Simplicity or excellent customer service? While there are thousands of internet providers in the United States, most neighborhoods have only one connectivity option. But if you are lucky enough to have two wired internet providers like Spectrum and EarthLink at your address, always choose the one that satisfies most of your requirements.

Spectrum and EarthLink are the two key names in the American internet landscape, providing a reliable internet connection to millions of people. However, they are vastly different. If you are finding it difficult to choose between these two internet providers, read this side-by-side comparison to understand their differences, including prices, internet plans, speeds, and more.

EarthLink 

EarthLink is one of the few leading internet providers in the country that has been around for three decades. The company started as a dial-up internet service provider in 1994 but has remained competitive through continuous acquisitions and advancements. Today, EarthLink is one of the top internet providers in the country, offering internet connections to over 5 million people via different technologies.

Unlike other telecom giants, EarthLink doesn’t build its own infrastructure. Instead, it maintains nationwide availability by piggybacking on other internet providers’ networks. Hence, you can find this provider in 48 states of the country.

Pros

  • Wide variety of fiber, DSL, and fixed wireless plans
  • Nationwide availability
  • Symmetrical fiber internet speeds up to 5,000 Mbps
  • No data caps on fiber and DSL internet plans
  • Excellent customer service
  • Price lock guarantee for 12 months

Cons

  • No promotional rates
  • Requires a one-year contract with DSL and fiber internet plans
  • Internet speeds vary with location
  • No internet and TV bundles

Spectrum

Formed in 2014, Spectrum is comparatively a newer brand than EarthLink. However, Charter Communications is not a new name! The company is actually a year older than EarthLink and has been providing internet connection and other services to people for three decades. It began marketing its telecom services as Spectrum only a decade ago to create a stronger brand identity.

Today, Spectrum is one of the leading cable operators in the country, offering internet, TV, home phone, and mobile services to over 32 million Americans. Its award-winning network infrastructure covers 57 million homes in 41 states.

Pros

  • Widely available in 41 states
  • Attractive promotional prices
  • Price locked in for 2 years on Internet Ultra and Gig
  • No data caps or contracts
  • Free modem and security suite
  • Multiple bundling options

Cons

  • High post-promotional rates
  • Below-average customer service

Internet Service Comparison – EarthLink vs Spectrum 

FeaturesEarthLinkSpectrum
Price Range$54.95/mo. – $189.95/mo.$49.99/mo. – $79.99/mo.
Download Speed Range12 Mbps – 5,000 Mbps100 Mbps – 1,000 Mbps
Internet TypeDSL, Fiber, Fixed WirelessHybrid fiber-coaxial
Data CapsNone on wired internet plansNo
100 – 300 GB on fixed wireless
ContractsYesNo
Equipment FeeRouter Fee: $14.95/mo.Modem – Free
WiFi Service – $7.00/mo.
WiFi Pods – 3.00/mo. per pod
Installation Fee$79.95 for professional installation$65.00 for professional installation
$30.00 for service activation
ETFUp to $200.00None
BundlesNoYes
Coverage48 states41 states

Both EarthLink and Spectrum are widely available internet providers with millions of customers. However, both operate differently and have different prices, speeds, additional costs, and policies such as data caps and contracts.

Where Spectrum is one of the leading cable operators with over 875K miles of network infrastructure, EarthLink provides DSL, fiber, and fixed wireless internet plans by depending on other providers’ networks. Let’s dive into their differences!

Plans & Pricing – EarthLink vs Spectrum Internet

EarthLink Internet Plans

EarthLink offers both wired and wireless internet plans, but the availability of these options depends on your address. When it comes to prices, all of EarthLink’s internet plans are pricier than other alternatives, starting at $54.95 a month. But if we look at the logic behind its pricing strategy, the plans are quite reasonable, considering these are the regular rates. The best thing about EarthLink’s no promo strategy is that you don’t have to worry about unexpectedly high price hikes after a year of service.

Except for the fixed wireless plans, all wired internet plans by EarthLink have unlimited data but require a one-year contract. Its fiber internet options are more valuable, offering symmetrical internet speeds and consistent performance.

