CenturyLink vs. Spectrum
Type of Service
Up to 1 Gig
$45.00-$85.00 per month
$9.99 per month
Included in price
1 TB (DSL), None (Fiber)
Type of Service
Up to 60 Mbps
Starts at $44.99 per month
Included in package price
*Pricing and speeds are subject to change but are current as of 03/1/18. Internet and television offers not available in all coverage areas.
Should I choose CenturyLink or Spectrum as my high-speed Internet Service Provider?
Choose CenturyLink for fast fiber speeds and wide availability.
CenturyLink’s single biggest strength is that it’s available almost everywhere. This provider is in thirty-six states and covers millions of households. And in select markets, the CenturyLink 1-Gig service brings blazing fiber speeds. Another advantage is the ability to bundle with DIRECTV. Unfortunately, the service in most coverage areas lags behind most cable options. If you have access to decent speeds in your area, CenturyLink is a compelling choice.
Choose Spectrum for reliable service and high customer satisfaction.
Spectrum offers consistent, fast cable internet. The most commonly advertised Spectrum speed is 60 Mbps, compared to CenturyLink’s 10 Mbps. Additionally, Spectrum’s internet service is priced well, and the company gets great marks across the board in our customer satisfaction survey. Spectrum TV is lackluster, though, with high prices and low channel counts. But if you just need fast, reliable internet, Spectrum is a great option.
Compare CenturyLink and Spectrum plans and pricing in your area:
CenturyLink is one of the most widespread Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the US, with service available in thirty-six states. The largest coverage areas for CenturyLink are Utah, Arizona, and Colorado, but the provider has an even spread across the whole country, as you can see on the map below.
Spectrum is another widespread provider, though its coverage is much more concentrated than CenturyLink. Spectrum is available in twenty-nine different states, with most of the coverage concentrated on the east coast and Great Lakes regions. Check out the full coverage map below for more details.
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- New York
Customer Satisfaction Ratings
Every year, HighSpeedInternet.com surveys internet users to learn about their experiences with different providers. Our survey includes questions about internet speed, customer service, and reliability. Check out the full survey for more details.
Installation & Setup
CenturyLink’s installation process is straightforward—just schedule an appointment with a service tech, and they’ll come out and do a professional installation. The best part? There’s no additional fee. The company also provides detailed installation checklists and a video guide to help make sure the process goes as smoothly as possible.
Learn how to self-install CenturyLink internet.
Spectrum rounds out the top three for customer satisfaction in installation. Spectrum does charge a fee for professional installation, but at $49.95, it’s still reasonable. Overall, there’s not much to say about your Spectrum installation, which is good—the easier the install, the sooner you can get to enjoying your new internet service.
Learn how to self-install your Spectrum modem or router.
The number-one thing to know about CenturyLink internet speeds is that they vary widely with location. CenturyLink service operates on a mixture of DSL and fiber lines, but it’s difficult to know what’s in your area without entering your zip code in a tool like the one you’ll find below. The most common advertised speed is around 10 Mbps, which is probably less speed than you want. However, there are areas that kick things up to as high as 80 Mbps. And if you go for the fiber option and it’s available in your area, the 1 Gig connection should be fast enough for anything you throw at it.
Speed: Up to 1 Gig
Spectrum’s speed is more consistent. Since Spectrum is a cable service, even the slower speeds tend to be faster than CenturyLink’s basic DSL. In fact, the most commonly advertised speed for Spectrum is 60 Mbps—but it doesn’t have a service nearly as fast as the 1 Gig CenturyLink offers in some areas.
Speed: Up to 60 Mbps
DSL service is less reliable than cable, simply due to technological differences. That said, CenturyLink generally shouldn’t give you any problems. And if you live in an area where 1 Gig service is available, you get to enjoy one of the biggest benefits of fiber: extreme reliability.
Spectrum is in the top five providers for reliability, largely due to technology. Cable service is just more stable and better able to handle heavy loads than DSL. In general, we think most customers will be happy with Spectrum’s stable connection.
CenturyLink’s prices start at $45.00. Whether this is good or bad strongly depends on the speeds available in your area. $55.00 per month for 80 Mbps is not bad at all. If all you have access to is 20 Mbps, though, it doesn’t look so great. On the other hand, $85.00 per month for 1 Gig service is great. Again, it’s all about location.
