CenturyLink vs TDS: Side by Side Comparison

A Side-by-Side Comparison of CenturyLink and TDS Telecom in 2021.

CenturyLink and TDS Telecom are both major DSL internet providers in the U.S. CenturyLink offers services nationwide, while TDS Telecom is available in 31 states with the greatest coverage in Michigan, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. Both companies offer DSL internet to most of their customers, but they also have fiber internet plans in select areas, triple-play bundles, and double-play packages.

On the surface, CenturyLink and TDS Telecom have a lot in common, but below we’ll cover the key differences between the two internet service providers.

CenturyLink Info

Price Range

$49-65/mo.

TDS Info

Price Range

$29.95-89.95/mo.

CenturyLink vs. TDS FEATURE COMPARISON
Provider CenturyLink TDS
High-Speed Plans Yes Yes
Unlimited Data Select Plans Select Plans
Contract-Free Plans Yes No
TV Service No Yes
Phone Service Yes Yes
CenturyLink vs. TDS FEATURE COMPARISON
Provider CenturyLink TDS
High-Speed Plans Yes Yes
Unlimited Data Select Plans Select Plans
Contract-Free Plans Yes No
TV Service No Yes
Phone Service Yes Yes

CenturyLink Internet Deals †

Last updated on 4/14/2021

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

TDS Internet Deals †

Last updated on 4/15/2021

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

CenturyLink vs. TDS Performance Overview

CenturyLink is the third largest DSL internet provider in the U.S. by coverage area, with services offered across all 50 states and to an estimated 49.3 million people. Customers in select metro cities may also have access to their fiber internet with speeds up to 940 Mbps. Aside from that, CenturyLink has a wide selection of bundles that may include phone and cable TV services.

TDS Telecom is available in only 31 states with the greatest presence in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Tennessee. Other than DSL, customers in some ZIP codes may also have access to fiber internet with up to 1,000 Mbps speeds. By coverage area, TDS telecom is the 10th largest DSL provider, 18th largest fiber provider, and 25th largest cable broadband provider in the U.S.

CenturyLink Installation

CenturyLink customers can choose between professional installation and self-installation. Professional installation usually comes with a $99 setup fee, but some higher tier plans include the installation for free. There are no additional fees for the activation. On the other hand, customers who opt to self-install don’t have to pay any fees as long as they have all the equipment necessary. Self-installation usually applies to homes with an existing fiber or DSL wiring.

TDS Telecom Installation

TDS Telecom offers professional and self-installation. Self-installing a TDS Telecom DSL or fiber internet is straightforward particularly for homes that were connected to a TDS Telecom service before. First-time customers are encouraged to go through professional installation. There is a nominal fee involved depending on the type of internet being installed, but qualifying customers are often allowed to waive the fees.

CenturyLink Contracts, Equipment Fees & Fine Print

Many of CenturyLink’s internet plans require a contract ranging between 12 and 24 months. Violating the contract often results in expensive early termination fees (ETF). For those who prefer not having commitments, CenturyLink also offers contract-free DSL and fiber internet plans.

Aside from the contract, potential customers need to know CenturyLink’s policies regarding equipment fees. DSL plans, which can reach up to 40 Mbps, and Fiber internet plans up to 100 Mbps, usually require the purchase of a modem for about $200 or $15 per month. With speeds up to 940 Mbps, CenturyLink’s Gigabit Fiber plans include a complimentary modem with Wi-Fi.

TDS Telecom Contracts, Equipment Fees & Fine Print

TDS Telecom plans, whether DSL or fiber, require a 24-month contract. This contract binds customers to use the company’s service for the said duration. Customers essentially have to buy themselves out by paying the remaining monthly fees if they want to duck out of the contract.

TDS Telecom offers DSL, fiber, and cable internet plans with speeds up to 1,000 Mbps with fiber and up to 100 Mbps with DSL and cable. The company has Wi-Fi modems for rent ranging from $7 to $10 per month.

CenturyLink Data Caps

In most cases, CenturyLink users are limited to 1,024 GB of data usage per month. Currently, CenturyLink doesn’t give customers the option to buy additional data, so households that frequently exceed the limit are encouraged to upgrade to a Gigabit Fiber plan with no data limits.

TDS Telecom Data Caps

TDS Telecom’s high-speed internet plans come with a 250 GB data allowance with a $20 overage fee for every 250 GB of additional data used. However, customers may opt to purchase 500 GB, 750 GB, or 1 TB of additional data to avoid overage charges.

100 Mbps CenturyLink Internet

on September 19, 2019

We switched to CenturyLink and could not be happier. It is so much faster, has never cut out and had the best installation customer service. The price is also great.

