Cord Cutting Guides, News, and Reviews
Cox vs Frontier
September 29, 2020
Choosing an internet provider can be difficult. Some of us don’t get a choice, while others have to choose between leading providers like Cox and Frontier. If we compare Cox vs. Frontier, which one comes out ahead?
If internet speed and reliability matter the most to you, I’d recommend choosing Cox. But if you are on a budget and you prefer a provider that offers not only fast, affordable internet but also a wider range of channel choices, then I think you’ll prefer Frontier’s fiber internet, Frontier Fios — if you can get it!
Although Cox’s availability is scattered in pockets throughout the US, they still offer service to 18 states. If you’re in the military, you’ll see Cox internet a lot, beacuse Cox serves areas around major military bases like Norfolk Naval Base and Marine Corps Recruiting Depot (MCRD) in San Diego.
Frontier offers DSL internet service in 26 states and serves 10 million more people than Cox. Unfortunately, their faster, more reliable service, Frontier Fios, is only available in four states.
Frontier’s internet speed varies depending on what kind of internet they have available near you. You may see one or both of two options from Frontier: DSL and Fios. DSL is a slower, less reliable technology than cable, which is why Frontier’s DSL internet plans offer lower download speeds than Cox. Fiber internet like Frontier Fios is considered the ‘gold-standard’ of internet technology. Unfortunately, Frontier Fios fiber network is not the most reliable at times. I get about half of my plan’s speed, 100 Mbps, the majority of the day. Fortunately, my family is still able to stream on multiple devices while I’m working from home.
I have Frontier now, but I’m also a former Cox customer: I had Cox when I was stationed in Virginia. Cox is one of the only internet providers with which I’ve never experienced an outage or buffering problems. Cox customers are more satisfied than Frontier’s, and, if they’re like me, internet performance plays a large part in that satisfaction. While Cox’s internet speed was able to handle having more guests in my apartment than the fire marshall would have liked, the internet price got to me.
Fiber internet used to be the most expensive kind of internet, but Frontier’s Fios prices prove that’s a thing of the past. The starting price for the Cox Internet Ultimate plan (up to 500 Mbps) is $79.99 per month. That’s pricier than Frontier Fios 500/500 Mbps plan, which starts at $39.99 per month. These starting prices last one year. Cox’s regular rates are about $20 more than their starting rates; Frontier only increases their prices by $10 per month after the first year. While there are only two plans where Cox and Frontier offer the same speed, Frontier’s Fios plans cost about $30-50 less.
Frontier and Cox internet prices are almost neck-and-neck when comparing Frontier’s DSL plans to Cox plans with speeds up to 50 Mbps. Cox’s starting prices are cheaper than Frontier’s, but the price increase after the first year makes Frontier DSL (and Fios) less costly overall.
Paying more for Cox will be worth it to some. I miss having access to over three million hotspots (Frontier does not offer this feature). However, I don’t miss having a data cap. Exceeding 1 TB a month would be a challenge for most households, but knowing that it’s there still isn’t comforting. Cox internet customers also get online security with Cox Security Suite Plus (powered by McAfee). If you decide to rent a modem/router from Cox, you’ll get their Advanced Security features which include 24/7 technical support. It’s unfortunate Cox customers have to pay an extra to receive 24/7 support, which is a standard feature that Frontier offers to all its customers for no extra charge. But Cox customers can contact Cox customer care at any time via Twitter (@CoxHelp).
Internet + Home Phone: starting at $49.99 per month
Internet + TV + Home Phone: starting at $64.99 per month
Internet + Home Phone: starting at $39.99 per month
Internet + TV + Home Phone: starting at $74.99 per month
Frontier’s bundles can be confusing, and what they offer can vary depending on where you live. For example, if you live in California, Texas, Indiana, or Florida, you’ll have access to Fios TV, which offers up to 460 channels. However, if you live in Connecticut or Durham, North Carolina, you’ll instead see Frontier’s Vantage TV, which offers over 300 channels.
Frontier’s TV service isn’t available in each state where their internet is available, so they may give you the option to bundle with Dish TV instead. Unfortunately, Frontier’s Dish TV bundles are the most expensive bundles they offer, starting at $105.99 per month. Overall, Frontier offers more TV channels than Cox and has all the standard features of digital TV providers, including an HD DVR and an app for watching TV on the go and on-demand. But Cox still has more features and freebies than Frontier.
If you’re a fan of NBCUniversal, you’ll want to choose a Cox bundle over Frontier. That’s because Cox TV customers get a free Peacock Premium subscription. You can get the same features that Frontier’s Fios and Vantage TV offer, plus a voice remote and a cable box/receiver that doubles as a streaming device.
Both providers offer home phone services for an extra $10 per month whether you choose a Double Play or Triple Play bundle.
Professional installation: $100
Equipment rental fee: $10.99 per month
Equipment delivery fee: $9.99
Professional installation: $75
Equipment rental fee: $10 per month
Although Cox has cheaper setup fees, you could save more money with Frontier in the long run. Frontier’s professional installation seems cheaper, but you have to pay a one-time $85 activation fee to start service. Both providers offer free self-installation, but Frontier charges a $9.99 equipment delivery fee to send a self-installation kit. These fees seem expensive, but they can be avoided with certain deals.
Where Frontier really shines is its monthly equipment fee. As odd as that sounds, you can avoid the fee by getting your own modem/router — something I plan to do soon to lower my bill. I wouldn’t recommend getting your own modem if you choose Cox, however. Cox Panoramic Wi-Fi modem gives you a better deal than buying your own modem and Wi-Fi extenders. Cox gives you free updates, upgrades when necessary, and technical support.
While Frontier is the more budget-friendly option, they are no match for Cox if you want a bundle plan or a provider that offers more features. Then again, frugal folks like me or those who want an internet-only plan will choose Frontier over Cox any day. I can’t justify paying $30-50 more a month for a stronger Wi-Fi signal in my home or for public Wi-Fi hotspot access. I could buy a new Wi-Fi extender every month with the money I’d save choosing Frontier’s Fios plans over Cox.
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