CenturyLink vs. Mediacom 2020

Mediacom offers generous data limits and fast speeds, but CenturyLink wins on reasonable prices and a fantastic fiber gigabit plan.

Best for affordable prices
  • Guaranteed “Price for Life” for DSL
  • Great price for fiber gigabit plan
  • Inconsistent availability

 
Plans start at $49.00/mo.
 

View Plans for CenturyLink

Best for big data users
  • Impressive data allotments
  • Free installation with online sign up
  • Merciless price hikes

 
Plans start at $19.99/mo.
 

View Plans for Mediacom

Bottom line

CenturyLink is great for users who want a no-nonsense plan without price hikes or annual contracts. Its gigabit plan is one of the best priced in all the land, and it runs on an ultra reliable fiber network. All of CenturyLink’s DSL plans meanwhile have Price for Life guarantees.

Mediacom is ideal if you use a lot of data every month with smart home appliances or online gaming—the data caps on higher-tier plans are absurdly high. There are no annual contracts, but beware of the price hikes. Some plans will go up significantly in price after a year of service and go up again a year later.

Cheap internet due to COVID-19:

CenturyLink and Mediacom have both temporarily suspended their data caps until mid-May to help customers working from home due to the outbreak of the new coronavirus.

During that time period, both providers also won’t suspend anyone’s internet service due to unpaid bills and will waive all late fees.

Their Wi-Fi public hotspots are also open for anyone to use.

See our internet deals page for more info on ways to find cheap or even free internet for students and families.

CenturyLink vs. Mediacom internet

CenturyLink Mediacom

Type of service

DSL, fiber

Type of service

Cable

Price

$49.00–$65.00/mo.

Price

$19.99–$79.99/mo.

Contract

Month-to-month

Contract

Month-to-month

Download speeds

15 Mbps–940 Mbps

Download speeds

60 Mbps–1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps)

Equipment fees

$15.00/mo. or $150.00 flat fee

Equipment fees

$11.50/mo.

Installation fee

$50.00–$125.00

Installation fee

$99.00

Customer satisfaction

(3.65/5)

Customer satisfaction

(3.60/5)

View CenturyLink plansView Mediacom plans
CenturyLink

Type of service

DSL, fiber

Mediacom

Type of service

Cable

CenturyLink

Price

$49.00–$65.00/mo.

Mediacom

Price

$19.99–$79.99/mo.

CenturyLink

Contract

Month-to-month

Mediacom

Contract

Month-to-month

CenturyLink

Download speeds

15 Mbps–940 Mbps

Mediacom

Download speeds

60 Mbps–1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps)

CenturyLink

Equipment fees

$15.00/mo. or $150.00 flat fee

Mediacom

Equipment fees

$11.50/mo.

CenturyLink

Installation fee

$50.00–$125.00

Mediacom

Installation fee

$99.00

CenturyLink

Customer satisfaction

(3.65/5)

Mediacom

Customer satisfaction

(3.60/5)

CenturyLink View CenturyLink plans
Mediacom View Mediacom plans

CenturyLink vs. Mediacom packages and pricing

CenturyLink is the best pick out of these two providers when it comes to packages and pricing. CenturyLink’s plans are straightforward, easy to understand, and don’t have arbitrary fees and price hikes buried in the fine print like Mediacom does.

Mediacom, however, does have a wider range of high-speed internet plans available. Its network also runs over coaxial cables, which tend to be a lot faster and more reliable than DSL.

Let’s take a gander and see who’s got the finest internet plans.

