Spectrum vs. Frontier

Better for no-contract plans
  • No contracts
  • No data caps
  • Limited savings on bundles

Plans start at $49.99/mo. for 12 mo.*

View Plans for Spectrum

Better for fiber
  • High-speed fiber plans
  • Availability in rural areas
  • Inconsistent services, depending on area

Plans start at $27.99/mo.

View Plans for Frontier

Bottom line

If it’s Spectrum vs. Frontier FiOS, go with Frontier. Frontier’s fiber-optic internet offers speeds fast enough for any home, and the 50/50 and 500/500 plans are a great value.

Update on Frontier:

On April 14, 2020, Frontier Communications filed for bankruptcy. The company is continuing operations and has said that Frontier’s customers won’t face any service interruptions. If you want to know more about the situation, read our full guide on what Frontier’s bankruptcy means for customers.

If you have to choose between Spectrum and Frontier DSL, Spectrum wins out for customer satisfaction, Internet speed, and connection reliability. But Frontier has cheaper plans if you want basic internet on a budget.

Spectrum vs. Frontier internet

Spectrum Frontier

Type of service

Cable

Type of service

Fiber, DSL

Price

$49.99–$109.99/mo. for 12 mo.*

Price

$27.99–$199.99/mo.

Contract

None

Contract

2 yr. or no contract

Download speeds

Up to 100 Mbps–940 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)

Download speeds

6 Mbps–1,000 Mbps

Equipment fees

$5.00/mo.

Equipment fees

$10.00/mo.

Installation fee

$9.99–$199.99

Installation fee

Up to $75.00

Customer satisfaction

(3.81/5)

Customer satisfaction

(3.77/5)

View Spectrum plansView Frontier plans
Spectrum

Type of service

Cable

Frontier

Type of service

Fiber, DSL

Spectrum

Price

$49.99–$109.99/mo. for 12 mo.*

Frontier

Price

$27.99–$199.99/mo.

Spectrum

Contract

None

Frontier

Contract

2 yr. or no contract

Spectrum

Download speeds

Up to 100 Mbps–940 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)

Frontier

Download speeds

6 Mbps–1,000 Mbps

Spectrum

Equipment fees

$5.00/mo.

Frontier

Equipment fees

$10.00/mo.

Spectrum

Installation fee

$9.99–$199.99

Frontier

Installation fee

Up to $75.00

Spectrum

Customer satisfaction

(3.81/5)

Frontier

Customer satisfaction

(3.77/5)

Spectrum View Spectrum plans
Frontier View Frontier plans

Spectrum vs. Frontier packages and pricing

Spectrum and Frontier have vastly different plans and pricing structures. Spectrum keeps it simple, while Frontier has more options.

Spectrum packages

PackagePrice from*Download speedInternet type
Spectrum Internet Assist**$14.99/mo. for qualifying persons Up to 30 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)Cable
Spectrum Internet®$49.99/mo. for 12 mo.*Up to 100 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)Cable
Spectrum Internet Ultra$69.99/mo. for 12 mo.*Up to 400 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)Cable
Spectrum Internet Gig$109.99/mo. for 12 mo.*Up to 940 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)Cable
PackageSpectrum Internet Assist**
Price from*$14.99/mo. for qualifying persons
Download speedUp to 30 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)
Internet typeCable
PackageSpectrum Internet®
Price from*$49.99/mo. for 12 mo.*
Download speedUp to 100 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)
Internet typeCable
PackageSpectrum Internet Ultra
Price from*$69.99/mo. for 12 mo.*
Download speedUp to 400 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)
Internet typeCable
PackageSpectrum Internet Gig
Price from*$109.99/mo. for 12 mo.*
Download speedUp to 940 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)
Internet typeCable

Spectrum has only three widely available Internet plans, but they’re all solid options if you need enough bandwidth to cover multiple people.

Spectrum Internet®, the provider’s base plan, offers Internet speeds up to 100 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary) for $49.99 per month for 12 months. That’s more than 16 times faster than Frontier’s slowest plan. It’s a great amount of bandwidth for multiple people using multiple devices on the same network, but it’s a little much if you’re just looking for basic Internet.

That’s Spectrum’s biggest oversight: it doesn’t really have an option for inexpensive, basic broadband beyond Spectrum Internet Assist, which is available only to people who qualify for certain government programs.

