Spectrum vs. Frontier

Spectrum has the upper hand in availability, but Frontier’s fiber is your fastest option if you can get it.

Best for speed

Customer rating: 3.6

 

Price: $49.99–$89.99/mo.

Max speed: 200–1,000 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)

Internet type: Cable

Data cap: No data cap

Contract: No contract

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Best for availability

Customer rating: N/A

 

Price: $49.99–$149.99/mo.

Speed: 115–2,000 Mbps

Internet type: DSL, fiber

Data cap: No data cap

Contract: No contract (DSL), 1-year contract (fiber)

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Compare Spectrum and Frontier head to head

Spectrum and Frontier primarily address two different markets: Spectrum provides cable internet and Frontier supplies mostly DSL internet. If you have access to both, Frontier would be your cheaper, slower option unless you have access to the company’s fiber internet service.

Pros and cons: Spectrum vs. Frontier

Pros

  • Good performance
  • No modem rental fee

Cons

  • Expensive after a year
  • Extra charge for WiFi

Pros

  • Affordable DSL plan
  • Available in rural areas
  • Fast fiber

Cons

  • Limited fiber availability
  • High fees
  • No cable internet

Want to see if Spectrum or Frontier is available in your area? Enter your zip code below.

Plans and pricing: Spectrum vs. Frontier

Spectrum and Frontier have a simplified lineup. Because they deliver different types of internet connections, Spectrum provides faster speeds when compared to Frontier’s mainstream DSL plan.

Both companies offer a plan capable of up to 940 Mbps—although Frontier’s is fiber and Spectrum’s is cable. But Frontier’s Fiber Gig and Fiber 2 Gig plans are extremely limited in availability, while Spectrum’s Internet Gig cable internet service is more accessible.

Spectrum plans and pricing

PackagePriceSpeedDetails
Spectrum Internet® $49.99/mo. for 12 mos.Up to 200 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)View Plan
Spectrum Internet Ultra® $69.99/mo. for 12 mos.Up to 400 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)View Plan
Spectrum Internet Gig® $89.99/mo. for 12 mos.Up to 1,000 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)View Plan

Spectrum has the upper hand in offering faster speeds on its most basic plan. But Frontier’s DSL internet is accessible in rural areas where Spectrum doesn’t reach.

Spectrum’s Internet Ultra and Internet Gig plans compete with Frontier’s Fiber Internet 500 and Fiber Gig plans. Frontier’s fiber internet is still relatively scarce, though, so Spectrum may be your only high-speed option until Frontier brings fiber internet to your area—if at all.

Spectrum is the more expensive provider of the two for the long term. Frontier doesn’t have discounted pricing, so you’ll pay $59.99 per month for at least three years for up to 500 Mbps. Spectrum’s 400 Mbps plan increases to $94.99 after 12 months, so you’ll get more for less with Frontier. But again, Frontier’s fiber is so scarce that comparing the two seems like a moot point.

But while Spectrum may be more expensive after the first year, it doesn’t enforce contracts. Frontier doesn’t have a contract with its DSL service, but you must sign a one-year contract if you want Frontier’s fiber.

Frontier plans and pricing

PackagePriceSpeedDetails
Frontier Internet (DSL) $49.99/mo. w/ Auto Pay*Up to 115 MbpsView Plan
Frontier Fiber Internet 500 $49.99/mo. w/ Auto PayUp to 500 MbpsView Plan
Frontier Fiber Gig $74.99/mo. w/ Auto Pay#Up to 940 MbpsView Plan
Frontier Fiber 2 Gig $149.99/mo. w/ Auto PayUp to 2,000 MbpsView Plan

When comparing Frontier’s lowest-tier plan with Spectrum’s base plan, Frontier is expensive at first glance. For instance, Frontier’s DSL internet plan supports up to 115 Mbps for $49.99 per month, while Spectrum’s cable Internet plan supports up to 200 Mbps for $49.99 per month for the first 12 months. After a year, Spectrum’s plan increases to $74.99 per month—the same price you’d pay for Frontier’s Fiber Gig plan.

Frontier’s Fiber Gig matches Spectrum’s Internet Gig service in speed, but it’s $15 cheaper during Spectrum’s promotional period and $40 cheaper after a year. Even Frontier’s Fiber Internet 500 plan is faster and more affordable than Spectrum’s Internet Ultra plan.

