Buckeye Broadband offers a good internet experience for residents of the Toledo area. However, substantial price hikes, high prices on the faster plans, and a reputation for poor customer service make it tough to recommend for certain customers.
Spectrum offers speedy, reasonably priced cable internet service, and a strong budget plan. We wish there were fewer fees attached, though.
Buckeye Broadband isn't a bad deal if you're looking at the introductory price. In fact, for the first six months of service, you can often get a better deal with Buckeye than with the major national players. However, while most providers will guarantee prices for a year or two, you'll see significant price hikes from Buckeye after only six months if you have one of their cable plans. Fiber plans are a bit better, with promotional prices that last 12 months.
In most cases, the month seven price hike will amount to an additional $20 per month on your bill. Then, once the regular rate is applied, it is often double the advertised promotional price. Most Buckeye plans don't have contracts, but you might be locked into these higher prices if you sign one to get a specific deal. We also don't like that the length of the promotional period isn't obvious unless you read the fine print.
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.
In terms of speed, Buckeye Broadband competes well. The company offers a range of speeds up to 1 gig, with a good spread of package tiers. There are two types of service—cable internet and fiber—and both offer speedy downloads. The fiber plans also come with symmetrical speeds, meaning the upload speed and download speed are equal—excellent for content creators and anyone else who uploads and shares lots of large files.
Additionally, Buckeye Broadband offers unlimited data. We're happy about this update since cable plans used to only come with 250 GB of data. For a modern household, that's not nearly enough--on average, people typically use around 536 GB of data per month (1). You could upgrade to unlimited data for $30 per month before, but we're happy to see it included from the get-go.
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.
Buckeye Broadband's equipment situation depends on whether you have cable or fiber.
Buckeye uses pretty standard Arris wireless gateways for its cable plans. Customers can rent one from the provider for $14 per month, which is in line with most other providers. You can also opt to bring your own equipment—the provider has a list of supported modems to choose from.
Fiber plans include free SmartNet routers powered by eero. However, after chatting with a customer service rep about unclear terms of service, we found out there is a $120 activation fee for any SmartNet services unless you sign a 12-month contract. Since you can keep your promotional price for the length of the contract, that's not a deal-breaker, but it is something to keep in mind.
As for installation, Buckeye doesn’t charge a fee for either installation or service activation with most plans. In the event you somehow land on a package that doesn’t waive the installation fee, it’s only $10, which is lower than most providers—it’s usually closer to $100 for a professional 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.
The combination of solid performance and minimal fees makes for a good overall experience with Buckeye. However, as with all internet providers, there are some issues. The first is that the prices increase substantially after the introductory period. This is normal internet provider stuff, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it.
The second issue is a general reputation for poor customer service. You’ll quickly find complaints online about communication difficulties and service reliability.
In our research, we thought some of the terms were pretty hard to find on the website, but it only took a few minutes to get in contact with a customer service rep via their online chat feature, and they were able to answer our questions.
Not everyone has a bad experience with Buckeye, but clearly, not everyone has a good experience, either, so just be aware of what you’re getting into.
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:
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!