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Frontier Communications vs. TDS Telecom Internet plan comparison


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Headshot of Dave Schafer
Headshot of Kathryn Casna
Researched by
Headshot of Bri Field
Reviewed by
Bri FieldAssigning Editor
Updated 6/18/24

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Frontier Communications brand
Staff rating
4.1
Customer rating
3.9
(50)

  • Plans starting at $49.99
  • Download speeds up to 5000 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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Frontier Communications brand
Staff rating
4.1

Excellent service, if you can get fiber

The story of Frontier internet is one of two services: a slow and expensive DSL network and a fast and affordable fiber network. Which one you get makes all the difference.

What we like

  • Well-priced fiber plans
  • Fast speeds
  • No data caps
What we dislike

  • Limited fiber availability
  • Slow DSL in non-fiber areas
  • Poor customer service reputation
Savings tip: Frontier 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
Frontier Communications brand
Value
4.0
Frontier offers excellent value on its fiber plans—if you can get them

Frontier offers two types of internet service: fiber and DSL. That means there are two sides to the Frontier value equation. Frontier fiber service is generally an excellent value—you can get 500 Mbps for around $50 per month or 1 gig for around $75, both of which are excellent prices well below the national benchmark for similar plans. (1) If you go for 2 gigs or even the newly available 5 gig plan, you'll pay quite a bit every month but enjoy excellent reliability and super fast speeds. If you go for 5 gigs, free tech support is included.

On the other hand, Frontier’s DSL plan is not nearly so exciting. It is around $50 per month for up to 115 Mbps, but the actual speed varies heavily with the specific area you’re in. Many places won’t see anywhere near 115 Mbps, but even if you do have that speed available, it’s not great for the price. There's also a required $85 installation charge. The good news, though, is that Frontier guarantees its DSL pricing for two years and doesn't require you to sign a contract.

To be fair, DSL service is almost always a poor value for money—it’s not unique to Frontier. And unlike some other combined fiber and internet providers, Frontier offers fiber in a good portion of its coverage area. (4)

Pricing details vary by location. Visit
Frontier's website
or call 1-833-970-0804 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
Frontier Communications brand
Performance
5.0
Outstanding fiber performance and so-so DSL service

Frontier continues the tale of two in the performance department. The DSL service caps out at a fairly slow 115 Mbps, and that’s only in certain areas. While that’s sufficient for many day-to-day activities and light streaming, larger families or those who want to stream in HD may be left wanting more.

On the flip side, the fiber service is predictably excellent, with speeds up to 2,000 Mbps and no data caps to limit you. In fact, Frontier's fiber plans are some of the fastest, according to PCMag (2). The service has the fastest ping of any provider, according and a study by the FCC (3), and it's neck and neck with the competition in terms of speed and reliability. These fiber plans also offer symmetrical speeds, which means the upload speed is equal to the download speed. This is handy if you upload or share a lot of large files, and it tends to be unique to fiber.

Available speeds vary by location. Call 1-833-970-0804 to speak with a Frontier 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.
Frontier Communications brand
Equipment and installation
5.0
No charges for equipment—seriously

Frontier redeems itself in a big way when it comes to equipment and installation. If you have Frontier's DSL internet, the equipment itself is fairly standard. It works, but it doesn't look great on a desk and the capabilities are limited. It's free, which is nice, but you might still want to use your own gear if you need more control over which devices on your network get bandwidth priority. DSL installation costs $85, and there's no self-install option.

If you have fiber internet from Frontier, you're in luck! You get free rental of an eero 6 on the Fiber 1 Gig plan or an eero6E mesh Wi-Fi system, on the Fiber 2 Gig plan. If you have the 5 Gig plan, you'll get the TP-Link AXE300 6E with an optional TP-Link RE815XE Wi-Fi extender for an extra $10 per month. You could still technically use your own gear, but it's hard to do any better than the latest and greatest from eero and TP-Link.

If you're eligible, you may be able to get a Frontier self-install kit—otherwise, a professional will come to your house to install the internet for you. If you need a pro to come out, you'll be charged $50 on your first bill. Cancelation is also free, but some customers are charged a $20 restocking fee for rented fiber gear and a $50 restocking fee on DSL gear.

Equipment and installation options can vary widely depending on
Frontier 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
Frontier Communications brand
Customer experience
2.5
Plenty of unsatisfied customers, and you can't order online

The Frontier customer experience is a mixed bag. The service itself is fairly reliable—especially the fiber. The DSL service is relatively stable, but more prone to slowdowns during heavy traffic times (like the evening). We’ve also seen some reports online of speeds that are inconsistent with what’s advertised, so keep that in mind.

Frontier has also received very low scores in customer satisfaction from organizations like the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). (3) The provider ranked second-worst in overall satisfaction in the most recent surveys, falling well below average. The complaints we’ve seen point generally to a broad pattern of poor customer service, so if that’s a key factor in your choice of provider, you might want to steer clear until Frontier can sort out its issues.

Unlike most internet service providers, the only way to order internet service is to call in. It works okay for most people, but some folks love the convenience of handling everything without having to deal with phone trees, wait on hold, or talk to a live human. At least the hold music is nice, though, and you can enter info via text message!

Visit Frontier's website
or call 1-833-970-0804 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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Frontier Communications
3.9
(50)
5 Star
26%
4 Star
46%
3 Star
22%
2 Star
6%
1 Star
0%
L
Lucyfrom Englewood, FL
Frontier Communications Customer for 8+ years
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
there are to many breaks in service, but they do repair very quickly they should be able to stop the breaks better than do now
D
Douglasfrom Murphy, NC
Frontier Communications Customer for 4+ years
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
Good speed and network reliabilty. Customer service is very good and solve problems. The cost is a little high; sometimes worth it.
C
Cayleefrom Murphy, NC
Frontier Communications Customer for 4+ years
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
Frontier has been a great company for internet. I like how high speed it is and how great the customer service is. It never fails to impress me. I think that they are great on every aspect.
R
Robertfrom Middletown, NY
Frontier Communications Customer for 8+ years
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
It seems Frontier gives us very slow internet service.
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 19 October 2022.2. "The Fastest ISPs of 2022," PC Mag. Accessed 19 October 2022.Internet Service Providers,” American Customer Satisfaction Index. Accessed 14 June 2022.3. "Measuring Broadband America," FCC. Accessed Dec. 9, 2022.4. "FCC National Broadband Map," FCC. Accessed Dec. 9. 2022. As an Amazon Associate, Switchful.com may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.
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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