CenturyLink vs. Spectrum: Which Internet Provider Is Best for You?

We compare two major internet providers on price, contracts, and extra perks.

HighSpeedteck.com uses our proprietary data and expert insights to compare these internet service titans.

Best for affordable prices

affordable connectivity program centurylink CenturyLink internet plans Get internet, TV and home phone lines from CenturyLink. Bundle packages and save! CenturyLink Plans and Packages | HighSpeedteck.com
    • Price: $50.00–$65.00/mo.
    • Speed: Up to 140–940 Mbps
    • Internet type: DSL, fiber
    • Data cap: No cap
    • Contract: No contract

Best for big data users

    • Price: $49.99–$89.99/mo.*
    • Speed: Up to 300–1,000 Mbps
    • Internet type: Cable
    • Data cap: No cap
    • Contract: No contract
affordable connectivity program centurylink CenturyLink internet plans Get internet, TV and home phone lines from CenturyLink. Bundle packages and save! CenturyLink Plans and Packages | HighSpeedteck.com


  • Fast fiber internet plans
  • No contracts
  • Rural availability


  • No mid-tier plans
  • Limited fiber availability
  • Lower customer satisfaction


  • Rent-free modem
  • Unlimited data
  • No contracts


  • WiFi access fee
  • No fiber plans
  • Price hikes after 12 mos.

Plans and pricing: CenturyLink vs. Spectrum

CenturyLink provides four plans: two DSL and two fiber. Simple, right? Meanwhile, Spectrum has three cable internet plans—there’s no secondary DSL or fiber service.

Overall, both providers have prices starting around $50 per month. Both also have a gigabit internet plan, although CenturyLink has faster upload speeds than Spectrum.

If you don’t know which plan you should get, check out our How Much Speed Do I Need? Tool to get a personalized internet speed recommendation. From there, you can choose a plan that fits that speed.

CenturyLink plans and pricing

Simply Unlimited Internet 100 Mbps$50.00/mo.*Up to 100 MbpsDSLView Plan
Simply Unlimited Internet 140 Mbps$50.00/mo.*Up to 140 MbpsDSLView Plan
Centurylink Fiber Internet 200$50.00/mo.†Up to 200 MbpsFiberView Plan
Centurylink Fiber Gigabit$65.00/mo.†940 MbpsFiberView Plan

CenturyLink’s two DSL plans are okay if you’re looking for an inexpensive, long-term internet plan. They’re the same price as Spectrum’s slowest plan, which makes them more expensive when you compare the speeds—until Spectrum’s introductory pricing ends. After that, CenturyLink’s value becomes all too clear.

CenturyLink also offers two fiber internet plans. The 940 Mbps speeds might be overkill for most households, but it’s a great option for large families. And fiber internet is much more reliable than DSL.

CenturyLink’s base fiber plan is the same price as its two DSL plans, but it’s slower in download speed than Spectrum’s 300 Mbps plan with the same price. The problem is that CenturyLink’s fiber internet is much less available than its DSL service or Spectrum’s cable internet.

Spectrum plans and pricing

Spectrum Internet®$49.99/mo. for 12 mos.†Up to 300 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)View Plan
Spectrum Internet® Ultra$69.99/mo. for 12 mos.†Up to 500 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)View Plan
Spectrum Internet® Gig$89.99/mo. for 12 mos.‡Up to 1000 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)View Plan

Spectrum generally offers faster download speeds than CenturyLink. The base Spectrum Internet® plan, for example, has speeds up to 300 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary) but costs the same as CenturyLink’s two DSL plans and its base fiber plan. For $50 you simply get more download speed for the money with Spectrum.

When it comes to gigabit internet, CenturyLink has better pricing, but Spectrum has better availability. In fact, the Spectrum Internet® Gig plan is available to most homes within Spectrum’s service area. That’s great news if you have a house full of internet users and want to keep the buffering away. The Spectrum Internet® Gig plan even supports upload speeds up to 500 Mbps in some areas.

