Charter Spectrum Internet Review 2021
Charter Spectrum is the third largest internet service provider in the US and available in most states, but their most coverage is across California, New York, and Texas. They offer high speed broadband cable and fiber internet plans, but while their cable plans are widely available, fiber options are still somewhat limited considering the size of the provider.
- No annual contracts
- No data caps
- No modem lease charges
- Very limited fiber availability for residential customers
- Standard rates kick in after 12 or 24 months
- Installation fees (for internet and Wi-Fi too)
Packages and Pricing
Charter Spectrum Internet has a basic Spectrum Internet plan that is available to most of their customers. Then, eligible customers can purchase upgrades to this plan on top, but eligibility depends on location and coverage.
The following plans and upgrades are based on Lakeshore Dr, Lexington KY 40502:
Their starting plan is available from $49.99 per month, and includes a download speed that starts at 100Mbps (or 200Mbps in select areas with fiber coverage and speed upgrade options) which is fine for basic browsing and low-impact users and small households.
Spectrum Internet Ultra
The next tier plan costs $69.99 per month and delivers download speeds that start at 400Mbps. This speed is sufficient for HD and Ultra streams, downloads, and gaming of a medium sized household.
Spectrum Internet GIG
Then there appears to be a large price and plan jump to the highest tier that costs $109.99 per month delivering download speeds up to 940Mbps (the final 60Mbps is reserved for speed delivery). It’s the ultimate plan for large households, heavy-duty users, and multiple HD streams at the same time.
With all plans, customers will get an online protection plan with a security suite and a modem at no additional charge which differs from a lot of other providers who charge extra for security and modems.
The best thing about the Charter Spectrum plans is that none of them have data caps, which makes them a good choice for super users who engage in data-heavy activities. However, it is important to note that the above promotional prices are available for the first 12 or 24 months. The length of the promotional pricing period depends on the area, and after that, standard rates will apply. The monthly fee typically increases between $21 and $26.
Network Management and Performance
As with most providers, Charter Spectrum manages its network performance, and makes it clear that users might not be able to get the speeds advertised for each package. This is because actual speeds can vary according to a number of factors and conditions beyond their control so you should always check your speeds at your location before purchasing services.
The following list of fees that customers should be aware of is based on the Lexington, KY, metropolitan area and is effective as of September 2019 but they may differ slightly depending on your location.
- Standard Installation Fee – All new customers will have to pay an installation fee of $49.99 for Charter’s standard and Ultra packages and there is currently no promotion that would waive it.
- Spectrum Gig Installation Fee – For customers who choose Spectrum Gig, the installation fee is substantially higher at $199.99. Luckily, if you order their Gig internet plan online, the fee will be discounted by $150, and you’ll only have to pay $49.99.
- Wi-Fi Activation Fee – In addition to the installation fee, customers will have to pay a $9.99 Wi-Fi activation fee but again this is waived for all online orders.
- Self-Installation & Wi-Fi Self Installation – These are also charged, with each service costing a one-time $9.99 fee. The fee is waived for all online orders.
- Move Transfer Fee – If you want to move their Charter Spectrum services, you will have to pay a one-time charge of $49.99.
- Re-Connection Fee – If your services were disconnected as a result of unpaid bills, a reconnection fee of $4.99 will be applied to get the services back up and running.
- Unreturned Equipment Fee – While there are no early termination fees since there are no contracts, there are still fees pertaining to unreturned equipment. Customers are required to pay $59 or $61 depending on the equipment outstanding.
As each area has their own rates, Charter Spectrum provides their users with a rate card for each area. You can check out the rates for your area on the following link: Spectrum Rate Card.
Note: These are standard rates, and you might actually be eligible for discounts so it’s important to check.
Your Modem and Router
Charter Spectrum provides a modem and/or gateway with all of their internet plans, and they are one of the few internet service providers that won’t charge a monthly fee on top.
They have a wide selection of DOCSIS 3.0 and DOCSIS 3.1 modems, wireless routers, and modem and router combos available. You can see the whole list here, and download user manuals that help with setup and troubleshooting. They also offer modem/voice combo models and specialized fiber equipment such as UPS units, bridging units, and terminal adapters.
You can also use your own modem as long as they are authorized for the applicable speed. You can view the list of approved models here.
That said, if you want to have Wi-Fi coverage as well, you’ll need to pay a $5 fee for a Wi-Fi router.
Note: If you’re using your own modem, you won’t be offered the Wi-Fi upgrade so you’ll have to use your own router too. It’s best to check with customer support whether you have a model that’s approved before choosing to use your own modem.