Reliability - 4

on February 16, 2021

Great speed and reliability.

HAPPY and SATISFIED customer

on December 20, 2016

I am not sure why there are reviews out there "knocking" TDS service, but I would like to pass on my experience to anyone who has TDS Telecom service and is reluctant to change to "Fiber Optic" Technology. Having lived most of my life within rural communities in New Hampshire, I have been a customer of TDS Telecom for several years which included phone and internet and have no complaints to report. During that time (after antennas became obsolete), Cable TV was not available in my area and Satellite Dish receivers were the required means of providing television service. (DISH and DIRECT TV are the ones offered in my area) A few years ago, TDS started running what they called "Fiber Optic" cable technology in the vicinity of my residence. Although excited that this would provide me with better TV and Internet service, my home was fairly new, completely wired with coaxial cable and I was reluctant to change what was in place. So I told myself I was comfortable, "accepted" the reception I had from DISH and turned down multiple promotions to upgrade to the TDS High Definition service. One day recently, I happened to call TDS once more and once again inquired about changing to fiber optic TV Service. As always, I was connected to a very friendly, polite, representative who was well versed in her subject material and again explained to me all the benefits of fiber optic - high definition reception. She was compassionate, understanding and I'm sure felt my anxiety about "change" and assured me how much more pleased I would be with the upgraded service. She was not "pushy", and her calming demeanor and thorough explanation of my option to discontinue the service should I not be completely satisfied, convinced me to "give it a try". She even provided me with her telephone number and direct extension should I have further questions and/or concerns. The day scheduled for the "upgrade"/installation, two representatives arrived who work for a company that sub-contracts to do install work for TDS. They were also very polite, respectful, professional, and took time to walk me through the entire procedure to explain what they would be doing so I fully understood what to expect and what I was getting. They did an EXCELLENT job and also took the time along the way to answer any questions I may have had and did not leave until after ensuring the service and signal to ALL my televisions (I have several) and internet (which was upgraded to 100 mbps) was working perfectly. I have had high definition TV and signal through satellite Dish TV for many years, but it was only when I sat down to watch television with my new Fiber Optic high definition reception that I realized what I had been missing. The clarity and difference was unbelievable and I could not have been happier with my decision to upgrade to this service. The cost was in the vicinity of what I was paying with DISH and I am very thankful to the TDS staff for their patience and for guiding me into making the decision to upgrade and become a member of "Fiberville", which I would recommend to anyone! Happy and satisfied TDS Customer

Does TDS Have Customer Service? I have not seen any!

on January 25, 2021

Customer service is non-existent! I called twice to talk with someone. First time I was on hold for 37 minutes and I finally hung up. Second time after waiting 21 minutes, someone finally picked up. I asked one question, they put me on hold for 5 minutes. Then I asked if I could move my phone number to a mobile provider, Tony put me on hold again. Should that be something all customer service reps should know? After being on the phone a total of 1 hour on just this call, 97 minutes total, I hung up once it was 7:11PM figuring they were not going to come back since the website says they are open until 7:00 PM! Also reviewing their website, phone and internet costs $39.94/mo., a special. We are currently paying $90+ for the same service and that only includes local calls, no long distance. We have been a customer for 28 years. I guess they do not care about their customers!

CenturyLink vs. TDS Coverage Availability

CenturyLink Coverage & Availability

TDS Coverage & Availability

Frequently Asked Questions about CenturyLink & TDS Telecom

  • Is CenturyLink cheaper than TDS Telecom?

    Prices vary depending on the internet plan of your choosing. TDS Telecom has cheaper low-tier internet plans that start at a monthly fee of $29.95, but CenturyLink’s highest-priced internet plan is less expensive than that of TDS Telecom. CenturyLink’s plans range between $40 and $60 per month, while TDS Telecom ranges from $29.95 to $89.95.

  • Who has faster speeds? CenturyLink or TDS Telecom?

    TDS Telecom currently offers speeds up to 1,000 Mbps, while CenturyLink’s highest-priced plan can reach up to 940 Mbps. However, for both providers, the speed you’ll receive depends on your location. Even though TDS Telecom offers higher speeds, it’s possible to get a faster connection from CenturyLink.

  • Do CenturyLink and TDS Telecom have unlimited data?

    CenturyLink and TDS Telecom both have data caps, although CenturyLink’s more expensive plans allow for the use of unlimited data. Lower-priced plans have a 1,024 GB monthly data limit. There are currently no options to purchase additional data from CenturyLink. With TDS Telecom, all plans have a 250 GB monthly data usage limit with a $20 overage fee for every additional 250 GB of data. Data add-ons from 500 GB to 1 TB are available upon request and for a fee.