At a Glance

Type of Service

Cable

Type of Service

Fiber

Channel Count

200+ channels

Channel Count

340+ channels

Price

$89.97–$129.97 per month

Price

$70–$125 per month

Equipment Fees

None

Equipment Fees

None

Installation Fee

$30

Installation Fee

None

Contract

None

Contract

Yes (1 year)

Customer Satisfaction

3.25/5

Customer Satisfaction

3.45/5

Type of Service

Cable

Channel Count

200+ channels

Price

$89.97–$129.97 per month

Equipment Fees

None

Installation Fee

$30

Contract

None

Customer Satisfaction

3.25/5

Type of Service

Fiber

Channel Count

340+ channels

Price

$70–$125 per month

Equipment Fees

None

Installation Fee

None

Contract

Yes (1 year)

Customer Satisfaction

3.45/5

Data effective 4/24/2017. Pricing is subject to change. Not all offers available in all areas.

Should you choose Charter or CenturyLink as your TV service provider?

 

The Verdict

Get Charter Spectrum TV for wide availability, equipment with no added fees, and greater flexibility with no contract.

When you’re looking for TV in your area, you’re far more likely to find Charter Spectrum TV available than CenturyLink Prism. Spectrum reaches twenty-nine states compared with Prism’s twelve. Although Charter isn’t transparent about which of its various DVRs it will send your way, at least it’s clear about how much extra the equipment will cost you: nothing. All Spectrum equipment is free with your monthly subscription. In addition, Charter maintains a no-contract policy, and if you’re already stuck in a contract with someone else, Charter will pay off your old provider’s early termination fees up to $500.

Get CenturyLink Prism for more channels, easier setup, and a superior DVR.

First off, you need to know that CenturyLink only offers Prism TV in select metropolitan areas. Outside of those select locations, CenturyLink teams up with DIRECTV to bundle TV with its internet and phone services. But if you find Prism is available in your area, you can get a bigger bang for your buck at a similar price point to Charter. CenturyLink Prism is the better choice for those seeking variety with over 340 channels available. Plus, you can sit back and enjoy your fast fiber-optic television without stressing about setup because CenturyLink will install your Prism service for free. And with Prism TV Whole Home DVR, you’ll be set to manage and watch your favorite shows anytime from anywhere in your house.

Find and compare Charter Spectrum and CenturyLink plans and pricing in your area:

Cable vs. Fiber

When we look at side-by-side comparisons of these two TV providers, keep in mind that Charter Spectrum TV primarily uses traditional coaxial cables to deliver your shows, while CenturyLink Prism utilizes a fiber-optic cable method. Thick coaxial cables are designed to send signals through a central wire and a separate metal jacketing, reducing the amount of signal loss over great distances. In contrast, fiber-optic cables send light coded with information through underground glass or plastic pipes, which makes for extremely fast and reliable service.

Customer Satisfaction Ratings

Charter Spectrum TV

Overall Customer Rating

3.25 Stars (3.25 / 5)

Advantages

  • Wide availability
  • No contract
  • Contract buyout up to $500
  • No extra equipment fees

Disadvantages

  • Mediocre DVR equipment
  • Poor customer service ratings
  • Less channel selection and HD

CenturyLink Prism

Overall Customer Rating

3.45 Stars (3.45 / 5)

Advantages

  • More channel selection, including HD
  • No installation fee
  • Outstanding DVR equipment

Disadvantages

  • Limited availability
  • Poor customer service ratings
  • Required contract

Installation & Setup

Charter

3.46 Stars (3.46 / 5)

Charter installation experiences vary wildly. However, it’s worth noting the nominal $30 installation fee and one-hour appointment window guarantee, with a $20 credit if your installation technician is late.

Installation fee: $30

CenturyLink

3.64 Stars (3.64 / 5)

CenturyLink Prism installation is a little complicated, but CenturyLink provides detailed information so you know what’s coming. It also helps that the whole process goes down with no installation fee.

Installation Fee: None

Channels

Charter

3.32 Stars (3.32 / 5)

Charter gives you fewer channels, but many of them are available in HD. The company also offers thousands of movies and TV shows on demand. Adding your favorite premium channels à la carte can be pricy, and in many cases, it’s more affordable to simply upgrade the packages.

CenturyLink

3.59 Stars (3.59 / 5)

With more channels and three months of free HBO, STARZ, Showtime, and Cinemax, there’s a lot to love here. You can also watch shows from channels you subscribe to on almost any device using the Prism TV app for entertainment on the go.

