Frontier vs. Spectrum

Best availability
  • pro
    Cable internet
  • pro
    Wider availability
  • pro
  • pro
    Up to 1,000Mbps
Best fiber option
  • pro
    Fiber internet
  • con
    Lower availability
  • pro
  • pro
    Up to 5,000Mbps
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Dave Schafer
Jan 04, 2024
Icon Time To Read5 min read

Finding great internet in rural areas can sometimes feel like hunting for a needle in a haystack. Many areas of the country are still resigned to a choice of satellite internet or DSL.

That said, there are some options out there. Spectrum is one of our favorite rural cable providers, for several reasons, and Frontier offers internet service in many areas, including some with extremely fast fiber.

In this article, we’ll check out what each provider offers and explore which might be better for you.

Frontier vs. Spectrum plans and pricing

Download speed
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Frontier$49.99–$129.99/mo.UnlimitedUp to 5,000Mbps
Spectrum$49.99–$79.99/mo.UnlimitedUp to 1,000Mbps

Frontier internet plans and pricing

Spectrum internet plans and pricing

Frontier offers two types of internet service—DSL and fiber. The DSL service is considerably more widespread, particularly in rural areas. However, the tradeoff is that DSL is slow. On the other hand, the fiber service is extremely fast, with speeds up to 5,000Mbps. That makes it one of the fastest providers available.

Frontier’s plan selection ranges from about $50 per month to $130 per month. For the money, you get excellent speeds—at least with the fiber service. The lowest-tier fiber plan starts at 500Mbps, which is already extremely fast. As with many fiber services, you get a lot of bang for your buck.

DSL services tend to max out around 100Mbps (if you’re lucky), but speeds around 15–25Mbps are more common. That’s obviously not great, though it’ll get the job done, especially in the places its most available like rural areas.

Spectrum offers a very simple plan structure. There are just three options to choose from:

  • Spectrum Internet: 300Mbps, $49.99 per month
  • Internet Ultra: 500Mbps, $69.99 per month
  • Internet Gig: 1,000Mbps, $79.99 per month

The simplified plan selection makes it easy to determine which is right for you. Just decide how much speed you need, and you’re all set.

The prices are competitive—we have a hard time complaining about $90 for gigabit internet. That said, compared to Frontier, the costs are a bit higher at any given speed. For example, Frontier’s lowest-tier fiber plan is close to the same price as Spectrum’s, but it offers 500Mbps compared to Spectrum's 300Mbps.

Of course, if you’re looking at Frontier DSL prices, Spectrum's plans are a much better deal for the speed.

Find out which provider is available near you by entering your zip code below.

Pros and cons of Frontier vs. Spectrum

Frontier internet pros and cons

pro Extremely fast speeds available
pro Excellent prices on fiber plans
pro No data caps
con Fiber plans have limited availability
con Most service is DSL, which is slower

Spectrum internet pros and cons

pro Simple plan selection
pro Fast speeds
pro No equipment fees
pro No data caps
con Gigabit plans are a bit pricier than the competition
con Wi-Fi charges are unusual and negate the lack of equipment fees

Frontier vs. Spectrum speeds

When it comes to Frontier vs. Spectrum speeds, there are two different stories: Frontier DSL and Frontier fiber.

If the Frontier service you have available is DSL, Spectrum blows it out of the water. The base Spectrum plan is 300Mbps, whereas the Frontier DSL service gets speeds around 25Mbps, depending on the area. There’s really no contest here. Spectrum is also quite a bit faster than most satellite internet options on the market.

Now, if you have access to Frontier fiber service, the story is different. In this case, it’s Frontier that has the faster base plan, and the highest-end packages are also much faster than Spectrum—5,000Mbps compared to 1,000Mbps, respectively.

In addition to the download speeds, Frontier fiber offers what’s known as symmetrical speeds—uploads speeds that equal download speeds. These higher-than-average upload speeds can make a huge difference with applications like video calls and sharing large media files, and it’s not something you’ll find with Spectrum (or any cable provider, for that matter).

Frontier vs. Spectrum availability

Spectrum is definitely the more widely available of these two providers. It’s available in a number of areas that Frontier isn’t—even including the Frontier DSL service. This makes Spectrum much easier to recommend for rural users, because they’re more likely to have Spectrum as an option. But Frontier may not be available or only available as slower DSL.

