Spectrum vs. Frontier Internet Providers Compared

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Spectrum vs. Frontier Internet Providers Compared

Staff Rating: 4.2

Customer Rating: 4.0

Average Entry-Level Price:

$50

Average Customer Speed:

243.02 Mbps

Most Popular Package:

Most Popular Package

Highest Advertised Speed:

1 GB

Connection Types: Cable
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Staff Rating: 3.8

Customer Rating: 3.0

Average Entry-Level Price:

$50

Average Customer Speed:

200.95 Mbps

Most Popular Package:

Most Popular Package

Highest Advertised Speed:

5 GB (fiber only)

Connection Types: DSL, Fiber
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Spectrum vs Frontier Internet Summary

If you’re choosing between Spectrum and Frontier, you’ll find some big differences between the two internet providers. Spectrum offers cable technology, but Frontier will give you either DSL or fiber, depending on where you live. According to the FCC, only about 30% of Frontier’s customers currently have a fiber option.

Spectrum has just been named by Ookla Speedtest.com as the fastest internet provider in the United States. You may be wondering how that’s possible, when fiber internet is usually faster. The answer is that Spectrum uses hybrid fiber-coaxial (HFC) networks that deliver much higher speeds than traditional cable.

The other reason that Spectrum’s service comes out as faster and more reliable than Frontier, overall, is that Frontier’s DSL is so much slower than their fiber internet. While DSL can give you the basics, DSL speeds will often fall below the FCC definition of high-speed internet. For that reason, DSL often can’t provide smooth service for HD streaming and gaming the way Spectrum’s HFC network can. That’s why overall, we recommend Spectrum if you’re considering Spectrum vs. Frontier.

Staff Rating 4.2

Spectrum offers gigabit speeds and great bundle deals

Spectrum is one of the two largest internet service providers in the country. Like its rival Xfinity, Spectrum is a cable internet company that uses hybrid fiber-coaxial (HFC) technology.

HFC brings you much faster speeds than old-fashioned coaxial cable internet. In select areas, Spectrum has started to offer 2 Gigs download speed and in most other areas can deliver up to 1 Gig (1000 Mbps).

Spectrum’s promotional prices for new customers are very good, and still remain reasonable when your 12-month promotion ends. The company also offers outstanding bundling deals, with cell phone lines currently only $29.99/month with your internet plan.

Spectrum has two big advantages over Xfinity. Spectrum’s pricing is much simpler, and Spectrum has no data caps. That’s why we give Spectrum the edge after comparing the two biggest cable internet providers head-to-head.

PROS

Gigabit download speeds and a reputation for reliability
Probably the best fiber prices in the country
24/7 customer service

CONS

Top speeds not as fast as the top fiber plans, though new technology may change that soon
Slower upload speeds than fiber, but higher speed is on the way with DOCSIS 4.0
Not available in some rural or remote areas
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Staff Rating 3.8

Frontier has good fiber pricing, but DSL will be much slower and more expensive for the speed you get

Frontier has the same split profile as other internet providers that offer both fiber and DSL. Frontier’s fiber internet offerings are outstanding across the board for both performance and pricing. But their DSL internet speed and cost will be mediocre compared to Frontier Fiber.

About 42% of customers In Frontier’s coverage area are currently able to choose fiber. With an aggressive fiber buildout plan, Frontier plans to expand its fiber footprint to 10 million locations by 2025 [1]. And those fiber connections will be FTTP, meaning all fiber-optic line, all the way to your home.

That’s good news, because the difference between DSL and fiber is night and day. Fiber internet will be much faster and more reliable, and you’ll get much more internet speed for the price you pay.

PROS

Probably the best fiber prices in the country
No data caps, no equipment fees
24-month price guarantee for DSL, no automatic hikes

CONS

DSL is more expensive and slower
Below-average customer satisfaction
Fiber is not available to many customers at present
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Spectrum vs Frontier Pricing

Pricing 4.25

Spectrum offers great initial deals, but bundling may be the best deal ever

Spectrum is a major player in internet service, with 30 million broadband subscribers [1]. Spectrum offers attractive promotional pricing, especially their first-tier internet plan at $49.99/month for up to 300 Mbps.

Spectrum offers unlimited data without caps

Spectrum offers a big price advantage because it has no hard data caps, unlike many other cable and DSL providers. If you’re a heavy-data-usage household including remote workers, a real-time gamers and streaming binge-watchers, having no data caps may be crucial for your budget. If you’re living by yourself and you watch a movie once a week, the absence of data caps won’t matter as much. But for a larger household, having no data caps will offer you peace of mind and a more predictable bill without overage charges.

Spectrum One, the bundle deal of the year?

