Remote Working and Learning - Home Internet Service Providers Guide
This is a document for those in need of information for internet service providers.
Your Internet Connection
A reliable, high-speed internet connection is important to being able to participate fully in online learning. Not sure how fast your connection is? Use this speed test and compare the result to our recommendations below.
There are 3 important numbers to consider when evaluating your internet connection.
- Download speed: the rate at which data is transferred from the internet to your device – higher numbers are better, but we recommend at least 15 megabits per second (Mbps)
- Upload speed: the rate at which data is transferred from your device to the internet – higher numbers are better, but we recommend at least 5 Mbps
- Ping: the delay in transferring data imposed by network conditions – lower numbers are better, but we recommend that your connection have no more that 75 milliseconds
Learn more: How to manage slower internet & low bandwidth
High-speed internet (broadband) carriers
Most internet providers offer high speed internet with no monthly data caps and have introductory pricing of $50 per month or less. Contact your local carrier to determine if service is offered at your residence. In many cases, you can also check availability online.
Below is a list of carriers that may provide service in your area:
- AT&T | Service outage information
- Charter | Service outage information
- Comcast | Service outage information.
- TDS Fiber(alternate provider in some markets)
- TDS Telecom (primary provider in some markets)
You can search for additional providers in your area using this advertising-supported site.
Not served by wired high-speed internet providers?
Unfortunately, access to wired internet in rural areas can be challenging. For those not served by wired internet, you may have access to a satellite broadband provider. Note that there are usually monthly data caps.
Connecting with mobile hotspots
While mobile hotspots are convenient for occasional internet access and for internet access when traveling they do not provide enough data in their plans to sustain full-time work from home. Even the “unlimited” plans are capped at about 20 GB of data, which is not enough data for most people to get through the month before the cap resets.
A note about connecting with mobile hotspots: In situations where internet access is not readily available, individuals with devices capable of producing data hotspots may want to contact their service providers regarding lifting any data caps that may be a part of their service plan. While not comprehensive, see this list of providers temporarily lifting data caps in response to COVID-19. However, DoIT still recommends a standard home broadband setup if the option is available.
This list of resources is provided as a convenience to aid in your search for an internet service provider. Inclusion on this list does not imply endorsement, recommendation, or support; other capable and quality providers may not be listed. As with any purchase, shop around, ask for promotional deals, look at consumer reviews, and read the terms and conditions of any contract prior to signing up for the service.
- The Wisconsin Public Service Commission publishes a list of resources that can help low-income families pay for utility costs. Click on the county of your home residence for more information.
- In response to the COVID-19 emergency, some providers in Wisconsin are offering free or low-cost internet access options. For details, see the Public Service Commission (PSC) website.
- UW-Madison students may receive financial assistance, if needed, by contacting the UW-Madison Office of Financial Aid. The Office of Financial Aid will review and respond to your request.
Staying secure when working and learning remotely
You are responsible for secure computing practices when working from home. Please reference this guide on how to safely and securely connect to the UW Network.