CenturyLink vs TDS Telecom: Side by Side Comparison

Enter your zip code below to see if CenturyLink or TDS Telecom offers service in your area.

CenturyLink vs TDS Telecom

Speed, ping, and price of broadband plans from Centurylink and TDS tend to be in the same ballpark, although this might change as both providers are working to bring more fiber-based solutions to areas throughout the US. TDS is expanding fiber based on community interest, and you can request access via the “Fiberville” section of their website. With Centurylink, ask your local reps what the roadmap is for your local network in the next few years, and also take add-ons like TV and phone service into consideration while you compare offerings.

CenturyLink AT A GLANCE

  • Sales: (855) 893-1284
  • Support: (866) 963-6665

$29.95 to $109.95 / mo.

10 mbps to 1,000 mbps

Up to 5.0 mbps

63%63%

DSL

Current: 46th ↑ (+3)

TDS Telecom AT A GLANCE

  • Sales: (866) 571-6662
  • Support: (866) 571-6662

$34.95 to $89.95 / mo.

15 mbps to 1,000 mbps

0.768 mbps to 400 mbps

--

DSL

Current: 41st ↑ (+4)

CenturyLink OVERVIEW

CenturyLink is a communications company that provides DSL and fiber Internet, phone, and TV service. Their TV offerings are marketed under the name “PRISMTV.”

TDS Telecom OVERVIEW

TDS provides DSL, cable, and fiber Internet connectivity across much of the US, in addition to TV and phone services. Select areas within their network have access to gigabit speeds via 100% fiber connections.

CenturyLink INTERNET DEALS †

  • $29.95 for 40 mbps Fiber
    • 40 mbps ↓ and -- mbps
    • 1-year promo rate.
    • Contract Term: 1 year
    • Requires AutoPay enrollment and paperless billing.
    • Setup: $59.99 (Includes standard technician installation and free internet activation.)
    • Modem w/ WiFi: $9.99/mo or one-time $99.99
    • Call (855) 893-1284 to setup service.
  • $34.95 for 10 mbps DSL
    • 10 mbps ↓ and -- mbps
    • 1-year promo rate.
    • Contract Term: 1 year
    • AutoPay enrollment required.
    • Setup: $0 (Free internet activation and modem shipping for self-installation option. Standard tech installation is $59.99.)
    • Modem w/ WiFi: $9.99/mo or one-time $99.99
    • Call (855) 893-1284 to setup service.
  • $44.95 for 25 mbps DSL
    • 25 mbps ↓ and -- mbps
    • 1-year promo rate.
    • Contract Term: 1 year
    • AutoPay enrollment required.
    • Setup: $59.99 (Includes standard tech installation and free internet activation.)
    • Modem w/ WiFi: $9.99/mo or one-time $99.99
    • Call (855) 893-1284 to setup service.
  • $69.95 for 100 mbps Fiber
    • 100 mbps ↓ and -- mbps
    • 1-year promo rate.
    • Contract Term: 1 year
    • Requires AutoPay enrollment and paperless billing.
    • Setup: $59.99 (Includes standard technician installation and free internet activation.)
    • Modem w/ WiFi: $9.99/mo or one-time $99.99
    • Call (855) 893-1284 to setup service.
  • $109.95 for 1,000 mbps Fiber
    • 1,000 mbps ↓ and -- mbps
    • 1-year promo rate.
    • Contract Term: 1 year
    • Requires AutoPay enrollment and paperless billing.
    • Setup: $59.99 (Includes standard technician installation and free internet activation.)
    • Modem w/ WiFi: $9.99/mo or one-time $99.99
    • Call (855) 893-1284 to setup service.
Last updated on 4/22/2017

†All plans not available in all areas or to all customers. Verify details with CenturyLink.

TDS Telecom INTERNET DEALS †

  • $34.95 for 15 mbps DSL
    • Download Range: 6Mbps to 15Mpbs / Max Upload: 768Kbps
    • Contract Term: 2 years
    • Requires a TDS phone line.
    • Setup: $29.95 (Includes activation. Requires handling fee of $14.95.)
    • Modem w/ WiFi: $6.95/mo
    • Call (866) 571-6662 to setup service.
  • $44.95 for 50 mbps Fiber
    • 50 mbps ↓ and 50 mbps
    • 2-year promo rate.
    • Requires a TDS phone line.
    • Setup: $0 (Free activation. Requires handling fee of $14.95.)
    • Modem w/ WiFi: $6.95/mo
    • Call (866) 571-6662 to setup service.
  • $44.95 for 25 mbps Fiber
    • 25 mbps ↓ and 10 mbps
    • 2-year promo rate.
    • Requires a TDS phone line.
    • Setup: $0 (Free activation. Requires handling fee of $14.95.)
    • Modem w/ WiFi: $6.95/mo
    • Call (866) 571-6662 to setup service.
  • $49.95 for 25 mbps DSL
    • Download Range: 18Mbps to 25Mpbs Upload Range: 2Mbps to 5Mpbs
    • Contract Term: 2 years
    • Requires a TDS phone line.
    • Setup: $29.95 (Includes activation. Requires handling fee of $14.95.)
    • Modem w/ WiFi: $6.95/mo
    • Call (866) 571-6662 to setup service.
  • $49.95 for 50 mbps DSL
    • Download Range: 36Mbps to 50Mbps / Upload Range: 1.5Mbps to 10Mbps
    • Contract Term: 2 years
    • Requires a TDS phone line.
    • Setup: $29.95 (Includes activation. Requires handling fee of $14.95.)
    • Modem w/ WiFi: $6.95/mo
    • Call (866) 571-6662 to setup service.
  • $89.95 for 1,000 mbps Fiber
    • 1,000 mbps ↓ and 400 mbps
    • 2-year promo rate.
    • Requires a TDS TV Bundle/TDS phone line.
    • Setup: $0 (Free activation. Requires handling fee of $14.95.)
    • Modem w/ WiFi: $6.95/mo
    • Call (866) 571-6662 to setup service.
Last updated on 4/19/2017

†All plans not available in all areas or to all customers. Verify details with TDS Telecom.

