The TV Nerd's Take
There’s a lot to consider when you’re picking an Internet and TV provider. How expensive is each service? Which provider is better for internet? How about for TV? Asking these questions is an important part of the decision-making process.
On this page, we’ll take a look at two popular providers: Centurylink and Charter.
Centurylink offers high-speed internet as well as TV coverage through both DirecTV and Prism.
Charter offers generally more affordable service and higher speeds, with great bundle deals and more comprehensive sports offerings.
Each service has their pros and cons, so we’ll be going over some of the main differences below to help you get a sense of which provider is right for you.
|Average Download Speed||20.04||48.95|
|Major Cities||Las Vegas, Phoenix, Minneapolis, Denver||Los Angeles, New York, San Antonio, Dallas|
|States Served||39 States including Arizona, Colorado, Washington, Minnesota and Florida||43 States including California, Texas, New York, Ohio and North Carolina|
- More TV options
- More premium channels via DirecTV partnership
- Fiber Internet in some areas
- Satellite Dish installation required for DirecTV
- More expensive than Charter
- Contract required
Centurylink, although still on a DSL network in many places, actually delivers faster speeds when compared to Charter in areas with fiber network. That said, very few customers have access to this, so Spectrum is still faster overall for most of us.
CenturyLink offers a comprehensive TV service through DirecTV, although this requires the installation of a satellite Dish.
Charter Spectrum Pros and Cons
- Flat rate DVR service
- No contract
- Fewer TV options
- Fewer premium channels
Charter’s main advantages are affordability and flexibility. They offer contract-free plans don’t cap data, making them a popular choice for cord cutters.
Centurylink is largely still on DSL. DSL, or Digital Subscriber Line, uses existing telephone wires to deliver internet content. This speed is much faster than dial-up, and also doesn’t tie up your telephone line.
Charter, on the other hand, uses a cable network to deliver their internet. This connection uses the coaxial cable that deliver television to your home, and was previously the gold standard of internet speed before the advent of fiber optic connections.
Although Centurylink is largely made up of DSL, they do offer Fiber in certain areas which pushes their overall speed higher than Charter’s cable network.
|Plan||Download (Mbps)||Upload (Mbps)||Data|
|High-speed Internet||12||5||1 TB|
|Pure Broadband||40||5||1 TB|
|1 Gig||1000||1000||1 TB|
|Plan||Download (Mbps)||Upload (Mbps)||Data|
|Charter Internet (bundle)||60||4||Unlimited|
|Charter Internet Only||60||4||Unlimited|
Both Charter and Centurylink offer bundles such as double and triple play packages. Both services offer discounted pricing with these bundles, but Charter pulls far ahead in terms of value.
In some cases, you actually pay less by bundling two services than you would by paying for just internet. It’s a great deal and something that Centurylink just can’t compete with.
- Multiple DVRs included
- Great selection of channels
- Genie DVR is one of the most fully-featured models on the market
- Mobile viewing with the DirecTV app
- Watch shows from the last 3 days with the DirecTV 72 rewind feature
- Support for 4K channels
- Good sports options
- Over 200 HD channels
- Watch content on the go with the Spectrum TV mobile app
- Over 10000 on-demand options
- Sports Pack features 30 regional sports networks, the MLB Network Strike Zone, international soccer, and specialty sports.
- College Sports are fully supported
- The Genie DVR allows you to track your favorite teams and see all your favorite game listings in one central hub.
- Comprehensive sports options with channels like ESPN, Fox Sports, NFL Network, NFL RedZone, MLB Network, NBC Golf and more.
- Additional options are available as extra add-ons like NHL Center Ice, NBA League Pass, MLS Direct Kick and MLB Extra Innings are available for an extra fee.
Out of these two options, Centurylink comes out on top for sports. The sports pack features a ton of channels, and the Genie DVR adds some neat functionality that Charter lacks.
Charter offers DVR service for up to four different rooms for one low monthly fee, which is a nice gesture. Unfortunately, there’s nothing particularly notable about the features that the company’s DVR actually offers.
Centurylink, on the other hand, uses the TiVo Genie for their DirecTV service. TiVo has a long history of providing some of the most cutting-edge DVR systems, and the Genie is no exception. It’s jam packed with many useful features, and really sets Centurylink apart from the competition.
Centurylink has the advantage when it comes to internet, with speeds up to 1 Gbps in certain areas. The TV service is also more fully-featured, while the Genie DVR makes controlling your TV and recording your favorite shows a breeze.
Charter Key Advantage: Budget Pricing and No Contracts
While Centurylink comes out ahead in most areas, Charter does have an advantage in that the prices are generally lower and there’s no obligations. Having no contract is a helpful perk for renters and students, as it allows you to easily cancel service if you have to move. It’s also a good sign that the company believes in their service enough to offer it “without strings,” so you can simply cancel if you don’t like it rather than be stuck with a multi-year contract and termination fees.
Equipment and Installation Considerations
Basic equipment and installation is relatively similar in most cases, but is a little more involved if you have fiber optic internet from Centurylink. Keep in mind, too, that DirecTV service from Centurylink requires the installation of a satellite Dish.
Generally, outside of fiber service and DirecTV, you should be able to install most equipment yourself — provided your home is already hooked up to the network.
If a professional installation is required, there’s usually an associated fee for both providers.
TV Nerd Pick: Charter Spectrum, for Faster Internet and More Comprehensive TV Service
Overall, Charter Spectrum has a number of advantages that set it apart from CenturyLink. While CenturyLink offers DSL internet which is capable of good speeds, they don’t have the network infrastructure to provide maximum speeds as high as Spectrum.
Charter may be a better option if Fiber from Centurylink isn’t available in your area or your budget is a concern, but in general is less fully-featured than other providers.