The TV Nerd's Take

Charter Spectrum‘s TV is strong on pricing when bundled with their Internet service.

Dish TV offers a bit more flexibility and a free DVR with twice the storage of what most cable companies are offering.

When it comes to deciding which TV provider to go for, it pays to shop around. Charter and Dish are two such providers: but there are some key differences between the two. Charter (or Charter Spectrum as it’s often referred to as) is a cable TV service that also offers phone and internet services over their network. Dish is a satellite TV provider solely, but can be bundled with other providers’ services.

Today I take a look at which network is best for which people, pros and cons of each, internet offerings, and more. Dive in to learn which of these two competitors might work well for your household. Both have solid budget deals.

Core Comparison
 Charter SpectrumDish Network
Major Cities Los Angeles, New York, San Antonio, Dallas Nationwide
States Served 43 States including California, Texas, New York, Ohio and North Carolina Nationwide

Charter pros and cons

Setup Service
Looking to setup Charter Spectrum service? Use this line to speak with a human in less than 60 seconds: (844) 356-4246


  • No lock in contracts
  • Internet speeds you can rely on of 100Mbps+
  • Up to $500 towards buying out your old TV contract


  • Confusing billing structures
  • Be careful of second year price increases
  • Selection of channels varies wildly depending on region

Dish pros and cons

Setup Service
Looking to setup Dish Network service? Use this line to speak with a human in less than 60 seconds: 844-387-1706


  • Affordable pricing structure
  • Free HBO for 1st year
  • Live TV, recordings, on-demand all on mobile


  • Internet bundles may be slow
  • 2 year lock in contract required
  • Weather can affect satellite TV

Network and Coverage Differences

Dish coverage is near-universal in the USA

Since it comes from satellite, Dish TV coverage can be had pretty much anywhere with a view of the south (since the satellite is located there).

This can cause issues for customers who live next to tall buildings on the southern side, or have dense folliage blocking their view.

Charter Spectrum run their internet service over your cable TV connection. Dish, on the other hand, doesn’t offer their own internet service: this is provided through secondary partners. Dish’s partners include HughesNet satellite internet, Frontier DSL internet (and Frontier FiOS fiber optic internet), and CenturyLink DSL internet. Satellite internet is available for virtually 100% of homes in the US. However coverage for DSL and fibre optic depends on your region.

In terms of speeds, from slowest to fastest networks, typically you’re looking at satellite, then DSL, cable, and fiber optic. This all depends on provider, plan, and your location though.

Charter vs Dish Internet performance

Dish Network dish.
Image via Dave L/Flicker
Rather than giving customers the usual “you’ll get speeds of up to X Mbps”, Charter promises their customers speeds upwards of 100Mbps. This is a refreshing twist for a network provider and really helps to understand the typical speeds you’ll actually be getting. Plus, Charter is not allowed to impose data caps on their services as a condition of their merger with Time Warner Cable and Bright House, for at least 7 years.

For Dish, HughesNet Gen5 offers speeds of up to 25Mbps countrywide, Frontier broadband sees top speeds from 6 to 24Mbps (depending on your plan), Frontier FiOS ranges up to 150mbps in certain areas (but is only available in 24 states), and CenturyLink which offers speeds ranging from 12Mbps to 1000Mbps, depending on your plan and area. Depending on which internet provider you go with, there may be a data cap imposed.

To learn what speeds will be for your household, it’s best to have a chat to the provider directly.

Bundled services

Charter is really built for Triple Play services – their Triple Play Select, Silver, and Gold are geared towards giving the most to customers. However, be aware of their pricing lingo – with Triple-Play from $29.99/month each for 12 months, you might think you’d be paying $29.99 for all three services, rather than $89.97 all up.

Dish is a satellite TV provider, they only offer bundled phone and internet services through secondary providers, and these vary widely, depending on your region. Have a talk to a local rep to find out what’s available in your area – and at what price.

Charter vs Dish TV service

Charter offers customers the widest range of HD channels available, although, depending on your region, their actual channel choices might be lacking. Charter plans start from 125+ channels, through to 200+ channels – but this can vary wildly, with hundreds more. Dish starts from 190 channels on their lowest plan (America’s Top 120) through to 290 channels (America’s Top 250). Both offer mobile viewing, however customers report that Dish’s mobile content is more reliable.

Charter vs Dish Sports packages

Both Charter and Dish provide fee-free regional sports, and ESPN.Other sports add-ons are available for a fee with both providers. The NFL Network is available on Charter’s Silver Plan, and MFL Network + NFL Redzone available on their Gold Plan. Currently, Dish also offers customers an included Multi-Sport pack on all plans except the lowest plan – which may be an appealing option if you’re into sports. This includes NFL Network + Redzone, MLB, BeIN, and more – 35 extra sports channels. Dish allow you to purchase add-on sports packages for an additional fee including MLB Extra Innings, NBA League Pass, NHL Center Ice, Fox Soccer Plus, Outdoor Package, Willow Cricket HD and Racetrack Television Network.

Charter vs Dish Equipment

Dish’s Hopper 3 DVR is one of the best devices out there, with up to 2000 hours of recording and up to 16 channels at once, so there really is no competition with Charter’s DVR (300 hours and 8 channels) – although Charter’s is 3D capable, if you have a 3D TV.

Charter’s Strength: Fast, reliable internet

Charter’s best feature isn’t in their TV service package, it’s with their bundled internet. I love the fact that they promise a minimum of 100Mbps instead of other company’s traditional maximum speeds.

Dish TV’s Strength: Watch all live, on-demand and recorded TV anywhere on mobile

While Charter offer a similar service, their app isn’t as stable and doesn’t offer as much functionality as Dish’s. If you want to watch TV everywhere then Dish is a better option – depending on the reliability of your mobile network of course.

Charter vs Dish Equipment and Installation Considerations

Charter offers customers free installation, as well as Wi-Fi and DVR setup. Your DVR itself comes with an added rental cost per month (currently $5.99/month) – although you can use your own DVR if you know how to set it up. If you choose to rent more than one DVR from Charter, you’ll be charged an additional DVR service fee per month. In terms of installation, you’ll be provided with a 2 hour window within which your technician will come out.

Dish comes with free installation and satellite Dish hire. Your DVR option is the Hopper 3, which currently costs an extra $15 per month on top of your bill, however it’s a top of the line box with great capabilities. Dish offers a 75 minute window within which their technician will come to your home to set everything up – which can be a great time saver.

TV Nerd Pick: Dish, for their wide range of channel offerings

When it comes to comparable package selections, Dish really outshines Charter – offering more channels for your dollar. Pair this with their available sports options and you’ll be pleasantly surprised with your viewing options. Dish’s top of the line DVR means that you’ll never have to miss any programming you’re keen to view, either. However, if you really don’t want to be locked into a 2 year contract, then Charter might be the clever option for your household.


  • Image of Ernie Bergstrom
    Ernie Bergstrom says

    Can you tell me if Spectrum (Charter) offers combo modem-router so as to quickly setup "home networks" with multiple PC's and shared printer. From what I've researched, it seems that all Spectrum offers is their standard modem only. Also I believe Spectrum will not take down your existing roof mounted satellite.

    Would you please clarify the points made in the opening paragraph, as I am considering migrating to cable from satellite.

    Thank you


    1. Image of Adi Marcovich
      Adi Marcovich says

      Yes, Spectrum mostly uses combo modem-routers these days. They will usually give you a modem for free, but the Wi-Fi router or combo device will cost a few extra dollars. I recommend buying your own router to attach to their free modem, or a complete modem/router device of your own like the Arris Surfboard (can search Amazon).


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