CenturyLink packages

PackagePriceSpeed*Internet type
Price for Life 15 Mbps$49/mo.15 MbpsDSL
Price for Life 20 Mbps$49/mo.20 MbpsDSL
Price for Life 40 Mbps$49/mo.40 MbpsDSL
Price for Life 80 Mbps$49/mo.80 MbpsDSL
Price for Life 100 Mbps$49/mo.100 MbpsDSL
Fiber Internet$65/mo.1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps)Fiber
PackagePrice for Life 15 Mbps
Price$49/mo.
Speed*15 Mbps
Internet typeDSL
PackagePrice for Life 20 Mbps
Price$49/mo.
Speed*20 Mbps
Internet typeDSL
PackagePrice for Life 40 Mbps
Price$49/mo.
Speed*40 Mbps
Internet typeDSL
PackagePrice for Life 80 Mbps
Price$49/mo.
Speed*80 Mbps
Internet typeDSL
PackagePrice for Life 100 Mbps
Price$49/mo.
Speed*100 Mbps
Internet typeDSL
PackageFiber Internet
Price$65/mo.
Speed*1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps)
Internet typeFiber

CenturyLink offers a simple menu of internet options.

You can pay $49 per month for a DSL internet plan, which will give you anywhere from 15 Mbps to 100 Mbps download speeds depending on what’s available in your area. There are no price hikes, and you’ll be on a convenient, month-to-month contract.

Or, if it’s available, you can kick down another $16 per month for CenturyLink’s Fiber Internet plan—arguably the best deal on gigabit internet from any provider in the United States. As the name suggests, this plan runs over fiber, so it’s extremely dependable and will likely meet your speed expectations as advertised. And the contract also goes month to month, so no need to worry about draconian annual commitments.

Mediacom packages

PackagePriceSpeed*Internet type
Access Internet 60$19.99/mo.60 MbpsCable
Internet 60$39.99/mo.60 MbpsCable
Internet 100$49.99/mo.100 MbpsCable
Internet 200$59.99/mo.200 MbpsCable
Internet 500$69.99/mo.500 MbpsCable
1Gig$79.99/mo.1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps)Cable
PackageAccess Internet 60
Price$19.99/mo.
Speed*60 Mbps
Internet typeCable
PackageInternet 60
Price$39.99/mo.
Speed*60 Mbps
Internet typeCable
PackageInternet 100
Price$49.99/mo.
Speed*100 Mbps
Internet typeCable
PackageInternet 200
Price$59.99/mo.
Speed*200 Mbps
Internet typeCable
PackageInternet 500
Price$69.99/mo.
Speed*500 Mbps
Internet typeCable
Package1Gig
Price$79.99/mo.
Speed*1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps)
Internet typeCable

Mediacom hooks you up with low prices (at least initially) and humongous data allowances, so you’ll have a lot more flexibility to stream video and have smart home appliances without the worry of overage charges. Mediacom will also waive the $99 installation fee if you order your service online, and it runs over a cable network—always faster and more reliable than DSL.

But reading the fine print is especially important when it comes to Mediacom. The plans may seem decently priced at first, but many of them have steep price hikes. The 1Gig plan, originally billed for $79.99, goes up $30 every year until it’s almost twice the price of the original offer. The Internet 100 plan starts at $49.99 but then shoots up to $79.99 after one year.

It’s a good thing Mediacom has no annual contracts, so you can bail before it gets too pricey.

CenturyLink vs. Mediacom: Who has the fastest internet speed?

Internet speeds

CenturyLink and Mediacom both offer plans with 1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps) download speeds—some of the fastest internet speeds available for residential users in the US. But CenturyLink’s gigabit plan is obviously the much better deal because it costs less and runs on a fiber-optic network.

As its name suggests, CenturyLink’s Fiber Internet plan delivers gigabit speeds over fiber, the fastest and most reliable type of internet you can get. Mediacom offers its 1Gig plan over a cable network, which also works great but can experience neighborhood-wide slowdowns during peak hours.

CenturyLink’s gigabit-speed Fiber Internet plan goes for $65 a month, while Mediacom’s 1Gig plan (boasting the same speed) starts off at $79.99. Mediacom’s plan goes up $30 after a year. It goes up again a year after that—to the official “standard rate” of $139.99 per month.

That’s over twice the cost of CenturyLink’s plan. More like a substandard rate, amirite?

Measure your speed needs:

Use our handy How Much Speed Do I Need? tool to see how fast your internet needs to be.

