CenturyLink vs Mediacom: Which Is the Best Internet Provider?

CenturyLink vs Mediacom. You might know these two companies from shopping for internet plans. The two target similar locations. So, this raises the question, who is the best internet provider when comparing CenturyLink and Mediacom?

Below, we will run through a comparison of the two providers so you have an informed answer. 

What is Mediacom?

Mediacom, or Xtream powered by Mediacom, is the fifth largest cable provider in the nation. It’s been around for 27 years, specializing in bringing the Internet to smaller population areas. 

Mediacom has a firm presence in the midwest, with most of its subscribers living in Iowa. Beyond Iowa, it does business in 22 states. 

The company won Best Cable Operating & ISP according to the TMT Magazine awards in 2018. This is a clear evolution, as they were one of the worst according to Consumer Reports back in 2012.  

Mediacom has a dramatic history, showing its willingness to grow over the past decade. 

What is CenturyLink?

CenturyLink, owned by Lumen Technologies, has gone through six name changes in its march to become a member of the Fortune 500. The company has been around in some form since the 1960s. 

In the early 2000s, the company was known as CenturyTel. Through multiple mergers and asset changes, the company joined with companies like Embarq and Qwest. From the mid-2000s, the company went through 11 additional acquisitions. 

The acquisitions and mergers have resulted in CenturyLink’s current form, having a spread in 38 states. Similar to Mediacom, they provide the internet where other providers fear treading: in low-population centers.

CenturyLink is the second largest overall communications company. 

So, we know CenturyLink has more resources than Mediacom. But does this result in better internet service? 

CenturyLink vs Mediacom internet - Who is the fastest provider?

When comparing the download speed of both CenturyLink and Mediacom, the two are tied for fast internet. At most, the two offer 1 Gbps, which is a pretty fast speed.

It’s important to note that both providers barely make the cut on the fastest internet provider list. At 1 Gbps, you’ll find faster internet plans through both Xfinity and AT&T Fiber. 

Mediacom typically offers faster speeds in more locations. However, CenturyLink offers more locations overall. So, the speeds you get heavily depend on where you live. 

One thing you can be sure of with Mediacom is faster upload speeds. Speeds on all of Mediacom’s plans vary from 5 to 50 Mbps, which makes it ideal for most needs. CenturyLink upload speeds are unspecific, but are a lot slower.

If you are one of those asking the “how much upload speed do I need” question, Mediacom will give you more of what you look for. 

CenturyLink vs Mediacom - Which is the cheapest internet provider?

When comparing pricing, Mediacom offers cheaper internet. This is true, regardless of whether you include promotional or standard rates. Mediacom starts at $20 per month while CenturyLink starts at $50.

Based on these factors, Mediacom is one of the cheapest internet providers for first-year pricing. The only internet packages that come close are RCN internet plans

CenturyLink doesn’t offer promotion rates, instead relying on upfront pricing. Mediacom relies on promotional pricing for 12 months, renewing to $30 per month after the first year. This includes a $10 per month discount for automatic payments.

The initial offering of both companies also starts at the same speed: 100 Mbps. So considering the cheapest plans, Mediacom blows CenturyLink out of the water on paper. 

Comparing CenturyLink and Mediacom plans 

The comparison gets trickier as you compare rates for faster plans. Here’s a quick breakdown of introductory pricing offered from Mediacom plans:

  • Internet 100 - $19.99 per month - 100 Mbps - 200 GB data cap
  • Internet 200 - $39.99 /mo. - 200 Mbps - 1 TB data cap 
  • Internet 400 - $49.99 /mo. - 400 Mbps - 2 TB data cap generic
  • Internet 1 GIG - $59.99 /mo. - 1000 Mbps - 6 TB data cap 

Standard rates increase by an average of $20 per month after the first year. They also offer more generous data caps than major providers. 

For example, Xfinity internet plans offer 1.2 TB and AT&T internet plans offer 1 TB. Even those who use a lot of data can struggle to go through a 1 TB data cap, so you can imagine how much it would take to get to 6.

CenturyLink, by comparison, only offers two internet plans. First, its DSL internet plans that cost $50 per month and include a 1 TB data cap. These data plans typically are 100 Mbps or lower, making them one of the weaker internet packages you can get. 

CenturyLink’s better offering is Fiber Gigabyte, which costs $65 per month. This internet package also includes unlimited data. So, after the first 12 months, this means CenturyLink is cheaper for long-term customers. 

Comparing fees from both CenturyLink and Mediacom

In the battle of CenturyLink vs Mediacom, both providers have fees. It’s just a matter of where your priorities lay for picking what extra costs you want to deal with.

Starting with Mediacom, its fees are pretty extensive:

  • Installation fee - $109.99, you might qualify for a free installation promotion or self-installation
  • Equipment rental fees (optional) - $15 per month 
  • Installation fee for Wi-Fi extender (optional) - $29.99
  • Wi-Fi certification fee - $40 
  • Data overage fee - $10 (per 50 GB)
  • Internet only surcharge (if you don’t bundle) - $15 
  • Activation fee - $10 
  • Early Termination Fee - Between $120 to $240 (depending on contract length)

Many of these are (thankfully) one-time fees, but are often confusing. For example, a “Wi-Fi certification fee” isn’t something you see through other providers. 

