Switchful Logo

Astound Broadband vs. Spectrum Internet plan comparison


Headshot of Kathryn Casna
Rebecca Palmer smiles for the camera
Headshot of Dave Schafer
Researched by
Headshot of Bri Field
Reviewed by
Bri FieldAssigning Editor
Updated 2/9/23

We’re committed to transparency. We may earn money when you follow our recommendations, but compensation doesn’t affect our ratings. Learn more.
Astound Broadband
Staff rating
4.1
Customer rating
4.3
(9)

  • Plans starting at $19.99
  • Download speeds up to 1200 Mbps
Charter Spectrum brand logo
Staff rating
3.5
Customer rating
4.0
(490)

  • Plans starting at $19.99
  • Download speeds up to 1 Gbps
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
Charter Spectrum brand logo
Staff rating
3.5

Fast internet at reasonable prices

Spectrum offers speedy, reasonably priced cable internet service, and a strong budget plan. We wish there were fewer fees attached, though.

What we like

  • Simple plan selection
  • No contracts
  • No data cap
What we dislike

  • Pricey gig plan
  • Lots of small fees
  • Price increase after 12 months
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.

Charter Spectrum brand logo
Value
3.0
Straightforward internet plans with budget-friendly pricing

Spectrum service offers a solid value—particularly at the lowest tier. There are only three plans to choose from, which could either be a plus or minus depending on your perspective. In this case, we feel it’s a good thing: the plans are straightforward and easy to understand.

The lowest-tier plan offers speeds up to 300 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary) at a decent price, according to government benchmarks (1). That's just $0.17 per megabit per second, with speeds that blow any DSL plan out of the water. The other two internet plans are less exciting, but still reasonably priced for the first year. After 12 months, your price could be up by $20 or more.

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.

Charter Spectrum brand logo
Performance
4.5
Reliable internet with speeds up to 1 Gbps

Spectrum offers speedy performance overall, with packages up to 1,000 Mbps available (wireless speeds may vary). The lower tiers are more exciting—almost every provider has a gig plan these days, but Spectrum’s lowest plan has speeds up to 300 Mbps, which is still excellent for all but the heaviest users. Additionally, there are no data caps on any of the plans, so you can use as much bandwidth as you like.

Speed is only half the equation, though—even the fastest connection is useless if it doesn’t work when you need it. Luckily, Spectrum is on par with its closest cable competitors here. It offers faster-than-advertised speeds most of the time, according to the US Federal Communications Commission (2), and earned the top spot for median speeds from Speedtest.net (3). Spectrum’s latency scores were a little higher than competitors Xfinity and Cox, but at just 25 ms, you’re still within the playability range for most online games.

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.

As an Amazon Associate, Switchful.com may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

Charter Spectrum brand logo
Equipment and Installation
4.0
You can rent a router or use your own, and there’s a fee for self-installation

Spectrum’s equipment setup is a bit different than most—at least when it comes to fees. There is no charge for the modem, but there is a $5 monthly fee for the wireless router (waived on the gig plan). What this means is that Spectrum gives you a separate modem and router, instead of a combined gateway. It also means you can opt to bring your own wireless router if you prefer. Customers can also add Wi-Fi extenders, called Pods, for $3 each per month. If you use the Spectrum router, you can use the company's highly-rated smartphone app to manage settings and parental controls.

Installation is straightforward and affordable. If you need a pro to come out, you can opt for a professional installation for $59.99. If you can handle the installation yourself, the self-install kit is about $25. We’d prefer free self-installation, but it isn’t the highest self-install fee we’ve seen, so we’ll take what we can get.

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.

Charter Spectrum brand logo
Customer Experience
2.5
Watch out for hefty fees and price hikes down the road

We’ll just come right out and say it: Spectrum has a lot of fees. While you may never see most of them, it’s worth noting that they’re there. Here’s a sample:

  • $5 to pay over the phone(?!)
  • $5 reconnection fee
  • $19.99 to upgrade equipment when switching to the Internet Gig plan

These aren’t going to be on every bill, and you may never see most of them. However, when you do, it makes for a poor experience.

When you add second-year price hikes in the range of $20+, things aren't looking good for Spectrum customers. However, Spectrum customers seem to be about as satisfied with customer service as customers with competitors Cox and CenturyLink, and it's only slightly worse than average. (4)

If Spectrum is the only cable provider in your area and your home isn't wired for fiber internet, we recommend the service. Just set a calendar reminder to contact customer service in a year and see if you can negotiate the price down!

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. 2022 Urban Rate Survey – Fixed Broadband Service,” FCC. Accessed 17 June 2022.
  2. "Measuring Broadband America," FCC. Retreieved Dec. 7, 2022.
  3. "Fastests ISPs of 2022," Speetest.net. Retrieved Dec. 7, 2022.
  4. "Satisfaction Benchmarks by Company, Internet Service Providers," ACSI. Retrieved Dec. 7, 2022.
Astound Broadband
4.3
(9)
5 Star
44%
4 Star
45%
3 Star
11%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
P
Paulfrom Catasauqua, PA
Astound Broadband Customer for 4+ years
Reviewed on: 2022-09-15
I think they charge much too much for their dservice. Lower prices
M
Margaretfrom New York, NY
Astound Broadband Customer for 1+ years
Reviewed on: 2022-07-10
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.
J
Juliefrom Passaic, NJ
Astound Broadband Customer for 8+ years
Reviewed on: 2022-07-08
I hope the Internet speed is faster and the price is lower
L
Lynfrom Somerville, MA
Astound Broadband Customer for 1+ years
Reviewed on: 2022-06-27
I am satisfied with my Astound (formally RCN) service. The signal is consistent. I have no suggestions for improvement.
Spectrum
4.0
(490)
5 Star
34%
4 Star
43%
3 Star
17%
2 Star
5%
1 Star
1%
J
Jpfrom Evansville, IN
Spectrum Customer for 8+ years
Reviewed on: 2022-07-05
Thank you all right we have a limited opportunities in this
N
Nathaliafrom Sherman Oaks, CA
Spectrum Customer for 1+ years
Reviewed on: 2022-06-28
The connection is good and fast overall. It disconnects sometimes out of nowhere, so I wish it was more stable.
T
Theresafrom Merriam, KS
Spectrum Customer for Less than a year
Reviewed on: 2022-06-27
My choice was limited due to my location. Not very pleased that I got my first bill less than a week after activation. And due in less than three after activation.
A
Andrewfrom Newark, NY
Spectrum Customer for 1+ years
Reviewed on: 2022-06-20
My internet goes out all the time whenever I first go to use it when returning home from anywhere.
Popular Internet alternatives
Click on a provider to compare.
Verizon Fios
Sparklight
Rise Broadband
Cox Communications
Smithville
Frontier Communications
CenturyLink