Optimum Internet Review: Not the Best, Not the Worst Internet Service

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Optimum home internet

Like

  • High speeds with competitive introductory pricing
  • No data caps, no contracts
  • High-tech, low-priced Wi-Fi
  • Fiber service available to 1.6 million homes

Don’t Like

  • Steep price increase after 12 months
  • Already low upload speeds drop lower for new customers
  • Customer satisfaction numbers are on the decline

In this article

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On the surface, Optimum appears to be one of the better internet options for fast speeds, low prices and high overall value. Add that its plans come with unlimited data, no equipment fee and no required contracts, choosing Optimum for your home internet service seems like a no-brainer.

Dig a little deeper, however, and you may find that what makes Optimum appealing — low pricing and fast speeds — can change abruptly. A recent price increase, the  and declining customer satisfaction numbers may prompt you to think twice before signing up with Optimum and parent company Altice.

Speaking of Altice, the media company recently made the move to unite Suddenlink, another Altice cable internet and TV service, and Optimum coverage areas under the Optimum brand. The move instantly retired the Suddenlink side of Altice and expanded Optimum’s footprint to 21 total states. 

Despite the name and image change, service in former Suddenlink coverage areas is largely the same. In short, if you had Suddenlink before, don’t expect things to be much different with Optimum.

Optimum internet plans and service details

Many Optimum internet customers will have three or more options to choose from, including a gigabit plan and possibly two multigigabit plans. Speeds and pricing will vary by location. Here’s a look at the most common Optimum internet plans.

Plan

Max speeds

Starting monthly price

Regular monthly price (after 12 months)

Monthly equipment fee

Data cap

Contract

Optimum 300

300Mbps download, 20Mbps upload

$40

$110

None

None

None

Fiber Optimum 300

300Mbps download, 300Mbps upload

$40

$110

None

None

None

Optimum 500

500Mbps download, 20Mbps upload

$60

$130

None

None

None

Fiber Optimum 500

500Mbps download, 500Mbps upload

$60

$130

None

None

None

Optimum 1 Gig

940Mbps download, 35Mbps upload

$80

$140

None

None

None

Fiber Optimum 1 Gig

940Mbps download, 940Mbps upload

$80

$140

None

None

None

Optimum’s 100Mbps plan is not available in all areas, and some locations will only be eligible for 200Mbps instead of 300Mbps, or 400Mbps in place of the 500Mbps plan. Additionally, gig service is available to the majority of households serviceable for Optimum, roughly 80%, but not all. Beyond that, many Optimum service areas — approximately 1.6 million households — will have access to fiber service with symmetrical upload and download speeds and multigigabit plan options.  

is still fairly new with few major providers offering anything above 1,000Mbps, but Optimum has recently introduced 2,000Mbps and 5,000Mbps plans available in select areas starting at $120 and $180 per month, respectively. 

Such prices for home internet can understandably feel a bit steep compared to other internet plans, but Optimum’s multi-gig plans are actually priced as well as or better than competing providers. AT&T, for example, has the same monthly pricing on its 2-gig and 5-gig plans, and Frontier’s 2-gig plan starts at $150 a month.  

Optimum FlexAbility plans break up the bundle (and the savings)

Most Optimum plans — especially Optimum 300, 500 and 1 Gig — are a pretty good deal if you just want internet. If you’re hoping to bundle with TV to take advantage of bundle savings though, the new FlexAbility plan structure will be less of a steal.

Via the new FlexAbility plans, Optimum lets you choose the internet plan you want and add a TV package and a mobile data plan. Here’s how it works: find out what Optimum plans are available at your address; choose the internet plan you want; add the TV package or mobile data plan you want, or not.

It’s pretty similar to the plan structure where you choose an internet plan, then add individual TV or phone packages instead of selecting from prebuilt bundle packages. does something similar, only without any of the perky marketing names.

The real point of FlexAbility plans seems to be that Optimum isn’t trying to lock you into a particular bundle package with services you don’t need — a less frequent but still common practice of — or any trap pricing schemes that will have you upgrading to a more expensive plan every year or so (). It also means that the bundle savings, which are typically the incentive for signing up for a bundle package, are also gone. Again, that won’t matter much if you’re just interested in internet service, but if you want to add TV, know that it will be more expensive without the bundle savings. 

Beware the 12-month price increase

The introductory pricing is excellent, but what about down the road? Optimum imposes a price increase after a year of service, like many ISPs. 

An Optimum spokesperson tells CNET that customers will receive a notification with an anticipated change to their rates before the introductory pricing’s expiration. How much that is, exactly, can be “subject to change.” 

Thankfully, Optimum doesn’t lock you into a contract and force you to decide between the high standard price or an early termination fee. If the price increase is too much (or more than you’re willing to pay), you can cancel without penalty. Hopefully, another provider will have more transparent pricing .

