Should I Choose Spectrum or Frontier as my High-Speed Internet Service Provider?

Choosing a new Internet Service Provider (ISP) is hard. While you won’t have to face as many choices as you would when selecting a breakfast cereal, you still have to make a decision—and it’s still confusing. Each ISP offers different speeds, equipment, customer service, and sometimes even different types of internet.

Fortunately, you can make sense of some of the information through this comparison. While it’s not necessarily an apples-to-apples comparison, you will at least be able to choose between Spectrum Cable (formerly Time Warner Cable)* and Frontier DSL. Here you’ll find details about the type of internet each ISP offers, information about equipment and coverage areas, as well as results from our 2016 Best Internet Providers in Customer Satisfaction Survey.

Side-by-Side Comparison

Type of Service

Cable

Type of Service

DSL

Download Speeds

60 Mbps

Download Speeds

1 Mbps–24 Mbps

Price

$44.99 per month

Price

$19.99–$39.99 per month

Equipment Fees

Included

Equipment Fees

Included

Installation Fee

$29.99

Installation Fee

Varies, sometimes free when bundled with other Frontier services

Data Caps

Unlimited

Data Caps

Unlimited

Customer Satisfaction

3.48/5

Customer Satisfaction

3.28/5

Type of Service

Cable

Download Speeds

60 Mbps

Price

$44.99 per month

Equipment Fees

Included

Installation Fee

$29.99

Data Caps

Unlimited

Customer Satisfaction

3.48/5

Type of Service

DSL

Download Speeds

1 Mbps–24 Mbps

Price

$19.99–$39.99 per month

Equipment Fees

Included

Installation Fee

Varies, sometimes free when bundled with other Frontier services

Data Caps

Unlimited

Customer Satisfaction

3.28/5

Pricing and speeds are current as of 3/23/17. Pricing and speeds are subject to change. Not all offers available in all areas.

The Verdict

Choose Spectrum Cable for high speed internet. If you care about speed above all else, you should choose Spectrum Cable. The ISP delivers speeds well up to 50 Mbps, though these speeds can go higher with certain plans. With this provider, you should be able to stream videos across devices without experiencing the dreaded lag.

Choose Frontier Communications DSL for transparent pricing. If your concern rests more along the budget line, you would do well to consider Frontier Communications. The ISP offers fair pricing from the get-go along with great discounts, including promotions such as a deal on a Nest thermostat.

 

Find and compare Spectrum and Frontier plans and pricing in your area:

What You Should Consider When Choosing an Internet Provider

Types of Internet

Cable Internet

Spectrum Cable relies on cable television lines to pipe internet into customers’ homes. Since many customers purchase TV services along with internet, Spectrum Cable provides cable splitters to prevent signal interference and overload.

Cable generally clocks in at higher speeds than DSL; however, the speeds often diminish during peak periods. The increased number of people online during peak hours leads to traffic congestion—similar to what occurs when driving in rush-hour traffic. Basically the internet will still work, but you might elect to do things like download a video file a little earlier or later in the day.

DSL Internet

Frontier Communications is a DSL and fiber internet provider, meaning the company delivers internet service through existing telephone lines for DSL and fiber-optic cables for fiber. To prevent signal interference and dropped connections (or calls), the ISP includes DSL splitters with its equipment. In this comparison, we’ll focus only on Frontier DSL. Although Frontier continues to expand its offerings of fiber internet, it’s still limited in its availability.

In terms of speed, an equal comparison between cable and DSL isn’t really possible, but DSL tends to run slower than cable overall. To return to the traffic metaphor, DSL can be thought of as a semi-truck: it’ll get you where you need to go, but it’ll always travel a bit slower than an Audi. When internet traffic is really bad, though, cable internet may be brought down to DSL in terms of speed and performance.

Coverage Area

Spectrum Cable and Frontier Communications both offer service in twenty-nine states. However, those states seldom overlap. For instance, Spectrum Cable offers the greatest coverage in Hawaii while Frontier delivers more coverage in Connecticut.

Spectrum Cable

Spectrum Availability Map

Top 5 States:

  • Hawaii
  • Ohio
  • Kentucky
  • North Carolina
  • New York

Frontier Communications

Frontier Availability Map

Top 5 States:

  • Connecticut
  • West Virginia
  • Oregon
  • Washington
  • California

Customer Satisfaction Ratings

Spectrum Cable

Overall Customer Rating

(3.5 / 5)

Frontier Internet

Overall Customer Rating

(3.3 / 5)

Installation & Setup

Spectrum Cable

(3.7 / 5)

Spectrum Cable committed to improving its installation and setup process in 2015, and the ISP seems to have delivered. Its rating increased by a few points from 2015 to 2016, most likely due to an overhaul of its website’s how-to guides and installation instructions.

