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9.6 / 10  Review Rating

Spectrum® Internet in a Nutshell

  • Offers Service in: California, Texas, New York, Ohio, North Carolina, Florida, Wisconsin, Missouri, Kentucky, South Carolina, Michigan, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Hawaii, Indiana, Minnesota, Maine, Massachusetts, Oregon, Illinois, Washington, Nebraska, Kansas, Montana, Louisiana, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Connecticut, Wyoming, New Jersey, Virginia, Arizona, New Hampshire, Idaho, West Virginia, Vermont, Mississippi, New Mexico, Maryland, Rhode Island, and Arkansas
  • Major Cities Covered: Los Angeles, CA, San Diego, CA, Orlando, FL, Tampa, FL, Indianapolis, IN, Louisville, KY, Saint Paul, MN, Saint Louis, MO, Charlotte, NC, Brooklyn, NY, New York, NY, Cincinnati, OH, Cleveland, OH, Columbus, OH, Austin, TX, Dallas, TX, El Paso, TX, Fort Worth, TX, San Antonio, TX, and Milwaukee, WI
  • Residential Pricing: $49.99+ per month for 12 months

Spectrum Internet was the first internet provider I had in my first house. It was an easy choice among the other options — they have the best new customer deals where I live. I had Spectrum Internet for a little over a year before switching to another provider to get a lower-priced plan, so I had plenty of time to test it out for this review. And I didn’t have to rely on my experience alone: My mom has been a loyal Spectrum Internet customer for almost a decade.

So what did testing Spectrum Internet twice over reveal? I’m not fond of how much Spectrum Internet prices increase after the first year, but they’re not high enough to make a budget-watcher like my mom switch providers. Though it’s not quite cheap, Spectrum’s impressive offerings make it one of the best values in her area for high-speed internet, TV, home, and mobile phone services — not to mention the perks that save her hundreds each year. Still, my own testing shows that Spectrum Internet speeds can vary, and I had very different experiences with speed, pricing, equipment, and more. I’ll detail all of it below in this year’s review of Spectrum Internet.

Overview of Spectrum Internet

Remember Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks? Charter Communications, Spectrum’s parent company, acquired those providers in 2016 and combined them with their previous services to create the Spectrum brand. My family had Charter internet and TV before the merger, so I know the old pre-merger Charter just as well as I know the new post-merger Spectrum brand — and I can say with confidence that Spectrum is much better today than it ever was back when it was called Charter. If this were a Charter review, things wouldn’t go so well for the ISP: I’d be writing about how reaching customer service was a pain, or about how we resorted to getting our own equipment because of the problems we had with Charter’s.

Luckily, this isn’t a review of the old Charter brand — it’s a review of Spectrum. Spectrum’s customer service is easy to reach, and there are multiple ways to do so. Their modem is more up-to-date and doubles as a wireless router. Spectrum Internet speeds have increased and are still rising: Spectrum is increasing its entry-level plan speeds from up to 100 to 200 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary) across the United States. Unfortunately, Spectrum’s advertised upgrade doesn’t seem to actually guarantee faster speeds. I noticed this most when I tested my mom’s connection: Her internet speeds are a small fraction of the speeds she should be getting. Below is a screenshot of her speed test.

Spectrum Speed Test
Spectrum Internet Speed Test

My mom doesn’t mind speeds like this, but I consider them relatively slow for a plan like hers. Though speeds like this are plenty fast enough for basic tasks like checking email, it struggled with bandwidth-hogging activities like video calls. In my trials, Facetiming with my mother over her connection often resulted in “poor connection” messages. With that said, my own experience with Spectrum Internet was better, though I still experienced the occasional slowdown during high-traffic hours.

The reason that Spectrum Internet speeds vary from market to market — and from hour to hour — is that Spectrum’s network is primarily a cable internet network. Cable internet connections like Spectrum’s slow down when the network is crowded. They’re simply not as fast as fiber networks. That’s not the end of the world, though, as my mom’s loyalty shows — if the price is right and your internet use doesn’t require jaw-dropping speeds, you might be perfectly happy on a cable network.

When I had Spectrum Internet, I found the price was worth it: I paid just $49.99 a month for 12 months for up to 100 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary). My connection was fast during the middle of the days and late nights — perfect for working from home. I live in an area where Spectrum averages around 274 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary), which is a bit faster than the typical average of 229 Mbps, but any speed in this neighborhood should be more than fast enough to handle your household’s internet traffic, even if you want to stream on multiple devices simultaneously.

