skip to main content

CenturyLink vs. Spectrum: Which Internet Provider Is Best for You?

  • Best for fiber
    • Price: $30.00–$75.00/mo.
    • Speed: Up to 100–940Mbps
    • Internet type: DSL, fiber
    • Data cap: No cap
    • Contract: No contract
  • Best for reliability
    • Price: $19.99–$89.99/mo.*
    • Speed: Up to 100–1,000Mbps
    • Internet type: Cable, fiber
    • Data cap: No cap
    • Contract: No contract

Compare CenturyLink and Spectrum head to head

CenturyLink (or Lumen) and Spectrum generally don’t compete for your hard-earned dollars, but in the few cases they do, CenturyLink is your go-to fiber internet provider, while Spectrum serves up cable internet. Spectrum has some fiber, too, but you’re less likely to find it.

If you live in an area where CenturyLink and Spectrum overlap, go with Spectrum. It fared better than CenturyLink in nearly every category in our latest customer satisfaction survey. Pricing is Spectrum’s only real setback, as it increases your rate after 12 months.

Pros and cons: CenturyLink vs. Spectrum


  • Fast fiber internet plans
  • No contracts
  • No data caps


  • Limited fiber availability
  • No multi-gig internet



  • Rent-free modem
  • No contracts
  • No data caps


  • WiFi access fee
  • Price hikes after 12 mos.


View Spectrum Plans

Want to know if CenturyLink or Spectrum are in your area?

Enter your zip code to see what internet providers and plans are available to you.

Plans and pricing: CenturyLink vs. Spectrum

CenturyLink’s DSL internet is expensive when you compare it to Spectrum, but it may be your only option if you can’t get cable or fiber. CenturyLink’s fiber pricing is pretty reasonable, though, plus it doesn’t raise your rates after 12 months like Spectrum.

CenturyLink plans and pricing

Simply Unlimited Internet 100 Mbps$55.00/mo.*Up to 100MbpsDSL
Simply Unlimited Internet 140 Mbps$55.00/mo.*Up to 140MbpsDSL
Centurylink Fiber Internet 200 Mbps$30.00/mo.#200MbpsFiber
Centurylink Fiber Gigabit$75.00/mo.|940MbpsFiber

CenturyLink’s fiber internet is a good deal when you compare it to Spectrum. With the 200Mbps plan, you get plenty of speed at a low cost indefinitely—plus the reliability and symmetrical speeds of fiber. And even if you do manage to find Spectrum’s fiber, its 300Mbps plan is $45 more per month than CenturyLink’s 200Mbps plan after a year. The same goes for Spectrum’s cable internet.

CenturyLink’s DSL doesn’t normally compete with Spectrum’s cable or fiber on a national level. You’ll find them clash in Florida and Wisconsin, but that’s mostly it. You pay more for less when you sign up for DSL internet, which is pretty standard across all internet providers still maintaining their aging DSL networks.

Spectrum plans and pricing

Spectrum Internet® Assist$19.99/mo.Up to 30Mbps
(wireless speeds may vary)
View Plan
Spectrum Internet® 100 Mbps$29.99/mo.Up to 100Mbps
(wireless speeds may vary)
View Plan
Spectrum Internet®$49.99/mo.
for 12 mos.
Up to 300Mbps
(wireless speeds may vary)
View Plan
Spectrum Internet® Ultra$39.99-$69.99/mo.
for 12 mos.
Up to 500Mbps
(wireless speeds may vary)
View Plan
Spectrum Internet® Gig$59.99-$89.99/mo.
for 12 mos.
Up to 1,000Mbps
(wireless speeds may vary)
View Plan

Spectrum doesn’t have DSL internet. Instead, it offers a few more cable and fiber internet choices than CenturyLink’s fiber. Its cable internet is far more widespread than CenturyLink’s fiber, but you will rarely find them both listed in the same area. Florida and Wisconsin appear to be where they compete the most—in small parts of Oregon, too.

But when we pull back and look at how the two price their internet, CenturyLink is the better deal. CenturyLink will always have the upper hand here until Spectrum drops its post-promotional price hikes. Until then, Spectrum will continue to have a low pricing satisfaction score in our annual survey.

Deals and promotions: CenturyLink vs. Spectrum

If you refer a new customer to CenturyLink services and they sign up, you and the new customer will both get a reward of up to $100.

Get a free Unlimited Mobile line for 12 months when you sign up for an internet plan with speeds of 300Mbps or faster.

Get a free mobile line with unlimited talk, text and data and free Advanced WiFi for enhanced network security when you sign up for Spectrum One Stream and get 300Mbps Spectrum Internet®. You can also get a free Xumo Stream Box when you add Spectrum TV®.

