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EarthLink vs. Spectrum: Which Internet Provider is Best for You?

We compared these two widespread wired internet options.

  • Best Customer Satisfaction
    • Customer rating: 3.3
    • Price: $54.95–$189.95/mo.*
    • Speed: 10–5,000 Mbps
    • Internet type: Fiber, DSL
    • Data cap: No cap
    • Contract: 1 yr.
  • Best prices
    • Customer rating: 3.7
    • Price: $24.99–$79.99/mo.†‡§
    • Speed: 50–1,000 Mbps(wireless speeds may vary)
    • Internet type: Cable, fiber
    • Data cap: No cap
    • Contract: No contract

Compare EarthLink and Spectrum head to head

Earthlink’s main focus is in its customer service. EarthLink plans generally cost more than Spectrum plans with similar speeds, so the question for EarthLink customers is whether they find the added support worth the extra cost. The benefits of this strategy have been shown in customer satisfaction surveys across multiple years, though Earthlink underperformed in customer satisfaction in 2023.

Both EarthLink and Spectrum offer wired internet connections to huge areas of the country. EarthLink offers fast and reliable fiber connections in some areas, though in others it offers only slower DSL plans. Spectrum splits the difference with cable internet, giving you a more consistent experience regardless of where you live within its coverage area.

Pros and cons: EarthLink vs. Spectrum


  • Great customer satisfaction
  • Expansive coverage
  • Fiber in some areas


  • Higher monthly cost
  • Variable network quality


  • Rent-free modem, gateway, or SONU
  • No data caps
  • No contracts


  • Price hikes
  • Limited fiber availability

Is EarthLink or Spectrum available where you live?

Enter your zip code below to see what services and plans are provided in your area.

Plans and pricing: EarthLink vs. Spectrum

Both EarthLink and Spectrum have large coverage areas and a decent range of speeds. They both offer speeds up to 1Gbps (1,000 Mbps), but both gigabit plans have their caveats. Although EarthLink has a larger coverage area, its gigabit fiber plan isn’t available in all areas. Spectrum uses a hybrid fiber-coax network, so you may get cable or fiber, depending on where you live. EarthLink is the only one of the two with multigigabit plans for those who want more speed than they could possibly use.

EarthLink plans and pricing

PackagePriceSpeed TypeShop plans
3 Mbps Internet$59.95/mo.*3 MbpsDSLShop EarthLink Plans
6 Mbps Internet$59.95/mo.*6 MbpsDSLShop EarthLink Plans
12 Mbps Internet$54.95/mo.*12 MbpsDSLShop EarthLink Plans
18 Mbps Internet$64.95/mo.*18 MbpsDSLShop EarthLink Plans
24 Mbps Internet$64.95/mo.*24 MbpsDSLShop EarthLink Plans
50 Mbps Internet$59.95/mo.*50 MbpsDSLShop EarthLink Plans
Fiber 300$54.95/mo.*300 MbpsFiberShop EarthLink Plans
Fiber 500$79.95/mo.*500 MbpsFiberShop EarthLink Plans
Fiber 1 Gig $89.95/mo.*1,000 MbpsFiberShop EarthLink Plans
Fiber 2 Gig$129.95/mo.*2,000 MbpsFiberShop EarthLink Plans
Fiber 5 Gig$189.95/mo.*5,000 MbpsFiberShop EarthLink Plans
EarthLink 10-80 Mbps Internet$49.95/mo.-$69.95/mo.*10 Mbps-80 MbpsDSLShop EarthLink Plans
EarthLink LTE Home 50 GB- 150 GB$64.95/mo.-$149.95/mo.Up to 100 MbpsFixed wirelessShop EarthLink Plans

EarthLink is available in all 50 states. It rents space on other providers’ networks to reach its customers, which means the speed and reliability of its connections vary depending on location. The main value that EarthLink adds in this deal is its focus on customer support.

EarthLink’s fiber plans offer the best value for both speed and reliability. They start around the same price as its DSL plans but reach speeds around 100 times faster. EarthLink also offers plans with slower fiber speeds than most ISPs, which is handy if you like the reliability of fiber but don’t want to pay for gigabit speeds.

Spectrum plans and pricing

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’s plans start at 300Mbps (wireless speeds may vary), which is faster than any of EarthLink’s DSL plans and some of its fiber plans. This makes even the cheapest Spectrum plan a decent speed for most internet activities.

If you need faster download speeds to meet your household needs, Spectrum offers 500Mbps and 1,000Mbps speeds. Most of what Spectrum offers is cable internet, although Spectrum’s fiber-to-the-home service can be found in “green” markets, such as new neighborhoods not claimed by other fiber providers.

Spectrum’s Assist and 100Mbps plans are designed for low-income households. Visit Spectrum to see if you qualify.

HSI badge deals

Deals and promotions: EarthLink vs. Spectrum


New Earthlink Fiber customers can get a gift card worth up to $200 plus unlimited data and free router rental.

Get the Deal
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: EarthLink vs. Spectrum

Equipment FeeInstallation FeeOther Fees
  • $14.95/mo. to rent
  • $74.95 to purchase
  • $19.95 installation for most fiber plans, $79.95 professional installation for rest
  • Up to $200.00 early termination fees
  • $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

EarthLink has low equipment rental fees and gives you the option to buy. Spectrum offers a rent-free cable modem or gateway, but you pay $7 per month whether you have Spectrum’s gateway or a standalone router. You can get around the WiFi fee by purchasing your own standalone router or mesh system. Check out our guide about the best Wi-Fi routers to see what’s the best you can get based on our tests.

