Best Internet Providers in Madison, Wisconsin

Written by  Amanda Kooser
Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
CNET staff -- not advertisers, partners or business interests -- determine how we review the products and services we cover. If you buy through our links, we may get paid. Reviews ethics statement
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What is the best internet provider in Madison?

With speeds as high as 5000Mbps, and widespread availability, AT&T Fiber is CNET's pick for the best internet service provider in Madison, Wisconsin. It helps that AT&T keeps the pricing straightforward. Spectrum is another excellent choice with its affordable plans and reliable service. You'll get 300Mbps for $40 a month, but prices increase significantly after a year. Wireless internet from AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon is also available throughout the city. These are great options if you're able to bundle with one of the provider's cellphone plans.

Best internet providers in Madison, Wisconsin

Madison internet providers compared

ProviderInternet technologyMonthly price rangeSpeed rangeMonthly equipment costsData capContractCNET review score
AT&T Fiber
Read full review
AT&T Internet Air
Read full review
Fixed wireless$5540-140MbpsNoneNoneNone7.4
Read full review
Cable$40-$60300Mbps-1,000MbpsFree modem; $7 router (optional)NoneNone7.2
TDS Telecom Fiber$50-$90300-1,000Mbps (varies by location)$12NoneTwo yearsN/A
T-Mobile Home Internet
Read full review
Fixed wireless$60 ($50 with Auto Pay, $40 for eligible Go5g Plus and Magenta Max mobile customers)72-245MbpsNoneNoneNone7.4
US Cellular Fixed wireless$60 ($50 with Auto Pay)Up to 195MbpsVaries 600GBEquipment installment plan contract may applyN/A
Verizon 5G Home Internet
Read full review
Fixed wireless$60-$80 ($50-70 with Auto Pay)100Mbps-300Mbps (varies by location)NoneNoneNone7.2
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Source: CNET analysis of provider data

All available Madison residential internet providers

  • AT&T Internet: AT&T's fiber game is strong in Madison but doesn't reach every part of town. AT&T Internet, the company's old-school DSL offering, covers more ground. It costs $55 a month for whatever speed you can get at your location, typically up to 300Mbps, depending on your location. The price-to-speed ratio won't be appealing if you have a faster and cheaper option.
  • Verizon 5G Home Internet: With speeds up to 1,000Mbps in some parts of the country, Verizon is working hard to convince buyers that fixed wireless is the way to go for home internet. The company's coverage map shows a mix of its latest 5G networks alongside slower 4G LTE coverage across Madison. The area east of Lake Mendota and Lake Monona has the widest 5G Ultra Wideband coverage. Typical Verizon home internet speeds in Madison will range from 100 to 300Mbps starting at $50 a month if you opt for Auto Pay. The biggest challenge is finding an open slot, so T-Mobile edged Verizon as our pick for Madison's best fixed wireless provider.
  • TDS Telecom: TDS covers a small portion of Madison proper, but it's well worth mentioning for those in communities around Madison. TDS delivers fiber to places like Middleton, Monona and Waunakee. Prices start at $50 a month (for the first two years) for a 300Mbps plan. On the fast end, TDS has a 1,000Mbps plan for $90 a month. You have the option to rent a router for $12 a month. There's a $50 installation fee, but a good chance you can get that waived. Be sure to check out the TDS price-for-life plans. They're more expensive over the first two years but will keep your price locked in for the long haul. 
  • US Cellular: US Cellular is a sister company of TDS Telecom. It offers fixed wireless internet in Madison for $50 a month with an autopay discount. That pricing puts it in contention with T-Mobile and Verizon's home internet plans. Some of US Cellular's service areas can get up to 300Mbps speeds, but your mileage could vary considerably depending on your location. The biggest turn-off is that UScellular will throttle your speeds after 600GB of high-speed data with its Home Internet Everywhere plan. After that, you'll get bumped down to a painfully slow 1.5Mbps. Keep an eye on the plan terms. US Cellular may offer to cover equipment costs via a credit spread over a 36-month installment contract. It's all a bit confusing, so you'll likely do better with another ISP with simpler or faster plans with no throttling.   
  • Satellite internet: Rural residents with few internet options should check into satellite providers Starlink, Viasat and Hughesnet. These likely won't be your first choice if you live in town and have access to fiber, cable, or fixed wireless from T-Mobile or Verizon. If you're big on traveling (let's say you're heading south for the winter) and still need to stay connected, check into Starlink's on-the-go plan. It's pricey, but it will help you stay online when you've taken on the role of a digital nomad.
The state capitol building in Madison, Wisconsin at dusk.
Rudy Balasko/Getty Images