Spectrum Internet speeds can be strong, but the company’s pricing and availability are what stand out the most relative to other providers. Spectrum’s availability gives it an edge in markets that few — if any — other ISPs serve. My only options for high-speed internet are Frontier and Spectrum Internet; my mom’s neighborhood only has Spectrum installed, so she has no choice.

Pros Cons
  • Low-priced new customer deals
  • No data caps
  • Nationwide Wi-Fi hotspots
  • Prices increase after the promotional period
  • Speeds can slow down randomly
  • Additional fee for Wi-Fi

Spectrum Internet Plans & Speeds

Spectrum Internet offers about three plans, give or take, in most of the markets it serves. Exactly how many options you’ll have will depend on where you live. Having three plans seems to be the norm for internet providers nowadays. Spectrum Internet plans have a wide range of speeds that can grow with your household if need be.

Spectrum Internet Plans, Pricing, and Speeds

Connection Type Download Speed Data Cap Promotional Rate Standard Rate
Spectrum Internet* Cable Up to 200 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary) No cap $49.99 per month for 12 months $69.99 per month
Spectrum Internet Ultra** Cable Up to 400 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary) No cap $69.99 per month for 12 months $94.99 per month
Spectrum Internet Gig*** Cable Up to 940 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary) No cap $109.99 per month for 12 months $129.99 per month

Spectrum Internet plans are right in the middle when it comes to prices, so you can expect to pay about as much for Spectrum as you would for one of its competitors. Unfortunately, this isn’t a good thing: Some of Spectrum’s biggest competitors are fiber internet providers, which offer faster service, so I would have liked to see Spectrum aim for lower prices on its slower plans. For example, AT&T has an up to 300 Mbps fiber internet plan for $45 a month, a price that’s awfully close to the $49.99 a month for 12 months that Spectrum charges for up to 100 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary). Cable internet doesn’t offer the same reliability as fiber, which gives more value to AT&T’s plans compared to Spectrum’s, even though Spectrum’s plans remain slightly cheaper.

Spectrum’s prices increase after the first 12 months. That’s to be expected, I’m afraid: most internet providers increase their prices after a while. However, Spectrum doesn’t charge an equipment rental fee, which keeps the pricing of their plans in a competitive range when compared to other cable providers. Price increases notwithstanding, Spectrum is pretty affordable.

Spectrum also offers perks that some of their cable and fiber competitors lack. Spectrum’s nationwide hotspots are fast and stable enough to handle Google Hangouts video calls. My mom’s favorite perk, Spectrum’s free antivirus software, helps her save money and time in line at Walmart every year. But Frontier still gives Spectrum a run for their money by offering fiber internet at a lower regular monthly price. Spectrum’s perks and extras definitely make it a better value than it would otherwise be, but the ultimate perk would be a speedier fiber connection (hint hint, Spectrum!).

Spectrum Internet Fees

Fees Cost Optional? Type
Installation $49.99 ($199.99 for GIG) No (Self-installation costs $9.99) One-time
Early Termination Fee N/A N/A N/A
Router Fee Free Yes N/A
Wi-Fi fee $5.99 Yes Monthly

Installation

Spectrum Internet installation fees are generally lower than most competitors’ fees, but there’s one big exception to this rule: Spectrum’s Internet Gig plan. The installation fee for the Gig plan is the highest I’ve ever seen from a cable internet provider. And there’s no way around it, unfortunately: professional installation is required for the Gig plan.

This is only a problem with the Gig plan, though: There’s a good chance you won’t need professional installation if you choose any other Spectrum Internet plans. Most people are able to opt for self-installation. Spectrum’s self-installation is easy — it only took me 10 minutes to set up my service — and it only costs $9.99. All I had to do was connect the modem and call Spectrum to activate. Each self-installation kit comes with step-by-step instructions in case you need guidance.

Contracts

All Spectrum Internet plans, including their bundles, are contract-free. They will even help you get out of a contract if you’re stuck in one. Most providers' early termination fees (ETFs) cost less than $500. Spectrum will pay up to $500 in ETFs to help you switch to one of their plans.

One advantage many don’t realize exists with the no-contract policy is that you can still get a discounted rate without being locked in. Other internet providers also offer contract-free plans, but they’re normally available only at a higher price than the provider’s advertised rates. This is one reason why I chose Spectrum Internet when I moved.

