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Metronet Home Internet Review: Fiber Is Front and Center

This regional provider, headquartered in Indiana, puts its high-performing broadband service to work in 13 states across the country.

6.9

Metronet

Like

  • Unlimited data
  • No contracts required
  • Monthly price includes a wireless router
  • 100% fiber across its entire footprint

Don't Like

  • Middle-of-the-road plan pricing
  • Additional monthly cost with the Technology Service Fee
  • No multi-gig residential plan options yet

2022 has been a busy year for the broadband business. AT&T, Frontier Communications, Verizon and Ziply Fiber announced new multigigabit internet plans. The continued rise of 5G has led to availability expansion for both T-Mobile Home Internet and Verizon 5G Home. In late January, Metronet announced a merger with Vexus Fiber, a Texas-based internet service provider, that will ultimately expand the provider's coverage base to 16 states and over 250 communities. Six months later, it announced a rebrand with a new tagline: "You will love your internet with Metronet."

Currently, Metronet is the country's largest, independently owned fiber-optic ISP. It began in 2005 in Greencastle, Indiana, as a family-run business and is led by Metronet CEO John Cinelli, who co-founded the telecommunications company with his father. 

Metronet logo on a mobile phone on a blue background
Sarah Tew/CNET

Metronet earns high marks for its commitment to fiber broadband. We've noted numerous times in our CNET ISP reviews that it's hard to beat the performance of a fiber-to-the-home internet connection. It's more reliable than cable, satellite, DSL and 5G fixed wireless , and it is the only one that can claim symmetrical download and upload speeds. Metronet has been committed to rolling out 100% FTTH networks from its start in central Indiana. That makes it a provider worth paying attention to. But, as is often the case with ISPs, there are a few things worth considering -- and when it comes to Metronet, that includes an additional monthly fee you don't often encounter. But we'll get to that in due time. Let's explore more.

Metronet Internet availability extends past Indiana

Although Metronet is headquartered in Indiana, its footprint extends beyond the Hoosier state. As of this writing, Metronet Internet is available to over 250 communities in 16 states: Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin. The majority of Metronet service areas within those states are smaller cities and towns, but some of the larger metropolitan areas covered include Aurora, Illinois; Des Moines, Iowa; Lansing, Michigan; Lexington, Kentucky; Rochester, Minnesota and Tallahassee, Florida.

Metronet Internet speeds and plan costs

Metronet offers three different speed tiers, which is fairly straightforward. And because its network is FTTH, it offers symmetrical megabits-per-second download and upload speeds across all plans. 

What isn't quite so simple is what you'll pay for each of those plans, though Metronet does ease the pain by nixing term agreements and providing unlimited data. We'll dive into the details more, but first, here are the specifics. (Note: Prices assume you enable paperless billing.) 

Metronet home internet plans

Plan Promo monthly rate  Standard monthly rate Max speeds Equipment fee Contract Data cap
Standard Internet $40 $50 (after 12 months) 100Mbps download, 100Mbps upload None None None
Premium Internet $50 $60 (next 12 months); $70 after 2 years 500Mbps download, 500Mbps upload None None None
Ultimate Internet $60 $70 (after six months); $90 after 2 years 1,000Mbps download, 1,000Mbps upload None None None

Metronet Internet offerings are a bit pedestrian for a fiber provider

The biggest thing that leaps out at me about Metronet's plans and pricing is that nothing truly leaps out at me. Its promotional pricing is decent but not spectacular. Its speed tiers will get the job done, but they aren't sexy. 

For example, regarding the promo prices, the cost per Mbps for Ultimate Internet -- the Metronet fiber gigabit plan -- is 6 cents, which is quite good. That's better than the gigabit plans offered by AT&T (8 cents), Spectrum (8 cents) and Frontier (just over 7 cents), all of which are competitors in several Metronet service areas. It's also a touch better than the gig rate of Google Fiber (7 cents), which is a Metronet competitor in the Des Moines market. Of the major ISPs we've reviewed thus far, only Ziply Fiber (6 cents), CenturyLink (just over 6 cents) and WOW (just over 6 cents) can match that introductory gigabit rate.