Upload speeds are competitively low

Cable internet upload speeds will be lower than the download speeds. That’s just the nature of a cable internet connection. Optimum internet is no different, but parent company Altice decided to take its upload speeds down even further last year. On July 12, 2021, upload speeds on Optimum plans , depending on the plan.

Existing Optimum customers didn’t have to worry about their upload speeds falling, unless they changed their plan by upgrading or downgrading their speeds. New customers, however, are stuck with the slower upload speeds. It’s a bold move by Altice and one that won’t do any favors for the millions of people who continue to work and learn from home, but surely the decision was made for good reason, right?

Altice claims that the speed decrease is not the result of limited network capabilities or difficulty keeping up with demand. Instead, the company voluntarily lowered upload speeds to ensure they “are in line with other ISPs and aligned with the industry.” So, Altice reduced upload speeds on all Optimum cable internet plans to better match the slower upload speeds of other major cable internet providers. 

That is absurd.

But hey, no data caps or contracts

On the bright side, Optimum internet is free of data caps and contracts, regardless of the service type or plan. That’s a nice contrast to rival providers and , each of which charges overage fees up to $50 or higher for going over your data allowance. The no-contract requirement is another nice perk compared to Cox and Xfinity, which typically require a term agreement of at least one year to get the lowest pricing. 

I should mention that Optimum internet isn’t completely unlimited. The Acceptable Use Policy states that “excessive use of bandwidth, that in Altice’s sole opinion, places an unusually large burden on the network or goes above normal usage” could lead to service disruptions. Most ISPs have a similar policy, and you’d have to go out of your way to use that much bandwidth, especially consistently. If you’re using the internet for streaming, gaming, working and learning from home, and so on (i.e., the same as any other household), you shouldn’t have a problem.

Optimum Wi-Fi equipment and fees

There is no longer an equipment fee with Optimum internet, and the equipment you get isn’t half bad, either. While the model you get depends on the plan you choose and the network type (cable or fiber), select Optimum plans and those in fiber markets may come with a , which can offer better Wi-Fi performance than older routers. Regardless of the Optimum Wi-Fi router that comes with your service, the equipment fee is included.

As for installation, standard installation is included at no extra cost when you order online. If you’d prefer professional installation, including Wi-Fi configuration on up to six devices and hardwiring on one device, it’ll add a modest $59 to your initial costs.

Using your own equipment

Optimum is one of several providers that allows you to use your own equipment. You’ll need to provide your own compatible modem and router (or modem/router combo device) at installation. Using your own equipment will also limit service upgrades and technical support. 

Nationwide Optimum internet coverage map

FCC/Mapbox

Optimum home internet availability

Optimum covers two boroughs in the greater New York City area — and the Bronx — and just a stretch beyond. North to south, serviceability runs from Dutchess County, New York, to Toms River, New Jersey. East to west, Optimum is available from the tip of Long Island and past Bridgeport, Connecticut, to a sliver of Pennsylvania along the New Jersey border to the west. Like much of Queens and Staten Island, there are some pockets in between that are not serviceable for Optimum internet.

Since parent company Altice united Suddenlink and Optimum coverage areas under the Optimum brand, coverage has expanded to include 21 total states. Outside of the greater New York City area, Optimum is now available in parts of Arizona, Arkansas, California, Idaho, Kentucky, North Carolina, Texas and West Virginia, among others.  

It’s primarily cable, with some FTTH mixed in

As mentioned above, Optimum primarily uses a cable or cable hybrid network to deliver service. Cable isn’t necessarily bad as it can offer , but the technology fails to compare to the speed and consistency you get with a fiber connection.

About a tenth of those in Optimum service areas can get fiber service, but the company is looking to change that. Altice acknowledges that — specifically fiber-to-the-home service — is the immediate future of home internet and has thus worked to build and expand a fiber network. 

An Optimum spokesperson tells CNET that Optimum FTTH service is already available to more than 1.6 million homes, around a tenth of those serviceable for Optimum internet, with more to come as “fiber deployment continues at a rapid pace.” Fiber service comes at no extra cost compared to Optimum’s traditional cable internet and has symmetrical or near-symmetrical upload speeds. Altice did not lower the upload speeds on its fiber service.

Optimum vs. Verizon Fios

share much of the same service areas, so pricing, speeds and service terms stay relatively competitive between them. Here’s a look at how the two compare:

Pricing

Optimum has the advantage of lower plan pricing, at least for the first 12 months of service. The Optimum 300 plan is around the same price as Verizon’s lowest-priced plan, which also offers max speeds of 300Mbps. Optimum’s gig service is slightly cheaper, starting at $80 per month compared to $90 with Verizon. Neither Optimum nor Verizon charges an equipment rental fee, so they’re even in that respect. After 12 months, Verizon Fios becomes the cheaper option, but Optimum edges it out at the start.

