Are you looking for a way to lower your internet bill? Or maybe trying to get a better wi-fi performance? Better coverage? Does your gateway fail to deliver the advertised speeds? One thing that could solve all these issues for you is buying a third-party Midco approved modem.
Our article is here to tell you everything about the advantages (and disadvantages) of having your own Midco compatible modem. We will talk about potential savings and performance improvements, and give you some tips on what to pay attention to when buying a Midco compatible modem.
We also made a nice selection of the best Midco approved modems (wired and wireless), as well as the selection of best routers compatible with Midco fiber service. If you’re just interested in suggestions, scroll down and check out our recommendations.
Midco Internet Plans and Services
Midco (aka Midcontinent Communications) is one of the smaller internet providers in the US. Midco services are available in 5 states, but its internet deals, as well as the overall performance of Midco internet, is above-average. The greatest qualities of Midco internet are great speeds, competitive prices, good customer service (compared to other ISPs), stable internet connection, lack of data caps, and the fact that you are not required to sign a contract.
Midco services are available in both Dakotas (North and South), Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Kansas. Depending on the area you live in, you will have different options – cable, fiber, or fixed wireless internet.
Midco’s cable internet covers the largest area – it’s available to almost 1.5 million people.
Midco cable internet coverage map (source – Broadbandnow)
Midco’s fiber network is somewhat smaller. Their fiber services are available to less than 300,000 potential customers, mostly in Minnesota. Their fiber network is now expanding to South and North Dakota.
Midco fiber network coverage map (source – Broadbandnow)
Like AT&T and some other internet providers, Midco offers fixed wireless service to customers living in rural areas (mostly in North Dakota). Midco fixed wireless internet is available to almost 200,000 people.
Midco fixed wireless internet coverage map (source – Broadbandnow)
Internet plans and prices
Midco offers a wide variety of internet plans. Their cable internet speeds are on par with other internet providers. The offered speeds range from 25 Mbps to 1 Gbps, while the prices vary from $15/month to $100/month. Midco also offers promotional prices for new customers. These prices are somewhat lower, but that’s not a permanent deal – the prices will increase eventually.
Midco cable internet plans and prices
The advertised download/upload speeds are asymmetrical (1 Gbps/50 Mbps, 500 Mbps/30 Mbps, 200/20, 100/10, 50/5, 25/2.5), but that’s not a surprise – you will get similar download/upload ratios with every cable internet provider. Some ISPs offer even lower upload speeds.
Midco fiber internet speeds range from 50 Mbps to 5 Gbps. Fiber plans cost the same as cable plans ($75/month for 1 Gbps, $45/month for 50 Mbps). Those two ultrafast tiers (2 Gbps, 5 Gbps) are significantly pricier than the rest of the plans. Midco charges $500/month for 5 Gbps and $200/month for 2 Gbps. Fiber plans come with much higher upload speeds (50 Mbps/50 Mbps, 1 Gbps/1 Gbps).
Midco fiber internet plans and prices
People living in rural areas (mostly in North Dakota) can opt for one of Midco’s fixed wireless internet plans. The prices for these plans are much higher than for cable and fiber plans, and the speeds are lower. People living in rural areas will not get 1Gig speeds but will have to pay just as much as someone subscribed to Midco Fiber Internet 1 Gig. The advertised speeds vary from 10 to 50 Mbps, while the prices range from $50/month to $100/month.
Midco fixed wireless internet plans
All Midco internet plans (cable, fiber, fixed wireless) do not have data caps. This is one of the reasons why we love Midco and other regional ISPs so much. Or at least most of them. Many internet providers have already introduced data caps (Xfinity, Cox). Some even have outrageously small caps for some plans (Sparklight, Suddenlink, Mediacom). If you don’t want data caps and have Midco internet service available in your area, you should think about trying it.
Like most internet providers in the US, Midco doesn’t require you to sign a contract. You just have to pay your bills regularly, and you will have your internet.