The other important fees to call out are the big (and possibly unexpected) ones. EarthLink requires a 12-month contract when you sign up, which comes with a hefty fee if you decide to cancel your service early.

Spectrum doesn’t require long-term contracts, and its fees are lower across the board. The price increases after the first 12 or 24 months, depending on the plan, which we don’t love, but in general, you’ll encounter fewer unexpected costs with Spectrum.

Customer ratings: EarthLink vs. Spectrum

OverallSpeedPriceReliabilityCustomer Service
EarthLink 3.3/53.6/53.2/53.3/53.3/5
Spectrum 3.7/53.9/53.3/53.7/53.7/5

EarthLink performed somewhat poorly in our 2023 customer satisfaction survey, taking last place overall.

Spectrum performed about average in our survey this year, coming in around the middle of the pack in most categories.

Looking for the best-rated provider you can get?

Enter your zip code below to see if EarthLink or Spectrum are in your area.

Best TV and internet bundles

Internet speedTV channelsPriceDetails
Spectrum® Internet Ultra + TV Signature*Up to 500Mbps
(wireless speeds may vary)
125+From $113.18/mo.
for 12 mos.
View Plans
Spectrum® Internet Gig + TV Signature*Up to 1,000Mbps
(wireless speeds may vary)
125+From $156.98/mo.
for 12 mos.
View Plans

Spectrum gives you the option to mix and match any of its TV and internet plans, though you don’t get a reduced price for bundling these services together. If you were planning on getting cable one way or another, this does help simplify your monthly bills, which is a plus. Spectrum also offers mobile services to current Spectrum Internet customers.

EarthLink doesn’t offer TV or phone service.

Internet types: EarthLink vs. Spectrum

Internet typeDetails
EarthLink Fiber, DSLView Plans
Spectrum Cable, fiberView Plans

EarthLink uses DSL or fiber internet connection. All of its plans over 50Mbps use fiber. On the lower end, Earthlink offers speeds much lower than those offered by most fiber providers. Although fast download speed is the main selling point of a fiber internet plan, fiber has other advantages over other internet types as well, such as reliability. Not every area within EarthLink’s coverage area has access to fiber, which means that those in DSL-only areas don’t have many high-speed options.

Spectrum delivers internet service using a hybrid fiber-coax network. Its core network is all fiber, but the “last mile” connections to homes are cable or fiber, depending on where you live. Spectrum doesn’t install fiber-to-the-home service where it already has cable TV lines, so you’ll find its fiber internet in new neighborhoods. Spectrum offers download speeds that can match EarthLink’s top fiber plans.

Data caps: EarthLink vs. Spectrum

Data CapDetails
EarthLink No capView Plans
Spectrum No capView Plans

Neither EarthLink nor Spectrum place data caps on their plans, which we think is great. Nobody likes data caps, and for wired networks like cable and fiber, they’re completely unnecessary. In fact, according to our data cap survey, 75% of people said that they’d pay more for a plan without data caps.

Contracts: EarthLink vs. Spectrum

Contract lengthDetails
EarthLink 1 yr.View Plans
Spectrum No contractView Plans

EarthLink requires a 12-month contract when you sign up. This is pretty standard for providers that require contracts, but it’s still a commitment. If you want to change internet providers before your contract term is up, early termination fees can cost up to $200, so it’s not something you should commit to lightly.

Spectrum has no long-term contracts. You can cancel your service at any time without getting hit by cancellation fees. We prefer no-contract plans. And fortunately, more and more providers are moving in this direction.

Installation: EarthLink vs. Spectrum

Installation optionsDetails
  • $19.95 installation for most fiber plans, $79.95 professional installation for rest
View Plans
  • $59.99 for pro install
  • $24.99 for self-install
  • $49.99 for WiFi Pod install
View Plans

Spectrum beats EarthLink in terms of installation costs, saving you money on professional installation as well as offering a self-installation option for some plans. Spectrum encourages self-installation since most customers already have cable TV lines entering the home, but pro installs are available upon request or when your home needs new internet service.

Availability: EarthLink vs. Spectrum

EarthLink is available throughout the US in all but the most rural areas, although its plans vary depending on area. Spectrum is also a nationwide brand but is most widespread along the East Coast, Midwest, South, and West Coast.

Ready to switch to EarthLink or Spectrum?

Enter your zip code below to see if EarthLink or Spectrum are available where you live.

Final call: EarthLink vs. Spectrum

Both EarthLink and Spectrum have a lot of features we really like, but if you’re in an area where EarthLink offers only DSL connections, we suggest going with Spectrum’s faster, more reliable cable plans.

View EarthLink Plans


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.

Author -

Peter Christiansen writes about satellite internet, rural connectivity, livestreaming, and parental controls for Peter holds a PhD in communication from the University of Utah and has been working in tech for over 15 years as a computer programmer, game developer, filmmaker, and writer. His writing has been praised by outlets like Wired, Digital Humanities Now, and the New Statesman.

Editor - Rebecca Lee Armstrong

Rebecca Lee Armstrong has more than six years of experience writing about tech and the internet, with a specialty in hands-on testing. She started writing tech product and service reviews while finishing her BFA in creative writing at the University of Evansville and has found her niche writing about home networking, routers, and internet access at Her work has also been featured on Top Ten Reviews, MacSources, Windows Central, Android Central, Best Company, TechnoFAQ, and iMore.

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