Even so, Spectrum’s plans check all the other boxes. And they’re a good bet if you’re looking for fast, reliable Internet.

Frontier packages

PackagePrice fromDownload speedsInternet type
Frontier Internet$27.99/mo.*6 MbpsDSL
Frontier Preferred Internet$34.99/mo.*25 MbpsDSL
Frontier Premium Internet$44.99/mo.* 45 MbpsDSL
Simply FiOS 50/50$29.99/mo. 50 MbpsFiber
Simply FiOS 500/500$39.99/mo. 500 MbpsFiber
Simply FiOS Gig Service$74.99/mo. 1,000 MbpsFiber
PackageFrontier Internet
Price from$27.99/mo.*
Download speeds6 Mbps
Internet typeDSL
PackageFrontier Preferred Internet
Price from$34.99/mo.*
Download speeds25 Mbps
Internet typeDSL
PackageFrontier Premium Internet
Price from$44.99/mo.*
Download speeds45 Mbps
Internet typeDSL
PackageSimply FiOS 50/50
Price from$29.99/mo.
Download speeds50 Mbps
Internet typeFiber
PackageSimply FiOS 500/500
Price from$39.99/mo.
Download speeds500 Mbps
Internet typeFiber
PackageSimply FiOS Gig Service
Price from$74.99/mo.
Download speeds1,000 Mbps
Internet typeFiber

Don’t get too intimidated by all Frontier’s plans—most of the provider’s service areas have access to only a few options.

But even though customers don’t usually see all Frontier plans side by side like this, it’s useful to compare Frontier to itself. Here, you see that some Frontier customers (the ones with fiber) get a much better deal than others.

If you subscribe to the FiOS 500/500 plan, you pay about $0.08 per Mb. But it costs $4.67 per Mb with the Frontier Internet plan.

Frontier’s fiber and DSL plans are extremely different in terms of value and reliability, but it’s important to note that the ISP’s prices are pretty much in line with comparable fiber and DSL packages from other providers in terms of speeds and price. They just don’t compare well to each other because of the different technologies.

Still, if you have the option, go with Frontier FiOS. The 50/50 and 500/500 plans are great deals, and they don’t cost much more than slower DSL internet.

What is Frontier FiOS?

FiOS is one of Frontier’s fiber-optic internet brands. The service offers speeds from 50 Mbps to 940 Mbps and has symmetrical upload and download speeds (which means the upload and download speeds are the same).

Frontier FiOS used to be Verizon Fios, but Frontier acquired the network in certain cities from Verizon in 2015–2016.

Spectrum vs. Frontier Internet speeds

Download speeds

Your download speed determines how quickly you can retrieve data from the Internet. It affects everything you do online, including loading web pages, streaming shows on Netflix, or (predictably) downloading a game file.

Spectrum and Frontier advertise gigabit Internet speeds on their fastest packages. Frontier can reach actual gigabit speeds (1,000 Mbps or 1 Gbps), but Spectrum speeds only reach up to 940 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary) for $109.99 per month for 12 months. While that’s not quite gigabit, 940 Mbps is plenty fast for most families, assorted roommates who all want to watch different TV shows, or small businesses.

But let’s be real for a second: you probably don’t need gigabit Internet. It’s expensive, and unless you are truly using all that bandwidth, you could save yourself a ton of money and choose the Spectrum Internet Ultra plan or the Frontier’s Simply FiOS 500/500 Mbps plans. That’s still a ton of bandwidth.

Pro tip

Not sure which Internet speed package to choose? Answer a few questions about how you use the internet to get a personalized speed recommendation with our How Much Speed Do I Need? Tool.

Upload speeds

You use upload speed whenever you send information to the internet—like when you Skype a friend, type a question into Google, or post a perfectly fitting photo to r/CatsStandingUp. People usually download a lot more info from the internet than we send to it, so internet providers give users a lot less upload speed.

Industry standard upload speeds for most types of internet are about 10% of the download speed. So if you have a plan with download speeds up to 100 Mbps, your upload speed would be around 10 Mbps. Spectrum cable and Frontier DSL Internet plans follow this pattern and have much slower upload speeds than download speeds.

Frontier FiOS internet plans have much faster upload speeds. In most cases, the speeds are symmetrical, which means that the plan’s upload and download speeds are the same. The exceptions are the gigabit internet plans, which have upload speeds up to 1,000 Mbps.