Modem rental policy
If you want to rent equipment from Midco, you will be charged between $6 and $9.95/month, depending on the equipment and service you choose. A standard cable modem (without a router) will cost you $6/month. Midco charges $8/month for its gateway (modem and router in one device).
If you need better coverage and stable wi-fi in every corner of your home, you can also opt for Midco’s Freestyle WiFi service. This service includes installation of Midco gateway and up to two range extenders for better coverage. You will also get the Midco Freestyle app, so you can monitor your wi-fi and make adjustments. The monthly fee for Freestyle WiFi is $9.95.
Midco Freestyle WiFi
Midco’s internet service and customer support are better than average, which doesn’t mean a lot when you know what kind of customer support you can get from other ISPs. Internet providers, in general, have poor customer service. Still, we believe that Midco is significantly better than others.
They offer a variety of internet plans for various budgets. They don’t have data caps and don’t require contracts. The equipment supplied by Midco offers pretty good performance. Finally, Midco’s customer support is quicker than average and willing to help. We’ve read numerous bad reviews about other ISPs. Midco customers seem to be more content with the service they get.
Can I Use a Third-Party Modem with Midco?
Midco is quite flexible when it comes to equipment. You can rent it from Midco, you can buy it from Midco, or you can buy a Midco approved modem on your own. So, plenty of options. However, there’re some things you should bear in mind.
First of all, using your own equipment is an option only if you subscribed to Midco internet. If you also subscribed to other services (TV, phone), you will have to use Midco equipment (you can either rent it or buy it).
Second, depending on the type of internet service (cable, fiber, or fixed wireless), you will need a different type of equipment, and you may or may not be able to install everything on your own.
If you are subscribed to cable internet, you can install your modem and your router on your own.
If you are subscribed to fiber, professional installation is required – Midco technicians will have to install the ONU (usually in your basement or in front of your home), but you can use your router. The same applies to fixed wireless internet – professional technicians will install the antennas, run the cables, and give you the modem, but you can use your own router. You don’t have to use the modem for Midco fiber internet – you can run the Ethernet cable directly from the ONU to your router.
What Are the Advantages of Using Your Own Midco Approved Modem?
The most commonly argued advantages of using any third-party modem with any internet provider are money-saving and performance improvement.
We have proven many times before that buying a modem on your own can save you a lot of money. The math is pretty simple. If you are paying $8/month for the Midco gateway, your cumulative rental costs per year will be $96. In three years, you will spend $288 just on rental fees. That’s $480 in 5 years.
Depending on your subscribed speeds, you will have to look for a modem (and a router) that matches those speeds, and you will have to spend more or less, but you can definitely save some money in the process. If you choose a capable, durable, and future-proof Midco approved modem, you can keep using it for years.
If you, for example, buy one of the high-end DOCSIS 3.1 wireless modems that support Gig speeds for, let’s say $400, and you keep using it for five years, you will save $80. You can also get a Gig-speed gateway for much less ($150-$200) and save much more. And you also get to keep the modem even if you cancel your internet service.
The second reason to buy your own modem is performance improvement. It’s been proven many times that users of third-party equipment are happier with their internet performance and wi-fi connection quality than customers who rent equipment from their internet providers. ACSI research shows that third-party equipment undoubtedly delivers better performance than ISP-provided equipment.
What Are the Downsides of Using Your Own Midco Approved Modem?
Well, the first problem is that you have to spend some of your valuable time learning about modems and routers and looking for the right one. Renting or buying the modem from Midco is much easier and more convenient. You will get everything you need in one package, and you don’t have to spend a minute looking for your new modem.
Furthermore, you don’t have to think about modem updates or modem upgrades – your ISP will take care of that. And if the modem stops working for any reason (except for physical damage), you will get a new one, and you won’t have to pay anything.
Finally, Midco technicians are trained to troubleshoot and fix Midco-provided modems. If something happens to your third-party modem or if there’s some issue with your wi-fi, you will have to troubleshoot it on your own – you won’t get the same kind of technical support as customers who rent.