Of the two providers, Frontier has the fastest plan with its Fiber 2 Gig service. Unfortunately, Frontier’s fiber network is still highly limited in availability, but the company plans to reach at least 10 million locations by the end of 2025.3

Keep in mind that Frontier’s fiber plans require a one-year contract, whereas Spectrum’s cable plans do not. An early termination fee applies if you decide to cancel Frontier’s fiber service before the year ends.

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Deals and promotions: Spectrum vs. Frontier

Spectrum
Get a free, 90-day trial of Peacock Premium when you sign up for a qualifying internet plan.

Get the Deal
Frontier
You'll get $5 off your monthly bill when you set up online autopay.


Get the Deal

Extra fees: Spectrum vs. Frontier

Equipment FeeInstallation FeeOther Fees
Spectrum
  • $5.00/mo. for WiFi (no charge with Internet Gig plan)
  • $3.00/mo. per Spectrum WiFi Pod
  • No charge for modem or gateway
  • $49.99 for pro install
  • $19.99 for self-install and service activation
  • $49.99 for WiFi Pod install
  • $9.99 service activation fee
  • $8.95 late payment fee (after 21 days)
  • $25.00 insufficient funds fee
  • $5.00 phone payment processing fee
  • $9.99 reconnection fee (internet)
  • $4.99 reconnection fee (TV)
  • $19.99 equipment upgrade fee to Internet Gig plan
  • Frontier
  • No charge for DSL modem or gateway
  • Free pro install
  • Free self-install
  • $85.00 activation fee*
  • $10.00 disconnect fee
  • $9.99 equipment fee for extra devices
  • $5.00/mo. no AutoPay fee
  • $2.99/mo. Paper bill fee
  • $6.99/mo. Internet infrastructure surcharge
  • Other than the WiFi charge, Spectrum doesn’t tack on a lot of extra fees. Even if you cancel your service before the 12-month promotional pricing period ends, Spectrum won’t penalize you with an early termination fee.

    Frontier offers free activation for now, which normally costs up to $85. There’s also no equipment fee—Frontier raised the prices to cover the cost. New to Frontier’s list of other fees is the monthly charge for a paper bill, which began in April 2022.

    Customer ratings: Spectrum vs. Frontier

    Overall RatingReliability RatingCustomer Service RatingSpeed RatingPrice Rating
    Spectrum (2021)3.63.63.63.73.2
    Frontier (2020)3.83.83.74.03.5

    Spectrum ranked lower in our annual customer satisfaction survey than it did in the previous year. Its largest declines were in speed satisfaction and reliability. However, 87% of those surveyed confirmed that their speeds usually or always met their needs. On reliability, 67% of respondents said they “never” or “not often” experienced outages.

    Our survey for 2021 didn’t have enough respondents to add Frontier to the list. However, Frontier did well in the previous year, scoring 4.0 in speed satisfaction and 3.8 in reliability, outranking Spectrum’s current scores. Both providers saw low scores in pricing no matter the year, indicating that customers weren’t completely satisfied with the price of their internet plan or bundle.

    Want to see what plans are available in your area? Enter your zip code below.

    Best TV and internet bundles

    PackageInternet speedTV channelsPriceDetails
    Spectrum Internet (up to 200 Mbps) + TV SelectUp to 200 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)125+$99.98/mo. for 12 mos.View Plan
    Spectrum Internet Ultra + TV SelectUp to 400 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)125+$119.98/mo. for 12 mos.View Plan
    Frontier 500 Mbps + DISH America’s Top 120Up to 500 Mbps190$119.98/mo.*View Plan
    Frontier Internet + DISH America’s Top 120 PlusUp to 115 Mbps190+$119.98/mo.View Plan

    Frontier currently doesn’t offer a TV service for new customers. Instead, the company partnered with DISH to provide DSL and satellite TV bundles. Both bundles include local channels and start you with a three-month trial of the DISH Movie Pack™ Online TV service, which usually costs $30 per month.

    Spectrum doesn’t have discounted bundles. Instead, you can pair its TV Select service with one of its three cable internet plans. Both services have a discount for the first 12 months, but all premium channels are extra. You’ll also see a broadcasting surcharge of up to $20 per month.

    Internet types: Spectrum vs. Frontier

    Internet typeDetails
    SpectrumFiber, cableView Plans
    FrontierFiber, DSLView Plans

    Spectrum offers cable internet, which relies on coaxial cable that’s typically already installed in homes and apartments. Cable internet providers like Spectrum and Xfinity currently limit their speeds to around 1,000 Mbps.

