I’ve had high-speed Internet for about as long as anyone in my ZIP code has had it–as soon as DSL became available, I signed up and paid exorbitant prices for it. It took some time for fiber optics to become available, but once they did, I made the switch. I’ve been a customer of AT&T/Southwestern Bell for over 20 years. Over the years, I compared ATT Internet vs Spectrum Internet. And I did switch for a while.
In 2016, I decided that I’m switching from at&t internet to spectrum internet, then I switched back to AT&T in 2018. Each has advantages and disadvantages, so I thought going over them might be useful. Keep in mind that Spectrum includes a number of legacy companies. Shortly after acquiring Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, Charter Communications began rebranding as Spectrum. Only Bright House Networks had a good reputation out of the three, but Bright House had low name recognition. Hence, Bright House Networks was born. You can check out my review for the best-recommended at&t routers for Uverse.
Also check: Best Recommended Router for ATT Uverse
I’ve covered almost all the possibilities to cover ATT Internet vs Spectrum debate. Now let’s move to the action.
ATT Internet vs Spectrum: Internet Speed
Spectrum advertises top speeds of 200 megabits in some areas and a gigabit in others, with the goal of bringing gigabit to the entire service area by the end of 2018. However, Spectrum gigabit is still only available in a few areas as of the end of 2021. Both companies are concerned about coverage and availability.
AT&T’s services can vary greatly. AT&T DSL has a top speed of around 11 megabits, while AT&T U Verse has a speed range of 3 to 25 megabits and AT&T Fiber has speeds of 5, 50, 300, and gigabit. AT&T recently rebranded everything as AT&T Internet, though specifics may vary.
I discovered that AT&T’s actual customer speeds are usually 90-95 percent of the advertised speed. Actual customer speeds at Charter Spectrum are closer to 80%. When Charter offers 200 megabits in your area and AT&T only offers 25, the difference is insignificant. When both companies are competing on equal or nearly equal ground, AT&T provides more Internet speed for your dollar.
Download vs upload speed
There is one more distinction with AT&T Fiber. Download and upload speeds are the same, or very close. This is in contrast to previous AT&T offerings and all of Charter’s offerings. I can upload at over 900 megabits per second using AT&T’s gigabit service. It’s incredible. If you work from home, a faster upload connection speed is essential.
In my case, AT&T provides gigabit service in my neighborhood, whereas Spectrum only provides 200 megabit service. The prices are within $5 of each other, but they do not compare.
One caveat: It’s meaningless to shop around if you end up buying a larger, faster connection than you need. Here’s some advice on how to choose the right Internet connection size. Both are likely to try to upsell you on connection speed, so have an idea of how much you use before you go.
Advantage: AT & T if fiber is available. Otherwise, Spectrum.
ATT vs Spectrum Internet: Data Caps
ISPs make a lot of money, but they’re always seeking for ways to make more. They can get more by charging extra for particular types of Internet use, which is what net neutrality is all about. The other option is to impose data caps and charge extra for using them more.
AT&T has had data caps for years, but didn’t start enforcing them until 2016, and didn’t include a tool to track your consumption until after that, which is what prompted me to contact Spectrum in the first place.
AT&T’s data caps vanish if you sign up for their TV package or upgrade to their gigabit tier. That should tell you what they’re attempting to achieve: they don’t want you to get a Netflix Internet-only plan and service instead of a TV subscription. They aren’t interested in selling the Internet; instead, they are interested in selling packages.
The previous limit was 300 GB, which was easily breached. It is now 1 TB. We can use over 300 GB over the summer when the entire family is at home and streaming film or music for the majority of the day, and I’m VPN’ed into work. Breaking the 1 TB cap would take a lot of effort. We’d have to stream a lot of 4K stuff, but even that wouldn’t be enough.
Data limitations are prohibited until 2023 or so, according to Charter’s regulatory approval to merge with TWC. They are, however, giving every sign that unlimited Internet data will be phased out as soon as legally possible. In the meantime, it is a benefit. However, it is no longer an advantage.
ATT vs Spectrum Internet: Throttling
Spectrum makes a big fuss of the fact that their Internet service isn’t throttled. Maybe they don’t throttle on purpose. However, in my experience, Zoom teleconferencing and MLB streaming baseball are both excellent options. The television is so terrible that it is virtually unusable. I’m not sure what it is about those two services that bother Charter’s infrastructure, but they perform considerably better on AT&T, even slower AT&T services.
Advantage: ATT Internet vs Spectrum, who’s the winner? ATT
ATT vs Spectrum Internet: Running a server
Running a server on a home account is against the terms of service for Charter’s home Internet package. AT&T restricts access to port 25 but otherwise is unconcerned about what you do on its network. If you want to run any kind of server, you’ll need a Spectrum business account, which is pricier but not unreasonably so. However, AT&T is significantly more reliable, which is crucial for running a server.
Furthermore, if you can have AT&T Fiber, having symmetric upload/download streams is quite beneficial when running a server. Your server desires better upload rates, and I’ve experienced upload speeds of 940mbps or more.
ATT vs Spectrum Internet: Reliability
AT&T should be more reliable in theory because the U-Verse and Fiber lines are underground, where they are better protected from the elements. In practice, a poor installer can negate any inherent benefit.
However, I had U-Verse for years and any outages were brief enough that I didn’t notice them. My first month with Spectrum included a storm-related outage that lasted several hours. Then, in the spring of 2017, extended outages became the norm, even in pleasant weather. Even when I don’t see any service trucks, I’ve had to become used to frequent short outages (a few seconds in length). It’s not a huge issue if it happens when I’m reading the newspaper.