Internet types

CenturyLink has DSL and fiber internet. Mediacom provides cable internet. Fiber is the best type of internet around because it’s fast and reliable.

But similar to how Monty Python’s Holy Grail is a rare and precious thing, so is fiber-optic Wi-Fi, since it’s the least common of the three internet types. And CenturyLink’s DSL plans don’t have nearly the same spectrum of possibilities as Mediacom’s cable plans.

DSL can hit a max speed of only around 100 Mbps, and we’ve found residences in some cities where 15 Mbps or even less was the only option available to CenturyLink’s DSL customers.

By comparison, Mediacom’s cable network can comfortably hit anywhere from 100 to 1,000 Mbps speeds and everywhere in between, so you won’t be forced to choose between “kinda slow” or “needlessly fast” like you might with CenturyLink.

Internet availability

CenturyLink’s Fiber Internet plan is available in select areas—only about 33% of the US population has access to any kind of fiber internet, according to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). And CenturyLink’s other DSL options don’t always deliver the same speeds in every area.

To give you a few examples, we did some research and found that 100 Mbps speeds were available to CenturyLink’s DSL customers in densely populated parts of Seattle and Denver. But there was one area in Phoenix where we could find only 10 Mbps max speeds available for the same Price for Life fee of $49 a month.

Editor’s take:

If 10 Mbps is all you can get for $49 a month from CenturyLink, then it’s definitely worth considering Mediacom as an alternative.

Internet data caps

Update: Mediacom and CenturyLink have both suspended their data caps until mid-May due to the ongoing coronavirus quarantine. 

Mediacom goes all out when it comes to data caps. That’s really the best thing about a Mediacom deal. The Internet 200 plan dishes out 2 TB of data, Internet 500 hooks it up with 4 TB, and the 1Gig plan takes it to the max with a handsome 6 TB.

Getting 6 TB on your plan is like finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. With 6 TB, you could stream Disney’s Frozen all the way through 800 times in 1080p and still have 2 TB left over to game online and operate numerous smart home devices. It’s not an unlimited plan, but most users wouldn’t even know what to do with that much data.

Then again, customers on CenturyLink’s Fiber Internet gigabit plan have genuine unlimited data limits. Want to stream Frozen 1,600 times? In 4K? Suuuuure . . . just make sure you don’t end up in violation of their Excessive Use Policy and get your internet cut off.

Most other CenturyLink plans offer a 1 TB data cap, which is a perfectly suitable amount for the average, non–Frozen-addicted internet user.

Pro tip:

Mediacom charges $10 per 50 GB if you go over your monthly data cap. CenturyLink doesn’t do overage charges, but it may slow or shut down your internet if you repeatedly go over. See our data caps guide for more details on how monthly data limits work.

CenturyLink vs. Mediacom fees and contracts

Nobody likes hidden fees and tricky contracts, so we went ahead and looked through the fine print to see what kind of Cracker Jack–style surprises CenturyLink and Mediacom have tucked away for you to find at the bottom of your bill.

CenturyLink fees

FeesAmount
Modem rental$15/mo. (or $150 flat fee)
Installation$50–$125
Secure Wi-Fi service$5/mo. (optional)
Declined payment$10–$25
Late fees$5 or percentage of bill
Cancellation feeN/A
TaxesCost may vary

To protect your system from hacking and malware, CenturyLink has Secure Wi-Fi technology built into its routers and modems to warn you about higher-risk websites you may be visiting and to block malicious activity targeting your smart home devices.

Your home network will already be secure so long as you take the proper precautions, but this is an extra bit of security and costs an extra $5 per month.

CenturyLink mercifully won’t charge a fee if you go over your monthly data limit—though they will slow down your internet or cut you off if you repeatedly abuse the privilege.

But be careful if you’re in the middle of switching credit cards or don’t have enough funds in your bank account. CenturyLink will punish your wallet with a fee of $10 to $25 if you make a payment on your card but it doesn’t go through.

