Charter Communications has had a rocky history. In 2009, the company walked away from $8 billion worth of debt by declaring bankruptcy and had to sell off many of its assets. However, Charter has since rebounded and now has approximately 6.8 million customers in 29 states and employs approximately 21,000 people. In 2013, Charter acquired Optimum West from Cablevision for $1.63 billion, which gives Charter a larger footprint in the West. This internet service provider (ISP) provides internet plans with speeds ranging from 30 Mbps to 100 Mbps in select areas of the country.
Charter has simplified home internet service plans. The company widely offers two plans; which one is right for you largely depends on where you live. The Mountain West region has a plan that offers download speeds of up to 15 Mbps and upload speeds of up to 2 Mbps. In Charter's other coverage areas, you can experience download speeds of up to 30 Mbps with upload speeds up to 4 Mbps. In a few select areas, download speeds can reach up to 100 Mbps, but be prepared to pay substantially more for this service.
Charter is more widespread than it was just a few years ago. As we reviewed internet service providers, we used several random addresses to test coverage. While none of the rural and urban addresses we commonly tested with worked with Charter, we were still able to find service areas with a few extra addresses. These addresses were generally in the suburban Northeast. The biggest addition to the service’s coverage area has been the Mountain West region in early 2013. Charter now provides services in Utah, Colorado, Montana and Wyoming. Consistency of internet speed and uptime varies by area, so it would be wise to check the speed in your area before signing up with Charter.
With every internet plan, Charter includes email accounts with 2GB of storage (10 for the 30 Mbps plan and five for the 15 Mbps plan), a free internet modem and the Charter Security Suite. The Charter Security Suite includes parental controls, antivirus and antispyware protection, a firewall and anti-phishing abilities. With your internet plan, Charter also includes a 24-hour dedicated technical support line. You can also bundle your TV and phone services with your internet plan to receive discounts.
In terms of customer support, you can contact Charter by phone, email or chat. The online support page holds volumes of helpful information such as how to use the security suite, the modem and the email service. Charter also posts user guides and information about billing. Although we did not encounter any problems with Charter's support, some have complained about problems getting the service to work consistently and challenges with communicating with customer support. With ISPs, service can vary depending on your location, so it is worth looking into the service in your neighborhood before signing up with a plan.
Charter has proven to provide fast internet speeds to its residential customers. We like that this ISP provides free security software and parental controls for all of its customers. If Charter is available in your area, we recommend that you talk to your neighbors who use Charter prior to signing up to discover what kinds of speeds you can expect, as well as what experiences they have had with customer service.