Starlink vs. Frontier: How Do They Compare and Which is Better?

Internet connectivity has never been more essential for work, entertainment, education, healthcare, and more. With so many aspects of daily life reliant on access to fast, reliable broadband, choosing the right internet service provider (ISP) is an important decision.

Two options gaining attention recently are:

  • Starlink: The satellite internet service from SpaceX offering high speeds with global coverage.
  • Frontier: The fiber optic and DSL internet provider focused mainly on the western and southern United States.

But how exactly do Starlink and Frontier compare when it comes to availability, speeds, pricing, and overall value? This comprehensive guide examines all the key differences to consider when deciding between these two ISPs.

A Brief History of Starlink and Frontier

First, a quick background on both companies.


  • Founded in 2015 as a subsidiary of SpaceX to develop satellite internet access.
  • Leverages a growing constellation of low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites to deliver broadband worldwide.
  • Started beta testing in 2020; opened to public early 2022.
  • Currently has over 3,000 satellites launched with plans for 42,000.
  • Offering service in over 40 countries so far.


  • Originated as a rural telephone provider in 1935.
  • Expanded via acquisitions of Verizon landline operations in 2009-2010.
  • Transitioned from copper phone network to fiber optics and DSL internet offerings.
  • Currently the 4th largest broadband provider in the US behind Comcast, Charter and AT&T.
  • Focused primarily on 29 states, mainly in southern and western US.

So in summary – Starlink is the ambitious newcomer using satellites to expand high-speed internet globally, while Frontier is the established company converting its 80+ years of telecom infrastructure towards fiber and DSL broadband access across much of America.

Availability and Coverage Area

One of the first factors to consider with any ISP is whether or not they can actually provide service in your area.

Starlink aims to deliver satellite internet access virtually everywhere, while Frontier‘s availability relies on existing cable and fiber lines in the regions they serve.

Starlink‘s Global Satellite Coverage

With satellites continuously being launched into low Earth orbit, Starlink is rapidly expanding its coverage worldwide.

The service now lists availability for many (but not all) locations in:

  • North America
  • Europe
  • Australia and New Zealand
  • Chile
  • Brazil
  • And select areas across south Asia, Africa and the Middle East

Their stated goal is near-global access as more satellites reach orbit and ground stations are brought online. Remote islands, rural communities lacking cable/fiber infrastructure, and other hard-to-reach areas are set to benefit greatly from Starlink‘s capabilities.

Starlink requires a clear view of the sky to connect – so as long as you have visibility, there‘s a good chance service may already be available regardless of population density.

Frontier‘s Regional Fiber and DSL Footprint

While Starlink pursues global satellite connectivity, Frontier is taking a targeted regional approach in Focusing investment on fiber and DSL infrastructure upgrades in specific parts of America.

Frontier now offers home internet service in 29 U.S. states, primarily in:

  • The Southwest – including California, Texas, New Mexico Arizona
  • The South – such as Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina
  • The Midwest – with Minnesota, Indiana, Illinois
  • And select Eastern and Western states like Washington, Oregon and West Virginia

Check Frontier‘s availability map to see if they can provide service in your area. Since Frontier relies on existing telephone and cable lines, access is generally limited to moderately and highly populated locales.

Those in rural areas outside Frontier’s network zones will likely need to look towards satellite internet providers instead.

Internet Speeds Compared

When choosing an ISP, another top consideration is connectivity speeds.

Both Starlink and Frontier advertise fast internet speeds. But relative performance can vary significantly depending on the specific technology and infrastructure available where you live.

Starlink Speeds

Thanks to its low Earth orbit satellites and cutting edge ground equipment, Starlink offers speed capabilities unmatched by traditional satellite internet services.

Early beta testers reported download speeds averaging 50 to 150 Mbps. Following infrastructure improvements, users now see typical downloads of 90 to 200 Mbps, with bursts over 200 and some reporting 300 Mbps.

Upload speeds are lower but not drastically so, coming in around 10 to 40 Mbps for most. Still very strong for satellite.

Speeds do fluctuate more than cable – affected by factors like weather, antenna positioning, and network congestion as more users come online.

Frontier Fiber Speeds

Where fiber lines are available, Frontier delivers blazing fast, reliable connectivity on par with top cable providers.

Frontier advertises symmetrical download and upload speeds up to 2 Gigabits per second (2 Gbps) for its Frontier FiberOptic service.

Typical packages offer between 500 Mbps and 1 Gbps, still extremely quick for handling high bandwidth tasks like 4K streaming, gaming, video conferencing and more.

With fiber, performance is generally very consistent regardless of weather conditions, neighbor usage, etc.

Frontier DSL Speeds

In areas still served by older DSL infrastructure, Frontier internet speeds can vary widely – from barely usable to reasonably fast depending on proximity to equipment.

Max advertised DSL download speeds top out around 115 Mbps. But many subscribers report crawling speeds of 10 to 25 Mbps, occasionally slower. Upload speeds of just 1 Mbps are also common.

