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Astound Broadband vs. TDS Telecom Internet plan comparison


Headshot of Kathryn Casna
Researched by
Kathryn CasnaSenior Staff Writer
Headshot of Bri Field
Reviewed by
Bri FieldAssigning Editor
Updated 6/18/24

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Astound Broadband
Staff rating
4.1
Customer rating
4.0
(13)

  • Plans starting at $19.99
  • Download speeds up to 1200 Mbps
TDS Telecom brand
Staff rating
3.5
Customer rating
3.2
(8)

  • Plans starting at $38.95
  • Download speeds up to 1000 Mbps
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Astound Broadband
Staff rating
4.1

Extremely cheap internet—for a year

Top-notch customer service and shockingly low intro pricing make switching to one of Astound’s brands (Wave, RCN, Grande, or enTouch) an easy choice. But opting for gear rental or sticking with Astound for longer than a year will cost you. Big.

What we like

  • Award-winning service and speed
  • Low introductory prices
  • No contract required
What we dislike

  • Super steep price hikes
  • Expensive installation and equipment
Savings tip: Astound Broadband often has sign-up promotions for first-time customers. Call to ask a rep about current deals and discounts.
Check deals
TDS Telecom brand
Staff rating
3.5

Inconsistent speeds for the price, but it’ll do

This budget internet provider offers DSL, cable, and fiber internet at a low price. However, TDS doesn’t guarantee advertised speeds, and the quality of service will likely vary by location and connection type. If you want the highest speeds, guaranteed speeds, or unlimited data, this might not be the provider for you, but if you can get fiber, it’s worth a look.

What we like

  • Several plan options
  • Fiber in some areas
  • Easy installation
What we dislike

  • Complaints about speed
  • Self-setup not available everywhere
  • Contract required
Savings tip: TDS Telecom often has sign-up promotions for first-time customers. Call to ask a rep about current deals and discounts.
Check deals
Astound Broadband
Value
4.5
Mark your calendar now for internet shopping next year

Astound offers supercheap DSL, cable, and fiber internet plans with at least three plan options and no data caps in most areas. Nearly all plans are priced under $50 for the first year, and if you’re paying that much, you’re likely getting at least 940 Mbps of speed. National benchmarks for similar plans are in the $130 range, so you’ll be getting a great deal. (1)

Unfortunately, after a year, prices skyrocket, with some of the lowest-tier plans reaching nearly 10x your introductory price—which is quite a bit higher than the national benchmark. As long as you don’t stick around longer than that (and Astound won’t force you into a multi-year contract), this internet service provider (ISP) will probably be your best value option. We recommend shopping around for internet service at least annually anyway, so this might not be a big deal for a lot of people.

Pricing details vary by location. Visit
Astound Broadband's website
or call 1-844-716-2786 to speak with a rep.
See pricing
TDS Telecom brand
Value
3.5
Low prices, but varying value

TDS’s DSL, cable, and fiber internet range from a superslow 1 Mbps to a superfast 2 Gbps, with over a dozen plans in between. Prices vary by location, but most seem to come in below US benchmarks for comparable broadband speeds (1) and are cheaper than similar plans from Xfinity, Spectrum, and Cox.

Our favorite things about TDS prices is that in some locations, we've seen a "price for life" guarantee. That means the price you sign up at is the same price you'll pay as long as you're a customer. Since most providers have significant price hikes after a year or two of service, being able to lock in your price is a huge deal—and a big reason to stick with instead of switching to a different internet company.

We interviewed Marci-Ray, a TDS fiber customer since 2020. In a household with multiple gaming consoles and smart home devices, she’s been very pleased with the reliability and price of the 300 Mbps fiber plan: “For the value of the speed and the price…it’s great. I’m very happy with that.”

Unfortunately, not all TDS customers have had the same experience. We’ve seen some customer complaints about slower-than-advertised speeds, meaning that customers aren’t getting what they paid for, especially on DSL or cable plans. If you opt for a higher plan to account for that (which is what TDS recommends if you don't see the speeds it advertises), you may end up paying more than you would somewhere else for the same speed.

