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.
Optimum's low and still-declining customer satisfaction scores may tell a different story, however. The ISP landed next to last in 2022's American Customer Satisfaction Index ratings, surpassing only Suddenlink, another (former) internet brand under the Altice umbrella with Optimum.
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Speaking of Altice and Suddenlink, the media company recently made the move to unite Suddenlink 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 Speed Test customers will have three or more options to choose from, including a gigabit plan and possibly two multigigabit plans. Exact speeds and pricing will vary by location, but all plans come with unlimited data, no equipment fees and no contracts. Here's a look at the most common Optimum internet plans.
Optimum home internet plans Plan Starting monthly price Max download speeds (Mbps) Max upload speeds (Mbps) Optimum 300 $40 300 20 Optimum Fibre 300 $40 300 300 Optimum 500 $60 500 20 Optimum Fibre 500 $60 500 500 Optimum 1Gig $80 940 35 Optimum Fibre 1 Gig $80 940 940 Optimum Fibre 2 Gig $120 2,000 2,000 Optimum Fibre 5 Gig $180 5,000 5,000.
Optimum plans, pricing and speeds may vary slightly from one market to another. For example, select areas may also have the option of a low-cost 100Mbps plan and some locations will get 200Mbps or 400Mbps in place of the 300 and 500Mbps plans. 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 fibre service with symmetrical upload and download speeds and multigigabit plan options.
Multi-gig internet service 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 Verizon Fios Mix and Match plan structure where you choose an internet plan, then add individual TV or phone packages instead of selecting from prebuilt bundle packages. Spectrum 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 cable internet providers -- or any trap pricing schemes that will have you upgrading to a more expensive plan every year or so (looking at you, Cox). 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.
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 dropped by 15 to 30Mbps, 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 favours 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.
But hey, no data caps, no contracts and now a 2-year price guarantee
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 Cox and Xfinity, 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.
Hefty and unpredictable price increases were recently a concern with Optimum internet, but the ISP has since placed a two-year price guarantee on all plans for new customers. After the second year, a moderate price increase ($10 for most plans) may go into effect. Of course, the fine print says "Pricing, terms and offers subject to change and discontinuance without notice," but the price guarantee is a nice step in the right direction for a company that has struggled with customer satisfaction lately.
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 fibre), select Optimum plans and those in fibre markets may come with a Wi-Fi 6 router, 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 -- Brooklyn 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.
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