Mediacom Internet Review: Plans, Pricing, Speed and Availability Compared

Mediacom Internet Review: Plans, Pricing, Speed and Availability Compared

Unavailable in Provider unavailable in 90001

Mediacom Xtream home internet rating

Pros

  • Provides services to over 1,500 communities in 22 states
  • Great additional hardware available to rent at a fair price

Cons

  • Significant price jump for the gigabit plan after a year
  • Data caps are too tight with the cheapest plans, and there’s no limit to the number of overage charges you can rack up
  • Poor value relative to other cable internet providers

Best Mediacom Xtream Internet plans and pricing

PlanMonthly priceMax speedsFees and service details
Xtream Connect$15100Mbps download, 20Mbps upload$14 monthly equipment (optional), 1TB data cap and no contracts
Xtream Internet 250$20 ($50 after 12 months)250Mbps download, 20Mbps upload$14 monthly equipment (optional), 400GB data cap and no contracts
Xtream Internet 500$45 ($100 after 12 months)500Mbps download, 30Mbps upload$14 monthly equipment (optional), 2TB data cap and no contracts
Xtream Internet 1 Gig$65 ($130 after 12 months)1,000Mbps download, 50Mbps upload$14 monthly equipment (optional), no data caps or contracts

Source: CNET analysis of provider data

With Mediacom’s Xtream Internet, you can choose between four contract-free plans. While unlimited data is available, most plans have a monthly data cap of 400GB to 2TB. Mediacom features a one-year price lock for most plans; the exception being the Xtream Connect plan, which has a fixed rate of $15 a month. For all other plans, you can expect your monthly bill to double once the promo period ends.

CNET’s top pick is the Xtream Internet 500 plan because it offers faster download speeds and a more generous data cap than Xtream Internet 250. In addition, there’s only one cent difference in the cost per Mbps between the 500Mbps plan, at 9 cents per Mbps, and the 250Mbps plan, which is 8 cents.

I really can’t think of a brand name that manages to raise and lower expectations quite like “Xtream.” I get it — you’re a midsize cable internet service provider with a limited market share, and you’re looking up at the likes of Comcast Xfinity. You want to stand out, but you also want to fit in. So you write a big “X” on a whiteboard somewhere, call a meeting, brainstorm a bit and at the end of the day, there’s a big circle around “Xtream,” and everyone’s patting each other on the back. These things happen.

Dumb name or not, the branding of Mediacom’s home internet service sets the table for streaming at high speed, and one could argue that Xtream primarily delivers. The company provides services to over 1,500 communities nationwide, offering up to 1 gigabit speed in most areas. On top of that, with Mediacom you can get access to over 170 channels by bundling your internet with Mediacom’s TV packages. Finally, plans offer upload speeds of up to 50Mbps, and while that might seem like nothing compared with what fiber is capable of, it’s faster than the upload speeds of the cable giant Spectrum, which tops out at only 35Mbps.

Mediacom Internet review

mediacom-cnetbb-logo-c mediacom-cnetbb-logo-c

Just recently, Mediacom made headlines with the announcement of changes to its plans, introducing faster speeds and a higher data cap. In addition, Mediacom replaced its Connect2Complete Plus plan with Xtream Connect, an affordable broadband option for families participating in the National School Lunch Program. Your household may be eligible for this plan if you participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program, Medicaid, SSI and other federal programs.

How many members of your household use the internet?

That said, Xtream isn’t perfect. For starters, the price of the fastest plan goes up nearly $65 after the first year. Additionally, in the latest J.D. Power customer satisfaction index, Mediacom ranked at the bottom for the North Central region. The latest data from the American Customer Satisfaction Index also tells the same story, with Mediacom ranking below the industry’s ISP average. That might have something to do with Mediacom’s monthly data caps, which get particularly tight if you’re on the lowest speed tier. You’ll find better value from Mediacom’s cable internet competitors, including other midsize providers like Optimum and WideOpenWest.

Suppose you can look past all of that. Mediacom’s cable plans are a solid alternative to inferior DSL, satellite and fixed wireless connections. Give Mediacom additional credit for offering gigabit speeds in rural and suburban markets where faster internet options usually aren’t available. Still, Xtream internet service falls well short of the genuinely extreme performance of a good fiber network. The questionable value relative to other cable providers makes it a problematic ISP to get excited about, if such a thing is even possible.

Where can you get Mediacom’s Xtream internet?

mediacom-fcc-coverage-mapbox-2024-last-updated-may-2024.png mediacom-fcc-coverage-mapbox-2024-last-updated-may-2024.png

Mediacom’s internet coverage extends across 22 states.

