Frontier Home Internet Review: Fiber Service Is Tough to Beat
Frontier home internet
Wi-Fi router rental included in the price
Fast fiber speeds
Spotty DSL speeds
Poor, but improving, customer satisfaction record
Term agreement required to get signup bonuses
$50 per month
Unlimited data, no contracts, no equipment fee
Frontier falls into the category of internet providers with a growing fiber network and a large, established DSL network. The differences between the two connection types are rather extreme, so your experience with any such provider, Frontier included, will largely come down to the service type available at your address.
When considering Frontier internet for your home, determine if you’re eligible for fiber or DSL service. If Frontier Fiber is available, it’s worth considering for its fast speeds and fair pricing, not to mention the internet and TV bundle that will get new customers $10 off YouTube TV per month for a year. On the other hand, if you can only get DSL, you may want to also explore other options such as satellite or 5G home internet.
Along with fast speeds — Frontier now offers speeds up to 5Gbps — and competitive pricing, Frontier Fiber plans come with unlimited data and a Wi-Fi router at no extra cost. There are also no term agreements, so long as you don’t accept any deal “sweeteners” like the $200 gift card currently available when you sign up for Fiber 2 Gig.
Frontier Internet, the DSL service, can be hit or miss, as speeds and performance may vary widely depending on where you live. That’s typical for a DSL provider, but Frontier doesn’t advertise speeds for its DSL service at all, so there’s no telling what speeds you’ll get until you sign up. Even if you luck out and can get the fastest Frontier Internet speeds possible, they’d still fall well short of the slowest advertised Frontier Fiber speed (500Mbps).
So again, fiber optic is good, DSL bad (maybe). And that’s not necessarily a knock against Frontier; that’s just the nature of the two service types. Frontier Fiber is the way to go, given the choice of the two. Still, Frontier Internet could also be a viable option for those in rural areas where the only other available connections are via satellite internet.
Frontier home internet availability and coverage
Frontier Communications is one of the nation’s largest internet providers, available in 25 states from Connecticut to California. Fiber service is currently available in 15 states, with serviceability largely reserved to metro areas, but ongoing expansion could bring Frontier Fiber to more states and locations in the future.
Until then, everywhere else serviceable for Frontier will have access to Frontier Internet. Again, that means DSL and its unpredictable, varying speeds. The following prices assume customer use of autopay.
Frontier internet plans and pricing
|Plan||Speeds||Introductory rate||Equipment fee||Data cap|
|Frontier Internet (Copper)||Varies||$50||None||None|
|Fiber 500||Up to 500Mbps download, 500Mbps upload||$60||None||None|
|Fiber 1 Gig||Up to 1,000Mbps download, 1,000Mbps upload||$70||None||None|
|Fiber 2 Gig||Up to 2Gbps download, 2Gbps upload||$100||None||None|
|Fiber 5 Gig||Up to 5Gbps download, 5Gbps upload||$155||None||None|
When will the price go up, and by how much? Frontier Internet, the copper DSL-based service, comes with a price lock for 24 months. After that, there is no guaranteed or preset price increase. That’s not to say your bill will never go up, but price hikes aren’t predetermined and guaranteed, like with many other ISPs. Pricing on all Frontier Fiber plans is month to month.
Data caps, contracts and fees
All internet plans come with unlimited data (to the relief of many rural residents who have endured the strict data limits of satellite internet) and typically require no contract.
Frontier internet is not totally contract-free, however. Accepting a signup bonus, such as the $200 gift card currently available with select plans, will come with a term agreement. If you don’t want that, decline any special offers when you sign up.
As for added fees, your Wi-Fi router rental is included at no extra cost. Whole-home Wi-Fi is now available for an added $10 per month.
Which Frontier Fiber plan is best?
Frontier Fiber now has four plan options ranging from 500Mbps to 5Gbps. Each plan has symmetrical upload speeds, a perk typically only available with fiber-optic service. Here are my recommendations for each plan:
- Fiber 500: Best for three to five users, streaming in HD, gaming online and working or learning remotely.
