THE BOTTOM LINE: Frontier’s Vantage TV has three impressive cable packages with up to 300 channels and a state-of-the-art DVR that can record 170 hours of programming and up to six shows at once. Vantage also gives you access to tons of on-demand content, including a channel with Netflix built in. The downside to Vantage is its limited availability: it requires a fast internet connection to support its hefty platform. Frontier is expensive in comparison to other TV providers.
- IPTV system combines the best features of cable and internet TV
- DVR features are comparable to top-of-the-line DVRs from DISH and U-verse
- Wireless boxes for watch-anywhere service
- Requires 2-year contract
- Very limited coverage area
- Inconsistent internet can limit service
Pricing is steep compared to other services
Vantage’s average price is $92 a month for new customers during the introductory one-year promotion. Keep in mind that accepting any promotional offer requires a two-year contract.
While it appears Vantage offers “no contract” options for internet services, after a long search, I couldn’t find any evidence that they provide “no contract” options for their Vantage television service.
Vantage charges a one-time equipment fee of $49 applied per box and requires a monthly HD technology fee for HD programming, which is disappointing. There’s no monthly DVR fee listed, though one can assume that’s why the service price is so high. If you want extra receivers for your additional TVs, you can pay an additional $9 per month.
If you are considering purchasing the service, we highly recommend speaking to a sales agent and nailing down a specific monthly price, as you are bound to incur more fees for additional sports packages and setup fees. As always, get it in writing.
Comparable to other brands, but come with a much higher price tag.
|Vantage TV Prime||$77/mo||200+||2-year|
|Vantage TV Extreme||$92/mo||250+||2-year|
|Vantage TV Ultimum||$124/mo||300+||2-year|
Vantage’s selection of channel packages is comparable to DISH and DIRECTV, and its basic package has a great deal more selection than XFINITY. The prices of Vantage’s options, however, are much more expensive, with even the basic TV Prime option starting at $77 a month and increasing after the first year. This baseline is even expensive when you compare it to Verizon’s pricey Fios brand or U-verse from AT&T.
Perhaps the reason for Vantage’s higher-than-normal price is the selection of markets it services, usually in rural or remote areas. These areas may require a premium to bring the service to them, and the newness of the product is another possible pricing factor. Vantage will likely lower the price as the system rolls out to different markets, but there is still some sticker shock when seeing the price breakdown.
It’s important to note the lack of contract. For someone who isn’t planning on sticking around for two years, this is a blessing for avoiding early termination fees, but the downside is you could potentially see rate hikes.
The selection is good, but not perfect
Vantage’s channel selection—especially with regard to sports—is fairly comprehensive with the exception of NFL SUNDAY TICKET, which is still exclusive to DIRECTV. The sports package has 14 separate sports channels, including many offerings for international sports and Pac-12 games.
For all of the channels that are included in each package, check out Frontier’s online guide for Vantage.
With more than 200 options, Vantage has a huge selection of HD channels. Remember though, that there is a monthly HD technology fee required.
Equipment and features
The best features of cable and internet streaming with a state-of-the-art DVR.
Vantage is an example of Internet Protocol Television (IPTV), which means your television stream comes completely via the internet.
The idea is to combine the best of cable with the best of internet on demand. With Vantage, you can watch live TV just like you would with a cable box, including sports, network shows, or cable channel shows at the time they are broadcast. It also provides video on demand (VOD), which gives you access to a library of additional content that you can watch at any time. Additionally, there is a time-shifted option where you can watch a show on its channel after its initial broadcast. Vantage rolls all three of these services into one.
Vantage TV Whole Home DVR compares favorably to DIRECTV’s Genie and DISH’s Hopper. The Vantage DVR comes with 1 TB recording capacity, though it can currently only record four shows compared to Genie’s five. (Sources are inconsistent on this issue, with some parts of the website saying it can record six shows at once.) DISH’s Hopper still leaves both in the dust with the ability to record 16 shows.