Pro tip:

If you need inexpensive Internet and a member of your household is a recipient of the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), Community Eligibility Provision of the NSLP, or Supplemental Security Income (≥ age 65 only), Spectrum’s Internet Assist program gives you faster Internet speeds and costs less than CenturyLink with a Lifeline discount. You can check your eligibility on Spectrum’s Internet Assist webpage.

CenturyLink plans and pricing

Simply Unlimited Internet$50.00/mo.Up to 100 Mbps/Up to 30 MbpsView Plans
CenturyLink Fiber Internet$65.00/mo.940 Mbps/940 MbpsView Plans

Fiber firepower or dozing DSL—take your pick

CenturyLink Fiber Internet delivers superb speeds at an unbeatable price—if it’s available in your area, then we say go for it. Costing $35 per month less than Cox’s gigabit plan, it matches Cox on speed and goes one further by giving you symmetrical upload speeds, which is perfect for backing up files to the cloud, spending time on Zoom, and posting to social media.

The only drawback to CenturyLink’s fiber plan is that it has much lower availability compared to Cox. And CenturyLink’s other option, Simply Unlimited Internet, isn’t quite as rosy—a straightforward DSL plan, it gives you unlimited data but relatively sluggish speeds. Technically a DSL connection can hit 100 Mbps, but what you can get depends on what’s available in your area, which could be much slower. The price also isn’t the best considering the technical limitations, although it’s more or less similar to Cox’s budget-tier plans.

Deals and promotions: CenturyLink vs. Spectrum

Extra fees: CenturyLink vs. Spectrum

 Equipment feeInstallation feetOther fees
  • Up to $15/mo.
  • $99 for pro install
  • Free for self install
  • $10–$25 per incident declined payment fee
  • $5.00 late fee (or percentage of balanced owed)
  • $5.00/mo. for WiFi (no charge with Internet Gig plan)
  • $3.00/mo. per Spectrum WiFi Pod
  • No charge for modem or gateway
  • $49.99 for pro install
  • $19.99 for self-install and service activation
  • $49.99 for WiFi Pod install
  • $9.99 service activation fee
  • $8.95 late payment fee (after 21 days)
  • $25.00 insufficient funds fee
  • $5.00 phone payment processing fee
  • $9.99 reconnection fee (internet)
  • $4.99 reconnection fee (TV)
  • $19.99 equipment upgrade fee to Internet Gig plan

CenturyLink has all the fees you’d (unhappily) expect from an Internet provider. But most of the fees are a little high. For example, CenturyLink charges five times as much as Spectrum charges for self-installation and bills it as equipment shipping and handling. On top of that, $15 is a lot for a gateway (modem/router) rental, and CenturyLink doesn’t give you a grace period for late payments.

We didn’t find anything unexpected when combing through CenturyLink’s Internet subscriber agreement. But unlike Spectrum, CenturyLink’s fees are sometimes difficult to dig up unless you can search for a specific charge by name on CenturyLink’s “Taxes, fees, and surcharges” article. That means you might not know about all the taxes and fees until you see them on your bill.

Meanwhile, Spectrum has a longer list of fees than CenturyLink, but its equipment rental fees, self-installation fees, and professional installation fees are less expensive than CenturyLink’s equivalent fees.

With Spectrum, there’s no monthly fee for using its modem or gateway. But Spectrum’s WiFi costs $5 per month and each installed WiFi Pod is an additional $3 per month. You can get around these fees by purchasing a Wi-Fi router or a mesh networking kit.

Finally, Spectrum gives customers a 21-day grace period before charging a late payment fee. That’s very generous, especially compared to CenturyLink’s complete lack of a grace period.

Customer ratings: CenturyLink vs. Spectrum

 OverallReliabilityCustomer serviceSpeedPrice

Spectrum scored higher than CenturyLink in nearly every part of our annual customer satisfaction survey, which gauged customer satisfaction with speed, price, reliability, and customer service. That tells us that, overall, Spectrum customers are happier with their service than CenturyLink customers are with theirs.

