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AT&T vs. Spectrum Internet plan comparison


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Researched by
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Reviewed by
Updated 6/18/24

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AT&T logo
Staff rating
4.5
Customer rating
4.1
(419)

  • Plans starting at $55.00
  • Download speeds up to 5000Mbps
Charter Spectrum brand logo
Staff rating
3.5
Customer rating
4.0
(513)

  • Plans starting at $29.99
  • Download speeds up to 1 Gbps
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See what providers service your area.
AT&T logo
Staff rating
4.5

Some of the best value for fiber internet

AT&T offers one of the best values in internet service—fast fiber internet speeds at reasonable prices, plus some of the best support in the business and rock-solid reliability. With no contracts, no data caps, and no monthly equipment fee, AT&T is one of the best home internet providers we tested.

What we like

  • Competitive fiber plans
  • Solid customer support
  • Excellent reliability
What we dislike

  • Expensive installation fees
  • Higher monthly prices than some competitors
  • Few TV bundling options
Savings tip: AT&T often has sign-up promotions for first-time customers. Call to ask a rep about current deals and discounts.
Check deals
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
Savings tip: Spectrum often has sign-up promotions for first-time customers. Call to ask a rep about current deals and discounts.
Check deals
AT&T logo
Value
4.0
Fiber internet is a great deal

The AT&T fiber plans represent an excellent value proposition. The speeds are competitive, and the prices at any given tier are lower than nearly every other provider. One exception, Xfinity, offers slightly cheaper gig plans in some markets. Another, Google Fiber, offers $10 less on gigabit speeds. However, AT&T is more likely to be available in areas that have cable internet from Spectrum and Cox, and we think AT&T fiber is usually the better deal.

For the money with AT&T, you get outstanding download speeds and excellent upload speeds. And with unlimited data on fiber internet plans, you can actually use your gigabit connection without worry.

Some legacy customers may have DSL internet from AT&T. The most affordable AT&T plan is more than $50 per month, but this can either be basic DSL (speeds up to 75 Mbps) or the excellent, fiber-based Internet 300. If you can get only AT&T fixed wireless, you’ll pay higher prices, face data caps, and suffer through 1 Mbps upload speeds. Other providers just offer much better deals on plans in these tiers.

Pricing details vary by location. Visit
AT&T's website
or call 1-833-804-1770 to speak with a rep.
See pricing
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.

Pricing details vary by location. Visit
Spectrum's website
or call 1-844-733-6483 to speak with a rep.
See pricing
AT&T logo
Performance
5.0
Fast, reliable speeds any time of day

AT&T claims 99% reliability (1) for its fiber internet service, and that’s pretty accurate in our experience. In fact, over several years of constant daily use in a packed house (two people working from home, two kids doing schoolwork, lots of streaming video and calls), we haven’t had a single major disruption. This is a marked contrast to our previous provider.

Additionally, speeds are consistent, with little variation based on the time of day, activity, or even the particular speed test used. Its median download speeds are slightly slower than its cable and fiber internet competitors, but only by a matter of milliseconds (2). This all adds up to a great experience where the service “just works,” and nobody ever really needs to wonder if they’ll be able to do what they need to do.

It's also worth mentioning that because AT&T fiber internet uses fiber-optic cables, upload speeds are equal to download speeds. That means you can upload huge files in seconds, video chat, live stream game play, and more without a hiccup.

Available speeds vary by location. Call 1-833-804-1770 to speak with a AT&T rep or
go to its website.
Charter Spectrum brand logo
Performance
4.0
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.

Available speeds vary by location. Call 1-844-733-6483 to speak with a Spectrum rep or
go to its website.
AT&T logo
Equipment and installation
4.0
Free equipment and free self-installs for fiber internet

AT&T fiber internet installation is about as simple as it gets. You have two options: a $99 professional installation by an AT&T technician or a DIY self-install kit.