CenturyLink: NO DATACAP FOUND

We have not found plans that include data caps. This doesn't mean CenturyLink doesn't have data caps, just that we haven't found them when collecting their plans. Always verify plan details before purchasing.

TDS Telecom: NO DATACAP FOUND

We have not found plans that include data caps. This doesn't mean TDS Telecom doesn't have data caps, just that we haven't found them when collecting their plans. Always verify plan details before purchasing.

CenturyLink's TECHNOLOGY

Centurylink offers internet, TV, and phone service to consumers using two primary technologies: DSL and fiber-to-the-home (FTTH).

DSL is an older internet technology that uses Centurylink’s existing telephone infrastructure to deliver internet service. While DSL networks don’t offer the fastest speeds or lowest latencies, they are widely available and generally less expensive than other alternatives since they travel over the same cheap, readily available cables that carry telephone data.[3]

If you are considering DSL, make sure to check the speeds available in your area as they can vary dramatically depending on your local infrastructure and distance between your house and the provider’s local office.

Fiber-to-the-home (FTTH), on the other hand, is widely considered the next generation of consumer internet access. In an FTTH implementation, Centurylink delivers a fiber optic connection directly to your residence, resulting in higher bandwidth and lower latency. The only problem with FTTH is that installing fiber optic cables are expensive, so this type of service is not widely available and usually comes with a higher monthly cost than DSL, cable, or fixed wireless.

TDS Telecom's TECHNOLOGY

TDS offers broadband Internet, phone, and TV service to residential and business subscribers via DSL, cable, and fiber networks.

DSL offerings are delivered from a local TDS office near the subscriber via existing copper phone cable infrastructure. Cable, on the other hand, is generally delivered via fiber until it reaches a “node” in individual coverage areas, at which point data is switched over to an existing TV “cable” coaxial network for the final distance.[4]

Fiber offerings from TDS are delivered via 100% fiber optic connections, generally fiber-to-the-home (FTTH), allowing next-generation download speeds up to 1Gbps (1,000Mbps) under ideal circumstances. Keeping the data in an optical format for the entire journey from ISP to consumer avoids the slowdowns associated with “switching” to an electric signal for DSL and cable.

CenturyLink INSTALLATION

CenturyLink customers have two options for installation: self-installation or professional installation.

Self-installation is generally very simple, particularly for DSL broadband. Everything needed to perform the installation, including step-by-step instructions, should come with the modem or welcome kit. The whole process generally takes no more than 40 minutes.

Professional installation is necessary if your house has never been connected to CenturyLink before, or if the customer simply doesn’t care to fiddle with the cables and settings. An appointment with a professional technician can be made directly through CenturyLink.

There is usually a fee associated with bringing in a professional, so customers with pre-wired homes who are comfortable plugging in a few cables and following simple instructions can easily save money by doing it themselves.

TDS Telecom INSTALLATION

TDS cable is somewhat simple to install, especially for customers already wired to receive TV from the company. Self-installation is possible where wiring already exists and all that’s needed is to set up a modem and router.

Professional installation is also available for customers that need assistance, and can be scheduled directly through TDS (generally for a fee).

CenturyLink RATINGS AND REVIEWS

36%36% Customer Rating

36.5% recommendation rating according to 35,837 verified CenturyLink users.

TDS Telecom RATINGS AND REVIEWS

45%45% Customer Rating

44.8% recommendation rating according to 2,733 verified TDS Telecom users.

CenturyLink COVERAGE & AVAILABILITY

CenturyLink Interactive SVG Map showing broadband coverage.

TDS Telecom COVERAGE & AVAILABILITY

TDS Telecom Interactive SVG Map showing broadband coverage.

The modem question: to rent or not to rent?

Hardware is often provided for a fee, but owning coup help your bottom line

Rental fees for modems have been rising in recent years, and most companies charge a little less than ten dollars per month for the convenience of a “free” modem/router combo unit with service and replacement included.

This is a good deal if you don’t care to mess with your own hardware, but a bad deal when you consider the hundreds of dollars you’ll lose over the course of a multi-year contract. Check with your provider to find out what modems are compatible with their service — this information is usually available via their website, but you might have to call for a rundown on the latest makes and models. Since modems aren’t compatible with all providers, renting is sometimes a better option for students, apartment renters, and other less permanent Internet users.[1]

Fine print fees and discount plans

Promotional offers can be good and bad depending on details

Steep sign-up discount for new customers in your area? That’s great news, but don’t rush to sign on the dotted line without considering a couple things: namely, ETFs (early termination fees) and final monthly pricing.

No matter how cheap a plan seems with the discount you get for the first few months, be sure to consider that the final cost when the promotion times out will matter much more in the long run. Switching isn’t always easy if you change your mind, and if the plan in question has an early termination fee you could wind up paying more out of pocket than if you’d simply bought a more expensive plan in the first place.[2]

Last updated on 4/22/2017.

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