That said, the average cost per Mbps for the promo prices of all three plans is a middling 19 cents. While that's better than the promo costs for some of its cable competitors, like Xfinity (25 cents), it falls short of the average cost for other fiber providers we've reviewed: AT&T (10 cents), CenturyLink (16 cents), Frontier (9 cents) and Google Fiber (6 cents). One of the main reasons? With maximum upload and download speeds of 100Mbps, Metronet's starting tier -- its Standard Internet plan -- is slower than many other providers' opening offerings. For instance, CenturyLink's lowest fiber option is 200Mbps, AT&T and Verizon Fios start at 300Mbps, and Frontier's opening salvo is 500Mbps. So, while Metronet customers get a decent bang for their buck with the gigabit plan, you won't find the same value with their Standard Internet tier. 

Metronet fairs a bit better when you compare its regular rates to those of its competitors. Overall, Metronet's regular rates roll up at an average cost per Mbps of 22 cents, which is still in the middle of the pack -- AT&T, CenturyLink, Google Fiber and Verizon Fios retain their impressive costs per Mbps because they don't do promo pricing -- but ends up cheaper in the long run than Spectrum (25 cents) or even Ziply Fiber (26 cents), which had a better promo rate but levels out after a year.

Lastly, regarding the "sexiness" of its speed tiers (or lack thereof), I'm being a little cheeky, but I'm referring to the lack of multi-gigabit options among the residential plans. It's not a major sticking point, especially considering that according to OpenVault's Q4 2021 insights, most American households subscribe to plans between 100Mbps and 400Mbps, with the average speed usage falling at just under 400Mbps for those using more than half a terabyte of data per month. So, a gig plan should be plenty fast for most households. 

That said, many ISPs have made noise in 2022 with splashy, new multi-gig offerings -- including AT&T, Frontier, Verizon and Ziply Fiber, to name a few -- so I wouldn't be surprised if Metronet follows suit before too long. A Metronet spokesperson didn't have specifics, but did share that "Metronet is looking forward to providing even more residents with the opportunity to have access to our future-proof, 100% fiber-optic network that is capable of multi-gigabit expansion, ultimately providing our customers with the capacity for even higher symmetrical upload and download speeds."

Image of Metronet logo on a service truck
Metronet

Metronet Internet additional costs to consider

While Metronet's pricing is fair but not superb, it does include some customer-friendly approaches that not all ISPs embrace, including no term agreements (or the harsh penalty fees that come with them). Let's examine the Metronet costs a bit more to better grasp what you'll actually be paying. 

No router rental charge, but whole-home Wi-Fi is extra 

Metronet doesn't charge an additional equipment fee. A wireless router is included in your monthly cost. While that's not entirely unique for a fiber provider (AT&T, Frontier and Google Fiber don't charge for their router rentals), it's also not a given (CenturyLink and Ziply Fiber charge for their equipment leases), so that's nice to see.

If your household needs additional help with Wi-Fi, Metronet offers a wireless extender rental (what it calls its WholeHome WiFi) for an additional $10 a month. It's not a prerequisite, so not all homes will need to add this cost, but you should be aware of it nonetheless. 

Unlimited data, so no overage penalties

Like many fiber providers, Metronet does not feature data caps on any of its plans. That means you don't have to worry about a throttled connection with slower speeds once you hit a certain threshold, and it also means you don't have to fear any looming overage charges if you exceed a data cap. Again, that's not uncommon among fiber providers. However, it's still worth calling out, especially since the Metronet coverage map includes areas covered by cable and satellite internet providers, many of whom enforce monthly data caps. 