CenturyLink takes a different approach to fees. Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect through them:

  • Equipment rental fee - $15 per month (unless you choose the Fiber plan)
  • Installation fee - Between $15 and $99 (rolled into the fiber plan)
  • Data overage fee - $10 (per 50 GB)

CenturyLink provides much fewer fees than Mediacom. Two of the biggest ones are the lack of a data overage and early termination fee. CenturyLink has no-contract plans at every level, so there is no early termination. 

Even including fees, Mediacom is cheaper regarding low-speed plans. But what about bundles? 

CenturyLink vs Mediacom - Who offers the best bundles?

CenturyLink technically only bundles home phone and internet services. Mediacom offers television, internet, smart home, and home phone services. 

However, the best bundle depends on what you prioritize. 

CenturyLink has a partnership with DirecTV. The partnership provides you 170 channels alongside CenturyLink internet. Alongside fiber internet, that means you pay $199 per month.

Mediacom has a similar speed and pricing at the same cost. However, the first-year cost is much cheaper, starting at $129.99 per month. This is for their Variety TV package, the most extensive option. It renews at the same rate as CenturyLink.

Mediacom has much more flexibility in options. If you only want Local TV, you can choose a package here that renews at just above $100 per month. 

With either company, you’ll have to pay an extra amount for regional content. This extra amount typically maxes out at about $30 per month. This is something most cable and satellite providers aren’t great at communicating. 

CenturyLink vs Mediacom - Which is the most available internet service provider?

Comparing the two companies on availability, CenturyLink wins. CenturyLink covers 38 states while Mediacom only covers 22. Despite this, there is a lot of overlap for their services in the midwest. 

Much like other internet service providers, widespread availability doesn’t mean availability of high-speed internet. Many of its locations have DSL internet, its slower form that rarely exceeds 100 Mbps. Its fiber offering covers more population centers than AT&T, but is often limited to larger cities. 

Mediacom has more speed flexibility, offering internet speeds that range from 100 to 400 Mbps under its slower plans. These plans also have more likely availability in smaller population centers. So, if you live in a rural area with both, chances are you’ll see better options from Mediacom. 

CenturyLink vs Mediacom - Which internet company offers the best customer service? 

According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index’s Telecommunications Study, CenturyLink and Mediacom are identical regarding customer service. It’s said that about 60% of their customers are satisfied with them. 

This might seem like a pretty low rate, but is fairly common for internet service providers. In fact, only AT&T and Verizon have 70% of their customers happy with their service. 

Much of CenturyLink’s issue comes back to its DSL internet plans. In some locations, speeds for their plans don’t exceed 5 Mbps. Combined with the “up to” clause you see in most internet contracts, and you’ve got a recipe for a headache. 

Mediacom’s biggest issue comes back to the unusual fee structure. Internet service providers seem to be full of introducing hidden first-time fees. While this breakdown helps, not everyone gets to see the breakdown before they jump to pay for the first month’s internet.  

Who is CenturyLink best for?

CenturyLink has two vastly different choices for its customers. If you don’t fall into one of those extremes, CenturyLink isn’t for you. 

Household number one is someone who loves no-contract, no-nonsense internet. At 100 Mbps, you’ll still be able to do most of the things you love. Streaming is not out of the question, just be sure to ask yourself the “what speed internet do I need” question before you pick this one.  

CenturyLink is also ideal for those who download big files or stream 4K content. They set the fiber option at an incredibly competitive price, often coming at less than half what most providers offer. 

CenturyLink misses out on some customer opportunities by completely ignoring most speeds from 101 Mbps to 999 Mbps. So if you fall somewhere in-between, CenturyLink isn’t your best choice. Still, you might find its fiber offering cheaper than those who offer half the speed.

Compare CenturyLink internet plans near my zip code.

Who is Mediacom best for?

Mediacom sits in the middle where CenturyLink struggles. It is a far more flexible internet provider as a result, providing many options for different groups. 

Mediacom appeals to those who only need the internet for one year. Its pricing is comparable to the cheapest in the nation for year one. When the price renews, it becomes more comparable to other providers. 

Mediacom doesn't offer enough upload speed to be suitable for those who need work from home internet (specifically video conferencing). However, they do far better than CenturyLink in this category.Mediacom is also better for those who like to bundle many services. If you want smart home features, television, and home phone services on the same bill, you get more options by picking Mediacom.

Compare Mediacom internet plans near my zip code.

How to find Mediacom or CenturyLink near you

So now that you know both internet service providers have some pros and cons, how do you find them? The answer: by using the InternetAdvisor “Find a Provider” tool. 

If you are one of the many searching the “find internet service providers near me,” this tool will help reduce that research process. It takes all the local providers by zip code and compares them in a simple package. 

After entering your zip code and clicking the search button, you’ll see a list of those providers. Using the filters along the left, you’ll be able to select local providers based on budget, speed, services offered, and current promotions.

By using our tool, you’ll be able to save yourself time in picking the best internet provider for you. This gives you more time to enjoy the internet (and less time researching it). 

InternetAdvisor Team

We are passionate about aggregating large, accurate data sets and providing it all to our users in an easy-to-use format. Simply put, shopping is easier for the consumer when he/she knows all available options. We are not beholden to any single provider and therefore are dedicated to transparency and giving you unbiased information on all providers.

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