Again, most people don’t need that much upload bandwidth, but it’s great if you do a lot of photo or video uploading, cloud computing, or sharing large files.

Test your speed

How fast is your internet connection right now? Speeds can fluctuate at different times of day, so it’s a good practice to keep track of your actual internet speeds to compare to the speeds you’re supposed to get.

Test your upload and download speeds.

Internet types

Spectrum uses cable Internet, which means that your info is carried via copper cables buried underground. Cable is one of the most widely available types of Internet in the US and can get up to gigabit Internet speeds. It’s more reliable over long distances and reaches faster speeds than DSL Internet, but the network can get slow and congested if a lot of people are online at the same time.

Frontier uses both DSL and fiber-optic internet in different areas of the country. Most of Frontier’s network is DSL, which is an older and slower type of internet that uses phone lines to carry data. (No, it’s not the same as dial-up.) The benefits of DSL are generally lower prices and wider availability than cable or fiber, especially in rural areas.

Fiber is the best type of internet here. It has faster speeds, less latency, and better reliability than cable or DSL. Fiber-optic cables house bundles of tiny glass strands that can carry light signals over long distances with very little delay or signal degradation. Fiber cables can carry more bandwidth than copper cable wires, which is why fiber internet can have faster upload and download speeds—and it doesn’t slow down because of network congestion.

The biggest issue with fiber is its limited availability. Fiber-optic infrastructure is expensive to install, so internet providers have mostly rolled out fiber services to densely populated urban areas.

Spectrum vs. Frontier fees and contracts

Ok, folks, let’s move through this quickly because no one likes fees. But they’re a standard in the industry, so we have to live with a few for now.

Both Spectrum and Frontier charge you for performing services like installation or service calls. They also charge for renting equipment, and late payments—just like any other company would.

Thankfully, neither Frontier nor Spectrum have data caps, so there are no pesky fees for using too much data. And most plans from the providers (excluding some Vantage by Frontier plans) don’t have contracts, which lets you avoid early termination fees.

Spectrum fees

FeesAmountMore info
Modem rentalIncludedLearn more
WiFi fee (router rental)$5.00/mo.Learn more
Spectrum Internet® and Spectrum Internet Ultra installation fee$49.99Learn more
Spectrum Internet Gig installation fee$199.99Learn more
Self-installation fee$9.99Learn more
WiFi activation fee$9.99Learn more
Late feeFlat rate from $8.95 or percentage of balanced owedLearn more
Insufficient funds feeUp to $25.00Learn more
Phone payment processing fee$5.00Learn more

Spectrum is very transparent about its fees, which is nice since a lot of companies keep that info hush-hush until bill time. You can look up all the fees specific to your area on Spectrum’s online rate card, but this is a pretty good representation of charges most customers would run into.

There are a few points that deserve to be called out, so let’s start with the good. Spectrum offers a Free modem. Other ISPs charge anywhere from $5.00 to $15.00 per month for modem rental, so that’s a huge plus.

Spectrum does charge $5.00 per month to rent a router, however. And there’s a $9.99 WiFi activation fee. But you can avoid both these charges by buying and setting up your own router.

One of Spectrum’s fees that we don’t like (well—more than usual) is its phone payment processing fee. Because Spectrum is charging you to pay your bill. Nah.

Frontier fees

FeesAmountMore info
Equipment delivery and handling$9.99Learn more
Installation$75.00Learn more
WiFi router service fee$10.00/mo.Learn more
Broadband processing fee (for disconnection of services)$9.99Learn more
Early termination fee (on some plans)Up to $150Learn more
Late feeVaries by locationLearn more

Frontier is a little more secretive about its fees and charges than Spectrum. So though the chart with Spectrum’s fees is a little bigger than Frontier’s, it’s likely that Frontier has a few extra fees and charges you can find only when they show up on your bill.

Some Frontier fees vary by location and plan as well, so be sure to check your internet plan’s fine print so you know what you’re expected to pay. Frontier has some vaguely helpful explanations of certain types of fees or charges you may find on your bill (linked in the chart above), but all of them fall short of actually listing costs.

While we’re here, let’s talk about the WiFi router service fee. It’s the fee we dislike the most because it’s basically an equipment rental fee, but you get charged for it even if you don’t rent any actual equipment from Frontier.

