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Spectrum vs. Optimum: Which Internet Provider Is Best?

Spectrum and Optimum duke it out in the cable internet war, but Optimum may have the upper hand with fiber.

  • Best for availability
    • Customer rating: 3.7
    • Price: $49.99–$89.99/mo. for 12 mos.*
    • Speed: 300–1,000 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)
    • Internet type: Cable
    • Data cap: No cap
    • Contract: No contract
  • Best for fiber
    • Customer rating: 3.4
    • Price: $40.00–$180.00/mo.†‡
    • Speed: 300–5,000 Mbps
    • Internet type: Cable, fiber
    • Data cap: No cap
    • Contract: No contract

Compare Spectrum and Optimum head to head

Go with Spectrum, even if Optimum’s fiber internet is available in your area. We don’t usually recommend cable internet over fiber because it’s generally less reliable and has slower uploads. But when every penny counts, the savings Spectrum offers just can’t be beat.

Pros and cons: Spectrum vs. Optimum


  • Lower post-promo prices
  • No modem fee
  • No data caps


  • Higher starting prices
  • No fiber internet
  • Monthly WiFi access fee


  • Lower promo prices
  • Cable internet in rural areas
  • No data caps


  • Large price hikes
  • Limited fiber availability

Want to know if Spectrum or Optimum are in your area? Take a look by typing in your zip code below.

Plans and pricing: Spectrum vs. Optimum

Spectrum is the largest cable internet provider in the US. Optimum mainly provides cable internet with some fiber in the New York tri-state area and in smaller pockets across the US. But while Optimum may have better pricing for your first year, Spectrum plans are less expensive once the promotional period dust settles.

Spectrum plans and pricing

Spectrum Internet®$49.99/mo. for 12 mos.*Up to 300 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)View Plan
Spectrum Internet® Ultra$69.99/mo. for 12 mos.*Up to 500 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)View Plan
Spectrum Internet® Gig$89.99/mo. for 12 mos.**Up to 1,000 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)View Plan

Spectrum’s plans appear more expensive than Optimum’s. For example, Spectrum charges $89.99 per month for the first 12 months for gigabit internet, while Optimum is around $25 less. But both providers raise their prices after the first year, so expect Spectrum’s monthly cost to go up about $25 (if you don’t find a way to renegotiate pricing).

Spectrum has the upper hand with nationwide availability, but it lacks fiber service, which is a more reliable connection than old-school cable. Still, Spectrum’s cable internet is more than adequate for most people, with download speeds of up to 1,000 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary). It’s the cheaper option after the first year, and there are no added fees for modems or network enhancements.

Optimum plans and pricing

300 Mbps Internet$40.00/mo.*Up to 300 MbpsCable, fiberView Plan
500 Mbps Internet$60.00/mo.*Up to 500 MbpsCable, fiberView Plan
1 Gig Internet$80.00/mo.*Up to 940 MbpsCable, fiberView Plan
2 Gig Internet$100.00/mo.*Up to 2,000 MbpsFiberView Plan
5 Gig Internet$180.00/mo.*Up to 5,000 MbpsFiberView Plan

At first, Optimum has Spectrum beat for affordable pricing. For $40.00 per month, you can get 300 Mbps with Optimum or go with Spectrum and spend $10 more per month.

But monthly costs after the promotional pricing are where these two providers really divide. After the first 12 months, Spectrum’s pricing increases up to $25 per month, but Optimum’s pricing increases by up to $70 per month. Ouch.

Overall, Optimum is $25 more per month than Spectrum after the promotional pricing ends if you want gigabit speeds. Optimum is $35 higher for 100 Mbps more speed when you compare the other plans. Here’s what you can expect:

300 Mbps500 Mbps1,000 Mbps
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Deals and promotions: Spectrum vs. Optimum

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Extra fees: Spectrum vs. Optimum

Equipment FeeInstallation FeeOther Fees
  • $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
  • $10.00/mo. for cable modem or wireless gateway

  • Free Smart Router

  • $3.00/mo. per added Xtend unit

  • Free for self-install

  • Free for standard install* (Learn more)

  • $149.99 for premium install (Learn more)
  • $10.00 late payment fee

  • $10.00 phone payment processing fee

  • $20.00 returned check fee

  • $10.00 restore service fee (1 or 2 products)

  • $15.00 restore service fee (3 products)

*With online orders


Optimum charges $10 per month to rent its modem or gateway. Spectrum’s modem or gateway is free to use, but you pay a $5 per month WiFi fee. Spectrum’s WiFi Pods are another $3 per month for each unit.

You can avoid both of these fees by purchasing a compatible cable modem, a standalone Wi-Fi router, or a gateway. The drawback is that you’re responsible for all upgrades and replacements unless you switch back to Spectrum’s or Optimum’s equipment.

Customer ratings: Spectrum vs. Optimum

Overall RatingReliability RatingCustomer Service RatingSpeed RatingPrice Rating

Spectrum rates far better than Optimum in our most recent customer satisfaction survey. It ranks third for overall satisfaction, a nice bump up from the previous year’s survey. Its highest rating is in speed satisfaction, with scores above the national average in terms of meeting speed needs and matching advertised speeds. Its weakest point is in price satisfaction, which leaves us a little baffled when we look at Optimum.