PlansStarting PriceDownload SpeedType
12 Mbps$54.95/mo.Up to 12 MbpsDSL
24 Mbps$59.95/mo.Up to 24 MbpsDSL
45 Mbps$64.95/mo.Up to 45 MbpsDSL
75 Mbps$69.95/mo.Up to 75 MbpsDSL
100 Mbps$59.95/mo.Up to 100 MbpsFiber
300 Mbps$69.95/mo.Up to 300 MbpsFiber
500 Mbps$79.95/mo.Up to 500 MbpsFiber
1000 Mbps$89.95/mo.Up to 1,000 MbpsFiber
2000 Mbps$129.95/mo.Up to 2,000 MbpsFiber
5000 Mbps$189.95/mo.Up to 5,000 MbpsFiber
100 GB$59.95/mo.Up to 100 MbpsFixed Wireless
150 GB$84.95/mo.Up to 100 MbpsFixed Wireless
200 GB$109.95/mo.Up to 100 MbpsFixed Wireless
300 GB$159.95/mo.Up to 100 MbpsFixed Wireless
*Availability & price may vary by location.
**A 1-year contract is required with wired internet plans

Spectrum Internet Plans

In contrast to EarthLink’s location-dependent policy, Spectrum offers three simple internet plans throughout its coverage area. The plans are also more reasonable, starting from $49.99/mo. with a 300 Mbps entry-level speed. Moreover, the two higher-speed Spectrum Internet tiers have a 2-year price lock guarantee.

Unlike EarthLink, all Spectrum Internet plans are contract-free and include unlimited data, a free modem, and a security suite. However, keep one thing in mind! Spectrum’s regular prices are very high. You will need to pay an additional $35 per month for its internet service after the promotional period.

PlansStarting PriceMax SpeedType
Internet$49.99/mo.*Up to 300 MbpsHybrid fiber-coaxial
Internet Ultra$69.99/mo.**Up to 500 MbpsHybrid fiber-coaxial
Internet Gig$79.99/mo.**Up to 1,000 MbpsHybrid fiber-coaxial
*For 12 mos.
**Promo price is valid for 24 mos.*For 12 mos.
All prices are mentioned with Auto Pay & Paperless Billing discount and are subject to change.
Actual speeds, including wireless, may vary and are not guaranteed

Additional Costs – Spectrum vs EarthLink Internet 

Internet bills are not as simple as one might believe. They often include additional costs for extra services or equipment. While Spectrum and EarthLink claim to have no hidden costs, they have an installation and equipment fee. Let’s compare these prices and explore the other potential additional costs associated with their services.

Modem & Router Charges

Spectrum charges a lower equipment rental fee compared to EarthLink. All Spectrum Internet plans include a free modem, but there is a monthly fee of $7 for its WiFi service. And if you want to boost your WiFi signals, you can add Spectrum’s WiFi pods to your cart for just $3 per month for each pod. On the other hand, EarthLink rents its modem/router combo to its customers for a monthly fee of $14.95.

Equipment Fee
SpectrumEarthLink
Modem – Free$14.95/mo.
WiFi Service – $7.00/mo.
WiFi Pods – 3.00/mo. per pod

Early Termination Fees

Spectrum doesn’t have an early termination fee (ETF) since all of its plans are contract-free. EarthLink, on the other hand, requires you to sign a 1-year contract with its wired internet plans. The provider charges up to $200 if you cancel its fiber or DSL internet service in the first year.

ETF
SpectrumEarthLink
NoneUp to $200.00

Data Overage Fees

Spectrum offers unlimited data with every plan. And while EarthLink’s DSL and fiber internet options are also uncapped, its fixed wireless internet service includes data caps ranging from 100 to 300 GB. As a result, you have to pay an additional $5.95 for each extra 5 GB of data once you exceed this limit. You can purchase as much additional data as you want in a month.

