Best Internet Providers in Chicago, Illinois
Best Internet Providers in Chicago, Illinois
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Best Internet Providers in Chicago, Illinois

Best Internet Providers in Chicago, Illinois

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What is the best internet provider in Chicago?

AT&T Fiber is the best internet provider for most households in Chicago due to its symmetrical speeds and simple pricing. If AT&T Fiber isn’t available at your address, Rise Broadband, Verizon 5G Home Internet and Xfinity are also solid picks.

We’ve also found the lowest prices and the fastest speeds for Chicagoans. The cheapest internet in the Windy City is Xfinity’s Connect plan, offering a 75-megabits-per-second connection for $20 per month. For those with a need for speed, the fastest available internet speed you’ll find in the area is offered by AT&T Fiber. For $250 monthly, customers can get up to 5,000Mbps of download speed with no data cap or contract needed.

CNET considers speeds, pricing, customer service and overall value to recommend the best internet service in Chicago across several categories. Our evaluation includes referencing a proprietary database built over years of reviewing internet services. We validate that against provider information by spot-checking local addresses for service availability. We also do a close read of providers’ terms and conditions and, when needed, will call ISPs to verify the details.

Despite our efforts to find the most recent and accurate information, our process has some limitations you should know about. Pricing and speed data are variable: Certain addresses may qualify for different service tiers, and monthly costs may vary, even within a city. The best way to identify your options is to plug your address into a provider’s website. 

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Also, the prices, speed and other information listed above and in the provider cards below may differ from what we found in our research. The cards display the full range of a provider’s pricing and speed across the US, according to our database of plan information provided directly by ISPs. At the same time, the text is specific to what’s available in Chicago. The prices referenced within this article’s text come from our research and include applicable discounts for setting up automatic payments each month — a standard industry offering. Other discounts and promotions might also be available for signing a term contract or bundling with multiple services. 

To learn more about how we review internet providers, visit our full methodology page.

Best internet in Chicago in 2023

AT&T’s fiber internet service is one of the best deals in home internet these days — but the bad news is that most Chicago-area addresses will only be serviceable for one of AT&T’s much slower DSL plans, which also come with data caps. With speeds no faster than 18Mbps in some neighborhoods, those DSL plans aren’t worth your time if other alternatives are an option, but it’s worth looking to see if AT&T’s fiber offerings are available at your address.

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Check with AT&T

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Check with Rise

5G home internet plans are a thing now. They’re pretty tempting, promising reasonably fast speeds, straightforward pricing, no data caps or contracts, and plenty of perks and discounts, especially if you’re already paying the provider for phone service. 

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Check with Verizon

Comcast’s Xfinity internet service is the nation’s largest cable provider and offers services across much of Chicago and its surrounding suburbs.

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Check with Xfinity

Chicago internet providers compared

Provider Internet technology Monthly price range Speed range Monthly equipment costs Data cap CNET review score
Air Wans Fixed wireless $50-$100 3-15Mbps downloads and uploads $9 router (optional) None N/A
Astound Broadband Cable $25-$70 300-1,500Mbps downloads, 15-50Mbps uploads Free modem; $5 for Whole-home Wi-Fi (optional) None 7
AT&T Internet DSL $55 10-100Mbps downloads, 1-20Mbps uploads None 1.5TB 7.4
AT&T Fiber Fiber $55-$250 300-5,000Mbps downloads and uploads None None 7.4
Comcast Xfinity Cable $25-$100 75-1,200Mbps downloads, 5-35Mbps uploads $15-$25 (optional) 1.2TB 7
Rise Broadband Fixed wireless $45-$55 25-50Mbps downloads, 4-5 Mbps uploads $10 modem; $5-$15 router (optional) None 6.2
T-Mobile Home Internet Fixed wireless $50 ($30 for eligible Go5G Plus and Magenta Max mobile customers) 72-245Mbps downloads, 15-31Mbps uploads None None 7.4
Verizon 5G Home Internet Fixed wireless $50-$70 ($35-$45 with eligible Verizon 5G mobile plans) 50-1,000Mbps downloads, 10-50Mbps uploads None None 7.2

Show more (3 items)

Source: CNET analysis of provider data.

