AT&T vs. Spectrum: Which Internet Provider Is Best for You?

HighSpeedInternet.com mined proprietary customer data and staff research for insights into AT&T and Spectrum.

  • Best for speed
    • Customer rating: 3.8/5
    • Price: $55.00–$180.00/mo.*
    • Speed: 25–5,000 Mbps
    • Internet type: Fiber, fixed wireless
    • Data cap: No cap (fiber); 350 GB (fixed wireless); 1 TB for speeds 75 Mbps and under
    • Contract: No contract
  • Best for availability
    • Customer rating: 3.6/5
    • Price: $49.99–$89.99/mo.
    • Speed: Up to 300 Mbps–1,000 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)
    • Internet type: Cable
    • Data cap: No cap
    • Contract: No contract

Compare AT&T and Spectrum head to head

Most of AT&T’s plans run over fiber internet, and packages like Fiber Internet 1000  give you all the bandwidth you could want at an affordable price. Spectrum, a cable internet provider, also offers fast speeds and a robust connection. It’s a great choice for people in areas where you can’t find AT&T’s relatively limited fiber coverage.

Pros and cons: AT&T vs. Spectrum

Pros:

  • Fast speeds
  • Good customer service reputation
  • Lots of fiber plans

Cons:

  • Limited fiber availability

 

Pros:

  • Consistent speeds
  • Simple package choices
  • Affordable pricing

Cons:

  • Added WiFi charge
  • Confusing support site

Are AT&T and Spectrum available in your area? Enter your zip code below to see what’s available and compare packages.

Plans and pricing: AT&T vs. Spectrum

Let’s jump right into the meat and potatoes. AT&T gives you some seriously fast fiber speeds at a great price. Spectrum’s cable plans tend to cost more for speed, but the cheaper plans are still fast—and more widely available than AT&T’s.

AT&T plans and pricing

PackagePrice*SpeedDetails
AT&T Internet 100$55.00/mo.**Up to 100 Mbps
AT&T Fixed Wireless Internet$59.99/mo.#Up to 25 Mbps
AT&T Internet 300$55.00/mo.*300 Mbps
AT&T Internet 500$65.00/mo.*500 Mbps
AT&T 1G Internet$80.00/mo.*1,000 Mbps
AT&T 2G Internet$110.00/mo.*2,000 Mbps
AT&T 5G Internet$180.00/mo.*5,000 Mbps

AT&T offers multiple packages, most of them using excellent fiber connections. You can even get a 5,000 Mbps plan—the fastest speeds currently available to homes from any major provider in America.

Overall, the prices are reasonable. We do think it’s worth jumping to the 1G Internet plan if it’s offered where you live—it delivers superior speeds, letting you do practically anything online at a reasonable price.

But if the 1G Internet plan isn’t available, you’ll be good to go with the Internet 300 plan. It’s much faster and gives you more data than what you can get from similarly priced plans from competitor internet service providers (ISPs).

If you’re living in a rural area, check out AT&T’s Fixed Wireless Internet plan, which is designed for customers with limited internet options. It gives you up to 25 Mbps speeds, making it a suitable alternative to satellite internet, which is often the only other option in many rural areas. Keep in mind, though, that you’ll have a relatively stringent data cap of just 350 GB per month. Still, that’s better than what you’d get from many satellite plans.

Unsure about the speeds you need?

Run a quick diagnostic with our speed test to see what internet speed you have right now. Then you can compare to see if you need something faster.

Spectrum plans and pricing

PackagePrice*SpeedsDetails
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 keeps it simple with three high-speed plans that range from up to 300 to 1,000 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary).

The prices are a bit higher than what you’d get from AT&T, and you won’t get the fast upload speeds that you can get from one of AT&T’s fiber plans. While fiber gives you symmetrical speeds—meaning both download and upload speeds are the same—cable internet delivers much slower uploads than downloads.

Spectrum’s handful of offerings makes choosing a plan easy. You can’t go wrong with the Spectrum Internet® plan—that’s an excellent speed for a fair price. Spectrum’s new discounted pricing for the Internet Gig plan makes it more competitive with AT&T’s 1G Internet plan, but it’s still slightly more expensive. The price increases to $114.99 per month by the third year of service, too.

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Deals and promotions: AT&T vs. Spectrum


Get a $150 or $200 reward card when you sign up for a fiber internet plan. The 300 Mbps and 500 Mbps plans come with a $150 reward card and the gigabit plans include a $200 reward card.
Spectrum
Get a free, 90-day trial of Peacock Premium when you sign up for a qualifying internet plan.
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Extra fees: AT&T vs. Spectrum

PackageEquipment FeeInstallation FeeOther Fees

AT&T
  • $10/mo.
  • Up to $99 for pro install
  • $35 for self-install
  • $15.00/mo. early termination (contract plans only)
  • $5.00 (late payment)
  • Spectrum
    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
  • $49.99 for pro install
  • $19.99 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
  • Spectrum doesn’t charge a modem fee each month. Instead, you have a monthly WiFi access fee whether you have Spectrum’s standalone router or its wireless gateway. Spectrum also encourages new customers to use the cheaper self-install kit first due to COVID-19, but the more expensive pro install option is available if needed.

    AT&T also gives you a break on installation costs if you decide to install it yourself, but you’ll have to pay more for the activation fee than you would with Spectrum. AT&T’s modem/router gateway device also costs a bit more, running you $10 per month extra on your bill.

    There’s a good chance that you won’t have to worry about early termination fees with either of these providers. Most of AT&T’s internet packages run month to month at this point, so that’s not a fee you need to worry about. Spectrum doesn’t have contracts at all, but you’re obligated to keep its service for at least one month before you cancel the service to get the 12-month discounted pricing.

    But AT&T does charge $15 per month (up to $180) for canceling plans that have contracts.

    Customer ratings: AT&T vs. Spectrum

    PackageOverallReliabilityCustomer serviceSpeedPrice

    AT&T
    3.8/53.7/53.7/53.8/53.5/5
    Spectrum
    Spectrum
    3.6/53.6/53.6/53.7/53.2/5

    AT&T pulls ahead of Spectrum when it comes to customer ratings in our latest customer satisfaction survey. AT&T ranks second for overall satisfaction and places high for reliability and speed, which makes sense considering it specializes in fast and responsive fiber internet.

    Spectrum scores below average in our satisfaction survey for overall satisfaction, and it ranks relatively low on the list for speed, reliability, and price. But when you look closer at the data, Spectrum customers tell a more upbeat story—87% say their speeds usually or always meet the needs of their household and 57% say they haven’t dealt with unexpected fees or price hikes.

    It could be that Spectrum’s performance is actually quite good, but like other cable providers, customers’ needs and expectations have shifted due to the increased strains on internet service brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Want to see if AT&T or Spectrum are available in your area? Enter your zip code below to find out.

    Best TV and internet bundles

    PackageInternet speedTV channelsPriceDetails
    Spectrum Internet (up to 300 Mbps) + TV SelectUp to 300 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)125+$99.98/mo. for 12 mos.*View Plans
    Spectrum Internet Ultra + TV SelectUp to 500 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)125+$119.98/mo. for 12 mos. *View Plans

    Spectrum doesn’t offer discounted bundles. Instead, you can pair its TV Select service with one of its cable internet plans. Both services have discounted pricing for 12 months, but all premium channels are extra. You’ll also see a broadcast surcharge of up to $21 on your bill each month.

    AT&T discontinued its bundle packages with internet and DIRECTV. You can still get DIRECTV or DIRECTV STREAM, but you’ll have to order them separately because no bundle deals are available.

    Internet connection types: AT&T vs. Spectrum

    PackageInternet typeDetails

    AT&T
    Fiber, fixed wireless
    Spectrum
    Spectrum
    CableView Plans

    AT&T Internet comes in two flavors, depending on the plan you choose: fiber or fixed wireless. Fiber is much faster and more reliable than other types of connections, although it’s not always available. Fixed wireless is mostly useful for rural areas or neighborhoods with poor internet connections, giving you a nice option that isn’t slow satellite.

    Spectrum is a cable internet provider, but its core network consists of fiber. Spectrum uses a hybrid fiber-coaxial system to deliver a more stable internet connection than providers that use 100% coaxial cable networks. You still get the asymmetrical cable internet speeds, but peak time slowdowns are now mostly due to heavy traffic within your home rather than your neighbors.

    Data caps: AT&T vs. Spectrum

    PackageData CapDetails

    AT&T
  • No data cap
  • 1 TB for speeds up to 75 Mbps
  • 350 GB for fixed wireless
  • Spectrum
    Spectrum
  • No data cap
  • View Plans

    AT&T and Spectrum both give you unlimited data on their internet packages so you can browse, stream, and attend Zoom meetings as much as you like all month long without hitting a limit.

    The one place where you should watch for a data cap is with AT&T’s Fixed Wireless Internet plan. Unlike its fiber internet plans, AT&T’s fixed-wireless package—mainly geared toward rural customers—gives you 350 GB per month as a data cap, which is not a whole lot.

    The overage fee for AT&T’s Fixed Wireless Internet plan is $10 for every 50 GB you go over. And that fee isn’t prorated, so you’ll have to pay that whole $10 even if you go over by just one or two gigs.

    Spectrum may enforce a data cap in the near future, however. Parent company Charter Communications signed a seven-year deal with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2016 that prohibits data caps, but the agreement ends in May 2023.1

    Contracts: AT&T vs. Spectrum

    PackageContract lengthDetails

    AT&T
    No contracts
    Spectrum
    Spectrum
    No contractsView Plans

    AT&T and Spectrum both give you a break when it comes to contracts—there are none. That means you can cancel your service any time after the first month and won’t be hit with an early termination fee (ETF). Very nice.

    Installation: AT&T vs. Spectrum

    PackageInstallation optionsDetails

    AT&T
  • Up to $99.00 for pro install
  • $35.00 for self-install
  • Spectrum
    Spectrum
  • $49.99 for pro install
  • $19.99 for self-install and service activation
  • $49.99 for WiFi Pod install
  • View Plans

    Spectrum definitely gives you a sweeter deal when it comes to installation prices. But due to COVID-19, Spectrum encourages new customers to opt for the self-install kit first, which is cheaper than AT&T’s kit. Pro installs are still available if you need a new installation, a modem moved, and so on.

    AT&T’s installation options are obviously more expensive, but AT&T offers deals from time to time to waive installation costs. Take a look at the best internet deals to see if you can rustle up an installation bargain.

    Availability: AT&T vs. Spectrum

    AT&T and Spectrum are both some of the country’s biggest internet providers. AT&T’s network is accessible to 44% of the US population, with coverage centered around the Midwest, the South, and California. Spectrum can reach 39% of the population, with its biggest availability in New York, California, and Texas.

    You can find out if AT&T and Spectrum are available in your area by typing in your zip code below.

    Final call: AT&T vs. Spectrum

    It’s a close call, but we’d choose Spectrum out of these two. While we do love AT&T’s fast and reliable fiber offerings, fiber is not as widely available as Spectrum’s cable plans. Spectrum can get you top speeds for a good price or a relatively cheap plan if you want them.

    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.

    Sources

    1. Federal Communications Commission, “Reply of Charter Communications, Inc.,” August 6, 2020. Accessed March 18, 2022.

    Author -

    Peter Holslin has more than a decade of experience working as a writer and freelance journalist. He graduated with a BA in liberal arts and journalism from New York City’s The New School University in 2008 and went on to contribute to publications like Rolling Stone, VICE, BuzzFeed, and countless others. At HighSpeedInternet.com, he focuses on covering 5G, nerding out about frequency bands and virtual RAN, and producing reviews on emerging services like 5G home internet. He also writes about internet providers and packages, hotspots, VPNs, and Wi-Fi troubleshooting.

    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.