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CenturyLink vs. Frontier: Which is Better For You?

CenturyLink has the best DSL deal but Frontier gives you the fastest fiber of the two.

  • Best for variety
    • Customer rating: 3.6/5.0
    • Price: $30.00–$75.00/mo.
    • Speed: Up to 100–940Mbps
    • Internet type: Fiber, DSL
    • Data cap: No cap
    • Contract: No contract
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  • Best for speed
    • Customer rating: 3.6/5.0
    • Price: $39.99–$154.99/mo.
    • Fiber Speed: Up to 500–5,000Mbps
    • Internet type: Fiber, DSL
    • Data cap: No cap
    • Contract:Optional 1-year contract with Visa Reward Card

Compare CenturyLink and Frontier head to head

CenturyLink is the better deal for DSL internet. It offers one plan with speeds up to 140 Mbps.  But Frontier is the obvious choice if you want the fastest fiber internet plan you can get, with speeds up to 5,000 Mbps (5 Gbps). CenturyLink offers only half that.

Pros and cons: CenturyLink vs. Frontier


  • Wide geographic availability
  • No data caps and no price hikes


  • No multigig internet
  • Limited fiber availability




  • Wide DSL availability
  • No price hikes and no data caps


  • Added fees for equipment and installation
  • Limited fiber availability

Enter your zip code to see if CenturyLink or Frontier are available in your area.

Plans and pricing: CenturyLink vs. Frontier

CenturyLink is the better deal with DSL internet, hands down, but it’s generally on equal ground with fiber internet. Both providers have a gigabit plan with similar pricing, but CenturyLink adds a cheaper, slower plan, while Frontier adds a faster, more expensive plan.

Don’t know how much speed you need? Head over to our handy How Much Speed Do You Need? Tool to determine what speed range your household needs.

PackagePriceSpeedInternet typeView plans
Simply Unlimited Internet 100Mbps$55.00/mo.Up to 100MbpsDSL
Simply Unlimited Internet 140Mbps$55.00/mo.Up to 140MbpsDSL
CenturyLink Fiber Internet 200Mbps$30.00/mo.*Up to 200MbpsFiber
CenturyLink Fiber Gigabit Internet$75.00/mo.§Up to 940MbpsFiber

You don’t need a lot of speed to stream music and video, but all that bandwidth adds up when multiple users access your DSL connection simultaneously. Get CenturyLink’s DSL internet if you don’t need more bandwidth than 200 Mbps.

CenturyLink’s fiber gigabit price is on par with Frontier’s—there’s only a $5 difference between their gigabit plans. What CenturyLink lacks is a multigig fiber plan to compete with Frontier’s 2 Gbps fiber internet.

Like Frontier, CenturyLink has unlimited data on all of its plans—a big plus for heavy internet users.

Frontier plans and pricing

PackagePriceSpeedInternet typeView plans
Frontier Internet$64.99/mo.* w/Auto Pay & Paperless BillCall provider for detailsDSL
Frontier Fiber Internet 500$39.99/mo. w/Auto Pay & Paperless BillUp to 500MbpsFiber
Frontier Fiber 1 Gig$59.99/mo. w/Auto Pay & Paperless BillUp to 1,000MbpsFiber
Frontier Fiber 2 Gig$99.99/mo.** w/Auto Pay & Paperless BillUp to 2,000MbpsFiber
Frontier Fiber 5 Gig$154.99/mo.# w/Auto Pay & Paperless BillUp to 5,000MbpsFiber

If speed is what you need from a DSL connection, then CenturyLink is your best option of the two.

But with fiber, CenturyLink offers an unbeatable price with the 200 Mbps plan. However, if you need gigabit speeds, Frontier offers a cheaper 1 Gig plan.

Frontier also offers a fiber plan with speeds up to 5,000 Mbps, whereas CenturyLink does not. Frontier is one of several internet providers in the US currently offering a 5 Gbps fiber plan, competing with similar plans from AT&T and Optimum.

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Deals and promotions: CenturyLink vs. Frontier

If you refer a new customer to CenturyLink services and they sign up, you and the new customer will both get a reward of up to $100.
Order a qualifying Frontier fiber internet plan to get a free installation and a free rental of the Amazon eero Pro 6 or 6E router. You also get a $200 Visa Reward Gift Card if you sign up for the Fiber 2 Gig plan.