    Frontier’s primary market is digital subscriber line (DSL) internet, which uses telephone wires that are also typically already installed in homes and apartments. DSL can reach 115 Mbps, making it a slower and cheaper alternative to cable internet.

    Frontier’s ace up the sleeve is its fiber internet service, however. While limited in availability, fiber-optic cables provide symmetrical upload and download speeds—that means you can watch a YouTube video just as fast as you can upload one.

    In contrast, coaxial cable connections provided by Spectrum have fast download speeds but extremely slow uploads. If you often transfer large files to the cloud, Frontier’s FiberOptic 500 and Gig plans would be ideal.

    Data caps: Spectrum vs. Frontier

    Data CapDetails
    SpectrumNo capView Plans
    FrontierNo capView Plans

    With Spectrum and Frontier, you won’t see data caps like other internet providers. You get unlimited data, which translates to no monthly overage fees and no monthly charges for unrestricted access. They also don’t intentionally throttle your connection, no matter how much you download—the data spigot remains wide open every month.

    Contracts: Spectrum vs. Frontier

    Contract lengthDetails
    Spectrum
  • No contract
  • View Plans
    Frontier
  • No contract
  • 1-year contract (fiber)
  • View Plans

    Spectrum doesn’t enforce a contract. Instead, it offers a discount for the first 12 months. But even though prices go up after that, customers can cancel internet service after one month without penalty.

    Frontier’s DSL service doesn’t appear to have a contract. However, all three fiber plans require a one-year agreement. Discounted pricing for the Fiber Internet 500 and Fiber Gig plans end after 12 and 36 months, respectively—there’s no discount with the Fiber 2 Gig plan. A two-year commitment comes into play when you bundle Frontier Internet with DISH.

    Installation: Spectrum vs. Frontier

    Installation optionsDetails
    Spectrum
  • $49.99 for pro install
  • $19.99 for self-install and service activation
  • $49.99 for WiFi Pod install
  • View Plans
    Frontier
  • $85.00 for activation*
  • Free pro install
  • Free self-install
  • View Plans

    Both companies offer a self-installation option. Spectrum charges $19.99 to self-install but doesn’t charge a monthly equipment rental fee. Frontier doesn’t have a self-install charge nor does it have a monthly equipment rental fee. You can even get a free pro install with Frontier if you order service online.

    For now, Spectrum encourages new customers to use the self-install kit over requesting for a pro install due to COVID-19. The pro install option is still available for new installations, rewiring, moving the router, and similar scenarios.

    Availability: Spectrum vs. Frontier

    Most of Spectrum’s market resides in North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio, New York, and Maine. There are scattered chunks of coverage in California, Texas, Florida, and several other states. Overall, Spectrum commands a decent market in the eastern and central time zones.

    Frontier’s primary target is in rural areas. Its DSL service is available in 25 states, mainly in the Northeast, Southeast, and Southwest. Its Frontier Fiber Internet is limited to portions of California, Florida, Indiana, and Texas. Frontier expects to expand its fiber-to-the-premises service in California by 350,000 locations over the next six years.2

    Final call: Spectrum vs. Frontier

    Spectrum provides cable internet, and Frontier supplies mostly DSL internet. If you have access to both, Frontier’s DSL internet is your cheaper but slower option. It’s ideal if you use the internet only for things like email, banking, and social media. 

    If you’re streaming games or UHD content, Spectrum’s cable internet plans and Frontier’s fiber internet plans are the better options (although Frontier offers more megabits for your dollar with its fiber plans). If you need to upload large files, consider Frontier’s fiber plans if they’re available since the upload and download speeds are identical.

    View Spectrum Plans

    View Frontier Plans

    Methodology

    Our HighSpeedInternet.com editorial team bases our analyses on customer input from our annual customer satisfaction survey, results from our speed test tool, and proprietary internet provider data on speeds and pricing. To strengthen our research, we look closely at provider contracts to get hard-to-find information on price hikes, data caps, and extra fees, and we keep tabs on the latest news reports and online reviews. When applicable, we also rely on our personal experiences testing these services.

    Sources

    1. Frontier Communications, “Get Ready for Your Safety-First Appointment.” Accessed May 4, 2021.

    2. Frontier Communications, “Before the Public Utilities Commission of the State of California,” December 24, 2020. Accessed May 4, 2021.

    3. Frontier Communications. “Frontier Delivers Record Operational Results as It Becomes a Fiber-First Company,” February 23, 2022. Accessed March 18, 2022.

    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 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.