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Altice plans to cut upload speeds for its Optimum and Suddenlink cable internet plans

New subscribers may see speeds as low as 14% of what current customers get.

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trey-paul
Trey Paul Senior Editor
Trey Paul is a CNET senior editor covering broadband. His 20+ years of experience as a writer and editor include time at CNET's sister site, Allconnect, and working with clients like Yahoo!, Google, The New York Times and Choice Hotels. An avid movie fan, Trey's career also includes being a film and TV critic while pursuing a degree in New York.
Expertise Home internet and broadband, including plans, providers, internet speeds and connection types. Movies and film studies. Credentials
  • Master's degree in Cinema Studies from NYU and interviews with Conan O'Brien, Stan Lee and some of his biggest Star Trek childhood idols
Trey Paul
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Altice

While internet service providers are touting the increased download speeds of their introductory plans and their participation in the Emergency Broadband Benefit, Altice USA, which owns Optimum and Suddenlink, earlier this week announced a pending reduction in the upload speeds of its hybrid fiber-coax cable internet plans.

Effective July 12, Optimum will drop the upload speeds of its HFC plans from a range of 35-50 megabits per second to 5-35Mbps. The most extreme change is in the Optimum Online plan, which goes from a 35Mbps upload speed to just 5Mbps, a drop of over 80%. Here are the specifics:

Optimum upload speed changes

PlanMax download speedCurrent upload speedNew upload speed (effective July 12)
Optimum Online 100Mbps35Mbps5Mbps
Optimum 200 200Mbps35Mbps10Mbps
Optimum 300 300Mbps35Mbps20Mbps
Optimum 400 400Mbps40Mbps20Mbps
Optimum 500 500Mbps35Mbps20Mbps
Optimum Gig 940Mbps50Mbps35Mbps
Show more (1 item)

Lower upload speeds will impact the performance of certain online activities, like uploading large files and documents, hopping on Zoom conferences and online gaming. It's especially true when connecting wirelessly, over Wi-Fi, and in households with multiple internet users.

Locating local internet providers

According to an Ars Technica article on the coming change, the newly adjusted upload speeds will only be effective for new customers. Current subscribers will not see any change to their upload speeds unless they change their current service plan. An Altice spokesperson confirmed, "This tier adjustment is for new customers or existing customers if they make a change to their HFC data service (existing customers will not be affected unless they upgrade, downgrade or change services)."

Altice also shared that the changes in customer upload speeds will be implemented with Suddenlink, which primarily serves customers in the southern US (Optimum mostly covers states in the northeast). The changes are very similar:

Locating local internet providers

Suddenlink upload speed changes

PlanMax download speedCurrent upload speedNew upload speed (effective July 12)
Suddenlink 200 Internet 200Mbps20Mbps10Mbps
Suddenlink 300 Internet 300Mbps30Mbps20Mbps
Suddenlink 400 Internet 400Mbps40Mbps20Mbps
Suddenlink 1 Gig Internet 940Mbps50Mbps35Mbps

An Altice spokesperson said that the new upload speeds "are in-line with other ISPs and aligned with the industry." At first blush, there's some truth to that. Optimum Online, the company's entry-level cable internet plan, currently features 35Mbps upload speed. Uploads with comparable cable internet plans from major providers such as Cox, Spectrum and Xfinity all range from just 5-10Mbps. None of those providers offer upload speeds of 35Mbps unless you subscribe to a top-tier plan with gigabit download speeds.

But instead of throttling back to the pack, why not use the higher upload speeds as a selling point? Seems like a missed opportunity by Altice. It also raises the question of whether the changes are due to potential issues with Optimum's network. 

Altice disputed that. "Our network continues to perform very well despite the significant data usage increases during the pandemic," its spokesperson said. "Also, to be clear ... We are not throttling speeds. These are new tiers that go into effect on July 12." 

Whatever term you choose to use, what is crystal clear is a change is coming.