Finding the Best Internet Service in Minnesota

Hey there! Deciding which internet provider to choose for your Minnesota home or business can get overwhelming fast. I mean, who really understands the difference between cable, DSL, fiber, and fixed wireless anyway??

Well, you‘ve come to the right place my friend! As a long-time data analyst and resident tech geek, I‘ve got the inside scoop for you on all the best home internet options in the great state of MN.

In this guide, I cut through all the technical jargon and marketing hype that the big telecoms throw at you. My goal is simple: Help you understand the pros and cons of each provider and type of internet technology. That way you can confidently pick the right high-speed solution for YOUR needs and budget.

I realize you‘re a busy person and just want concrete recommendations. So first up, here is a quick snapshot of 2023‘s top internet providers available across different parts of Minnesota along with what speeds and prices you can expect:

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ProviderTop SpeedTech TypeStarting Price
CenturyLink940 MbpsFiber/DSL$49/month
Xfinity1,200 MbpsCable$30/month
Mediacom1,000 MbpsCable$19.99/month
Frontier115 MbpsFiber/DSL$54.99/month

But that‘s just scratching the surface. Drop in your zipcode below and I‘ll customize a list of available providers in YOUR area with speed options to boot:

[insert zip code lookup widget]

Below I‘ll take you through detailed profiles of the top providers along with plain English descriptions of the technology types: DSL vs Cable vs Fiber and more. Then I wrap up with insider tips for locking in the best service and pricing. Time to dive in!

CenturyLink – The Gold Standard for Speed

CenturyLink has quickly emerged as the dominant provider across significant chunks of Minnesota. Leveraging a massive fiber infrastructure buildout over the past years, they now offer blazing fast 940 Mbps download speeds to over 75% of households in the state.

See, that‘s the thing about fiber internet that most folks don‘t realize…

Fiber transmits your data as light through flexible glass cables rather than electrical signals across copper lines. This enables speeds up to 1 Gbps, which is nearly 15x faster than outdated DSL!

And because fiber handles much heavier traffic volumes far more efficiently than legacy networks, it means more consistent speeds even during primetime usage. No congestion buffering when your whole family is streaming Netflix and gaming at night!

Now CenturyLink pairs their premier fiber offering with discounted bundling options for home phone, DirecTV, monitoring services, and more.

But the craziest deal is…new CenturyLink customers can currently score a Visa gift card worth up to $150 through various promotions.

For instance, order CenturyLink Fiber straight from their website and you‘ll receive a $150 gift card to spend anywhere that takes Visa! Now that might just cover a few months of service right there.

Below are CenturyLinks‘s most popular standalone internet plans for Minnesota residents:

PlanSpeedsMonthly Price
Base Internet20 Mbps$49/month
Internet Core100 Mbps$55/month
Gigabit940 Mbps$65/month

The starter tier hits 20 Mbps and goes up from there. While slower than their gigabit fiber pinnacle, even the base speed runs laps around pokey old DSL technology.

In my opinion, CenturyLink Fiber is hands-down your best option for an uncompromising speed demon connection in Minnesota…IF (and that‘s a big if) it‘s available at your address.

Be sure to verify CenturyLink services your home before ordering by plugging your address into their website. Based on latest FCC filings, fiber availability now spans up to 75% of households across the following major MN regions:

  • Twin Cities Metro – Minneapolis, St.Paul
  • Rochester
  • St. Cloud
  • Duluth
  • Central Minnesota – Brainerd, Wadena

Beyond the urban centers, coverage thins out quickly in rural zones. Here you may be stuck choosing between Charter, MidCo, or shudder…satellite internet. More on those in just a bit.

But if CenturyLink confirms they can hook you up with fiber speeds, do not hesitate my friend! Gracefully surf the web at nearly gigabit speeds for just $65 monthly with their latest promos.

> CHECK CenturyLink Fiber Availability

Xfinity Delivers Fast Cable Speeds for Less

Now if CenturyLink fiber hasn‘t quite made it to your neighborhood just yet, Comcast Xfinity presents a compelling cable internet alternative…

See, Comcast leverages their massive cable TV infrastructure across Minnesota to deliver speedy broadband as well. So unlike the sluggish DSL speeds you may be used to, Xfinity unlocks up to 1,200 Mbps performance to local homes via the same coaxial linesused for cable TV service. 💪

Plus by creatively combining multiple channels through cable bundles, they efficiently provide fast speeds to over 55% of households statewide.

And because cable internet doesn‘t rely on physical fiber running to your door, it‘s often more widely available than CenturyLink‘s early-stage fiber rollout.

In particular, Xfinity service concentrates in the core Twin Cities metro as well as population centers like Rochester, St. Cloud, Mankato, and Duluth. But exact availability depends on your neighborhood.

While the top gigabit speeds can‘t quite match CenturyLink fiber, Xfinity still offers a range of respectable tiers:

PlanSpeedsMonthly Price
Connect50 Mbps$30/month
Extra300 Mbps$40/month
Gigabit1,200 Mbps$60/month

The starter plan hits a very solid 50 Mbps for just $30 monthly. While their advertized 1,200 Mbps gigabit CIRCUIT might catch your eye, the 300 Mbps tier still unlocks plenty of speed for most…at half the price!

That makes Xfinity a nice value play for cable internet. Plus bundling with their X1 TV packages, mobile phone plans, and home security can yield further monthly savings.

Now service reliability and customer support does vary more wildly than fiber…but for large swaths of metro and suburban homes, Comcast Xfinity presents a compelling case.