Get the Deal

Extra fees: CenturyLink vs. Spectrum

Equipment feeInstallation feetOther fees
  • Up to $15/mo.
  • $99 for pro install
  • Free for self install
  • $10–$25 per incident declined payment fee
  • $5.00 late fee (or percentage of balanced owed)
  • Spectrum
  • $5.00/mo. for WiFi (no charge with Internet Gig plan)
  • $3.00/mo. per Spectrum WiFi Pod
  • No charge for modem or gateway
  • $59.99 for pro install
  • $24.99 for self-install and service activation
  • $49.99 for WiFi Pod install
  • $9.99 service activation fee
  • $8.95 late payment fee (after 21 days)
  • $25.00 insufficient funds fee
  • $5.00 phone payment processing fee
  • $9.99 reconnection fee (internet)
  • $4.99 reconnection fee (TV)
  • $19.99 equipment upgrade fee to Internet Gig plan
  • As the table shows, CenturyLink has a higher pro install cost of the two, but it doesn’t charge you to self-install internet equipment. Keep in mind that, in both cases, you can’t self-install new internet—this must be done by a CenturyLink or Spectrum professional. Self-installs are for existing DSL, cable, and fiber connections coming into your home or office.

    Spectrum’s WiFi charge applies to the gateways and standalone routers it distributes to customers. If you want to use a store-bought standalone router or mesh system and save $5 per month, call Spectrum to disable WiFi in the gateway or take the standalone router to a local Spectrum store.

    Customer ratings: CenturyLink vs. Spectrum

    OverallReliabilityCustomer serviceSpeedPrice

    Spectrum ranks higher than CenturyLink in overall satisfaction in our latest customer satisfaction survey, placing seventh out of 15 internet providers versus CenturyLink ranking eleventh. Spectrum ranks better in every category, actually, except in price, where CenturyLink places fifth, followed by Spectrum ranking eighth. Spectrum raises prices up to $25 per month after the first 12 months—CenturyLink doesn’t.

    According to our survey, CenturyLink’s weakest link is in speed satisfaction, placing it at the bottom out of 15 internet providers. Spectrum did fairly well in that category, falling behind cable internet rivals Cox and Xfinity. All in all, Spectrum’s cable or fiber internet is your best bet if you can get it based on customer feedback alone.

    Best TV and internet bundles

    Internet speedTV channelsPriceDetails
    DIRECTV® ENTERTAINMENT + CENTURYLINK INTERNETUp to 100Mbps75+$114.99/mo.* for 24 months plus taxes and fees
    DIRECTV® CHOICE™ + CENTURYLINK INTERNET FIBER GIGABITUp to 940Mbps105+$154.99/mo.** for 24 months plus taxes and fees
    Spectrum Internet + TV Select Signature#Up to 300Mbps
    (wireless speeds may vary)
    for 12 mos.
    View Plans
    Spectrum Internet Ultra + TV Select Signature#Up to 500Mbps
    (wireless speeds may vary)
    for 12 mos.
    View Plans

    CenturyLink offers just one TV and internet bundle with its fiber internet service. All other bundles are based on its DSL internet, and the one listed above is the cheapest that you can get. All bundles rely on DIRECTV’s satellite TV service, but there’s no discounted pricing when you bundle.

    Spectrum doesn’t offer the traditional TV and internet bundle at a discount. Instead, you can pair its TV Select service with any one of its three cable internet plans. Both services have discounted pricing for the first 12 months, but all premium channels like Max and SHOWTIME® are extra. Plus, you’ll see a broadcast TV service charge for up to $20 per month that’s not included in the discounted pricing.

    Internet types: CenturyLink vs. Spectrum

    Internet typeDetails
    CenturyLinkFiber, DSL
    SpectrumCable, fiberView Plans

    CenturyLink and Spectrum offer fiber internet, although Spectrum’s fiber isn’t as widely known as CenturyLink’s. Both have gigabit-class plans with symmetrical speeds, while Spectrum has a few more slower speed options than CenyutyLink.

    Spectrum’s cable internet is more widespread than CenturyLink’s fiber, but you’ll rarely see them overlap except in a few states. Cable internet doesn’t have symmetrical speeds like fiber—at least, for now—so you’ll always have slower uploads than downloads.

    CenturyLink’s older DSL internet uses existing telephone lines and doesn’t go above 140Mbps in download speed.

    Test your speed

    Thinking about an upgrade? Find out how CenturyLink and Spectrum’s speed packages compare to your current Internet speed.

    Test your speed

    Thinking about an upgrade? Find out how CenturyLink and Spectrum’s speed packages compare to your current Internet speed.

    Data caps: CenturyLink vs. Spectrum

    Data capDetails
    CenturyLinkNo data cap
    SpectrumNo data capView Plans

    While Spectrum does not have an internet data cap, its acceptable use policy prohibits “excessive use of bandwidth that in Charter’s sole opinion, places an unusually large burden on the network or goes above normal usage.”

    CenturyLink used to have a 1TB data cap on most of its residential internet plans, but now neither its fiber plan nor its DSL plan have any caps.

