AT&T U-Verse vs Charter Spectrum Internet

I’ve had high speed Internet for about as long as anyone in my ZIP code–as soon as DSL was available, I signed up and paid through the nose for it. It took a while for fiber to become an option, but I switched once I did. I’ve been a Southwestern Bell/AT&T customer for a good 17 years. Over the years I weighed it and AT&T U-Verse vs Charter Spectrum.

Recently I switched to Charter though. There are pros and cons to each of them, so I thought going through them might be helpful. Keep in mind Charter recently acquired Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, so this applies to former Time Warner Cable and Bright House areas as well.

Speed

Charter advertises 5-10 times the speed of AT&T U-Verse for a comparable price. AT&T does a much better job of delivering the advertised speeds. When I paid for 6 megs, AT&T gave me 5.5. When I paid for 12, AT&T gave me 11.5.

When I first got Charter Spectrum, it delivered about half the speed they advertise, which sounds pretty terrible, but it still means they’re faster than AT&T for the money. When I retested a couple of months later, I was getting about 80%. They’re better, but not 5-10 times better like they advertise.

What’s better, delivering more of what you promise, or delivering more? In this case, you get more bandwidth for your buck with Charter, so I’ll say delivering more, even if it’s a smaller percentage of what you promise.

Advantage: Charter Spectrum

Data Caps

ISPs are immensely profitable, but they’re always looking for more. One way they look for more is by charging extra for certain ways of using the Internet, which is what net neutrality is all about. The other way is by charging extra for using it more, by imposing data caps.

AT&T has had data caps for years, but recently they’ve started enforcing them, charging you $30 for exceeding your cap. They also don’t provide accurate tools for measuring your usage, so staying under your cap is difficult.

AT&T’s data caps magically disappear if you buy TV service from them. That should tell you what they’re trying to do–they don’t want you to be buying service from Netflix.

The problem is the stuff I want to watch is stuff neither Charter nor AT&T will deliver for any amount of money. Between watching baseball on MLB.tv and working from home, I was busting AT&T data caps, so the limit of 300 GB is easier to break than it sounds.

Charter’s regulatory approval to merge with TWC prohibits data caps until 2023 or so. By then, the game may have changed. Or it’s possible Charter will merge again and extending that prohibition will be part of the deal. In the meantime, it’s an advantage. A big one.

Advantage: Charter Spectrum

Running a server

Charter’s terms of service prohibit running a server on a home account. AT&T blocks port 25 but other than that, it doesn’t care. If you want to run any kind of server, you’ll have to get a business account from Charter, which is more expensive, though not prohibitively so.

Advantage: AT&T U-Verse

Reliability

In theory, AT&T should be more reliable since U-Verse cables are underground, where they are better protected from the elements. In practice, a bad installer can ruin any inherent advantage.

That said, I had U-Verse for years and if I had any outages, they were brief enough that I didn’t notice them. In my first month with Charter I had an outage several hours long due to a storm. Severe storms never gave me any trouble with U-Verse. There were a lot of things about U-Verse that I was unhappy about, but it was reliable.

Advantage: AT&T U-Verse

Customer Service

ISPs are legendary for providing terrible customer service. Time Warner Cable customers looked forward to the Charter merger because Time Warner Cable and Comcast provided the worst customer service in the country, not just the industry.

AT&T isn’t much better. Getting AT&T to admit to a problem was very difficult, and the only reason I stayed with them was because they let me run a server. The last time I contacted AT&T for support, I even told them I needed a way to accurately measure my data usage and if I had to be transferred more than once or make a phone call, I was going to call Charter in order to sign up with them. AT&T gave me another phone number to call and lectured me about data caps and net neutrality. If I’d wanted one of those, I would have contacted ISP shill Phil Kerpen.

Charter’s customer service is better than average, and I’m not talking ISP average. It’s better than average in general. When I’ve called them, they’ve done what they said they would, and once they notice that I seem to know what I’m talking about, they’ve generally been willing to put down the script. Their hold times are short. And when it takes them more than a few minutes to find an answer they apologize. They’re a long way from AT&T.

Advantage: Charter Spectrum

Phone

AT&T has a cheaper VOIP plan than Charter, but if you actually ever use your phone, you can expect to run into overages on the $20/month service. The two companies’ $30/month plans are more or less equal. Charter pushes their phone service hard because it’s immensely profitable; if you want landline-like service I recommend you get an OBI 200 and connect it to Google Voice. You’ll save a fortune.

Advantage: Neither

TV

You’re on your own with this one. TV service is crazy expensive and I find it inadequate, especially for the money. They both push their TV packages hard because that’s where the profit is; you’ll have to decide which one, if either, provides one worth having. As for me, I stream baseball through MLB.tv and watch an hour or so of content off Netflix when baseball season isn’t going. Yes, I’m a cord-cutter, so for an opinion about TV service you’ll need to find a non-cord-cutter.

Advantage: Neither

11 thoughts on “AT&T U-Verse vs Charter Spectrum Internet”

  1. I have the same problem with Comcast. It is almost assured that when a storm rolls through our Internet will go down. Sometimes it’s a matter of minutes, other times it can be for many, many hours. When I had DSL in St. Louis, it was an extreme rarity when my Internet dropped.

  2. What Uverse doesn’t proclaim is that internet speeds drop precipitously when the TV is being used. I couldn’t understand why my internet connections were so slow until I contacted AT&T support on the phone and was told that when the TV and internet are being used, the internet speed will drop. Thankfully AT&T offers a 30 day, no questions asked cancellation period, so I’m back to Charter.

  3. I am just now experiencing that very thing! I’m on my 2nd Router and tech visit with Uverse. After switching channels and going to only on band (vs dual band) the tech had it up an running just about to the 18mbps I’m paying for. when TV was on later in the evening, my internet went back to nill! I’ve only been with uverse for 3 weeks. Going to call about that no-questions cancellation policy for sure and call charter asap! Thanks for the info!

  4. Trying to understand how Charter/spectrum delivers their service. I am currently on Fios, but wanting to cut my bill… Internet is fairly slow. I thought it was the website I was on. I am only on 25/25, but with Spectrum can get 100/100 and still cut my bill by $50…. but also want phone line for faxing.

    1. I would think you’d notice an improvement in speed with Charter. Charter can give you a phone line but they’ll need to confirm whether it’s compatible with fax machines. It’s VOIP, and they have to do something special on their end for it to work. I couldn’t get my fax machine to work reliably on AT&T U-Verse’s phone service.

      1. Thanks Dave. I have had VOIP before and do not like it. I wonder what I have since it fiber optics… can you give me a scenario? I learn by “doing” if that makes sense…

  5. I’m trying to decide to change from Charter Communication to At&t U Verse. I do like Charter’s customer service. I think it is extremely good. If I have a problem with anyone of my 3 bundle package, and they can’t fix it over the phone, they will have a tech out the very next morning. That to me is worth so much. I’ve asked my U Verse or At&t neighbors, how is the customer service and I never receive a positive comment. I know At&t offers a much lower price, but I feel Charter. although not perfect, has my back to correct any problems very quickly. I think I just talked myself into staying with Charter.

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