- Fiber 1 Gig: Best for five or more users and 10 or more devices, streaming in 4K, working or learning on multiple devices.
- Fiber 2 Gig: Best for a large household or those planning for the future and an increasing number of connected devices.
- Fiber 5 Gig: Best for a virtually unlimited number of devices. An uncompromisingly fast connection to satisfy any home.
You’ll notice a significant speed jump from one Fiber plan to the next, which can make it much easier to find the right plan for your needs. Also, at 500Mbps, Frontier has a faster entry-tier speed than many other fiber providers, including CenturyLink (200Mbps), AT&T (300Mbps) and Verizon Fios (also 300Mbps).
Fiber availability is expanding
Until recently, Frontier Fiber was reserved for parts of California, Florida, Indiana and Texas. Thanks to recent fiber-optic expansions, the service is now available in areas of 15 states and growing.
Though availability is still somewhat limited, Frontier has acknowledged the need for more significant fiber expansion and plans to extend service to more areas in the near future. “Frontier is targeting substantial fiber upgrades over the next several years to locations in and near Frontier’s footprint,” a spokesperson said.
No speed options with DSL, unfortunately
With Frontier Internet — the company’s DSL service — customers have one plan option starting at $50 monthly for “varying” speeds.
What determines available speeds? You guessed it — your address. More specifically, it’s your home’s distance from a local transmitting station. DSL speeds diminish over long distances, so the farther away you are, the lower your speeds are likely to be. Unfortunately, remote rural locations are often stuck with the lowest speeds.
How does Frontier internet compare?
As a DSL provider, Frontier may be a viable home internet option in rural areas. As mentioned above, DSL speeds vary widely by location, so the overall value of Frontier Internet and how it compares to other providers, will depend on what kind of speeds you can get.
As a fiber internet provider, Frontier has relatively low prices considering the speeds you get. With fiber plans starting at $60 per month, Frontier Fiber is on par with entry-level plans from AT&T Fiber ($55 a month), yet slightly higher than Verizon Fios ($40 a month). That said, Frontier does offer significantly faster speeds at 500Mbps versus the 300Mbps you’d get with AT&T or Verizon Fios.
In all likelihood, you won’t have the option of other DSL or fiber providers in Frontier service areas. Competing internet providers of the same technology typically avoid offering internet in the same areas. However, you will find cable internet providers such as Spectrum or Xfinity available in many Frontier service areas.
Cable beats DSL, fiber beats cable
Cable internet providers that you’ll find in Frontier service areas include Mediacom, Optimum, Spectrum and Xfinity, among others. Compared with cable internet, Frontier Internet is likely to be slower and more expensive, especially considering the cost per Mbps. Most cable internet providers offer gigabit download speeds, whereas Frontier Internet will come nowhere close to that. While cable internet plans can reach $100 a month or higher, the speeds you get for the price are likely to be a much better value.
Cable internet versus Frontier Fiber is a coin toss, depending on which cable provider is in your area. For example, Frontier Fiber has pricing similar to Xfinity’s cable internet plans on comparable speed tiers — both providers offer gigabit service starting for around $70 a month, for instance — but you’ll get faster upload speeds and unlimited data with Frontier Fiber. Spectrum’s internet service, on the other hand, is priced a bit higher than Frontier, but also comes with the conveniences of unlimited data and no contracts.
Ultimately, if Frontier Fiber is available in your area, I’d likely recommend it over cable internet service, especially if you’re considering the higher 500Mbps or gigabit speed tiers. The pricing is likely to be on par with or lower than similar tiers from a cable provider. The straightforward pricing and unlimited data give Frontier Fiber an advantage over most providers in general.
Frontier internet customer satisfaction reports are improving, slightly
Customer satisfaction scores are never pretty for cable and internet providers, but Frontier’s were downright ugly for a while there. The American Customer Satisfaction Index ranked the provider last in 2019 and 2020 with scores of 55/100 in both years. In 2021, Frontier broke out of the bottom spot with a score of 57/100, edging out (former Altice brand) Suddenlink’s 55. In the most recent 2022 ACSI rankings, Frontier improved with a score of 61/100, passing CenturyLink, Mediacom and Optimum along the way. Frontier’s score is still below the industry average, but at least it is showing signs of improvement.
Frontier Communications didn’t fare well with customer satisfaction reporter J.D. Power, either, coming in last in three out of four regions. Frontier ranked last in the East, North Central and West regions, and fell well below the regional average in the South, despite placing above Kinetic by Windstream, CenturyLink, Suddenlink and HughesNet.
So what’s the deal with Frontier’s consistently low customer satisfaction? Of the over 5,200 Frontier customer complaints to the Better Business Bureau closed within the past three years, it appears that service disruptions, poor customer service and lack of speed upgrades in rural areas are all commonly and consistently experienced issues.
When contacted by the BBB in 2019 regarding a “high volume and pattern of serious complaints,” Frontier’s response admitted that the company had “disappointed customers,” but pointed much of the blame at its acquisitions of infrastructure in Connecticut from AT&T and in California, Texas and Florida from Verizon.
“As the BBB points out, many of the 11,000 (as of December 2019) complaints made on this platform resulted from the transition of services in those two transactions,” reads Frontier’s response. “We have worked diligently to address the issues raised and restore credibility. Issues related to those transactions have been resolved.”
While service disruptions and negative customer experiences can certainly happen during a technical transition, it’s worth pointing out that these acquisitions took place in 2016, yet Frontier’s response to the BBB came in December 2019 — and similar complaints from customers are still coming in.
Out of over 540 BBB customer reviews, Frontier currently has an average of 1.04 out of 5 stars. And while internet service providers are notorious for low review scores, Frontier’s review score feels exceptionally low.
Despite a tough run in recent years, Frontier expresses optimism that customer satisfaction will continue to improve. “We work hard to meet customer needs and to provide the best quality and most competitive telecommunications products and services to the customers and communities we serve,” a spokesperson said. “Customer service excellence is a top priority for our new leadership.”
Recap of Frontier internet service
If you can overlook the low customer satisfaction ratings and slow DSL speeds, Frontier is probably worth considering for its unlimited data, but only if Frontier Fiber is available in your area. Frontier’s fiber internet offers speeds and pricing comparable to many other top providers, and fiber’s fast upload speeds and reliability gives it an edge over cable internet service.
Depending on the available speeds, Frontier’s DSL-based service could be the best internet option in many rural areas where satellite is the only other way to connect. Reports of slow service, however, may make you want to give satellite internet another look.
Frontier internet FAQ
What’s the best Frontier internet deal?
Starting at $60 per month, Frontier’s entry-level Fiber plan offers speeds up to 500Mbps — plenty of speed for streaming, gaming and browsing the web on multiple devices at once — and comes with unlimited data and no additional equipment costs. The newest Frontier Fiber plan, Frontier 5 Gig, is arguably the best deal starting at $165 per month for speeds up to 5Gbps for an estimated cost per Mbps of around $0.03.
Is Frontier internet good for gaming?
A fiber connection like the one you get with Frontier Fiber is excellent for gaming. Not only are speeds fast enough to support intense gaming on multiple devices, but the low latency also makes for a smooth connection with less lagging.
How do I reset my Frontier router?
Keep in mind that fully resetting your router will likely return it to factory settings and potentially delete any custom settings. If you just want to reboot your Frontier router to remedy slowed speeds or a spotty connection, you can do so by unplugging the device and plugging it back in after 10 seconds. This will avoid a factory reset and help to save your custom settings.
But if you’re certain you want to fully reset your Frontier router, locate the reset button on the back of the device and use a small instrument such as a paperclip to press and hold the button for 10 seconds.