Major carriers have always outshined sub-carriers in performance and perks. But as we compare AT&T vs Spectrum today, you’ll notice the two have so much to admire, especially on browsing data.
AT&T, in this part, is the major carrier that operates on its own network towers. Then, Spectrum Mobile is the sub-carrier or MVNO that usually runs on the Verizon towers.
FYI: MVNO means a mobile virtual network operator, which is a carrier that resells the network of another provider.
AT&T vs Spectrum: A Peek on the Features & Perks of the Wireless Phone Providers
|5G Data Speeds||1400+Mbps||Up to 2000+Mbps|
|LTE Data Speeds||300+Mbps||Up to 110+Mbps|
|Lowest Phone Plan||$25 (when paid yearly)||$14|
|Free Mexico/ Canada Call||YES||YES|
|Phone Unlock Period||After 60 Days||After 60 Days|
Who Should Get AT&T?
As a major carrier, AT&T is a perfect choice for anyone who wishes to make the most with his/ her phone.
If it’s about browsing, the network operator not only has multiple phone plans with uncapped mobile data. But also the users get priority even when the cell towers are busy, thereby assuring better data speeds than other traffic.
In the Xfinity vs AT&T review, we also said you can get a free HBO Max subscription in full 4K Ultra-HD quality. Then, some of the postpaid plans have free cloud storage to back up your contacts and media content.
Who Should Get Spectrum?
While you must have the cabled internet, Spectrum Mobile is a great cellular service if you wish to cut your monthly phone bill. It has the phone rate pricing from as low as $14/ month on the By-the-Gig plan.
Even better, the MVNO has a deal with Verizon for its subscribers to get priority data. Hence, the reason our Spectrum Mobile vs T Mobile test had the browsing speed peaking at up to 2000Mbps.
Speaking of browsing, Spectrum offers all the subscribers access to millions of WiFi hotspots across the country to browse without using mobile data allotment. But in the most recent, the speed of the WiFi hotspot seems capped at 3Mbps in most areas instead of the previously 50Mbps.
AT&T vs Spectrum: Comparing the Features & Performance of the Phone Providers
AT&T is the clear winner in this part. For one, you necessarily don’t need to have the AT&T internet to qualify.
Secondly, the major carrier offers both postpaid and prepaid services. And as the likes of Pure Talk or Cricket, the AT&T prepaid is available with even bad credit as it doesn’t perform credit checks.
Further, AT&T is one of the carriers you can now join with the digit eSIM on a capable phone. So, you necessarily don’t have to wait for the physical SIM to activate your service, plus you can have multiple lines on a single-line smartphone.
On its end, Spectrum Mobile doesn’t have eSIM support at the moment. You’ll have to wait for the physical SIM card so you can activate and start using the service.
But even before activation, you must have the Spectrum cabled service to qualify for the mobile phone service. Then, after activation, you’ll still need to maintain either the internet or TV to continue using the mobile service at the usual rate. Failure to keep either of the two will attract a $20 surcharge fee on your next phone bill.
Winner: AT&T as it’s available to anyone, plus has eSIM support
If you have the Spectrum and Verizon coverage maps side by side, you’ll notice they’re pretty similar. Verizon, as we all know it, has the widest coverage across the country, which is one of the main reasons most prefer it.
And considering carriers share infrastructure with their sub-carrier, Spectrum beats AT&T here. You’ll have a usable service not only in the major cities but also in remote places, including rural Oregon and other Midwestern states.
Nonetheless, we usually consider AT&T as the largest GSM carrier in the country. It’s available in all the major cities and various remote places across the country. But when you go farther on the edge of the towns, like in Oregon, you’ll notice a significant drop in the signal.
Winner: Spectrum as it covers a relatively wider region through the extensive Verizon network
Phone deals & discounts
Technically, neither of the two carriers is best at this. However, AT&T is one of the phone companies that give free phones when you switch with an eligible trade-in.
The $0.00 promo offers are on high-end devices, including Samsung Galaxy S22, Apple iPhone 13, and Google Pixel 6. But many are the phone deals that will give you a partial discount with or without a trade-in required.
Similarly, Spectrum Mobile has many phone deals with partial discounts. Even on the trade-in program, the carrier doesn’t give freebies at this moment.
Winner: AT&T as it has many phone deals, including freebies with a trade-in device.
When we now compare Spectrum vs ATT roaming benefits, they both support the feature here in the country and overseas. Domestic roaming is totally free in both cases.
But for the international roaming service, AT&T is the winner. First, the carrier has free (unlimited talk, text, & data) roaming in Canada, Mexico, and other nineteen Latin American countries.
As for the destinations outside the 21 countries, AT&T offers unlimited talk, texting, and data roaming with a $10/day International Day Pass. If not, you could opt for pay-as-you-go international roaming rates at $1/ minute and 2.05/ MB of data.
On its end, Spectrum doesn’t have free roaming in Canada, Mexico, or any other international destination. However, it does have competitive international rates starting from as low as $0.10/ minute talk and $0.01/ MB of mobile data.
Winner: AT&T as it has free network roaming in twenty-one countries
Phone Plans & Pricing
Like most of the other comparisons I’ve done on major carriers vs MVNOs, our two players have mixed convenience on phone rates.
If it’s Spectrum, you get to enjoy low pricing from as low as $14/ month. Then, AT&T has better perks across the various plans, including unlimited data with no caps. See below.