What Should I Pay Attention to When Buying a Midco Approved Modem or Router?
As mentioned earlier, you will need different equipment for cable, fiber, and fixed wireless internet. These are all different technologies.
First of all, you should look for a DOCSIS 3.1 modem. As of the end of June 2021, third-party modems used on the Midco cable network must support DOCSIS 3.1. Cheaper DOCSIS 3.0 modems are not supported.
Second, if you want to be sure, you should choose one of the modems approved by Midco. The list of approved modems is given below.
Midco approved modems (source – Midco)
There’s a chance that some other (unapproved) modems will work with Midco, but you shouldn’t take any risks – compare the modems listed above and find the one that meets your requirements and your budget.
If you want to buy a standard modem (without a built-in router), you should also think about buying a wi-fi router. You will have to check the max supported wireless speeds of your router and try to find something that matches your internet plan.
Fiber and fixed wireless internet
Fiber and fixed wireless internet require more complex equipment. Fiber internet requires the installation of ONU, while a fixed wireless internet requires an antenna. This equipment is provided by Midco. However, you can use your own router. That way, you won’t have to pay router rental fees.
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If you are subscribed to fiber internet, especially if you are subscribed to 2 Gbps and 5 Gbps speeds, you should be looking for a router that supports those crazy speeds. For 2 Gbps, you need a router with at least one 2.5G LAN port. For 5 Gbps, you need a router with 5G or 10G ports. For all the other fiber plans (up to 1 Gbps), you need a router with Gigabit ports. Naturally, routers with 5G and 10G ports are also compatible with lower speeds.
Any router will do just fine with fixed wireless internet. Even the cheapest ones will deliver the advertised speeds. The only thing to look for in this case is wi-fi coverage.
Can I Self-Install My Midco Approved Modem?
If you subscribe to cable internet, you can opt for self-installation. It doesn’t matter if you are using a Midco-provided modem or a Midco-approved third-party modem. That way, you can save up to $100. If you subscribe to fiber or fixed wireless internet, you will have to pay for professional installation. Installing your router is not a big deal – unless you have some special requirements, you just have to plug it in, and turn it on. Naturally, you should also change the name of your wi-fi network and protect your wi-fi with a password.
If you subscribe to cable internet, then you can do everything on your own and save $100. If you are using one of Midco approved modems, you don’t even have to call Midco to activate it. Just connect everything properly (modem to the coax wall outlet using coax cable, modem to your PC using Ethernet cable, and modem to the power outlet). Turn on your modem and wait for it to connect to the internet. That shouldn’t take more than 15min. If the modem doesn’t connect, contact Midco customer support.
If our arguments helped you decide to buy a modem on your own, here’s our selection of the best Midco Approved modems and routers. The list consists of three parts – best Midco approved standard modems (wired modems without a router), best Midco approved wireless modems (gateways), and best routers compatible with Midco fiber internet.
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Best Midco Approved Modems
1. Best Budget – ARRIS SURFboard SB8200
SB8200 is one of the cheapest cable modems that support 1Gig speeds. Our recommendation is to pair it with TP-Link’s Archer A20. This combo is a great budget choice for everyday use, but also for gaming. The cost of the combo varies between $270 and $300, depending on the seller.
The modem is DOCSIS 3.1 and is compatible with 32×8 DOCSIS 3.0. It’s compatible with all major providers (Spectrum, Cox, Xfinity) and with all operating systems. It will work with any router, so you can combine it with something cheaper than TP-Link A20 if you’re subscribed to lower speeds. The modem has two 1G Ethernet ports. Theoretically, it can support cable internet speeds up to 2 Gbps.
TP-Link A20 is a tri-band WiFi5 router. It has six external antennas for improved range. Thanks to these antennas, beamforming technology, and RangeBoost feature, TP-Link Archer A20 can easily cover 3,000-3,500 ft2, which makes it a perfect choice for large houses.
