You have likely heard of both Spectrum Internet and Xfinity Comcast before. If you are reading this article, you are probably hoping to get a more direct comparison, whether you are thinking of switching, getting an internet package for your home for the first time, or are planning to move soon and are checking out the options. No matter the case, you want to know more about the companies that could be providing your internet service, and you deserve to know everything you can.
Here are our general thoughts on both Spectrum Internet and Xfinity Comcast and the information you need to know to make the best choice between them:
Before you look too deeply into things such as data caps and customer service, you should first understand what plans are available from each provider. After all, not much else will matter if your plan cannot give you the download speed your household needs. Therefore, we ask that you check the tables below and note what plans look most interesting to you and perhaps reference what plans listed here are available in your area.
Among the plans from both providers, you can expect very similar things, with mostly cable plans on offer. In fact, this is a rare comparison where DSL plans are not on offer, and Xfinity Comcast has only a couple of fiber plans available, one of which is for a small subset of the population only. What you will need to do here to choose between the providers is to determine the speed you and your household will be happy with and figure out the plan that provides the best value from there.
Top Plans and Options
So out of all the plans listed in the two charts above, which ones are the most deserving of your consideration? While we cannot go into detail about every plan, we can point you towards some clear paths.
If you are looking for the best plan possible without any consideration for price, you will want to get the Gigabit or Gigabit Pro plan from Xfinity Comcast. That being said, $300 a month for 2000 Mbps is a big ask, and it is unlikely that you will need download speeds that fast, as least for what you will be paying. Gigabit internet is plenty for modern households. If fiber is not available, then the Spectrum Internet GIG plan is the closest equivalent if a bit more unreliable.
Outside of this, the Performance Starter plan from Xfinity can be a good choice if all you want is the most basic level of access. Still, even then, we think customers will be happier with the Performance Select plan for basic household access, especially as it is only $10 a month more expensive. Middle of the road customers will want to weigh their bank accounts and their need for speed to find the right fit, but Xfinity Comcast generally provides more value from their plans.
However, you may be interested in a bundle, which changes the pricing game as a whole for customers. With that in mind, we strongly encourage you to consider plan selection holistically and weight the total costs instead of just looking at the plans.
What fees can you expect to find when you look at your bill for the first time or each month? We promise it will not just be the price of the plan you are paying for, and other charges can easily tip the scales, so let us take a look at the most common fees from each provider:
Professional Installation Fees: If you sign up for Spectrum Internet or Spectrum Internet Ultra as your plan, then to get professional installation, you will need to pay $49.99. This is a relatively standard, if even cheap, fee. More alarming is the professional installation fee for the Spectrum GIG plan, which is $199.99. That is the cost of several months of service.
Self-Installation Fee: You may not need to have a professional come out if you are confident in your ability to set up the connection. If this is the case, you can just pay $9.99 and work on it yourself. However, note that this is not always available, so ask about it when possible and plan on paying the professional fee.
Wi-Fi Activation Fee: This is a unique and unusual fee, given that you will already be paying an installation fee of one form or another, but you can expect to pay an additional $9.99 to activate your network.
Installation Fee: To get professional installation for Xfinity, you will be paying about $60 to $90. This may decrease depending on whether you order your plan online. However, if you are willing to handle things yourself, you can get this fee reduced to $15 or less by opting for self-installation, and you can still get support with it if needed.
Equipment Rental Fees: You can rent a modem and router from Xfinity for the price of $11 to $14 a month. You can also rent additional equipment from them at an additional cost if you need a larger network.
Cancellation Fees: You will almost certainly be entering a service contract with Xfinity Comcast when you sign up with them, and if you leave that contract early, you will likely be subject to a cancellation fee. This can become sizable but will vary depending on your plan and the length of time remaining on your contract at the time of cancellation.
Unlimited Data: While not always applicable, unfortunately, there are places where you will experience a data cap on your plan. More on that later, but for now, know that to remove that data cap, you will need to pay a sizable $50 a month, which makes most plans significantly more expensive.
While the above are the most common and important fees, you might also encounter some additional ones on your bill. These are usually taxes, regional fees, late fees, and other common items to every ISP, unavoidable, and not a useful metric for comparison.
Internet service providers do not necessarily just provide internet service. Many of them are general telecommunications or cable companies, and as such, provide TV and phone services (sometimes among others) on top of the internet service you expect. And you can get these services bundled together to save on the total cost, sometimes significantly so. Therefore, considering potential bundles is a vital part of selecting the provider for your household.
Xfinity Comcast does things a little differently from most providers. They do not have any traditional bundles, but they do have a TV streaming service called X1 that they will be happy to pair with their internet service plans. Packages start at $80 a month, and you will want to check to see if the channel or programming selection is up your alley before making any commitments.
As for Spectrum Internet, Spectrum is also a well-known cable television service provider, so naturally, they have several options all setup and waiting for most customers. There are usually several channel packages to choose from, so you should review all of them when possible and see which one, if any, is worth it for you. Phone service options are also available, and prices are liable to change after 12 months, so read the fine print.
If you were to sign up with either of these companies, what would the setup process be like, and what could you expect in terms of equipment?
Spectrum Internet customers can either do things via self-installation or have a professional setup scheduled (which may be required for some homes). Spectrum also provides equipment at no cost, and while the exact model might vary, it will be good enough for your home. You do have the option of using your own equipment, however.
If you work with Xfinity Comcast, you will find that the xFI Gateway on offer is excellent and should serve your household well. You'll also find that home installation is a quick and easy process, whether you are doing it yourself or scheduling time for a professional to come out.
