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AT&T vs. Spectrum

If you can get AT&T Fiber, it gets you faster speeds for a lower price than Spectrum, but Spectrum is significantly better than AT&T’s DSL service.

Is AT&T or Spectrum better for you?

If your address is serviceable for AT&T and Spectrum, take a look at what each has to offer to determine which is the better provider for your home. Overall, AT&T Fiber is a better deal than Spectrum. However, if AT&T DSL is available to you instead, your best bet is to go with Spectrum.  

AT&T

  • Available to more households
  • Cheaper internet
  • Faster speeds 
  • Higher customer satisfaction

Spectrum

  • Available in more states (41 to 21)
  • You can customize your plan with add-ons

AT&T vs. Spectrum ratings

We broke down the most important considerations when buying internet and ranked each internet provider based on these five factors. We considered promotional pricing, price increases, plan options, speeds, data caps, customer satisfaction ratings and more.

AT&T Fiber scored the highest overall except for affordability and number of plans (AT&T DSL has cheaper starting prices and more plan options). While Spectrum ranks well, it has a hard time competing against AT&T Fiber due to AT&T’s superior speeds and overall value.

Our methodology

We evaluate broadband providers in four categories: affordability, performance, value and customer satisfaction.

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.

See how we review internet providers

AT&T vs. Spectrum: internet speeds and pricing

The choice between AT&T internet plans and Spectrum internet comes down to the technology they use. Fiber is faster and more reliable than cable, which is much faster and more reliable than DSL.

If you can get AT&T Fiber at your address, you should stop reading now and subscribe; it’s both faster and cheaper than Spectrum’s cable internet. But if you’re picking between AT&T’s DSL service and Spectrum, you’re probably better off with Spectrum if you plan on using the internet on a few devices at a time.

AT&T DSL plans don’t offer you much choice. You’ll get the fastest speed available at your address — anywhere from 1 to 100 Mbps — and you’ll pay $55/mo. no matter what the speed is. Spectrum’s cheapest plan is a better deal than this in every case — at least for the first year.

In year two, Spectrum’s prices increase by $25/mo. on every plan. None of AT&T’s plans have regular price increases built-in, but your bill could still go up at any time (but probably not as much as $25/mo.)

AT&T used to have a separate fee for equipment, but now the ISP’s costs include that charge, while Spectrum charges an extra $5/mo.

The United States Median Speeds for fixed broadband in April 2022 show a download speed of 151.21 Mbps and an upload speed of 21.25 Mbps.

Spectrum’s download speed average comes in at just below the median at 137.4 Mbps, according to Q1 2022 MLAB Provider Speed Test results. Their upload speed average is 15.5 Mbps.

In comparison, AT&T was the top provider scored, with a download speed of 177 Mbps and 137.8 Mbps in upload speeds. Viasat was at the bottom of that list with 19.2 down and 1.7 up.

AT&T fiber and DSL plans

Spectrum internet plans

Which internet plan should you choose?

Best overall: AT&T Fiber 300 and AT&T Internet 500

When it comes to finding the best value for internet service, AT&T Fiber and Spectrum both offer the lowest cost/Mbps plans available, making their 300 Mbps or 500 Mbps options the best choice for most families.

If you’re looking for cheap internet plans in your area, Spectrum has plans starting at $50/mo for up to 300 Mbps. AT&T’s cheapest plan costs $55/mo. and gets you 300 Mbps. Spectrum charges $5/mo. for equipment, while AT&T includes it for free, so the cheapest plans from both come providers come out to $55/mo.

Both AT&T and Spectrum offer Gig speed plans that reach download speeds of 940 Mbps with AT&T and up to 1,000 Mbps with Spectrum. The main difference between these two plans is that AT&T’s Gig speed plan offers upload speeds up to 940 Mbps and Spectrum’s Gig speed plan only offers upload speeds of up to 35 Mbps. AT&T also offers 5 Gig plans in some areas, reaching speeds as fast as 4,700 Mbps.



AT&T vs. Spectrum contracts and installation

Contracts

AT&T: AT&T internet plans do not require a contract.

Spectrum: Spectrum Internet plans are offered month-to-month, allowing subscribers to cancel service at any time without penalty. Potential Spectrum customers can also take advantage of their $500 contract buyout from a previous provider.* Learn more about the fees you’ll see on your monthly bill with each provider.

Installation

AT&T: AT&T’s professional installation fee costs up to $99, but the company is currently waiving it for online orders. Self-installation is also available in some areas.

Spectrum: Spectrum’s self-installation costs $19.99 and professional installation is $49.99. 


