Is AT&T or Optimum better?
The choice between AT&T and Optimum is a fairly easy one. If AT&T Fiber is available in your area, almost everyone should go with that. But if you can only get AT&T’s DSL service — confusingly called AT&T Internet — most people will be better off with Optimum.
It essentially comes down to connection type. Fiber internet is faster and more reliable than cable internet, which is leagues ahead of DSL. That said, if you can only get AT&T Internet (DSL) or Optimum and don’t need a ton of speed, you can save a lot of money by going with AT&T. That’s because Optimum has exorbitant price increases after the first year. No matter which plan you choose, your price will go up by over $70/mo.
The difference between the two is neatly summed up by the 2022 American Customer Satisfaction Index ratings. AT&T received the third highest score of any provider in the industry, while Optimum received the lowest.
Here’s how the two providers compare in every key category:
- Availability: AT&T internet is available in 23 states, while Optimum internet is available in 21. Roughly 48% of AT&T customers have fiber, with the remainder subscribed to AT&T Internet.
- Price: Because Optimum increases rates by $70/mo. in year two, AT&T is significantly cheaper in the long run, regardless of whether you get its DSL or fiber optic service.
- Speeds: AT&T Fiber has the edge when it comes to speed. It tops out at 4,700 Mbps in some areas, compared to 940 Mbps for Optimum.
- Customer satisfaction: AT&T receives some of the highest customer satisfaction scores in the industry, while Optimum typically gets some of the lowest.
AT&T vs. Optimum ratings
To compare internet providers, we rated each of them on four categories: affordability, performance, value and customer satisfaction. AT&T Fiber scores way ahead of Optimum in every metric, while it’s more of a toss-up between AT&T Internet and Optimum. AT&T Internet is significantly more affordable, but you won’t get nearly as fast speeds. Overall, customers report fewer complaints with AT&T’s service than Optimum.
|Category||AT&T Fiber||AT&T Internet (DSL)||Optimum|
How we score internet providers
We evaluate broadband providers in four categories: affordability, performance, value and customer satisfaction. Each category contains multiple sub-factors, all of which are weighted differently to impact the provider’s overall score.
For each sub-factor, we score all providers on a continuous scale of one to five, relative to the industry as a whole. Because the average download speed in America is currently 180 Mbps, for example, we assigned all plans with download speeds between 100 and 299 Mbps a score between three and four. Xfinity’s 200 Mbps plan received a 3.50 score for download speed, while Spectrum’s 400 Mbps plan got a 4.16.
We only considered standardized data points in our scoring system. More abstract data like consistency of service and brand reputation is still part of our analysis, but we opted to let our writers address them in the context of each review.Learn more about our methodology
AT&T vs. Optimum internet
AT&T and Optimum internet plans have speeds and prices in every range available. The tables below show what you can get from each provider.
AT&T fiber and DSL plans
|AT&T plan||Allconnect score||Starting price||Price after 12 mos.||Download speed||Upload speed|
|Fiber Internet 300||4.39/5||$55.00/mo.*||$55.00/mo.*||300 Mbps||300 Mbps|
|Fiber Internet 500||4.43/5||$65.00/mo.*||$65.00/mo.*||500 Mbps||500 Mbps|
|Fiber Internet 1000||4.46/5||$80.00/mo.*||$80.00/mo.*||1,000 Mbps||940 Mbps|
|2 GIG||4.21/5||$110.00/mo.*||$110.00/mo.*||2,000 Mbps||2,000 Mbps|
|5 GIG||4.11/5||$180.00/mo.*||$180.00/mo.*||4,700 Mbps||4,700 Mbps|
|Internet 10||2.54/5||$55.00/mo.**||$65.00/mo.**||10 Mbps||1 Mbps|
|Internet 18||2.60/5||$55.00/mo.**||$65.00/mo.**||18 Mbps||1 Mbps|
|Internet 25||2.68/5||$55.00/mo.**||$65.00/mo.**||25 Mbps||2 Mbps|
|Internet 50||2.89/5||$55.00/mo.**||$65.00/mo.**||50 Mbps||10 Mbps|
|Internet 100||3.29/5||$55.00/mo.**||$65.00/mo.**||100 Mbps||20 Mbps|
*PABP & Paperless billing + taxes. Price includes $5/mo. AutoPay & Paperless billing discount (within 2 bills). Prices updated 8/1/22.
**ABP & Paperless billing + taxes after $5/mo. AutoPay & Paperless billing discount (within 2 bills). Incl. 1TB data/mo.; overage chrgs apply. Prices updated 8/1/22.
AT&T’s DSL plans cost a flat rate regardless of what speed you get. AT&T will simply provide the fastest plan available at your address.
Optimum internet plans
|Optimum plan||Download speed||Upload speed||Starting price*||Allconnect score|
|Optimum 300||300 Mbps||20 Mbps||$30.00/mo.*||3.40/5|
|Optimum 500||500 Mbps||20 Mbps||$50.00/mo.*||3.41/5|
|Optimum 1 Gig||940 Mbps||35 Mbps||$65.00/mo.*||3.61/5|
*Pricing per month plus taxes for length of contract. Additional fees and terms may apply. Pricing varies by location and availability. All prices subject to change at any time. May or may not be available based on service address. Last updated 8/1/22.
