Best Internet Providers in Iowa

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What is the best internet provider in Iowa?

Mediacom is the best internet provider for most Iowa households due to its high availability and low introductory pricing. The largest cable internet provider in the state, Mediacom, is available to nearly two-thirds of Iowa residences, according to the Federal Communication Commission. It also has one of the cheapest internet plans of any major provider, with service starting at $35 per month for download speeds up to 100 megabits per second.

Mediacom won’t always be the best option for every person. Fiber internet from providers, such as Metronet, Google Fiber or Quantum Fiber, will often present better speeds, reliability and overall value than Mediacom, although availability is more limited in Iowa. Metronet, for example, offers the cheapest internet in Iowa, starting at $30 per month, while Google Fiber has the fastest plan with speeds up to 8 gigabits per second (8,000Mbps) starting at $150 per month.

Wireless internet is also a practical choice for broadband, especially throughout Iowa’s many rural areas. Speeds and pricing may rival Mediacom, depending on the providers in your area.

CNET considers speeds, pricing, customer service and overall value to recommend Iowa’s best internet service providers across several categories. Our evaluation includes referencing a proprietary database built over years of reviewing internet services. We validate that against provider information by spot-checking local addresses for service availability. We also do a close read of providers’ terms and conditions and, when needed, will call ISPs to verify the details.

Despite our efforts to find the most recent and accurate information, our process has some limitations you should know about. Pricing and speed data are variable: certain addresses may qualify for different service tiers, and monthly costs may vary, even within a city. The best way to identify your particular options is to plug your address into a provider’s website. 

Also, the prices, speed and other information listed above and in the provider cards below may differ from what we found in our research. The cards display the full range of a provider’s pricing and speed across the US, according to our database of plan information provided directly by ISPs. At the same time, the text is specific to what’s available in Iowa. The prices referenced within this article’s text come from our research and include applicable discounts for setting up automatic payments each month — a standard industry offering. Other discounts and promotions might also be available for things like signing a term contract or bundling with multiple services. 

To learn more about how we review internet providers, visit our full methodology page.

Best internet in Iowa

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Speed range

100 – 1,000 Mbps

Price range

$25 – $80 per month

Our take – Availability is a significant advantage in a state like Iowa, with large rural areas between each city and town. Mediacom’s cable network has the greatest wired internet coverage of any major ISP in Iowa.

. . . Or call to learn more:

Check with Mediacom

Speed range

100 – 1,000 Mbps

Price range

$25 – $80 per month

Speed range

100 – 1,000 Mbps

Price range

$25 – $80 per month

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Speed range

100 – 3,000 Mbps

Price range

$30 – $115 per month

Our take – Fiber internet has the advantage of symmetrical upload and download speeds and supreme reliability, even during peak usage. Metronet has arguably the best fiber coverage and plan selection in Iowa.

. . . Or call to learn more:

Check with Metronet

Speed range

100 – 3,000 Mbps

Price range

$30 – $115 per month

Speed range

100 – 3,000 Mbps

Price range

$30 – $115 per month

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Speed range

1,000 – 2,000 Mbps

Price range

$70 – $100 per month

Our take – Google Fiber recently expanded to West Des Moines and quickly became the fastest major internet provider in the state. All plans are of the gigabit variety, including the newly released 8Gbps speed tier.

. . . Or call to learn more:

Check with Google

Speed range

1,000 – 2,000 Mbps

Price range

$70 – $100 per month

Speed range

1,000 – 2,000 Mbps

Price range

$70 – $100 per month

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Connection

Fixed wireless

Speed range

72 – 245 Mbps

Price range

$50 per month

Our take – Wireless delivery is the best way to get broadband to Iowa’s rural areas. While T-Mobile Home Internet doesn’t have the largest wireless coverage area in Iowa (that’d be US Cellular), the speeds, pricing and service terms are most ideal for rural internet service.

