Spectrum vs. Verizon: Which Mobile Network is Really Better

Spectrum vs. Verizon: Which Mobile Network is Really Better

Thu, Feb 1, 2024 9:19 PM

Spectrum Phone Verizon

Spectrum Mobile and Verizon Wireless are two of the major cell phone service providers in the United States. Spectrum Mobile operates on Verizon's network and offers plans that utilize Verizon's 4G LTE coverage. 

 

Spectrum Mobile was launched in 2018 as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) that leverages Verizon's network infrastructure. It is a subsidiary brand of Charter Communications, which provides cable TV, internet, and home phone service under the Spectrum brand.

Verizon Wireless is one of the largest wireless carriers in the U.S. It uses a nationwide network that combines its own cell towers and infrastructure with leased capacity from other providers. Verizon operates a 4G LTE network that covers over 98% of Americans.

Both Spectrum Mobile and Verizon Wireless provide nationwide cell phone service using Verizon's network. This article will compare the two carriers across factors like coverage, data speeds, plan pricing, phone selection, customer service, and other features.

Network Coverage 

When it comes to network coverage, Verizon and Spectrum Mobile are pretty close. 

Verizon has the largest 4G LTE coverage in the US, covering around 70% of the population. They have an extensive network that reaches even remote rural areas. 

Spectrum Mobile uses Verizon's network infrastructure. So technically, Spectrum customers get access to the same 4G LTE network as Verizon customers. The only difference is that Verizon customers get higher priority on the network when traffic is high.

Both Verizon and Spectrum Mobile have good coverage maps that allow you to check the 4G LTE availability in your area. Overall, Verizon may have a slight edge over Spectrum for rural users or people who travel often to remote locations. But for most urban and suburban users, the coverage is pretty much on par.

The 5G coverage is still quite limited on both networks at present. Verizon currently has the largest 5G network, available in around 36% of the US. Spectrum Mobile only offers 5G service in select parts of a few cities so far. But Spectrum states they will continue rolling out 5G service using Verizon's expanding 5G network.

Network Speeds 

 

Spectrum Mobile and Verizon both offer fast network speeds, though Verizon tends to have a slight edge. 

According to recent data, Verizon's average download speeds come in around 33 Mbps while Spectrum averages around 29 Mbps. For reference, the FCC defines broadband as 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload.  

When it comes to upload speeds, Verizon leads again with averages around 9 Mbps, compared to Spectrum's 5 Mbps. However, these are still quite fast upload speeds for a mobile network.

The speed difference between the two networks may not be noticeable for common tasks like web browsing, streaming, and social media. But Verizon does have a theoretical speed advantage for large downloads or high bandwidth activities.

In real-world testing, both networks provide ample bandwidth for most users. But those who frequently download large files or need ultra low latency may see some benefit with Verizon. For everyone else, Spectrum and Verizon are closely matched when it comes to everyday network speeds.

Phone Selection

When it comes to phones, both Verizon and Spectrum Mobile offer a wide variety of options. 

Verizon offers the latest phones from top manufacturers like Apple, Samsung, Google, LG, and Motorola. As soon as new flagship phones are released, like the iPhone 14 or Samsung Galaxy S23 series, Verizon will carry them. You'll also find less expensive budget options from these manufacturers, as well as Verizon's own branded phones.

Spectrum Mobile's phone selection is more limited. They offer popular iPhones, including the latest models like the iPhone 14. For Android, they have a small selection of Samsung Galaxy phones. The lower cost options are also more restricted compared to Verizon. Spectrum Mobile does not sell its own branded phones.

One advantage that Spectrum Mobile has is that you can bring your own compatible device. So if you already have an unlocked phone you're happy with, you may be able to bring it over to Spectrum Mobile. This flexibility allows you to use phones not normally offered by Spectrum. Verizon also allows device bring-your-own, but has stricter requirements.

In summary, Verizon clearly has a broader selection of phones, including the latest flagships. Spectrum Mobile has the newest iPhones, some Galaxy models, and flexibility if you want to bring your own device. When it comes to purchasing a new phone, Verizon will give you many more options to choose from.

Customer Service 

When it comes to customer service, Verizon and Spectrum Mobile get mixed reviews. 