    Contracts: CenturyLink vs. Spectrum

    Contract lengthDetails
    CenturyLinkNo contract
    SpectrumNo contractView Plans

    Spectrum and CenturyLink both have no-contract policies for internet plans. That means you can switch plans or providers whenever you want (as long as there’s another internet company in your area). But if you bundle DIRECTV through CenturyLink, that does require a contract.

    Installation: CenturyLink vs. Spectrum

    Installation optionsDetails
  • $99 for pro install
  • Free for self install
  • Spectrum
  • $59.99 for pro install
  • $24.99 for self-install and service activation
  • $49.99 for WiFi Pod install
  • View Plans

    Spectrum encourages new customers to opt for the self-install kit over a pro installation. However, Spectrum will send a technician out for completely new installs, or if you need a modem moved, rewiring, and so on. The WiFi Pod setup is a separate installation fee.

    CenturyLink also has professional and self-installation options. If you go with self-installation, CenturyLink charges a $50 shipping and handling fee to send the kit, so going the DIY route doesn’t save you as much money as it does with Spectrum. But it’s still a good alternative to waiting around all day for the technician to show up—as long as you know what you’re doing.

    Professional installation for CenturyLink internet costs up to $99, depending on the package and where you live. But some internet plans get free installation. The qualifications for free installation vary by plan and location, so ask your CenturyLink representative about it when you sign up.

    Availability: CenturyLink vs. Spectrum


    Top 5 states:

    1. Utah
    2. Arizona
    3. Colorado
    4. New Mexico
    5. Minnesota


    Top 5 states:

    1. Hawaii
    2. Ohio
    3. Kentucky
    4. North Carolina
    5. New York

    On a nationwide level, CenturyLink and Spectrum rarely overlap. CenturyLink’s fiber competes with Sepctrum’s cable and fiber internet, mostly in Florida, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. CenturyLink has a lot more DSL than fiber, starting in Wisconsin and going west—and in Florida.

    The largest chunk of Spectrum’s network resides on the eastern side of the nation. It commands some areas in Texas and California, and in a few places here and there on the west coast. That said, you’ll be hard-pressed to find CenturyLink and Spectrum duke it out for your business.

    To see if CenturyLink or Spectrum is in your area, enter your zip code below.

    Final call: CenturyLink vs. Spectrum

    CenturyLink and Spectrum rarely overlap, so the comparison is a moot point unless you live in the few areas where they do compete. If both are available to you, CenturyLink is the better megabit-per-dollar value for the long term. That will always be the case until Spectrum stops inflating its prices after the first year.

    On the flip side, customers rate Spectrum better than CenturyLink in terms of overall satisfaction, speed, reliability, and customer support. In that respect, you kinda get what you pay for: better service for a slightly higher price.

    So, it all boils down to what’s best for you if both providers are in your area. But keep in mind Spectrum expects to deliver fiber-like speeds across its cable connections in the coming years, so the CenturyLink vs. Spectrum fight will be a whole different ballgame once that happens.

    View Spectrum Plans


    Our editorial team bases our analyses on customer input from our annual customer satisfaction survey, results from our speed test tool, and proprietary internet provider data on speeds and pricing. To strengthen our research, we look closely at provider contracts to get hard-to-find information on price hikes, data caps, and extra fees, and we keep tabs on the latest news reports and online reviews. When applicable, we also rely on our personal experiences testing these services.

    FAQ about CenturyLink vs. Spectrum

    Is Spectrum or CenturyLink internet better?

    Spectrum rates better than CenturyLink for overall satisfaction, speed, reliability, and customer support in our latest customer satisfaction survey. CenturyLink rates a little better in price than Spectrum based on the same feedback.

    What’s the difference between Spectrum, Charter, Bright House Networks, and Time Warner Cable?

    Charter Communications (or Charter) purchased Time Warner Cable in 2016 and rebranded their combined consumer and commercial services as Spectrum. Charter acquired Bright House Networks—another cable company—from Advanced/Newhouse in the same year and merged those services into the Spectrum brand.

    What's the best internet provider in my area?

    To find the best Internet provider in your area, you need to first see what’s available. Check your zip code with our tool to compare all the Internet providers in your area. From there, you can find the provider with the best prices and fastest speeds.

    Author -

    Kevin Parrish has more than a decade of experience working as a writer, editor, and product tester. He began writing about computer hardware and soon branched out to other devices and services such as networking equipment, phones and tablets, game consoles, and other internet-connected devices. His work has appeared in Tom’s Hardware, Tom's Guide, Maximum PC, Digital Trends, Android Authority, How-To Geek, Lifewire, and others. At, he focuses on network equipment testing and review.

    Editor - Cara Haynes

    Cara Haynes has been editing and writing in the digital space for seven years, and she's edited all things internet for for five years. She graduated with a BA in English and a minor in editing from Brigham Young University. When she's not editing, she makes tech accessible through her freelance writing for brands like Pluralsight. She believes no one should feel lost in internet land and that a good internet connection significantly extends your life span.

    Find Providers in Your Area