. . . Or call to learn more:

Check with T-Mobile

Connection

Fixed wireless

Speed range

72 – 245 Mbps

Price range

$50 per month

Connection

Fixed wireless

Speed range

72 – 245 Mbps

Price range

$50 per month

Iowa internet providers compared

ProviderInternet technologyMonthly price rangeSpeed rangeMonthly equipment costsData capContractCNET review score
CenturyLinkDSL$5020-100Mbps$15 (optional)NoneNone6.7
Google FiberFiber$70-$1501,000-8,000MbpsNoneNoneNone7.5
HughesNetSatellite$50-$15015-50Mbps$15 monthly or $450 purchase feeVaries, 15-100GB2 years5.7
KineticDSL, fiber$40-$18015-100Mbps DSL, 100-2,000Mbps fiber$10 (optional)NoneNone6.7
MediacomCable$35-$70100-1,000Mbps$14350-3,000GBNone6.4
MetronetFiber$30-$100100-2,000MbpsNoneNoneNone6.9
NextlinkFixed wireless$50-$14025-500Mbps$9None1-2 yearsN/A
Quantum FiberFiber$50-$75500-940Mbps$15 (optional)NoneNone6.7
Rise BroadbandFixed wireless$45-$5525-50Mbps$10250GB or unlimitedNone6.2
StarlinkLow orbit satellite$90-$12020-220Mbps$599 purchase feeNoneNoneN/A
T-Mobile Home InternetFixed wireless$50 ($30 with eligible mobile plans)72-245MbpsNoneNoneNone7.4
US CellularFixed Wireless$5025-100MbpsVaries25GB, unlimited availableNoneN/A
Verizon 5G Home InternetFixed wireless$50-$70 ($35-$45 for eligible Verizon Wireless customers)50-1,000MbpsNoneNoneNone7.2
ViasatSatellite$70-$30012-100Mbps$13 monthly or $299 upfrontVaries, 40-300GB2 years6.1

Show more (10 items)

Source: CNET analysis of provider data.

Other internet providers in Iowa 

  • CenturyLink/Quantum Fiber: Lumen Technologies offers DSL internet (CenturyLink) throughout much of Iowa and fiber internet (Quantum Fiber) in select areas. Quantum Fiber is preferable, with speeds of 500 and 940Mbps starting at $50 and $75 per month, respectively. Still, CenturyLink is a decent choice for broadband in rural areas, with speeds ranging from 20 to 100Mbps starting at $50 monthly.
  • Kinetic: Similar to Lumen Technologies, Kinetic by Windstream has DSL and fiber internet, with fiber being the faster, yet less widely available, service. DSL speeds range from 15 to 100Mbps for $40 per month, while fiber service offers a range of 100Mbps up to 2,000Mbps starting at $40 to $180.
  • Nextlink: Fixed wireless provider Nextlink offers a variety of speeds in Iowa, ranging from 25 to 500Mbps, but not all speed tiers are available in all service areas. Plans range from $50 to $140 per month and include unlimited data, but a one or two-year contract may be required for service.
  • Rise Broadband: With speeds of 25 to 50Mbps starting at $45 per month, Rise Broadband’s fixed wireless service is a better option than satellite internet. Faster speeds and higher-value plans may be available from other providers. 
  • US Cellular: Nearly 80% of Iowa households are serviceable for US Cellular, according to the FCC. But, like with T-Mobile Home Internet, that doesn’t necessarily mean fixed wireless internet is available in all service areas. If your address is eligible for home internet, expect speeds of 25 to 100Mbps starting at around $50 to $55 monthly.
  • Verizon 5G Home Internet: Rounding out the list of fixed wireless providers, Verizon 5G Home Internet offers two plans — speeds of 50 to 300Mbps starting at $50 per month or 85 to 1,000Mbps for $70. Both plans offer free equipment rental, unlimited data and no contract requirements. Qualifying Verizon mobile customers can get home internet for a discounted rate.
  • Satellite internet: Wired and fixed wireless connections cover the vast majority of Iowa, so it’s probable that you won’t need to rely on satellite internet. If no other connection types are available, HughesNet and Viasat are the most popular options, although Starlink may be the better choice for speed and data. 