Verizon has been in the wireless business much longer than Spectrum and has more experience with customer support. Verizon frequently ranks high in customer service awards from J.D. Power and other organizations. However, some customers complain of long hold times when calling Verizon and difficult interactions with reps. 

Spectrum Mobile's customer service is provided by the Spectrum cable company. Because Spectrum Mobile is still relatively new, there aren't as many reviews available. The reviews that do exist suggest Spectrum's customer service is just okay - not great, but not terrible. Wait times can be long and some customers report representatives lack knowledge about Spectrum Mobile's plans and promos.

On the whole, Verizon seems to edge out Spectrum for customer service due to their wireless experience. But Spectrum Mobile customer service is still developing, so it has room for improvement. For both providers, consider contacting support online through chat for faster service than calling.

Extra Perks

Spectrum Mobile offers some nice perks for customers looking to save money and access entertainment. Here are some of the key extras you get with Spectrum Mobile:

Free access to Spectrum TV apps - Spectrum Mobile customers get free access to the Spectrum TV app, allowing you to stream live TV and on demand shows/movies on your mobile devices. This is a nice perk for existing Spectrum internet customers.

Free HBO Max subscription - Spectrum Mobile customers get a free HBO Max subscription included with their plan. HBO Max offers tons of hit shows, movies, and original content to stream on your devices. This is a valuable perk worth $15/month.

Rewards program - Spectrum Mobile has a rewards program that allows you to earn points for things like paying your bill on time, referring friends, and more. Points can be redeemed for gift cards, accessories, electronics, and more. It's a nice way to get a little extra back for being a loyal customer.

Flexible pay - Spectrum Mobile offers flexible pay, allowing you to pay for your new phone over 24 months interest free. This makes getting the latest devices more affordable.

Overall, Spectrum Mobile has some solid perks beyond just network service. Free streaming apps, rewards points, and flexible payment options help add value. For Spectrum internet subscribers especially, the free TV/movie streaming is a great benefit.

Travel Coverage

Spectrum Mobile and Verizon both offer international roaming capabilities, allowing you to use your phone while traveling abroad. However, there are some differences to consider:

Verizon offers international travel passes that provide unlimited talk, text and data in over 200 destinations for $10/day. You can also pay by the minute, text or MB of data used if you don't want an unlimited pass. Verizon also offers monthly international travel plans.

Spectrum Mobile only includes calling and texting to Mexico and Canada with its regular plans. For other international destinations, you'll pay $5-10 per minute for calls, $2 per text sent, and $15 per MB for data usage. Spectrum does not offer monthly international plans or daily passes. 

Verizon has agreements with more carriers worldwide, allowing broader coverage internationally compared to Spectrum. Verizon claims coverage in over 200 countries, while Spectrum only mentions having coverage in "popular" destinations.

So while both providers can be used abroad, Verizon clearly offers more flexibility and value for international travel with daily unlimited plans and broader worldwide coverage. If you travel overseas frequently, Verizon would likely be the better choice over Spectrum. But for occasional travel to Mexico, Canada or major tourist destinations, Spectrum may still suffice if you are judicious about limiting data usage.

Conclusion

When comparing Spectrum Mobile and Verizon overall, both carriers have strengths and weaknesses that may make one a better fit over the other depending on your needs. 

Spectrum Mobile runs on Verizon's network, so it offers the same extensive 4G LTE coverage and reliable service. However, Spectrum has lower priority on the Verizon network, so data speeds may be slower during times of high network congestion. Spectrum also has fewer phone options and fewer plan choices compared to Verizon.

The biggest advantage of Spectrum is significantly lower pricing, especially for data. Their unlimited plan is $45/month compared to $90/month for Verizon's Start Unlimited. Spectrum's by-the-gig pricing is also around 50% less than Verizon's per GB price. For light to moderate data users who want to save money, Spectrum delivers valuable savings.

Verizon excels in network speeds and performance, phone selection, plan options, and perks like their Up loyalty program. Verizon also includes mobile hotspot while Spectrum charges extra. For heavy data users or those who want maximum network speed and reliability, Verizon is worth the premium. 

Overall, Spectrum Mobile delivers good coverage and huge savings for light users, but Verizon is superior for heavy data and advanced users. Evaluate your usage needs and budget to decide which carrier is the better fit.


 

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