What makes the Vantage DVR special?
Still, the Vantage DVR has other interesting features, like “Recent & DVR Peek,” which allows you to preview and tune in to any of the last five channels or DVR recordings. Vantage’s set-top box allows you to stream the same show to any TV in the whole house, which is great for catching the game while hosting between the kitchen and the entertainment room. The Vantage set-top box is also wireless, meaning you can connect it anywhere you want via a Wi-Fi network.
Vantage’s interface provides viewers with options for live TV, recordings, and on-demand content. You can see up to 50 channels at once with “Multi-View.” It has a visual guide much like Netflix to give viewers a more visual representation of their choices. Speaking of Netflix, it comes built into the Vantage interface; you can access it on channel 800 or by using the on-demand button on the remote. This means as long as you’re paying for Vantage, you have access to Netflix.
The “Channel Peeks” feature allows you to maintain full-screen viewing while also being able to check out other programming.
The Vantage interface includes a start-over feature that allows viewers to start at the beginning of a show already in progress.
In its on-demand library, Vantage includes over 100,000 movies and TV shows.
Frontier’s customer service ranking is the lowest of the low.
|ASCI||JD Power||Blended Rating|
In 2016, the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) did not rate Frontier’s television service because it was too small, but they did give their internet service a score of 56 out of 100, which is the lowest score recorded (the highest rating they awarded is 73 to Verizon Fios). The average score ACSI recorded was 64.
JD Power similarly ranked Frontier’s internet, but not its television service, giving it a score of 635 out of a 1000 in their 2015 North Central Region study, with the average being 687 and the highest score being AT&T with a score of 726. Frontier’s score was also the lowest in this ranking. Since Frontier’s customer service combines both its TV and internet service into one phone number and website, it makes sense to use these numbers to judge their customer service with television.
As I called the customer service line, they hung up on me not once, but twice. Before I was disconnected, my short interaction with both reps seemed hurried and dismissive. The main reason for my calls was to find answers about “no-contract” and DVR options that were totally absent on their website. When I tried to use the callback feature on the hotline, (which schedules a time to call you back when a line is open), it gave me an appointment for more than 24 hours later.
The one thing I can say about Frontier’s online support is that they were quick to respond to my chat request. They were not very effective at dispensing information, though. Even when I gave them a sample address in one of their service areas, they couldn’t answer any of my questions about pricing or channel availability. I tried starting three separate chat conversations with agents, and two of them tried to refer me to the 1-800 number after I asked them one question each. The third agent honestly admitted she had no answers to my questions.
As soon as I said I was asking for information and was not a customer, they had a very hard time providing any answers about their service. If someone is already a customer, they may have a better experience at getting their questions answered. It seems, however, that helping prospective customers is an important component in finding new customers and expanding the business.
On a positive note, some online reviews remarked that the customer service seems to be improving slowly but surely. These reviews were very hard to find, but good reviews for any such telecom provider are rare. Telecom companies have notorious reputations for their poor customer service. Frontier was no exception, and based on the ratings from ACSI and JD Power, it appears the company has a long way to go in improving its customer service reviews. We would rate Frontier a lower-than-average five out of ten.
Contact info and other details about support can be found here.
Vantage has a lot going for it, but some fundamental issues to fix.
Frontier’s Vantage TV seems to have a great product with an intelligent interface, an impressive DVR, and a wide variety of channels, but their poor customer service and slowly expanding coverage areas are two strikes against them.
If you are in a rural area with reliable internet and have a love of sports and HD programming, Vantage’s services could look pretty tempting. Just realize you will be paying a premium price for your premium services.
We suggest the Vantage TV Extreme package with its impressive sports lineup and premium channels like HBO and Cinemax. It’s not as pricey as the top package and has an impressive 250+ channels to choose from.
Click here for ordering information regarding Frontier Vantage TV packages.