Frontier vs. Xfinity: Compare Internet Pricing, Plans and Speeds

Comcast's Xfinity service might be the obvious choice over Frontier's DSL offering, but Frontier Fiber may be the best option overall.

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Written by 
David Anders
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david-anders
David Anders Senior Writer
David Anders is a senior writer for CNET covering broadband providers, smart home devices and security products. Prior to joining CNET, David built his industry expertise writing for the broadband marketplace Allconnect. In his 5 plus years covering broadband, David's work has been referenced by a variety of sources including ArcGIS, DIRECTV and more. David is from and currently resides in the Charlotte area with his wife, son and two cats.
Expertise Broadband providers, Home internet, Security Cameras
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Image of Frontier Communications
Frontier Communications
Price range
$50 per month
Speed range
Varies
Connection
DSL
Key Info
Unlimited data, no contracts, no equipment fee
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Image of Xfinity
Xfinity
Price range
$20 - $120 per month
Speed range
75 - 2,000Mbps
Connection
Cable
Key Info
Data caps on some plans, lots of plan options, solid customer satisfaction numbers

It's not a given that you'll have more than one viable option when you're shopping for high-speed home internet, but when you do, it's well worth it to give them a close look and make sure you're signing up for the best fit (and getting the best deal). It's especially important when one or both wants to lock you into a contract -- and that's what you'll find if you compare internet services from Frontier and Xfinity.

Determining whether Frontier or Xfinity is better for your home could come down to several factors because, other than one or two similar plan tiers, the providers could not be more different. You'll see what I mean as I explore their technology, speeds, pricing, service details and customer satisfaction records. Ultimately, you'll be better prepared to choose the right provider for your home's needs.

Product image

Frontier Communications

High-value fiber-optic service, but lower customer satisfaction numbers

Our take - Frontier Fiber is as good as any internet service provider, and in some ways better, when it comes to pricing, speeds and fine-print details like equipment fees, contract requirements and data caps. Despite fair pricing and favorable service terms, the ISP has suffered from consistently low customer satisfaction scores. I'd largely attribute the low scores to Frontier's DSL service, which offers far less value, speed and reliability than Frontier Fiber.

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Xfinity

More cheap options, but also more fees

Our take - Other than maybe Cox, another cable internet provider, I can't think of another ISP with as many plan options as Comcast's Xfinity service. Customers will have six, maybe seven plans to choose from, most competitively priced but may require signing a contract to get the lowest pricing. You'll also have to agree to a rather high equipment rental fee, a data cap with possible overage fees and a lofty price hike after your promo period. There are workarounds to all of that, such as using your own equipment or managing your data usage, but the added fees are an important consideration before you sign up.

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frontiervsxfinity.png
FCC/Mapbox

Frontier vs. Xfinity: Availability and technology

According to the most recent Federal Communications Commission data, Xfinity is the second-largest internet provider in the US, available to 37% of the population. In contrast, Frontier is only available to around 10%. Looking at the map here (Frontier in blue, Xfinity in the orangish pink), the total coverage area appears to be about the same between the two. However, Xfinity tends to operate in more densely populated areas, whereas Frontier largely sticks to suburbs and rural areas. Hence the vast difference in the population served.

Locating local internet providers

If both providers are available at your home, the next thing to consider is the technology each provider uses.

Cable internet from Xfinity, which you'll find in essentially all service areas, uses coaxial cables to run service to your home. While not without fault (low upload speeds, inconsistent speeds during peak usage times), cable internet generally supports download speeds up to a gigabit per second and offers decent connection quality. 

Locating local internet providers

Roughly two-thirds of those in Frontier service areas will only be eligible for DSL service, which is likely to come with slow, unsteady speeds. The remaining lucky third will be able to get Frontier Fiber, which has all the perks of a 100% fiber service -- fast download and upload speeds, supreme reliability and less susceptibility to slowed speeds during peak usage times. 

