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If you're shopping for internet providers in your area, there's a decent chance you'll find either Spectrum or Windstream among your options. In some areas, you might find both available at your address. If that’s the case, how do you know which is the best ISP for your home?

The short answer is: it depends. Windstream’s fiber plans are unbeatable — but fiber-optic service isn’t available everywhere. Meanwhile, Spectrum packages will typically be your safest bet for speed and value. What exactly does that mean, and what more do you need to know? Here’s the complete rundown!

Spectrum vs.Windstream:Serviceability

Spectrum

Spectrum is the 2nd largest cable internet provider in the United States with an impressive footprint that covers more than a third of the population. The service is mostly available in urban and suburban areas, including excellent coverage in major metro areas on the East and West coasts — with service most prevalent in the following cities:

Spectrum delivers fast download speeds via a hybrid fiber-cable network. The gigabit service is available in 99% of service areas but the upload speeds top out at 35 Mbps because of the limited bandwidth of coaxial cables.

Kinetic by Windstream

Despite its seemingly vast footprint that spans 18 states, Windstream Kinetic is available to less than 3% of US residents — primarily because the provider specially serves population scattered across large rural areas through its Kinetic network. Speeds are often mediocre over DSL, but Kinetic is significantly faster than most DSL providers, providing speeds of 100 Mbps or higher to approximately 65% of its service areas.

Then there’s Windstream's fiber-optic internet, which is available to nearly a quarter of households able to access Kinetic services — almost all eligible for gigabit speeds. Windstream fiber internet not only delivers ultra-fast speeds but also comes with the perk of symmetrical download and upload speeds, an incredible feature that you won't get with cable internet services like Spectrum.

Here, take a look at the top cities where Windstream offers the best coverage:

Spectrum vs. Windstream: Internet Plans and Pricing

Spectrum

Spectrum likes to keep it simple with three speed tiers — 200, 400, and 1000 Mbps — available in all service areas. All these plans come without any data caps or contracts. Pricing is also pretty standard in all markets, but it is a little on the higher side. The good thing is Spectrum charges a relatively low equipment rental fee that helps balance the relatively high starting prices.

That said, cable internet isn't completely perfect. Upload speeds are usually slower than what the fiber network delivers. Spectrum upload speeds max out at 35 Mbps. Also, a cable connection is defenseless against slowed speeds due to network crowding, especially during internet rush hour. Certainly, Spectrum cable internet cannot be as brilliant as fiber, but it's still a cut above DSL and other broadband types. The biggest downside, however, is a $20-$25 price hike on all standalone internet plans after 12 months.

Spectrum Internet Packages

Internet Plans

Max Download/Upload Speeds

Promo Prices

Data Cap

Contract

Spectrum Internet Standard

200/10 Mbps

$49.99/mo.

for 12 months

Unlimited

No

Spectrum Internet Ultra

400/20 Mbps

$69.99/mo.

for 12 months

Unlimited

No

Spectrum Internet Gig

1 Gbps/35 Mbps

$89.99/mo.

for 12 months

Unlimited

No

Kinetic by Windstream

Windstream offers an assorted mix of plans at different speeds and price points, delivering service over various different types of connections. This gives you the choice to opt for affordable but slow DSL service, a blazing-fast fiber package, or something in between. The provider’s internet offering can be a fast and economical broadband option, but speeds and pricing vary by location, so the overall value of Windstream internet service depends on where you live. You will have to check if your desired plan is available in your area or not.

Currently, the provider offers DSL, cable, copper, fixed wireless, and fiber-optic internet services across its service areas. However, only DSL and fiber services are more widely available in residential neighborhoods. While copper and fixed wireless services are reserved for commercial usage.

A DSL connection cannot compete with the speed stability of a cable connection, so speeds will vary — anywhere from 10-200 Mbps — with Kinetic DSL. As you get closer to the cities and suburbs where fiber service is available, the fast speeds and low introductory pricing may appeal to you. Moreover, Kinetic fiber service is a bit more consistent with 200, 400, and 1000 Mbps speed tiers available in most service areas. Regardless of where you live, all plans come without any data limits or contracts.

Windstream Internet Packages

Internet Plans

Max Speeds

Promo Prices

(in select markets)

Data Cap

Contract

Kinetic 50

72 Mbps

$39.99/mo.

for 12 months

Unlimited

No

Kinetic 200

232 Mbps

$39.99/mo.

for 12 months

Unlimited

No

Kinetic 400

450 Mbps

$49.99/mo.

for 12 months

Unlimited

No

Kinetic 1000

1000 Mbps

$59.99/mo.

for 12 months

Unlimited

No

The Better Deal?

Well, the starting prices of Kinetic will be a little cheaper than Spectrum, but that doesn't mean Kinetic will always be worthwhile. The speeds and pricing of Kinetic DSL can vary widely by location whereas Spectrum's are consistent throughout nearly all service areas. This means, Windstream could have you pay the same or even more than Spectrum’s basic plan but for less speed. For example, the Kinetic 50 DSL plan may come with speeds below 50Mbps and still be priced at $39.99/mo.

