Charter Communications Review
- January 19, 2018 - We’ve updated this review to address facts and policies that have changed since originally published. We also reformatted the presentation of information to more clearly display our research. Most noteworthy, Charter has since purchased Bright House and Time Warner, and rebranded the coalition as Spectrum.
Our Charter Spectrum Review
With high speeds, no data caps, and several perks to bundling, Charter Spectrum is a promising cable internet provider. You’ll often have the choice between 60 Mbps or 100 Mbps, speeds quick enough for a family of heavy internet users. By adding other telecom services to that, you’ll get promotional deals like free DVR service, a free modem, and free installation. If you’re looking to leave your current provider, Charter Spectrum will help cover any early termination fees up to $500.
Spectrum claims to have the fastest cable internet speeds. So fast, in fact, that they’ve challenged AT&T U-verse with the claim that they offer, “Speeds that are over 15x faster than AT&T U-verse® Internet service***” Notice all those stars? We’ll get to that soon.
Impressively, it also claims that, “Spectrum doesn't throttle your speed or have data caps.” And it offers a free internet modem (typically a $10-$15 monthly charge). If you can’t switch to Charter yet because of a current provider, Spectrum will help buyout your contract up to $500. All these perks add up to make Charter Spectrum out to be the best internet provider on the market. But we dug in to see how well those claims hold up.
Is it True?
Mostly. To qualify for most of these perks, you’ll have to sign up for their Triple Play or Double Play promotional packages. That means TV and phone service, too.
Their 15X better than AT&T number comes with some asterisks later clarified as, “Speeds compared to 6 Mbps AT&T U-verse.” There’s not much stock in the claim when they’ve chosen to compare Charter’s fastest plan to one of AT&T’s slowest. AT&T offers internet speeds that nearly match Charter Spectrum, depending on your area. As part of rebranding to Spectrum, the company has simplified their plans, narrowing it down to just two speed options. This is a far cry from the four to six that most companies in the industry offer. The standard is a sufficiently speedy 60 Mbps, and that may be your only option. Some addresses can also upgrade to 100 Mbps.
Charter really encourages their customers to bundle, and you’ll get the best perks when doing so. They offer exclusive price cuts for the Triple Play plan; including free install ($35), WiFi setup (normally $10) and DVR service ($13/mo). This can total up to significant savings upwards of $200.
If you don’t like any of its most popular bundles, you can always create your own. You can choose your cable internet package and add in TV and phone service if you like. Options like these make it easy to get exactly what you are looking for at a good price. If Charter is available in your area, it’s likely to be your default choice for internet and TV unless you want satellite television service.
However, because their contracts only last for 12 months, those sweet savings will time out fairly quick. These prices then increase and your DVR service is no longer free. And it doesn’t stop there — they’ll go up again after two years of service. If you’re the type of person who likes to lock in one price for a long period of time, these price increases can get frustrating and are often unexpected.
A Closer Look at Features
|Speed Options||60 Mbps, 100 Mbps|
|Best For||Those who want to bundle their services|
|Not For||Light internet users|
|J.D. Power Rating||5/5|
|Standout Features||$500 contract buyout|
What Others Are Saying
- CNET reported that there was a lawsuit filed against Charter Communications. “New York's attorney general is suing the second-largest cable operator in the US, claiming the company lied about internet speeds.” The majority of their customers in the New York region were receiving an average of 80% slower speeds than they were paying for. The suit was against Time Warner specifically, in regards to its performance before the merger. Charter has since worked to improve the performance for their collective customers.
- Mediacom: A high speed provider that offers speed ranging from 60 Mbps to 1,000 Mbps. You can also choose from a range of data options: 400 GB to 6,000 GB. Both of its max caps are more than the majority will need. Be wary of its customer service though, as Mediacom consistently tanks in rankings.
- Cox Communications: One of the few providers that offer speeds below 10 Mbps. Though 5 Mbps will cost you $30 in most cities— a terrible value in comparison to other providers. For $10 more you can 50 Mbps with Charter Spectrum.
- AT&T Internet: Consistently achieves the top customer services scores and will subvert some of your most terrible service provider expectations. It has generous data limits of 1 TB, but you may only have a 50 Mbps internet-only plan depending on your address.
The Bottom Line
Charter Spectrum is a promising internet provider with some great promotional deals. If they’re available at your address, consider bundling to take full advantage of price cuts and free services.