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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: $19.99–$89.99/mo.* for 12 mos.
    • Speed: 100–1,000Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)
    • Internet type: Cable, fiber
    • Data cap: No cap
    • Contract: No contract
  • Best for fiber
    • Customer rating: 3.3 §
    • Price: $30.00–$265.00/mo.†‡
    • Speed: 300–8,000Mbps
    • Internet type: Cable, fiber
    • Data cap: No cap
    • Contract: No contract

Compare Spectrum and Optimum head to head

The Spectrum vs. Optimum battle is an interesting one, as we have two hybrid fiber/cable internet providers serving up mostly cable and some fiber-to-the-home service. Optimum clearly has the fastest download speeds of the two, but we can’t ignore its low scores in our latest survey and its super-high post-promo rates. When every penny counts, the savings Spectrum offers just can’t be beat.

Pros and cons: Spectrum vs. Optimum

Pros:

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

Cons:

  • Limited fiber availability
  • Monthly WiFi access fee

Pros:

  • Lower promo prices
  • Superfast fiber downloads
  • No data caps

Cons:

  • Large price hikes
  • Limited fiber availability

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

Enter your zip code below to see what internet types and speeds are available to you.

Plans and pricing: Spectrum vs. Optimum

Optimum has a bigger nationwide footprint now that Suddenlink is part of its network, but Spectrum is still significantly larger when we step back and compare the two. Both keep your options simple, whether it’s cable or fiber internet.

Spectrum plans and pricing

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

At first glance, 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 the superfast speeds seen with Optimum. The fastest you can get from Spectrum right now is 1,000Mbps symmetrical speeds if you have access to its fiber internet. Meanwhile, Optimum has the fastest fiber plan of the two at 8,000Mbps.

Optimum plans and pricing

PackagePriceSpeedTypeDetails
300 Mbps Internet$30.00/mo.*Up to 300MbpsCable, fiberView Plan
500 Mbps Internet$45.00/mo.*Up to 500MbpsCableView Plan
1 Gig Internet$55.00/mo.*†#Up to 940MbpsCableView Plan
500 Mbps Fiber Internet$30.00/mo.*Up to 500MbpsFiberView Plan
1 Gig Fiber Internet$45.00/mo.*†#Up to 940MbpsFiberView Plan
2 Gig Internet$55.00/mo.*#Up to 2,000MbpsFiberView Plan
5 Gig Internet$80.00/mo.*#Up to 5,000MbpsFiberView Plan
8 Gig Internet$265.00/mo.*#Up to 8,000MbpsFiberView Plan

At first, Optimum has Spectrum beat for affordable pricing. For $30.00 per month, you can get 300Mbps with Optimum or go with Spectrum and spend $15 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 100Mbps more speed when you compare the other plans. Here’s what you can expect:

300Mbps500Mbps1,000Mbps
Optimum$109.99$129.99$139.99
Spectrum$74.99$94.99$114.99*
HSI badge deals

Deals and promotions: Spectrum vs. Optimum

Spectrum
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
Optimum
To celebrate Black Friday, choose a free gift of your choice worth up to $500 along with free equipment, free installation, and no annual contract. Some plans also include a two-year price lock.
Get the Deal

Extra fees: Spectrum vs. Optimum

Equipment FeeInstallation FeeOther Fees
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
Optimum
  • $10.00/mo. for cable modem or wireless gateway
  • Free Smart Router
  • $3.00/mo. per added Xtend unit
  • $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

OverallReliabilityCustomer ServiceSpeedPrice
Spectrum3.73.73.73.93.3
Optimum3.33.43.33.62.9

Spectrum rates far better than Optimum in our most recent customer satisfaction survey. It ranks seventh for overall satisfaction, a noticeable drop 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 isn’t surprising given the slight price increase after the first 12 months—up to $25 per month.

Optimum has some of the lowest ratings out of 15 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. It rates slightly better in reliability, speed satisfaction, and overall satisfaction, but not by much.

Looking for the best-rated internet you can get?

Enter your zip code below to see what internet services and speeds are available to you.

Best TV and internet bundles

PackageInternet speedTV channelsPriceDetails
Spectrum Internet (up to 300 Mbps) + TV Select Signature **Up to 300Mbps
(wireless speeds may vary)
150+$109.98/mo.
for 12 mos.
View Plans
Spectrum Internet Ultra + TV Select Signature **Up to 500Mbps
(wireless speeds may vary)
150+$129.98/mo.
for 12 mos.
View Plans
Optimum 300 Mbps Internet + Premier TVUp to 300Mbps420+$165.00/mo.*View Plans
Optimum 1 Gig Internet + Core TVUp to 940Mbps220+$165.00/mo.*View Plans

Spectrum doesn’t offer the traditional TV and internet bundle at a huge discount. Instead, you can pair its TV Select Signature plan or TV Essential plan 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
SpectrumCable, fiberView 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.

Fiber internet provided by Optimum and Spectrum 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.

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
Spectrum
  • $59.99 for pro install
  • $49.99 WiFi Pod install
  • $24.99 for self-install
View Plans
Optimum
  • Free installation*
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.

Want to see if Spectrum or Optimum are available in your area?

Enter your zip code below to see if these two providers offer internet services near you.

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.

Of course, we can’t overlook Optimum’s superfast fiber speeds. It has one of the fastest fiber plans you can get right now, but it’s extremely limited. Fiber is just limited in availability period, so you may have a hard time getting fiber internet from either provider.

But we have to circle back to Optimum’s low scores in our latest customer satisfaction survey and its inflated post-promo prices. If you find yourself choosing between Spectrum and Optimum, we say go with Spectrum, whether it offers cable or fiber internet. The monthly savings you’ll see over time with Spectrum will add up and make you smile.

View Spectrum Plans

 

View Optimum 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.

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 - 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 HighSpeedInternet.com. Her work has also been featured on Top Ten Reviews, MacSources, Windows Central, Android Central, Best Company, TechnoFAQ, and iMore.

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