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Frontier Communications vs. Sparklight Internet plan comparison


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Researched by
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Reviewed by
Bri FieldAssigning Editor
Updated 6/18/24

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Frontier Communications brand
Staff rating
4.1
Customer rating
3.9
(50)

  • Plans starting at $49.99
  • Download speeds up to 5000 Mbps
Sparklight
Staff rating
3.2
Customer rating
0.0
(0)

  • Plans starting at $35.00
  • Download speeds up to 940 Mbps
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Frontier Communications brand
Staff rating
4.1

Excellent service, if you can get fiber

The story of Frontier internet is one of two services: a slow and expensive DSL network and a fast and affordable fiber network. Which one you get makes all the difference.

What we like

  • Well-priced fiber plans
  • Fast speeds
  • No data caps
What we dislike

  • Limited fiber availability
  • Slow DSL in non-fiber areas
  • Poor customer service reputation
Savings tip: Frontier often has sign-up promotions for first-time customers. Call to ask a rep about current deals and discounts.
Check deals
Sparklight
Staff rating
3.2

No-contract cable internet worth considering in areas without fiber

Sparklight, formerly known as Cable One, is a cable internet provider primarily serving suburbs and rural areas in over a dozen states. Its no-contract plans offer good download speeds to areas fiber doesn’t often reach, but its data caps aren’t ideal.

What we like

  • No contracts
  • Simple pricing
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
What we dislike

  • Data caps for most plans
  • Expensive Gig plan
Savings tip: Sparklight often has sign-up promotions for first-time customers. Call to ask a rep about current deals and discounts.
Check deals
Frontier Communications brand
Value
4.0
Frontier offers excellent value on its fiber plans—if you can get them

Frontier offers two types of internet service: fiber and DSL. That means there are two sides to the Frontier value equation. Frontier fiber service is generally an excellent value—you can get 500 Mbps for around $50 per month or 1 gig for around $75, both of which are excellent prices well below the national benchmark for similar plans. (1) If you go for 2 gigs or even the newly available 5 gig plan, you'll pay quite a bit every month but enjoy excellent reliability and super fast speeds. If you go for 5 gigs, free tech support is included.

On the other hand, Frontier’s DSL plan is not nearly so exciting. It is around $50 per month for up to 115 Mbps, but the actual speed varies heavily with the specific area you’re in. Many places won’t see anywhere near 115 Mbps, but even if you do have that speed available, it’s not great for the price. There's also a required $85 installation charge. The good news, though, is that Frontier guarantees its DSL pricing for two years and doesn't require you to sign a contract.

To be fair, DSL service is almost always a poor value for money—it’s not unique to Frontier. And unlike some other combined fiber and internet providers, Frontier offers fiber in a good portion of its coverage area. (4)

Pricing details vary by location. Visit
Frontier's website
or call 1-833-970-0804 to speak with a rep.
See pricing
Sparklight
Value
2.5
Sparklight’s plans are a decent value for casual users without access to fiber

Sparklight’s no-contract cable internet plans are generally a decent value compared to other providers available in the communities the company serves. While you might not be able to get fiber in these areas, you’re likely to find DSL, satellite, or other cable internet service providers (ISPs). The speed you get for the price is comparable to other cable providers or a bit cheaper, and the performance surpasses DSL and satellite. All of this means Sparklight’s plans are worth strongly considering if your address is in one of its service areas.

We recommend choosing a Sparklight plan with at least 200 Mbps of download speed, but ideally more if it’s in your budget. Since Sparklight is a cable provider, upload speeds tend to be far below the download speeds. Upload speeds increase with each pricing tier, so if you work from home and have multiple connected devices you may want to pick one of the more expensive plans for seamless video calls.

All of Sparklight’s plans have data caps, except for its most expensive Gig plan. Data caps are typical for cable providers. While some competitors offer data caps over 1 TB for all of their plans, Sparklight’s plans have data caps that range from 100 GB to 1.5 TB. You can get 100 GB blocks of additional data for $10 during months when you need it, or you can upgrade to unlimited data with any plan for an extra $30/month. When calculating your needs, consider that the average person uses 536 GB of data per month (1).