For most people, 300 Mbps of download speed will be plenty of bandwidth for all their internet needs. But if you do a lot of gaming, streaming 4K content or just have several people using your connection at once, it might be worth upgrading to AT&T Fiber 500. Even with all that speed, it’s still pretty affordable at just $65/mo. with equipment fees included.
Surprisingly, one of the fastest internet plans from AT&T and Suddenlink is also the cheapest. AT&T Fiber 300 costs $55/mo. For comparison, Suddenlink’s cheapest plan starts at $30/mo. but it goes up to $100/mo. after 12 months.
AT&T Fiber 5 Gig is one of the fastest internet plans you can get anywhere in the country. We’ll be honest, 4,700 Mbps is way more than most people need. But if you live in a house with a ton of connected smart home devices and do some serious gaming, having the fastest download and upload speeds might be worth the higher price tag.
AT&T vs. Optimum contracts, installation, data caps and equipment
Pricing is never simple when it comes to internet service. No matter which provider you choose, you’ll have to factor in a number of extra fees to calculate the final price you’ll see on your monthly bill. Here’s how AT&T and Optimum compare when it comes to added costs:
- Contracts: Neither AT&T or Optimum require contracts for internet service.
- Installation: AT&T and Optimum are both currently waiving installation fees on all internet plans.
- Data caps: AT&T has no data caps on its fiber optic plans and 1GB caps on its DSL plans. Optimum has unlimited data on all plans.
- Equipment fees: AT&T doesn’t have any equipment fees. You’ll pay an extra $10/mo. if you rent your modem/router through Optimum.
AT&T vs. Optimum bundles
AT&T and Optimum both offer internet and TV bundles that can make shopping for home services convenient and save you money in the process. Bundling internet and TV can also get you service or equipment upgrades, like free premium channels or speed upgrades. Here are some popular bundle offers from AT&T and Optimum that may be available in your area.
DIRECTV STREAM Entertainment + AT&T Fiber 300
- Starting at $124.99/mo.*
- Speeds up to 300 Mbps
- No internet data caps
- 160+ live TV channels
- SHOWTIME®, STARZ®, EPIX®, and Cinemax® included for first 3 months
Bundle savings: $0/mo.
Optimum Select TV and Internet 300
- Starting at $135.00/mo.**
- Speeds up to 300 Mbps
- No data caps
- 290+ TV channels
Bundle savings: $0/mo.*
*Autopay & Paperless bill req’d for Internet. Ltd. avail/areas. Reward card: Redemption req’d. As of 8/1/22.
**Pricing per month plus taxes for length of contract. Additional fees and terms may apply. Pricing varies by location and availability. All prices subject to change at any time. May or may not be available based on service address. Last updated 8/1/22.
Best overall for bundles: AT&T
While AT&T doesn’t actually provide any savings when you bundle internet and TV service, we still think it’s a better option for most people. You’ll have more flexibility in your channel lineups when choosing DIRECTV STREAM or DIRECTV, and even though its bundles aren’t discounted, you’ll still end up paying less in the long run than you would with Optimum.
AT&T vs. Optimum customer satisfaction
With help from about 250,000 real consumers, the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) gives internet providers an annual score based on evaluations of quality and experience. Additionally, thousands of Consumer Reports readers grade their experience with internet providers every year. Taken together, these scores can be a great way to judge a provider before committing to service.
|Provider||2022 ASCI score||Consumer Reports score|
Customers are clearly a lot happier with AT&T. It has the third highest score of any provider with ASCI, while Optimum has the lowest.
The gap wasn’t quite as large with Consumer Reports, but Optimum still earned the lowest possible scores in every category.
The bottom line
If AT&T Fiber is available in your area, this is an easy choice. It’s both the cheapest and fastest of the two — a rare feat for an internet provider. But if you’re choosing between AT&T Internet (DSL) and Optimum, the decision gets a little more complicated.
Optimum offers far better speeds than AT&T’s DSL plans, but you’ll pay a lot more for them, especially after the first year. In year two, Optimum plans will cost anywhere from $100/mo. to $140/mo. AT&T’s DSL plans, for comparison, cost $55/mo. in year one and $65/mo. in year two.
But AT&T’s DSL plans are usually significantly slower. They range anywhere from 10 to 100 Mbps download speed, and you’ll automatically get the fastest plan available. If the speeds available are on the higher end of that range, you can probably get by just fine. But you’ll struggle to do things like stream video and work from home on just 10 Mbps.
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Written by:Joe Supan
Senior Writer, Broadband Content
Joe Supan is the senior writer for Allconnect and MyMove. He has helped build the proprietary metrics used on Allconnect’s review pages, utilizing thousands of data points to help readers navigate these comple… Read more
Edited by:Robin Layton
Editor, Broadband Content
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