Frontier Review – 2020

Frontier is well known for offering internet services in rural areas. The company made a name for itself by reaching remote areas that other internet service providers weren’t interested in servicing.

Pros of Frontier

  • Offers DSL internet in rural areas
  • Has fiber optic networks in six states
  • Fixes prices for each customer for the duration of the service agreement
  • Offers bundles that include internet, TV, and/or telephone service
  • Prices are low compared to other DSL providers
  • No data caps

Cons of Frontier

  • Hidden charges including an installation fee and equipment rental
  • Speeds in some rural areas can be as low as 6 Mbps

Table of Contents

Overview of Frontier Internet Services

Frontier Communications Corporation is the fourth largest fiber internet provider in the USA. The DSL market has many times more subscribers than fiber and Frontier is the fifth largest provider in that market. Frontier provides DSL internet services in 29 states and fiber internet in six states. The company also provides telephone service and delivers pay-TV. Overall, Frontier is the eight largest internet provider in the United States and also the country’s 11th largest TV carrier.

The company began life in 1935 in Minneapolis as the Citizens Utilities Company. The company expanded steadily by acquiring telephone networks from other companies. Citizens owned many gas, water, and electricity supply companies around the United States, but it sold those off in the early years of this decade so that it could concentrate on its telecommunications business. The company changed its name to Citizen Communications Corporation in 2000.

Citizens Communications acquired Frontier Communications from Global Crossing in 2001. Although Frontier was just one division of the much larger Citizens portfolio, the parent company decided to change its name to Frontier Communications in 2008.

Frontier acquired its fiber lines from Verizon. Verizon calls its fiber network Fios. Frontier follows that naming convention, calling its fiber network Frontier Fios. The fiber network is available in Washington state, Oregon, California, Texas, Florida, and Indiana.

Some Points About Frontier

Frontier laid itself open to criticism by specializing in offering internet services in areas that other providers skip. There is a large cost to the infrastructure needed for high quality broadband delivery. The only way the company is able to offer internet in remote areas affordably is to cut quality.

In a large part of the Frontier service area, the fastest speed that they can reasonably deliver is just 6 Mbps. Customers watching TV and learning of the great speeds that other service providers advertise feel dissatisfied with their poor services. Naturally, they don’t realize that those advertisements boast of the best speeds available and the companies that offer better services only cover densely populated urban areas where cost recovery per line is a lot easier.

Consequently, Frontier has a low customer satisfaction rating. The service got the lowest rating of all ISPs in the PC Magazine Reader’s Choice Awards 2019 with a satisfaction score of 4.2/10.

The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) produces an annual report on the telecoms industry. Frontier Communications received the lowest customer satisfaction rating in 2019 of all ISPs in the United States in that survey. The service received a satisfaction rating of 55%. In 2018, the company received a satisfaction score of 54%, which put it second from bottom that year above Mediacom, which had a score of 53%.

So if you live in an urban area served by the Fios system, you can expect a very good service from Frontier. If you live in a rural area, you won’t get such a good service, but then other service providers won’t even be willing to take your business.

Frontier Plans

Frontier has three groups of internet service plans. These are:

 

Frontier Internet

o   6 Mbps

o   12 Mbps

o   18 Mbps

o   25 Mbps

o   45 Mbps

 

Vantage

o   6 Mbps

o   25 Mbps

o   115 Mbps

 

Frontier Fios

o   50 Mbps

o   500 Mbps

o   1 Gbps

 

Speeds are not guaranteed. They also won’t be consistent, with slower speeds at peak usage times, such as when the kids get out of school in the evening.

 

The Vantage internet plans are only available in Connecticut.

 

Here is a selection of Frontier plans.

 

Plan Download Speed Minimum Term Data Cap
Frontier Internet 0.5 to 6 Mbps None None
Frontier Preferred Internet 6.1  to 25 Mbps None None
Frontier Premium Internet 25.1 to 115 Mbps None None
Fios 50/50 50 Mbps None None
Fios 500/500 500 Mbps None None
Fios Gig Service 940 Mbps None None

Frontier Pricing Overview

Frontier Internet and Vantage plans do not require a contract and do not impose minimum terms. However, Fios internet requires a one-year contract.

 

The table below shows a selection of Frontier internet service plans and their prices.

 

Plan Standard Price/Month Setup Cost Equipment Fee Termination Fee
Frontier Internet $27.99 $75 $10 $9.99
Frontier Preferred Internet $34.99 $75 $10 $9.99
Frontier Premium Internet $44.99 $75 $10 $9.99
Fios 50/50 $29.99 $75 $10 $9.99
Fios 500/500 $39.99 $75 $10 $9.99
Fios Gig Service $74.99 $75 $10 $9.99

The installation fee of $75 is waived if you take the internet service as part of a bundle. Those who choose to install the router themselves also don’t have to pay the installation fee but they are charged a $9.99 shipping and handling fee to receive the router. Fios plans state that the customer can choose to buy the router for $200 instead of renting it.

There are no minimum terms for any services mentioned on the website. All customers who chose to end the service have to pay an administration fee of $9.99 regardless of how long the plan has been running.

The price of the Frontier Internet plan is guaranteed for life. All other plans have a rate set for 12 months, but that price may change after the first year.

The Fios 500/500 plan is subject to an Internet Infrastructure Charge of $3.99 per month.

The company offers a discount for impoverished households that qualify for state assistance. The exact qualifying conditions vary from state to state because they are mandated by state government programs. This is called the Lifeline Discount Plan, which gets the household a discount on internet subscription fees of $9.25 per month.

Native Americans living on Tribal Lands also qualify for a discount of $25 per month. This is called the Enhanced Tribal Lifeline. This plan also includes a one-off payment of up to $100 towards installation costs. The plans are not mutually exclusive and some households may qualify for both.

Frontier Customer Service

Frontier can be contacted via email or through a freephone number. The phone helpline isn’t very good. It will leave you queuing for a long time before you get served and the operators are not very well informed about the service. However, the website does have a self-service portal where existing customers can check on the status of an account and see current bills.

The website has a Help Center that includes advice on how to solve common problems. It is also possible to reset the password of an internet router on the website. Another communication channel on the website is available through a live chat facility. This isn’t available outside of business hours and can often have a long wait time before you get connected.

A big advantage of Frontier’s help system is that the company has stores throughout its service area. You can seek out a technician to help fix your router if it is playing up and it is also possible to speak to a sales representative there if you are having problems with your account or wish to change plans. Overall, you stand a better chance of solving your problem if you go into the store.

Choosing Frontier Plans

Your satisfaction with Frontier greatly depends on where you live. In some areas, the service is terrible. For example, you may only have the Frontier Internet plan available where you live. That plan is advertised as offering speeds of 6 Mbps. That’s pretty poor considering that Frontier is delivering 1000 Mbps to other customers. However, when you read the small print of the plan, things get even worse. The company can only guarantee that this plan will have speeds of between 0.5 Mbps and 6 Mbps.

The plans are very cheap compared to other internet service providers, but if you are stuck with a service that only gives you 500 Kbps, then you may decide it isn’t worth it. Unfortunately, if you live in an area where Frontier can only supply that very slow speed, your options are likely to be Frontier internet or no internet. Frontier is the only supplier in some areas and it is in those remote spots where the company delivers its slowest service.

For those who live in urban areas in those six states in which Frontier Fios is available, then you will be very satisfied with the service. The 1 Gbps service is very well priced and should enable a large family to stream video all day from every device all at once.