Optimum has some of the lowest ratings out of the 13 national internet providers in our survey. We expected a rock bottom price satisfaction based on its steep post-promo pricing. But Optimum also remains at the bottom in customer service and overall satisfaction. It rates slightly better in reliability and speed satisfaction, but not by much. However, its fiber customers gave better scores than its cable ones—fiber service Spectrum currently doesn’t offer to residents.

Want to know if Spectrum or Optimum are in your area? Take a look by typing in your zip code below.

Best TV and internet bundles

PackageInternet speedTV channelsPriceDetails
Spectrum Internet (up to 300 Mbps) + TV SelectUp to 300 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)125+$109.98/mo. for 12 mos.View Plans
Spectrum Internet Ultra + TV SelectUp to 500 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)125+$129.98/mo. for 12 mos.View Plans
Optimum 300 Mbps Internet + Premier TVUp to 300 Mbps420+$155.00/mo.*View Plans
Optimum 1 Gig Internet + Core TVUp to 940 Mbps220+$155.00/mo.*View Plans

Spectrum doesn’t offer the traditional TV and internet bundle at a huge discount. Instead, you can pair its TV Select service with any of its three internet plans. You can add standard TV and premium channels to the base channel lineup, but they cost extra.

Optimum bundles its Core TV and Premier TV services with its 300 Mbps Internet and 1 Gig internet plans. The Core TV service starts with 220 channels, while the Premier TV service increases your starting channels to 420.

Internet types: Spectrum vs. Optimum

Internet typeDetails
SpectrumCableView Plans
OptimumCable, fiberView Plans

Spectrum and Optimum use existing coaxial cable lines originally installed for cable TV. Radio waves and up to 32 vacant cable TV channels deliver internet data to a cable modem.

Optimum’s fiber internet beams light through glass fibers that reach an optical network terminal (ONT) installed outside or inside your home. It does not use the traditional modem.

Overall, fiber is the best connection for its reliability and symmetrical speeds. Fiber’s fast uploads are ideal if you transfer large files to a remote server or livestream, but its availability is limited. Cable is more widespread than fiber and has slower uploads, but it has fast downloads and an easier installation than fiber.

Data caps: Spectrum vs. Optimum

Data CapDetails
SpectrumNo capView Plans
OptimumNo capView Plans

There’s nothing to report here. Spectrum and Optimum do not enforce data caps, but Spectrum may do so starting in May 2023, once its agreement with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ends.2

Contracts: Spectrum vs. Optimum

Contract lengthDetails
SpectrumNo contractView Plans
OptimumNo contractView Plans

Spectrum and Optimum do not require contracts.They provide discounted pricing for the first 12 months. In both cases, you must keep the service for at least one month before you can cancel.

Installation: Spectrum vs. Optimum

Installation optionsDetails
  • $59.99 for pro install

  • $49.99 WiFi Pod install

  • $24.99 for self-install
View Plans
  • $149.99 for pro install

  • Free for standard install*

  • Free self-install
View Plans

*With online order


Optimum’s standard installation includes the setup of up to two outlets and one wireless device. The premium install includes three outlets, all wireless devices, and one wired device. Optimum doesn’t list a charge for installing its internet connection yourself.

Spectrum’s pro install includes all the necessary cabling and equipment. The technician provides you with the WiFi info and waits long enough for you to connect a wireless device. The self-install kit includes everything you need to get internet in a home with coax cables already installed.

Availability: Spectrum vs. Optimum

Spectrum is the largest internet provider, covering 38.3% of the US according to our proprietary data—all of which is cable internet. Most of its coverage area is in the Eastern and Central time zones, with smaller spots scattered across the nation.

Optimum mostly offers cable internet and some fiber in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. It also offers cable and fiber internet in 18 other states formerly managed under the Suddenlink brand. Parent company Altice USA expects to have 6.5 million fiber connections by 2025.3

To see if Spectrum or Optimum is in your area, enter your zip code below:

Final call: Spectrum vs. Optimum

When you stack Spectrum up against Optimum, Spectrum is the clear choice for long-term internet savings. Though its starting prices are a little steep, it makes up for it with much cheaper prices after the first 12 months compared to Optimum.

But we recommend Optimum’s fiber if it’s available and you don’t mind the price hike. Fiber is more reliable than cable and has symmetrical speeds, which you can’t get from Spectrum.

The good news is that Spectrum and Optimum don’t enforce annual contracts, so you can take advantage of their promotional prices and see which provider is a better fit for you. Still, the monthly savings you’ll see over time with Spectrum will add up and make you smile.

View Spectrum Plans


View Optimum 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.


  1. Optimum, “Optimum Standard Rates & Packages,” February 2022. Accessed March 4, 2022.
  2. Federal Communications Commission, “Reply of Charter Communications, Inc.,” August 6, 2020. Accessed March 7, 2022.
  3. Altice USA, “Altice USA Announces Acceleration in Fiber Deployment Strategy; Announces Multi-Year Plan to Bring 100% Fiber Broadband to More Than 6.5 Million Passings Across the Optimum and Suddenlink Footprint,” February 16, 2022. Accessed March 29, 2022.

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 - 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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