Other available internet providers in Chicago

Air Wans: Air Wans is a folksy fixed wireless provider servicing the rural areas of Illinois and Indiana surrounding Chicago. Pricing ranges from $50 to $100 per month with no contracts, data caps, throttling, or price increases after the first year. That’s about as simple and straightforward as home internet gets. 

The rub is that Air Wans speeds are some of the slowest you’ll find, ranging from just 3 to 15Mbps with the downloads and uploads aggregated together. That’s well below broadband levels and too slow for us to recommend for just about anyone. If anything else is available at your address, give that a look first.

Astound Broadband: The New Jersey-based cable conglomerate Astound Broadband has spent recent years gobbling up territory in Chicago, including acquisitions of cable infrastructure from WideOpenWest and RCN. That’s helped it to offer home internet service throughout much of the city and its surrounding suburbs.

Astound boasts strong pricing during the first two years of service. However, monthly rates on all four of the plans offered to Chicagoans can shoot up by well over $100 after the introductory period, and you can expect to pay additional fees on top of that, including an arbitrary monthly Network Access Fee of $7 that isn’t included in your base rate. That makes the service an inferior value to its main cable rival, Xfinity, but it’s still a name to keep an eye on as the service expands in Chicago.

Google Fiber Webpass: Some buildings throughout the greater Chicago area are wired for Google Fiber Webpass, which uses a fixed wireless antenna to offer high-speed connections to the internet. Gigabit speeds are possible via Webpass, but actual speeds depend on the specific address in question. The service costs $63 per month for a yearly plan or $70 monthly for a month-to-month plan with no commitment. You can search for serviceable buildings on Google’s Webpass map.

Satellite internet: A satellite internet connection uses a receiver dish mounted outside your home to connect with satellites orbiting overhead to get you online. You’ll find service available from HughesNet, Viasat and perhaps Starlink. But in most cases, the prices are too high, the speeds too slow and the data caps too restrictive compared to other Chicago internet options. It’s really only worth considering if you lack other alternatives, and for most of Chicago, that won’t be the case.

T-Mobile Home Internet: Like Verizon, T-Mobile now offers cellular home internet service in hundreds of cities nationwide, including Chicago. You’ll simply plug in a cellular modem that gets its signals not from wires in the wall, but over the 5G and LTE airwaves, like your phone. T-Mobile offers just one plan at $50 per month, and speeds will range from 72 to 245Mbps in most homes with a strong enough signal to sign up. There are no data caps or contracts to worry about, and your price won’t arbitrarily rise after 12 months, either.

Cheap internet options in Chicago

You won’t need to pay more than $20 per month or so if you’re looking for the most affordable internet plan at your Chicago address. The Connect plan from Xfinity is a decent consolation available almost everywhere, with download speeds of 75Mbps and upload speeds of 10Mbps for $20 per month. But in the Chicago area overall, the Astound Broadband 300Mbps plan is the best value among cheaper plans. The cost per Mbps for that plan, a rough indicator of value, comes out to just over 8 cents, compared with 33 cents for Xfinity’s Connect plan and just over 18 cents for AT&T Fiber 300.

Most major providers also offer discounted plans for qualifying low-income customers via the Affordable Connectivity Program, a government-funded internet rebate that eligible consumers can take advantage of to knock $30 off of the monthly cost of their internet bill. You can find full details on the FCC’s website.

What’s the cheapest internet plan in Chicago?

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Source: CNET analysis of provider data.

How to find internet deals and promotions in Chicago

The best internet deals and the top promotions in Chicago depend on what discounts are available during that time period. Most deals are short-lived, but we look frequently for the latest offers. 

Chicago internet providers, such as Xfinity and Rise Broadband, may offer lower introductory pricing or streaming add-ons for a limited time. Many, however, including AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile, run the same standard pricing year-round. 

For a more extensive list of promotions, check out our guide on the best internet deals.

Chicago skyline at dawn

Joe Daniel Price/Moment/Getty Images

How fast is Chicago broadband?

Ookla speed test data put the Windy City in the bottom 10 among the nation’s top 100 most populous cities (at an inglorious 95th position). How slow? It chalks up a median download speed of approximately 125Mbps, over 100Mbps behind a top-five city like San Antonio. However, Chicagoans still have plenty of ways to get high-speed internet in their homes.

