CenturyLink vs. Mediacom: Which Internet Provider Is Best for You?
Mediacom offers generous data limits and fast speeds, but CenturyLink wins on reasonable prices and a fantastic fiber gigabit plan.
HighSpeedteck.com uses our proprietary data and expert insights to compare these internet service titans.
Best for affordable prices
- Plans start at $50.00/mo.
- No data caps
- Great price for fiber gigabit plan
- Inconsistent availability
Best for big data users
- Plans start at $49.99/mo.
- Impressive data allotments
- Free installation with online sign up
- Merciless price hikes
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 plans also have no data caps.
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.
CenturyLink vs. Mediacom internet
Type of service
Month to month
15 Mbps–940 Mbps
$15.00/mo. or $150.00 flat fee
Type of service
Month to month
100 Mbps–1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps)
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.
|Simply Unlimited Internet||$50/mo.||15–100 Mbps (depending on service area)||DSL|
|Fiber Internet||$65/mo.||1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps)||Fiber|
*Data as of 6/17/2021. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. Plus taxes, equip. charges and fees.
CenturyLink offers a simple menu of internet options.
You can pay $50 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 data caps, and you’ll be on a convenient, month-to-month contract.
Or, if it’s available, you can kick down another $15 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.
|Access Internet 60||$19.99/mo.||60 Mbps||Cable|
|Internet 100||$49.99/mo.||100 Mbps||Cable|
|Internet 300||$99.99/mo.||300 Mbps||Cable|
|1Gig||$79.99/mo.||1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps)||Cable|
*Data as of 4/2/2020.
*Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. For 1 yr. Plus taxes, equip. charges and fees.
*For 12 months. Plus, activation, installation and monthly modem rental fees.
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.
Deals and promotions: CenturyLink vs. Mediacom
CenturyLink vs. Mediacom: Who has the fastest internet speed?
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?
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.
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 fee of $50 a month.
Internet data caps
Mediacom goes all out when it comes to data caps. That’s really the best thing about a Mediacom deal. The 1 Gig 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 DSL and fiber internet plans have genuine unlimited data. Want to stream Frozen 1,600 times? In 4K? Suuuuure . . . just make sure you don’t end up in violation of CenturyLink’s Excessive Use Policy and get your internet cut off.
Mediacom charges $10 per 50 GB if you go over your monthly data cap. CenturyLink doesn’t do overage charges, so no need to worry. 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.
|Modem rental||$15/mo. (or $150 flat fee)|
|Installation||$15–$99 (free with gigabit fiber internet)|
|Secure Wi-Fi service||$5/mo. (optional)|
|Late fees||$5 or percentage of bill|
|Taxes||Cost may vary|
Data as of 7/22/22. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
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.
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.
|Installation||$99.99 (waived if you order online)|
|Overage charge||$10.00/50 GB|
|Late fees||Up to $10.00|
|Cancellation fee (1- to 3-year contracts only)||$120.00–$240.00|
|Taxes||Cost may vary|
Data as of 4/2/2020. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.>
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 and Mediacom get below-average ratings when it comes to customer service in our latest customer satisfaction survey. Mediacom gets a slightly higher score, but both providers end up at or near the bottom of a list of 12 providers.
Our verdict: Go with CenturyLink if decent speeds are available in your area.
We like CenturyLink the best because it has straightforward plans, unlimited data, 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.