Equipment

Spectrum Internet offers a free modem/router combo with all their plans. However, there’s a $5.99-a-month Wi-Fi fee to use the router capabilities. My mom avoids this fee by using her own Wi-Fi router along with the Spectrum Internet modem. You can see a picture of her Spectrum Internet modem below.

Spectrum router
Spectrum Internet router

My mom’s router no longer supports the speed her plan offers. She’s calling to activate her modem’s wireless router functions to get the speed she’s supposed to. During my time with Spectrum Internet, I stuck with their modem/router combo. We never had a Wi-Fi dead zone in the house or garage.

You can buy a modem and router, but the risk you run with using your own equipment is that it may not support the speeds your plan offers. You also miss out on the technical support Spectrum can provide you. For instance, Spectrum is able to reset your equipment on their end if you have trouble. When you get your own equipment, you have to rely on its manufacturer’s support. If you still want your own equipment, you can check with Spectrum to get their equipment requirements or a list of approved routers before buying your own.

Spectrum Internet Customer Service

Spectrum’s customer service is easier to reach these days now that they have multiple ways to contact them. You can use their 24/7 support phone line, Twitter (@AskSpectrum), online chat, and Facebook. Hold times aren’t long, so don’t worry if you happen to get stuck on hold. Some people complain Spectrum’s customer service has long wait times, but we were usually able to speak to a representative without having to wait on hold.

After the merger, my mother’s plan didn’t automatically switch to one of the new plans. In one call, customer service was able to upgrade her plan quickly and give her new-customer pricing. Your experience with customer service should be smooth once you are in touch with an agent.

Verdict

As the second-largest cable internet provider in the US, Spectrum Internet is everywhere: It’s some people’s only option for high-speed internet. And it’s a strong option in many markets — though not all of them, as my speed tests in two different markets demonstrated. Spectrum’s cable network can’t match the speed or reliability of a modern fiber network, but opting for a fiber network like this can save you money. Plus, I was impressed with the perks, including its nationwide hotspots. With Spectrum Internet, I felt like I was paying for internet access across the U.S., not just at home. When you factor in their freebies, the lack of contracts and data caps, and the bundling options, Spectrum starts to look like a better value. And since it’s already one of the most affordable nationwide internet providers a decent value is all Spectrum needs to appeal to budget-conscious shoppers. Though some fiber competitors might offer more bang for your buck, they will likely also come with higher overall prices. Spectrum is a strong option for affordable internet.

*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 Internet ® promotion price is $49.99/mo; standard rates apply after yr. 1. Taxes, fees and surcharges 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. 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 Internet® Ultra promotion price is $69.99/mo; standard rates apply after yr. 1. Taxes, fees and surcharges 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. 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 Internet® Gig promotion price is $109.99/mo; standard rates apply after yr. 1. Taxes, fees and surcharges 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. 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.

6 thoughts on “Spectrum Internet Review

  1. Avatar Cindy Joshi says:

    I’ve been with Spectrum cable for at least 10 years. Toward the last few months my cable was going out every time it rained! They have terrible customer service! They don’t seem to care about keeping their customers happy!

  2. Avatar Lynda West says:

    If you are a good customer and pay your bills on time monthly, they reward you by raising your rate yearly until you can no longer afford their service. I only have internet and I’m paying $74.99 a month and I’m a senior. This is pure corporate greed.

    1. Avatar KM says:

      Just FYI…if you do not pay them, they cannot disconnect your services because utilities are prohibited by CPUC has prohibited all utilities to keep all of their services available no matter the payment status of the utility. Same for telephone, electric, gas, and water.

      1. Avatar Doug says:

        100% false.

  3. Avatar JC says:

    We signed up for internet with Spectrum at a promotional rate which they advertise and said would last for 12 months. After only five months of service they doubled the rate and refused to lower it. They scammed us with a huge bait and switch. We called their customer service and even escalated to a manager named Nathan. I said, “So you are going to scam us by changing the rate on us.” He said, “Yep, uh huh.” I would recommend you never go with Spectrum.

  4. Avatar T says:

    Their internet service is pure garbage. We pay for ‘up to 50’ download speed and get 3, sometimes 5 on good days. It shouldn’t cost $75/month for ‘better than simply nothing’ service.

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