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Astound Broadband vs. Sparklight Internet plan comparison


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Headshot of Brittany McGhee
Researched by
Headshot of Bri Field
Reviewed by
Bri FieldAssigning Editor
Updated 6/18/24

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Astound Broadband
Staff rating
4.1
Customer rating
4.0
(13)

  • Plans starting at $19.99
  • Download speeds up to 1200 Mbps
Sparklight
Staff rating
3.2
Customer rating
0.0
(0)

  • Plans starting at $35.00
  • Download speeds up to 940 Mbps
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Astound Broadband
Staff rating
4.1

Extremely cheap internet—for a year

Top-notch customer service and shockingly low intro pricing make switching to one of Astound’s brands (Wave, RCN, Grande, or enTouch) an easy choice. But opting for gear rental or sticking with Astound for longer than a year will cost you. Big.

What we like

  • Award-winning service and speed
  • Low introductory prices
  • No contract required
What we dislike

  • Super steep price hikes
  • Expensive installation and equipment
Savings tip: Astound Broadband often has sign-up promotions for first-time customers. Call to ask a rep about current deals and discounts.
Check deals
Sparklight
Staff rating
3.2

No-contract cable internet worth considering in areas without fiber

Sparklight, formerly known as Cable One, is a cable internet provider primarily serving suburbs and rural areas in over a dozen states. Its no-contract plans offer good download speeds to areas fiber doesn’t often reach, but its data caps aren’t ideal.

What we like

  • No contracts
  • Simple pricing
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
What we dislike

  • Data caps for most plans
  • Expensive Gig plan
Savings tip: Sparklight often has sign-up promotions for first-time customers. Call to ask a rep about current deals and discounts.
Check deals
Astound Broadband
Value
4.5
Mark your calendar now for internet shopping next year

Astound offers supercheap DSL, cable, and fiber internet plans with at least three plan options and no data caps in most areas. Nearly all plans are priced under $50 for the first year, and if you’re paying that much, you’re likely getting at least 940 Mbps of speed. National benchmarks for similar plans are in the $130 range, so you’ll be getting a great deal. (1)

Unfortunately, after a year, prices skyrocket, with some of the lowest-tier plans reaching nearly 10x your introductory price—which is quite a bit higher than the national benchmark. As long as you don’t stick around longer than that (and Astound won’t force you into a multi-year contract), this internet service provider (ISP) will probably be your best value option. We recommend shopping around for internet service at least annually anyway, so this might not be a big deal for a lot of people.

Pricing details vary by location. Visit
Astound Broadband's website
or call 1-844-716-2786 to speak with a rep.
See pricing
Sparklight
Value
2.5
Sparklight’s plans are a decent value for casual users without access to fiber

Sparklight’s no-contract cable internet plans are generally a decent value compared to other providers available in the communities the company serves. While you might not be able to get fiber in these areas, you’re likely to find DSL, satellite, or other cable internet service providers (ISPs). The speed you get for the price is comparable to other cable providers or a bit cheaper, and the performance surpasses DSL and satellite. All of this means Sparklight’s plans are worth strongly considering if your address is in one of its service areas.

We recommend choosing a Sparklight plan with at least 200 Mbps of download speed, but ideally more if it’s in your budget. Since Sparklight is a cable provider, upload speeds tend to be far below the download speeds. Upload speeds increase with each pricing tier, so if you work from home and have multiple connected devices you may want to pick one of the more expensive plans for seamless video calls.

All of Sparklight’s plans have data caps, except for its most expensive Gig plan. Data caps are typical for cable providers. While some competitors offer data caps over 1 TB for all of their plans, Sparklight’s plans have data caps that range from 100 GB to 1.5 TB. You can get 100 GB blocks of additional data for $10 during months when you need it, or you can upgrade to unlimited data with any plan for an extra $30/month. When calculating your needs, consider that the average person uses 536 GB of data per month (1).

The Gig plan offers the most data for your dollar and the highest speeds, but it’s more expensive than fiber plans with comparable download speeds, at least in some of the service areas. If you don’t want to pay top dollar, the Internet 300 and 500 plans also offer good speeds and high enough data caps for the needs of most households. We wouldn’t recommend the Internet 25 plan because its low speeds and data cap won’t comfortably meet most people’s needs.

Pricing details vary by location. Visit
Sparklight's website
or call 1-877-687-1332 to speak with a rep.
See pricing
Astound Broadband
Performance
4.5
Award-winning speed—on average

Astound Broadband is very fast. That said, as with most ISPs, you may not experience the speeds advertised for your plan because speeds fluctuate based on numerous conditions.

With Astound, the speed on your plan is the “average” that customers see, so your speeds will vary depending on the gear you’re using, time of day, how many devices are using your Wi-Fi, and more. If you see persistent speed issues, Astound encourages you to call customer service to get help figuring out the issue.