AT&T Fiber vs. Spectrum bundles

Bundling services used to be a good way to save money with ISPs, but neither provider offers discounts for bundling internet and TV, and Spectrum is the only one to offer real bundles at all. Cable TV packages are available with Spectrum, and the convenience of having your internet and TV bills in one place gives Spectrum the win by default.

You can add DIRECTV STREAM to your AT&T internet plan, but it won’t save you any money, either. If you’re looking to add TV service to AT&T internet, we recommend looking at other live TV streaming services like YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV, too.

AT&T vs. Spectrum TV service

AT&T does not directly offer any TV service but you can choose to add DIRECTV STREAM or DIRECTV to any AT&T internet plan (or any other TV service). Just keep in mind your AT&T and DIRECTV bill will be separate. 

Spectrum, however, does offer its own cable TV service. If you are looking for the convenience of having both services on one bill, Spectrum is the better option for you. Spectrum also offers lower starting prices for TV service than DIRECTV and DIRECTV STREAM.

  • DIRECTV STREAM package options: Four
  • Channel range: 65+ to 140+
  • Starting price range: $69.99 to $149.99/mo.*
  • DVR service: Unlimited storage included
  • DVR recordings: No limit
  • Equipment cost: $5/mo. or use your own streaming device or smart TV
  • Contract: None
  • 1 Main TV package** options with add-on options
  • Channel range: 125+ plus add-on options
  • Starting price range: $49.99.mos. 12 mos.*
  • DVR service: Starting at $4.99/mo.*
  • DVR recordings: 50 – 100 shows
  • Equipment cost: $9.99/mo. each*
  • Contract: None

Use the Spectrum channel guide and our DIRECTV STREAM channel guide to find the channel and plan you need.

The bottom line: Spectrum is the only one with TV service, but AT&T is the better choice overall 

We recommend bundling AT&T internet with DIRECTV as they offer more options overall with five AT&T Fiber speed tiers and numerous package options from both DIRECTV and DIRECTV STREAM. AT&T’s starting price is slightly higher, but its fast fiber optic internet speeds make the extra cost worth the expense. If your address is only eligible for AT&T DSL, however, look to Spectrum for more internet options and faster speeds.

Spectrum bundles feature at most three internet speed tiers and three TV package options in most areas. If you just want to have all your services on one bill, go with Spectrum.


AT&T vs. Spectrum customer satisfaction

Customer satisfaction is another category where AT&T consistently outshines Spectrum. Here are their most recent American Customer Satisfaction Index (ASCI) scores based on a scale from 1-100, for both internet and TV services.

AT&T’s 2021 ASCI score increased from 68 to 71, whereas Spectrum’s remained steady at 63. The Index considers call center/customer assistance satisfaction, variety of available plans, reliability and quality of service and more.

In the J.D. Power U.S. Residential Television Service Provider Satisfaction Study, AT&T consistently scored as the top 1st or 2nd provider in the East, South and North Central parts of the U.S. Spectrum came in at 4th and 5th across the country. According to J.D. Power, the “study measures overall satisfaction with internet service providers based on five factors: performance and reliability; cost of service; communications and promotions; billing and payment; and customer service.”


AT&T and Spectrum coverage areas

Much of AT&T’s internet coverage spans 21 states, with service primarily in the southern states, areas of the Midwest and select areas of California and Nevada. Spectrum availability includes select areas of 44 states, making it the second-largest cable internet provider in the U.S. Top service areas for each provider include:

AT&T coverage

Spectrum coverage


Final verdict

Go with AT&T Fiber if you can get it, Spectrum if you can only get AT&T DSL:

When it comes to internet service, AT&T fiber internet is a better deal than Spectrum internet for both pricing and speeds. Spectrum, however, is a better option if you can only get AT&T DSL internet at your address, or if you want your internet and TV bills under one roof.

AT&T vs. Spectrum FAQs

Is AT&T or Spectrum Internet faster?

In areas where AT&T Fiber is available, it’s faster than Spectrum. However, AT&T’s DSL service is much slower.

No, NFL SUNDAY TICKET is only available with DIRECTV. You can get the next season of NFL SUNDAY TICKET included with your order when ordering the CHOICE package or above.

AT&T offers significantly faster upload speeds than Spectrum. With AT&T fiber, you receive symmetrical upload/download speeds. Conversely, with Spectrum internet, upload speeds are significantly slower than the advertised download speeds.

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Ari Howard

Written by:

Ari Howard

Associate Writer, Broadband & Wireless Content

Ari is an Associate Writer for the Allconnect team. She primarily writes about broadband news and studies, particularly relating to internet access, digital safety, broadband-related technology and the digital d… Read more

Robin Layton

Edited by:

Robin Layton

Editor, Broadband Content

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