That said, neither internet provider did particularly well in the survey. Overall, Spectrum ended up ninth out of 12, and CenturyLink was twelfth. Upon closer examination, Spectrum hovered in the bottom half throughout the survey while CenturyLink typically remained last. The only instance where CenturyLink scored better than Spectrum was in its slight lead in price.

Best TV and internet bundles

 Internet speedTV channelsPriceDetails
Spectrum Internet (up to 300 Mbps) + TV SelectUp to 300 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)125+$99.98/mo. for 12 mos.‡View Plans
Spectrum Internet Ultra + TV SelectUp to 500 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)125+$119.98/mo. for 12 mos.‡View Plans

CenturyLink offers just one TV and internet bundle with its fiber internet service. All other bundles are based on its DSL internet, and the one listed above is the cheapest that you can get. All bundles rely on DIRECTV’s satellite TV service, but there’s no discounted pricing when you bundle.

Spectrum doesn’t offer the traditional TV and internet bundle at a discount. Instead, you can pair its TV Select service with any one of its three cable internet plans. Both services have discounted pricing for the first 12 months, but all premium channels like HBO Max and SHOWTIME® are extra. Plus, you’ll see a broadcast TV service charge for up to $20 per month that’s not included in the discounted pricing.

Internet types: CenturyLink vs. Spectrum

 Internet typeDetails
CenturyLinkFiber, DSLView Plans
SpectrumCableView Plans

Both Spectrum and CenturyLink have Internet plans that reach up to 1000 Mbps°. CenturyLink’s fiber plan is great if you can get it—it’s less expensive than the Spectrum Internet Gig plan, and fiber Internet is generally more reliable with lower latency. But Spectrum’s fastest speeds are much more widely available than CenturyLink’s fiber Internet.

As cool as those speeds sound, most households don’t need anywhere near gigabit speeds. In that case, CenturyLink’s 140 Mbps plan for $50.00 per month is your cheapest bet, given that Spectrum’s 300 Mbps plan shoots up to $74.99 per month after 12 months. Spectrum’s 500 Mbps plan will cost you a heftier $94.99 per month after 12 months if you need more speed—which is more expensive than CenturyLink’s gigabit plan.

Data caps: CenturyLink vs. Spectrum

 Data capDetails
CenturyLinkNo data capView Plans
SpectrumNo data capView Plans

While Spectrum does not have an internet data cap, its acceptable use policy prohibits “excessive use of bandwidth that in Charter’s sole opinion, places an unusually large burden on the network or goes above normal usage.”

CenturyLink used to have a 1 TB data cap on most of its residential internet plans, but now neither its fiber plan nor its DSL plan have any caps.

Contracts: CenturyLink vs. Spectrum

 Contract lengthDetails
CenturyLinkNo contractView Plans
SpectrumNo contractView Plans

Spectrum and CenturyLink both have no-contract policies for internet plans. That means you can switch plans or providers whenever you want (as long as there’s another internet company in your area). But if you bundle DISH through CenturyLink, that does require a contract.

Installation: CenturyLink vs. Spectrum

 Installation optionsDetails
  • $99 for pro install
  • Free for self install
View Plans
  • $49.99 for pro install
  • $19.99 for self-install and service activation
  • $49.99 for WiFi Pod install
View Plans

Spectrum encourages new customers to opt for the self-install kit over a pro installation. However, Spectrum will send a technician out for completely new installs, or if you need a modem moved, rewiring, and so on. The WiFi Pod setup is a separate installation fee.

CenturyLink also has professional and self-installation options. If you go with self-installation, CenturyLink charges a $50 shipping and handling fee to send the kit, so going the DIY route doesn’t save you as much money as it does with Spectrum. But it’s still a good alternative to waiting around all day for the technician to show up—as long as you know what you’re doing.

Professional installation for CenturyLink internet costs up to $99, depending on the package and where you live. But some internet plans get free installation. The qualifications for free installation vary by plan and location, so ask your CenturyLink representative about it when you sign up.

Availability: CenturyLink vs. Spectrum