Madison broadband at a glance

There isn’t a ton of ISP competition in Madison. Most residents will be weighing the decision between AT&T Fiber or Spectrum cable. Spectrum has some tempting introductory deals, while AT&T’s fiber service offers reasonable pricing and fast upload speeds to go with the download speeds. Live in the area around Madison? Check into fiber from TDS Telecom.

Pricing details on Madison home internet service

The average starting price for internet service in Madison is around $50, but there are ways to shave some bucks off that figure. Bargain hunters can look to bundle phone plans with home internet service to get deals. For example, with T-Mobile, you can get down to $40 a month. TDS Telecom offers 300Mbps speeds for as low as $50 a month for the first two years. Most Madison residents will be looking at around $50 for decent speeds. 

Cheap internet options in the Madison metro area

Spectrum's 300Mbps plans start at $40 a month. Meanwhile, AT&T’s fiber plans start at $55 a month, which is still budget-friendly, especially considering the company’s assurance that it won’t hike your fee after the first year. If you’re in a surrounding community, look into TDS Telecom’s fiber plans starting at $50 a month for the first two years.

What's the cheapest internet plan in Madison?

ProviderStarting priceMax download speedMonthly equipment feeContract
Spectrum Internet
Read full review
$40300Mbps$7 (optional)None
TDS Telecom $50300Mbps (varies by location)$12None
Spectrum Internet Ultra
Read full review
$50500Mbps$7 (optional)None
US Cellular $60Up to 195MbpsVariesEquipment installment plan contract may apply
Verizon 5G Home Internet
Read full review
$60 ($50 with Auto Pay)100MbpsNoneNone
AT&T Fiber 300
Read full review
T-Mobile Home Internet
Read full review
$60 ($50 with Auto Pay)245MbpsNoneNone
Show more (2 items)

Source: CNET analysis of provider data

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Fastest internet providers in Madison

The ISPs in Madison run the gamut when it comes to speeds. Speedtest.net calculates Madison’s median download speed for fixed internet at a respectable 240.48Mbps in 2024. Depending on your location, service from the likes of T-Mobile, Verizon or UScellular may be fast or slow. Spectrum’s cable plans cover a lot of ground from 300Mbps on up to near-gig speeds. AT&T Fiber brings the heat with multi-gigabit fiber plans, although many people will opt to save money and stick with 1,000Mbps or below. If you’re eyeing that speed level, see if TDS services your address with its 1,000Mbps plan for $90 a month. 

On the other hand, you may be an intense gamer. Or maybe you’re uploading honking-huge files. Maybe you share your internet connection with several other people who are just as demanding as you are. It might be time to shop for a multi-gig plan. In Madison, that means AT&T Fiber, which offers speeds of up to 5,000Mbps in some parts of town. It comes with a hefty price tag of $250 a month. Too much? Check out the 2,000Mbps plan instead for $150. Here’s what you need to know about the best multi-gigabit internet plans.

What are the fastest internet plans in Madison?

