Cord Cutting Guides, News, and Reviews
Optimum vs Frontier
November 17, 2020
When looking for the best internet out there, you want to be sure you are comparing apples to apples. It doesn’t do much good to compare a DSL internet plan to a cable or fiber internet plan, because a DSL connection can only provide speed up to 100 Mbps. This is one thing you need to be wary of when looking at the difference between Frontier and Optimum.
Frontier is one of the most popular choices for DSL internet over the last decade. They jumped into the fiber internet market with the purchase of Verizon Fios’ fiber network on the West Coast. Optimum offers a fiber connection as well; however, they are only available in four states in the northeast. I’m not trying to downplay Optimum in the least — it’s a very strong option, just not a very widely available one.
Both Frontier Fios and Optimum offer speedy fiber internet with comparable pricing. However, Optimum has faster speeds than Frontier in the Northeast.
Although Optimum is only available in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania, it's the fourth-largest cable internet provider in the US. Highly-populated cities like Brooklyn, Bronx, and Newark have widespread availability to Optimum’s cable and fiber services. Frontier has overlapping availability in the northeast, but its fiber service (Frontier Fios) is only available in California, Texas, Florida, and Indiana. Don’t get me wrong; Frontier’s DSL internet has enough speed to support a streaming, but Optimum’s cable internet is at least six times faster than Frontier’s DSL internet.
Fiber: Up to 940 Mbps
Fiber: $65 per month
Fiber: Up to $74.99 per month
Optimum advertises three plans: You can choose between speeds of up to 300, 500, and 940 Mbps. The average Optimum customer receives speeds closer to 230 Mbps, but that’s enough to support a couple working from home with kids going to school virtually. Everyone in that scenario could connect to their Zoom or Slack calls with minimal lag or buffering, even if all four were chatting at the same time.
Frontier may not have as many high-speed plans as Optimum, but both Frontier DSL and Fios internet deliver at least 90 percent of their advertised speeds. But, as a Frontier Fios customer, I think you’ll find that you’ll get a more reliable connection if you live in a densely populated area or if you log on during off-peak hours. (Off-peak hours are the times when there normally aren’t too many people online.)
At face value, Optimum has a lower price for the gigabit plan — but that monthly rate does not include the equipment rental fee, which is $10 per month. This fee ends up making that plan the same price as Frontier’s gigabit plan. Still, Optimum does have the upper hand since the Optimum 1 Gig plan has a Price for Life guarantee.
In my view, Frontier has a slight upper hand with budget-conscious internet users like me because the company offers a wider range of plans. But the speed for most of Frontier’s plans is only enough for a one- or two-person household of light streamers. And when you compare the DSL internet plans that Frontier offers to the cable and fiber plans that Optimum offers in many of the same areas, Optimum comes out as the clear winner. Optimum’s up to 300 Mbps plan costs $5 less than Frontier’s fastest DSL plan.
Internet + Phone: starting at $39.99 per month
Internet + Phone + TV: starting at $74.99 per month
Internet + DISH TV: starting at $89.98 per month
Internet + Phone: starting at $34.99 per month
Internet + TV + Phone: starting at $74.99 per month
Unlike Frontier, Optimum’s starting TV package for each bundle includes 220+ channels. Throw in the Altice One, Optimum’s all-in-one modem, router, cable box, and streaming device, and bundling with TV starts to look like a good option — even to a long-time cord cutter like me! I haven’t seen another internet provider that offers up to 300 Mbps and 220+ channels for less than $70 per month. However, there is close to $45 in additional monthly fees for Optimum’s TV bundles, including a $20-a-month fee for the Altice One. Still, Optimum has a better internet and TV bundle deal than most providers, especially when you consider how much speed you’re getting. If you want a home phone, Optimum will bundle home phone service to any plan for an additional $10 per month.
Frontier technically offers a wider range of TV packages than Optimum thanks to their discount on Dish TV, but Optimum still has lower bundle prices and more channels. The price listed above for Frontier’s TV bundle prices includes the Frontier Fios Basic TV plan, which only has 25+ local TV channels. Most people living in Frontier and Optimum’s overlapping service areas do not have access to Frontier Fios TV. Frontier’s internet and Dish TV bundles start at $89.98 per month for up to 50 Mbps and 190 channels. Frontier’s TV bundles fees aren’t as steep as Optimum’s, but be wary if you have a Frontier internet and Dish TV bundle — your internet price will increase after the first year and a Dish TV plan requires a two-year contract.
Modem Lease Fee: $10 per month
Installation Fee: $75
Wi-Fi Router Service Fee: $10 per month
Wi-Fi Extenders: $6 per month or $75 to purchase
Frontier’s Internet Activation fee puts them on the more costly end of the spectrum for equipment and installation fees. You could choose Optimum’s premium installation ($149) and still pay less to set up your internet than you would with Frontier.
Optimum typically offers free installation as a promotional deal for new customers. But if you miss out on the deal, you’ll find yourself paying either $99 or $149 depending on the type of installation you choose. Opting for premium installation will ensure all of your devices are connected online wirelessly.
Both companies require the use of a modem and router, plus the possible use of Wi-Fi extenders depending on the size and layout of your home. Each Optimum internet user gets a free smart router when you lease a modem. Frontier, on the other hand, combines its modem and router. Personally, I think Optimum still has a leg up over Frontier if you get the Optimum 1 Gig plan, which also includes a free Wi-Fi extender. Frontier’s gigabit plan only gives you their modem/router combo for free for a year.
Frontier may be one of the most affordable fiber internet providers in the US, but when you compare the services they offer in the only areas where Optimum is available, I think you’ll find that Optimum is the faster, more affordable, and more feature-packed provider. I’d only recommend Frontier if you plan on moving to California, Texas, or Florida, which are the places where Frontier’s best plans are available.
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