CenturyLink vs. Frontier
CenturyLink has the best DSL deal but Frontier gives you the fastest fiber of the two.
Best for variety
- Customer rating: 3.5
- Price: $50.00–$70.00/mo.
- Speed: Up to 100–940 Mbps
- Internet type: Fiber, DSL
- Data cap: No cap
- Contract: No contract
Best for speed
- Customer rating: N/A
- Price: $49.99–$149.99/mo. w/Auto Pay & Paperless Bill
- Speed: Up to 500–2,000 Mbps
- Internet type: Fiber, DLS
- Data cap: No cap
- Contract: 1-year with fiber
Data effective 9/8/22.
Compare CenturyLink and Frontier head to head
CenturyLink is the better deal for DSL internet. It offers two plans with speeds up to 100 Mbps and 140 Mbps. But Frontier is the obvious choice if you want the fastest fiber internet plan you can get, with speeds up to 2,000 Mbps (2 Gbps). CenturyLink offers only half that.
Pros and cons: CenturyLink vs. Frontier
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 500 Mbps and 940 Mbps plans 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.
|Package||Price||Speed||Internet type||View plans|
|Simply Unlimited Internet 100 Mbps||$50.00/mo.*||Up to 100 Mbps||DSL||View Plans|
|Simply Unlimited Internet 140 Mbps||$50.00/mo.†||Up to 140 Mbps||DSL||View Plans|
|CenturyLink Fiber Internet 200||$30.00/mo.‡||Up to 200 Mbps||Fiber||View Plans|
|CenturyLink Fiber Internet 500||$50.00/mo.‡||Up to 500 Mbps||Fiber||View Plans|
|CenturyLink Fiber Internet Gigabit||$70.00/mo.§||Up to 940 Mbps||Fiber||View Plans|
* Speed may not be available in your area. Paperless billing or prepay required. Additional taxes, fees, and surcharges apply. Get the fastest internet speed available at your location (max speed is up to 100 Mbps).
† Speed may not be available in your area. Paperless billing or prepay required. Additional taxes, fees, and surcharges apply. Get the fastest internet speed available at your location (max speed is up to 140 Mbps).
‡ Speed may not be available in your area. Paperless billing required. Taxes and fees apply. Offer Details. Online ONLY. Free Modem.
§ Speed may not be available in your area. Maximum download/upload speed of up to 940 Mbps via a wired connection. Paperless billing required. Taxes and fees apply. Offer Details Online ONLY: Free Modem Free Install
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 prices are on par with Frontier’s. You can get a 500 Mbps plan for $50 per month from either provider—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
|Package||Price||Speed||Internet type||View plans|
|Frontier Internet||$49.99/mo. w/Auto Pay & Paperless Bill*||N/A||DSL||View Plans|
|Frontier Fiber Internet 500||$49.99/mo. w/Auto Pay & Paperless Bill†||Up to 500 Mbps||Fiber||View Plans|
|Frontier Fiber Gig||$74.99/mo. w/Auto Pay & Paperless Bill‡||Up to 940 Mbps||Fiber||View Plans|
|Frontier Fiber 2 Gig||$149.99/mo. w/Auto Pay & Paperless Bill§||Up to 2,000 Mbps||Fiber||View Plans|
* per month for 24 mos. One-time charges apply. Call for details.
† per month for 12 mos. One-year agreement, early termination fee, and one-time charge apply. Max speeds are wired. Wi-Fi, actual & average speeds vary.
‡ per month for 36 mos. One-year agreement, early termination fee, and one-time charge apply. Max wired
speed 940/880 Mbps. Wi-Fi, actual & average speeds vary.
§ per month. One-year agreement, early termination fee, and one-time charge apply. Max speeds are wired. Wi-Fi, actual & average speeds vary.
If speed is what you need from a DSL connection, then CenturyLink is your best option of the two.
But with fiber, Frontier matches CenturyLink in price with its 500 Mbps plan. If you need gigabit speeds, Frontier’s plan costs $5 more a month than CenturyLink’s similar plan, which adds up to $60 more per year.
Frontier also offers a fiber plan with speeds up to 2,000 Mbps, whereas CenturyLink does not. Frontier is one of several internet providers in the US currently offering a 2 Gbps fiber plan, but it is the most expensive, costing more than similar plans from AT&T, Google Fiber, Optimum, and Verizon.
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, although Frontier costs $5 more each month. They also have matching 500 Mbps plans at the same price, but CenturyLink is the only provider of the two with a 200 Mbps fiber plan if you don’t need a lot of bandwidth.
Frontier has the fastest fiber plan of the two with speeds up to 2,000 Mbps (2 Gbps) for around $150 per month. Similar plans from AT&T and Google are cheaper if available in your area.
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.
|Installation||$15.00–$99.00 (free with gigabit fiber)|
*Data as of 9/8/22. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
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:
|Activation||$85 for DSL; free for fiber|
Data as of 9/8/22. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
Frontier currently doesn’t charge an installation fee for DSL or fiber internet, but you must pay $85 to activate DSL service. Frontier also doesn’t charge a monthly fee for its DSL modem or wireless gateway, giving it an edge over CenturyLink.
Customer ratings: CenturyLink vs. Frontier
CenturyLink scored near the bottom of internet providers when it comes to overall customer satisfaction, but scored slightly higher in terms of price satisfaction in our HighSpeedInternet.com customer satisfaction survey.
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 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
CenturyLink installs your DSL or fiber service for $99, but you can get standard installation (basically a self-install kit) for $15. Frontier installs DSL and fiber for free but it charges $85 to activate DSL service—fiber activation is free.
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 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.
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 2,000 Mbps, but it costs more than similar plans from AT&T, Optimum, and Verizon. CenturyLink has the slowest fiber plan of the two at 200 Mbps for $30 per month. Both have 500 Mbps and 940 Mbps plans at nearly 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.
*Multi-Device Security covers up to 10 devices. Must order new Frontier Internet service to receive $6 off monthly charge.
**eero: Internet connection speeds depend on the current internet speed you have with Frontier. Maximum wireless signal rates are derived from IEEE standard 802.11 specification. Experienced speeds may vary based on network configuration. Coverage estimates are based on normal use conditions. Actual range and performance can vary, including due to factors such as interference, device usage, building materials, and obstructions. Some eero features require linking your Amazon account. See https://eero.com/legal for more details regarding terms for eero products, software and services. ©2022 Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. eero and all related marks are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. Amazon.com c/o eero LLC, 660 3rd St., San Francisco, CA.
For new residential Frontier Internet customers. Requires Auto Pay or $5/mo fee applies. Beginning April 2022, a printed bill fee of $2.99/mo. will apply, select customers excluded. Max speeds are wired. Wi-Fi, actual & average speeds vary. Performance details: frontier.com/internetdisclosures. Activation ($85) and other applicable charges, additional services and taxes are extra & subject to change during & after the promo period. A $10 fee applies when Internet is disconnected. Equipment return required at disconnection, up to $150 per device if not returned. Service subject to availability. Cannot be combined with other offers. Other restrictions, Frontier policies and service terms apply.
Author - Kevin Parrish
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 HighSpeedInternet.com, he focuses on internet security.
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 HighSpeedInternet.com 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.