If you can get only DSL with AT&T, the equipment is still free but you'll be charged a $49 activation fee. If you don't want to self-install, you can have a pro come out for an additional $99.

The self-install is very easy and comes with clear instructions, so we’d recommend that for pretty much everyone. Activation and configuration of your Wi-Fi network are handled through the simple AT&T Smart Home Manager app, so you don’t even need to log into the router settings page like with some other providers.

It is worth noting that both of these charges are a bit higher than what the competition charges. CenturyLink doesn’t charge for self-installation, for example, while Xfinity charges only $89.99 for a professional install.

That said, if you do need a professional to come out, you can count on fast and friendly service. We’ve personally had techs out on a couple of occasions and were happy with the experience.

Learn more about whether you need a professional installation.

Finally, the AT&T wireless gateway is surprisingly nice. Called AT&T Smart Wi-Fi, it’s super simple to set up, provides solid range, and looks decent on a desk. Compared to the routers and gateways provided by some other providers, this one’s a breath of fresh air.

Equipment and installation options can vary widely depending on
AT&T plans
available in your area.
View plans
Charter Spectrum brand logo
Equipment and Installation
4.5
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.

Equipment and installation options can vary widely depending on
Spectrum plans
available in your area.
View plans
AT&T logo
Customer experience
5.0
Better customer service, with more options

Internet providers have traditionally had a terrible reputation for customer service, but AT&T scores above average with national rating organizations like the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). These ratings have improved over the last few years, which is encouraging.

AT&T offers several options for getting help:

The support site also has lots of information available. It’s easy to use, and if you do need more help, the options involving service reps usually get a quick, friendly response. While it’s not perfect 100% of the time, AT&T customer support tends to be better than average.

AT&T makes it easy to stay connected away from home, too. Subscribers get access to a nationwide network of free Wi-Fi hotspots. Since AT&T offers mobile phone service in addition to internet, you'll be able to log on in from almost anywhere.

Visit AT&T's website
or call 1-833-804-1770 for more information on contracts and money-back guarantees.
Go to provider
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!

Visit Spectrum's website
or call 1-844-733-6483 for more information on contracts and money-back guarantees.
Go to provider
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Made up your mind?
Find out what providers are available near you.
AT&T
4.1
(419)
5 Star
40%
4 Star
40%
3 Star
14%
2 Star
3%
1 Star
3%
L
Lisafrom New Baltimore, MI
AT&T Customer for 4+ years
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
The service is acceptable with very few outtages however it is a bit pricey
A
Anonymous
AT&T Customer for 8+ years
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
It is ok, speed, reliability are ok
C
Christinefrom Houston, TX
AT&T Customer for 8+ years
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
The internet service is generally reliable. The reliability has improved in recent years. The service when contacted is not good. The sales people, service people, and service techs do not communicate.
K
Kathleenfrom San Diego, CA
AT&T Customer for 1+ years
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
Everyone can improve. My service is ok but the inconsisting of the pricing is terrible. Customer service is something else. Can never get anyone that you have talked to before
Spectrum
4.0
(513)
5 Star
34%
4 Star
41%
3 Star
20%
2 Star
4%
1 Star
1%
A
Andrewfrom Newark, NY
Spectrum Customer for 1+ years
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
My internet goes out all the time whenever I first go to use it when returning home from anywhere.
T
Theresafrom Merriam, KS
Spectrum Customer for Less than a year
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
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.
N
Nathaliafrom Sherman Oaks, CA
Spectrum Customer for 1+ years
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
The connection is good and fast overall. It disconnects sometimes out of nowhere, so I wish it was more stable.
J
Jpfrom Evansville, IN
Spectrum Customer for 8+ years
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
Thank you all right we have a limited opportunities in this
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Endnotes and sources
(1) "Internet," AT&T. Accessed August 2, 2022.(2) "Fastest Providers," Speedtest.net. Accessed Dec. 9, 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.
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