If you make your payment past the monthly deadline, you’ll be hit with either a fixed late fee of $5 or a percentage of your bill—or possibly both. Sign up for AutoPay if you’re the forgetful type.

Mediacom fees

FeesAmount
Modem rental$11.50/mo.
Installation$99.99 (waived if you order online)
Activation$10.00
Overage charge$10.00/50 GB
Late feesUp to $10.00
Cancellation fee (1- to 3-year contracts only)$120.00–$240.00
TaxesCost may vary

Mediacom does only professional installation, so you can’t install it yourself. But it will waive your $99.99 installation fee if you order online—sahweet.

However, just to get a Mediacom plan, you will have to pay a $10 activation fee. We’re not sure why you should pay $10 just to have the company switch on your internet, but c’est la vie.

Also, if you’ve had a plan with Mediacom for several years and have signed an annual contract, you’ll have to pay a pretty penny if you decide to cancel before your agreement is up. Early termination will cost up to $120 for a one-year contract and as much as $240 for a two- or three-year contract.

Internet contracts

CenturyLink offers month-to-month contracts, which is always nice because it lets you switch providers without incurring penalties.

Mediacom also does monthly contracts, requiring no annual commitment from the customer.

Editor’s pick:

We prefer CenturyLink over Mediacom when it comes to the fine print because CenturyLink doesn’t impose arbitrary “activation” fees or charge for exceeding your data cap.

CenturyLink vs. Mediacom equipment

Renting a modem and router

If you don’t have much patience for tech stuff, you’ll save a lot of headaches by simply renting a router/modem from your internet provider.

It costs $11.50 a month to get one from Mediacom and $15.00 for CenturyLink. Or, in CenturyLink’s case, you can just pay $150.00 upfront to buy the modem and router.

We recommend using your provider’s equipment. It will be faster and easier to resolve tech issues, and you won’t have to deal with connection cutoffs and other glitches that may come when you’re using something that the company isn’t already familiar with.

Buying a modem and router

You can buy a modem and router yourself if you’d prefer to pick something that’s up to your own personal specifications. Owning your router gives you more control over security settings and advanced features, or if you’d like to boost your Wi-Fi signal to a wider reach.

Pro tip:

If you have the money upfront, buy CenturyLink’s modem and router straight away so you don’t have to pay the monthly rental fees.

CenturyLink vs. Mediacom customer service

CenturyLink ranks in the middle of the bunch when it comes to technical support and customer service in our latest customer satisfaction survey. In the same criteria, Mediacom comes in last out of all 12 providers we looked at.

We took a dive into our survey to see how CenturyLink and Mediacom fare in other categories.

Installation and setup

CenturyLink

Installation fee: $50–$125

Installation type: Pro and self-install

Installation customer satisfaction rating:

(3.79/5)

Mediacom

Installation fee: $99.99 (free with online signup)

Installation type: Pro install

Installation customer satisfaction rating:

(3.72/5)

Those who responded to our survey seemed more pleased with CenturyLink’s installation process. But neither providers fared super well. CenturyLink came in ninth place for installation and setup, while Mediacom got last place.

Customer satisfaction

CenturyLink

Overall customer satisfaction rating:

(3.65/5)

Mediacom

Overall customer satisfaction rating:

(3.60/5)

In terms of overall satisfaction, CenturyLink and Mediacom both rank in the bottom percentile in our customer satisfaction survey. CenturyLink got ninth place out of 12 internet providers, and Mediacom got eleventh place.

Test your speed: Are you satisfied with your current internet? See how fast it is with our speed test tool.

CenturyLink vs. Mediacom availability

CenturyLink

Top 5 states:

  1. Colorado
  2. Missouri
  3. Washington
  4. North Carolina
  5. Arkansas

Mediacom

Top 5 states:

  1. Iowa
  2. Illinois
  3. Missouri
  4. Minnesota
  5. Indiana

CenturyLink casts a wide net across the United States, providing DSL and fiber internet in the Pacific Northwest, Mountain West, and many states along the Mississippi River. It’s also available in parts of Virginia, North Carolina, and Alabama.