A20 has 4 Gigabit LAN ports and two USB ports (USB 3.0 x1 + USB 2.0 x1). It supports Link Aggregation allowing you to achieve speeds up to 2 Gbps. The router supports MU-MIMO, VPN, WPA/WPA2. It features TP-Link Smart Connect for improved connectivity.
The unit runs on Intel’s 1.8 GHz chipset. The max combined download speed this modem can achieve is 4,000 Mbps (1,625 Mbps on each 5G band + 750 Mbps on a 2.4G band).
Every TP-Link router from the Archer series comes with the TP-Link Tether app for easy setup and network monitoring. The app allows you to create guest networks, adjust parental control settings, prevent certain devices from connecting to your network, etc. The router also comes with the TP-Link HomeCare software for improved protection (Antivirus + advanced parental control + QoS).
2. Best Midco Approved Modem Under $150 – Motorola MB8600
Router Recommendation: NETGEAR Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500
Motorola MB8600 is another great option under $150. It is a DOCSIS 3.1 modem and supports the highest cable internet speeds offered by Midco. Our recommended router for this modem is NETGEAR’s gaming router XR500. In our opinion, this is a perfect combo under $350.
The modem is also backward compatible with DOCSIS 3.0 (32×8) standard, so it can easily handle lower speeds. The modem will work with any router, operating system, and most cable internet providers (excluding RCN).
Our recommended router is XR500. This is a WiFi5 dual-band gaming router. It has 4 external removable antennas, it supports Beamforming, and it features Smart Connect, which allows this router to cover fairly large areas (up to $3,000 ft2).
The router is optimized for low ping and a flawless gaming experience. The unit comes with a special Gaming Dashboard with lots of gaming options (gaming VPN client support, Geo filtering, advanced QoS, etc.).
The router runs on a 1.7 GHz dual-core processor. It can transmit on both bands at the same time. The max combined download speed is 2,600 Mbps (800 Mbps over 2.4 GHz and 1,750 over 5 GHz). The unit features 4 1G LAN ports and two USB 3.0 ports.
The unit features MU-MIMO support, double firewall protection, DDoS attack protection, and it supports WPA2 security protocol.
3. Best Midco Approved Modem Under $200 – NETGEAR Nighthawk CM1200
Router Recommendation: NETGEAR Nighthawk R8000P
Our top choice under $200 is NETGEAR’s CM1200 from the famous Nighthawk series. It’s a great DOCSIS 3.1 modem. Combine it with NETGEAR Nighthawk R8000P router, and you will get amazing coverage across your entire home.
CM1200 is also backward compatible with DOCSIS 3.0. It will work with most cable ISPs in the US and with all OS. It is also compatible with any router. The max speed it supports is 2 Gbps (through Link Aggregation). The unit has 4 Gigabit LAN ports.
R8000P is a capable tri-band WiFi5 router. The router has 6 external antennas and delivers very good coverage (up to 3,500 ft2). The unit supports all the latest technologies including Beamforming, MU-MIMO, and SmartConnect.
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R8000P can handle up to 55 devices. The max cumulative download speed is 4,000 Mbps (1,625 Mbps over each 5G band and 750 Mbps over a 2.4 GHz band).
The unit features double firewall protection. It supports WPA2 and VPN.
For quick setup and network monitoring, you can use the Nighthawk app. The app also allows you to create a guest network, prioritize or block devices, block websites, and adjust other settings. If you want additional protection, you can also subscribe to NETGEAR’s Armor cybersecurity software.
Best Midco Approved Wireless Modems
4. Best Midco Approved Wireless Modem Under $300 – ARRIS SURFboard SBG8300
ARRIS SURFboard SBG8300 is a capable and affordable DOCSIS 3.1 wireless modem. For less than $300, you will get a DOCSIS 3.1 modem that is also backward compatible with the older DOCSIS 3.0 standard. SBG8300 will work with most cable internet providers and all operating systems.
