Optimum by Cablevision is a small, unique cable service provider in New England that offers decent Internet, TV, and digital phone service at competitive rates.

On the plus side, they offer better-than-average upload speeds with no annual contract. (So you won’t be punished with fees if you want to switch.) They also offer a free router with your service.

On the minus side, the quality of service can vary from area to area, and you’ll likely be sharing that free router with their public hotspot network.

Pros

  • High cable Internet speeds
  • Personalized customer service
  • Contract-free plans

Cons

  • Limited availability
  • Basic TV and DVR options

Optimum’s Coverage and Availability

Optimum Online (also known as Optimum by Cablevision) is on the smaller side among cable providers, primarily serving the tri-state area (New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania).[1]

In rural and suburban areas, Optimum is often the only true broadband option. In cities, it usually competes directly with Fiber and high-speed DSL Internet providers.

1 Tennessee Coverage & Availability Map

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COVERAGE CENSUS TRACTS

Optimum Internet Plans

While service quality varies from area to area, Optimum internet is better-liked by longtime customers than the larger nationwide cable providers. As a smaller provider, they’re able to provide a good standard of customer service.

Their internet plans are organized in a common-sense fashion according to download speed. 10 Mbps plans are branded as “Optimum 10,” 60 Mbps plans go by “Optimum 60,” and etc.

Keep in mind that the upload speeds on these plans are generally a fraction of the advertised download speeds — and that the maximum speed advertised is generally a bit higher than the actual speed you’ll get once you’ve accounted for home networking quirks, network capacity, and other factors in between Optimum’s office and your laptop.

DealsPrice MonthlyInternet SpeedPhone
BROADBAND LIGHTNING $5995 100 Mbps Cable(731) 784-5000
BASIC $2995 12 Mbps Cable(731) 784-5000

Optimum 10: Ideal for basic access (emails, browsing Facebook, etc.). Will feel limited for streaming video, although a single user should be able to stream SD video with occasional buffering.

Optimum 60: The single person or couple’s ideal plan. This should work for basic streaming and surfing needs for 1–2 users. A family with multiple users or apartment with multiple roommates will probably run into trouble if everyone tries to use it on multiple devices at the same time.

Optimum 100: Our pick for the best basic family plan. This speed and quality of service should be more than enough for a busy family or multi-member household.

Optimum 200: A good pick for “power users” who frequently use intensive applications including video conferencing and heavy games. This plan is a solid fit for home offices.

Optimum 300: Optimum recommends this plan for gamers who frequently need to download files and stream on Twitch.

Optimum 400: This plan is only available in certain markets, but it’s worth considering if you have access. This is the best performance you’ll get out of a hybrid fiber-coaxial network like Optimum’s, and should feel virtually indistinguishable from true fiber for the average user.

Optimum Internet Speeds

1 Tennessee Download Speeds Over Time


City1 Tennessee Average Speed1 Tennessee Top 10% Speeds
Humboldt, Tennessee30 Mbps66 Mbps
Medina, Tennessee47 Mbps101 Mbps

Optimum often advertises itself as superior to 100% fiber networks.

This is a bit misleading (as most marketing hype is), but it’s sometimes true on the mid-tier level, where their unusually high upload speeds compete directly with fiber.

This doesn’t hold true past the 35Mbps mark, but for the average household that’s probably more than enough.

Optimum Internet: Value vs Speed

Cablevision company building.
Cablevision wins points among current customers for small-business-style customer service. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Speeds aside, the overall value of Optimum Internet is considerably better in many areas, particularly for budget-minded customers.

Smaller households of one or two people who just surf Facebook and watch the occasional Netflix video are likely to find Optimum’s basic Internet packages more than sufficient. Thanks to those high upload speeds, even “power users” like remote workers and Youtube personalities can make it work.

Their pricing is generally cheaper than the likes of Comcast for the same speed/bandwidth.

Common questions about Cablevision

Contract-Free Pricing

Ultimately, the biggest problem with a lot of Internet providers is the contracts. Thankfully Cablevision is not one of these problematic providers.