The Frontier connection type available at your address should be the biggest factor when choosing between Frontier and Xfinity. If the answer is DSL, I'm confident Xfinity will be your better option. On the other hand, if you can get Frontier Fiber service at your address, you'll find its speeds and overall value hard to pass up compared with cable internet from Xfinity.

Frontier vs. Xfinity: Comparing internet plans and pricing

Frontier Fiber service presents four plan options, including a recently released multigigabit tier. Your options with DSL service are a bit more limited in that available speeds are at the mercy of your address. 

Frontier Fiber plan details

PlanMax speedsStarting monthly priceEquipment feeData capContract
Fiber 500 500Mbps download, 500Mbps upload$50 NoneNoneNone
Fiber Gig 940Mbps download, 880Mbps upload$75 NoneNoneNone
Fiber 2 Gig 2Gbps download, 2Gbps upload$150 NoneNoneNone

Frontier DSL plan details

PlanMax speedsStarting monthly priceEquipment feeData capContract
Frontier Internet (copper)
Read full review
Varies$55 NoneNoneNone

Xfinity internet plans may also vary depending on where you live, but the differences are less volatile than what you'll get with Frontier's DSL service. I've listed the Central region pricing for Xfinity plans below, but keep in mind that pricing and speeds may differ in your area. 

Xfinity internet plans (Central region)

PlanMax speedsFirst-year promo rateStandard rate (after promo period)Equipment feeData capTerm agreement
Connect 75Mbps download, 10Mbps upload$30 $49 $14 gateway rental (skippable)Yes (1.2TB)1 year
Connect More 200Mbps download, 10Mbps upload$40 $69 $14 gateway rental (skippable)Yes (1.2TB)1 year
Fast 400Mbps download, 10Mbps upload$55 $79 $25 gateway rental (included for 12 months)None1 year
Superfast 800Mbps download, 15Mbps upload$70 $89 $25 gateway rental (included for 12 months)None1 year
Ultrafast 1,000Mbps download, 20Mbps upload$75 $99 $25 gateway rental (included for 12 months)None1 year
Gigabit Extra 1,200Mbps download, 35Mbps upload$80 $109 $25 gateway rental (included for 12 months)None1 year
Gigabit Pro 6,000Mbps download, 6,000Mbps upload$300 $300 $25 gateway rental (required)None2 years
Show more (2 items)

If you're looking for cheap internet, Xfinity will be your best bet, as plans start at $25-$30 per month for speeds up to 75Mbps in most service areas. But if you prefer more bang for your buck, Frontier Fiber -- boasting 500Mbps, 1 Gig and 2 Gig plans -- is the way to go. Pricing is about the same for comparable Fiber and Xfinity plans, but you'll get significantly faster upload speeds, unlimited data, free equipment and no contract requirements with Frontier. It is worth noting, however, that Xfinity's gig service comes with max speeds of 1,000Mbps and its Gigabit Extra plan boasts 1,200Mbps, both of which are slightly faster than what you'll get from Frontier's single-gig plan.

The argument could certainly be made that Xfinity has a slight advantage on speed tiers and introductory pricing, but what about after the promo period? Xfinity plans come with a specified price increase after the initial lower rates -- $20 to $30 or more per month -- while Frontier plans do not. That's not to say Frontier won't raise the price on you at some point, but there is no guarantee of a significant spike after a set time.

A Frontier spokesperson informed CNET that prices generally go up by around $10 per month after the first year, but some customers may see no increase at all. On the flip side, there's nothing to say prices won't go up more than that, or that it will be the only price increase.

Frontier vs. Xfinity on the fine print

Pricing and speeds are arguably the two most important considerations when comparing internet providers, but added fees and service terms can also come into play. That's certainly the case with Frontier and Xfinity.

Equipment fees

Frontier includes equipment fees in the monthly cost, so there are no additional fees for renting equipment. Depending on the plan you sign up for, your provided equipment may include a Wi-Fi 6E router, which may be more advanced than the average home needs, but is still nice to have at no extra cost.