So Frontier DSL should be considered hit or miss depending on exact location. Fiber service is vastly superior if available.

Price and Fees

As with any service, price always weighs into the decision making process. Both Starlink and Frontier offer a range of internet packages at different rates.

Starlink Pricing

Starlink has one straight-forward residential plan priced at $110 per month with no data caps or long contracts.

Upfront costs are higher though, with the satellite equipment kit costing $599. This covers your user terminal/dish, wifi router, cables and mounts.

There are also pricier options for RV use, business connectivity, and custom installations – ranging from $135 to $5,000 per month plus equipment fees.

A new portability add-on lets you take Starlink anywhere for $25 more per month. And voice over IP phone service is $5 monthly extra.

Frontier Internet Pricing

Frontier fiber and DSL plans start around $50 per month for the slowest speed tiers. Mid-range packages Landing up to 500 Mbps run $55 to $85 monthly.

The highest speed fiber gigabit plans cost up to $150 per month. These prices do not include taxes, fees and equipment rental charges.

Unlike Starlink, Frontier fiber installation is typically free for new customers. But DSL lines may cost up to $200 to initiate. And all internet-only accounts pay a $10 monthly modem rental fee unless you purchase your own equipment.

Customer Service and Reputation

Having reliable customer support can provide peace of mind when issues inevitably come up with internet services.

How do Starlink and Frontier compare when it comes to service quality and user satisfaction?

Starlink Customer Service

As a newer offering from a company focused on rapid growth, Starlink receives mixed reviews when it comes to customer service.

Many appreciate the convenience of self-setup and management through the Starlink phone app. But with limited direct support personnel currently in place, some users report longer response times for technical issues.

Starlink support channels include:

  • Starlink mobile app – manage account, check obstruction data, run speed tests.
  • Support tickets – web form and email for technical issues.
  • Community forums – discuss problems and stay updated.

In multiple consumer satisfaction surveys, Starlink earns an average 3 out of 5 stars – indicating good but not great service reputation so far. As infrastructure and staffing expand, customer service should continue improving.

Frontier Customer Service

Frontier has a longer track record to assess, but its support reputation is mixed at best according to most consumer surveys.

Users give Frontier low marks for lengthy phone hold times, confusing bills, and technicians missing appointments. The company has also faced lawsuits from states over poor service quality.

On the plus side, Frontier does offer 24/7 phone, online chat and self-help site support in addition to local field technicians.

Overall Frontier garners just 2 out of 5 stars for customer satisfaction – indicating significant room for improvement as they continue infrastructure upgrades.

Pros and Cons Compared

Weighing the various differences between the two providers, here are the main advantages and disadvantages of each service.

Starlink Pros

  • Global satellite coverage reaching remote areas
  • Fast speeds up to 200+ Mbps down/20 Mbps up
  • Lower latency than traditional satellite
  • No data caps
  • Simple month-to-month pricing
  • Portable connectivity anywhere with clear sky view

Starlink Cons

  • Upfront equipment investment is high at $599
  • Speeds can fluctuate and degrade with weather/congestion
  • Minimal local infrastructure for support
  • Partial satellite visibility required

Frontier Fiber Pros

  • Gigabit download/upload speeds via fiber
  • Bundles with TV, phone, home security
  • Local service personnel for setup and support
  • Various contract terms available

Frontier Fiber Cons

  • Check availability – footprint still limited
  • Customer service rating needs improvement
  • Monthly equipment and additional fees
  • Higher cost for higher speed tiers

Frontier DSL Pros

  • Budget monthly rates available
  • Bundles available with other services
  • No satellite dish required

Frontier DSL Cons

  • Very inconsistent speeds as low as 10 Mbps
  • Minimal upload speeds
  • QoS and reliability issues
  • DSL infrastructure outdated compared to fiber

Ideal Use Cases

Which service is ultimately better for you – Starlink satellite or Frontier fiber/DSL?

Here are the ideal scenarios for each internet provider:

When to Choose Starlink

  • You live rurally without access to cable or fiber lines
  • You need high home internet speeds with no data caps
  • You travel frequently and want portable connectivity
  • You live in an area right outside Frontier’s network zone
  • You simply prefer satellite delivery over landline infrastructure

When to Go With Frontier

  • Frontier FiberOptic is available at your address
  • You want maximum gigabit download AND upload speeds
  • You bundle internet with Frontier TV/phone to save money
  • You need multiple static IP addresses for commercial use
  • You prefer an ISP with local technicians nearby

The Future is Connected

While Frontier works to modernize infrastructure across a wide portion of America, Starlink is providing a high-tech wireless alternative and aiming to link the entire globe.

Both ISPs still have room for improvement when it comes to customer service and value perception. But increased competition should continue driving faster speeds at lower costs.

With internet access more crucial than ever for school, jobs, healthcare and all online activities – innovations like satellite broadband open new doors for communities to thrive like never before.

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