Optimum and AT&T are well-known fiber internet providers in the nation’s broadband industry. Both offer symmetrical multigigabit speeds at competitive rates. But the real difference lies in their coverage and customer experience. 

If you live in the country’s south, then chances are that you have both AT&T and Optimum available at your address. After all, the two providers are competing for market dominance in 15 states. 

So, Optimum or AT&T? How will you decide which provider has what it takes to become your home internet network carrier? Continue reading to find out as we compare them in detail. 

Optimum 

Optimum, by Altice, is one of the biggest broadband providers in the USA, offering internet to 5 million users across 21 states. The company’s diverse portfolio includes several services, such as Optimum cable internet, fiber internet, TV, home phone, and mobile plans.  

Optimum is increasing its fiber footprint. It aims to provide 100% fiber internet with 99.9% reliability and speeds of up to 8 Gigs at 6.5 million locations by 2025. Currently, Optimum’s fiber internet is accessible to 1.3 million households and businesses. 

Optimum offers some of the lowest rates in the region with unlimited data and non-contractual service. 

Pros

  • Speeds up to 8 Gbps
  • Affordable promo rates 
  • Unlimited data 
  • No contracts 
  • Cost-saving bundles 

Cons

  • Price hikes after 12 months 
  • Fiber is not widely available 
  • Average customer service

AT&T  

AT&T Inc. (American Telephone and Telegraph Company) is the largest fiber internet provider in the USA. The company’s fiber footprint stretches to 25 states, offering speeds of up to 5 Gbps in over 27 million locations across 100+ metros.  

AT&T also offers hybrid fiber-copper connections, known as internet protocol broadband (IPBB), in fiber-deprived areas. Customers can receive download speeds of up to 500 Mbps on their IPBB plans in 22 states. AT&T’s new and improved fixed wireless internet service, AT&T Internet Air, is also available to over 210 million Americans, offering wireless 5G home internet for $55 a month. 

Pros

  • Budget-friendly services and plans
  • High customer satisfaction
  • Fiber internet is widely available 
  • Unlimited data on most plans
  • No annual contracts  

Cons

  • IPBB speeds are slower
  • Possible price hikes after 12 months 
  • 1.5 TB data cap on some IPBB plans

Internet Service Comparison – Optimum vs AT&T

FeaturesAT&TOptimum
Type of Internet Fiber, IPBB, Fixed Wireless Fiber and Cable 
Price Range $55.00 – $250.00/mo.* $40.00 – $280.00/mo.* 
Speed Range 10 – 5,000 Mbps 100 – 8,000 Mbps 
Availability 25 states 21 states 
ContractsNoNo
Data Cap1.5 TB on some IPBB plansNo
EquipmentIncludedIncluded
BundlesAvailableAvailable
ACSI Score
Non-fiber ISP category
72/10058/100
*Prices in the table above are subject to change & include an AutoPay & paperless billing discount. 

Plans & Pricing – Optimum vs AT&T Internet

Although AT&T is well known for its incredibly fast and reasonably priced fiber services, it also offers IPBB and fixed wireless internet options more suitable for rural users, with monthly rates as low as $55.00.

On the other hand, a majority of Optimum subscribers get 3-speed tiers for internet through coaxial cables. However, if you reside in one of its expanding fiber locations, particularly in the New York tri-state area, you may get fiber internet speeds of up to 8,000 Mbps (up and down).

Optimum Internet Plans

PlansStarting PriceMax SpeedType
Optimum 300$40.00/mo.300 MbpsCable, Fiber
Optimum 500$60.00/mo.500 MbpsCable, Fiber
Optimum 1 Gig$80.00/mo.1,000 MbpsCable, Fiber
Optimum 2 Gig$120.00/mo.2,000 MbpsFiber
Optimum 5 Gig$180.00/mo.5,000 MbpsFiber
Optimum 8 Gig$280.00/mo.8,000 MbpsFiber

AT&T Internet Plans

Plans Starting Price Max Speed Type
AT&T Fiber Internet Plans
AT&T Fiber 300  $55.00/mo. 300 Mbps Fiber
AT&T Fiber 500 $65.00/mo. 500 Mbps  Fiber
AT&T Fiber 1 Gig $80.00/mo. 1,000 Mbps  Fiber
AT&T Fiber 2 Gig  $150.00/mo. 2,000 Mbps  Fiber
AT&T Fiber 5 Gig  $250.00/mo. 5,000 Mbps  Fiber
AT&T Internet Protocol Broadband (IPBB) Plans
Internet 25 $55.00/mo. 25 Mbps  IPBB
Internet 50 $55.00/mo. 50 Mbps  IPBB
Internet 75 $55.00/mo. 75 Mbps  IPBB
Internet 100 $55.00/mo. 100 Mbps  IPBB
AT&T Internet Air Plan
AT&T Internet Air (5G/LTE) $55.00/mo. 75 – 225 Mbps Fixed Wireless

Additional Costs – AT&T vs Optimum Internet 

AT&T and Optimum do not charge hefty extra or hidden fees for add-on services as other internet service providers do. They offer free professional installation on online orders, and standard equipment is included in the monthly fee. 