In late 2022, Spectrum introduced a new bundle deal called Spectrum One that may just change your mind about your preferred internet service provider [2].

If you are an existing Spectrum customer, Spectrum will bundle their Spectrum Mobile cell phone service with your internet and charge you only $29.99/month for a line with unlimited data. And what’s more, they will throw in a second household cell phone unlimited line for free.

That’s right. You will get two cell phone plans for a year for $29.99/month. After a year, the second line will go to $29.99/month as well, which is still remarkable pricing when many of us have been paying $70/month for our cell phone plans. Here’s another little secret: Spectrum Mobile service is currently provided by Verizon networks. So, you will be getting major mobile power and coverage but saving over $100/month off the price of two typical cell phone plans. We’re betting that’s enough to send many of us to Spectrum.

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Pricing 4.0

Frontier will give you a good deal on fiber, but DSL varies widely and comprises 64% of the network

Frontier is the 8th-largest internet service provider in the United States, with 2.8 million broadband subscribers [1]The company has a total of 9.9 million copper passings and 5.5 million fiber passings, which means that in mid-2023, over 64% of their potential customers will still have only a DSL option [2].

Frontier’s main distinction among fiber internet providers is that you will get faster speeds compared to the competition. For example, Frontier’s first-tier fiber plan costs about $50/month at present, like many of its rivals. But that Frontier plan will give you 500 Mbps download and upload speeds, where the other fiber providers tend to start at 200 Mbps and 300 Mbps.

With no equipment fees and no data caps, Frontier Fiber offers the kind of simple, clear pricing that earns high ratings from us.

The only drawback is that Frontier Internet (the name for their DSL plans) does not provide the same kind of bargain, and for 70% of Frontier customers, DSL is the only option. Frontier pricing is just average for DSL in the industry at $49.99/month. Plus, the DSL speed you will be able to get at your address will vary depending on infrastructure. (DSL usually ranges from 3-50 Mbps download and 1-3 Mbps upload.) Average DSL pricing in the industry is not a great deal for customers compared to cable and fiber pricing. That’s why Frontier and many other providers are moving away from copper-based service in favor of fiber.

Frontier’s DSL service does have one pricing perk though. For 24 months, your price will be locked at your initial rate. That’s a nice, long price guarantee, compared to many other providers that only lock their rates for 6 months or a year.

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Spectrum vs Frontier Reliability & Performance

Reliability and Performance 4.5

Spectrum internet will rise to unprecedented speeds in next few years with up to 10/6 Gbps

In 2023, Spectrum was named by Speedtest® as the fastest internet provider in the United States for providing the highest average speed to customers [3]. Most Spectrum customers currently have a maximum available download speed of 940 Mbps. But Spectrum’s hybrid fiber-cable technology is already supplying 2 GB speeds in some areas. Either way, HFC will give you faster, more reliable internet service than anything but fiber.

Spectrum customers tend to report reliable, speedy performance these days. You don’t get glitching or freezing or network slowdowns in most cases. You’ll be well-equipped for gaming, videoconferencing, and HD streaming. On a personal note, I have been a Spectrum customer for three years, and my experience with their service has proven to be very smooth and reliable.

But there’s even more innovation coming from Spectrum that will boost HFC performance to fiber-like speeds.

If you sign up for Spectrum now, you’re going to get a major bandwidth boost in the next couple of years. Here’s the technical explanation with the specs.

Spectrum’s upgrade to the DOCSIS 4.0 standard over the next three years will deliver a maximum 10 Gbps download/ 6 Gbps upload, which can rival any current fiber speeds.

By 2025, 85% of Spectrum’s service footprint will have speeds of 5 Gbps download/1 Gbps upload [4].

Fiber has received some great press in the last few years. But hybrid fiber/cable networks like Spectrum’s may be about to have their day in the sun too.

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Reliability and Performance 4.0

Frontier Fiber offers speed and reliability, but their widespread DSL lags behind

Just like pricing, performance for Frontier plans is heavily split depending on whether you get fiber or DSL.

With Frontier Fiber, you can get anywhere from 500 Mbps to 5000 Mbps symmetrical upload and download speeds. That’s right up there with the top few providers in the fiber internet business. And $99.00/month for the 2 Gig plan is cheaper than comparable offerings from other ISPs, as is the pricing for the 5 Gig plan.

These multigigabit speeds will be more than sufficient for very large households with many devices all streaming or gaming simultaneously. Even 500 Mbps is still a lot of speed and will be more than capable of supporting a five- or six-person home and all the devices in it.

DSL performance will be unpredictable, but the only constant is that it will not deliver fiber-like performance. If you’re very lucky, you’ll get a speed above the FCC’s standard of broadband internet (25 Mbps/3 Mbps). With that speed, you’ll be able to do most standard internet activities such as streaming and browsing, though you’ll have to watch how many devices are online at once. But if you get a speed that’s 10 Mbps or lower, you may find your service glitching or freezing during heavy-data tasks.