Channels: 340+ channels

Reliability

Charter

3.67 Stars (3.67 / 5)

Charter once had a reputation for its poor and unreliable TV signals. After years of criticism, Charter finally improved its TV signal, but it still ranks third-to-last when it comes to reliability satisfaction on CableTV’s survey, which is two places above CenturyLink. Cable television like Charter faces little threat from weather outages, making it more reliable than satellite in that aspect.

Type of Service: Cable

CenturyLink

3.59 Stars (3.59 / 5)

In recent history, CenturyLink has suffered from an incredible number of outages for TV, phone, and internet. Outages that cut customers off from emergency response caused PR debacles the company is still reeling from.

Type of Service: Fiber

Monthly Bill

Charter

2.50 Stars (2.50 / 5)

As one of the largest traditional cable providers, Charter carries on the legacy of unsatisfying monthly bills. Charter’s prices run lower than CenturyLink’s, making it a tempting choice if you’re short on cash. But even with Charter’s low prices, customers report feeling taken advantage of, likely due to a lack of transparency on fees.

Price: $60–100 per month (no contract)

CenturyLink

2.97 Stars (2.97 / 5)

While no one enjoys paying TV bills, CenturyLink ranks in the top five for monthly bill satisfaction. With plenty of HD channels and a solid DVR, it’s easier to feel you’re getting what you pay for with CenturyLink. CenturyLink also provides materials online to help you understand your bill, so you don’t have to stress about hidden fees.

Price: $70–125 per month for one year

Tech Support & Customer Service

Charter

3.30 Stars (3.30 / 5)

Charter tied with Optimum for last place in the support and service section of our customer satisfaction survey. Leadership at Charter has made a commitment to improve by relocating overseas call-center jobs to the US over the next several years

CenturyLink

3.48 Stars (3.48 / 5)

CenturyLink’s customer service ratings have seen some notable improvements thanks to a rise in overall customer satisfaction after it started offering fiber. Although things are looking up thanks to Prism TV’s increased availability, CenturyLink still has a long way to go to make up for its history of outages.

Equipment

  • Simultaneous Recording: 2
  • Storage: 300 SD hours, 75 HD hours
  • Price: Included
  • Approximate Dimensions: 2.6″ x 12.6″ x 9.1″
  • # of TVs per DVR: 1
  • Additional Features: 3D capable
  • Simultaneous Recording: 4
  • Storage: 230 SD hours, 91 HD hours
  • Price: $10 per month
  • # of TVs per DVR: 3
  • Additional Features: Manage and watch anywhere

Internet Service

Charter Spectrum

Internet Service Satisfaction Rating:

3.36 Stars (3.36 / 5)

Charter Spectrum internet is also cable, and it provides middling speeds of 60–100 Mbps. If you use the internet for casual recreation, Charter’s offer of up to 60 Mbps from $30 per month should provide all the speed you need. You can bundle that high-speed internet and Spectrum Select TV from $90 per month for an even better deal. With free Charter Security Suite to protect your computer from viruses and a rental modem at no additional cost, you’ll be set to start surfing right after install. Installation is covered by the cost to install cable TV ($30), or you can self-install for free.

 

CenturyLink Fiber

Internet Service Satisfaction Rating:

3.72 Stars (3.72 / 5)

Fiber internet is available in Prism TV areas, and you can be cruising with speeds up to 1 GB (1,000 Mbps)*. Starting at 40 Mbps of High-Speed Internet from $35 per month, your online HD movies will download easily. Bundle High-Speed Internet with Prism Essential TV from $95 per month and you’ll receive free installation. CenturyLink’s modem rental fee is $10 per month, or a one-time $100 purchase.

*May not be available in your area.

More About the Providers

Charter

Charter Communications is a telecommunications company based in Connecticut and serving more than twenty-five million customers in forty-one states. In early 2016, Charter acquired Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, making it the second-largest cable provider in the United States. Charter has indicated it will move the new Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks customers to an all-digital network to standardize services. Charter delivers TV, internet, digital phone services, and home security, and it has plans to expand through rural areas in the United States.

If you’d like to learn more about Charter, please see CableTV’s in-depth editorial provider review. It gives a detailed look at each company’s services and history along with areas of concern, summaries of equipment, installation processes, fees, billing issues, package details, and much more.

CenturyLink

CenturyLink is a telecommunications company that provides phone, internet, and television services to customers across thirty-seven states. Though based in Louisiana, CenturyLink’s largest coverage area is several states away in Utah. CenturyLink is the third-largest telecommunications company in the United States, after AT&T and Verizon. CenturyLink offers a fiber service named Prism TV to about 200,000 people in metro areas. Where Prism TV is not available, CenturyLink partners with DIRECTV to offer bundled internet and television service.

Find and compare cable and internet providers in your area: