Frontier internet review: Beware, customer service
Frontier provides both DSL and fiber-optic service and has a presence in 38 states. It offers fiber internet in just five of those: California, Idaho, Oregon, Texas, and Washington. These areas are typically ignored by other fiber-optic internet providers, so Frontier may be your only option for wicked fast speeds.
The company pairs its plans with no contracts and no data limits — perfect for a household of streamers, gamers, or people working from home. However, its customer service rates worse than every other provider on the market. And in an already tumultuous landscape, that’s a pretty daunting feat.
If Frontier’s value and packages match your household’s needs, prepare for potentially frustrating service and watch your bill closely.
* Package availability depends on location, prices and speeds may vary
Fiber plans, speed, and data
Fiber connection speeds offered up to 940 Mbps with no data caps
Fiber-optic technology transmits data using light and thin strands of glass — the result is faster speeds and a more reliable connection. If Frontier offers fiber-optic service to your address, you could see plans that range from 50 Mbps to 940 Mbps.
Lower speeds like 50 Mbps are more suited for smaller households (three users) and lighter usage like emailing, general internet browsing, and streaming. If you host a home of gamers, binge-watchers, or you work remotely, you’ll want to consider Frontier’s faster plans like 500 Mbps or 940 Mbps. To keep up with those speeds, Frontier has no data caps.
Specific pricing and availability will depend on your region, but most offers will start at just $30 per month for 50 Mbps. At Comcast, that same price might only get you 15 Mbps.
DSL plans, speed, and data
DSL plans are widely available and ideal for lighter internet use
DSL, or Digital Subscriber Line, uses existing telephone wires to communicate data between your computer and the internet. Because of this, it’s widely available. But DSL is also one of the slowest internet connections. Frontier’s DSL plans typically range from 6 Mbps to 45 Mbps for $28 to $45 per month. The smaller speed plans may work for light internet users who only need a connection for email, web browsing, and some occasional SD streaming.
Who is each Frontier plan best for?
Frontier Internet — Best for a single user on 1-2 devicesFrontier Preferred Internet — Best for a single user on 3-4 devicesFrontier Premium Internet — Best for 2 users with up to 5 devices50/50 Mbps Internet — Best for 3 users with up to 5 devices500/500 Mbps Internet — Best for 4 users with up to 8 devicesGig Service — Best for 5+ users with 10+ devices
How fast is Frontier internet?
Competitive speeds with fiber but DSL underperforms
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), details in its 2018 Fixed Broadband Report the percentage of customers whose average speed was near the advertised speed. Frontier’s fiber service did pretty well, with just about 80% of customers receiving 95% or more of the advertised speed. But it’s not quite as impressive as Verizon’s fiber service, with over 90% of its customers getting their advertised speeds.
As a technology, DSL is less reliable than other internet connections. Frontier is no exception. Though Frontier’s DSL service outpaces Cincinnati Bell DSL and Hawaiin Telcom DSL, it only delivers most of its advertised speeds 30% of the time. AT&T, Centurylink, Verizon, and Windstream DSL services all perform more reliably.
Where is Frontier Internet available?
Extensive DSL coverage with limited Fiber service
While Frontier has a presence in 38 states, only five are equipped with fiber-optic service. If you live in California, Idaho, Oregon, Texas, or Washington there’s a chance you could purchase fiber-optic internet from Frontier. Limited availability is pretty typical for fiber technology, but availability in the Pacific Northwest is unique to Frontier. Verizon FiOS has exclusively built out infrastructure in the East Coast while AT&T has fiber service in the Mideast and South, with some California presence. If you’re living on the West Coast and want fiber-fast internet, Frontier is your best chance. DSL service is available in the remainder of the 38 states.
Other factors to consider
A solid offering with installation options
Frontier internet typically comes with the option to rent its integrated router/modem device. It’ll have everything you need to connect devices to the internet via WiFi. ISP-provided internet equipment rarely differs and Frontier’s is pretty standard. Frontier offers self-installation (free) and professional installation ($75), but not every package will receive both options.
Contracts and fees
Contract-free, price for life options, equipment rental, and optional professional installation
Frontier’s service comes without any contracts. If you’re in a temporary living situation or aren’t sure you’ll love its service, you can cancel anytime without the burden of an early termination fee. When shopping, you may also notice one of the plans will have a “price for life” guarantee. This means that even though you have no contract, your monthly rate is guaranteed for the lifetime of your service — no price hikes! The only downside is that you can’t choose which plan this applies to.
$10/mo Equipment Fee$10 Equipment Delivery/Handling Fee$75 Professional Installation
*Sometimes waived for certain packages or online orders.
Fiber-optic TV service offered but DSL connections may get contracted out to DISH for TV
Typically, bundling your services like TV, internet, phone, and sometimes home security with one provider is an easy way to save money on each service. Compared to its competition, Frontier fails to offer enticing bundling options.
If DSL service is available to you, you’re out of luck — Frontier doesn’t offer any TV options to bundle with DSL service. In some locations, Frontier may contract its TV service out to DISH. This isn’t terrible news, as DISH offers great TV service, but adds to the general uncertainty about what you’ll be offered from Frontier.
Frontier does have fiber-optic TV service that fiber customers can bundle, but you won’t have many options for the number of channels. In most areas, we found you can add Fiber TV for about $25 more per month for only 25+ channels. Pair all that with Frontier’s limited fiber-optic availability, and your overall options end up pretty limited. If you’re looking for a provider that will make bundling multiple services simple, Frontier probably isn’t for you.
Major drawbacks to customer service
In nearly every customer satisfaction survey, Frontier falls dead last.
The average score for internet providers with the ACSI scores 62/100, and Verizon FiOS won the top spot with a 70/100, meaning Frontier falls significantly behind. These metrics are a pretty clear indicator that customers aren’t happy with the way Frontier handles communications, tech support, and billing discrepancies.
If you care a lot about customer service, Frontier is the last place you should look for service. But if your internet priorities are more about speed and value, Frontier can provide that.
Compare internet providers
Frontier offers one of the lowest starting prices and no contracts