Price: $45.00–$85.00 per month
Spectrum’s pricing, like its speeds, is much more consistent than CenturyLink’s. That helps account for another top-five ranking for the provider. Unfortunately, there’s no Gig service here, so if super fast speed is what you want, CenturyLink gives you more bang for your buck.
Price: Starts at $44.99 per month
Technical Support & Customer Service
CenturyLink’s customer support sits right about the middle of the road in our survey—and in our experience, that’s accurate. The support site is clean and puts the search function front and center, which we like. We found answers to all our questions relatively easily. CenturyLink also offers a tool to track where your support tech is and when they expect to arrive at your home. That’s handy if you have a problem too difficult for online support to handle.
The Spectrum support site is not as pleasant to use as CenturyLink’s. The main reason is that the site still has to cater to customers with existing TWC, Charter, and Bright House service in addition to new Spectrum customers. Things can get a little convoluted, and the layout just feels a little old-fashioned. That said, Spectrum ranked fourth in our survey, so things aren’t all bad.
Advantages & Disadvantages
Both CenturyLink and Spectrum offer TV and phone service. Customers can bundle one or both to streamline their services and save a little money. Read on for all the details about CenturyLink and Spectrum bundles.
CenturyLink allows customers to bundle DIRECTV satellite TV service with CenturyLink internet. DIRECTV is one of the highest-rated TV services around, though it does require mounting a satellite dish on your roof. Standalone DIRECTV packages start at $29.99 per month. The best value for money is probably DIRECTV ULTIMATE, which gets you 245+ channels for $49.99 per month.
Unlike CenturyLink, Spectrum does offer its own TV service. Unfortunately, it really isn’t as good as DIRECTV—there are fewer channels available, even in the most expensive packages, and prices are higher across the board. Spectrum TV starts at $64.99 per month. The best package, Spectrum TV Gold, is $104.99 per month and gets you 200+ channels.
Spectrum bundles are generally a better bang for your buck than standalone TV. There are three tiers of Triple Play bundles available, starting at $89.97 per month. The Triple Play Silver package is a good middle ground, with 175+ channels, 60 Mbps internet, and unlimited calling for $109.97 per month.
CenturyLink and Spectrum provide modems and routers for a monthly fee. If you want to avoid the fee or increase the speed of your wireless network, you can also buy your own router. Read on for recommendations.
CenturyLink’s standard modem-router combo is probably sufficient for most people, but if you need more Wi-Fi range or bandwidth, CenturyLink provides a list of compatible modems.
Our router recommendation for CenturyLink: Zyxel C1100Z.
This modem-router combo offers everything you need for a great CenturyLink experience. You get four Ethernet ports, built-in wireless that can handle speeds up to 300 Mbps, and auto-detection of your CenturyLink network settings for easy set up.
Spectrum also offers a modem-router combo to customers. While convenient, ISP-provided routers tend to be very basic. If you need a little more horsepower from your router, you can pick up your own.
Our router recommendation for Frontier: Motorola 16×4 High-Speed Cable Gateway
This Motorola modem-router combo offers four Ethernet ports, up to 1.6 Gbps Wi-Fi speed, and a built-in firewall for extra security. It’s not the most powerful on the market, but it strikes a good balance between convenience, power, and price.
What You Should Consider When Comparing CenturyLink and Spectrum
When comparing CenturyLink and Spectrum internet services, location is critical. If all CenturyLink offers in your area is basic internet, Spectrum is almost always going to be the better bet, thanks to its faster cable speed.
Things get trickier if you can get faster CenturyLink packages. At that point, it really comes down to which provider offers a bundle that best suits your needs. And if CenturyLink’s 1 Gig service is available in your area, we highly recommend giving it a shot. It’s more expensive than Spectrum’s offerings, but once you experience 1 Gig speeds, it’s hard to go back.
About the Providers
CenturyLink offers internet service in over thirty states around the US. Nearly sixty million people use CenturyLink, making it the third-largest telecommunications company in the country.
Spectrum is the result of a merger between Time Warner Cable, Charter and Bright House Networks. The combined company provides cable, internet, TV, and home phone to customers in nearly thirty states across the country.
Enter your zip code to see if CenturyLink and Spectrum offer internet and television in your area.
Dave is a freelance writer with a passion for tech and how it improves our lives. His work has been published on a variety of sites around the web.