EarthLink vs. Spectrum: Which Internet Provider is Best for You?

We compared these two widespread wired internet options.

Best customer service

EarthLink Coverage map | EarthLink Availability Map | EarthLink Packages | internet service providers in your area
  • Customer rating: 4.2
  • Price: $49.95–$189.95/mo.**
  • Speed: 10–5,000 Mbps
  • Internet type: Fiber, DSL, Fixed wireless
  • Data cap: None (fiber and DSL) 25–100GB (fixed wireless)
  • Contract: 1 year

Best fiber options

  • Customer rating: 3.6
  • Price: $49.99–$89.99/mo.
  • Speed: 300–1,000 Mbps
  • Internet type: Cable
  • Data cap: None
  • Contract: None

Compare EarthLink and Spectrum head to head

Earthlink’s main strength is in its customer service, which is reflected in the provider’s high customer satisfaction rating. Although EarthLink plans generally cost more than Spectrum plans with similar speeds, most EarthLink customers find the added support worth the extra cost.

Both EarthLink and Spectrum offer wired internet connections to huge areas of the country. EarthLink offers fast and reliable fiber connections in some areas, though in others it offers only slower DSL plans. Spectrum splits the difference with cable internet, giving you a more consistent experience regardless of where you live within its coverage area.

Pros and cons: EarthLink vs. Spectrum

EarthLink Coverage map | EarthLink Availability Map | EarthLink Packages | internet service providers in your area


  • Great customer satisfaction
  • Very wide availability
  • Fiber in some areas


  • Higher monthly cost
  • Variable network quality
  • Unexpected price hikes


  • Free cable modem
  • No data caps
  • No contracts


  • Price hikes after 1 yr.
  • No fiber options

Plans and pricing: EarthLink vs. Spectrum

Both EarthLink and Spectrum have large coverage areas and a decent range of speeds. They both offer speeds up to 1 Gbps (1,000 Mbps), but both gigabit plans have their caveats. Although EarthLink has a larger coverage area, its gigabit fiber plan isn’t available in all areas. Spectrum’s entire network uses cable, including its gigabit plan. Earthlink also offers multigigabit plans for those who want more speed than they could possibly use.


EarthLink plans and pricing

EarthLink 10 Mbps Internet$49.95/mo.10 MbpsView Plan
EarthLink 30 Mbps Internet$59.95/mo.30 MbpsView Plan
EarthLink 45 Mbps Internet$59.95/mo.45 MbpsView Plan
EarthLink 75 Mbps Internet$59.95/mo.75 MbpsView Plan
EarthLink 200 Mbps Internet$89.95/mo.200 MbpsView Plan
EarthLink 1 Gig Mbps Internet$89.95/mo.1,000 MbpsView Plan
EarthLink 2 Gig Mbps Internet$129.95/mo.2,000 MbpsView Plan
EarthLink 5 Gig Mbps Internet$189.95/mo.5,000 MbpsView Plan

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 1,000 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)View Plan

Spectrum’s plans start out at 300 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary), which is faster than any of EarthLink’s DSL plans and some of its fiber plans. This makes even the cheapest Spectrum plan a decent speed for most internet activities.

If you need faster download speeds to meet your household needs, Spectrum offers gigabit speeds over its cable network.

Extra fees: EarthLink vs. Spectrum

 Equipment FeeInstallation FeeOther Fees
  • $9.95/mo. to rent
  • $74.95 to purchase
  • $79.95 professional installation
  • Up to $200.00 early termination fees
  • $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

EarthLink has low equipment rental fees, and gives you the option to buy. Spectrum offers a free cable modem or gateway but you pay $5 per month whether you have Spectrum’s gateway or a standalone router. You can get around the WiFi fee by purchasing your own router.

The other important fees to call out are the big (and possibly unexpected) ones. EarthLink requires a 12-month contract when you sign up, which comes with a hefty fee if you decide to cancel your service early.

Spectrum doesn’t require long-term contracts and its fees are lower across the board. There are price increases after the first 12 months, which we don’t love, but in general you’ll be encountering fewer unexpected costs with Spectrum.

Customer ratings: EarthLink vs. Spectrum

 Overall RatingReliability RatingCustomer Service RatingSpeed RatingPrice Rating

EarthLink trounced the competition in our 2021 customer satisfaction survey, winning in every category and surpassing the nearest competitor by a significant margin. To put it simply, EarthLink customers love their provider in spite of its flaws. The company focuses heavily on providing great customer service, which makes up for many other issues.

Despite reporting more outages, EarthLink customers also reported being satisfied with the reliability of their connection. They also report high satisfaction with monthly bills, even though they also report unexpected price hikes. While price and reliability are common complaints from internet customers, EarthLink does a great job of dealing with these issues in a way that keeps its customers happy.

