Frontier Charges Up To $10.80 Per Gigabyte For High Speed Internet

Frontier Communications, a Rochester, NY based DSL provider, has recently added language in their acceptable use policy that caps “reasonable” high speed internet usage at 5GB per month, after which they may “suspend, terminate or apply additional charges to the Service.” Metered-internet-hating blog “Stop the Cap” calculated that at Frontier’s most expensive price (for those who do not accept a multi-year contract) the ISP is charging a whopping $10.80 per gigabyte.

Stop the Cap! says:

Frontier offers different pricing across several promotions, ranging from $19.99-$49.99. The lower priced tiers correspond with service contracts that require multi-year commitments, with a substantial penalty for early cancellation. They also charge a monthly modem rental fee (MRF) of $3.99. In some areas this fee is levied even if you wish to use your own DSL modem. Since this fee is universally imposed in many areas, its cost has been included in the price breakdown. Excluded from the review are additional taxes, surcharges, and fees which are imposed by various taxing authorities but are outside of Frontier’s control.

Your Monthly Price Per GB Frontier Pays Per GB
$49.99 + $3.99 MRF $10.80 less than 10c

Even with a multi-year contract, Frontier’s customers are paying at least $4.00 per gigabyte. Stop the Cap says that at the highest rate, a Frontier customer who respected the cap would be shelling out $43.20 to watch a typical high definition movie. Of course, as far as we know Frontier hasn’t said that they will be charging overages at this rate, but, as these numbers show, it does seem to be a very low bar at which to set “reasonable use.”

Perhaps even sillier than its actual policy is Fronteir’s attempt to justify the download cap. DSL reports links to a positively weird page on Frontier’s website where it describes the 5 GB that its customers receive. Don’t worry, “all you e-mail gurus, photography enthusiasts, gamers, and music aficionados,” Frontier says, you can send 500,000 e-mails or send 1,750—2,500 High Resolution (6 megapixel) Photos, yadda, yadda, with your “FREE 5GB of Internet Usage.” Free? Really?

Frontier Imposes 5 GB Cap For DSL [DSL Reports]
Frontier: Now With Prices Up To $10.80 Per Gigabyte, Limit Five GB [Stop The Gap] (Thanks, Bill!)
Residential Internet Acceptable Use Policy [Frontier]
FREE 5GB of Internet Usage [Frontier]

Comments

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  1. squatchie44 says:

    So that works out to about $50 a month for 5Gb @ $10.80 a Gb. So what, its a little expensive compared to some plans.

  2. timmus says:

    A 5 GB cap? Is it 1997?

  3. nicemarmot617 says:

    You know, I would be fine with metered internet as long as they actually charged me for what I use. Maybe one day I download a movie and use a lot, but three other days I barely use it at all, so they shouldn’t charge me for bandwidth when I’m not using any…right?

    Oh wait, that would NEVER happen. I’m sure they’re going to make it “base price” $50, plus then you pay metered on top of that. Just wait.

  4. dako81 says:

    I hope nobody buys their services so they either 1) go out of business, or 2) change their business practices and policy.

  5. sleze69 says:

    @squatchie44: Interesting how that is actually $10/month MORE than my unlimited ATT plan…which is also 5GB. You’d think that a service that is more limited (bound to a single location) would be cheaper than a wireless data plan.

  6. From my general understanding, I get 5GB a month with my “unlimited” wireless data plan on AT&T. I’ve got a grandfathered plan that costs me $20 a month for that. Plus, AT&T just updated everywhere around me to 3G.

    This is sad.. if my ISP implements a cap like this, I might as well just drop them and use my cell phone.

  7. Ein2015 says:

    @nicemarmot617: Cell phone companies are already doing this. It’s a horrible trend and needs to stop.

    I, for one, will always choose unmetered services over metered ones.

  8. Geekybiker says:

    And I thought 5gb caps were tight for mobile phone data plans….

  9. @sleze69: Beat me to it =P

  10. QuantumRiff says:

    hope you don’t use a site like http://www.hulu.com to watch tv shows and movies you missed. It streams at between 1-2MB a second, that would fill up your 5GB cap pretty quickly watching episodes you missed.

  11. GMFish says:

    This doesn’t really make a lot of sense. I can understand why cable ISPs are using caps. With a good broadband connection you don’t really need to spend money on expensive cable TV as you can find nearly any show or movie you want for free in bittorrent. In other words, why pay your cable company money to watch a movie “on demand” or on HBO when you can simply download it?

    DSL companies would not lose a penny if people stopped watching TV through traditional (and legal) sources. So it would make sense for DSL companies to be marketing themselves to online junkies who download too much for cable. “Get your true unlimited internet connection at Frontier!”

  12. OmniZero says:

    Ha, I sent this story into the tips e-mail :-P Only got a response from Rachel the intern (thanks Rachel! :-))

    I currently have Frontier and probably not for much longer. When they break down how much you can do with that 5gb, their numbers are fudged. They don’t include downloading files at all. I checked my usage after about 4 hours and it was up at about 250mb. That is about 5% of my “monthly” 5gb. So I can only do my normal internet usages for 20 days, minus downloading any files like OpenOffice which sucks up 100+ mb…

  13. axiomatic says:

    LOL, I could fill that up in about 8 hours just using my VPN in to my work, and I don’t even use bittorrent for anything.

    Good luck with customer retention there Frontier, you’ve got that angle locked up as tight as a steel sieve.

  14. danep says:

    I don’t understand why people are so opposed to metered internet access… if all I do online is check email, but I’d like to do it faster than 56kbps, should I really be paying $60 / month? The same price as people who saturate their connection with P2P 24/7/365 and actually cut into my bandwidth in the process?

  15. BriandaBrain says:

    Is it sad that I get more data usage out of my cell phone (unlimited data, $10/mo) than I would get with an actual ISP? First Comcast and their bandwidth throttling and now this? What will they think of next?

    And where do they get off saying “FREE 5GB”?!?!?!?

  16. Frontier is up in my area…. I’ve heard more than one complaint about their prices.

    I’m on dialup, no restrictions for me!!

  17. jst07 says:

    @danep: Cable internet is speed capped at the modem, so P2P/gaming/streaming/whatever wont cut into your bandwidth on a properly sized network. A 5GB cap is extremely low for broadband internet, which legal reasons mentioned above would blow over that cap in a matter of days.

  18. xaqdesign says:

    A local business that I do graphic design for has Frontier, besides their REALLY REALLY CRAPPY Siemens SpeedStream DSL Modem/Router combo they provide, the service is slow as balls.

    They chose Frontier because they got installation within 48 hours when they moved into their new office. Verizon faked on them when they had set up an appointment 2 weeks prior. Frontier guaranteed installation within 48 hours so they went with them instead of rescheduling w/ Verizon.

    I have to go over there today after work. I will bring this to their attention and tell them it might be time to wait for VZ after all…

  19. MyTQuinn says:

    Even without a grandfathered AT&T plan, with most carriers you can add a tethering option to a smart phone data plan for $15-$30 per month. The tethered connections typically have a 5GB limit also, but the price is about 1/2 of Frontier’s plan.

    That said, I see nothing wrong with giving customers the option of tiered price plans with caps, similar to cell phone voice plans, in addition to truly unlimited plans.

  20. bohemian says:

    5gb? That is probably what we use in 4 hours on a Friday night between various people doing various things online. Not to mention if you VPN or connect to outside machines or services to do things you could rack up quite a bit of data transfer faster than you think.

    If all ISPs start doing this capped overpriced crap our game plan is to buy a T-1 and set up a wireless ISP to help cover the costs.

  21. kc2idf says:

    As far as I am aware (though I reserve the right to be wrong — I haven’t lived in Rochester for a long time), Road Runner is available in most places that Frontier DSL is. As such, why bother with Frontier?

    I have a friend who used to work for Frontier DSL. He used (and still uses) Road Runner, and tells me that most of his co-workers did, too.

  22. cosby says:

    Even if they capped it at 5 gigs a day the number would be too low.

    I bought a season of House of amazon a few months ago because I had missed most of the episodes in it. I think that was 13 gigs for the sd rips. Drivers for printers can be a few hundred megs as well as monthly updates for software. This is on top of xbox demos that can be a gig a peice. It is just too easy to kill that small of a number doing nothing illegal or really anything that isn’t normal.

  23. Geekybiker says:

    @danep: I don’t have a problem with capped access. However charging $50 a month for 5gb is insane. Anyone who has even moderate use will blow through that in no time. If it was a 500gb cap I wouldn’t worry. 5gb should be under $20 for a wired internet plan.

  24. ow3n says:

    @kc2idf: Frontier also provides rural internet service in places where there is no cable. Out here in the sticks, it’s either dial-up or Frontier DSL for internet, and OTA broadcast or Dish Network/DirecTV for television.

    For some of us who want high-speed internet, Frontier is the only game in town.

    I for one will be calling them to voice my concerns, and if necessary cancel my account.

  25. likefunbutnot says:

    To put 5GB in perspective for non-techies, I have a little streaming video setup (I stream classroom lectures) that I manage. My videos are in a quality in line with what’s on hulu.com, and file sizes are around 300MB per hour of video.

    5GB = ~16 hours of high quality streaming video.

    Which would be eaten up very, very quickly if someone actually watches a few things such as one might find on hulu.com or a similar internet video service. Particularly if there’s more than one user on the end of that DSL line. I can manage more than twice that, on average, in a single day on my cable connection.

    It is an unreasonably small amount for a wired, fixed internet connection.

  26. ARP says:

    @danep: My view is that if they’re going to cap it that low, reduce the price, offer teired pricing, etc. But don’t put in a very low cap, charge me just as much as true “unlimited” and pretend you’re doing me a favor.

    The problem is that other companies will do this. I don’t think it will be 5GB, but it will be high enough to prevent mutiny, but low enough they can charge heavy users.

  27. unnes says:

    I’ve had Time Warner Cable’s Roadrunner service in Rochester for years, and frankly they’re awesome. The service is relatively inexpensive, reliable, and the few times I’ve needed service, their customer service has been helpful and prompt.

    I’ve heard so many bad things about Frontier DSL that I don’t know why anyone would get it (unless you were out of RR range).

  28. FLConsumer says:

    Crikey. It’s less than that for EVDO.

  29. JustThatGuy3 says:

    @QuantumRiff:

    Hulu actually streams at more like 400-500kbps, or about .05-.0625MB per second, not 1-2MB/second.

  30. Rachacha says:

    @kc2idf: According to the article, Time Warner (they bought out GRC-Greater Rochester Cablevision) is also considering bandwidth caps as well. Damn, after I FINALLY convinced my parents to switch to High Speed, I now need to advise them of this cap so that they are at least informed. It is rather ironic, that a fairly high tech area of the country with global Headquarters for Kodak, Xerox & Bausch & Lomb and high technology Universities is shooting itself in the foot with such crappy internet services.

    I would be in favor of metered bandwidth with reasonable tiered pricing (even tiered speeds), but provide several options so that consumers can choose a package that will best suit their needs.

    Completely off topic, but I am amazed at the number or former Rochesterians (myself included) that are on Consumerist…who da thunk that a small city in upstate NY was so popular!

  31. Breach says:

    Such crap, you know only 1% of their users actually hit the cap or come close. Why not let them use the bandwidth others are not? Average Joe isnt exactly downloading the universe going to comsumerist.com once a day :)

  32. Chilijohn says:

    I’m not sure why no one has mentioned this yet, but Frontier provides their customers free access to ESPN360.COM! It’s the best way to waste your 5GB of data per month. If the site uses no more than the 768Kbps speed as listed in system requirements then we get to spend 345MB/hour. That’s fantastic.

    Check the bottom of this page for the ESPN360.COM info:

    [www.frontieronline.com]

    And here for the system requirements:

    [sports.espn.go.com]

    BTW, I checked the latest bill and there wasn’t any mention of a cap. Thankfully I think I just found a local provider of wireless internet service who doesn’t have any metion of traffic limits.

  33. Bryan Price says:

    5GB?? I downloaded that today, on my computer. My wife has been spending her day streaming NCIS episodes. And I’ve got 1.5 GB of pictures I plan on uploading while I sleep. Then there’s my one son with his Mac laptop doing his thing, and my other son with a “new” laptop that I’m reinstalling Vista on, since he managed to get a virus on it downloading stuff all at once. When the administrator can’t change the screensaver (and the screen saver keeps crashing the laptop), you know you’ve got issues. And who knows what’s happening with the kids’ desktop.

  34. bwcbwc says:

    @GMFish: Except that the DSL providers are moving into Video on demand now. Verizon has fiOS, ATT has UVerse. So they have motivation to shape demand away from their competition on the internet, just like the cable companies.

    This is where the net neutrality debate really comes down to point. If an ISP blocks or throttles certain types of content, that is anti-competitive behavior and needs to be explicitly included in anti-trust law.

  35. bwcbwc says:

    @Rachacha: Yep, all those tele-commuters will now be spending more on DSL service than if they drove into the office after all. Even with $4+ gas.

  36. algormortis says:

    I have no idea if they offer service in the Rochester area, but definitely, once again, Speakeasy FTW.

    (I’ve had friends who lived in Rochester who loathed Frontier’s wireline service with a passion. If they were half as bad as they complained they were…)

  37. HYDRAULICMONSTER says:

    This illustrates exactly what is wrong with the telecoms.
    Demand for internet access has increased dramatically over the past few years, both in amount of bandwidth typically used and the number of people connected.
    Instead of increasing the capacity of their networks they are artificially capping how much bandwidth you are allowed to use.
    Basic economics that are so central to good business that I learned about them in grade school say as demand for a product goes up, so follow the company’s profits. These excess profits are then REINVESTED in the company to either improve the product or increase production, filling the demand and generating more profit. This also has a side affect of generating more demand in the improved or more abundant product as well. That is called a good business strategy.
    You don’t take the extra profits and keep them so you can give bonuses to all your cronies in the head office. That is called a bad business strategy.

  38. Tekneek says:

    The cost of bandwidth is less than a dollar per GB for the providers, on average. Charging even a dollar per GB is generally going to give them a profit on the deal, so when they start talking about $5 or $10 per GB, they are only trying to gouge their customers.

    It is becoming clear that the industry is unable to be reasonable and regulate themselves, which will force government regulation to bring some common sense to the table. Considering that many high-speed providers still have a monopoly in their area, they must be regulated if they are going to do this.

  39. JustThatGuy3 says:

    @Tekneek:

    Backbone does not equal local network. If they have to upgrade their DSLAMS and metro networks to handle add’l bandwidth, that’s a lot of extra dollars involved.

  40. Saboth says:

    5 GB is ridiculously low. That is what places like Japan have for a day of internet. Why is the US always lagging behind other countries? ISP’s act like they are barely breaking even and having to always look for ways to increase revenue or something, when they already charge 2x more for high speed internet than they should…by this time it should be $20-$30 a month for like 10 mb speeds.

  41. LionelEHutz says:

    Frontier has crappy service all around anyway, even their phone service, so they must be interested in accelerating their decline. The only thing that keeps this POS company in business anyway are the ‘territories”. If they had to face any competition at all they’d be bankrupt already.

  42. Tekneek says:

    @JustThatGuy3:

    That should be part of their pricing for the service at the lowest levels. They really shouldn’t be offering service until they’ve built up the hardware to handle it. Not putting in unrealistic limits and (presumably) charging arbitrary and obnoxious additional fees.

    For example, when I first got DSL (only high speed option in my area at the time), we could only get a slow option. As they built up their hardware capability, they upgraded our speed without raising the fee. They went in later and added in lower tiers at lower prices, as well as eventually one or two more tiers above us at higher prices/speeds.

    When we got cable, we had a relatively slow speed (but still value than the DSL). As upgrades went through, our downstream speed increased. When all of the upgrades went through, we even got an increase in our upstream speed at no additional price.

    If these companies do not have the backend properly equipped, they need to stop overselling the service. Come in slower until you’ve built it up and gradually expand the service. They want to offer the same speeds that everybody else does, but apparently can’t handle that demand. Bad planning that has resulted in bad service, which is all due to bad management.

  43. sam_i_am says:

    Bah. The plan we were on in Australia, provided by Tel$tra (a big, ex-government phone/internet/cableTV/extortion company) was capped at 10gig. After that, they started charging at 17 cents PER MEGABYTE. Went a gig over? That’ll be $170 please. And they market themselves to e-tards (people who think a megabyte is an extra large pizza) as the simple, no tech knowledge required easy way to get onto broadband – “you can download movies! music! games!”, all that guff. Oh, and they didn’t warn you when you went over the limit.

    Phew. Sorry. I got all worked up there. We had an expensive couple of months.

  44. kyle4 says:

    5GB? Damn. That’s barely anything at all. You could reach that just by watching Youtube videos. Hopefully it nev er comes to that, because I thought Rogers in Canada’s 60GB cap was bad enough.

  45. JustThatGuy3 says:

    @Tekneek:

    They have built up the hardware to support it. At the end of the day, the service they’re offering is a best efforts service – in other words, load the network until the customers get irritated by how slow it is. If you want better service, you can get it, but then you’re looking at an SLA and a _whole_ lot more money for commercial service.