> CHECK Xfinity Availability

Midco & Mediacom: Regional Cable Competitors

Beyond the nationwide giants CenturyLink and Xfinity, Minnesota residents also get options from several rapidly-expanding regional cable and telecom providers.

Let‘s explore a couple notables:

Midco draws in customers across the Dakotas and Western Minnesota with advertised gigabit downloads starting at just $49.95 monthly. They mix cable and fiber infrastructure to deliver fairly reliable speeds.

However, coverage is limited primarily to only 6% of households in border counties. I do like their "Midco Xtreme" bolt-on which adds 100-300 Mbps for only $10 more…a nice boost for us speed demons!

Mediacom competes head-to-head with Comcast in many regions when available. Though maximum speeds might check in a tad slower at 1,000 Mbps, plans start at an incredible $19.99 monthly!

Factor in the usual new customer promos and you could gain some serious savings over Xfinity for the first year. Just double check Mediacom reaches your home before ordering.

Rural Connectivity Solutions

Alright, let‘s shift gears and chat about internet life beyond the big MN cities.

You see, once you venture out to the farmlands and lakes region, that fiber and cable infrastructure fades FAST. No provider wants to sink thousands into laying dedicated lines for just a handful of households.

So what are rural folks to do? Well you still have options but will require some, er, "creative" solutions…

Many areas rely on old school DSL technology which utilizes existing telephone infrastructure to transmit data over copper lines. Speeds here top out around 100 Mbps for those lucky few living along high-capacity connections.

However the majority of rural DSL users slog along at 10-25 Mbps as signal quality degrades rapidly the farther you live from the telephone hub. Better than nothing…but barely.

Expanding regional telecoms like Frontier offer a patchwork of rural fiber buildouts intermingled with DSL, so be sure to verify your address. Where available, Frontier fiber delivers 500-1000 Mbps to keep pace with suburban speeds.

Wireless and satellite technology fills difficult rural gaps by beaming internet data from towers and space…

Fixed wireless providers like LTD Broadband erect signal towers to broadcast coverage across miles of countryside. This often proves faster and cheaper than satellite since it sidesteps the huge hardware costs of space launches and ground stations.

But weather disruptions still hamper consistency. And good luck streaming Netflix at night when the whole county shares congested bandwidth off a single tower!

Finally, satellites from HughesNet and Viasat literally orbit the earth providing internet to the most remote country homes and cabins across MN. Speeds reach 25 Mbps with new satellites rolling out soon. Just watch out for deprioritized data and weather interference.

Okay, let‘s recap…

For rural residents, I suggest checking availability for Frontier Fiber in your area first, then weigh fixed wireless and satellite options accordingly. Patience my country friends…every year stretches expanded rural access across more of our beautiful state!

Weighing Your Internet Priorities

Hopefully you now better understand the pros, cons and tradeoffs of MN‘s various internet technologies!

But with great choice comes great responsibility…er something like that.

When comparing providers available in your area, weigh factors like:

💰Affordability: Balance speed needs with your monthly budget. Want blazing fast fiber speeds? Prepare to pay more. Just need reliable Netflix streaming? Save with starter cable or DSL plans.

⚡️Speed Requirements: 100 Mbps supports 4k streaming, video calls, and smart homes. But online gaming and heavy downloads demand 200-500 Mbps for optimal performance. Match throughput to usage.

📡Connection Reliability: Fiber and cable offer rock-solid stability perfect for households juggling video calls, streaming, security systems and more. Budget fixed wireless and satellite come with more variability from weather disruptions, peak congestion, and data throttling.

🏡Home Design: Do you rent an apartment or own a larger home? Apartments often include cable or fiber internet with rent. But rural homeowners must weigh cost of running dedicated lines versus more temperamental wireless options.

📞Bundles: Pairing TV, home security packages, and mobile phone plans with your internet opens opportunities for discounts…as long as you want those extra services! Crunch the math during promotions.

Doing a little homework by comparing needs to provider offerings sets you up for long-term satisfaction. And allows avoiding buyer‘s regret down the road.

Let‘s wrap up with a few common questions:

FAQs: Your Minnesota Internet Answered

Q: How do I check which internet providers can actually reach my rural address?

A: I highly recommend starting your search by entering your zip code at AllConnect.com. This free tool searches your exact address across providers both big and small. Then simply call or go online to confirm packages and pricing!

Q: What download speed is best for streaming and gaming?

A: For smooth 4K Netflix and online gaming, you‘ll want at least 100-200 Mbps minimum to power multiple devices without buffering or latency issues. Faster is always better!

Q: Can I use my own router instead of renting from the internet provider?

A: Absolutely! Purchasing your own high-performance router allows greater customization for controlling connected devices and eliminating dead zones. Just factor $100-200 router cost against $15 monthly rental fees.

Q: Does satellite internet work in cold and snowy Minnesota winters?

A: Winter weather can hamper satellite signals but providers utilize multiple positioned satellites to minimize outages. Still, extreme storms lead to inevitable throttling and interruptions until clearing.

Q: Who offers the best internet deals for current students or military families?

A: Most major providers offer student, teacher, nurse, and military discounts. For example, Mediacom takes $10 off monthly for students and $15 off for teachers/nurses. Just inquire during signup.

Well I don‘t know about you but I think I just earned my honorary Minnesota internet merit badge or something 😄 Hopefully this guide gives you the no-nonsense knowledge and recommendations needed to lock in an internet provider tailored to YOUR situation.

And remember…questions, comments, rants about terrible customer service? Just drop me a reply below! Here to help however I can. Talk soon! 👋

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