Pricing details vary by location. Visit
TDS Telecom's website
or call 1-844-726-0721 to speak with a rep.
See pricing
Astound Broadband
Performance
4.5
Award-winning speed—on average

Astound Broadband is very fast. That said, as with most ISPs, you may not experience the speeds advertised for your plan because speeds fluctuate based on numerous conditions.

With Astound, the speed on your plan is the “average” that customers see, so your speeds will vary depending on the gear you’re using, time of day, how many devices are using your Wi-Fi, and more. If you see persistent speed issues, Astound encourages you to call customer service to get help figuring out the issue.

Available speeds vary by location. Call 1-844-716-2786 to speak with a Astound Broadband rep or
go to its website.
TDS Telecom brand
Performance
3.0
Speeds not guaranteed

TDS says you could see speeds “up to” your plan’s max, which isn’t uncommon of internet service providers, but TDS seems to get a lot of complaints from customers seeing much lower speeds than advertised. And if you’re not happy with the speeds you’re seeing, TDS’ solution is to switch to a lower-level plan, and it’ll waive its usual $15 fee for switching plans mid-contract. But if you ask us, this feels like an ineffective solution since lower-level plan speeds aren’t guaranteed either. You could end up with even lower speeds, albeit at a lower cost.

If TDS fiber is available in your area, you should see more consistent speeds since fiber-optic technology is more reliable all around. One customer who switched from Spectrum cable service to TDS fiber in the Madison, WI area told us that TDS has been far more reliable for them, with fewer slowdowns and outages.

Depending on your location, your TDS plan might come with unlimited data. Or it might come with a data cap of 500 GB and overage fees if you go over that. This cap is pretty low, considering most people use around 500 GB per month all on their own. Unless you live alone, it won’t be enough. And if you use less than 500 GB, the extra won’t roll over.

Available speeds vary by location. Call 1-844-726-0721 to speak with a TDS Telecom rep or
go to its website.
Astound Broadband
Equipment and installation
3.0
DIY your equipment and installation for more savings

You can rent a modem and one of two Wi-Fi routers from Astound, bringing your total monthly equipment costs between $17 and $27 or more—which is on the high side. For most people, the Whole Home Wi-Fi router option will be the right choice. It includes an eero router and an extender, and you can add more extenders to ensure coverage throughout your entire home. Gamers and other heavy streamers should consider the Nighthawk Pro gaming router to reduce lag spikes and achieve more consistent speeds.

To save money, consider using your own gear or use Astound’s free self-setup option, which is available in most areas. But you'll pay around $10 to activate your service. Even if you’re not tech savvy, this provider’s detailed online instructions and videos make it easy. If you do want professional help or your home isn’t already properly wired, professional installation starts around $80, which is about average.

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Equipment and installation options can vary widely depending on
Astound Broadband plans
available in your area.
View plans
TDS Telecom brand
Equipment and installation
4.5
Low-cost equipment and installation options

TDS offers two equipment options, which you purchase and pay down each month. A standard modem and Wi-Fi router combo is $10/month, and Wi-Fi+ is around $20/month. Wi-Fi+ comes with a modem plus an eero Wi-Fi home base and one mesh extender—all of which should give you 2,500 sq. ft. of signal, which isn’t too bad. (2) TDS recommends adding an extender ($5) for every additional 1,000 feet beyond that. This system comes with a smartphone app that makes managing your Wi-Fi easy.

Self-installation is free and takes about 15 minutes, but it’s available in only some locations. In others, professional installation is required for no additional charge. However, if self-installation is available in your area and you still want professional help, it’ll cost you around $50.

As an Amazon Associate, Switchful.com may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

Equipment and installation options can vary widely depending on
TDS Telecom plans
available in your area.
View plans
Astound Broadband
Customer experience
4.5
Award-winning customer service, many times over

Astound has (sorry in advance) astounding customer service. This company won fifth place in PCMag's Reader's Choice award in 2022 (2), and before it consolidated them under the Astound brand, Grande, Wave, RCN, and WOW! were all recognized in 2021 (3) and we can see why Astound is a fan favorite. You don't have to sign a contract if you don't want to, your plan comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, and if your technician is late for your appointment, Astound will pay you $20 for the inconvenience. Put it all together, and you get a top-notch customer experience.

