Spectrum vs. Frontier

Best for speed

Customer rating: 3.6

 

Price: $49.99–$109.99/mo.

Max speed: 200–1000 Mbps° (wireless speeds may vary)

Internet type: Cable

Data cap: Unlimited

Contract: Month to month

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Best for availability

Customer rating: N/A

 

Price: $37.99–$79.99/mo.

Speed: 9–940 Mbps

Internet type: DSL, fiber

Data cap: Unlimited

Contract: Month to month

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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

  • Gigabit plan is more expensive than Frontier’s
  • Wi-Fi is an extra charge

Pros

  • Affordable DSL plans
  • Available in rural areas

Cons

  • Limited fiber availability
  • High fees
  • No cable internet

Want to see what plans are 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 plans. 

Both companies offer a plan capable of up to 940 Mbps or more (although Frontier’s is fiber and Spectrum’s is cable), but Frontier’s FiberOptic Gig Service is extremely limited in availability, while Spectrum’s Internet Gig is more accessible.

Spectrum plans and pricing

PackagePriceSpeedDetails
Spectrum Internet Assist$14.99/mo. for qualifying households**Up to 30 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)View Plan
Spectrum Internet®$49.99/mo.*Up to 200 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)View Plan
Spectrum Internet Ultra®$69.99/mo.*Up to 400 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)View Plan
Spectrum Internet Gig®$109.99/mo.*Up to 1000 Mbps° (wireless speeds may vary)View Plan

Spectrum has the upper hand in offering faster speeds on its most basic plans. Meanwhile, Frontier’s three DSL plans may be slower, but they’re accessible in rural areas where Spectrum doesn’t reach. 

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

Frontier plans and pricing

PackagePriceSpeedDetails
Internet Basic$37.99/mo.*Up to 9 MbpsView Plan
Internet Preferred$44.99/mo.*Up to 25 MbpsView Plan
Internet Premium$54.99/mo.*Up to 115 MbpsView Plan
FiberOptic 50$49.99/mo.*Up to 50 MbpsView Plan
FiberOptic 500$59.99/mo.*Up to 500 MbpsView Plan
FiberOptic Gig Service$79.99/mo.**Up to 940 MbpsView Plan

* Two-year price guarantee.

** Three-year price guarantee.

When comparing the lower-tier Frontier plans with Spectrum, Frontier is expensive. For instance, Frontier’s $44.99 per month Internet Preferred plan supports up to 25 Mbps, while Spectrum’s $49.99 per month Internet plan supports up to 200 Mbps. 

While Frontier’s fiber-to-the-premises network is limited in terms of availability, it is currently expanding its reach.1 Frontier’s FiberOptic Gig Service matches Spectrum’s Internet Gig service in speed, but it’s $30 cheaper. Even its FiberOptic 500 plan is faster and more affordable than Spectrum’s offering.

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

Extra fees: Spectrum vs. Frontier

Equipment FeeInstallation FeeOther Fees
Spectrum
  • $5.00/mo. for Wi-Fi (no charge with Gigabit plan)
  • $49.99; $9.99 for self-installation
  • $8.95 late payment fee
  • Frontier
  • $10.00/mo.
  • $75.00*
  • $85.00 activation fee
  • $10.00 disconnect fee
  • $9.99 equipment delivery fee
  • Other than the Wi-Fi 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 typically has three fees upon setup and charges a monthly rental even if you don’t use the company’s equipment. A $10.00 disconnect fee applies to all plans, while customers can see up to $400 in early termination fees.

    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.

    Best TV and internet bundles

    PackageInternet speedTV channelsPriceDetails
    Spectrum Double Play SilverUp to 200 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)175+$119.98/mo. for 12 mos.View Plan
    Spectrum Double Play GoldUp to 200 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)200+$139.98/mo. for 12 mos.View Plan
    Frontier Internet + DISH America’s Top 120 Plus*Up to 25 Mbps190+$97.00/mo.View Plan
    Frontier Internet + DISH America’s Top 200*Up to 115 Mbps240+$117.99/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’s two bundles are a bit pricier in terms of dollar per channel/megabit but offer premium channels from the start. Spectrum will alter these bundles if customers want faster internet speeds.

    Internet types: Spectrum vs. Frontier

    Internet typeDetails
    SpectrumFiber, cableView Plan
    FrontierFiber, DSLView Plan

    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
    SpectrumUnlimitedView Plan
    FrontierUnlimitedView Plan

    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
    SpectrumMonth-to-monthView Plan
    FrontierMonth-to-monthView Plan

    Spectrum and Frontier do not enforce contracts. Spectrum offers a discount for the first 12 months. But even though prices go up after that, customers can cancel the service at any time without penalty.

    Frontier’s internet plans are monthly as well and offer a two- or three-year price guarantee. 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
  • $9.99 for self-install
  • View Plan
    Frontier
  • $85.00 for activation
  • >$75.00 for installation*
  • >Free self-install
  • View Plan

    *The $75 installation fee may not apply in 2021 due to Frontier’s mission to protect its employees and customers during the pandemic.

    Frontier doesn’t appear to charge its $75.00 installation fee at this time, likely due to COVID-19. Frontier states that customers may be required to assist during the installation process, indicating that technicians will perform all the external work.1 All plans have an $85.00 activation fee along with a delivery fee if Frontier ships the equipment to the premises.

    Both companies offer a self-installation option. Spectrum charges $9.99 to self-install but doesn’t charge a monthly equipment rental fee. Frontier doesn’t have a self-install charge but enforces a monthly equipment rental fee.

    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 FiberOptic service 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 plans would be your cheaper but slower option. They are 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.

    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.

    Author -

    Rebecca Lee Armstrong has more than six years of experience writing about tech and the internet, with a specialty in hands-on testing. She started writing tech product and service reviews while finishing her BFA in creative writing at the University of Evansville and has found her niche writing about home networking, routers, and internet access at HighSpeedInternet.com. Her work has also been featured on Top Ten Reviews, MacSources, Windows Central, Android Central, Best Company, TechnoFAQ, and iMore.

    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.

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