Internet contracts

Spectrum doesn’t have Internet contracts, so you can switch to another carrier at any time without facing an early termination fee or penalty.

Most Frontier internet plans are also contract-free, but a few plans in some service areas require a two-year contract. On the upside, many of the contract plans do waive the $75 installation fee, so at least there’s that.

Spectrum contract buyout

Locked into a contract but longing for a change of (Internet) pace? Switch from your current provider to Spectrum and get up to $500.

Spectrum vs. Frontier equipment

Renting

Spectrum doesn’t charge you to rent a modem but does charge $5.00 per month to upgrade to a WiFi modem (which is basically a modem and a WiFi router in one). It’s a pretty inexpensive equipment rental fee compared to some other cable Internet providers, but it’s still an extra $60 a year.

Pro tip:

For about the same amount as renting a router from Spectrum for a year, you could buy a TP-Link Archer A7 router instead. It can handle Spectrum’s fastest speeds and lets you control your WiFi networks, parental controls, and connected devices through a handy smartphone App.

Frontier charges a $10 per month WiFi router service fee, which stands in for an equipment rental fee. It has the weird name because it’s not actually a rental fee because—get this—Frontier charges everyone this fee regardless of whether you actually rent equipment.

Rental equipment from Frontier includes a modem and WiFI router, and you might as well rent Frontier’s equipment in this case since you’ll pay for it anyway.

Buying

In most cases, we advocate for buying your own modem and router rather than renting the equipment from your ISP. But Frontier doesn’t make it easy. The company doesn’t list compatible equipment models on its website, stating, “Because your service is not exactly like anyone else’s, we can’t provide a list of routers or modems that will work for you.”

Spectrum makes it much easier to purchase your own equipment. The provider keeps an updated list of all the modem models approved to work with each of its speed plans.

Buying your own modem can be beneficial even though modem rental is free with Spectrum. It gives you more control over your network, and it lets you choose the features you want in your home networking equipment.

You probably do want to buy your own router with Spectrum. Unlike with modems, you don’t have to choose from an approved equipment list. Just choose a router that can handle everything you do on your home network. For example, if you’re heavy into 4K streaming, pick a router optimized for video streaming.

Spectrum vs. Frontier customer service

Across the board, Internet service providers are known for frustrating customer service. It’s a sad state of affairs when that’s your experience, but some companies have a better rap than others—and many have made tremendous improvements. Let’s see how Spectrum and Frontier compare, according to our 2020 customer satisfaction survey.

Installation and setup

Spectrum

Installation fee: $9.99–$199.99

Installation type: Pro and self-install

Installation customer satisfaction rating:

(3.97/5)

 

Schedule an installation

Frontier

Installation fee: Up to $75.00

Installation type: Pro and self-install

Installation customer satisfaction rating:

(3.89/5)

 

Schedule an installation

People rated their installation experiences with Spectrum higher than Frontier, but both ranked near the middle of the 15 ISPs we ranked for installation satisfaction.

Installation fees might play a role in the rankings. While Spectrum’s install fees go all the way up to $199.99, most customers pay closer to $49.99. The higher fee is just for Spectrum Internet Gig. And anyone can order a self-install kit to DIY the whole thing and save money.

Frontier makes it a little harder to self-install. You have to contact a customer service agent to ask if you can do it yourself. That makes a little sense with Frontier’s variety of services, but it’s an extra step for those who know what they’re doing and want to set things up themselves.

Frontier also charges a $9.99 fee for equipment shipping and handling, however you choose to install. So it’s installation prices end up being more like $10 for self-install and $85 for professional installation.

Customer satisfaction

Spectrum

Overall customer satisfaction rating:

(3.81/5)

Frontier

Overall customer satisfaction rating:

(3.77/5)

Spectrum has generally better customer satisfaction compared to Frontier, both according to our own customer survey and a few other national customer satisfaction studies (including the American Customer Satisfaction Index). But neither top the charts.

Our customer satisfaction ratings include customer satisfaction with internet speed, monthly bills, installation, internet reliability, customer service, and tech support.

Spectrum scored higher than Frontier in all categories except customer satisfaction with their monthly bill (Frontier scored 3.5 and Spectrum scored 3.34) and satisfaction with providers’ mobile Apps (where Frontier outpaced Spectrum by 0.9 points).

