Spectrum vs Sonic Internet Service

Sonic is an alternative to Spectrum internet in Southern California. Sonic customer service gets high ratings, but the speeds are usually slower than Spectrum in the areas where their service overlaps.

Brand Service type Speed range Price range Contact
Spectrum Cable 100–940 Mbps $49.99–129.99/mo. (855) 243-8892
Sonic DSL, Fiber 20–1000 Mbps $39.99–69.99/mo. (888) 766-4233

Fees and fine print Compare plans

Many Spectrum customers don’t even know Sonic is an option, and assume that the only other option is AT&T.

Sonic resells internet service over AT&T lines. This means that instead of buying AT&T internet, you purchase through Sonic, and get their improved customer service. In some areas, they also control the hardware used to provision service over the line, resulting in stronger performance than going with AT&T directly.

The pricing is generally equivalent to AT&T, although Sonic oddly requires you to take a landline phone with all plans. So, it’s not a strictly “internet-only” service.

Spectrum vs Sonic Internet Basic Features

FeatureCharter SpectrumSonic Internet
Starting price$49.99/mo. sign-up price$39.99/mo. sign-up price
Download speed range100–940 Mbps20–1000 Mbps
Upload speed range10–35 Mbps1.5–1000 Mbps
Network typeCableDSL, Fiber
Contract termsContract-freeContract required for cheapest price

Spectrum vs Sonic Data Usage Policies

It’s common for internet providers to use data caps to manage their networks. However, this can result in extra fees if you use too much data in a given month.

Spectrum does not have data caps in California. Sonic offers unlimited plans with no data caps.

Spectrum and Sonic both have pro-consumer policies when it comes to data caps. However, it’s worth mentioning that Spectrum has been applying to have data caps added back to plans. They were previously not allowed to cap plans as part of their merger agreement with Time Warner Cable in 2016. 1 That requirement will time out within the next couple years, and it’s possible that Spectrum may add caps back at that time.

Charter Spectrum Data Caps

Spectrum offers internet plans with unlimited data

Sonic Internet Data Caps

Sonic offers internet plans with unlimited data

Spectrum vs Sonic Net Neutrality Policies

Sonic has an established pro-Net-Neutrality stance, as well as being a staunch supporter of consumer privacy. They’ve run into trouble for this in the past, for example when refusing to hand over data about a WikiLeaks volunteer using their service in the Bay Area without also alerting the customer. 2

Spectrum has a more lukewarm stance on the topic, as described in their official disclaimer linked below.

Charter Spectrum Net Neutrality Stance

Charter Communications has public statements supporting open networks, but in practice has been applying to remove network management requirements imposed by the FCC during their merger with Time Warner Cable.

Spectrum Net Neutrality statement
Sonic Internet Net Neutrality Stance

Sonic is one of the loudest pro-Net-Neutrality voices among US internet providers. The company has actively taken steps to protect user privacy and preserve Net Neutrality.

Sonic Net Neutrality statement

Spectrum vs Sonic Pricing and Fees

See the table below for an overview of how common add-on fees compare for Spectrum and Sonic plans.

FeeSpectrumSonic
WiFi equipment fee~$5/mo.~$9.50/mo.
Price increasesBill increases after promo periodBill increases after promo period
Early Termination FeeFree cancellationFree cancellation

Note that fee amounts described above may vary by plan tier and location.

Spectrum vs Sonic internet.
Spectrum offers internet service over cable throughout California. Sonic competes with them primarily by reselling service over AT&T lines, meaning customers get AT&T speeds with improved customer service. This makes them a unique little-known alternative for SoCal internet subscribers.

Spectrum vs Sonic Internet-Only Plan Comparison

Most Common Plan Internet speed Sign-up price Final price Avg price over 2 yrs
Spectrum Internet (Spectrum) 200 Mbps $49.99/mo. $69.99/mo. $60/mo.
Fusion X1 (Sonic) 20 Mbps $39.99/mo. $49.99/mo. $44.99/mo.

The price of the Spectrum Spectrum Internet internet plan is $49.99/month for the first Contract-Free. However, the price then rises 40% to a final price of $69.99.

So, that means the price you actually pay for internet, averaged over two years, is $60/month.

Remember that Spectrum Internet includes the following fees when you compare pricing:

  • $5/month fee for WiFi equipment

Let’s compare that to Sonic:

The price of the Sonic Fusion X1 internet plan is $39.99/month for the first 12. However, the price jumps up 25% to $49.99 after that initial period.

So, the price of Sonic internet is actually $44.99/month, when averaged over two years.

Fusion X1 comes with some fees as well:

  • $9.50/month fee for WiFi equipment
  • Early termination fee if you break the contract

Spectrum Internet Plans

The 200 Mbps plan is Spectrum’s most common plan (may be 100 Mbps in some areas). Keep in mind that Spectrum pricing rises after the first year. So, the price you sign up for might not look so appealing in the long run. This is common, and Sonic uses the same pricing strategy.

Plan NameDownload SpeedPromo PriceFinal Price
Spectrum Internet200 Mbps$49.99/mo$69.99
Spectrum Internet Ultra400 Mbps$69.99/mo$94.99
Spectrum Internet GIG940 Mbps$109.99/mo$129.99

Sonic Internet Plans

In the areas where they overlap with Spectrum, Sonic plans are almost always DSL delivered over AT&T’s network. While they offer fiber in some areas, all their fiber coverage is in Northern California outside of Spectrum’s network area, so we’re not including those plans in the comparison here.

Plan NameDownload SpeedFinal Price
Fusion X120 Mbps$49.99
Fusion X240 Mbps$69.99
Page Summary
  • Spectrum offers speeds ranging from 200–940 Mbps in California.
  • Sonic mostly offers DSL and fiber-to-the-curb plans in the areas where they overlap with Spectrum.
  • Sonic often leases lines from AT&T, while Spectrum owns 100% of their infrastructure.

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Last Update: September 22, 2020
Published: June 30, 2020
CC BY-ND 4.0

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