  46. glorpy says:

    A thorough listing of ISP options for Rochester can be had at [rocwiki.org]

    I’m a RoadRunner customer. The local call center responds quickly and is friendly. On-site service is on time and I’ve only had one tech whose actions concerned me (when he came out to install cable/RR, he wanted to hang out afterward). Since I dropped cable, my bill is now one line long.

    Frontier was the landline phone company that couldn’t actually get their bill to me until after the due date for over a year and managed to screw up termination of my service when I ported the number to my cell phone.

    I have a friend who used to work there who said that they were only interested in keeping corporate accounts happy. I can believe it.

  47. cerbie says:

    I hope I don’t move to areas served by companies like this. Cox, at least in my area, has actually been upgrading their network, adding more capacity than advertised speeds. Customer service hasn’t been super, but pretty good. I wouldn’t touch Bell South with a 10′ pole.

    $4/GB…that’s what, $20.30 for the latest Knoppix? O_O

    @QuantumRiff: no doubt. My only experience with Hulu was catching Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog (which, BTW, was amazing). I didn’t like the ads, nor the skips after pausing, but I was generally impressed with the quality.

    What about VPN+RDP? Or SSH+RDP/VNC/etc.? What about software downloads and OS updates? Over the weekend, I downloaded more than 3GB…and will probably do it again in a few days, because KDE4 seems to have made it difficult enough to use KDE3 again that I may as well reload (I didn’t know the standard KDE packages had gone to 4.1). There are many uses other than BT-and-the-like to use up that kind of transfer volume, and they will only grow.

    @danep: If it were $10/mo + $.15/GB or something like that, it wouldn’t be so bad. The problem is that they are wanting to have their cake, and eat it, too. So, you get the same rate as previously (that $60), and then also get metered costs at insane rates, and also get caps on use.

    To top it off, they are not doing it to make people who use it more pay appropriately relative to those that barely tax it. They are doing to get rid of expensive users, so that they won’t have to pay for network upgrades…which, ironically, which would make those users cheaper, and offer a better experience for all users.

    Use of the internet has come to a point where its access needs to be a regulated utility, like PSTN (landline phones).

    They have built up the hardware to support it.

    @JustThatGuy3: No, they haven’t. I have 9Mb/s advertised, and it goes down to 7Mb/s when congested, up to 17Mb/s when not. A 25% or so reduction in bandwidth, no reduction in service quality (IE, VOIP), and they make for it in off-peak available bandwidth. It’s not as bleak as SLA v. overselling. They can oversell at a reasonable ratio, and it works out quite well.

  48. JustThatGuy3 says:

    @cerbie:

    The reasonable ratio (for the company) is whatever the most profitable ratio is. For Cox, that might be what’s in your market – for Frontier, depending on who they’re competing with, it may be a different balance.

  49. cerbie says:

    @JustThatGuy3: Forcing a cap is no balance. If the bandwidth suffered, but it all worked, and gave acceptable speeds off-peak, that’s OK. If you’re advertised 6Mb, and get 2Mb on Saturday night, but 6Mb or more in the wee through sunrise hours of Monday morning (ideal OS update hours :)), well, then yes, they are still overselling to a reasonable degree.

    To be fair to Cox (in a bad way), I figure they will slow down/stop the bandwidth increases once they have enough regional bandwidth for HD PPV to go over the network.

    A cap on the amount that you can transfer ($4/GB may as well be a hard cap after the first month you go over!), however, is not reasonable, is not balanced, and is a cry for regulation. I see it as very similar to credit card companies making it difficult for people that regularly pay off their cards. It’s a way to extract more money, and get rid of “expensive” customers, rather than change tactics to make more money by serving those customers (like playing nicely, but with annual fees). Unlike credit card companies, the competition isn’t where it needs to be for the market to collectively take care of these things with ISPs (you can’t use the internet w/o an ISP; but you can use money w/o a CC). It’s scary with telcos, because they tend to be so protected by the local governments (who figure a series of tubes is a good analogy for the internet’s operation).

  50. cerbie says:

    (hit submit too soon)

    Also, based on my package cache size last night, I’ve easy downloaded 13GB, just of free software, in the last week. If it comes in a little slow (and it often does), that’s OK (I’m all for dynamic bandwidth throttling to keep spare bandwidth available for other users and improve low-latency performance (like VOIP) on an over-sold network). But, even a 50GB/mo cap would not be hard to exceed.

    Now, imagine that your options for ISPs only include ones with caps, or that you have mandated only one, it has a cap, and nobody cares. You’re screwed.