Inside the SBG8300, you have a dual-band WiFi5 router. The router can deliver combined download speeds of up to 2,350 Mbps. It can reach 600 Mbps over 2.4 GHz and up to 1750 Mbps over 5 GHz.
The unit has 4 Gigabit LAN ports. It doesn’t have USB ports. It also doesn’t have a WPS button or phone ports.
SURFboard Manager app comes with the gateway. You can use it to set up the unit, monitor your network, prioritize or block devices, change parental control settings, etc.
5. Best Midco Approved Wireless Modem Under $350 – NETGEAR Nighthawk C7800
C7800 is a DOCSIS 3.1 modem. It features 2×2 OFDMA channel bonding and is backward compatible with 32×8 DOCSIS 3.0 channel bonding. The unit is certified by all major cable ISPs, and it’s also approved by Midco. Theoretically, it can handle internet plans up to 2 Gbps.
Inside C7800, you have a dual-band WiFi5 router. Thanks to 4 external antennas and beamforming, the unit delivers great range and coverage (3,000 ft2). C7800 can handle up to 45 wireless devices.
This unit can reach wireless speeds of up to 3,200 Mbps – it supports speeds up to 600 Mbps over 2.4 GHz, and up to 2,600 Mbps over 5 GHz.
The unit has 4 Gigabit LAN ports and 2 USB 3.0 ports. It has no phone ports and is not compatible with digital voice service.
Best Routers Compatible with Midco Fiber Internet
Compatible with Midco fiber plans up to 1Gbps
AX50 is a fantastic choice for those subscribed to any fiber internet plan up to 1 Gig. It’s capable, provides good range, consistent speeds, reliable connection, and doesn’t cost much.
AX50 is a WiFi6 dual-band router. The max speed this router can reach (combined) is 3,000 Mbps. Over 2.4 GHz, you’ll get up to 600 Mbps. Over 5 GHz, you can reach speeds up to 2,400 Mbps.
The router supports all the latest technologies related to WiFi5 and WiFi6 – it supports OFDMA, MU-MIMO, and Beamforming. This unit delivers much lower latency than WiFi5 routers (up to 75% lower), which makes it a better choice for all activities, especially gaming.
The router delivers a very good range and coverage (up to 3,000 ft2). The unit transmits 4 separate streams and can handle up to 40 devices.
AX50 supports WPA2 wireless security protocol. It features advanced QoS, parental control settings, double firewalls, DoS attack protection, etc.
The unit comes with the Tether app for easy setup and monitoring. It also comes with a free lifetime subscription to TP-Link HomeCare (antivirus + advanced QoS + parental control).
AX50 has four 1G LAN ports and one USB 3.0 port.
7. Best Router for Midco Fiber 2 Gig – NETGEAR Nighthawk RAX120
Compatible with Midco fiber plans up to 5Gbps
RAX120 is our top choice for the 2Gig fiber plan, but it can also handle the 5Gig plan. This is a dual-band WiFi6 router. The max advertised speed (both bands combined) is 6,000 Mbps. The unit will deliver up to 4,800 Mbps over 5 GHz and up to 1,200 Mbps over 2.4 GHz.
The unit can transmit up to 12 streams simultaneously and can serve 30+ wireless devices. It has 8 internal antennas and will cover large homes (up to 3,500 ft2) with a stable wi-fi signal.
RAX120 supports beamforming, OFDMA, and MU-MIMO. It also features WPA2/WPA3 support, DoS attack protection, and double firewalls.
The router comes with the NETGEAR Nighthawk app and NETGEAR Armor paid antivirus software. It’s compatible with Alexa, and some of the features can be voice-controlled.
RAX120 has 4 Gigabit ports, one 1G/2.5G/5G LAN port, and two USB 3.0 ports.
8. Best Router for Midco Fiber 5 Gig – ASUS RT-AX89X
Compatible with Midco fiber plans up to 5Gbps
RT-AX89X is one of the most amazing, most capable, and most expensive routers out there. It can handle speeds up to 10 Gbps. This unit is perfect for gaming, 4K streaming, or any other online activity you can think of.