You can also get a top-of-the-line router with Xfinity, but it'll cost you an added $14 per month, or $25 per month if you choose premium Wi-Fi service. There is the option to use your own equipment and skip the fee, but unless you already own a compatible router, there's still the upfront cost of purchasing one to consider.

Data caps

Frontier plans come with unlimited data, so you don't have to monitor your monthly data usage to avoid going over and incurring fees. 

Xfinity Internet has a monthly data cap, but it's a generous 1.2TB (1,200GB). Exceeding that limit could add $10 for each 50GB block needed to satisfy your overage, but the good news is that the average household is unlikely to get anywhere close to going over. Even during the height of the pandemic, which drove millions of people to work and study from home, average data usage by household peaked at around 490GB per month, well below Xfinity's 1.2TB limit. If you're still concerned about going over, you can sign up for unlimited data for an added $30 per month.

Contract requirements

Another win for Frontier here. No contracts are required when signing up for Frontier internet. 

Xfinity's contract requirements are a bit more complicated. In some locations, a contract may not be required when signing up for anything less than Gigabit Pro service, which comes with a two-year contract everywhere the plan is available. You may be required to sign a one-year contract in other areas to get the lowest introductory pricing. Opting out of a contract is possible in most locations, but doing so will mean sacrificing the low introductory pricing.

ACSI rankings for US customer satisfaction with internet service providers
American Customer Satisfaction Index

Frontier vs. Xfinity: Customer satisfaction goes to Comcast

Clear advantage for Xfinity here. The American Customer Satisfaction Index gave Xfinity a score of 66/100 in 2022, placing the provider at the top among cable ISPs and fourth overall, behind Verizon Fios, T-Mobile Home Internet and AT&T. Frontier, despite a significant improvement from the previous year (its 7% increase was the best in the industry), still came in five points lower than Xfinity and three points lower than the industry average of 64.

J.D. Power tells a similar story, ranking Xfinity slightly above average in its four regions, while Frontier took the bottom spot in two. Xfinity came in second in the South and West regions with scores of 736 and 709 out of 1,000, respectively. As for Frontier, the provider did best in the South region with a score of 712 but received below-region scores in the East, North Central and West divisions.

Frontier's low customer satisfaction scores are a warning sign, but I wouldn't call them a red flag. After reading an assortment of complaints against the company filed with the Better Business Bureau and reviewing the company's official response, it's apparent that much of the low customer satisfaction scoring can be attributed to the DSL side of the business along with service transfer disruptions after Frontier either acquired or sold networks from other providers.

There is, unfortunately, no separation of scores between Frontier's DSL and Frontier Fiber service, so the low scores may be a false indicator of what customers can expect from the fiber service. In short, Xfinity will be the better option over Frontier's DSL service anyway, regardless of customer satisfaction scores, but I wouldn't let the scores influence my choice between Xfinity and Frontier Fiber.

In conclusion: Consider Frontier Fiber (but not DSL) over Xfinity

A good rule of thumb when shopping for home internet service is that fiber-optic is preferable to cable internet, and cable is a better option than DSL. That's certainly the case here when comparing Frontier and Xfinity. Frontier's Fiber service boasts significantly faster upload speeds than Xfinity, and the 100% fiber connection can result in better performance and reliability. However, DSL paints a different picture. If choosing between Frontier's DSL service and Xfinity, you'll find cable internet from Xfinity to offer faster speeds and better value than Frontier.

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Why do we ask for your address?
  • Sometimes a provider is available in your Zip code, but not at your exact address
  • See what exact plans are available at your home
Prefer to speak with an expert live? Call (855) 277-9918 for availability in your area.
Prefer to speak with an expert live? Call (855) 277-9918 for availability in your area.
Enter your address to view what's available near you
Why do we ask for your address?
We ask for your address to help pinpoint which providers and plans are available in your area.
Prefer to speak with an expert live? Call (855) 277-9918 for availability in your area.