Speeds

The faster provider will depend on which Optimum service type is available at your address. If your home is eligible for Optimum fiber, Optimum wins the race with speeds up to 5,000Mbps. On the other hand, if the choice comes down to cable internet from Optimum or Verizon Fios, you’ll get significantly faster upload speeds and possibly better speed reliability from the 100% fiber connection that comes with Verizon Fios.

Data caps and contracts

Neither provider enforces data caps or contracts. Call it a draw.

Customer satisfaction

Verizon Fios leads all providers, including Optimum, in ACSI ratings and J.D. Power’s rating in the East region. 

All things considered, Optimum and Verizon Fios are closely matched. If introductory pricing drives your decision, Optimum is likely to be your better option, but if standard pricing, upload speeds and customer satisfaction are more of a concern, you may want to consider Verizon Fios. 

Optimum vs. other cable providers and DSL internet

There is a little overlap between Optimum and cable providers and . For the most part, Optimum has lower introductory pricing than both, though Xfinity may have the absolute cheapest plan in some areas. However, neither Spectrum nor Xfinity can come close to Optimum’s mid-tier and gig plan pricing.

Xfinity has faster max speeds than Optimum (and Spectrum), but you can get gigabit from any three. Optimum has a larger fiber footprint in the greater New York City area than Spectrum or Xfinity, so you’re likely to get faster upload speeds with Optimum.

I won’t dive much into Optimum versus service from providers like or . Just know that if DSL is an option in your area along with Optimum, go with Optimum — it’s likely to be cheaper and faster.

ACSI rankings for US customer satisfaction with internet service providersACSI rankings for US customer satisfaction with internet service providers

ACSI

Customer satisfaction takes a bad turn

The  gave Optimum a customer satisfaction score of 59 out of 100 in 2022, a one-point decrease from 2021, which was already a five-point drop over 2020. The new score came in slightly above , the former Altice brand. It’s worth noting that the Altice brands accounted for the two bottom spots.

jd-power-isp-ranks-eastjd-power-isp-ranks-east

Among all internet providers scored by J.D. Power, Optimum was second-worst in the US East region, notching a customer satisfaction rating of 655 out of 1,000.

J.D. Power

Optimum also did not fare well with , which placed the provider below the 714 average for the East region with a score of 655 out of 1,000. Optimum customer satisfaction came in above Frontier (614) but fell just below Spectrum (676) and well below Cox (708), Xfinity (725) and Verizon (758). 

It’s unclear what exactly led to Optimum’s subpar customer satisfaction score with J.D. Power as the company evaluates customer feedback on several factors, including service reliability, customer service experiences and billing. 

It’s unlikely that service reliability is a major concern among customers. The website , which tracks user complaints about service outages, lists numerous Optimum outages in recent months — but that’s true of almost every provider, and with Optimum, almost none of these apparent outages appeared to be widespread or long-lasting. 

As for speed reliability, the (on speeds up to 200Mbps). If speed and bestgooglethis service reliability aren’t major culprits bringing the score down, it’s possible customer service experiences and billing issues — like the lack of pricing transparency — go a long way to affect customer satisfaction.

Up until 2020, there wasn’t anything too alarming about Optimum’s scores that would push me one way or the other. But the consistent, year-over-year drops in ACSI ratings may be cause for concern. Yes, ISPs don’t score well in general, but it’s not good to be near the bottom of a bad bunch.

Optimum, in summary

If Optimum is available in your area, it’s likely to be one of your better internet options. Optimum offers a variety of download speeds from 100Mbps to 5,000Mbps in select areas, for introductory pricing lower than or about the same as you’ll find from most competitors with similar speed tiers. The lack of contracts or data caps adds to the overall value of the service, as does the lack of an equipment rental fee. Just watch out for that price increase after 12 months, and don’t expect upload speeds faster than you’d get from any other cable internet provider.

Optimum internet FAQs

How do I get in touch with Optimum customer service?

Optimum technical support is available 24/7, while general customer service is available Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Optimum customer service number varies by location. Find the appropriate number at . You can also find answers to common questions and live chat with an Optimum customer service representative .

What is Optimum Advantage Internet?

Optimum Advantage Internet is a discounted internet service available to qualifying Optimum and Suddenlink customers. The plan comes with download speeds up to 50Mbps and upload speeds up to 3Mbps, starting at around $15 per month. Equipment is included at no additional cost and as with all Optimum internet plans, there is no data cap or contract.

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What happened to Cablevision?

Altice acquired networks previously operated by Cablevision in 2016. Since the acquisition, Altice has transitioned service in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania to the Optimum brand.

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