View of downtown Des Moines and state capitol building View of downtown Des Moines and state capitol building

Getty Images

Iowa internet options by city

It’s hard to cover the internet options of an entire state like Iowa while giving individual cities the in-depth attention they deserve. That’s why we’ve also compiled lists of the best internet providers in cities across the US, including those in Iowa. If you don’t find your hometown below, check back later. We’re working to add more every day.

Cheap internet options in Iowa

Metronet and Mediacom have the lowest starting prices on Iowa internet service, offering speeds up to 100Mbps, starting at $30 and $35 per month, respectively. Metronet has the added advantage of symmetrical upload and download speeds, plus no equipment rental fees (a tech service fee of $12 monthly applies, although). Starting prices from most other major Iowa ISPs begin at $40 to $70 per month, depending on the available providers in your area.

What’s the cheapest internet plan in Iowa?

PlanStarting priceMax download speedMonthly equipment fee
Metronet 100$30100MbpsNone ($12 monthly tech service fee)
Mediacom Prime Internet 100$35100Mbps$14 modem rental
Kinetic 100$40100Mbps$10 (optional)
Rise Broadband 25 Unlimited$4525Mbps$10
Quantum Fiber 500$50500MbpsNone
CenturyLink 100$50100Mbps$15 (optional)
US Cellular Home Internet$5025-100MbpsVaries
Nextlink Next25$5025Mbps$9
T-Mobile Home Internet$50 ($30 with eligible mobile plans)72-245MbpsNone
Verizon 5G Home Internet$50 ($35 with eligible mobile plans)50-300MbpsNone

Show more (6 items)

Source: CNET analysis of provider data.

How to find internet deals and promotions in Iowa

The best internet deals and the top promotions in Iowa depend on the discounts available during that period. Most deals are short-lived, but we look frequently for the latest offers. 

Iowa internet providers, such as Metronet, may have lower introductory pricing or special promotional offers, such as a free gift card for a limited time. Many providers, including Mediacom, Quantum Fiber and Kinetic, run the same standard pricing year-round. 

For a more extensive list of promos, check out our guide on the best internet deals

How fast is Iowa broadband?

Median download speeds averaged 150Mbps in Q3 2023, according to recent Ookla speed test data. That’s well below the national average of 213Mbps, placing Iowa 44th among all US states and Washington, D.C., for fastest median download speeds.

It’s worth noting that 150Mbps is capable of handling a variety of internet activities, including streaming in HD, on multiple devices. In addition, many factors can affect speed test results, so the state’s average speeds aren’t necessarily an indicator of what speeds you can get in your home.

Fastest internet plans in Iowa

ProviderStarting priceMax download speedMax upload speedData capConnection type
Google Fiber 8 Gig$1508,000Mbps8,000MbpsNoneFiber
Metronet 2 Gig$1002,000Mbps2,000MbpsNoneFiber
Kinetic 2 Gig$1802,000Mbps2,000MbpsNoneFiber
Mediacom 1 Gig$551,000Mbps50Mbps3,000GBCable
Quantum Fiber 940Mbps$75940Mbps940MbpsNoneFiber
Verizon 5G Home Plus Internet$70 ($45 with qualifying Verizon 5G mobile plans)85-1,000Mbps50-75MbpsNoneFixed wireless

Show more (2 items)

Source: CNET analysis of provider data.

What’s a good internet speed?

Most internet connection plans can now handle basic productivity and communication tasks. If you’re looking for an internet plan that can accommodate videoconferencing, streaming video or gaming, you’ll have a better experience with a more robust connection. Here’s an overview of the recommended minimum download speeds for various applications, according to the FCC. Note that these are only guidelines and that internet speed, service and performance vary by connection type, provider and address.

For more information, refer to our guide on how much internet speed you really need.

