Charter vs TDS Telecom: Side by Side Comparison

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

Charter vs TDS Telecom

Potential customers picking between Charter and TDS have more to consider than simply the type of network on offer — speed, price, and TV offerings differ from area to area, especially since some Charter plans will soon be delivered over networks acquired from Time Warner Cable. In many areas, pricing and quality of service are remarkably similar.

Charter Communications AT A GLANCE

  • Sales: (877) 253-5993
  • Support: (877) 906-9121

$44.99 to $44.99 / mo.

30 mbps to 300 mbps

Up to 7.0 mbps



Current: 13th ↑ (+3)


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

$34.95 to $99.95 / mo.

15 mbps to 1,000 mbps

0.768 mbps to 400 mbps



Current: 45th ↓ (-1)


Charter Communications provides residential and business broadband cable and fiber Internet, phone, and TV under the “Spectrum” brand name. Their 2016 acquisition of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks expanded their cable network to become one of the largest in the US.


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.


  • $44.99 for 100 mbps Cable
    • 100 mbps ↓ and -- mbps ↑ w/ no data cap.
    • 1-year promo rate. Regular rate is $64.99.
    • Setup: $34.99 (Includes professional installation. WiFi activation fee is $9.99.)
    • Modem w/ WiFi: $5/mo
    • Call (877) 253-5993 to setup service.
Last updated on 2/22/2017

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


  • $34.95 for 15 mbps DSL
    • Download Range: 6Mbps to 15Mpbs / Max Upload: 768Kbps w/ a 250 GB/mo data cap
    • 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 50 mbps Fiber
    • 50 mbps ↓ and 20 mbps ↑ w/ a 250 GB/mo data cap
    • 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 ↑ w/ a 250 GB/mo data cap
    • 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 w/ a 250 GB/mo data cap
    • 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.
  • $99.95 for 1,000 mbps Fiber
    • 1,000 mbps ↓ and 400 mbps ↑ w/ a 250 GB/mo data cap
    • Requires a TDS TV Bundle/TDS phone line.
    • Call (866) 571-6662 to setup service.
Last updated on 2/15/2017

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


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

TDS Telecom: DATACAPS From 250 GB/mo.

We have found plans that include datacaps. TDS Telecom offer plans with data caps regionally or nationwide. Be sure to verify plan details before purchasing.


Charter Communications offers broadband Internet, TV, and phone service to consumers via their hybrid fiber coaxial (HFC) network.

Hybrid Fiber Coaxial is a broadband infrastructure that uses fiber optic cables as it’s backbone, only resorting to slower coaxial cables for the “last mile” between customer residences and a local “optical node.”[3]

The optical node translates optic signals into electric signals, which are generally distributed via existing cable TV networks. A node may serve anywhere from 50-2,000 homes in an area.

This type of connection is widely called a “cable” internet connection due to the use of coaxial cable, which was historically used to offer “cable TV.”


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.


Installation of the hardware needed for Charter is generally straightforward. Most Charter plans are cable, which requires plugging a cable modem into your house’s existing TV jack.

For homes with working internal wiring, self-installation can be done using the equipment and instructions provided by Charter. Houses that have never been wired for Charter before, have no internal wiring, or have damages to wiring will need help from a professional technician.

Professional installation comes with a fee, but for customers who are nervous about installing hardware themselves, the fee may be worth it for ease and peace of mind.


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).


57%57% Customer Rating

57.0% recommendation rating according to 19,869 verified Charter users.


45%45% Customer Rating

45.2% recommendation rating according to 2,447 verified TDS Telecom users.


Charter Communications Interactive SVG Map showing broadband coverage.


TDS Telecom Interactive SVG Map showing broadband coverage.

Termination fees and hidden costs

Look closely before taking a promotion

Sign-up promotions are a common marketing tactic used by broadband companies to bring on new customers. While the pricing looks great on paper, there are a few things to keep in mind when you’re signing up for service with a new company.

First, be aware of any ETFs (early termination fees) you’ll need to pay if you break the contact early. Second, give the final monthly price more weight than the promotional rate, particularly if you plan to stick with a provider for multiple years. Even if the promo rate is great, a small price for six months doesn’t save much against a high price for six years.[1]

Modems, routers, and rental fees

How to save on extra hardware fees

Modems come with most broadband Internet plans, and they’re usually pretty cheap, less than ten dollars per month. Regardless, customers should consider whether or not it makes sense to simply buy their own, considering that a personal unit pays for itself within a year.[2]

Using your own router also opens up customization options for controlling and securing your home network, so it’s a no-brainer for technically-minded customers who enjoy fiddling with gadgets. Since providers have specific brands they are compatible with, renting makes more sense for people who move regularly, while buying makes more sense for techies and more stable households.

Last updated on 2/22/2017.

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