Frontier debuts 5-gig broadband, drops 2-gig price

Frontier Communications became the latest operator to debut a 5 Gbps internet service tier, in a move analysts at New Street Research tipped to help the company’s continued efforts to rebuild its brand after emerging from bankruptcy in 2021.

The new service tier is being offered for $164.99 per month (with a $10 discount available with AutoPay) and includes the necessary CPE with free installation. As part of the rollout, Frontier dropped the price of its 2-gig product, which debuted in February 2022 at a cost of $149.99 per month. That service is now $109.99 per month.

At this point, Frontier is far from the only operator to offer a 5-gig service tier. AT&T, Altice USA, Lumen Technologies and Ziply Fiber all already provide symmetrical speeds of 5 Gbps or faster. And Google Fiber has announced plans to debut 5-gig and 8-gig plans early this year. But Frontier claimed it is the only operator thus far to roll out such speeds networkwide.

While it wasn’t immediately clear if Frontier’s claim was true – especially given upstarts like Wire 3 in Florida are building new networks and offering 10-gig plans from the start – it is worth noting that most other large operators initially launched their multi-gig upgrades in select cities before expanding. AT&T, for instance, launched its 2-gig and 5-gig offerings in 70 metro areas in January 2022 before announcing in March the tiers were available in “parts of its entire footprint of 100+ metro areas.”

Cable operators, meanwhile, have mapped out their own paths to faster speeds. Comcast already offers an asymmetrical 2-gig product and plans to offer symmetrical multi-gig service in the back half of this year using DOCSIS 4.0 technology. Charter Communications is also planning a DOCSIS 4.0 upgrade to deliver download speeds of 5 Gbps and 10 Gbps over the coming years, but isn’t currently planning to bring symmetrical service offerings to market.

New Street Research noted Frontier’s 5-gig rollout will “help establish Frontier as a leader in network capabilities” and “drive the message that this is a new Frontier.” The analysts added “It also helps drive the message that they are delivering a product that Cable can’t.”

Furthermore, they noted the move could contribute to growth in average revenue per user (ARPU) given the price drop for the 2-gig plan could “drive some incremental demand for that too.”

On Frontier’s Q3 2022 earnings call, CEO Nick Jeffrey noted 45% to 50% of new customers were taking its 1 Gbps and 2 Gbps plans. Among its base, uptake of 1-gig or faster speeds stood at 15% to 20%. That was up sequentially from 10% to 15% in Q2, Jeffrey said at the time.

Frontier is set to report Q4 2022 earnings on February 24. In an earnings preview, the operator disclosed it added 75,000 new fiber customers and 8,000 total broadband subscribers in the quarter.