The Gig plan offers the most data for your dollar and the highest speeds, but it’s more expensive than fiber plans with comparable download speeds, at least in some of the service areas. If you don’t want to pay top dollar, the Internet 300 and 500 plans also offer good speeds and high enough data caps for the needs of most households. We wouldn’t recommend the Internet 25 plan because its low speeds and data cap won’t comfortably meet most people’s needs.

Pricing details vary by location. Visit
Sparklight's website
or call 1-877-687-1332 to speak with a rep.
See pricing
Frontier Communications brand
Performance
5.0
Outstanding fiber performance and so-so DSL service

Frontier continues the tale of two in the performance department. The DSL service caps out at a fairly slow 115 Mbps, and that’s only in certain areas. While that’s sufficient for many day-to-day activities and light streaming, larger families or those who want to stream in HD may be left wanting more.

On the flip side, the fiber service is predictably excellent, with speeds up to 2,000 Mbps and no data caps to limit you. In fact, Frontier's fiber plans are some of the fastest, according to PCMag (2). The service has the fastest ping of any provider, according and a study by the FCC (3), and it's neck and neck with the competition in terms of speed and reliability. These fiber plans also offer symmetrical speeds, which means the upload speed is equal to the download speed. This is handy if you upload or share a lot of large files, and it tends to be unique to fiber.

Available speeds vary by location. Call 1-833-970-0804 to speak with a Frontier rep or
go to its website.
Sparklight
Performance
4.0
Good download speeds, but data caps hold it back

Sparklight is available in mostly rural and suburban areas where customers probably won’t be able to get fiber internet. This makes Sparklight’s cable internet speeds the best option in some communities that are otherwise served only by DSL or satellite, which can be slow and unreliable. According to a report from Ookla, Sparklight had the highest download speeds among fixed broadband providers in North Dakota and New Mexico. (2)

Sparklight is a fiber-rich cable provider, meaning it delivers service using a mix of fiber and coaxial cables. While it can achieve download speeds of up to 940 Mbps, its upload speeds are much lower than that, reaching 50 Mbps. This is a technical limitation of cable connections that those with fiber connections won’t experience. While this isn’t ideal for households with several people who want to do heavy gaming or take video calls at the same time, Sparklight’s download and upload speeds are generally still sufficient for most households. And for regular browsing and streaming for multiple users, it's just fine. However, the data caps may hold you back if you’re a heavy internet user. Occasional outages and inconsistent speeds do affect service according to customer reports on Downdetector. (3)

Available speeds vary by location. Call 1-877-687-1332 to speak with a Sparklight rep or
go to its website.
Frontier Communications brand
Equipment and installation
5.0
No charges for equipment—seriously

Frontier redeems itself in a big way when it comes to equipment and installation. If you have Frontier's DSL internet, the equipment itself is fairly standard. It works, but it doesn't look great on a desk and the capabilities are limited. It's free, which is nice, but you might still want to use your own gear if you need more control over which devices on your network get bandwidth priority. DSL installation costs $85, and there's no self-install option.

If you have fiber internet from Frontier, you're in luck! You get free rental of an eero 6 on the Fiber 1 Gig plan or an eero6E mesh Wi-Fi system, on the Fiber 2 Gig plan. If you have the 5 Gig plan, you'll get the TP-Link AXE300 6E with an optional TP-Link RE815XE Wi-Fi extender for an extra $10 per month. You could still technically use your own gear, but it's hard to do any better than the latest and greatest from eero and TP-Link.

If you're eligible, you may be able to get a Frontier self-install kit—otherwise, a professional will come to your house to install the internet for you. If you need a pro to come out, you'll be charged $50 on your first bill. Cancelation is also free, but some customers are charged a $20 restocking fee for rented fiber gear and a $50 restocking fee on DSL gear.

Equipment and installation options can vary widely depending on
Frontier plans
available in your area.
View plans
Sparklight
Equipment and installation
3.5
Low equipment costs and simple installation

When you sign up for Sparklight internet service, you can call to schedule professional installation or choose self-installation. Both options are reasonably fast according to customer reviews. Professional installation is typically free and can be scheduled at your convenience. There's technically a $90 professional installation fee, but it is waived as part of a "permanent promotion." Self-installation is free and should take about 15 minutes once you receive your equipment in the mail.

You can choose to purchase your own Sparklight-supported modem or lease a modem from Sparklight for just over $10/month, less than some other providers. The installation cost, activation fee, and any equipment deposits may be waived for qualifying new customers.

Equipment and installation options can vary widely depending on
Sparklight plans
available in your area.
View plans
Frontier Communications brand
Customer experience
2.5
Plenty of unsatisfied customers, and you can't order online

The Frontier customer experience is a mixed bag. The service itself is fairly reliable—especially the fiber. The DSL service is relatively stable, but more prone to slowdowns during heavy traffic times (like the evening). We’ve also seen some reports online of speeds that are inconsistent with what’s advertised, so keep that in mind.

Frontier has also received very low scores in customer satisfaction from organizations like the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). (3) The provider ranked second-worst in overall satisfaction in the most recent surveys, falling well below average. The complaints we’ve seen point generally to a broad pattern of poor customer service, so if that’s a key factor in your choice of provider, you might want to steer clear until Frontier can sort out its issues.

Unlike most internet service providers, the only way to order internet service is to call in. It works okay for most people, but some folks love the convenience of handling everything without having to deal with phone trees, wait on hold, or talk to a live human. At least the hold music is nice, though, and you can enter info via text message!

Visit Frontier's website
or call 1-833-970-0804 for more information on contracts and money-back guarantees.
Go to provider
Sparklight
Customer experience
3.0
Average customer service and occasional slowdowns and outages

Customer experience with Sparklight is about average compared to other providers. Tech support is available 24/7 by phone or email, and there are plenty of help articles available online. Like most other providers, equipment installation is straightforward whether you have it done professionally or do it yourself.

Common complaints include unplanned outages, inconsistent speeds, and long wait times to reach Sparklight support by phone, according to user reports on Downdetector. (4) If you try Sparklight’s internet service and it doesn’t live up to expectations, the company offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Visit Sparklight's website
or call 1-877-687-1332 for more information on contracts and money-back guarantees.
Go to provider
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Frontier Communications
3.9
(50)
5 Star
26%
4 Star
46%
3 Star
22%
2 Star
6%
1 Star
0%
L
Lucyfrom Englewood, FL
Frontier Communications Customer for 8+ years
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
there are to many breaks in service, but they do repair very quickly they should be able to stop the breaks better than do now
D
Douglasfrom Murphy, NC
Frontier Communications Customer for 4+ years
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
Good speed and network reliabilty. Customer service is very good and solve problems. The cost is a little high; sometimes worth it.
C
Cayleefrom Murphy, NC
Frontier Communications Customer for 4+ years
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
Frontier has been a great company for internet. I like how high speed it is and how great the customer service is. It never fails to impress me. I think that they are great on every aspect.
R
Robertfrom Middletown, NY
Frontier Communications Customer for 8+ years
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
It seems Frontier gives us very slow internet service.
Sparklight
0.0
(0)
5 Star
0%
4 Star
0%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
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Endnotes and sources
1. “2022 Urban Rate Survey – Fixed Broadband Service,” FCC. Accessed 19 October 2022.2. "The Fastest ISPs of 2022," PC Mag. Accessed 19 October 2022.Internet Service Providers,” American Customer Satisfaction Index. Accessed 14 June 2022.3. "Measuring Broadband America," FCC. Accessed Dec. 9, 2022.4. "FCC National Broadband Map," FCC. Accessed Dec. 9. 2022. As an Amazon Associate, Switchful.com may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.
Endnotes and sources
1. "Broadband Insights Report (OVBI)," OpenVault. Accessed 17 October 2022.2. “Here’s Where Smaller ISPs Are Blazing Ahead in the United States,” Ookla. Accessed 8 July 2022.3. “Sparklight outage or service down?,” Downdetector. Accessed 8 July 2022.4. “Sparklight outage or service down?,” Downdetector. Accessed 8 July 2022.
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