  • 0 to 5Mbps allows you to tackle the basics: browsing the internet, sending and receiving email and streaming low-quality video.
  • 5 to 40Mbps gives you higher-quality video streaming and videoconferencing.
  • 40 to 100Mbps should give one user sufficient bandwidth to satisfy the demands of modern telecommuting, video streaming and online gaming. 
  • 100 to 500Mbps allows one to two users to simultaneously engage in high-bandwidth activities like videoconferencing, streaming and online gaming. 
  • 500 to 1,000Mbps allows three or more users to engage in high-bandwidth activities at the same time.

How CNET chose the best internet providers in Iowa

Internet service providers are numerous and regional. Unlike the latest smartphone, laptop, router or kitchen tool, it’s impractical to personally test every ISP in a given city. So what’s our approach? We start by researching the pricing, availability and speed information drawing on our own historical ISP data, the provider sites and mapping information from the Federal Communications Commission at FCC.gov.

We also go to the FCC’s website to check our data and ensure we consider every ISP that provides service in an area. We also input local addresses on provider websites to find specific options for residents. We look at sources, including the American Customer Satisfaction Index and J.D. Power, to evaluate how happy customers are with an ISP’s service. ISP plans and prices are subject to frequent changes; all information provided is accurate as of the time of publication.

Once we have this localized information, we ask three main questions:

  1. Does the provider offer access to reasonably fast internet speeds?
  2. Do customers get decent value for what they’re paying?
  3. Are customers happy with their service?

While the answer to those questions is often layered and complex, the providers who come closest to “yes” on all three are the ones we recommend. When selecting the cheapest internet service, we look for the plans with the lowest monthly fee, although we also factor in things like price increases, equipment fees and contracts. Choosing the fastest internet service is relatively straightforward. We look at advertised upload and download speeds and consider real-world speed data from sources like Ookla and FCC reports.

To explore our process in more depth, visit our how we test ISPs page.

What’s the final word on internet providers in Iowa?

Nearly two-thirds of Iowa residents can count on Mediacom for home internet service. In areas where fiber internet is unavailable (which is much of the state), Mediacom is the best choice for fast speeds and low introductory pricing. 

If fiber is available, it will likely present faster speeds — Metronet, Kinetic and Google Fiber (the fastest ISP in the state) all offer faster speeds than Mediacom — and potentially lower pricing when considering cost per Mbps. 

Residents of Iowa’s rural areas can look to fixed wireless internet from T-Mobile Home Internet, US Cellular, Rise Broadband, Nextlink or others for broadband service where cable and fiber internet is unavailable. As a last resort, satellite internet is always an option, but you’ll want to explore all available choices before relying on satellite service’s slow speeds and data restrictions.

Internet providers in Iowa FAQs

What is the best internet service provider in Iowa?

Mediacom is the best internet service provider for most Iowa households due to the high availability, decent speed range and low introductory pricing. That said, in areas where fiber internet is available, I would recommend considering it first over Mediacom.

Is fiber internet available in Iowa?

Fiber internet is available to approximately half of Iowa households, although coverage is largely limited to Iowa’s more densely populated areas such as Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Davenport. Quantum Fiber, Metronet and Kinetic are Iowa’s largest fiber internet providers, while Google Fiber is available in parts of West Des Moines.

Who is the cheapest internet provider in Iowa?

Fiber provider Metronet offers the cheapest internet plan in Iowa, starting at $30 per month for symmetrical upload and download speeds of up to 100Mbps. There are no added equipment fees, but a $12 tech service fee will add to your monthly cost.

Mediacom has the second cheapest internet plan in Iowa, with service starting at $35 per month for download speeds up to 100Mbps (upload speeds up to 10Mbps). Router rental is included, but the modem rental fee will add $14 to your monthly bill.

Which internet provider in Iowa offers the fastest plan?

Google Fiber has the fastest internet plan in Iowa, with symmetrical speeds up to 8Gbps, or 8,000Mbps. At $150 per month, the plan also has the lowest cost per Mbps (less than two cents) of any plan from any major ISP in Iowa.



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