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.
Customer rating: 3.8/5
Speed: 100–940 Mbps
Internet type: Fiber, fixed wireless
Data cap: Unlimited (fiber); 350 GB (fixed wireless); 1 TB for speeds 75 Mbps and under
Contract: Month to month
Customer rating: 3.6/5
Speed: Up to 200 Mbps–1,000 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)
Internet type: Cable
Data cap: Unlimited
Contract: Month to month
Data as of 4/19/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
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
- Fast speeds
- Good customer service reputation
- Affordable fiber plans
- Limited fiber availability
- Steep price hikes on fiber plans after 12 months
- Consistent speeds
- Simple package choices
- Affordable pricing
- Expensive gigabit plan
- Confusing support site
Compare AT&T and Spectrum head to head
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
|AT&T Internet 100||$45.00/mo.*||Up to 100 Mbps||View Plan|
|AT&T Fiber Internet 300||$35.00/mo*||300 Mbps||View Plan|
|AT&T Fiber Internet 500||$45.00/mo.||500 Mbps||View Plan|
|AT&T Fiber Internet 1000||$60.00/mo.†||1,000 Mbps||View Plan|
|AT&T Fixed Wireless Internet||$59.99/mo.||~25 Mbps||View Plan|
*for 12 mos, plus taxes & equip fee. $10/mo. equip fee applies. Incl 1TB data/mo. overage chrgs apply.
†for 12 mos, plus taxes & equip fee. $10/mo. equip fee applies. Incl unlimited internet data allowance ($30 value)
AT&T offers multiple packages, most of them on excellent fiber connections.
Overall, the prices are reasonable here. We do think it’s worth jumping to the Fiber Internet 1000 plan if it’s offered where you live—it delivers superior speeds, letting you do practically anything online at a reasonable price. As an added bonus, signing up for Fiber Internet 1000 gets you a free subscription to HBO Max, AT&T’s new streaming service, which is chock full of content from HBO® and Warner Entertainment.
But if AT&T Fiber is not available, you’ll be good to go with the Fiber Internet 100 or Fiber Internet 300 plan. Both of these fiber plans are much faster and give 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 costs $49.99 per month and gives you a minimum of 10 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.
Best AT&T internet deals and promotions
AT&T currently offers $250 in Reward Cards for new customers who order the Internet 300 fiber plan or higher at att.com. New customers also get a free subscription to HBO Max® if they order the Fiber Internet 1000 plan.
If you’re not sure what kind of 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
|Spectrum Internet®||$49.99/mo. for 12 mos.||Up to 200 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)||View Plan|
|Spectrum Internet® Ultra||$69.99/mo. for 12 mos.||Up to 400 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)||View Plan|
|Spectrum Internet® Gig||$109.99/mo. for 12 mos.||Up to 1,000 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)||View Plan|
Spectrum keeps it simple with its packages, with high-speed plans that range from up to 200 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 make choosing a plan easy. You can’t go wrong with the Spectrum Internet® plan—that’s an excellent speed for a fair price.
Best Spectrum internet deals and promotions
If you’re on a budget, Spectrum’s Double Play Select bundle costs $89.98 per month and pairs the base Spectrum Internet plan with 125+ channels. Movie lovers should find Spectrum’s Double Play Silver bundle enticing, costing $119.98 per month. It pairs the Spectrum Internet plan with 200+ channels and premium content from HBO Max®, SHOWTIME®, and NFL Network®.
Want to know if Spectrum or AT&T is in your area? Type in your zip code below.
Extra fees: AT&T vs. Spectrum
|Package||Equipment Fee||Installation Fee||Other Fees|
|AT&T||$10/mo.||Up to $99 for professional installation; $35 for self-install||$15.00/mo. (early termination, contract plans only), $5.00 (late payment)|
|Spectrum||$5.00/mo. for router (no charge with gigabit plan)||$49.99; $9.99 for self-install||No early termination fees, $8.95 (late payment)|
Data as of 4/19/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
Spectrum charges you much less than AT&T for installation and a router rental. You can also waive the professional installation fee completely and just pay a $9.99 activation fee to go with a self-installation kit.
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. AT&T does charge $15 per month (up to $180) for cancelling plans that have contracts, but most of its internet packages at this point run month to month, so that’s not a fee you would have to worry about.
Spectrum doesn’t have contracts at all on its internet plans, so you can cancel your service any time without worrying about paying a fee to do it.
Customer ratings: AT&T vs. Spectrum
AT&T pulls ahead of Spectrum when it comes to customer ratings in our latest customer satisfaction survey. AT&T ranked second for overall satisfaction and also ranks 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 also 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 deal 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
|Package||Internet speed||TV channels||Price||Details|
|Spectrum Double Play Silver||Up to 200 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)||175+ channels||$114.98/mo. for 12 mos.||View Plans|
|Spectrum Double Play Gold||Up to 200 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)||200+ channels||$139.98/mo. for 12 mos.||View Plans|
*for 12 months plus taxes & internet equip. fee w/ 24-mo. TV agmt & combined bill. Autopay & Paperless bill req’d. Prices higher in 2nd year. $10/mo. internet equip. fee applies*
Spectrum offers TV and phone service and there are plenty of bundle options available. This is a great way to get some discounts and streamline your billing. When it comes to Spectrum bundles, we recommend the Double Play Silver. It gives you 175+ channels with internet service for $124.97 per month. You’ll get excellent internet speeds and premium channels including HBO and ESPN.
AT&T used to have bundle packages with internet and DIRECTV or AT&T TV, but those bundles are no longer available. You can still get DIRECTV or DIRECTV STREAM—a streaming TV service that replaced AT&T TV. But you’ll have to order them separately and no bundle deals are available.
Internet connection types: AT&T vs. Spectrum
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 provider. Cable is in many ways comparable to fiber in terms of speed and reliability, but it doesn’t deliver fast upload speeds like fiber does, and it’s more susceptible to internet slowdowns (especially during peak hours). It’s also much more widely available than fiber internet.
Data caps: AT&T vs. Spectrum
|AT&T||Unlimited for fiber plans; 1 TB for speeds up to 75 Mbps; 350 GB for fixed wireless||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.
Contracts: AT&T vs. Spectrum
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 and won’t be hit with an early termination fee (ETF). Very nice.
Installation: AT&T vs. Spectrum
|AT&T||Up to $99; $35 for self-installation||View Plans|
|Spectrum||$49.99; $9.99 for self-install||View Plans|
Spectrum definitely gives you a sweeter deal when it comes to installation. It costs just $49.99 for a professional to come by and set up your internet, which is quite a bit less than what you’ll pay AT&T (and a lot of other internet providers for that matter). Want to install it yourself? No problem—a self-installation kit comes at $9.99.
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, and AT&T’s fiber plans have price hikes after a year. Spectrum can get you top speeds for a good price or a relatively cheap plan if you want them.
Our HighSpeedInternet.com editorial team bases our analyses on customer input from 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 Holslin
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.