FiOS service from Frontier Communications is a high-speed internet service brought into your home via fiber optic cabling.
If you are luckly enough to live in an area where FiOS is available, congratulations. Fiber-based internet service such as FiOS is far superior to the other broadband technologies most Americans’ get to deal with. It is generally both faster and more reliable than cable, DSL, or fixed wireless technologies.
As great as FiOS service is, however, the included router is not-so-great. Many people report that the included router does not perform well, especially when Wi-Fi is in use.
This leaves many people wondering what the best router for Frontier FiOS is?
Well, don’t sweat. We’ve reviewed the current offerings available on the consumer networking market, and will detail our pick here.
Our Pick: Asus RT-AC86U
- Dual-band (2.4 + 5 GHz) AC2900 wireless router with the latest 802.11ac MU-MIMO technology for data transfer speeds up to 2900 Mbps
- 1.8GHz 32bit dual-core Processor optimizes network traffic and connectivity speeds from the USB 3.1 Gen1 and 4x Gigabit LAN Ports
- Designed for lag-free online gaming and flawless 4K UHD streaming with wtfast game Accelerator and Adaptive QoS
- Aiprotection powered by Trend Micro provides Built-in 24/7 protection from external attacks and threats, neutralizing them before they reach your network or connected devices
- Manage your network with the ASUS router app - setup your network, manage usage and parental controls, even get instant notifications about important network-based events. Connected devices must be 802.11 ac-compatible for best results.AC Input : 110V~240V(50~60Hz)
Why the RT-AC86U is a good choice for FiOS
The team here at Infravio loves the RT-AC86U and recommends it to our readers frequently. This router is loaded with features, boasts excellent speed and reliability, and sells at a semi-affordable mid-range price point.
It excels for Frontier FiOS customers for several reasons:
- It supports the latest 802.11AC wireless standard for superior range and bandwidth
- Super-fast dual-band AC2900 rated with multiuser MIMO
- It supports all of the features commonly supported in a Wi-Fi router, plus several unique features
- Its’ WAN port supports a Gigabit Ethernet connection to the Frontier FiOS ONT – this is especially important for customers with the 150Mbps and 500Mbps plans, to ensure that you actually get the speeds you are paying for
- It features a 1.8GHz dual core CPU to support multitasking and ensure fast throughput
Additional unique features not found on all routers
- Ability to monitor and manage the router from a smartphone app
- AiMesh technology support – able to connect with other ASUS routers to create a whole-home mesh network for better coverage and throughput
- Range Boost technology for increased range and signal stability
- Additional advanced features including IPv6 support, VPN server, and ability to create additional SSID’s
Why not use the included FiOS router?
Most FiOS installations are completed using the Frontier-issued Actiontec gateway or FiOS Quantum gateway (or equivalent).
These devices do not match the performance level of many aftermarket consumer-grade routers available today. Many people complain about insufficient Wi-Fi range, inability to support multiple devices very well, limited speeds over Wi-Fi, and limited customization options of the included routers.
Many people also don’t like the idea of being forced to pay a monthly lease fee to Frontier for one of these devices. Others simply wish to use features that may not be supported by the FiOS-provided box.
Fiber service is superior to Cable, DSL, fixed wireless, or other types of broadband because it is a very high capacity, very low latency, and a highly reliable medium. If you are lucky enough to have it in your home, you should make sure your router is up to the task as well.
Think of it this way – someone that drives a Station Wagon probably isn’t going to notice a difference if they fill it with premium fuel. But someone with a sports car definitely will notice a difference.
Bottom line: You are paying for a high speed, premium service – you have a sports car. Don’t put cheap fuel in it by settling for a sub-par router.
Things to know before you replace your FiOS-issued router
Before you buy a new router, you should know a couple of things about your existing FiOS router:
- If you have bundled FiOS television or voice services with your internet, you should pay special attention. These services generally rely on the FiOS-issued router in order to function. Replacing the provided router without considering this may result in certain services or features not working.
- Also, you’ll need to check the connection type between your ONT and the router, as this may need to be changed before you upgrade your router.
Bundled services generally still depend on the FiOS router
Based on discussions and experimentation by other subscribers, FiOS voice services still require the original router in order to operate. You can usually either:
- Connect the original router to a LAN port on your new router – thus voice/TV service would still operate through both routers and your Internet service would only use the new router.
- Place the original router in ‘bridged mode’ and connect the new router through it – Internet traffic would pass through both routers, but it wouldn’t face the performance drawbacks or complications of being double-NAT’d since the original router wouldn’t be performing any routing duties. This requires first logging into the original router and reprogramming it from routed to bridged mode.
If you are an internet + TV subscriber only (no voice service), you may be able to utilize an Actiontec MOCA adapter to remove the original router completely, as documented here: https://www.cnet.com/forums/discussions/simplify-fios-dump-actiontec-and-use-your-own-router/.
Basically, this procedure involves connecting the MOCA adapter to a LAN port on your new router, and then connect the Coax cable that was connecting to your FiOS-issued router to the MOCA adapter. This allows the set top boxes to still access the internet via the MOCA adapter + your new router.
Your router’s connection to the ONT may not be Ethernet
This generally only applies to customers that joined FiOS when it was still Verizon-branded, as new installations are no longer provisioned this way.
Originally, FiOS installs used a Coax (MOCA) connection from the ONT to the router. ONT stands for Optical Network Terminal and is the box that terminates the fiber signal coming into your house and converts it to a signal the router can understand.
If your install is configured this way, you will need to change it to an Ethernet (Cat5e) handoff before you install a new router, because none of the popular consumer-grade routers available today feature a Coax port.
There are two steps to this procedure:
- Run a new Cat5e cable between the ONT and router. This may be a piece of cake if you have an Indoor ONT. If your ONT is exterior (usually mounted on the outside of your house), running a new wire from the inside (where your router is located) to the outside of the house (where your ONT is located) can be substantially more work.
- Once the wiring is ready, you will need to contact Frontier Communications technical support (1.800.921.8101) and request that they re-provision your ONT to use an Ethernet port instead of the Coax port. The Alcatel or Motorola ONT you have should already have an ethernet port, so they just need to re-configure the device to deliver your services over this port. Once this is done, they will tell you to plug in the new wire. Connect the other end to your new router, and you’re done.
More Great Choices
If you’re not interested in the ASUS RT-AC86U, (it is a little pricey, after all!) here are a few other models we would recommend for use with Frontier FiOS:
The best router for Verizon FiOS
In select parts of the country, Verizon FiOS still exists and hasn’t (yet) been acquired by Frontier Communications. If you are one of these customers, our recommendations here apply to you as well – since the Frontier FiOS and Verizon FiOS services are so similar.
The bottom line – pretty much any router will work
As long as your ONT is set up to provide an Ethernet handoff (as discussed above), pretty much any consumer-grade wireless router will work with your Frontier FiOS service. Just make sure it is a new enough router to allow you to get the speeds you are paying Frontier for. Many older routers only have a 10/100 WAN port, meaning that they aren’t capable of running any faster than 100Mbps and thus would limit a 150M or 500M Frontier customer to 100M.
Andrew Namder is an experienced Network Engineer with 20+ years of experience in IT. He loves technology in general, but is truly passionate about computer networking and sharing his knowledge with others. He is a Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) and is working towards achieving the coveted CCIE certification. He can be reached at email@example.com.