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.


AT&T U-Verse vs Charter Spectrum
Choosing an Internet provider is less straightforward than setting up your modem. Here are some observations about AT&T U-Verse vs Charter Spectrum from a longtime AT&T customer.

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. Getting a new router helped, but I also think they may have been having a bad week. When I retested a couple of months later, I was getting about 80%, and it’s been pretty consistent since then. 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.

One caveat: There’s not a lot of point in shopping around if you end up buying a bigger, faster connection than you need. Here’s some advice on sizing your Internet connection. Both of them are likely to try to upsell you on connection speed, so it helps to go in with some idea how much you use.

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 instead of buying TV service.

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 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. But AT&T is much more reliable, and if you’re running a server, reliability is pretty important.

Advantage: AT&T U-Verse


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. Then, in the spring of 2017, long outages became a weekly occurrence, even in nice weather. Even when I’m not seeing service trucks in the area, I’ve had to get used to frequent short outages (a few seconds in length). If it happens while I’m reading the newspaper, it’s no big deal. If it happens while I’m VPN’ed into work, it might be. Spectrum Business’ speed may be business grade, but its reliability isn’t.

There were a lot of things about U-Verse that I was unhappy about, but it was reliable. Its reliability put Charter to shame. U-Verse’s home offering doesn’t give business-grade speed, but its reliability is.

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.

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


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


I don’t make a lot of use of TV packages. My favorite baseball team is out of market so to watch them, I have no choice but to stream baseball through I also prefer watching Netflix rather than tethering myself to someone else’s schedule.

You have to buy a traditional TV package to get out of AT&T’s data cap. If you were going to buy a TV package anyway, this gets your AT&T’s more reliable service. Which company offers the better package is up to you to figure out though, as it can vary from area to area and there’s a lot of personal preference involved. If you’re thinking of using AT&T’s $35 DirecTV Now service to try to get your data cap eliminated, sorry. It doesn’t count. I looked into that.

Advantage: None.

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

  • July 27, 2016 at 6:16 pm

    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.

  • September 13, 2016 at 2:40 pm

    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.

    • September 13, 2016 at 5:32 pm

      That’s extremely valuable information. Thank you!

    • October 22, 2016 at 1:13 pm

      thanks for the valuable info, never would have guessed it makes a difference to use a TV and internet at the same time

  • October 18, 2016 at 11:00 pm

    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!

  • November 1, 2016 at 4:34 pm

    Thank you very much for the useful details!

  • November 16, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    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.

    • November 16, 2016 at 4:14 pm

      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.

      • November 16, 2016 at 7:51 pm

        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…

        • November 16, 2016 at 8:19 pm

          Pretty sure FIOS is VOIP as well. U-Verse is fiber optics and it’s VOIP.

  • February 18, 2017 at 9:30 am

    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.

  • March 6, 2017 at 3:17 pm

    I love my old AT&T analog twisted pair phone. It works when nothing else does. When you have a VOIP phone, how do you call customer service when the Internet is down?

    • March 6, 2017 at 5:06 pm

      I haven’t had any problems with my VOIP line. It’s actually been more reliable than my old analog line because the old wiring in my neighborhood was/is so bad. It depends on how you implement it but the VOIP can work independently from your regular Internet connection. But if both of them are down, then yes, you have to use a cell phone to call them. Which is what I had to do when my old analog line was down.

  • March 10, 2017 at 3:23 am

    I think Direct TV and Spectrum is better. Direct TV has great channels and the NFL Sunday Ticket and Spectrum internet goes up to 100 mbps, but regardless what internet company you have. You never get the full amount with Wi-Fi. Only way to get the full MBPS is through a hardline.

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