With most other cable providers, you start out with bundles and promotions that look amazing on the surface…

…But they look considerably less amazing two years later, when your bill is 50% higher and you’re only getting half the speed you paid for. Want to leave? Say hello to a $200 early termination fee.

Optimum gets around this problem by offering excellent “promo” pricing on monthly no-contract plans. Then, they actually deliver speeds comparable to what they advertise. This strategy of delivering decent no-contract service is winning them good customer ratings compared to most other cable providers.


Router and Privacy Issues

Optimum advertises free access to their hotspot system as a perk for subscribers. Unfortunately, a lot of those “hotspots” are the Optimum-branded router that’s provided “free” along with your cable Internet plan.

While the fine print on Optimum’s site assures customers that the hotspot functionality is hardwired to use a separate network, many customers have expressed security concerns (particularly since, as of the time of this writing, there’s no “opt out” option).

The only way to opt out of the hotspot system is to purchase your own router. While it’s a drag for less tech-oriented customers, using your own router ultimately gives you more control over your home network.


Optimum Router/Modem rentals

While most Internet providers try to rent their customers router/modem “gateway” devices, Optimum actually offers a separate modem and router as part of their standard setup.

This is a little less simple to self-install for tech-averse customers, but it actually makes the service much more friendly for those who want to customize their home network.

Having a dedicated modem and router is a best practice for home networking, as it allows you to customize and update your hardware without replacing the whole system.

Optimum lists modems that are compatible with Optimum Internet on their website.

Optimum TV

Flat screen TV installed on the wall.
Cablevision competes heavily on their bundled TV/Internet pricing.

Optimum doesn’t get a lot of credit for their TV offerings online. Which is too bad, because there’s actually some good packages buried in their wide range of offerings.

The value on “bundled” Internet/TV service isn’t as amazing as some other providers — but for regular TV watchers, the channel options stand up to big players like DirecTV and DISH.

Optimum DVR: Unique Device for a Price

Optimum’s DVR is a quirky device, that tries to make up for its limited recording capacity with unique features.

Their marketing materials focus heavily on its “multi-room” functionality, which allows you to coordinate programming between different viewing stations in your house and even continue watching something in another room if you need to move.

The device also pairs nicely with the Optimum app, which has a decent interface as ISP-branded apps go.

The monthly price (over $16 as of this post) is a bit pricey, however — and it’s only one of many hidden fees that push your monthly TV bill north with Optimum.

Optimum TV Hidden Fees

On the surface, Optimum’s TV plans offer great prices compared to DirecTV. Dig into the find print, though, and you’ll find lots of hidden fees that can make that monthly bill double on a dime.

Between the DVR, receiver, premium programming, and installation fees, Optimum TV quickly starts to look a bit pricy for what it is. We recommend tallying up what you’d have to pay for your ideal channel selection and equipment rentals, and compare that closely to what a similar setup would look like with a satellite TV provider like DISH.

Unfortunately, not everyone has room for a dish in their living situation, so you may be stuck paying a premium if you want premium programming like HBO, seasonal sports, and etc.

Conclusion: Optimum is a Surprisingly Robust Option for No-Contract Cable Internet

Optimum wins big points for no-contract plans and good customer service.

They lose points for hidden fees on their TV plans and limited options on equipment such as routers and DVRs.

Their plans are surprisingly good for heavy Internet users and streamers, with impressive upload speeds that make Optimum a viable fiber alternative for price-conscious shoppers.

1 Tennessee at a Glance

Statistic1 Tennessee
Price Range$29.95 - $59.95/mo+
Connection Type(s) Cable
Customer Recommendation Rating on BroadbandNow.com51.5%
ACSI Customer Service Rating 
Netflix Ranking0th
Population Served18,975

Experts

Jessica Sims

Jessica Sims

Jessica Sims is a technology blogger and broadband industry veteran. Her background as an administrator and customer support employee for a major ISP informs her passion for helping consumers understand their service options.

James Webb

James Webb

James Webb is a tech and gadgets expert with a focus on educational content development. He draws on his background in the startup world to make complicated technologies and topics easy to understand for normal folks.

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