Installation fees are lower than most

Almost all ISPs charge an installation fee when you first sign up for internet service, so it's no surprise to find that here. However, usually, that charge ranges between $50 and $99, depending on the provider. Metronet is on the low end of the scale as it charges a $25 installation fee upon signing up for service. It deserves kudos for keeping that fee lower than what most other ISPs will bill for the same service. That said, let's talk about an unavoidable charge we don't often see…

The give and take of the Technology Service Fee

The one part of Metronet service that is outside the norm among ISPs is what it calls a "Technology Service Fee." Here's what it is: It's a mandatory monthly charge of $10 on top of your regular monthly rate. Metronet says on its website, "the Technology Service Fee covers all service calls, technician visits, equipment repair and service or repair of any Metronet-owned equipment." In other words, it's essentially an ISP insurance that covers the customer for any issues that might arise. 

That's fine and all -- but it adds $120 a year to your internet bill. That's not insignificant. Sure, I see the value of not worrying about the additional costs of any needed house calls or equipment fixes. But as an internet technology, fiber is the sturdiest and least finicky broadband connection out there, so (fingers crossed) you shouldn't need to constantly worry about your internet. I would prefer to see that be an optional cost for the consumer. 

None of the streaming service perks, but a formidable referral program

Lastly, where some ISPs try to lure new subscribers by offering a trial subscription to a streaming service like Disney Plus, HBO Max or Paramount Plus, Metronet gives its customers a chance to earn some significant account credits. Metronet's referral program promotion encourages you to refer friends and family to the service. This means you can earn a $50 account credit for each person you get to sign up using your unique referral link. There is no limit to the number of credits you can earn. This rivals the aggressive referral program we've seen from Nomad Internet

Customer satisfaction scores are more hit than miss 

No ISP emerges unscathed when it comes to customer satisfaction numbers. The American Customer Satisfaction Index -- which we frequently use to help gauge how providers fare with US subscribers -- notes that the internet industry regularly ranks at the bottom among all tracked categories. 

Since Metronet didn't earn an individual ranking score within the ACSI or the J.D. Power US Residential Internet Service Provider Satisfaction Study for 2021 (due to its size), we leaned on the Better Business Bureau. Metronet earned an average score of 1.31 out of 5 points, which initially didn't seem all that great. But it nabbed an A-plus rating, and its numbers were better than the scores of rival providers like Ziply Fiber (1.16), Charter Spectrum (1.07), Frontier (1.03), Viasat (1.03) and HughesNet (1.02). Relatively speaking, it did OK there.

Metronet also did well on the most recent Ookla speed test reports from Q2 of 2022. Per Ookla, Metronet crossed the finish line as the fastest ISP in two states: Iowa and Kentucky. It was also the fastest ISP for the metro area of Lexington, Kentucky. 

Here's the bottom line on Metronet

You can't really go wrong with an FTTH connection. Its reliability and the symmetrical speeds it offers are currently unparalleled in broadband. Metronet's commitment to building 100% fiber-optic networks is both admirable and forward-looking (or future-proof, as they say). Its plan pricing isn't remarkable, but it's fair, especially considering its coverage map plays in areas where cable and satellite services have previously reigned. While I'd love to see the Technology Service Fee become an optional charge rather than a mandatory one, I give Metronet props for skipping some of the other additional charges -- like the equipment rental -- that other ISPs tend to tack onto the monthly bill. It should be near the top of your list if you fall under the Metronet coverage map. 

Metronet Internet FAQs

Who owns Metronet?

Metronet is a family-owned, midwestern company, led by CEO John Cinelli, who co-founded the business with his father. While it's headquartered in Evansville, Indiana, Metronet provides services in 16 states across the country. From a press release earlier this year, Cinelli boasted, "Metronet provides quality service to each of our customers through our fast and reliable fiber-optic internet, while supporting the continued growth and economic development of the communities we serve." 

Does Metronet Internet come with a router?

Yes. Metronet's monthly rate includes a router rental. You may need to pay an extra $10 a month if you need to lease a wireless extender to get effective Wi-Fi throughout your home, but it is not required.

Does Metronet have data caps?

No. Metronet Internet features unlimited data. Customers do not need to worry about any usage-based charges on top of their monthly rate. 

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