Cord Cutting Guides, News, and Reviews
Spectrum vs Frontier
February 22, 2021
When shopping around for the best internet and TV provider, you want to be sure you are getting your money’s worth.
Spectrum and Frontier have their similarities: They are both spread out across the nation and they both have low-priced promotional rates. There are slight differences between the two, so the choice will come down to your personal preferences.
Spectrum internet is great for any sized household and even better if you want a provider with great perks for a low price, but I’m a careful budgeter. Frontier wins for me because their fiber internet is cheaper than Spectrum’s cable internet.
Spectrum has Frontier beat when it comes to availability. Spectrum reaches three times as many people as Frontier (102.7 million vs. 30.5 million) in nearly twice as many states.
Frontier offers two types of internet: DSL and fiber. Unfortunately, most of Frontier’s covered areas only have access to DSL internet. Having DSL internet is certainly better than not having internet at all, but DSL can’t support households with lots of smart devices and multiple streamers or gamers. Frontier FiberOptic, the company’s fiber internet service, is only available to a little more than nine million people, which is only about a third of those who have access to Frontier internet.
The lack of availability for Frontier FiberOptic puts it behind most competitors. I’d recommend Spectrum over Frontier in any place where Frontier FiberOptic isn’t available.
Spectrum has a wide variety of speeds. Their most widely advertised speed tiers are up to 200, 400, and 940 Mbps. Most households could get by on Spectrum’s up to 200 Mbps plan — in my house, we’re able to have six devices connected with hardly any buffering issues. Cable internet provides consistent speeds, but it is likely to slow down at certain times of the day. For instance, you may notice your internet is a bit slower in the mornings and after rush hour, when everyone is home and getting online.
Frontier offers a true fiber network; however, it is only available in six states. While fiber is currently the best type of internet connection, I’ve realized that Frontier’s is a bit slower than I expected. My speeds are sometimes only half of my plan’s advertised speed. Then again, friends who live in a more populated city say Frontier is more reliable than the cable providers near them. Plus, Frontier offers extremely fast speeds for a low price — getting 250 Mbps on average is alright with me.
Frontier’s DSL plans will have their ups and downs. DSL is an older internet connection type that’s outdated, but it’s still around because of its wide coverage in rural and suburban areas. If you have a small household, you’ll still be able to host Zoom meetings and let your child watch hour-long Peppa the Pig compilations on YouTube with Frontier’s up to 45 Mbps DSL internet plan.
Pricing is where the Spectrum vs. Frontier debate can get a bit sticky depending on what you want from an internet provider. Frontier is the least expensive provider. Spectrum doesn’t have a plan that beats the price or entry-level speed of Frontier’s FiberOptic 500 plan. Spectrum’s starting package, with speeds up to 200 Mbps, costs $10 more than the FiberOptic 500 plan. Frontier also has lower regular rates than Spectrum. After your promotional period, Frontier’s prices only increase by $10 a month, compared to Spectrum’s $20-a-month increase. That price increase is what made me switch from Spectrum to Frontier.
But cheaper isn’t always better. Frontier’s internet plans, whether fiber or DSL, are bare-bones internet plans — they don’t include most of the standard features nationwide internet providers offer, like public Wi-Fi hotspots and free antivirus software.
If you’re looking for a no-contract provider, Spectrum is your best bet. Frontier states they don’t have a contract, but that’s only true with their regular rates — you have to agree to a contract to get Frontier’s promotional rates. You won’t have to sign a contract to get Spectrum’s promotional rates.
Internet + TV: starting at $89.98 per month
Internet + Phone + TV: starting at $99.97 per month
Internet + Phone: starting at $39.99 per month
Internet + TV + Phone: starting at $74.99 per month
There isn’t much of a difference between Spectrum and Frontier bundles other than their channel lineups. Spectrum’s bundles cost a bit more than Frontier’s, but the price is worth it. Spectrum’s lowest-tier TV plan has 125+ channels, while Frontier’s only includes about 25 local channels. However, if you want the most channels you can get, check out Frontier’s FiberOptic TV: It has up to 460 channels.
If you don’t have access to Frontier FiberOptic, Frontier will allow you to bundle your internet with Dish. That still offers more channels than Spectrum’s TV bundles, but it also costs about $10 more a month. Plus, bundling with Dish will require a two-year contract. Looking at the channel lineups and how much I try to avoid contracts, I’d get a Spectrum bundle over a Frontier bundle. But if I’m being honest, you’ll get a better deal if you cut the cord and sign up with a live streaming service like Hulu or YouTube TV.
Professional Installation Fee: $49.00
Professional Installation Fee (gigabit plan): $199.99
Wi-Fi Activation Fee: $9.99
Wi-Fi Router Rental Fee: $5 per month
Equipment delivery fee: $9.99
Professional installation: $75
Equipment rental fee: $10 per month
Spectrum and Frontier allow their customers to self-install their equipment. Both providers charge $9.99 for the self-installation kit and/or its delivery fee. However, the big difference between them is that Spectrum’s professional installation only costs a fraction of what Frontier’s does.
It’s rare to see a provider charging an activation fee these days. Most of the ones I’ve analyzed either combine it with their installation fee or don’t charge for activation at all. Frontier has the highest activation fee I’ve seen, and Spectrum’s Wi-Fi activation fee is just odd. Still, the only time Frontier’s setup fees are less than Spectrum’s is if you choose the Spectrum Internet Gig plan — professional installation for that plan costs almost $200.
When it comes to monthly fees, Spectrum has Frontier beat. But that’s only because Spectrum doesn’t charge a monthly fee for its modem. However, you will have to pay $5 per month to use the modem’s Wi-Fi capabilities (another odd fee). You can’t save money by using your own modem and router with Spectrum as you could with Frontier. In the long run, Frontier’s fees cost less.
We’ve compared Frontier to multiple providers, and their fiber internet always wins. I have yet to see a provider offer a better plan than Frontier’s FiberOptic 500 plan. Extra perks and features are always welcome, but if your priority is high-speed internet at home, Frontier FiberOptic has exactly what you need.
The only issue is Frontier FiberOptic has limited availability, and Frontier’s DSL plans are no match for FiberOptic or Spectrum. So if you’re stuck deciding between Frontier DSL internet and a cable provider like Spectrum, choose the cable provider.
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