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Mediacom cable internet review: Speed isn't everything

Mediacom offers high speeds and large data caps, but not much in the way of customer care.

Mediacom boasts impressive high-speed internet ranging from 60 Mbps to a whopping 1,000 Mbps. It's unlikely that you'll need speeds that high; even 100 Mbps is plenty for a household of video streamers, although the extra speed is a nice buffer if you live with many online gamers. And if your home has previously had trouble maintaining those high speeds, Mediacom has you covered: Its Xtream WiFi mesh system helps eliminate dead zones.

Be warned: Mediacom consistently ranks far below average in surveys from J.D. Power, and the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), with users citing billing issues and frequent outages. However, if you do sign up and are unhappy with your service, Mediacom has a 90-day money-back guarantee for your peace of mind.

The claim

One tagline from Mediacom stands out: The company claims that "every service from Mediacom can be customized to fit your needs." On its own, this implies that consumers can completely design their services to their specific usage habits.

Is it true?

No.

Mediacom's "customization" really just entails selecting from its speed options. It has a range of high-speed choices: 60 Mbps, 100 Mbps, 200 Mbps, 500 Mbps, and 1,000 Mbps. However, if you want something a little slower (and cheaper) for more basic internet use or fewer users, you can't "customize" the internet service to anything less than 60 Mbps. And because data caps are tied to speed plans, there is no way to customize that part of your plan, either.

Product overview

Best for

Heavy internet users

Not for

Those who value customer care

Features

Standout featuresHigh speeds and data limit options, money-back guarantee, Xtream Wi-Fi router
Speed options60 Mbps
100 Mbps
200 Mbps
500 Mbps
1,000 Mbps
Data caps400 GB-6,000 GB
Monthly pricingStarts at $25
Extra fees$10 modem rental
$10 activation fee
$10 per 50GB over your plan's data limit
$100 installation fee
J.D. Power rating2/5
ACSI score56/100

High-speed plans

Plans and pricing will vary heavily depending on your location, but we found that Mediacom generally offered affordable high speeds. Mediacom's internet plans cater to the active internet user, with a vast range of speeds from 60 Mbps to 1,000 Mbps. When setting up your service, you choose a base plan of either 60 Mbps, 100 Mbps, 200 Mbps, 500 Mbps, or 1,000 Mbps. Prices start at $25 and increase by about $10 for each tier.

Xtream WiFi router

Mediacom advertises its version of a mesh WiFi system called Xtream WiFi. Basically, Xtream uses additional router pods to eliminate dead zones and better extend WiFi throughout large homes. Mediacom claims that this is suited for homes between 1,000 and 3,000 square feet, or two or more floors. The system is free for the first three months of service, but anything beyond that costs $5 per month. If you live in a large home that struggles to maintain strong WiFi performance in every area, Xtream is worth considering.

Data caps

Like with speed, Mediacom's data options will appeal to advanced internet users and large homes. As you increase your speed plans, data limits increase in increments, starting at 400 GB and climbing to 6,000 GB. Though some providers offer unlimited data, 6,000 GB is plenty for most people. For reference, Comcast Xfinity reports that the average data usage of its customers hovers around 130 GB per month.

90-day money-back guarantee

As a small redemption for its subpar customer service, Mediacom does offer a 90-day money-back guarantee. If you experience any grievances within the first 90 days of service, you may cancel your service without penalty. Be sure to follow up about your refund; Mediacom's guarantee promises a full refund of monthly service and equipment rental only "on request."

Possible drawbacks

Customer service

When it comes to satisfying its customers, Mediacom falls short. The American Consumer Satisfaction Index rated it 56/100, and it only managed to rank in the West region with 2/5 from J.D. Power, the lowest publishable score. Mediacom complaints typically consist of unresolved issues, frequent outages, and double billing.

Fees

In most cities, Mediacom promotes TV and internet service starting at just $40 per month, a bundle that unlocks 100+ channels and 60 Mbps of speed. While it seems like an excellent deal, it won't be reflected on your bill: You'll be responsible for a $10 modem rental fee and a $10 local station surcharge each month, plus a one-time $10 activation fee and $100 installation fee.

Average reliability

Across all types of internet, Mediacom provides fairly average reliability to customers. In 2016, the Federal Communications Commission reported on the performance and reliability of internet providers, including how often their subscribers receive advertised speeds. Mediacom provided advertised speeds about 80% percent of the time. That's better than Cox, which does so 75% of the time — but it pales in comparison to Comcast, which achieves its advertised speeds just over 90% of the time.

How does Mediacom compare with AT&T Internet?

AT&T Internet consistently tops the charts for its customer service, the polar opposite of Mediacom. While technically a DSL service, AT&T also offers high speeds and high data limits (though, like any internet service, these plans vary based on AT&T's limited availability). Package options for internet service alone are pretty limited, and unlike Mediacom, you'll have to bundle to choose between speeds. If you value customer service and have decent AT&T plan options where you live, it's worth considering — but for wider range of speeds, Mediacom may still be your best bet.

How does Mediacom compare with Charter Spectrum?

Charter Spectrum doesn't cap your data, and it offers a few bundling perks. You'll get a free modem, free DVR service, and free installation with its Triple Play plan — significant savings (nearly $200 in the first year), especially next to Mediacom's fees. Its plans are simple, with only two options for speed: 60 Mbps or 100 Mbps. However, those speeds are more than enough for most households, meaning Spectrum could very well offer you the better deal.

How does Mediacom compared with WOW! Internet?

WOW! Internet is another provider with no data caps and decent speeds. And at only $40 for 100 Mbps in most areas, it's a better value than Mediacom's 60 Mbps for the same price. WOW! is great for streamers and ranks in the top ten on the Netflix speed index (measurements of Netflix performance). In July of 2018, it ranked a full 11 spots higher than Mediacom, proving that it potentially offers greater reliability and greater value.

What is Mediacom's speed boost?

Mediacom used to offer just two base plans (60 Mbps and 100 Mbps), with the option to add a "speed boost" during checkout to access its faster tiers. It's since retired this way of framing its plans, instead offering each speed on its own individual plan, but it still refers to each speed tier as a "speed boost" upon checkout.

Where is Mediacom available?

Mediacom has a presence in 22 states: Alabama, Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Availability varies within those states, so enter your address on Mediacom's website to make sure it services your ZIP code. If Mediacom doesn't service your state, check out our review of the best internet providers for other options.

The bottom line

Mediacom offers impressively high speeds and unique options for data limits that will appeal to streaming-heavy households. Still, because its customer service reputation is so poor, you'll want to weigh which features matter most to you before choosing your internet provider.