Suddenlink Review – 2020

A cable TV provider that also offers internet and telephone services over its network. It is the USA’s seventh-largest cable internet provider. The company’s service area includes territory in 19 states.

Pros of Suddenlink

  • Faster than DSL
  • Network is partially fiber optic
  • No data caps on higher plans
  • Offers bundles that include internet, TV, and/or telephone service
  • Free installation

Cons of Suddenlink

  • Merger with Optimum could cause disruption

Table of Contents

Overview of Suddenlink Internet Services

The name Suddenlink came into being in 2006. Before that year, the company was called Cebridge Connections. Cebridge was founded in 2003 with headquarters in St Louis, Missouri. The company expanded by taking over other cable TV companies and buying sections of networks from larger companies. In 2015 Suddenlink was taken over by Altice, Dutch telecom multinational. Altice formed and American subsidiary called Altice USA. At the time of the purchase, Suddenlink was more or less the only asset of Altice USA. A year later, Altice took over Cablevision, which marketed into residential services as Optimum.

Altice is a fast-growing enterprise and invests in telecommunications systems all over the world, including mobile telephone providers.

The Suddenlink name might not be around for much longer. Altice is proceeding cautiously with its brand image and just introducing its name to the US public to establish familiarity. It started by renaming Optimum to “Optimum by Altice” and Suddenlink to “Suddenlink by Altice.” Eventually Optimum and Suddenlink will merge under the Altice brand.

Some Points About Suddenlink

Suddenlink uses a hybrid fiber-coaxial network (HFC). This term refers to the type of cable used for the system. It is a good blend of fiber-optic and coaxial cable. The customer’s home is linked to the internet access point at the Suddenlink premises in two phases. From the house to a local exchange, the connection is carried by coaxial cable. The exchange sends all neighborhood transmission down the same cable for the trip onwards to the ISP.

That long-distance shared cable is called a trunk and it is carried over fiber-optics. Fiber-optic cable has a high capacity and great speed. The coaxial cable used for the last stretch to the home doesn’t have to meet as much demand because it only serves one household. So, it doesn’t need to have the capacity of fiber-optics.

The HFC blend of cable types is a very good idea because it creates a fast internet service at a lower price than a full fiber internet system. It isn’t quite as fast a fiber network, but people are prepared to compromise a little on speed in order to get a big saving. So, Suddenlink customers are getting a very good deal. However, by all reports, they don’t seem to be happy.

The ACSI Telecommunications Report 2019, published by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) reports on, among other things, the customer satisfaction ratings of the top internet service providers in the USA. The top score was gained by Verizon Fios and that was 70%. The average score of all of the ISPs in the survey was 62%. Suddenlink gets 61% in 2018, putting it in fourth place and 60% in 2019, which got it the joint fifth place, alongside Cox Cable.

Further investigation is needed to understand why customers who are getting good speeds at a low price aren’t satisfied with their internet service.

Suddenlink Plans

Here is a selection of Suddenlink’s internet-only plans.

 

Plan Download Speed Upload Speed Data Cap
Internet 200 200 Mbps 20 Mbps 350 GB
Internet 400 400 Mbps 40 Mbps None
Internet 1Gig 1000 Mbps 50 Mbps None

The data cap on the Internet 200 plan is low. Data caps are not unusual in the internet business. Many companies set their data limits higher than regular use would hit – usually at 1 TB. Users who go over the data usage limit are charged $15 for each 50 GB block of extra data that they use.

Customers signing up for the Internet 400 and Internet 1Gig plans get unlimited data, so they don’t need to worry about data caps and overage charges. However, there is a “reasonable use” clause in the standard Suddenlink contract, which means that they can cut off customers whom they deem to be using excessive data with their “unlimited” plan.

The speeds offered by Suddenlink are not the same everywhere. Of the 19 states where Suddenlink offers internet service, it provides a top speed in 17 of these. However, the top speed available in Idaho and Indiana is just 15 Mbps.

Suddenlink Pricing Overview

The table below shows a selection of Suddenlink’s internet service plans and their prices.

 

Plan Promotional Price per Month Regular Price per Month Installation Fee Activation Fee Network Enhancement Fee/Month Equipment Cost/Month
Internet 200 $34.99 $85 $0 or $50 $40 $3.50 $10
Internet 400 $39.99 $95 $0 or $50 $40 $3.50 $10
Internet 1Gig $69.99 $125 $0 or $50 $40 $3.50 $10

All prices are all subject to tax. Customers that choose the Internet 400 or Internet 1Gig plans will get a $50 Amazon gift card as a signing bonus.

The modem offered by Suddenlink includes a Wi-Fi router. You don’t have to rent a modem from the company, but if you connect your own instead, you need to get approval on the suitability of that modem from Suddenlink. Alternatively, Suddenlink will sell you a modem for $80. However, that doesn’t include a Wi-Fi router.

A straightforward installation is free. However, if you need a network socket fitted, or if you want multiple devices in your home set up, there is a charge of $50. Regardless of whether the new customer already has a modem and which installation type is chosen, the company will charge an additional activation fee.

There is no explanation on the Suddenlink website for the Network Activation Fee. It is hard to understand why that charge can’t be folded into the monthly fee for the internet service. Optimum makes the same charge, so it must originate with the policy of Altice, the parent company of both internet providers.

The discount period lasts for 12 months. The customer is tied into a contract for that period and will have to pay an early termination fee (ETF) for breaking the contract during that period. The ETF is up to $200, but reduces with each month that passes, leaving fewer months remaining on the contract at the point of termination. Suddenlink offers a 30-day money-back guarantee and those customers that use the option to backout in the first month don’t have to pay the ETF.

Altice Advantage Internet

Low-income households can get a special rate for Suddenlink internet services. This plan is called Altice Advantage Internet. This service costs $14.99 per month and that price includes a modem. The service has a typical speed of 30 Mbps.

Households qualify for the plan if they meet one of the following criteria:

  • Eligible for or participates in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP)
  • New York City resident and attends a New York City public school
  • Eligible for or receives Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and 65 years of age or older
  • Veteran receiving state or federal public assistance

 

Subscribers to the plan have to pay an installation fee of $20. The plan includes a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Suddenlink Customer Service

Customers can resort to a telephone helpline for customer support. The website has a live chat facility for contact with a Suddenlink customer service representative. The site also has a help area that includes video tutorials, answers to common questions, troubleshooting guides, and other useful tips.

Each customer gets an account page at the Suddenlink website, which is password protected. This page enables each customer to access, download, and pay bills and also to raise support requests from the technical department.

A big advantage that Suddenlink has is its chain of stores. Customers can go in a speak to someone face to face instead of hanging on the phone waiting in a queue. The store is also a good place to take any broken equipment for repair.

Choosing Suddenlink Plans

Be careful when you select your internet plan with Suddenlink. You will be tempted by the low prices that you see on the site, but factor in all of those hidden charges when you work out your budget. Also, keep in mind that the price will go up at the end of the first year and remember that getting out of the contract within a year will cost money.

Suddenlink is primarily a TV carrier. That means they offer service bundles that package together internet services with a TV entertainment plan. The company makes the combined price of TV and internet cheaper than you would pay by taking out the two systems on separate contracts. It is also possible to add a landline telephone service to the package.

All in all, Suddenlink seems to offer a good service, although the regular prices that customers pay at the end of the discount period are a little high. The 30-day money-back guarantee gives you a back-out option if you take up an internet subscription and then discover whatever it is that makes its customers give the company such a low satisfaction score.