FCC/Mapbox

The nation’s fifth-largest cable provider, Mediacom’s home internet service is available to 1,500 communities nationwide. Coverage includes 22 states, primarily in the midwest, but also a smattering of regions in the Gulf Coast, the Eastern Seaboard, California and Arizona

Major metro areas in that coverage map include:

You’ll also find Mediacom’s Xtream internet services across a wide range of rural pockets near places like Apache Junction, Arizona; Clearlake, California; Decatur, Indiana; Elizabeth City, North Carolina and Murray, Kentucky.

What kind of internet connection does Mediacom offer?

“Our approach is simple: Deliver faster internet speeds, build larger fiber networks and offer superior products and services at an affordable price,” Mediacom founder, chairman and CEO Rocco B. Commisso writes on the Xtream website.

That bit about fiber piqued my interest. According to the latest data from the FCC, while Mediacom’s internet infrastructure consists almost entirely of cable connections, its fiber-optic connection provides 0.001% of unit coverage.

According to the FCC, Mediacom’s internet infrastructure consists almost entirely of cable hookups.

FCC

“Across all areas, network engineers and their tech teams have been adding nodes, building out more fiber and expanding capacity,” a Mediacom spokesperson explained when I asked about the company’s plans for fiber. That’s more about bolstering the existing cable connections than establishing new, dedicated fiber connections. Still, Mediacom adds that genuine fiber-to-the-home hookups are in the works “for some projects that build to new communities.”

For example, late in 2023, the company expanded its fiber network to two new cities in Iowa. Residents in Rutland and Williams have access to speeds of up to 2 gigabits per second. However, the 2-gigabit plan is only available in very select areas; for most customers, the 1-gigabit plan is the top end.

At any rate, as a cable internet provider, Mediacom can offer customers gigabit download speeds as high as 1,000Mbps (1Gbps), which is much faster than you can expect from DSL providers, satellite or fixed wireless internet. The downside to cable is that, unlike fiber, your upload speeds will be much, much slower, which can be noticeable if you’re trying to upload large files to the web or join a high-res video call. This is true of most cable providers, most of which will offer upload speeds of around 35Mbps. Mediacom’s upload speed is 50Mbps with its gigabit plan. And while we’re on the topic of plans…

Plans and pricing for Mediacom

Mediacom’s Xtream internet offerings are simple and relatively straightforward, with mainly four plans from which to choose. The price of most plans will jump after year 1, which is common among internet providers. The exception is the Xtream Connect plan, which has a standard rate of $15 per month (if you use your own modem) or $29 monthly if you decide to lease a modem with Mediacom. Otherwise, if you select either of the three fastest plans, you can expect your bill to go up after 12 months.

The further price increase means the gigabit plan goes from a cost-per-Mbps of 6 cents during your first year to 13 cents after 12 months. You’re looking at a significant price jump of nearly $65 in the second year of service. On top of that, Mediacom’s Xtream internet plans come with additional fees, which will add on to your monthly bill, but we’ll discuss those more later.

It’s also roughly on par with Mediacom’s biggest rivals in the cable category. It varies by region, but Comcast Xfinity’s gigabit plan goes from 7 cents per Mbps during year 1 to 10 cents in year 2. Meanwhile, gigabit service from Cox and Spectrum rings in at 6 and 8 cents per Mbps after the one-year promo rates expire. However, the other midsize cable providers of note, Optimum and WideOpenWest, offer gigabit plans at better prices than Mediacom, with WOW’s gigabit plan coming in at $70 per month after the promo rate expires. That’s 7 cents per Mbps and a superb value for a regular price for cable internet.

Mediacom’s plans in the middle offer questionable value, as well. Take the Internet 250 plan, which offers download speeds of up to 250Mbps and uploads up to 20Mbps for $20 per month during your first year and $50 per month after that. The pricing’s not bad, but I must note that the 250Mbps plan comes with Mediacom’s most restrictive data cap — 400GB per month. More on that in a second. Depending on where you live, a 150Mbps cable plan from Comcast might cost you $67 per month after the promo rate expires, but with a much higher 1.2TB data cap. Meanwhile, WOW Internet offers a 300Mbps plan for cheaper in comparison to Mediacom’s lowest plan; the difference is that WOW Internet does not impose data restrictions.

Admittedly, you can’t really comparison shop between cable providers — you have to go with the provider that offers service in your area. Still, after looking at the numbers, it’s clear that Mediacom’s prices run on the high side. If it were my provider, I’d be prepared to point out the gulfs in pricing with its competitors when I would inevitably call to try to negotiate a better deal.

Service terms for Mediacom

Mediacom’s service includes data caps but no contracts are required. However, if you look closer, there are a few other details that you should be aware of before signing up. Let’s examine further.

Data caps

Mediacom enforces data caps for most of its Xtream internet plans. The specific, monthly data allotment varies from plan to plan, and if you exceed it in a given month, you’ll start incurring penalties.

