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Optimum Internet Plans: Pricing, Speeds, Availability and the Fine Print

Considering Optimum internet? Here's a look at Optimum plans, plus a review of what to expect from the popular cable and fiber internet provider.

Article updated on March 20, 2024 at 1:00 PM PDT

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Written by 
David Anders
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David Anders Senior Writer
David Anders is a senior writer for CNET covering broadband providers, smart home devices and security products. Prior to joining CNET, David built his industry expertise writing for the broadband marketplace Allconnect. In his 5 plus years covering broadband, David's work has been referenced by a variety of sources including ArcGIS, DIRECTV and more. David is from and currently resides in the Charlotte area with his wife, son and two cats.
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Optimum home internet rating

How we calculated our rating

6.2
/ 10
SCORE
Speed
7/10
Value
7/10
Customer Care
5/10
Pros
  • High speeds with competitive pricing
  • No data caps, no contracts
  • Two-year price guarantee
  • Fiber service available to 2.7 million homes
Cons
  • Low customer satisfaction score
  • Slow upload speeds for cable internet customers

Best Optimum home internet plans

Plan Starting monthly priceMax download speeds (Mbps)Max upload speeds (Mbps)Connection type
Optimum 300 $40 30020Cable
Optimum Fiber 300 $40 300300Fiber
Optimum 500 $60 50020Cable
Optimum Fiber 500 $60 500500Fiber
Optimum 1Gig $80 94035Cable
Optimum Fiber 1 Gig $80 940940Fiber
Optimum Fiber 2 Gig $100 2,0002,000Fiber
Optimum Fiber 5 Gig $180 5,0005,000Fiber
Optimum Fiber 8 Gig $280 8,0008,000Fiber
Show more (5 items)

Many Optimum internet customers will have three or more options to choose from, including a gigabit plan and possibly three multi-gigabit plans. Exact speeds and pricing will vary by location, but all plans come with unlimited data, no equipment fees and no contracts.

If you're having trouble trying to decide which Optimum internet plan is best, I'd recommend the 500Mbps plan. It offers plenty of speed for multiple users and devices, and has a lower starting price than AT&T Fiber, Verizon Fios, Spectrum and other top ISPs for similar speeds.

Gig service is available to the majority of households serviceable for Optimum, but not all. Beyond that, many Optimum service areas -- approximately 2.7 million households -- will have access to fiber service with symmetrical upload and download speeds and multi-gig plan options. 

Locating local internet providers

Multi-gig internet service is still fairly new with few major providers offering anything above 1,000Mbps, but Optimum has recently introduced 2,000Mbps, 5,000Mbps and 8,000Mbps plans available in select areas starting at $120, $180 and $280 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 priced as well as or better than competing providers. AT&T, for example, has around the same pricing on its 2-gig and 5-gig plans, and Frontier's 2-gig plan starts at $110 a month.

Locating local internet providers

Optimum home internet review

Optimum checks just about every box when it comes to what we at CNET look for in a quality internet provider. It offers fast speeds, low introductory pricing and unlimited data with no contracts. There are even potential signup bonuses and free equipment rental in most service areas.

There's one box that consistently remains blank: customer satisfaction. Despite the competitive pricing, fast speeds and other perks, Optimum lingers at the bottom of customer satisfaction reports from sources like the American Customer Satisfaction Index and J.D. Power. Optimum claimed the bottom spot among major ISPs in the most recent ACSI rankings and surpassed only fellow (and former) Altice brand Suddenlink the year before.

What's the deal with Optimum? I'll cover everything you need to know below, from availability to added fees and the possible red flag that is low customer satisfaction.

No data caps, no contracts and a 2-year price guarantee

Optimum internet is free of data caps and contracts, regardless of the service type or plan. That's a nice contrast to rival cable internet providers like Cox and Xfinity, which may charge 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.

The fine print says "Pricing, terms and offers subject to change and discontinuance without notice," but the price guarantee is a 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, but as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. The ACSI added a category for rating Wi-Fi equipment and overall Wi-Fi quality in 2023 and Optimum landed at the bottom of all major ISPs.

It may not be bad for everyone. The Optimum device you get depends on the plan you choose and the network type (cable or fiber), and certain Optimum plans and those in fiber markets may come with a Wi-Fi 6 router. Optimum now offers WiFi 6E gateways and extenders for internet plans that are 1 Gig and above. Such devices can offer better Wi-Fi performance than older routers, so you may have a better experience with your Optimum equipment than others depending on the device you get.

