36-month promotional discounts that will increase our bill as of 07/23 by +$91/month, by 09/23 by $+94/month total, and by 07/25 by $114/mo total. By then we MAY be willing to ditch our one home phone line IF Dish still doesn’t offer home phone service by then, and MAY consider using one of Dish’s internet offerings. But until our Spectrum bill starts adjusting up in 07/23, we’re willing to settle for poorer functionality of Spectrum DVRs and older movie sections on Spectrum. Beware of Spectrum quotes though – We were repeatedly explicit the quote had to be less than Dish for service to SEVEN (7) rooms. Despite that, our $199/mo quote + taxes did NOT include cost per wireless Apple TV (Spectrum’s ‘equivalent’ of Dish’s wireless Joey’s – for use in any room that does not have a satellite or cable box). Rather, we were surprised to see on our first bill $41.96/mo tied to Apple TV charges which includes $17.99/month just to broadcast your spectrum guide & spectrum channels to your TV using a wireless Apple box, + $7.99/mo/each wireless Apple box. And, as expected taxes added $35/month.

    Other really undesirable surprises we discovered we’d need to be okay with as Spectrum customers:
    *Less movies available in Spectrum’s Gold package than Dish’s Top 250, and never have the newest/fresh movies available, even among on-demand options. On-demand movie options with Spectrum are really bad, and some are $19.99/ea. (though to be fair some are $3.99) but significantly less ideal than Dish’s Top 250. We never used our Netflix account we had even as Dish customers previously, but now are turning to our Netflix account to find something to watch even though paying so much monthly for Spectrum service.
    *No whole home DVR (were informed of this before switching) BUT were not aware a Spectrum DVR only services ONE room, NOT TWO.
    *Didn’t realize DVR’s hold 300 hours of recordings, not 2,0000 hours, and can record significantly fewer # shows simultaneously than with Dish DVRs. (8 vs 16).
    *While Spectrum service isn’t interrupted with heavy rains/storms like Dish can be occasionally – Spectrum updates are applied just after midnight – on days when updates are applied to their system – BUT…. it CAN take up to 8 hours to apply updates (aka YOU MAY NOT HAVE ANY TV SERVICE OR INTERNET SERVICE FOR 8 HOURS FROM 12:XX A.M. TO 8:XX A.M. !!!) My husband was livid when this happened as he’s often up late at night, unable to sleep due to disabling pain/discomfort. AND, if you are one who works remotely during the midnight to 7 or 8 am hours, this is a MAJOR and UNACCEPTABLE discovery. There should be full disclosures around this before signing up new customers. At minimum – appreciative inquiry could be taught to sales reps to uncover whether anyone in the home works remotely during midnight hours. If so, should disclose this info. The Fix for us around this – temporarily – was early on during our first few months following switch from Dish to Spectrum, we kept paying for our AT&T internet service. We found during the 2 nights our Spectrum service was unavailable after midnight during updates, we could go grab a wireless Apple box from room where Apple box was being used, and move it temporarily (overnight only) to our bedroom where Spectrum cable box was used – and remove one cable wire from Spectrum box & plug it into the Apple box, plug 1 cable coming out of Apple box into our TV & other power cord coming out of Apple box into electrical wall outlet, and navigating to Apple TV “settings” changed name of our internet service selected for use from Spectrum internet to the AT&T internet service we were still paying for, and voila – we THANKFULLY still had TV service for hubby during midnight hours while he couldn’t sleep. To be transparent, we’ve only experienced 8-hour outages for midnight updates twice; they just happened to be right after switching. Otherwise, have had some ~ 1 hour outages btwn midnight and 1 am.
    *Unlike Dish wireless Joey’s with regular Dish remotes (super similar to Dish DVR or Dish voice remotes), with Spectrum, for rooms without a Spectrum cable box that instead have a wireless Apple TV box, the Apple remotes DO NOT have numbers on them; rather, the top of the remote is a touchpad similar to small square touchpad of a laptop. SO…. this means it’s not possible to punch in # of the channel you want to navigate to. So…. the user of TV remote in those rooms with Apple TV remote must use touchpad to do some SERIOUS scrolling within Spectrum guide to navigate to desired channel. And either be savvy enough to navigate to and SAVE each of their frequently viewed channels as FAVORITEs, or have someone else who is slightly tech savvy do so for them. EVEN STILL, if someone else does save each of their fave channels to favorites, the user of that Apple remote MUST BE SAVVY ENOUGH to be taught how, and remember how, to (after turning the TV on) navigate to the Spectrum Guide on the screen, then navigate to FAVORITES, then scroll through the shorter list of channels there among their fave channels to find channel they want since there are NO numbers available on Apple remotes. One of my disabled family members whose TV is located in a room without Spectrum Cable box, who has an Apple TV remote, has been unable to make this transition; instead, isn’t watching his TV at all in his room. 🙁

    But for now – with saving $110/month, we have decided we will live with these undesirable trade-offs for now. Once the monthly promo discount pricing expires, the undesirable trade-offs won’t be worth settling for.

    Dish had MUCH better functionality, better movie options, better DVR capabilities, and better remotes for disabled folks’ use than Spectrum’s Apple TV remotes for rooms without a cable box.
    (Dish should appreciate their development/tech team talents! & invest in offering home phone service for $10 month/line AND deviate from their preferred business model of applying promo discounts of 3 months’ length that LOYAL customers must repeatedly phone back in every 3 months to get a promo/discounted rate again. Nothing makes a LOYAL customer of 15+ years want to jump ship more than forcing them to call in every 3 months for promo rates. Just apply it for a year or two at a time – or 3 yrs at a time like Spectrum).
    Spectrum should really come up with alternative options for Internet/WiFi that don’t increase up after 36 months to pricing structures that will force me away from willingness to settle for their subpar service in the absence of a $100/month savings like I’m experiencing now with bundled internet & home phone. AND improve your DVR services – look to provide whole home DVR so shows recorded in one room can be watched in any other room of the house that has paid DVR access.

    1. Anonymous says:

      Thank you. I was contemplating the switch from Dish to Spectrum and your honest review has made our decision.

      1. Anonymous says:

        I feel the same way, I was about to change to Spectrum but now, after this information I will stay with Dish.

  6. Gary Williams says:

    I was about to change to Spectrum. After reading this information, I will stay with Dish. Thank you for the update.

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