Charter Spectrum vs CenturyLink: Side by Side Comparison

Enter your zip code below to see if Charter Spectrum or CenturyLink offers service in your area.

Charter Spectrum vs CenturyLink

CenturyLink and Charter offer a dizzying variety of services, making it tricky to decide which makes more sense for your household. While the technologies they use to deliver your connection are different, the speeds and prices are often very similar, which pros and cons based on location. Choosing a plan comes down to details like quality of service and TV offerings.

Charter Spectrum AT A GLANCE

  • Sales: (855) 371-9051
  • Support: (877) 906-9121

(855) 371-9051

$44.99 to $44.99 / mo.

30 mbps to 300 mbps

Up to 7.0 mbps

63%63%

Cable

Current: 11th ↑ (+1)

CenturyLink AT A GLANCE

  • Sales: (855) 893-1284
  • Support: (866) 963-6665

(855) 893-1284

$29.95 to $79.95 / mo.

10 mbps to 1,000 mbps

Up to 5.0 mbps

63%63%

DSL

Current: 45th (0)

Charter Spectrum OVERVIEW

Charter Communications provides residential and business broadband cable and fiber Internet, phone, and TV under the “Spectrum” brand name. Their 2016 acquisition of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks expanded their cable network to become one of the largest in the US.

CenturyLink OVERVIEW

CenturyLink is a communications company that provides DSL and fiber Internet, phone, and TV service. Their TV offerings are marketed under the name “PRISMTV.”

Charter Spectrum INTERNET DEALS †

  • $44.99 for 100 mbps Cable
    • Up to 100 mbps w/ no data cap.
    • 1-year promo rate. Regular rate is $64.99.
    • Setup: $34.99 (Includes professional installation. WiFi activation fee is $9.99.)
    • Modem w/ WiFi: $5/mo
    • Call (855) 371-9051 to setup service.
Last updated on 6/16/2017

†All plans not available in all areas or to all customers. Verify details with Charter Spectrum.

CenturyLink INTERNET DEALS †

  • $29.95 for 40 mbps Fiber
    • 40 mbps ↓ and -- mbps
    • 1-year promo rate.
    • Contract Term: 1 year
    • Requires AutoPay enrollment and paperless billing.
    • Setup: $59.99 (Includes standard technician installation and free internet activation.)
    • Modem w/ WiFi: $9.99/mo or one-time $99.99
    • Call (855) 893-1284 to setup service.
  • $44.95 for 100 mbps Fiber
    • 100 mbps ↓ and -- mbps
    • 1-year promo rate.
    • Contract Term: 1 year
    • Requires AutoPay enrollment and paperless billing.
    • Setup: $59.99 (Includes standard technician installation and free internet activation.)
    • Modem w/ WiFi: $9.99/mo or one-time $99.99
    • Call (855) 893-1284 to setup service.
  • $45 for 10 mbps DSL
    • 10 mbps ↓ and -- mbps
    • Setup: $0 (Free standard tech installation and internet activation.)
    • Modem w/ WiFi: $10/mo or one-time $100
    • Call (855) 893-1284 to setup service.
  • $45 for 25 mbps DSL
    • 25 mbps ↓ and -- mbps
    • Setup: $0 (Free standard tech installation and internet activation.)
    • Modem w/ WiFi: $10/mo or one-time $100
    • Call (855) 893-1284 to setup service.
  • $79.95 for 1,000 mbps Fiber
    • 1,000 mbps ↓ and -- mbps
    • 1-year promo rate.
    • Contract Term: 1 year
    • Requires AutoPay enrollment and paperless billing.
    • Setup: $59.99 (Includes standard technician installation and free internet activation.)
    • Modem w/ WiFi: $9.99/mo or one-time $99.99
    • Call (855) 893-1284 to setup service.
Last updated on 6/19/2017

†All plans not available in all areas or to all customers. Verify details with CenturyLink.

Charter Spectrum: NO DATACAP FOUND

We have not found plans that include data caps. This doesn't mean Charter Spectrum doesn't have data caps, just that we haven't found them when collecting their plans. Always verify plan details before purchasing.

CenturyLink: NO DATACAP FOUND

We have not found plans that include data caps. This doesn't mean CenturyLink doesn't have data caps, just that we haven't found them when collecting their plans. Always verify plan details before purchasing.

Charter Spectrum's TECHNOLOGY

Charter Communications offers broadband Internet, TV, and phone service to consumers via their hybrid fiber coaxial (HFC) network.