Chart 2.0 Spectrum Mobile phone plan structure
|Features||By the Gig Plan||3GB Plan (By the Gig)||Unlimited Plan||Unlimited Plus Plan|
|Single Line Price||$14/ mo.||$42/ mo.||$45/ mo.||$55/ mo.|
|2+ Lines Price||$14/ mo.||$42/ mo.||$29.99/ mo. (per line)||$39.99/ mo. (per line)|
|Video Streaming||480p (DVD Quality)||480p (DVD Quality)||480p (DVD Quality)||Up to 1080p (HD Quality)|
|Unlimited WiFi Hotspots||YES||YES||YES||YES|
Chart 2.1 AT&T phone plan structure
|Features||5GB Plan (Prepaid)||8GB Plan (Prepaid)||Unlimited (Prepaid)||Unlimited Starter||Unlimited Extra||Unlimited Elite|
|Regular Price||$30/ mo.||$25/ mo.||$50/ mo.||$65/ mo.||$75/ mo.||$85/ mo.|
|Free 5G Access||NO||NO||YES||YES||YES||YES|
|Mobile Hotspot||YES||YES||Add-On (5GB/ $10)||3GB||15GB||40GB|
|Video Streaming||HD Quality (1080p)||HD Quality (1080p)||HD Quality (1080p)||HD Quality (1080p)||HD Quality (1080p)||4K Quality (2160p)|
|Free-roaming in Canada/ Mexico||YES||YES||YES||YES||YES||YES|
|Free roaming in Latin America||NO||NO||NO||NO||NO||YES|
|Free HBO Max subscription||NO||NO||NO||NO||NO||YES|
Technically, Spectrum Mobile plans are usually three of them. However, the sub-carrier has the basic By-the-Gig plan at $14/ GB of data with overage fees. And that would mean your monthly bill will be $42 if you use 3GB or even 2.1GB of data.
Nonetheless, the two Spectrum Mobile unlimited plans don’t have the risk of overage fees. They also do include a family discount of $15/ month per line if you’ve got two or more lines on your account. But they’re still postpaid, which means you’ll pay the bill at the end of the month.
On its end, the AT&T phone planscomprise both prepaid and postpaid categories. The prepaid is relatively cheaper, albeit not as cheap as the Spectrum Mobile.
If you’ve got multiple lines on either the prepaid or postpaid service, AT&T has a family discount ranging up to $40/ month. The only plan without the multi-line discount is the 8GB prepaid plan, which usually goes for $25 if you agree to prepay for the whole year ($300).
Winner: Spectrum Mobile as it’s relatively cheaper on its postpaid plans
Deprioritization & Throttling
As I’ve said earlier, Spectrum Mobile usually gets priority data (doesn’t slow data speed during congestion) from Verizon. Hence, the reason the data speed is even higher than AT&T or even T Mobile.
However, the carrier has unlimited plans with throttled data, whereby the browsing speed will drop after reaching the monthly allowance. And the said allowance is 20GB and 30GB of premium data in Unlimited and Unlimited Plus respectively.
Meanwhile, the AT&T postpaid plans have both the priority data and unlimited everything allowance (with no cap). You can browse or stream as much as you’d want without having to worry about getting throttled.
As for the AT&T prepaid, you usually get deprioritized data (slows down data speed than other traffics during congestion). Then, the 5GB and 8GB plans will get throttled to 128kbs speeds after reaching the monthly allowance.
Winner: AT&T as it has unlimited everything on both prepaid & postpaid plans
In this part, I’m going to split the point between the two providers. If it’s AT&T, the phone plans offer an unlimited 128kbps mobile hotspot after reaching your monthly high-speed limit. And while 128kbps is unusable on functions like streaming, it’s effective for reading emails or news pages.
As for Spectrum Mobile, the unlimited plans will give you a mobile hotspot (capped at 5GB) to also tether your devices. But then, all phone plans include unlimited access to millions of Spectrum public WiFi hotspots across the country. And as mentioned earlier, the speed currently peaks at a minimum speed of 3Mbps in many areas, which is usable for various functions.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is spectrum wireless better than ATT?
Typically, all the two carriers are great. But Spectrum Mobile is better than AT&T on network coverage, phone plan pricing, and pay-as-you-go international roaming rates.
Is spectrum the same as AT&T?
No, the two are not the same as they operate on different networks. The only thing we can say is the same between Spectrum and AT&T is the fact they both have postpaid phone plans. Then, you can get free international texting, plus local and international roaming services.
Who has the fastest Internet speed AT&T or spectrum?
The two phone carriers have exceptional data speed, going up to 1300+Mbps on 5G. But in high-band locations, Spectrum Mobile has the fastest 5G speed at 2000+Mbps, whereas AT&T leads on LTE at 300+Mbps.
Does Spectrum use AT&T lines?
NO, Spectrum Mobile doesn’t use AT&T cell towers. Instead, it has a network deal with Verizon, which explains its high data speed, competitive international roaming rates, and extensive coverage across the country.
Is Spectrum actually reliable?
YES, indeed, Spectrum Mobile is a reliable network, especially if you travel a lot locally or overseas. The only inconvenience would be with the free unlimited WiFi hotspots now that the speed has dropped from 50Mbps to 3Mbps.
My Favorite Pick
Both AT&T and Spectrum are great phone carriers if you’re within the coverage zones. The major differences are in the cost and service convenience.
And for that, AT&T is my pick since it’s available to everyone, plus has eSIM support and free-roaming in our neighboring countries.
As for the coverage, AT&T usually ranks second after Verizon, the carrier network of Spectrum. But considering the carrier also has free-roaming across the country, you’ll hardly lose the call and text features.