Plus, Windstream structures its plans in a unique way — you start with any plan depending on what’s available at your address. After that, if you feel the need, you can upgrade to any available higher speed tier for an additional fee. For example, your address qualifies for the fiber Kinetic 400 internet speed tier, but you want gig service. Kinetic will let you start with the available plan first, and then later give you the choice to upgrade to gig service at an added cost.

It is safe to say, it all comes down to the Kinetic connection type available and the pricing offered at your address. If you can get Kinetic DSL plans, speeds will be slower than what Spectrum offers. In this case, Spectrum is definitely the better option.

On the other hand, if you are lucky enough to access Windstream fiber service, don’t think twice. Windstream fiber service starts at $39.99/mo. Compare that with Spectrum 200 Mbps plan, which costs around $49.99/mo. — that’s a difference of $10 overall. Not to mention the benefit of symmetrical speeds. As for the gigabit service, you'll pay around $59.99/mo. with Kinetic compared to $89.99/mo. with Spectrum. That’s $30 less per month. So, when it is Windstream fiber vs Spectrum cable internet, Windstream definitely stands unrivaled.

Windstream vs Spectrum: Added Costs & Fine Print

Data Caps

Neither Spectrum nor Windstream imposes any data caps. This means, no threat of any data overage charge added to your monthly bill.

Equipment Fees

Spectrum charges a slightly lower equipment fee at $5/mo., whereas Windstream makes you pay around $9.99 per month. One of the great perks of having Spectrum Internet is that your modem is included for free. So, you could use your own powerful router and skip the $5 monthly fee altogether.

Windstream also gives you the option to use your own equipment, but you'll need to externally get the modem and router — if you don’t have a compatible one already.

Installation fees

Spectrum offers a one-time professional installation fee of $49.99 for standard internet plans. Whereas, for the Spectrum gig plan, the fee is substantially higher at $199.99 or more – depending on your location. However, if you order the service online, you can enjoy a nice discount and pay less in installation for the highest speed tier. Perhaps the best part is Spectrum lets you skip this fee too. If you opt for self-installation, you will only have to pay a $19.99 activation fee.

On the other hand, Windstream charges $35 for professional installation and $50 for activation. You can avoid installation charges by opting for self-installation. However, the activation fee is non-skippable — you can still try your luck by negotiating with a service representative over the phone.

Contracts

Neither Spectrum nor Windstream binds you in any contract. In fact, Spectrum offers its customers a contract buyout offer, which provides them up to $500 to help them out of an existing contract with another provider — only if you sign up for a qualifying Internet and TV bundle.

Windstream vs. Spectrum: Customer Satisfaction

Spectrum outshines Windstream in customer satisfaction. The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) scores for both Windstream and Spectrum remained consistent from 2020 to 2021 with 61 and 63 out of 100, respectively. Additionally, Spectrum performed better with J.D. Power in 2021, earning a 725/1000 compared to Windstream's 682/1000 in the South region.

Windstream vs. Spectrum: Pros & Cons

Windstream

Spectrum

Fast speeds in rural areas

No data caps, no speed throttling, no contracts

Fiber expansion is in the works

Speeds and pricing vary widely by location

Straightforward pricing

No data caps and no contracts

Free access to Spectrum's nationwide Wi-Fi hotspots

Competitive pricing for cable, but pricier than several fiber providers

There You Are!

Remember that speed and value depend on the internet connection type available at your address. Cable service from Spectrum is often a much more preferable option over DSL. Though Kinetic DSL service is better than other DSL providers. And if Windstream’s fiber service is available in your area, it is probably cheaper and faster than Spectrum cable internet plans. As for service features, both providers come with unlimited data, no contract obligation, and low equipment fees, but Spectrum also performs better in terms of customer satisfaction.

That said, take as much time as you need to make an informed decision. A good practice is to seek assistance from professionals. You can reach out to Windstream Customer Service at 1-855-349-9312 for all your questions and concerns. For services in Spanish, you can get in touch with atención al cliente Windstream at 1-844-481-5992.

And, if you wish to learn more about Spectrum packages or bundle deals, feel free to contact Spectrum Sales Support at 1-855-423-0918. Spanish users can speak to Telefono de Spectrum at 1-844-487-2710. Good Luck!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Spectrum cheaper than Windstream?

The starting prices of Windstream packages are cheaper than Spectrum, but the speeds and pricing of Windstream can vary widely by location, whereas Spectrum's are consistent throughout nearly all service areas.

Should I switch from Windstream to Spectrum?

That depends. If you're currently getting Windstream DSL service, it definitely makes sense to switch to Spectrum, whose slowest plan is 200 Mbps. On the other hand, you wouldn't be looking at an upgrade if you're currently subscribed to Windstream fiber internet, which provides symmetrical internet speeds — hard for Spectrum to match. So, in that case, a change will do more harm than good.