Available speeds vary by location. Call 1-844-716-2786 to speak with a Astound Broadband rep or
go to its website.
Sparklight
Performance
4.0
Good download speeds, but data caps hold it back

Sparklight is available in mostly rural and suburban areas where customers probably won’t be able to get fiber internet. This makes Sparklight’s cable internet speeds the best option in some communities that are otherwise served only by DSL or satellite, which can be slow and unreliable. According to a report from Ookla, Sparklight had the highest download speeds among fixed broadband providers in North Dakota and New Mexico. (2)

Sparklight is a fiber-rich cable provider, meaning it delivers service using a mix of fiber and coaxial cables. While it can achieve download speeds of up to 940 Mbps, its upload speeds are much lower than that, reaching 50 Mbps. This is a technical limitation of cable connections that those with fiber connections won’t experience. While this isn’t ideal for households with several people who want to do heavy gaming or take video calls at the same time, Sparklight’s download and upload speeds are generally still sufficient for most households. And for regular browsing and streaming for multiple users, it's just fine. However, the data caps may hold you back if you’re a heavy internet user. Occasional outages and inconsistent speeds do affect service according to customer reports on Downdetector. (3)

Available speeds vary by location. Call 1-877-687-1332 to speak with a Sparklight rep or
go to its website.
Astound Broadband
Equipment and installation
3.0
DIY your equipment and installation for more savings

You can rent a modem and one of two Wi-Fi routers from Astound, bringing your total monthly equipment costs between $17 and $27 or more—which is on the high side. For most people, the Whole Home Wi-Fi router option will be the right choice. It includes an eero router and an extender, and you can add more extenders to ensure coverage throughout your entire home. Gamers and other heavy streamers should consider the Nighthawk Pro gaming router to reduce lag spikes and achieve more consistent speeds.

To save money, consider using your own gear or use Astound’s free self-setup option, which is available in most areas. But you'll pay around $10 to activate your service. Even if you’re not tech savvy, this provider’s detailed online instructions and videos make it easy. If you do want professional help or your home isn’t already properly wired, professional installation starts around $80, which is about average.

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Equipment and installation options can vary widely depending on
Astound Broadband plans
available in your area.
View plans
Sparklight
Equipment and installation
3.5
Low equipment costs and simple installation

When you sign up for Sparklight internet service, you can call to schedule professional installation or choose self-installation. Both options are reasonably fast according to customer reviews. Professional installation is typically free and can be scheduled at your convenience. There's technically a $90 professional installation fee, but it is waived as part of a "permanent promotion." Self-installation is free and should take about 15 minutes once you receive your equipment in the mail.

You can choose to purchase your own Sparklight-supported modem or lease a modem from Sparklight for just over $10/month, less than some other providers. The installation cost, activation fee, and any equipment deposits may be waived for qualifying new customers.

Equipment and installation options can vary widely depending on
Sparklight plans
available in your area.
View plans
Astound Broadband
Customer experience
4.5
Award-winning customer service, many times over

Astound has (sorry in advance) astounding customer service. This company won fifth place in PCMag's Reader's Choice award in 2022 (2), and before it consolidated them under the Astound brand, Grande, Wave, RCN, and WOW! were all recognized in 2021 (3) and we can see why Astound is a fan favorite. You don't have to sign a contract if you don't want to, your plan comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, and if your technician is late for your appointment, Astound will pay you $20 for the inconvenience. Put it all together, and you get a top-notch customer experience.

Visit Astound Broadband's website
or call 1-844-716-2786 for more information on contracts and money-back guarantees.
Go to provider
Sparklight
Customer experience
3.0
Average customer service and occasional slowdowns and outages

Customer experience with Sparklight is about average compared to other providers. Tech support is available 24/7 by phone or email, and there are plenty of help articles available online. Like most other providers, equipment installation is straightforward whether you have it done professionally or do it yourself.

Common complaints include unplanned outages, inconsistent speeds, and long wait times to reach Sparklight support by phone, according to user reports on Downdetector. (4) If you try Sparklight’s internet service and it doesn’t live up to expectations, the company offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Visit Sparklight's website
or call 1-877-687-1332 for more information on contracts and money-back guarantees.
Go to provider
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Astound Broadband
4.0
(13)
5 Star
23%
4 Star
54%
3 Star
23%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
P
Paulfrom Catasauqua, PA
Astound Broadband Customer for 4+ years
Reviewed on: 6-24-2022
I think they charge much too much for their dservice. Lower prices
J
Juliefrom Passaic, NJ
Astound Broadband Customer for 8+ years
Reviewed on: 6-24-2022
I hope the Internet speed is faster and the price is lower
M
Margaretfrom New York, NY
Astound Broadband Customer for 1+ years
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
Astound 5G wifi have increased the speed from my previous internet. I was very happy with the promotion price at $39.99 but when my contract expired my payments doubled. With the spottiness and occasional dropped connections each month, I don't see the value I am paying for.
L
Lynfrom Somerville, MA
Astound Broadband Customer for 1+ years
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
I am satisfied with my Astound (formally RCN) service. The signal is consistent. I have no suggestions for improvement.
Sparklight
0.0
(0)
5 Star
0%
4 Star
0%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
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Endnotes and sources
  1. 2022 Urban Rate Survey – Fixed Broadband Service,” FCC. Accessed 9 December 2022.
  2. Readers’ Choice 2022: Your Favorite ISPs for Any Type of Broadband,” PCMag. Accessed 9 December 2022.
  3. Readers’ Choice 2021: Internet Service Providers,” PCMag. Accessed 9 December 2022.
Endnotes and sources
1. "Broadband Insights Report (OVBI)," OpenVault. Accessed 17 October 2022.2. “Here’s Where Smaller ISPs Are Blazing Ahead in the United States,” Ookla. Accessed 8 July 2022.3. “Sparklight outage or service down?,” Downdetector. Accessed 8 July 2022.4. “Sparklight outage or service down?,” Downdetector. Accessed 8 July 2022.
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