It could be if it happens while I’m VPN’ed into work. Spectrum Business’s speed is business-grade, but its dependability is not. Spectrum had an outage in mid-2018 that affected most of the St. Louis area for nearly 24 hours and had no answers when I contacted. When I stated that I could receive gigabit service from AT&T, Spectrum refused to tell me what they planned to do to avoid a repeat.
There were many aspects of U-Verse that I disliked, but it was dependable. Charter was embarrassed by its dependability. U-Verse had become obsolete, but AT&T is back in the game with their fiber offering.
It’s a no-brainer if AT&T provides fiber. AT&T easily defeats Spectrum in the Internet reliability battle. If AT&T’s quickest speed is 25 megabits and reliability is critical, you may choose to settle for the slower speed, especially if you work from home. There is a significant difference.
To get around Spectrum’s terrible reliability, I actually opted for a dual arrangement, with the fastest service I could get from Spectrum and the cheapest from AT&T. However, you should not have to do so. It was significantly less expensive to convert back.
ATT vs Spectrum Internet: Customer Service
Internet Service Providers are notorious for providing subpar customer service. Customers of Time Warner Cable anticipated the Charter merger because Time Warner Cable and Comcast gave the worst customer service in the country, not just the industry.
AT&T’s customer service has never impressed me. Getting AT&T to confess to an issue used to be quite difficult. Today, their main saving grace is a self-service support page that allows you to handle practically everything yourself. And the service is dependable enough that you won’t want assistance very often.
Charter provides above-average customer service. Their hold times are short, and they are courteous in general. They’re quite a distance from AT&T. Unfortunately, there are occasions when their customer service can just apologize, which is quite frustrating. Depending on the issue, they may or may not understand what’s going on, which is aggravating when you work from home and are unable to work.
When deciding between AT&T Internet and Spectrum Internet, having no need for customer support is usually preferable. In the past, I needed AT&T customer assistance once every three years or so. I needed Spectrum customer assistance roughly every three months, and they were more impotent to assist me. I’ll give Spectrum the edge here because I’m gauging support and I already gave AT&T credit for reliability. But only just.
ATT vs Spectrum: mobile
ATT has a less expensive VOIP package than Charter, but if you use your mobile phone, you may expect to incur overages on the $20/month service. The $30/month options offered by the two firms are roughly equivalent. Charter aggressively promotes their home phone service because it is extremely profitable; if you want a landline-like service, I propose getting an OBI 200 and connecting it to Google Voice. You’ll save a lot of money.
ATT vs Spectrum: TV
I don’t utilize cable TV packages very often. Because my favorite baseball club is out of town, I have no alternative but to watch them via MLB.tv. I also prefer viewing Netflix over being tied to someone else’s schedule.
To avoid AT&T’s data cap, you either purchase a regular TV bundle or subscribe to its gigabit service. If you were going to get a TV bundle anyhow, this gives you AT&T’s more dependable service. It is up to you to determine which firm offers the better package, as it varies by area and there is a lot of personal taste involved. Sorry if you were planning on using AT&T’s $35 DirecTV Now package to try to get your data cap removed. It is ineligible. I investigated this. However, if you have gigabit plus DirecTV Now, the entire value is better than what Spectrum offers.
ATT vs Spectrum: Installation fees
In 2016 or 2018, neither firm charged me an installation cost. I had to pay a large installation cost with AT&T U Verse years ago, but that was a long time ago. Ask about installation fees, but as long as Charter Spectrum continues to lose customers and AT&T smells blood, installation fees will most likely remain off the menu for both.
Self-installation used to be an option for AT&T customers looking to save money, but with Fiber, that is no longer an option.
Also, since professional installation isn’t optional and may have to be paid for, find out what it entitles you to. If they’ll run Ethernet to a few of the rooms for you, it could be very beneficial.
AT&T and Spectrum will both try to entice you with a low introductory rate before raising prices. Ask if autopay qualifies you for a discount or if they provide a paperless billing discount. A paperless bill is preferable to autopay, but any discount helps. Inquire whether the price includes the wireless gateway device or whether there is an extra charge, and whether you can save money by providing your own equipment. That is not an option with AT&T, but it may be with Spectrum.
Some consumers alternate between the two on a regular basis in order to keep the introductory rate. That may work if the service speed and reliability in your area are comparable. They are not in my case.
Is at&t fiber internet better than spectrum?
When both businesses are at their best, AT&T has a clear advantage. AT&T’s gigabit service is quicker than Spectrum’s gigabit service, and AT&T provides it in both directions.
What should I expect from Att Fiber vs Spectrum Internet:
The issue is that neither corporation brings their A or B game to all of their service areas. AT&T’s gigabit service, for example, competes with Spectrum’s 200-megabit offering in mid-2018. But I have people who have to choose between 200-megabit Spectrum and 25-megabit AT&T. And some people can only get subpar Spectrum or AT&T service. They don’t need customer happiness to earn money like crazy, and it shows.
When all things are more or less equal, AT&T beats Spectrum and beats it rather handily. But AT&T’s 25 Mbps service is a hard sell against Spectrum’s 200 Mbps service. I’d consider it, but I’d second-guess myself a lot. And AT&T’s 25 Mbps service is a no-go against Spectrum’s gigabit service. You’ll curse Spectrum during its outages, but you’ll resent slow speeds all the time.
If the speeds are even close, get AT&T because the AT&T fiber Internet speeds will be better than they sound and the reliability will be rock solid. Cable Internet, by contrast, tends to be worse than it sounds and less reliable. If AT&T doesn’t seem like it’s trying, go with Spectrum. But check again in six months. You might be glad you did.