Charter is a big player in the home internet field. They’re also a rule-abiding player, consistently rated highly by the FCC for their straightforward pricing and accurate speed advertising. (AKA actually delivering the Internet speed advertised — which is unfortunately rare among broadband providers.)

Charter recently acquired Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. Former customers of those networks are currently being transitioned to Spectrum, which has generated some growing pains for the company.[1] That said, their network gets strong points for speed and contract-free service.

If you’re choosing between Charter Spectrum and traditional DSL service, Charter is a solid choice — especially if you want to bundle TV service with your plan.

Pros

  • High speeds as advertised
  • Transparent pricing
  • Affordable TV/Internet bundles

Cons

  • Limited plan options
  • Expensive standalone TV service

Deal Alert: Charter will pay your ETF with another provider

Charter is currently offering to pay early termination fees for subscribers who want to switch to Spectrum but are trapped in a contract by another provider. Under some circumstances, they will pay up to $500 to release your contract and establish new no-contract service from Spectrum.

Charter’s Plans: One Size Fits All

There are two ways to sell ice cream: sell every flavor and try to please everyone, or pick one that most people like. Charter follows the “pick one flavor” strategy.

This strategy of offering one basic Internet plan in every service area isn’t a huge hit with techies, but it’s honestly a good thing for the average Internet subscriber.

They spice things up a bit when it comes to TV plans, with several bundle packages depending on how much binge-watching you plan on getting into.

DealsPrice MonthlyInternet SpeedPhone
Best Internet Deal Spectrum Internet — Best Internet-Only Deal $3999 100 Mbps Cable(855) 436-5105
Spectrum TV Select + Internet $8998 100 Mbps Cable(855) 436-5105
Best Triple Play Triple Play Select – Top Internet/TV/Phone Bundle Plan $8997 100 Mbps Cable(855) 436-5105

If you're looking to compare plans, make sure to check out our detailed guide on the latest Charter Spectrum deals and promotions.

Charter Spectrum Availability

Charter Spectrum Coverage & Availability Map

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COVERAGE CENSUS TRACTS

Charter has one of the widest coverage footprints among US cable providers. Their aquisition of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks has expanded that territory dramatically, and they’ve been working to improve and standardize network performance in newly aquired areas.

Spectrum Speed Report

Charter speeds hit the “Goldilocks” mark: not too slow, but not too fast.

Power users are likely to be happier with pure fiber from a specialty provider, but for “the rest of us,” Charter’s base plans are just right for a busy household of gaming, streaming, and surfing the web.

Download Speeds Over Time


CityCharter Spectrum Average SpeedCharter Spectrum Top 10% Speeds
Birmingham, Alabama43 Mbps63 Mbps
Clarksville, Tennessee33 Mbps60 Mbps
Denton, Texas24 Mbps35 Mbps
Fort Worth, Texas43 Mbps71 Mbps
Glendale, California41 Mbps63 Mbps
Greenville, South Carolina42 Mbps63 Mbps
Kalamazoo, Michigan39 Mbps62 Mbps
Lawrenceville, Georgia36 Mbps63 Mbps
Long Beach, California42 Mbps64 Mbps
Madison, Wisconsin33 Mbps61 Mbps
Montgomery, Alabama38 Mbps63 Mbps
Pasadena, California45 Mbps82 Mbps
Rancho Cucamonga, California42 Mbps65 Mbps
Reno, Nevada39 Mbps62 Mbps
Riverside, California40 Mbps64 Mbps
Saginaw, Michigan30 Mbps61 Mbps
Saint Charles, Missouri47 Mbps114 Mbps
Saint Louis, Missouri49 Mbps109 Mbps
Victorville, California36 Mbps62 Mbps
Worcester, Massachusetts39 Mbps63 Mbps

Charter Communications is Data Cap Free

Perhaps the biggest checkmark in Charter’s favor is that they don’t have data caps.[2]

This is a great perk for Netflix junkies and streamers who want to enjoy entertainment through the Internet without worrying about getting slapped with a monster overage fee if they go over on their data usage. (Many other cable providers on the market start charging after a terabyte or so.)

Charter Spectrum Actual Speeds vs Advertised Speed

Charter has a strong reputation compared to most cable providers when it comes to delivering speeds as-advertised. The FCC rated them highly in their annual report on fixed broadband in the US, alongside other national cable providers. According to their report, 85% of test Spectrum users were able to achieve 95% of the advertised speed for their area or greater. [3]

We had someone on our team who was transferring between two cities with Spectrum service run speed tests on their service and record the results. The results were similar, with speeds taken on a weekday morning in two major metro areas yielding results within 5% or or exceeding the advertised speed:

Charter Spectrum vs Time Warner Cable: What Happens to my Old Plan?