It all basically comes down to this: People with Spectrum Internet are more satisfied with their choice than people with Frontier Internet. This obviously doesn’t apply to every single person on either service, and it’s possible to be perfectly happy with either one.

Spectrum vs. Frontier availability

Spectrum top 5 states:

  1. Hawaii
  2. Ohio
  3. Kentucky
  4. North Carolina
  5. New York

Frontier top 5 states:

  1. Connecticut
  2. West Virginia
  3. Oregon
  4. Washington
  5. California

Spectrum Internet wins the availability battle with service in 41 states. The Spectrum Internet Gig package is also available in nearly all of the provider’s service areas as well, making its fast speeds much more accessible than Frontier’s fiber plans.

Frontier serves parts of 29 states, but all of its plans aren’t available everywhere the provider has service. Frontier FiOS is available only in parts of six states, and Vantage plans are available only in Connecticut. (That’s why we haven’t mentioned Vantage plans much up until now—unless you happen to live in Connecticut, they’re simply not an option.) Everywhere else with Frontier internet has access to Frontier’s DSL plans.

How do Frontier and Spectrum compare to other providers in your area? Find all your options here.

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Higher customer satisfaction
  • Fast and reliable Internet
  • No contracts

Cons

  • No low-budget Internet plans
  • Price hikes after first year
  • Limited savings on bundled services

Pros

  • Fast fiber plans
  • Inexpensive internet options
  • DSL availability in rural areas

Cons

  • Equipment fees
  • Price hikes after first year
  • Inconsistent services depending on your area

Our verdict

Frontier and Spectrum both offer fast speeds and limitless data, but Frontier’s Simply FiOS 50/50 and 500/500 plans offer such great value that you should probably go with one of those plans if you have the option. Unfortunately, Frontier fiber internet is available only in a few locations.

If you’re outside a fiber service area, go with Spectrum for Internet speed and reliability. Spectrum’s cable Internet has faster speeds and higher customer satisfaction than Frontier’s DSL Internet. But it doesn’t offer a budget-friendly basic Internet package.

For that, you’ll want to go with Frontier DSL. The lower-priced (and slower) plans are a good fit if you’re more concerned about price than fast speeds.

Find every internet provider and plan in your area.

Spectrum vs. Frontier FAQ

How fast is FiOS?

Frontier FiOS can reach internet speeds up to 1,000 Mbps. Other FiOS plans offer internet speeds of 50 Mbps and 500 Mbps.

How much does Fios cost?

Frontier FiOS internet costs $27.99–$74.99 per month for speeds of 50 Mbps–1,000 Mbps.

Does FiOS or Spectrum have faster Internet?

Frontier FiOS is faster. While both Spectrum and Frontier FiOS have comparable download speeds, FiOS has much better upload speeds.

The Spectrum Internet Gig plan has upload speeds up to 35 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary) for $109.99 per month for 12 months, compared to FiOS 1G/1G internet’s 1,000 Mbps, so there’s not much of a competition there.

Does Spectrum use fiber-optic Internet?

No, Spectrum is a cable Internet provider and uses copper cables to deliver Internet to your home. Though Spectrum doesn’t offer fiber Internet, its speeds can reach up to 940 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary) for $109.99 per month for 12 months, which is comparable to residential fiber speeds.

Author -

Rebecca is a natural techie and the friend you turn to when your Wi-Fi randomly stops working. Since graduating from the University of Evansville with a degree in creative writing, Rebecca has leveraged her tech savvy to write hundreds of data-driven tech product and service reviews. In addition to HighSpeedInternet.com, her work has been featured on Top Ten Reviews, MacSources, Windows Central, Android Central, Best Company, TechnoFAQ and iMore.

Editor - Cara Haynes

Cara Haynes has edited for HighSpeedInternet.com for three years, working with smart writers to revise everything from internet reviews to reports on your state’s favorite Netflix show. She believes no one should feel lost in internet land and that a good internet connection significantly extends your life span (buffering kills). With a degree in English and editing and five years working with online content, it’s safe to say she likes words on the internet. She is most likely to be seen wearing Birkenstocks and hanging out with a bouncy goldendoodle named Dobby, who is a literal fur angel sent to Earth.

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