Your fastest option for getting online in Chicago is to go with a fiber provider, but service isn’t available everywhere. AT&T is your best bet, with its fastest plan for Chicago ringing in with download and upload speeds of 5,000Mbps at a hefty flat monthly rate of $250. At almost all Chicago addresses, a cable plan with download speeds of up to 2,000Mbps and upload speeds of 200Mbps will be your fastest plan. It’s fairly well-priced at $105 per month with no data cap or contract.

Fastest internet plans in Chicago

Provider Starting price Max download speed Max upload speed Data cap Connection type
AT&T Fiber 5000 $250 5,000Mbps 5,000Mbps None Fiber
AT&T Fiber 2000 $150 2,000Mbps 2,000Mbps None Fiber
Xfinity Gigabit X2 $105 2,000Mbps 200Mbps None Cable
Astound Broadband $70 1,500Mbps 50Mbps None Cable
Xfinity Gigabit Extra $95 1,200Mbps 35Mbps 1.2TB Cable
AT&T Fiber 1000 $80 1,000Mbps 1,000Mbps None Fiber
Verizon 5G Home Internet $70 ($45 with eligible mobile plan) 1,000Mbps 50Mbps None Fixed wireless
Xfinity Gigabit $80 1,000Mbps 20Mbps 1.2TB Cable

Show more (4 items)

Source: CNET analysis of provider data.

What’s a good internet speed?

Most internet connection plans can now handle basic productivity and communication tasks. If you’re looking for an internet plan that can accommodate videoconferencing, streaming video or gaming, you’ll have a better experience with a more robust connection. Here’s an overview of the recommended minimum download speeds for various applications, according to the FCC. Note that these are only guidelines — and that internet speed, service and performance vary by connection type, provider and address.

For more information, refer to our guide on how much internet speed you really need.

  • 0 to 5Mbps allows you to tackle the basics — browsing the internet, sending and receiving email, streaming low-quality video.
  • 5 to 40Mbps gives you higher-quality video streaming and videoconferencing.
  • 40 to 100Mbps should give one user sufficient bandwidth to satisfy the demands of modern telecommuting, video streaming and online gaming. 
  • 100 to 500Mbps allows one to two users to simultaneously engage in high-bandwidth activities, like videoconferencing, streaming and online gaming. 
  • 500 to 1,000Mbps allows three or more users to engage in high-bandwidth activities all at the same time.

How CNET chose the best internet providers in Chicago

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. So 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. 

But 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, though 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 page on how we test ISPs.

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

The Windy City has a lot of options when it comes to home internet, including both speedy and more affordable service. If you can get your hands on fiber connectivity, like AT&T Fiber, that will be your best choice. However, cable companies like Xfinity and Astound Broadband have wider coverage for Chicagoans, so you might have to go with those providers instead.

Internet providers in Chicago FAQs

Can I get fiber internet in Chicago?

It depends on your address. AT&T offers fiber service in Chicago, but its footprint currently covers “hundreds of thousands” of residents in a city of 2.71 million. That means the odds are somewhat low that you’ll find it available at your address. Smaller regional providers like Zentro Internet also offer fiber service at select addresses, but only to a scattering of buildings throughout the city.

Does Chicago have Google Fiber?

Chicago isn’t a Google Fiber city, so you won’t find fiber internet plans from Google in the area. However, the company does offer its Google Fiber Webpass service in Chicago: It’s a high-speed fixed wireless internet service that’s available only in select buildings equipped with antennas capable of receiving the signal. Gigabit speeds are possible at some locations with Webpass, and the service costs $70 or $63 per month with a one-year contract. You can find serviceable addresses listed on the Google Webpass site.

How much is internet per month in Chicago?

Prices will vary depending on your provider and select plan, but most entry-level internet plans in Chicago range from $25 to $55 per month. Faster plans will cost more, with gigabit service from AT&T costing $80-$250 monthly in Chicago. Some providers enforce a price increase after your first year — Xfinity’s fastest Chicago plan nets you download speeds of 2Gbps and costs $105 per month for the first year, then $120-$130 per month after that.

What are the disadvantages of cable internet?

Though cable internet can offer fast, gigabit-level download speeds over the same wiring traditionally used to deliver television signals, it offers upload speeds that are much slower and typically limited to the double digits, at best. That can limit device performance whenever you’re sending lots of data to the web (video calls and large uploads might be slower than you’d like, for instance). Cable is also slightly more susceptible to network slowdowns during peak usage than fiber connections.



SOURCE : www.cnet.com

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