As for installation, a standard install 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 equipment, which may be a good idea given the low satisfaction with the equipment Optimum provides. If you go that route, you'll need to have your compatible modem and router (or modem/router combo device) at the time of installation. Just keep in mind that using your own equipment will limit service upgrades and technical support. 

Optimum home internet availability

FCC map of Optimum coverage nationwide
FCC/Mapbox

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. 

It's primarily cable, with some fiber 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 gigabit download speeds, 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 fiber internet -- 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 2.7 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.

How does Optimum compare?

In the greater New York City area, there is a little overlap between Optimum and cable providers Spectrum and Xfinity. For the most part, Optimum has lower introductory pricing than both, and the lower pricing comes with faster speeds. Optimum and Verizon Fios are more closely matched, and share a much larger coverage area.

Optimum vs. Verizon Fios

Optimum and Verizon Fios share much of the same service areas in greater New York City, so pricing, speeds and service terms stay relatively competitive between them.

Optimum has the advantage of lower plan pricing, at least for the first 24 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 also cheaper, starting at $70 per month compared to $90 with Verizon. After 24 months, Verizon Fios becomes the cheaper option, but Optimum edges it out at the start.

Neither Optimum nor Verizon burden customers with equipment fees, data caps or contracts.

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 versus ISPs in other service areas

A good rule of thumb is fiber internet is better than cable and cable is better than DSL. If you have a fiber service from AT&T, CenturyLink, Frontier, Kinetic or others available at your address, the speed, reliability and overall value it presents is probably higher than what you'll get from Optimum's cable internet.

On the other hand, if the competing provider to Optimum in your area only offers a DSL connection (many of the aforementioned fiber providers also have large DSL networks), Optimum is likely to be the better choice for speed, reliability and value.

The wild card here is 5G home internet, which has recently added some much-needed competition to the broadband space, thanks to providers like T-Mobile, Verizon and now AT&T. Although maximum speeds are currently a bit lower with 5G home internet compared to cable, the pricing and service terms are as good as you'll find.

If you're looking for alternatives to Optimum and fiber isn't available in your area, I'd recommend checking to see if your address is serviceable for 5G home internet.

ACSI rankings for US customer satisfaction with internet service providers
ACSI

Optimum home internet: Customer satisfaction takes a bad turn

2023 was the first year the ACSI separated scores for fiber and non-fiber internet providers. The change did Optimum no favors as the ISP still landed in last place among all major providers with a 58/100. That's eight points below the industry average. It's also a one-point drop over last year's score (which was second-last to fellow and former Altice brand Suddenlink).

Image of J.D. Power's customer satisfaction rating for the East region in 2023.
J.D. Power

Optimum also did not fare well with J.D. Power, which gave the provider a score of 661/1,000 in 2023. The score (again) falls short of the industry average and lands last in the region, but it was at least an improvement over 2022's score of 642.

The ACSI and J.D. Power both score ISPs on a variety of customer experience indicators such as speed, performance during peak hours and call center satisfaction. The reports do not show how each provider scored in each category, so it's difficult to tell exactly where Optimum showed the biggest needs for improvement.

A brief look at the Reddit page for Optimum discussion hints at issues ranging from high prices and unclear billing to poor customer support and substandard equipment. Many comments on sites like Reddit should be taken with a grain of salt, of course, but that last topic of complaint comes with some support. One category the ACSI report did separate out by provider in 2023 was Wi-Fi equipment. Optimum ranked last among all major ISPs.

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 and J.D. Power 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 internet, in summary

If Optimum is available in your area, it's likely to be one of your better internet options, at least on paper. Optimum offers a variety of download speeds from 100Mbps to 8,000Mbps in select areas, for introductory pricing lower than or about the same as you'll find from most competitors with similar speed tiers. Optimum's 500Mbps plan is probably the best all-around plan when it comes to speed and value, but perks like unlimited data, free equipment rental and a two-year price guarantee make any Optimum plan worth considering.

Just keep in mind: there's probably a good reason (or two, or three) that the ISP has not fared well in customer satisfaction in recent years. 

Optimum home 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 optimum.net/support/phone-list. You can also find answers to common questions and live chat with an Optimum customer service representative here.

Show more

What is Optimum Advantage Internet?

Optimum Advantage Internet is a discounted internet service available to qualifying Optimum 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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Prefer to speak with an expert live? Call (833) 891-6413 for availability in your area.