TDS Review – 2020

TDS has found itself a very interesting niche by focusing on the rural areas that other internet providers pass over. This means that in many locations within its service coverage area TDS has no competition.

Pros of TDS

  • Offers DSL, fiber-optic, and cable internet
  • Offers bundles that include internet, TV, and/or telephone service
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Speeds up to 1Gbps
  • No contract
  • No installation fee
  • No data caps
  • Offers a discounted package to low-income households

Cons of TDS

  • The coverage area is widely scattered in small pockets
  • Service quality varies dramatically from zone to zone
  • Pricing varies from location to location

Table of Contents

Overview of TDS Internet Services

TDS Telecom is a telephone network with coverage in 27 states. Like most telephone services in the United States, TDS makes the most of its wire network by using it to carry the internet and TV as well. The company also has a cable TV network that reaches into 11 states and it offers an internet service with that network as well.

TDS focuses on delivering telephone, internet, and TV to customers in rural and suburban areas although it does have some busy urban centers within its service coverage area. TDS has added a fiber-optics network to its assets, with which it is able to offer high-speed internet to the general public and business in 22 states.

The company has more customers for its DSL division than in fiber and cable internet. It is the ninth-largest DSL internet provider in the United States. It implements this service through the ADSL protocol, which makes more bandwidth available for download than for upload. This is the most common method for delivering Broadband internet services.

TDS stands for Telephone and Data Systems, Inc, which is the parent company’s full name. TDS was founded in Wisconsin in 1969 as a local telephone company and it is now headquartered in Chicago with its residential services division based in Madison, Wisconsin.

Some Points About TDS

TDS offers its best service in the areas where it has laid a fiber-optic network. This network exists in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Most of the internet service’s customers are in rural locations, but the company’s fiber network only extends to a few urban zones within its service coverage area. So, most TDS customers do not experience those great Gigabit speeds.

TDS receives subsidies and concessions from federal and state governments to extend its network into remote rural areas. However, this financial assistance is not enough to make fiber-optic cable economically viable in remote locations. In those places, the company carries its internet services over copper telephone wires.

The company is rapidly expanding its fiber-optic network in urban areas, thanks to the FCC’s Connect America Fund. TDS has a ten-year plan to install new fiber runs.

Although TDS offers two-year discounts on its rates for internet service and bundles, customers don’t get locked into a minimum service agreement. The headline on the situation says “no contracts imposed on customers.” However, in reality, there is a service agreement, which constitutes a contract. 

The agreement places more obligations on the company than on the customer. The main condition that the agreement ties the company to is that discount for the first two years, which is usually $10 on internet-only plans and internet and TV plans and $20 on bundles that combine internet, TV, and telephone services.

Popular bundles offered by TDS combine fiber internet with speeds of 1 Gbps or 300 Mbps with TV entertainment packages with 125 or 190 channels. These are available either with or without a landline telephone service.

Low-income households can get discounts on TDS internet plans through a government scheme that is called Lifeline. The Lifeline program is available to families or individuals that receive some form of government assistance. The precise qualifications to be eligible for Lifeline vary from state to state. However, qualifying participants in the program receive a discount on their internet subscription fees of $9.25.

TDS Plans

Here is a selection of TDS’s internet-only plans. These are all provided over fiber-optics.

 

Plan Download Speed Minimum Term Contract Data Cap
Extreme 300 300 Mbps None None None
Extreme 600 600 Mbps None None None
1 Gig 1 Gbps None None None

Not all of these speeds will be available in all areas. In some states, none of these plans will be available and only DSL internet can be offered.

TDS Pricing Overview

The table below shows a selection of TDS’s fiber internet service plans and their prices.

 

Plan Promotion Price per Month Regular Price per Month Setup Cost Account Activation Equipment Cost/Month
Extreme 300 $40 $55.95 $0 $50 $8
Extreme 600 $55 $65 $0 $50 $8
1 Gig $75 $85 $0 $50 $8

The promotion period for these plans lasts for 24 months. All prices are all subject to tax. The above prices and plans are offered in Madison, Wisconsin. Prices in other areas might not be the same.

Residents in areas that are scheduled for a new fiber internet service can register their interest in advance. The company charges a $25 registration fee. That amount gets deducted from the first month’s bill once the service is available and the delivery of fiber internet commences to the home.

TDS Customer Service

Each customer gets a TDS email account. The emails sent to that address can be accessed through the TDS website. The website includes a customer area that is protected by account credentials. So only the individual customer can see the home page for that account. The customer area home page allows the user to raise support tickets, check on replies from technicians, see bills and pay live invoices.

TDS provides a freephone number so that customers can call the service’s call center at no cost. It is also possible to contact technical support and the accounts and sales departments via email. The website also has a chat facility, with separate channels for contact with the technical support and sales department. Those chat helpdesks are not manned around the clock but are available during regular business hours.

The Support section of the TDS website has a searchable knowledge base. This contains guides and troubleshooting plans to help customers to solve their problems themselves.

Choosing TDS Plans

The TDS website is not very communicative. It doesn’t give any information to the general public until the visitor enters an address in the system. The company operates separate websites for its DSL and fiber internet services, which complicates the process of trying to find the right plan.

The process of trying to get information on available plans and prices can be very frustrating because the address detector in the site doesn’t always work.