Hybrid Fiber Coaxial is a broadband infrastructure that uses fiber optic cables as it’s backbone, only resorting to slower coaxial cables for the “last mile” between customer residences and a local “optical node.”[1]

The optical node translates optic signals into electric signals, which are generally distributed via existing cable TV networks. A node may serve anywhere from 50-2,000 homes in an area.

This type of connection is widely called a “cable” internet connection due to the use of coaxial cable, which was historically used to offer “cable TV.”

CenturyLink's TECHNOLOGY

Centurylink offers internet, TV, and phone service to consumers using two primary technologies: DSL and fiber-to-the-home (FTTH).

DSL is an older internet technology that uses Centurylink’s existing telephone infrastructure to deliver internet service. While DSL networks don’t offer the fastest speeds or lowest latencies, they are widely available and generally less expensive than other alternatives since they travel over the same cheap, readily available cables that carry telephone data.[2]

If you are considering DSL, make sure to check the speeds available in your area as they can vary dramatically depending on your local infrastructure and distance between your house and the provider’s local office.

Fiber-to-the-home (FTTH), on the other hand, is widely considered the next generation of consumer internet access. In an FTTH implementation, Centurylink delivers a fiber optic connection directly to your residence, resulting in higher bandwidth and lower latency. The only problem with FTTH is that installing fiber optic cables are expensive, so this type of service is not widely available and usually comes with a higher monthly cost than DSL, cable, or fixed wireless.

Charter Spectrum INSTALLATION

Installation of the hardware needed for Charter is generally straightforward. Most Charter plans are cable, which requires plugging a cable modem into your house’s existing TV jack.

For homes with working internal wiring, self-installation can be done using the equipment and instructions provided by Charter. Houses that have never been wired for Charter before, have no internal wiring, or have damages to wiring will need help from a professional technician.

Professional installation comes with a fee, but for customers who are nervous about installing hardware themselves, the fee may be worth it for ease and peace of mind.

CenturyLink INSTALLATION

CenturyLink customers have two options for installation: self-installation or professional installation.

Self-installation is generally very simple, particularly for DSL broadband. Everything needed to perform the installation, including step-by-step instructions, should come with the modem or welcome kit. The whole process generally takes no more than 40 minutes.

Professional installation is necessary if your house has never been connected to CenturyLink before, or if the customer simply doesn’t care to fiddle with the cables and settings. An appointment with a professional technician can be made directly through CenturyLink.

There is usually a fee associated with bringing in a professional, so customers with pre-wired homes who are comfortable plugging in a few cables and following simple instructions can easily save money by doing it themselves.

Charter Spectrum RATINGS AND REVIEWS

55%55% Customer Rating

55.3% recommendation rating according to 26,631 verified users.

CenturyLink RATINGS AND REVIEWS

36%36% Customer Rating

36.1% recommendation rating according to 39,636 verified users.

Charter Spectrum COVERAGE & AVAILABILITY

Charter Spectrum Interactive SVG Map showing broadband coverage.

CenturyLink COVERAGE & AVAILABILITY

CenturyLink Interactive SVG Map showing broadband coverage.

The battle for better service

Customer service matters, and not all online reviews can p trusted

When you find yourself in an area where both broadband providers offer interchangeable speeds and pricing, customer service might be the most important factor to consider. Broadband internet and phone service in particular are vital for emergencies and communication, and having a company that will respond quickly to service issues makes a huge difference.

That said, figuring out which online reviews of a provider’s customer service can be tricky. Look for two key phrases: “IP verified” and “ACSI.” IP-verified reviews use sophisticated network-detection protocols to ensure that each person leaving a review is a unique user on a computer actually on a given provider’s network. Additionally, safeguards are put in place to stop anyone from leaving a review twice, cutting out review manipulation. Ratings throughout BroadbandNow are IP-verified.

ACSI stands for the American Customer Satisfaction Index, a nationwide benchmark for customer satisfaction in the US. Experts at ASCI survey customers manually to ensure the most accurate results.

Reading the fine print

ETFs, hidden fees, and other “gotchas” to watch out for

Centurylink and Charter Communications, like most broadband providers, will often make special “sign-up promotions” to encourage new customers to sign up, and preferably bundle multiple services from their company. These promotional prices can save consumers money, but shoppers have to be careful about a few things.

First, ETFs, or “early termination fees,” could cancel out your savings if there’s a chance you’ll need to switch locations or providers in the near future. Second, surprise fees often show up on broadband bills, and it’s always worth calling your provider and complaining (or at least asking for an explanation) if you see fees that weren’t mentioned when you signed up. Third, be careful to factor in the final monthly price when comparing plans, not just the reduced sign-up promotion or bundle deal. Promotions usually time out within the year, leaving you with a bill that might be higher than you bargained for.

Last updated on 6/19/2017.

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