Spectrum fared much worse than EarthLink in the customer satisfaction survey, coming in toward the bottom of the pack. Spectrum customers actually reported fewer outages than any other provider, but they still didn’t rank Spectrum as high as EarthLink customers did in any category.

Best TV and internet bundles

 Internet speedTV channelsPriceDetails
Spectrum® Internet Ultra + TV SelectUp to 500 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)125+From $119.98/mo. for 12 mos.View Plans
Spectrum® Internet Gig + TV SelectUp to 1,000 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)125+From $139.98/mo. for 12 mos.View Plans

Spectrum gives you the option to mix and match any of its TV and internet plans, though you don’t get a reduced price for bundling these services together. If you were planning on getting cable one way or another, this does help simplify your monthly bills, which is a plus. Spectrum also offers mobile services to current Spectrum Internet customers.

EarthLink doesn’t offer TV or phone service.

Customer ratings: AT&T vs. EarthLink

 Overall RatingReliability RatingCustomer Service RatingSpeed RatingPrice Rating

EarthLink is the top ranked provider in every category of our annual customer satisfaction survey. Although customers in this survey did report some issues with their service, such as unexpected price hikes and outages, EarthLink customers are still very satisfied with what they have. EarthLink focuses heavily on its customer service, so it makes sense that it would be able to deal with these issues, even if they arise more often than with other providers.

AT&T is ranked second overall in our survey, right behind EarthLink. It performed especially well in the speed and reliability categories. AT&T has focused on expanding the availability of its fiber plans to give its customers faster and more reliable connections.

Internet types: EarthLink vs. Spectrum

 Internet typeDetails
EarthLinkFiber, DSLView Plans
SpectrumCableView Plans

EarthLink uses DSL or fiber internet connection. All of its plans over 50 Mbps use fiber. On the lower end, Earthlink offers speeds much lower than those offered by most fiber providers. Although fast download speed is the main selling point of a fiber internet plan, fiber has other advantages over other internet types as well, such as reliability. Not every area within EarthLink’s coverage area has access to fiber, which means that those in DSL-only areas don’t have many high-speed options.

Spectrum delivers internet service via cable throughout its coverage area. Although not as fast or reliable as fiber, cable is still one of the most reliable types of internet connection, and Spectrum offers download speeds that can match EarthLink’s top fiber plans.

Data caps: EarthLink vs. Spectrum

 Data CapDetails
EarthLinkNoneView Plans
SpectrumNoneView Plans

Neither EarthLink nor Spectrum place data caps on their plans, which we think is great. Nobody likes data caps, and for wired networks like cable and fiber, they’re completely unnecessary. In fact, according to our data cap survey, 75% of people said that they’d pay more for a plan without data caps.

Contracts: EarthLink vs. Spectrum

 Contract lengthDetails
EarthLink1 yr.View Plans
SpectrumNoneView Plans

EarthLink requires a 12-month contract when you sign up. This is pretty standard for providers that require contracts, but it’s still a commitment. If you want to change internet providers before your contract term is up, early termination fees can cost up to $200, so it’s not something you should commit to lightly.

Spectrum has no long-term contracts. You can cancel your service at any time without getting hit by cancellation fees. We prefer no-contract plans. And fortunately, more and more providers are moving in this direction.

Installation: EarthLink vs. Spectrum

 Installation optionsDetails
  • $79.95 professional installation
View Plans
  • $49.99 for pro install
  • $19.99 for self-install
  • $49.99 for WiFi Pod install
View Plans

Spectrum beats out EarthLink in terms of installation costs, saving you money on professional installation as well as offering a self-installation option for some plans. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Spectrum is highly encouraging self-installation where possible.

Availability: EarthLink vs. Spectrum

EarthLink is available throughout the US in all but the most rural areas, although its plans vary depending on area. Spectrum is also a nationwide brand but is most widespread along the East Coast, Midwest, South, and West Coast.

Final call: EarthLink vs. Spectrum

Both EarthLink and Spectrum have a lot of features we really like, but if you’re in an area where EarthLink offers only DSL connections, we suggest going with Spectrum’s faster, more reliable cable plans.


Our editorial team bases our analyses on customer input from our annual customer satisfaction survey, results from our speed test tool, and proprietary internet provider data on speeds and pricing. To strengthen our research, we look closely at provider contracts to get hard-to-find information on price hikes, data caps, and extra fees, and we keep tabs on the latest news reports and online reviews. When applicable, we also rely on our personal experiences testing these services.

More about EarthLink and Spectrum