Frontier is available in 25 states, primarily in the North-Central US, with smatterings of service in the West, Southeast, and Texas. The vast majority of this coverage is DSL, with some fiber mixed in, primarily in metro areas.

Spectrum, on the other hand, is available in 42 states, with solid coverage in most regions of the country. Spectrum serves rural areas quite well, providing service to a number of areas that may not otherwise have high-speed internet access, including Frontier.

Of course, if availability is a concern, or you’re in a very rural area, you may have better luck with a different type of service altogether. Satellite internet is an excellent off-grid internet option due to its nationwide coverage, while 5G home internet is gaining ground quickly as a viable alternative in areas that don’t have high-speed infrastructure. 

Frontier vs. Spectrum data and equipment

Both Frontier and Spectrum offer unlimited data with their plans at no additional cost. This means that users can share, stream, and download as much as they like without worrying about overage charges. Considering how integrated the internet has become in our daily lives, this is the way it should be (in our opinion, at least).

As for equipment, Frontier offers a fairly standard wireless gateway (a modem/router combo). It’s not going to win any awards, but it’ll get the job done. The Frontier fiber equipment is much better: you get an Eero or TP-Link router, with the exact model depending on the plan you choose:

  • Fiber 500: Eero Wi-Fi 6+
  • Fiber 1 Gig: Eero Wi-Fi Pro 6
  • Fiber 2 Gig: Eero Wi-Fi Pro 6E
  • Fiber 5 Gig: TP-Link Archer AXE300 6E

Best of all, there are no equipment fees for these devices.

Spectrum’s equipment is interesting—you get the Spectrum Advanced Wi-Fi system (basically a fancy-looking wireless gateway), and you can add additional “WiFi Pods” for a few dollars per month. These create a mesh network that lets you seamlessly roam around your house without losing connection.

The final take: Spectrum is best for most rural residents

Overall, we have to give the nod to Spectrum here, for the simple fact that you’re much more likely to find it than Frontier. Frontier’s fiber service is excellent, but the lack of availability makes it hard to recommend to most people, and the more widespread DSL service is, well, DSL.

That said, if Frontier Fiber is available in your neck of the woods, it’s definitely worth trying. The price is great, and you get a lot of speed for your money.

Frontier vs. Spectrum internet FAQ

Is Frontier or Spectrum more reliable?

This depends on whether you’re looking at Frontier DSL or Frontier Fiber. Spectrum is cable, and as such tends to be faster and more reliable than DSL, which is an older technology. However, the opposite is true for Frontier’s fiber service—it’s definitely faster, and likely more reliable, than Spectrum.

Is Frontier or Spectrum better for gaming?

Frontier is better than Spectrum for gaming if you have fiber available. It offers faster uploads, which will help with some games. However, Spectrum will be better than Frontier DSL service, so it really comes down to what’s available in your area.

Does Frontier have good internet?

Frontier Fiber is an excellent internet service, with speeds up to 5,000Mbps, affordable prices, and great equipment. Unfortunately, it’s not available in most markets. Frontier’s DSL service is more widely available, but, like most DSL, it’s slow and expensive for what you get. If you can get fiber, we think you’ll like it, but we’d recommend avoiding the DSL if you can.

How much internet speed do I need?

The amount of internet speed you need depends a lot on what you do online. For basic tasks like email, social media, and web browsing, you could get by with 10–20Mbps—possibly even less, although you may start to notice delays and slow loading. However, if you stream HD or 4K video or download a lot of large files, you’ll likely benefit from having 100Mbps (or more). Check out our guide on how much internet speed you need to learn more.

Is Spectrum internet good?

Yes, Spectrum internet is a great choice. In fact, it’s one of our favorite rural cable providers thanks to its wide availability, fast speeds, and reasonable prices. You can get speeds up to 1,000Mbps for less than $90 per month, which makes it miles better than a lot of other rural options.

Is Frontier internet faster than Spectrum?

Yes, Frontier Fiber is faster than Spectrum. Frontier can hit speeds up to 5,000Mbps (in select areas), while Spectrum tops out at around 1,000Mbps. That said, most Frontier internet is DSL, which is definitely not faster than Spectrum, so make sure you check what kind of service is available in your area.

Dave Schafer
Written by
Dave Schafer
Dave has written professionally for tech companies and consumer technology sites for nearly five years, with a special focus on TV and internet. He uses his industry expertise to help readers at get the most out of their services. No matter the project, he prefers his coffee black (the stronger, the better).