ProviderMax download speedMax upload speedStarting priceData capContract
AT&T Fiber 5000
Read full review
AT&T Fiber 2000
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AT&T Fiber 1000
Read full review
TDS Telecom 1,000Mbps1,000Mbps$90NoneNone
Spectrum Internet 1 Gig
Read full review

Source: CNET analysis of provider data

How CNET chose the best internet providers in Madison

Internet service providers are numerous and regional. Unlike the latest smartphone, laptop, router or kitchen tool, it's impractical to personally test every internet service provider in a given city. What's our approach? For starters, we tap into a proprietary database of pricing, availability and speed information that draws from our own historical ISP data, partner data and mapping information from the Federal Communications Commission at FCC.gov. 

It doesn’t end there: We go to the FCC’s website to check our data and ensure we consider every ISP that provides service in an area. We also input local addresses on provider websites to find specific options for residents. We look at sources, including the American Customer Satisfaction Index and J.D. Power, to evaluate how happy customers are with an ISP's service. ISP plans and prices are subject to frequent changes; all information provided is accurate as of publication. 

Once we have this localized information, we ask three main questions: 

  • Does the provider offer access to reasonably fast internet speeds? 
  • Do customers get decent value for what they're paying? 
  • Are customers happy with their service? 

While the answer to those questions is often layered and complex, the providers who come closest to “yes” on all three are the ones we recommend. When selecting the cheapest internet service, we look for the plans with the lowest monthly fee, although we also factor in things like price increases, equipment fees and contracts. Choosing the fastest internet service is relatively straightforward. We look at advertised upload and download speeds and consider real-world speed data from sources like Ookla and FCC reports.

To explore our process in more depth, visit our how we test ISPs page.

What’s the final word on internet providers in Madison?

One of the biggest challenges with picking an ISP in Madison is the patchwork nature of coverage from the leading providers. Yes, AT&T Fiber is fast, but what if it doesn’t service your address? Your next option will likely be Spectrum for a cable connection but don’t count out fixed wireless from Verizon or T-Mobile. If you’re in a good location for one of those, you might find you’re happy with the speeds and even happier with the phone bundle discount. Finally, TDS Telecom is worth a look for residents of surrounding communities who want fast, reliable fiber. 

Internet providers in Madison FAQs

Is fiber internet available in Madison?

Yes. AT&T Fiber is the main mover and shaker within the city limits of Madison. Speeds hit 5,000Mbps in some spots, but less expensive plans at the 1,000Mbps and 2,000Mbps tiers will satisfy most people. If you live on the outskirts of Madison, look into TDS Telecom’s fiber offerings. Some affordable introductory deals from TDS will get you going with fiber.

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What is the cheapest internet provider in Madison?

A tight budget shouldn’t stand in the way of getting online. The federal Affordable Connectivity Program, which shaves at least $30 off the internet bill for eligible households, is closing. Don’t worry if you don’t qualify. T-Mobile and Verizon’s bundle deals put fixed wireless internet well within reach. Spectrum starts at $40 monthly, and AT&T Fiber’s lowest-level 300Mbps fiber plan at $55 a month is a decent deal for fiber.

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Which internet provider in Madison offers the fastest plan?

It’s not available everywhere in Madison, but AT&T Fiber steamrolls the competition with a 5,000Mbps plan for $250 a month. That puts it on the high end for residential plan speeds. Ask yourself if you really need that kind of download and upload speed before paying the premium monthly fee. 

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Is AT&T or Spectrum better in Madison?

AT&T and Spectrum are the two home internet heavy hitters in Madison. AT&T Fiber has fast download and upload speeds, making it ideal for gamers, remote workers and households with multiple heavy internet users. AT&T DSL is pokey by comparison. Spectrum enters the fray with many plans, including affordable offerings for low-income households. It can't match AT&T Fiber's 5,000Mbps maximum download speeds (available in some areas). Cable upload speeds are also significantly slower. Spectrum can still be a steady and affordable choice, especially if fiber isn't an option. Check out CNET's comparison between AT&T and Spectrum for more details.

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