With the gigabit plan, you get unlimited data. So customers don’t have to worry about paying data overage fees for this particular plan. Meanwhile, the Internet 500 plan brings the cap down to 2,000GB (2TB), but that’s still quite generous and more than enough for most households. Finally, while Mediacom touts that there are no data caps for the Xtream Connect plan, customers whose upstream usage exceeds 1TB within a month can expect reduced upload speeds.

Less reasonable is the entry-level 250Mbps plan, which comes with a data cap of just 400GB. While this might seem more promising than the 350GB that Mediacom used to have, 400GB still falls short of what the average home uses in a month these days. It is also more restrictive than what you’ll get with any other cable plan that we’ve written about to date. According to OpenVault’s 2023 fourth-quarter report, the average US household consumption has grown in the last five years from 300GB to 641GB of data per month. Even the data caps with Sparklight’s cheapest plan are more generous. In fact, the only data caps we’ve seen that are tighter than what you get with Mediacom’s 250Mbps plan are those on satellite internet plans from Hughesnet.

Eero Pro 6 Eero Pro 6

If you need a router, Mediacom will rent you a two-piece Eero Pro 6 setup starting at $5 per month. That’s a good deal for a very decent mesh router.

Ry Crist/CNET

As for penalties, Mediacom will charge you $10 for every 50GB block of data used over the cap — and unlike most providers that enforce data caps, I see nothing in the fine print that limits the total amount in penalties you can rack up in a given month.

Additional fees

Mediacom doesn’t tie you down to a contract with any of its Xtream home internet plans, but you must pay a $10 activation charge when you first start service. Xtream home internet also requires a DOCSIS 3.0 modem. While all plans include equipment already, Mediacom will happily lease you a modem for $14 per month, but you can skip that fee if you already have one of your own.

Mediacom will rent you a router too — specifically, the Eero Pro 6 Mesh router, a model that supports Wi-Fi 6 (which performed quite well when I tested it at home). Ten dollars per month gets you a two-piece setup — one device to serve as the router and a second that functions as a mesh extender. If you live in a large home and need additional Eero extenders, you can add them for an additional $5 per month.

That’s not a bad deal if you don’t already own a router you like. The Eero Pro 6 two-pack would cost $400 if you bought it outright, so you could rent it from Mediacom for a couple years and still come out ahead.

Mediacom’s Xtream ranked bottom in 2023 for customer satisfaction in the North Central.

J.D. Power

Mediacom vs. the competition: Customer satisfaction could be stronger

Organizations that track customer satisfaction metrics tend to agree that Mediacom is below average in the internet provider category. That’s certainly the case with J.D. Power, which tracks customer satisfaction across four regions in the US. Mediacom was rated in the North Central region last year with only a 662 out of 1,000 score. A huge drop in comparison with its score two years prior, where it received 723 out of 1,000.

Meanwhile, the latest data from the American Customer Satisfaction Index tells the same story. Mediacom scored 61 points out of 100. Unfortunately, Mediacom’s score went down by 4 points compared to last year, showing a 6% decline. With its current score, Mediacom falls behind the average of an industry that struggles with low numbers as a whole.

What’s the bottom line on Mediacom?

Mediacom’s Xtream home internet is a valid option for a fast connection at home, but the plans don’t offer value that’s as good as what you’ll get from fiber or other cable providers across the country, and you’ll have to put up with a data cap for most plans. Things get slightly more appealing if you need to rent a router, as Mediacom offers excellent hardware for the price, but outside of that, there’s not much to get excited about here.

Still, Mediacom offers gigabit speeds in many markets that don’t have an abundance of other options — and its cable plans are worth it over the likes of DSL, satellite or fixed wireless. You have to take the good with the bad with any ISP, and Mediacom is no different. It’s just a shame that the plans don’t come at a better value.

Mediacom Xtream internet FAQs

Does Mediacom’s Xtream internet plans come with unlimited data?

It depends on the plan that you choose. Most of Mediacom’s Xtream internet plans will come with a data cap that ranges from 400GB to 2TB. The exception is the gigabit plan, which offers unlimited data. Otherwise, the three plans will come with data caps, and exceeding your monthly data limit will result in reduced upload speeds or paying data overage fees.

Is Mediacom Xtream internet service cheap?

Mediacom Xtream Internet offers a $20-per-month plan for 250Mbps in the first year. However, like many cable providers, once the promo period ends, its rate can increase by from $30 to $65 a month in the second year.

Is Mediacom Xtream internet fast?

It depends on what’s available at your address. But for the most part, customers have access to Mediacom’s Xtream internet gigabit plan, which features 1,000Mbps in download speeds and 50Mbps in upload. Unlike Spectrum’s gigabit plan, Xtream internet has faster upload speeds, topping Spectrum’s 35Mbps.

Does Mediacom Xtream internet offer fiber?




Source link

Tags: No tags

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *