Windstream vs. Spectrum: Which Internet Provider Is Best for You?

Comparing two fast, flexible providers with a lot of options

  • Most plan options
    • Customer rating: N/A
    • Price: $39.99–$69.99/mo.*
    • Speed: 50–1,000 Mbps
    • Internet type: DSL, cable, fixed wireless, fiber, dial-up
    • Data cap: No cap
    • Contract: No contract
  • Best availability
    • Customer rating: 3.6
    • Price: $49.99–$89.99/mo.
    • Max Speed: 200–1,000 Mbps
    • Internet type: Cable
    • Data cap: No cap
    • Contract: No contract

Compare Windstream and Spectrum head to head

Both Windstream and Spectrum offer fast and reliable options, including speeds up to 1 Gbps. Windstream has a larger range of plans and prices, including low-priced DSL and high-speed fiber internet in some areas, giving you plenty of options. This means that whether or not you can get cheap, fast connections depends on your location. Spectrum’s internet plans all use cable connections, but it’s consistent across their entire service area, so you know what you’re getting.

Pros and cons: Windstream vs. Spectrum

Pros:

  • Fiber connections
  • Wide range of plans
  • Coverage in rural areas

Cons:

  • Limited fiber availability
  • Monthly equipment fees
  • Inconsistent pricing across service areas

Pros:

  • Simple pricing
  • Consistent availability
  • Rent-free modem

Cons:

  • No fiber options
  • Price hikes after 12 mos.

 

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

Plans and pricing: Windstream vs. Spectrum

Both Windstream and Spectrum offer speeds up to 1,000 Mbps, though Windstream has more options for low-cost plans with slower speeds. Windstream also has the lower-priced gigabit plan between the two providers.

Windstream plans and pricing

PackagePrice*SpeedDetails
Kinetic Internet by Windstream 50$39.99/mo.Up to 50 MbpsView Plan
Kinetic Internet by Windstream 200$39.99/mo.Up to 200 MbpsView Plan
Kinetic Internet by Windstream 400$39.99/mo.Up to 400 MbpsView Plan
Kinetic Internet by Windstream 1 Gig$69.99/mo.Up to 1,000 MbpsView Plan

Windstream offers a decent range of plans at different speeds and price points, delivering service over several different types of connections. This gives you the option to choose an affordable but slow DSL plan, a fast and reliable fiber plan, or something in between. The only catch is that the availability of these plans varies by location. You’ll have to check that the plan that best fits your needs is available in your area.

Pro tip:

Not sure how much speed you actually need? Get a personalized speed recommendation based on your online activities with our How Much Speed Do I Need? Tool.

Spectrum plans and pricing

PackagePrice*SpeedDetails
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 has just a handful of plans to choose from, but all are solid choices. Its most basic plan starts with 300 Mbps download speeds, which is enough to meet the needs of an average household. Spectrum also has a gigabit plan for those with much higher bandwidth needs, but it’s $20 more per month for the first 12 months compared to Windstream’s plan.

HSI badge deals

Deals and promotions: Spectrum vs. Windstream

Spectrum
Get a free, 90-day trial of Peacock Premium when you sign up for a qualifying internet plan.

Get the Deal
Windstream
Get a $100 Kinetic Visa® Prepaid Card when you sign up for a qualifying high-speed internet plan.


Get the Deal

Extra fees: Windstream vs. Spectrum

Equipment FeeInstallation FeeOther Fees
Windstream$9.99/mo.
  • $35.00 professional installation

  • Free self-installation option for DSL plans
  • $50.00 activation fee

  • $65.00 phone jack installation fee
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
  • Both Windstream and Spectrum have relatively low fees compared to many other ISPs. Notably, neither has an early termination fee, which can be one of the heftiest fees customers encounter. Both also offer cheaper self-installation options for some of their plans, allowing you to avoid some of the costs of switching.

    Despite their low fees overall, both providers have a few substantial fees that you should keep an eye out for. Windstream charges an extra $65 if they have to install a new phone jack during the installation process (which you only need to worry about if you’re installing DSL).

    Internet types: Windstream vs. Spectrum

    Internet typeDetails
    WindstreamFiber, DSL, fixed wireless, cable, dial-upView Plans
    SpectrumCableView Plans

    Windstream delivers internet using a wide range of technologies, depending on the area. Most important of these is fiber, which is the fastest and most reliable connection available. Its fiber coverage is small, but growing, though that doesn’t mean that those in more remote parts of the Windstream network are out of luck. Windstream can deliver gigabit speeds on every type of connection except DSL. So even if you have to wait for fiber to reach your neighborhood, you won’t be stuck with a slow connection.

    Spectrum provides cable internet across its entire network. Though it doesn’t offer all the advantages of a fiber connection, cable is still one of the fastest and most reliable types of connection around. Unlike fiber, cable has slow upload speeds, which can cause problems for things like livestreaming on Twitch or uploading large files.

    Data caps: Windstream vs. Spectrum

    Data CapDetails
    WindstreamNo data capsView Plans
    SpectrumNo data capsView Plans

    Neither Windstream nor Spectrum have data caps, which is a pretty significant advantage over many other providers. This makes them both excellent choices for households that use a lot of data. You probably use a lot of data if you have multiple people streaming or working from home in your house.

    Contracts: Windstream vs. Spectrum

    Contract lengthDetails
    WindstreamNo contractsView Plans
    SpectrumNo contractsView Plans

    Neither Windstream nor Spectrum require extended contracts for their internet plans, which is yet another fact that puts them miles ahead of the competition. Since you pay on a month-to-month basis, you can cancel your service at any time and never worry about facing heavy-handed cancellation fees.

    Spectrum even goes further, offering a contract buyout program that can help you switch to Spectrum, even if you’re stuck in a contract with another provider. You must keep Spectrum for at least a month before you cancel service to enjoy the discounted pricing.

    Installation: Windstream vs. Spectrum

    Installation optionsDetails
    Windstream
    • $35.00 for pro install
    • Free for self-install with DSL internet
    View Plans
    Spectrum
  • $49.99 for pro install
  • $19.99 for self-install and service activation
  • $49.99 for WiFi Pod install
  • View Plans

    Windstream and Spectrum are both among the cheapest internet providers to get up and running. They both have pretty reasonable installation fees, and both offer self-install options in some cases.

    Spectrum encourages new customers to opt for the self-install kit over a pro install due to COVID-19. However, pro install services are available for completely new installs, relocating modems, rewiring, and so on.

    Availability: Windstream vs. Spectrum

    Perhaps the biggest difference between Windstream and Spectrum is the size of their networks. While Windstream is expanding rapidly in the south and central regions of the US, Spectrum is currently over twelve times bigger, providing service coast to coast as well as in Hawaii.1

    Compare the best Windstream and Spectrum plans by entering your zip code below:

    Final call: Windstream vs. Spectrum

    We love that Windstream and Spectrum both lack data caps and long-term contracts. But we suggest going with Windstream if you’re looking for an ultrafast gigabit connection. With no fiber option, Spectrum’s gigabit plan costing $20 more per month is much less appealing.

    On the other hand, Spectrum’s all-cable network handily beats Windstream’s DSL plans. So, especially in more rural locations, it’s important to know which plans are available to you before you pick a provider.

    View Windstream Plans

    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

    Federal Communications Commission, “Fixed Broadband Deployment,” Accessed January 14, 2022.

    Author -

    Peter Christiansen writes about satellite internet, rural connectivity, livestreaming, and parental controls for HighSpeedInternet.com. 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 HighSpeedInternet.com. Her work has also been featured on Top Ten Reviews, MacSources, Windows Central, Android Central, Best Company, TechnoFAQ, and iMore.