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Spectrum vs Frontier Equipment, Installation & Bonus Features

Equipment, Installation and Bonus Features 4.25

Advanced WiFi and low equipment fees increase appeal for Spectrum

Spectrum will provide you with a free modem and either a Wave 2 router or an advanced, WiFi 6 compatible router [5]. The Charter Red-Dot Design award-winning router can support up to 200 devices simultaneously. User controls allow you to manage which devices are connected and when, and Security Shield automatically blocks online threats. You can even manage your router and your home wireless devices from the Spectrum app on your phone, with no complicated log-in or interface. The router will automatically switch channels to optimize your internet performance.

Spectrum offers low equipment fees

Spectrum equipment fees are standardized, very low, and easy to understand. Spectrum modems come free with your service, and Spectrum routers rent for $5/month. Simple, straightforward pricing, unlike the complicated equipment fee charts you have to read for other providers.

Spectrum installation fees

Spectrum’s installation fees are middle-of-the-road for the industry. Professional installation by a technician will cost you $59.99. You can self-install Spectrum too, with a $19.99 activation fee.

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Equipment, Installation and Bonus Features 4.0

No equipment fee for modem/router but mandatory installation fee for DSL

Frontier provides your basic modem/router at no charge when you get DSL or fiber internet.

There’s an odd quirk about Frontier installation, though. Usually, companies that offer both DSL and fiber are more likely to have a free self-install for the DSL, and mandatory tech installation for the fiber. But in Frontier’s case, the charges are reversed.

DSL customers will have a required tech installation that costs $85.

Fiber customers can self-install their own fiber if their household is eligible for a self-install kit. If not, they will pay a $50 tech installation fee.

So yet again, Frontier gives a much better deal to its fiber customers than its DSL customers.

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Spectrum vs Frontier Customer Experience & Support

Customer Experience & Support 3.75

Spectrum Customer Service available 24/7

Spectrum provides customer service by phone or online chat 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Spectrum also provides an extensive online troubleshooting guide and how-to resource library.

If you prefer in-person assistance, Spectrum supports brick-and-mortar stores across its coverage area. These physical locations can also be very handy when you want to exchange equipment.

Your Spectrum plan will give you access to a helpful and comprehensive mobile app. The app allows you to check for outages, manage your account, and do almost anything you would do online or by phone. You can even manage your WiFi settings through the app.

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Customer Experience & Support 3.0

Frontier has improved its customer service, but DSL seems to cause most complaints

Frontier receives lower ratings than many other service providers on public sites and with objective third-party surveys such as the J.D. Power Residential Internet Service Provider Satisfaction study [3].

The nature of most customer complaints hints that the problem is the DSL service, with references to outages and slow speeds. But there are also comments about poor customer service, so be aware that there may still be issues even if you get fiber internet.

However, Frontier’s customer ratings appear to be improving since the expansion of fiber service.

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Spectrum vs Frontier Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I order Spectrum internet service?
To order or learn more, call the number on this page or visit this Spectrum authorized retailer online.
What is fiber-optic internet offered by Frontier?
Fiber-optic internet is the most advanced type of internet service offered by Frontier. Fiber-optic cables transmit data with light signals, providing faster and more reliable internet speeds compared to traditional DSL connections. Fiber-optic internet is ideal for customers who require high-speed internet for activities like streaming, gaming, and large file downloads.
Does Frontier offer DSL internet service?
Yes, Frontier offers DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) internet service.DSL uses existing copper telephone lines to provide internet connectivity to customers. DSL is a reliable and widely available option for those who prefer a wired internet connection.
What are the benefits of choosing Paperless Billing with Frontier?
Opting for Paperless Billing with Frontier offers several benefits. First, you will not be charged the Printed Bill Fee. You will also contribute to environmental sustainability by reducing paper waste. Finally, all your bills will be organized in one place and easily accessible online.
What is the process for installing Frontier Internet?
When you sign up for Frontier Internet, a professional technician will be scheduled to install the service at your home. They will ensure that the necessary equipment is properly set up and connected, allowing you to start using Frontier Internet.
Can I keep my current email address with Frontier Internet?
Yes, you can usually keep your current email address when you switch to Frontier Internet. However, it’s important to check with Frontier’s customer support to confirm the details and requirements for email address migration.
Does Frontier have data caps on their internet plans?
No, Frontier does not enforce data caps on their internet plans. Frontier provides customers with unlimited data usage, allowing you to stream, browse, and download without worrying about exceeding any data limits or incurring additional charges.

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