Add-On FeesAT&TOptimum
Standard Equipment Included Included 
Extra Equipment $10.00/mo.*$2.95/mo.**
Early Termination Fee NoneNone
Late Payment Fee Up to $9.00/mo. $10.00/mo. 
*Fee for extended Wi-Fi coverage
**Fee for a whole-home extender

Data Caps & Overage Fees  

Every AT&T Fiber plan includes unlimited data. Even if you have AT&T Internet Air or an IPBB connection with 100 Mbps speed or higher, you will get unlimited monthly data.

However, AT&T Internet 75 and slower IPBB speed tiers are subject to 1.5 TB data restrictions. Exceeding the data limit results in a data overage fee of $10 for every 50 GB. 

On the contrary, Optimum offers unlimited data on all its cable and fiber internet plans.  However, you may experience speed throttling in the case of excessive data usage every month. 

Perks – Optimum vs AT&T Internet  

AT&T and Optimum both offer exciting perks.

AT&T offers up to $150 on reward cards for online order placements. New fiber internet customers also get an expert installation fee waiver ($99 in value) along with free ActiveArmor security ($7/mo. in value) and extended Wi-Fi coverage ($10/mo. in value).

AT&T’s Contract Buyout offer reimburses new customers for any termination fees or device payoffs they owe to their previous provider.

In addition to cost-saving bundles, Optimum gives new customers a Visa Prepaid Card with $100 to $200 in credits. Optimum Internet + Mobile customers also get a 60-day money-back guarantee. 

Installation Options – Optimum vs AT&T

AT&T and Optimum offer free self and professional installation options to new customers. Although Optimum’s standard expert installation costs $100, this fee is waived on online orders.

Similarly, the professional installation fee for AT&T Internet is $99. However, new customers get a fee waiver when they order the service online. 

If you want to self-install AT&T Internet, a DIY kit will be provided for free. The box includes a manual with step-by-step instructions for users who are not tech-savvy. 

Better Option for Gaming – Optimum or AT&T?  

Optimum and AT&T offer hyperfast and mirrored speeds on their 100% fiber-rich plans. However, latency and jitter matter more than speeds for top gaming performance. Luckily, fiber internet connections have the lowest latency rate and minimal jitter.  

AT&T Fiber offers latency between 7 and 13 milliseconds (ms). Whereas, Optimum Fiber’s latency rate is close to 14 ms. Moreover, Optimum’s fiber footprint is not even 1/4th of AT&T’s. So, the likelihood of getting superfast symmetrical speeds and ultra-low latency is slim. If the choice narrows down to AT&T Fiber and Optimum cable internet, always go with fiber. 

Wider Coverage Area – Optimum or AT&T?   

AT&T and Optimum are available in more than 20 U.S. states. However, AT&T’s availability is wider, covering 25 states in the North Central, South, and West regions. 

In contrast, Optimum availability is limited to 21 states, primarily in the South, Northeast, and Mid-Atlantic regions. 

It is mostly in the south of the country that Optimum and AT&T’s coverage overlap. The following are the 15 states where AT&T and Optimum offer high-speed internet service.  

States Where AT&T and Optimum’s Coverage Overlaps 
Arizona  Louisiana  North Carolina 
Arkansas Mississippi Ohio 
California  Missouri  Oklahoma 
Kansas  Nevada  Pennsylvania 
Kentucky  New Mexico  Texas 

Better Customer Service – Optimum or AT&T?  

AT&T is one of the largest and most widely available internet service providers with top-notch customer support. It regularly ranks at the top in the two most trusted customer satisfaction surveys – J.D. Power and the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI).  

From the tables below, it can be seen that AT&T’s customer service excellence is no match for Optimum’s below-average customer care. On both the indices, AT&T has topped the charts with above-average scores. Whereas, Optimum has scored the lowest points. 

Provider Region J.D. Power Score Region Average 
AT&T South 753/ 1,000 points 729/ 1,000 points 
Optimum 676/ 1,000 points 

*Region includes Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. 

Internet Service ProviderACSI Score Industry Average 
AT&T Internet 72/100 points 66/100 points 
Optimum Internet 58/100 points 

 *Results based on data collected between April 2022 and March 2023. Entries are for the non-fiber internet service providers category. 

Final Verdict – Is Optimum Better than AT&T?

AT&T and Optimum are similar if you analyze their fiber internet service. Both offer superfast multigigabit speeds at affordable rates (for the first 12 months), with unlimited data, advanced equipment, and no-contract service. 

But when we consider their coverage and customer service, AT&T wins the race. AT&T is perhaps the only internet provider in the USA that offers fiber internet in more states compared to its non-fiber (IPBB) network. Similarly, AT&T has bagged the top positions for customer satisfaction in both fiber and non-fiber categories. 

Although Optimum is faster than AT&T, delivering equal upload and download speeds of up to 8 Gigs, its limited coverage area makes these speeds unavailable to many. Moreover, its poor customer service scores mean that if you encounter a problem, most probably it will not be resolved timely. So, in an Optimum vs. AT&T debate, always go with AT&T, the one the nation has declared the best.