Overage Fee
SpectrumEarthLink
NoneDSL internet service – None
Fiber Internet Service – None
Fixed Wireless – $5.95 for each additional 5 GB of data

Installation Options – EarthLink vs Spectrum

You get two installation options with Spectrum. You can pay an upfront $65 to Spectrum’s technician to set up your service or opt for a more pocket-friendly self-setup option. While the self-installation process is free, Spectrum will charge $30 to activate its service at your address.

In contrast, you can only choose professional installation with EarthLink’s wired internet plans. The provider charges up to $80 for this service, but the installation process is carried out by partnered providers in your area. On the other hand, you get the self-installation option with EarthLink’s fixed wireless service. However, it requires a service activation fee like Spectrum.

InstallationSpectrumEarthLink
Professional Installation$65.00Up to $79.95
Self-Installation$30.00 for service activationAvailable with fixed wireless internet plans*
*may require an activation fee

Perks – EarthLink vs Spectrum Internet 

Both EarthLink and Spectrum offer a variety of perks to attract new customers. EarthLink can be an excellent option for your home as it provides:

  • Six symmetrical fiber internet speeds
  • Easy installation
  • A gift card of up to $200 to new customers
  • Unlimited data on wired internet service
  • Fixed-priced internet for 12 months
  • Excellent customer support

On the other hand, Spectrum gives you the following benefits.

  • A free modem and security suite
  • Price lock guarantee of up to 2 years
  • Low-cost WiFi service
  • Incredible internet and TV bundles
  • Extra savings with Spectrum One
  • Access to nationwide WiFi hotspots

Better Bundling Options – EarthLink or Spectrum?

EarthLink only delivers internet service, so Spectrum is the best choice for bundling. Besides the internet, the provider offers TV, home phone, and mobile services at reasonable rates.

Spectrum’s bundles may not provide a monthly discount, but they are super convenient. They satisfy all your entertainment and connectivity needs under one bill. Its internet and TV packages are ideal for many homes, providing fast internet speeds and custom TV plans with 160+ channels.

Better Option for Gaming – EarthLink or Spectrum?

Gaming is a billion-dollar industry! A high internet speed is admirable, but you should be more concerned about the latency rate of an internet service if you are a gamer. Spectrum is a decent choice for gaming as its average latency rate is below 30 ms. However, you should opt for EarthLink without a second thought if its fiber internet is available at your address. EarthLink Fiber’s super-low latency will provide a more responsive and smoother gaming experience.

Wider Coverage Area – EarthLink or Spectrum?

Both Spectrum and EarthLink are widely available internet providers, operating in more than 40 states. EarthLink delivers internet access via different technologies in 48 states. However, EarthLink’s availability is more fragmented than Spectrum’s since it relies on other providers’ infrastructures.

On the other hand, Spectrum operates in 41 states but has a much larger customer base than EarthLink. This is because Spectrum covers more areas. Spectrum’s network spans 875,000 miles, reaching over 57 million homes. It is mainly available in densely populated cities and towns, including major metropolitan areas. You can check Spectrum’s availability to see if it is available at your address.

Better Customer Service – EarthLink or Spectrum?

Although Spectrum provides 24/7 customer support via phone calls, online chats, and social media, it has a mixed reputation. Since Spectrum is one of the largest internet providers, its customers mostly experience standardized services, often complaining about waiting times, unprofessional behavior, and more.

As a result, Spectrum ranks below the industry average on most customer service reviewing surveys, including the American Customer Service Index (ACSI). Although its score has improved significantly, Spectrum still ranks below the industry average in the latest ACSI report.

Meanwhile, EarthLink is known for its excellent customer service. Even though the provider is not included in ACSI or J.D. Power’s Study, we can gauge its positive reputation via Better Business Bureau’s A-plus rating.  

ACSI ReportEarthLinkSpectrumIndustry Average
2023N/M6468
2022N/M6364

Final Verdict – Is EarthLink Better than Spectrum?

It might be repetitive, but the answer depends on your needs and the service provider available at your address. Both Spectrum and EarthLink offer reliable internet services to millions of people. While Spectrum is a cable operator, EarthLink relies on several providers’ networks to deliver internet access. Both providers have different speeds, pricing, and policies. We hope this detailed comparison can help you select the best option for your home.