Mediacom’s coverage is more focused around the Midwest, spanning southern Minnesota, southwest Wisconsin, and northern Indiana. Its network also covers most of Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri, and it’s available in pockets of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Delaware.

Run a search using your ZIP code to see if CenturyLink or Mediacom can hook you up with Wi-Fi at your house:

Find internet in your area.

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Lifelong fixed prices for DSL plans
  • Best fiber gigabit plan ever
  • Affordable self-install option

Cons

  • Limited fiber availability
  • Slow DSL speeds in some areas
 

Pros

  • Reliable cable internet
  • Absurdly huge data allotments
  • Free installation if you sign up online

Cons

  • Big price hikes after one year
  • Arbitrary activation fee
 

Our verdict: Go with CenturyLink if decent speeds are available in your area.

We like CenturyLink the best because it has straightforward plans, Price for Life offers on DSL, and no annual contracts. CenturyLink also delivers the most affordable gigabit internet on the market—over a fiber network, no less.

Mediacom also deserves credit for not locking customers into annual contracts, offering an extra bit of flexibility if you decide to switch providers. It’s also nice that Mediacom offers extremely generous data allowances on most of its plans, and it’s an added bonus that you won’t have to pay the installation fee if you sign up online.

But Mediacom plays too many games with price hikes for our taste. Some of their plans practically double in price over two years, which seems to incentivize the customer to switch providers when it gets too expensive rather than stay loyal.

Get internet now:

CenturyLink vs. Mediacom FAQ

Is CenturyLink internet any good?

CenturyLink internet is a great choice, especially if you want cheap Wi-Fi with no annual commitments or with gigabit internet running on a fiber network. CenturyLink has Price for Life guarantees on all of its DSL deals, and it offers one of the most affordable fiber gigabit plans in the country.

Is Mediacom internet any good?

Mediacom will be a good choice for customers who want fast speeds and use tons of data. Mediacom’s plans run over a cable network, which is strong and reliable. Depending on the plan, you can get speeds anywhere from 60 Mbps to 1,000 Mbps.

There are huge monthly data allowances for most of the plans, so you’ll be free to stream and game to your heart’s content. Just watch out for the price hikes that kick in starting a year after you sign up. (The good news is there aren’t any contracts.)

Is CenturyLink better than Mediacom?

CenturyLink is better than Mediacom because it has lower prices, fewer price hikes, and fewer surprise charges buried in the fine print. Still, Mediacom is worth considering since it has a wider range of plans, extremely generous data allowances, and runs over a strong cable system.

Who has the fastest internet: CenturyLink or Mediacom?

CenturyLink and Mediacom both offer gigabit internet plans with 1,000 Mbps download speeds. But we’re putting our money on CenturyLink as the slightly faster option because its gigabit plan runs over a super sleek fiber-optic network.

CenturyLink’s fiber gigabit plan is also much less expensive than Mediacom’s cable gigabit plan, which sees big price hikes starting after the first year.

Author -

Peter Holslin has spent more than a decade writing for Rolling Stone, VICE, BuzzFeed, and countless other publications. He graduated with a BA in liberal arts and journalism from New York City’s The New School University in 2008. Since then, he has roved from city to city and lived overseas, mastering his craft as an editor, staff writer, and freelancer while also acquiring ninja-like skills to address feeble Wi-Fi speeds and other internet challenges.

Editor - Cara Haynes

Cara Haynes has edited for HighSpeedInternet.com for three years, working with smart writers to revise everything from internet reviews to reports on your state’s favorite Netflix show. She believes no one should feel lost in internet land and that a good internet connection significantly extends your life span (buffering kills). With a degree in English and editing and five years working with online content, it’s safe to say she likes words on the internet. She is most likely to be seen wearing Birkenstocks and hanging out with a bouncy goldendoodle named Dobby, who is a literal fur angel sent to Earth.

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