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Mediacom vs. TDS Telecom Internet plan comparison


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

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Xtream by Mediacom brand
Staff rating
3.3
Customer rating
3.3
(18)

  • Plans starting at $24.99
  • Download speeds up to 1000 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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Xtream by Mediacom brand
Staff rating
3.3

Reliable, fast internet, but watch for fees

Mediacom offers a decent overall experience, with fast speeds and modern Wi-Fi gear. However, big rate hikes, a hefty installation cost, and lots of small fees bring the rating down.

What we like

  • Nice selection of plans
  • Very low initial prices
  • Solid availability
What we dislike

  • Contract required
  • Regular price increases
  • No unlimited data option
Savings tip: Mediacom 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
Xtream by Mediacom brand
Value
4.0
Excellent initial value, but heavy price hikes hurt the rating

Rating Mediacom’s value requires a long-term mindset. When you first sign up, the prices are extremely low—possibly the best on the market. Some come in at just 20% of the national benchmark, if you opt for paperless billing and autopay (1). However, each year, your cost gradually increases until it reaches a “standard value” (usually after three years). These prices are less exciting: you’ll end up paying roughly double what you initially signed up for. Depending on the length of your contract term, you may be able to jump ship before the price gets too high, but this might be too much effort for some.

Now, to be fair, many internet service providers (ISPs) do this (with a few notable exceptions, like CenturyLink). Mediacom is also pretty transparent about these price hikes and when you can expect them. However, the low starting prices here make the increases feel worse than they are, and that’s not great.

Pricing details vary by location. Visit
Mediacom's website
or call 1-844-716-2788 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
Xtream by Mediacom brand
Performance
4.0
Solid performance, but no unlimited data is a bummer

We have no major complaints about Mediacom’s performance. There’s a range of plans available (up to 1 Gbps), so you can find something to suit whatever your needs are. We do have a couple of small gripes, though.

First, there are data caps on all internet plans, with no unlimited data option. The lowest-tier package has a cap of just 350 GB, which is pretty harsh, given the average person uses 536 GB per month (2). The middle-tier internet plans have 1.5 and 3 TB limits, and that's better—this should be plenty for most users and is in line with most other providers that have data caps.

The 1 Gbps plan bumps data caps up to 6 TB, which is effectively unlimited for most use cases, although a household streaming in 4K could theoretically max this one out, too. Going over the cap costs $10 per 50 GB, which, again, is in line with other providers charging overage fees.

Available speeds vary by location. Call 1-844-716-2788 to speak with a Mediacom 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.
Xtream by Mediacom brand
Equipment and installation
3.0
Equipment is excellent, but the installation fee is steep

Mediacom offers a home networking combo called Xtream WiFi360pro. It uses a cable modem and eero Pro 6 mesh routers to ensure coverage over your whole house. The cost is $10 per month for a pair of routers, and you can add additional units for $6 each if needed.

Installation is less exciting. A professional installation and an activation fee will cost you around $120 total, and there’s no option to do it yourself. The fees can sometimes be waived with certain promotions—we recommend shopping around for one or asking a sales rep because these are steep.

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Equipment and installation options can vary widely depending on
Mediacom 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
Xtream by Mediacom brand
Customer experience
2.5
Lots of fees add up to a so-so experience

The Mediacom customer experience is decent overall. The provider scores a bit below average on customer satisfaction surveys like the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) (3), but overall, the service itself is fine. Speeds are solid and reliable, the Wi-Fi equipment is good, and the prices are competitive (at least initially).

Our biggest knock against Mediacom is the tremendous amount of small fees the company hits you with. In addition to the equipment and installation fees already mentioned, the company charges one-time fees for activation, early termination of your contract, and “Wi-Fi certification” (whatever that means). There’s a fee every time you have a technician come out for service. All these fees add up and can really sour the experience over time.

Visit Mediacom's website
or call 1-844-716-2788 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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Mediacom
3.2
(18)
5 Star
6%
4 Star
50%
3 Star
22%
2 Star
11%
1 Star
11%
M
Meganfrom Bay Minette , Al
Mediacom Customer for 1+ years
Reviewed on: 6-22-2022
Better options in the area. My area cannot withstand some of the top options that I would happily pay for if it were available in my area.
A
Anjifrom Havana, FL
Mediacom Customer for 1+ years
Reviewed on: 6-22-2022
They charge alot for service not to work all the time. Customer service is awful and no help at all.
V
Veronicafrom Leesburg, GA
Mediacom Customer for 1+ years
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
Lower their price. They are the nay provider
R
Richardfrom Poplar Grove, IL
Mediacom Customer for Less than a year
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
It's too early to tell. We had issues at the beginning, but they seem to be getting better
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 15 December 2022.2. "Broadband Insights Report (OVBI)," OpenVault. Accessed 15 December 2022.3. “Internet Service Providers,” American Customer Satisfaction Index. Accessed 15 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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