Frontier

(3.6 / 5)

Frontier DSL falls in the middle of the pack when it comes to installation and setup. Spectrum Cable only beats Frontier by about a tenth of a point.

Internet Speed

Spectrum Cable

(3.6 / 5)

Spectrum Cable offers fantastic speeds, as evidenced by its score of 3.6, keeping pace with cable providers like RCN and Suddenlink. In this category, it only loses to fiber providers such as AT&T.

Frontier

(3.2 / 5)

Frontier DSL comes in at the lower end of the speed spectrum, which may be a sign of a larger trend. Consumers desire fast, reliable speeds so they can connect on a multitude of devices and enjoy lag-free HD streams—DSL simply struggles to provide the speeds needed for that kind of connectivity and use.

Reliability

Spectrum Cable

(3.6 / 5)

Spectrum Cable wins few accolades in this category—the ISP hovers somewhere near the middle. It far surpasses Frontier DSL, though.

Frontier

(3.1 / 5)

Frontier DSL sadly draws the short straw when it comes to reliability. The DSL offering ranks last in the reliability category, perhaps due to the kerfuffle with the recent company transition in California and Texas.

Monthly Bill (Pricing)

Spectrum Cable

(3 / 5)

Spectrum Cable sinks lower in this category, coming to rest at a dismal 2.99. The exact reasons remain unclear, but likely culprits could be unclear pricing on specials and surprise fees.

Frontier

(3.2 / 5)

No ISP exactly excels in the pricing category, but Frontier stands as a good contender. The Frontier DSL offering is generally surpassed only by fiber providers, rather than DSL and cable ones.

Technical Support and Customer Service

Spectrum Cable

(3.6 / 5)

Spectrum Cable turns in a solid score, perhaps because of its ongoing efforts to improve its installation process and customer service. Its 3.55 score puts it in league with providers like RCN and Suddenlink.

Frontier

(3.4 / 5)

Frontier DSL turns in a standard technical support and customer service score, resting somewhere around the middle.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Spectrum Cable

Advantages

  • Fast speeds
  • Multiple internet packages and bundling options
  • Continued focus on improving the customer experience

Disadvantages

  • Unclear billing
  • Modem rental fees
  • Hidden fees

Frontier Comunications

Advantages

  • Fair pricing
  • Available discounts
  • Simple installation and setup

Disadvantages

  • Slower speeds
  • Poor reliability
  • Installation fees

Equipment

Spectrum Cable

Spectrum Cable gives customers the choice of a standard modem or Wi-Fi gateway. The gateway, an ARRIS TG1672G, features an internal power supply to ensure reliable speeds and performance. Information about the ARRIS TG1672G follows below.

  • Certified with the latest internet standard, DOCSIS 3.0
  • Single hub that delivers all IP-related services, including telephone, internet, and video
  • Dual-band technology to improve performance and prevent signal interference

 

Frontier

Like Spectrum Cable, Frontier offers a basic router or gateway solution. With the gateway option, customers receive one of four models: a SpeedStream, an ES 567, a Westell 7500, or a NETGEAR 7550. Information about the NETGEAR gateway follows below.

  • Certified with the latest internet standard, DOCSIS 3.0
  • All-in-one Wi-Fi router and modem
  • Built-in Ethernet and USB ports

About the Providers

Spectrum Cable

Spectrum Cable provides cable internet, TV, and telephone services in twenty-nine US states, including the island of Hawaii. The ISP is the third-largest provider in the United States—only AT&T and Comcast eclipse it. The ISP was previously known as Time Warner Cable until its recent merger with Charter Communications.

For more information about Spectrum Cable (formerly known as Time Warner Cable), visit Spectrum Cable.

 

Frontier

Frontier Communications also provides DSL internet, telephone, and satellite TV in twenty-nine US states. While it only ranks eighth in size, it reaches many untapped markets, such as rural areas of West Virginia. The ISP is taking steps to stay competitive; it recently began offering fiber internet in select locations.

For more information about Frontier, visit Frontier Communications.

The choice now falls to you. But before you make it, check the availability of either Spectrum Cable or Frontier Communications in your area.

*The survey data discussed in this article was based on Time Warner Cable internet service. Since the survey, Time Warner Cable has been acquired by Charter Communications and rebranded as Spectrum Cable.