Spectrum vs WOW!: Side by Side Comparison

Enter your zip code below to see if Spectrum or WOW! offers service in your area.

Spectrum vs WOW!

WOW! and Time Warner Cable (now Spectrum) have plenty of differences for customers to consider while shopping for broadband Internet, TV, and phone service. WOW! is by far the smaller operation, with benefits in customization. Time Warner Cable, recently acquired by Charter, has all the convenience and dependability that a nationwide communications corporation offers.

Charter Spectrum AT A GLANCE

  • Sales: (877) 587-2569
  • Support: (833) 780-1880

(877) 587-2569

$44.99 to $44.99 / mo.

100 mbps to 940 mbps

10 mbps to 35 mbps

63%63%

Cable

Current: 8th ↑ (+1)

WOW! AT A GLANCE

  • Sales: (888) 607-2611
  • Support: (866) 496-9669

(888) 607-2611

$29.99 to $49.99 / mo.

5.0 mbps to 1,000 mbps

--

--

Cable

Current: 6th ↑ (+1)

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.

WOW! OVERVIEW

WOW! is a bundled cable TV, broadband Internet, and phone provider. The name “WOW!” stands for “Wide Open West.” The company also offers fiber Internet connectivity in select areas.

Spectrum INTERNET DEALS †

  • $44.99 for 100 mbps Cable
    • Up to 100 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload speeds w/ no data cap.
    • 1-year promo rate. Regular rate is $64.99.
    • Setup: $49.99 (Includes professional installation.)
    • Modem included.
    • Call (877) 587-2569 to setup service.
Last updated on 9/20/2018

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

WOW! INTERNET DEALS †

  • $29.99 for 100 mbps Cable
    • 100 Mbps ↓ and -- Mbps ↑ w/ no data cap.
    • 1-year promo rate. Regular rate is $49.99.
    • Contract Term: 2 years with up to $345 ETF
    • In months 13-24, the rate will increase to $39.99/mo.
    • Setup: $0 (Installation is free when ordered online.)
    • Modem: $10/mo
    • Call (888) 607-2611 to setup service.
  • $49.99 for 500 mbps Cable
    • 500 Mbps ↓ and -- Mbps ↑ w/ no data cap.
    • 1-year promo rate. Regular rate is $69.99.
    • Contract Term: 2 years with up to $345 ETF
    • In months 13-24, the rate will increase to $59.99/mo.
    • Setup: $0 (Installation is free when ordered online.)
    • Modem: $10/mo
    • Call (888) 607-2611 to setup service.
Last updated on 9/16/2018

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

Spectrum: NO DATACAP FOUND

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

WOW!: NO DATACAP FOUND

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

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.”[3]

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.”

WOW!'s TECHNOLOGY

WOW! offers a variety of broadband connection types, including cable, DSL, fixed wireless, and fiber, often bundled with cable television and phone offerings. As of 2016, their fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) is available in select areas and scheduled to expand based on consumer demand.

Cable broadband, WOW!’s most prevalent option, is usually delivered via hybrid fiber coaxial (HFC) networks. In this type of network, most of the distance between the provider and consumer is covered by high-speed fiber optic cables. Once it reaches a neighborhood, the fiber terminates at a node where data is switched from optic signal to electrical signal for transmission over existing coaxial copper television networks.[4]

While pure fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) connections are the “gold standard” of next-generation broadband technologies — delivering speeds up to 1Gbps in ideal scenarios — WOW! is working to deploy DOCSIS 3.1 to their HFC networks. This advanced protocol, an improvement on the current DOCSIS protocols used to transmit binary data over coaxial cables, will allow some HFC networks to achieve gigabit speeds rivaling FTTH offerings.

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.

WOW! 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.

Spectrum RATINGS AND REVIEWS

50%50% Customer Rating

50.0% recommendation rating according to 58779 verified Spectrum users.

WOW! RATINGS AND REVIEWS

55%55% Customer Rating

55.4% recommendation rating according to 8117 verified users.

Spectrum COVERAGE & AVAILABILITY

Charter Spectrum Interactive SVG Map showing broadband coverage.

WOW! COVERAGE & AVAILABILITY

WOW! Interactive SVG Map showing broadband coverage.

Hidden fees and other considerations

Always keep an eye on the fine print

There are two big factors to keep in mind when signing up for promotional deals with a provider: ETFs (early termination agreements) and promotion length. ETFs matter because you’re essentially locked in with that provider for as long as the contracts states, and it might not possible to get a refund for it even if you have a legitimate reason for breaking.

Promotion lengths matter because the final, official monthly cost you pay for service should be factored in when you compare prices — unfortunately, many consumers fall into the trap of only comparing the promotional price, which is temporary. Beyond promotions, also keep an eye on the line items when you get bills. If anything is confusing or wasn’t there the previous month, give the company a call and ask for help explaining it. Understanding what you’re paying for is key to making sure you aren’t’ losing out on price.[1]

Modems and routers are cheaper than you might think

Rental fees, on the other hand, can add up quick

Modem and router rentals are a standard part of the most Internet subscriptions. Usually, customers are provided with a “plug-and-play” combo device that makes installation easy. While the monthly fees for this hardware may looks small, it actually adds up to the cost of simply buying one within a year or so. After that, customers are essentially paying for the same old equipment over and over again.[2]

Consider buying your own, as the half hour it takes to configure it properly will be well worth the hundreds of dollars you could save in the long term. Just keep in mind that not every provider will be compatible with every router, so renting is actually a good option for people who relocate frequently. Renting a router also offers benefits for less technically-minded consumers, since the provider will take care of replacing it if there’s every trouble.

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