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

Plan Max download speed Current upload speed New upload speed (effective July 12)
Optimum Online 100Mbps 35Mbps 5Mbps
Optimum 200 200Mbps 35Mbps 10Mbps
Optimum 300 300Mbps 35Mbps 20Mbps
Optimum 400 400Mbps 40Mbps 20Mbps
Optimum 500 500Mbps 35Mbps 20Mbps
Optimum Gig 940Mbps 50Mbps 35Mbps

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.

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:

Suddenlink upload speed changes

Plan Max download speed Current upload speed New upload speed (effective July 12)
Suddenlink 200 Internet 200Mbps 20Mbps 10Mbps
Suddenlink 300 Internet 300Mbps 30Mbps 20Mbps
Suddenlink 400 Internet 400Mbps 40Mbps 20Mbps
Suddenlink 1 Gig Internet 940Mbps 50Mbps 35Mbps

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.