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

  • Best for fiber
    • Price: $50.00–$75.00/mo.
    • Speed: Up to 40–940Mbps
    • Internet type: DSL, fiber
    • Data cap: No cap
    • Contract: No contract
  • Best for reliability
    • Price: $24.99–$79.99/mo.*‡‡
    • Speed: Up to 50–1,000Mbps(wireless speeds may vary)
    • Internet type: Cable, fiber
    • Data cap: No cap
    • Contract: No contract

Compare CenturyLink and Spectrum head to head

CenturyLink (or Lumen) and Spectrum overlap in nearly a dozen states. Both offer home fiber internet to some degree, but CenturyLink is mostly a DSL provider, while Spectrum offers cable internet.

At first glance, CenturyLink’s fiber has the best megabits-per-dollar value for the long term. However, Spectrum fares better than CenturyLink in our latest customer satisfaction survey, surpassing it in speed, reliability, customer support, and overall satisfaction. Pricing is Spectrum’s only real setback, as it increases your rate after 12 or 24 months—CenturyLink doesn’t.

Pros and cons: CenturyLink vs. Spectrum

Pros:

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

Cons:

  • Limited fiber availability
  • No multi-gig internet
 

Pros:

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

Cons:

  • WiFi access fee
  • Price hikes after 12 or 24 mos.

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 compared to Spectrum’s pricing, but it may be your only landline option if you can’t get cable or fiber. CenturyLink has some very reasonable fiber internet pricing, plus it doesn’t raise your rates after 12 or 24 months like Spectrum.

CenturyLink plans and pricing

PackagePrice*SpeedTypeDetails
Simply Unlimited Internet 40-80 Mbps$55.00/mo.*Up to 80MbpsDSL
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 500 Mbps$50.00/mo.*500MbpsFiber
Centurylink Fiber Gigabit$75.00/mo.§940MbpsFiber

CenturyLink’s fiber internet is a good deal when you compare it to Spectrum. With the 500Mbps plan, you get plenty of symmetrical speed at a low cost—indefinitely, in fact. Spectrum’s similar Ultra plan sets you back up to $70 per month during the first two years, and then the price increases by around $25 after that. Even if you manage to find Spectrum’s fiber internet, CenturyLink is still a better long-term deal.

But keep in mind that CenturyLink ranks far lower than Spectrum in nearly every category in our customer satisfaction survey. So, while you may be saving money with CenturyLink in the long term, it doesn’t score well in speed, reliability, customer service, and overall satisfaction based on customer feedback. It’s something to consider when choosing between CenturyLink and Spectrum.

Spectrum plans and pricing

PackagePriceSpeeddetails
Spectrum Internet® Assist$24.99/mo.*Up to 50Mbps
(wireless speeds may vary)
View Plan
Spectrum Internet® 100$29.99/mo.*Up to 100Mbps
(wireless speeds may vary)
View Plan
Spectrum Internet®$39.99–$49.99/mo.
for 12 mos.
Up to 300Mbps
(wireless speeds may vary)
View Plan
Spectrum Internet® Ultra$49.99–$69.99/mo.
for 24 mos.
Up to 500Mbps
(wireless speeds may vary)
View Plan
Spectrum Internet® Gig$59.99–$79.99/mo.
for 24 mos.
Up to 1,000Mbps
(wireless speeds may vary)
View Plan

Spectrum competes in nearly a dozen states where CenturyLink offers fiber and DSL internet. Spectrum is mostly uncontested by CenturyLink on the Eastern side of the U.S., except for Florida, where the two duke it out for your hard-earned cash throughout most of the state. Like most telecoms and internet providers, CenturyLink is swapping out old copper telephone lines with new fiber ones, while Spectrum is simply laying down new fiber and keeping its “last mile” cable TV lines intact.

But when we look at how the two price their internet, CenturyLink is the better deal for the long term. CenturyLink will always have the upper hand until Spectrum drops its post-promotional price hikes—even if it does have a new two-year price guarantee on its 500Mbps and 1,000Mbps plans. 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.

Spectrum
Sign up for Spectrum One and get Spectrum internet with speeds up to 300Mbps, free Advanced Wifi, and one Unlimited Mobile line free for 12 months.

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
  • $7.00/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 $7 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
    3.63.53.53.63.4
    Spectrum 3.73.73.73.93.3

    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 SelectUp to 300Mbps
    (wireless speeds may vary)
    155+$119.98/mo.
    for 12 mos.
    View Plans
    Spectrum Internet Ultra + TV SelectUp to 500Mbps
    (wireless speeds may vary)
    155+$139.98/mo.
    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 Paramount+ with 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
    DSL, fiber
    Spectrum Cable, 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 CenurtyLink.

    Spectrum’s cable internet is more widespread than CenturyLink’s fiber. Technically, it’s backed by fiber—coax cable is used in the “last mile” to your home to keep costs low. Cable internet generally doesn’t offer symmetrical speeds like fiber, but that’s slowly changing. Spectrum currently offers symmetrical cable speeds in two markets and plans to expand the technology into all of its areas by 2026, along with 10Gbps downloads.

    CenturyLink’s older DSL internet uses existing telephone lines and doesn’t go above 140Mbps in download speed. The company is currently swapping these lines out with faster, newer fiber ones.

    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
    No cap
    Spectrum No 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
    No contract
    Spectrum No 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

    Spectrum’s cable and fiber internet compete with CenturyLink’s DSL and fiber internet in 11 states, including Florida, Oregon, Minnesota, Washington, and Wisconsin.

    The largest chunk of Spectrum’s network resides on the eastern side of the nation. It also commands some areas in Texas and California and a few places on the west coast. But overall, Spectrum has far more cable than fiber internet, although you’ll likely see a higher ratio of fiber installs in Minnesota, North Carolina, New York, and Ohio than in other states—for now, at least.

    CenturyLink has a large footprint in Florida, Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Oregon, and Washington. It’s also scattered throughout the Central, Mountain, and Pacific time zones, offering mostly DSL and some fiber internet. CenturyLink is currently swapping out copper lines with fiber, so it has a higher copper-vs-fiber ratio than Spectrum.

    Is Centurylink or Spectrum available where you live?

    Enter your zip code below to see if you can get one of these internet providers.

    Final call: CenturyLink vs. Spectrum

    CenturyLink and Spectrum overlap in nearly a dozen states, so you’ll likely see Spectrum’s cable internet as an alternative to CenturyLink’s DSL and fiber internet. Spectrum also has fiber, but it only clashes with CenturyLink’s fiber in Florida and a few other spots.

    Price-wise, CenturyLink’s fiber internet is the better megabit-per-dollar value for the long term. Unlike Spectrum, your rates don’t increase after the first or second year. CenturyLink’s DSL internet, however, is expensive for the little speeds you get.

    On the flip side, customers rate Spectrum better than CenturyLink in terms of overall satisfaction, speed, reliability, and customer support. In that respect, you kind of 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

    Methodology

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

    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 HighSpeedInternet.com, 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 HighSpeedInternet.com 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.

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