Charter Spectrum Review

Editor's Note
  • August 14, 2018 - Looking for our review of Time Warner Cable or Bright House Networks? Charter Communications acquired both companies in 2016 and rebranded the collective service as Spectrum. We’ve updated this review to address pricing and package details that have changed since then.

With high speeds, no data caps, and several perks to bundling, Spectrum is a promising cable internet provider. In most cities, you’ll have the choice of speeds ranging from 60 Mbps to 940 Mbps, which are quick enough for a family of heavy internet users. Spectrum internet pricing is on par with other providers, but prices will increase after the first year. That said, bundling with other telecom services opens up promotional deals like free DVR service, a free modem, and free installation. If you’re looking to leave your current provider, Spectrum will also help cover any early termination fees up to $500 without the obligation of a new contract — so the slightly increased prices after year one may be worth it in the end.

The Claim

Spectrum claims that its speeds are “lightning-fast” and enough for a big household to stream, surf, and download “without sacrificing performance.”

Is it true?

Yes. With up to 940 Mbps in some areas, Spectrum internet plans offer plenty of speed for even the largest of households. Plus, there are no data caps or extra fees with Spectrum plans, so you’ll never have to worry about speeds slowing down if you end up using a lot of data. And even if those 940 Mbps plans aren’t available in your area, Spectrum’s speeds still start at 60 Mbps — more than enough for a fast internet experience.

Product Overview

Best for

Large households who enjoy heavy-internet activities — like streaming Netflix and playing online games — across multiple devices

Not for

Light internet users or single-person households

Features

Price
$44.99/mo.
Number of states served
45
Speed range
100 Mbps-940 Mbps
Data cap
None
Early termination fee
None
Contract terms
No contract required
Wi-Fi fee
$5/mo.

$500 contract buyout

If you’re stuck in a contract with another internet provider, Spectrum will buy it out up to $500. Even better, you won’t be going from one contract to another — Spectrum doesn’t require a contract for service. That means you won’t have to worry about early termination fees again.

Spectrum internet gig plan

Internet providers know that they have to keep up with demand for faster internet speeds, and Spectrum is no exception. Though it doesn’t offer fiber connections and its upload speeds are slower than download speeds, Spectrum rolled out a gig plan earlier this year that offers up to 940 Mbps. Currently, this plan is available in 27 million homes, with Spectrum hoping to cover “nearly all of the homes in its cable footprint by the end of this year.” Plus, Spectrum internet prices are pretty easy on the wallet during the first year of service, so you can get all of that speed without breaking the bank.

No data caps

Spectrum is one of the few providers that doesn’t cap data usage. Measured in GB, data is the amount of information you can upload, download, and stream. Most households can work with 250 to 500 GB, but internet junkies will rejoice in Spectrum’s unlimited supply. And as entertainment trends continue to advance and technology like 4K streaming normalizes, data demands will increase. Charter’s lack of data cap will ensure that your plan can keep up.

Possible drawbacks

Prices increase and promotions end after first year

Like most internet providers, Spectrum internet prices and promotions aren’t guaranteed for the duration of your service. Prices increase around $20 in the second year. Spectrum’s free DVR promotion (included with Triple Play bundles) also ends after the first year. Since Spectrum doesn’t lock you into a contract, you can switch service if the price change doesn’t fit into your budget; that said, rate increases are standard among internet service providers. Be aware of the price increase when signing up so you’re not surprised when it rolls around.

The Competition

Charter Spectrum
Verizon Fios
Cox Communications
Comcast Xfinity
Our review
Our review
Our review
Our review
Available plans
Standard Internet, Spectrum Internet Ultra, Spectrum Internet GIG
Better Browsing, Better Streaming, Better Everything
Cox Internet 10, Cox Internet Essential 30, Cox Internet Preferred 100, Cox Internet Ultimate, Cox Internet Gigablast
Performance Starter Internet, Performance Internet, Blast! Internet, Extreme Internet, Gigabit Internet, Xfinity Gigabit Pro
Speed range
60 Mbps-940 Mbps
100 Mbps-940 Mbps
10 Mbps-1,000 Mbps
25 Mbps-2,000 Mbps
Modem/router included
Annual contract
Depends on location
Price-lock guarantee
Number of states served
45
10
19
40

Charter Spectrum vs. Verizon Fios

Verizon Fios offers fiber internet in 10 states mainly situated in the northeast. Its Fios Gigabit Connection plan boasts speeds up to 940 Mbps (and upload speeds up to 880 Mbps) on a dedicated fiber network. Plus, you don’t have to worry about your price increasing in year two, thanks to a three-year price guarantee. However, as with most fiber internet providers, Fios availability is extremely limited. If you can get Verizon Fios at your home, it’s a great option. But, if you can’t, Spectrum is a solid alternative.

Charter Spectrum vs. Cox Communications

Whether you live alone or have a family of five, Cox Communications has a plan for you. High-speed internet plans start at 10 Mbps and climb to 1 Gbps. However, the plans shown on Cox's website aren’t available at every address; if you choose Cox, it’s important to see if the speeds offered in your area are the speeds you want. It’s also worth noting that Cox’s lower-speed plans are typically more expensive than comparable plans from Spectrum. If it comes down to Cox and Spectrum, Spectrum is your better bet.

Charter Spectrum vs. Comcast Xfinity

The largest cable internet provider in the US, Comcast Xfinity offers speeds from 25 Mbps up to 2,000 Mbps. Like Spectrum internet packages, Xfinity includes a no-contract option in some areas. Its packages are competitively priced and offer a variety of speeds for every kind of household. That said, if Xfinity doesn’t have a no-contract option in your area, a one- or two-year term agreement is required, both of which come with early termination fees if you cancel. If you don’t want to deal with contracts or cancellation fees, stick to Spectrum.

Spectrum FAQ

How much is Wi-Fi per month?

Spectrum charges a monthly fee of $5 for “Home Wi-Fi.” This lets you connect several devices wirelessly rather than requiring an ethernet cable to access your internet service. Spectrum includes a modem with all internet packages at no extra cost (most providers charge monthly fees for modems and routers), so a $5 Wi-Fi fee is more cost-effective in the long run.

Is Spectrum good for gaming?

Yes. Spectrum internet plan speeds range from 60 Mbps to 940 Mbps in some areas. Most gaming systems and computers require anywhere between 1 to 6 Mbps minimum download speeds and 0.5 to 1 Mbps upload speeds. 60 Mbps is plenty for gaming, especially for cable internet connections. Spectrum also doesn’t have data caps, so you’ll never need to worry about using too much data or throttling your connection. Speeds will always remain consistent.

The Bottom Line

Spectrum is a promising internet provider with some great promotional deals. It also offers plenty of speed at prices that don’t come with long contracts. If you’re stuck in an agreement with another provider and Spectrum is available at your address, consider taking advantage of its buyout option and making the switch to high-speed internet at reasonable prices.