Speed: CenturyLink vs. Frontier

CenturyLink has the fastest DSL plan of the two at 140 Mbps, but you may see speeds topping out at 100 Mbps, depending on where you live.

CenturyLink and Frontier offer matching gigabit fiber plans, at matching prices. Frontier has a 500 Mbps plan, but CenturyLink is the only provider of the two with a 200 Mbps fiber plan if you don’t need a lot of bandwidth and are looking to pay less than $50 a month for fiber internet.

Frontier has the fastest fiber plan of the two with speeds up to 5,000 Mbps (5 Gbps) for around $150 per month, however most households don’t need that kind of speed.

How does your speed compare with CenturyLink and Frontier?

Are you getting the short end of the stick and losing out on some of those megabits? Download our speed test app to see if you need to switch providers.

How does your speed compare with CenturyLink and Frontier?

Are you getting the short end of the stick and losing out on some of those megabits? Run our speed test to see if you need to switch providers.

Extra fees: CenturyLink vs. Frontier

CenturyLink and Frontier have dramatically reduced their fees and costs over the years. What remains for both providers is a low-cost service at a price that should remain stable for the duration of your agreement.

CenturyLink fees

Installation$15.00–$99.00 (free with gigabit fiber)

CenturyLink’s service is considerably streamlined, with the only guaranteed fee being taxes on the network itself. Installation costs vary based on location (if your home already has a fiber or cable line running to it, you won’t have to pay for it) and taxes also vary based on states and municipalities.

The only consistent fee for CenturyLink customers will be for equipment, which can be negated by buying a DSL modem or router. We provide a few resources to get you started:

Frontier fees

Expert installation$85 expert installation for DSL; $50 expert installation for fiber plans
EquipmentNo fees

Frontier currently charges a $50 installation fee for fiber plans and a $85 fee to expertly install DSL service. Frontier doesn’t charge a monthly fee for its DSL modem or wireless gateway, giving it an edge over CenturyLink.

Customer ratings: CenturyLink vs. Frontier

OverallSpeedPriceReliabilityCustomer service

CenturyLink ranks within the bottom half of four out of five categories in our latest customer satisfaction survey. Its highest placement is in price, while its weakest point is speed satisfaction, hitting rock bottom in that category and falling a few points shy of the national average (3.8).

Like CenturyLink, Frontier ranks in the bottom half of four out of five categories in our survey. It ranks a little higher than CenturyLink in speed, reliability, and customer service but falls slightly behind in price and overall customer satisfaction.

Contracts: CenturyLink vs. Frontier

Frontier requires a one-year contract for its fiber plans—there’s no annual contract for its DSL service. Discounted pricing for its Fiber Internet 500 plan ends after 12 months, while the discount extends out to 36 months with its Fiber 1 Gig plan. There is no discount with its Fiber 2 Gig plan.

CenturyLink doesn’t require contracts at all, regardless of whether you opt for fiber or DSL, allowing you to cancel at any time. It also locks in its prices for life, just as long as you remain on that specific contract.

Internet connection types: CenturyLink vs. Frontier

CenturyLink and Frontier primarily offer DSL internet, which runs over existing telephone lines. Fiber-to-the-home is a completely new connection type and installation from the street to your wall, so those plans aren’t as widely available. DSL has slower download and upload speeds (topping out at 140 Mbps), while fiber is capable of much faster download speeds and symmetrical upload speeds.

Get a fiber connection over DSL if it’s available to you.

Installation: CenturyLink vs. Frontier

Installation fee: $15–$99 (free for gigabit fiber)

Installation type: Pro and standard install





Expert installation: $85 for DSL; $50 for fiber

Installation type: Pro install only



CenturyLink installs your DSL or fiber service for $99, but you can get standard installation (basically a self-install kit) for $15. Frontier charges $85 for expert installation for its DSL plan and $50 to install  fiber.

With CenturyLink, you need a professional installation (which includes network setup) if you don’t have a DSL or fiber jack. If you do have an existing DSL or fiber jack, you can opt for DSL standard installation.