Customer service can be the deciding factor when picking between two companies. Bad service can ruin a day or even ruin a service for you, where you will dread the day you have to deal with a bad agent again because your connection was not fixed properly the first time. And since ISPs often have a (deserved) bad reputation for customer service, it's doubly important you know what you are getting into ahead of time.
Spectrum Internet generally has a middle of the road reputation for customer service, with some good representatives working for them and some problems they have to deal with, such as a shortage of representatives (which can lead to longer wait times). However, you can generally trust that your problems will get addressed and addressed professionally, and improvements are being made regularly.
Xfinity Comcast does not have a good reputation whatsoever for customer service, and complaints against them come in just about every form imaginable. While they seem to be making efforts to change in recent times, it is still best not to expect too much.
Customer Satisfaction and Reviews
While we might be able to give you a general impression of each service provider on our own, we find that looking over customer reviews and impressions is a vital part of evaluating an ISP, as customers have the long-term experience to draw upon. The sheer number of them allows us to notice trends and issues that a single reviewer might not run into. Therefore, here is what we found regarding both Spectrum Internet and Xfinity Comcast from customer reviews:
· Technical support got rave reviews from some customers. Some people went out of their way to compliment the customer service representatives they worked with fixing a problem with their connection. While we cannot expect this to be the norm, it does show that some excellent people are working there.
· While the speed is relatively solid for a cable provider and there are fewer slowdowns than can be expected, there were quite a few reviews that noted that service went out at times, interrupting potentially important calls or causing a disruption in content streaming or online gaming.
· Some customers were particularly unhappy when Spectrum Internet was effectively the only ISP in town. Whether this was just the customer's perception or not, they felt as though their concerns were not heard because they could not go anywhere else to get service.
· While Xfinity prices are relatively low for the moment, there are reports from customers that prices will sometimes increase substantially after the first year. Make sure you read up on what prices will be in the long run when making your decision.
· There were issues with the technology and connections at times for some customers. And while this could happen with any provider, the more concerning part was that customers found it extremely difficult to get a fix or help. Customers reported getting the runaround with various phone calls getting ignored, and other unacceptable situations.
· Related to the above, customer service was a common complaint when customer service could actually be reached in the first place. There are signs of improvement in recent years based on customer reviews, but there is a lot of work left to do.
Data Caps, Limitations, and Potential Problems
If you are a power user, 4K streaming enthusiast, or someone who frequently downloads large files, then you are probably worried about and paying close attention to the possible data caps ISPs might institute with some or all of their plans. These caps can lead to restrictions on your wallet or service usage, changing your mind about a company. So, let us look at what you might have to deal with for each provider.
Xfinity Comcast utilizes data caps in some areas for some plans, which can be a problem for many. It is a 1TB data cap, and the price to have it removed is $50 per month, which is just too much a lot of (if not most) users. We recommend checking how much data you plan on using each month before signing up for an Xfinity Comcast plan and checking if the data caps are applicable in your area.
Spectrum Internet is entirely different and has no data caps on any of its plans. If you get a plan from them, you will be able to use it to your heart's content. If you are a power user, Spectrum might make the right choice even if it does not have fiber service plans.
Additional Important Information
Availability: If you have not done so already, we suggest you use this website's tools and pages to determine that both of these providers are in your area and then which plans from each provider (and even others, if you have not checked yet) are available. Only with that knowledge can you make an educated decision and avoid wasting time.
Limited-Time Deals: While not common, depending on your area, and if you have lucky timing, you might be able to find a good deal from one of these providers. While we do not consider limited special offers for the sake of comparing the providers, you absolutely should consider them when making your final choice, both in terms of which provider and which plan to go with. Just be careful as to what terms you agree to.
Service Types: As much as anything else, except perhaps the base download speed, the service type you are working with will determine the general experience you will have with your connection. Given that between Spectrum and Xfinity, there are several service types, we ask that you learn the following notes about each:
Cable internet, while certainly faster than DSL and based on cable television lines to transmit information, has a few issues. First, the upload speeds are poor, much like DSL connections. More interestingly, you may share bandwidth with your neighbors, as the cable lines can become overburdened if there is too much demand from people using the same service in your neighborhood. This can make the service less than reliable at times.
Fiber internet is, without a doubt, the fastest and most reliable internet service type available today. Utilizing fiber-optic wires made of thin glass strands that transmit information rapidly, fiber customers can expect excellent connection consistency, unbeatable upload speeds, and the best download speeds the industry has to offer. Unfortunately, due to the infrastructure involved, it is the least commonly available service type.
While we cannot give a perfect recommendation to every family in America, nor can we tell what is best for your household, we can summarize our findings and help guide you and your family to the best possible decision. We recommend abiding by these general guidelines and preferences:
You Should Work with Spectrum Internet if:
· You do not want to deal with a data cap on your plan.
· You are looking for a wider pool of cable TV bundling options to choose from.
· You are looking for better customer service.
You Should Work with Xfinity Comcast if:
· You are just looking for an internet connection for your household and are interested in getting the most value from your plan possible.
· You are looking for a fiber service connection.
Of course, the above recommendations are just general guidelines, and every household is a mixture of different priorities, and you might come to a different conclusion. Think carefully about your decision, and you cannot go wrong.
Both companies have quite a few strengths in many areas, and some of them overlap. However, you can only realistically have one ISP, and you must choose between them, carefully weighing the plans and your priorities for internet service (among other things). Regardless of your choice, however, we hope you now have all of the information you need, and we encourage you to use this site and this page to help you finalize all the information you need.