Visit Astound Broadband's website
or call 1-844-716-2786 for more information on contracts and money-back guarantees.
Go to provider
TDS Telecom brand
Customer experience
3.0
Extra help if you need it—at a price

Like most internet service providers, TDS gets mixed reviews from customers, but overall it seems about average. You’ll get around-the-clock tech support, including phone calls, online chat, and remote internet sessions (during which a technician logs into your computer remotely to troubleshoot your connection).

If you want help with more than your connection, you can pay around $13 per month for a Remote PC Support subscription. With it, you can get help with network security, optimizing your computer, and setting up your devices. Without the subscription, you’ll pay around $50 each time you need these services. If you’re tech savvy, you’ll save a lot by skipping the subscription. But if you think you’ll need help at least once per quarter, the subscription will be cheaper.

When we interviewed a current customer about their experience with TDS customer support, they said that TDS was very responsive, clearly explained what was happening, and fixed connection issues for them without charging for the service.

They were also able to negotiate their internet price back down after their promotional price ended. TDS customer service recommended setting a calendar reminder to call in again each time the promo pricing was close to running out. It’s less convenient than just getting the lower price consistently, but we appreciate the willingness to bring prices back down.

The one downside the customer mentioned was the lack of a dedicated app for managing their service and billing—something many other providers already provide.

Visit TDS Telecom's website
or call 1-844-726-0721 for more information on contracts and money-back guarantees.
Go to provider
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Astound Broadband
4.0
(13)
5 Star
23%
4 Star
54%
3 Star
23%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
P
Paulfrom Catasauqua, PA
Astound Broadband Customer for 4+ years
Reviewed on: 6-24-2022
I think they charge much too much for their dservice. Lower prices
J
Juliefrom Passaic, NJ
Astound Broadband Customer for 8+ years
Reviewed on: 6-24-2022
I hope the Internet speed is faster and the price is lower
M
Margaretfrom New York, NY
Astound Broadband Customer for 1+ years
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
Astound 5G wifi have increased the speed from my previous internet. I was very happy with the promotion price at $39.99 but when my contract expired my payments doubled. With the spottiness and occasional dropped connections each month, I don't see the value I am paying for.
L
Lynfrom Somerville, MA
Astound Broadband Customer for 1+ years
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
I am satisfied with my Astound (formally RCN) service. The signal is consistent. I have no suggestions for improvement.
TDS Telecom
3.2
(8)
5 Star
12%
4 Star
37%
3 Star
25%
2 Star
13%
1 Star
13%
S
Sheridanfrom Mounds, OK
TDS Telecom Customer for Less than a year
Reviewed on: 8-29-2022
I’m just fine using TDS the speed and reliability is spot on
B
Beverlyfrom Hobbs, NM
TDS Telecom Customer for Less than a year
Reviewed on: 6-22-2022
TDS provides my needs internet connection speed and capacity. Since we are all mature in the house, we don't do any gaming and live stream. We are also working most of the time, thus social media access from our side is mostly done only after work or during weekends.
S
Sherryfrom Milliken, CO
TDS Telecom Customer for Less than a year
Reviewed on: 6-22-2022
It took close to 6 months to get a permanent line and half of that to get a temporary line. They kept saying it would be done in a week. We have issues with speed and reliability on a weekly basis. The only reason we stay with them is they ae cheaper then Century link and they have the same issues.
J
Jefffrom Milliken, CO
TDS Telecom Customer for 1+ years
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
They have horrible customer service
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Endnotes and sources
  1. 2022 Urban Rate Survey – Fixed Broadband Service,” FCC. Accessed 9 December 2022.
  2. Readers’ Choice 2022: Your Favorite ISPs for Any Type of Broadband,” PCMag. Accessed 9 December 2022.
  3. Readers’ Choice 2021: Internet Service Providers,” PCMag. Accessed 9 December 2022.
Endnotes and sources
1. “2022 Urban Rate Survey – Fixed Broadband Service,” FCC. Accessed 9 December 2022.2. "TDS Wi-Fi+," TDS. Accessed 9 December 2022.
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