Time Warner Cable office building.
Charter’s acquisition of Time Warner Cable has created some growing pains for customers accustomed to grandfathered budget plans. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Not all customers are happy with having their Time Warner Cable or Bright House Networks Internet plans change over to Spectrum. It can’t be avoided, though, and it’s actually a good thing for some customers, as Charter is making an effort to eliminate hidden fees and contracts in favor of one-size-fits-all pricing.[4]

Will my rate go up if I used to have TWC or Bright House Service?

In the short term, no. In the long term, probably, assuming you’re on some sort of promo rate from Time Warner Cable or Bright House that has a time limit. (New customer promos, special rates, etc.)

Many customers of Time Warner Cable and Bright House have gotten used to being able to call up their provider every year and argue for a better rate. This is great for the customers who are willing to spend a few hours on the phone every year, but it’s bad for everyone who would rather just pay one fair rate that they understand with no haggling.

Charter Spectrum isn’t grandfathering in all of those “extended promo” rates customers argued for over the years, and instead requires customers to pay the sticker price if they want service.

This is a bummer for budget shoppers and deal hunters — but it’s a good thing for the average customer who doesn’t want to get gouged while their neighbor pays half the rate for the same service.

Hidden Fees

The only real “hidden” fee we found with Charter was the router fee. Otherwise, the pricing is reasonably straightforward and they list out extra items up-front.

Modem/router Fees

Every home Internet connection requires two things to function: a modem and a router. The modem transforms cable signal into digital data, while the router creates your Wi-Fi bubble and routes traffic to your various devices.

Charter Spectrum includes the modem for free with Internet service. The router, however, costs an extra $5/month. For this reason, customers who plan to use Charter for more than a year are probably better off buying their own router from a third party outright. Charter lists general feature recommendations for router shopping on their website.

Charter Spectrum vs DSL Providers

Charter gets high marks for their surprisingly high base speed — usually in the neighborhood of 60 Mbps. (Your mileage may vary, depending on service area.)

This high speed is thanks to their hybrid fiber-coaxial cable network. Unlike DSL, which pipes Internet through phone lines, cable providers like Charter Spectrum use higher-bandwidth coaxial cables from TV networks. This isn’t as ideal as 100% fiber, but it’s usually the best choice for the average Internet-using household.

Because cable networks are underground rather than on phone lines, they’re less susceptible to storm damage and other outages, resulting in a more reliable and secure connection.

Charter Spectrum Installation: The Only Fee Spectrum Lets You Negotiate

We found that Charter’s installation fees vary from area, and according to some customers we spoke with you can sometimes even talk your way out of them if ordering over the phone. This will likely change in the future, as Spectrum is generally strict on pricing.

Compared to other cable providers, their fees were lower than average — which is a bit surprising (in a good way) considering that they offer contract-free service.

They also stick to a punctual installation schedule (advertised as “one-hour appointment window”). A nice perk for those of us who don’t have time to wait for the cable guy all day.

Charter TV Options

TV stand with gone girl on screen.
Charter offers hundreds of high-definition TV channels.

TV is another area where Charter distinguishes itself, although their plans can be pricey compared to satellite options even when bundled.

If you’re a sports fan, be sure to check the seasonal sports and sports package bundles from DirecTV and DISH before you make the call. In all other departments, we found Charter’s value to be strong.

Charter TV Plans and Channels

Charter TV comes in three flavors: Select, Silver, and Gold.

On the lower end, you’re looking at 125+ channels. On the golden end of the spectrum, you get closer to 200, including sports must-haves like NFL RedZone.

Pricing for Charter’s TV plans in steep as standalone offers, but comes down dramatically for bundled Internet/TV/phone deals. Just keep an eye for the final pricing once the promo runs out, particularly if you plan to subscribe for multiple years.

DVR options with Charter

Charter’s DVR service is decent and comes at a $11.99/month for one DVR and $19.99/month for additional units. The DVRs themselves vary in make and model depending on your service area and when you sign up, but considering the price is a third what some competitor’s charge, we consider it a good deal for a flexible setup.

Conclusion: Charter is Pricey, But Perfect for TV Bingers

To sum it up, Charter hits a lot of the sweet spots for home Internet service: no contract, no data caps, no hidden fees, reasonable pricing, and efficient installation.

What they lack in plan flexibility they make up for in pricing. Hardcore techies might fine some of the specs lacking, but for the 99% of us that just want to get online and be done with it, Charter Spectrum makes it easy and affordable to do so.


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.

Ana De Castro

Ana De Castro

Ana De Castro cut her teeth as a SAP consultant for Deloitte during the original tech boom, and now works in a communications role in the telecom industry. When she isn’t explaining technical concepts to confused consumers, she enjoys traveling with her husband and two rambunctious kids.

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