RT-AX89X is a WiFi6 dual-band router. It has 8 external antennas and can easily cover large homes (up to 3,500 ft2). The max advertised speed (bands combined) is 6,000 Mbps – 4,800 Mbps over 5 GHz and 1,200 Mbps over 2.4 GHz.
This amazing router transmits up to 12 streams simultaneously and can handle 30+ wireless devices.
The router is compatible with AiMesh extenders made by ASUS in case you need better coverage. It comes with the ASUS Router app for quick setup and monitoring. It also comes with the AirProtection Pro cybersecurity tools.
RT-AX89X features 8 LAN ports, two of which are 10G Ethernet ports (four 1G ports and two 2.5G ports).
This concludes our list of recommended Midco approved modems and routers. Hopefully, our article helped you understand all the benefits (and downsides) that buying a third-party modem can bring. For additional info about Midco services and Midco-compatible modems, read our FAQ section. As always, feel free to ask questions and share your experience with modems in the comment section below.
Q: How much does Midco charge for the modem?
A: Depending on the type of modem you choose, you’ll have to pay between $6 and $9.95/month. $6 is the monthly fee for a standard modem. Wireless modem will cost you $8/month. Midco’s Freestyle wi-fi service costs $9.95/month. This service includes Midco gateway, two range extenders (if necessary), and the Midco Freestyle wi-fi app.
Q: Do you have to lease a modem from Midco?
A: No, you don’t have to. You can also buy the modem from Midco, or you can buy a third-party Midco compatible modem on your own.
Q: Should I use my own Midco approved modem, or should I rent the modem from Midco?
A: Renting a wireless modem from Midco will cost you $8/month, $96/year, $288 in three years, or $480 in 5 years. You can find a pretty good, future-proof wireless modem for $300-$400. That kind of modem can easily last for five years. So, if you buy a Midco-approved modem on your own, you can save at least $80-$180 in five years. You can save even more if you buy a cheaper modem. The cheapest wireless modems compatible with Midco are priced around $150.
Besides the money, a third-party modem, especially a higher-end modem will also give you better performance (more consistent speeds, better range, better coverage, more security features, etc.).
Q: What is the best modem for Midco internet?
A: We can’t give you a single answer to this question for many reasons. First, because we don’t all have the same type of service. Some people are subscribed to cable internet, other to fiber, and people in rural areas use fixed wireless internet. Second, because we all have different budgets. Third, because not all users are subscribed to the same speeds.
If you’re looking for suggestions, check out our comprehensive selection of Best Midco approved modems.
Q: How often should you replace your modem?
A: If the modem is old but still delivers the advertised speeds and provides good coverage (in case you are using a wireless modem), you don’t have to buy a new one. I mean – you can, but you really don’t have to.
If your modem can’t deliver the speeds that you are paying for, if the wi-fi coverage is not satisfying, then you need a new one. If the modem keeps shutting down, or if the connection drops in and out, or if it doesn’t connect to the internet, or if you often have to reset your modem to make it work, buying a new modem is a must.
Hey, I’m Jeremy. I hold a bachelor’s degree in information systems, and I’m a certified network specialist. I worked for several internet providers in LA, San Francisco, Sacramento, and Seattle over the past 21 years.
I worked as a customer service operator, field technician, network engineer, and network specialist. During my career in networking, I’ve come across numerous modems, gateways, routers, and other networking hardware. I’ve installed network equipment, fixed it, designed and administrated networks, etc.
Networking is my passion, and I’m eager to share everything I know with you. On this website, you can read my modem and router reviews, as well as various how-to guides designed to help you solve your network problems. I want to liberate you from the fear that most users feel when they have to deal with modem and router settings.
My favorite free-time activities are gaming, movie-watching, and cooking. I also enjoy fishing, although I’m not good at it. What I’m good at is annoying David when we are fishing together. Apparently, you’re not supposed to talk or laugh while fishing – it scares the fishes.