Features and Benefits
Charter Spectrum will buy out existing contracts and cover up to $500 in early termination fees. Customers should be aware that they will have to order new services at Charter Spectrum and end their contract with the current ISP. Then, they will have to send a copy of the bill from the previous provider and circle the early termination fee listed on that bill. Only customers who order and install a qualifying Triple Play or limited Double Play bundle are eligible, and the offer might not be available in all areas. You can find the contract buyout form here.
Spectrum Internet Assist
An interesting feature that Charter also offers is an affordable high speed internet program for qualifying households. With this package, qualified customers will get an internet connection with 30Mbps download speeds and 4Mbps upload speeds for only $14.99 per month. This program also has no data cap, and comes with an internet modem and the ability to add home Wi-Fi for an additional $5 per month. To qualify, members will have to be recipients of any of the following programs:
- The National School Lunch Program (NSLP)
- The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) of the NSLP
- Supplemental Security Income (for members of ages 65 and above only)
Some restrictions apply, for example, customers who have had a subscription 30 days prior to requesting this service, or those with an existing debt to Charter Spectrum services will not be eligible.
Apple TV Support
Spectrum TV subscribers are eligible to watch their favorite Live TV and On Demand programs via the Spectrum app on Apple TV. Users should be aware that for some content, a subscription might be required.
30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
Customers can test Spectrum internet services for a whole month before fully committing and if you’re not satisfied with the service or if the speeds are very low with blackouts, you can get your money back as long as you request it within 30 days of installation.
There’s a 30-day money-back option for new residential customers that is valid when you cancel the service within 30 days of installation. Just be aware that the refund might take up to 60 days.
Charter Spectrum has a wide selection of ways customers can contact them:
- Their Ask Spectrum virtual assistant will help with simple inquiries. At the start of conversation, users will have to provide their ZIP code and then they can write their questions. If the chatbot can’t help, the inquiry will be escalated and connected with customer support.
- Users can call customer support on a dedicated support number: (833) 267-6094.
- Support is also available in store
- In addition, Spectrum actively posts on Twitter about important product and service updates, so following them there is not a bad idea if you’re a customer.
Their website also has a wide selection of support topics and guides that customers can use for self-help. The topics cover internet issues and FAQ, as well as billing, account, home security, and other topics. Internet topics are divided into easy to access categories about internet equipment, connecting to the network and Wi-Fi, installation guides, online security, parental controls, and more.
Spectrum customers on the whole seem to be satisfied with the services they get, with the most common complaints listed being lower than advertised speeds. While this can be frustrating to many customers, it’s not uncommon in the industry as a result of a variety of factors, such as the connection or device type over the internet. Wireless speeds will also always be slower than wired speeds.
Note: If you have devices where you need faster reliable speeds, it’s best to use a wired connection.
Ways to Save on Charter Spectrum
Spectrum is quite forthcoming about their fees, so it’s easy for customers to find ways to save and avoid nasty surprises on their monthly bills. Here are some good ways to save when choosing Charter Spectrum:
Bundle Your Services
When opting for Spectrum Voice, their phone service, it will cost only $9.99 extra with an internet deal. International calls are available as an upgrade for $5 per month. The TV options (TV Select, TV Silver, and TV Gold) are available at discounted rates as well, and will be price-locked for as long as the internet service is price-locked as well. This can mean up to 24 months of price lock before standard rates apply and you can make a considerable saving.
There are a lot of additional fees and setup costs that can be greatly discounted or removed altogether just by ordering online. The most noticeable discount is the Spectrum Gig package installation fee which will be discounted by $150 just for making an online purchase!
Use Your Own Equipment
If you plan to stick with Charter Spectrum, you will be happy to hear that they don’t charge extra for their modems. The lease is included in the internet service price, but the router that enables Wi-Fi coverage of the home isn’t part of the deal. This means that you’re better off using your own equipment than paying a Wi-Fi router lease if you’re planning long-term.
Check Speeds Before Purchase
All plans are advertised as “up to,” meaning that some areas might experience slower speeds, so it’s best to check the maximum possible speed that you’ll receive consistently before purchasing their services. Even after doing this it’s important to double check before 30 days is up so you can get a full refund and look for alternative providers.
Charter Spectrum Internet offers really good internet deals. Their basic Spectrum Internet plan is available in all of their DSL and fiber areas, with speeds usually starting at 100Mbps or 200Mbps mark and the fact they have option for low-income households is a huge plus. The promotional pricing is very good, and promotional periods last long enough to make them worthwhile. What really seals the deal is the fact that they have no data caps or speed slowdowns after a certain data threshold, and the equipment lease is free of charge. Just watch out for unnecessary fees and make sure you get all the discounts possible.