Installing CenturyLink’s DSL equipment is a fairly straightforward process. Just plug in a few cables here and there, and then configure your network settings. If you need help, check out CenturyLink install guide.

Frontier does not offer a self-install kit at this time.


Renting is simple: you can go to a CenturyLink or Frontier brick-and-mortar store and get the equipment you need. They can also mail your equipment or send it with the technician when he comes to install service. DSL internet is usually easy to install yourself if you already have a telephone line. Fiber almost always requires a technician to set up.


Invest in a store-bought DSL modem and router (or a single DSL gateway) if you aim to keep your DSL plan for a while. You’ll have more control over your internet connection, but you may not see significant speed and performance advantages. Compatibility may be an issue too, so be sure to check with CenturyLink or Frontier to see which equipment is compatible with their DSL services before you purchase.

Fiber, on the other hand, is a tricky thing. There’s no modem involved unless you have cable TV or phone service too. Generally, the only device you can safely swap out in a fiber setup is a standalone router, which may or may not improve your wireless speed over the provider’s equipment.

Availability: CenturyLink vs. Frontier

CenturyLink top 5 states:

      1. Nevada
      2. Arizona
      3. Minnesota
      4. Colorado
      5. Washington

Frontier top 5 states:

      1. Illinois
      2. Wyoming
      3. Ohio
      4. New York
      5. Indiana

CenturyLink has pretty dispersed coverage across the US, but its lines aren’t all the same. Some areas have DSL only while others (usually metros) have fiber. If you live in a more rural part of the county, CenturyLink likely has coverage.

Frontier has the fastest fiber plan of the two, but its fiber network in general is far less available than CenturyLink. You can find its fiber in Tampa, Myrtle Beach, Fort Wayne, and several other areas.

Enter your zip code to see what’s available in your area:

Final call: CenturyLink vs. Frontier

CenturyLink is the clear winner when it comes to DSL internet. You can get speeds up to 140 Mbps for $50 per month, which isn’t too shabby in our book when you compare other DSL plans.

Fiber is a mixed bag, however. Frontier offers the fastest fiber plan of the two with speeds up to 5,000 Mbps. CenturyLink has the slowest fiber plan of the two at 200 Mbps for $30 per month. Both have gigabit plans at the same price.

That said, we say go with fiber if it’s in your area. You really can’t go wrong with either one in terms of dollar per megabit. But if you can’t get fiber, go with CenturyLink’s DSL internet, as you get more bang for your buck.

FAQ about CenturyLink vs. Frontier

What’s the difference between fiber and DSL?

DSL internet uses existing phone lines. It’s old technology that’s available nearly everywhere, but it caps at 140 Mbps in download speed. The newer fiber connections ditch old-school phone lines for glass fiber ones. It powers the internet backbone and delivers residential speeds at up to 10,000 Mbps both ways. Frontier stops at 2,000 Mbps for now.

Check out our full DSL vs. Fiber article for a deeper comparison.

Do CenturyLink and Frontier have data caps?

Frontier and CenturyLink no not have data caps. You’re free to use as much data all month as you please.

Is it cheaper to buy or rent equipment?

Whether or not it’s cheaper to buy or rent equipment depends on how long you plan to keep your internet plan. If you stick with one provider for two or more years, buy your equipment outright if it saves you money in the long run. Just keep in mind the possible upgrades and replacements you may need later—they come out of your pocket if you buy. Otherwise, rent your equipment if you plan to change plans in a year or less—anything you buy now may not be compatible with your new plan.

Frontier disclaimer

Author -

Kevin Parrish has more than a decade of experience working as a writer, editor, and product tester. He began writing about computer hardware and soon branched out to other devices and services such as networking equipment, phones and tablets, game consoles, and other internet-connected devices. His work has appeared in Tom’s Hardware, Tom's Guide, Maximum PC, Digital Trends, Android Authority, How-To Geek, Lifewire, and others. At, he focuses on network equipment testing and review.

Editor - Cara Haynes

Cara Haynes has been editing and writing in the digital space for seven years, and she's edited all things internet for for five years. She graduated with a BA in English and a minor in editing from Brigham Young University. When she's not editing, she makes tech accessible through her freelance writing for brands like Pluralsight. She believes no one should feel lost in internet land and that a good internet connection significantly extends your life span.

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