Astound Broadband Home Internet Review: Great Starting Price, but Beware a Steep Increase

This broadband provider serves several of the country's top metros, including Chicago, Seattle and Washington, DC. Here's what you can expect with Astound.

Article updated on April 29, 2024 at 5:00 AM PDT

Our Experts

Written by 
Trey Paul
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
Trey Paul Senior Editor
Trey Paul is a CNET senior editor covering broadband. His 20+ years of experience as a writer and editor include time at CNET's sister site, Allconnect, and working with clients like Yahoo!, Google, The New York Times and Choice Hotels. An avid movie fan, Trey's career also includes being a film and TV critic while pursuing a degree in New York.
Expertise Home internet and broadband, including plans, providers, internet speeds and connection types. Movies and film studies. Credentials
  • Master's degree in Cinema Studies from NYU and interviews with Conan O'Brien, Stan Lee and some of his biggest Star Trek childhood idols
Why You Can Trust CNET
Sq. Feet of Lab Space

Our expert staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and evaluates our top picks. The order in which our top picks are presented may be impacted by partnerships, and we may get a commission if you buy through our links.

Enter your address to view internet providers available near you
Why do we ask for your address?
We ask for your address to help pinpoint which providers and plans are available in your area.
Prefer to speak with an expert live? Call (833) 891-6413 for availability in your area.
Unavailable in Provider unavailable in 90001
Or call: Or call to learn more: 877-725-7935

Astound Broadband home internet service rating

How we calculated our rating

/ 10
Customer Care
  • Low first-year pricing
  • No data caps
  • No contracts
  • Availability limited to metro areas
  • Sharp price increase after the promotional period
  • Confusing equipment fees

In 2023, Astound Broadband upgraded its 1,200 megabits per second plan to 1,500Mbps -- in all but Anne Arundel County, MD. Among US internet providers, that puts it as one of the fastest cable broadband providers available nationally. Not too shabby.

But I have to be honest. I nearly titled this review Confusion in Cable Land. Why? Because my eyes glazed as I pored over the offerings for the 11 markets covered by Astound Broadband Powered by RCN. (Whoa, that's a mouthful!) But that hardly matters for most people unless you plan to relocate from one Astound Broadband market to another. What matters most is what Astound offers in your area.

What Astound brings to the table is some of the most aggressively priced promo offers for cable internet. Add in the fact that Astound doesn't enforce contracts, termination fees or data caps, and you're looking at a winning combination -- or an appealing one, at least.

Locating local internet providers

Image of Astound Broadband van
Astound Broadband

What's the catch? Astound's monthly fees jump a considerable amount after your promo period. I would typically ding it quite a bit for that escalation. Don't get me wrong, it's a sizable leap, and you need to be aware of that extreme increase, but it's not quite what we would term "trap pricing." The main reason is that Astound doesn't tie you into a term agreement, so when you run into that price hike, you are free to either bail or try to negotiate with your provider before paying those larger bills. 

Let's dig in and learn more about Astound Broadband. 

Locating local internet providers

Where can you get Astound Broadband?

Residential Communications Network, better known as RCN, has been in business since 1993 and is currently owned by Astound Broadband, which provides services under the Grande Communications and Wave Broadband regional brands. Astound offers home internet service to eleven states in the US. That's Washington, Oregon, California, Texas, Illinois, Indiana, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Massachusetts and Maryland.

Take our quiz
Step 1 of 4
How many members of your household use the internet?

Plans and pricing for Astound Broadband

This is where I felt like I was wrangling cats. While Astound typically offers the same plans and pricing across all of its markets, upload speeds might differ depending on your location.

We've listed below the plans available in its Texas market -- including Houston, Austin, Dallas and San Antonio -- which sits almost squarely in the middle of the variety of options that Astound provides its customers throughout its service areas.

Astound internet plans (Texas market)

PlanMax download speedsMax upload speedsStarting monthly costRegular monthly costMonthly equipment feeData cap
Astound 300
Read full review
300Mbps20Mbps$20 $90 NoneNone
Astound 600
Read full review
600Mbps35Mbps$35 $100 NoneNone
Astound 1000
Read full review
1,000Mbps50Mbps$45 $100 NoneNone
Astound 1500
Read full review
1,5000Mbps50Mbps$55 $112 NoneNone

How Astound compares with other ISPs on pricing

The monthly prices you see above are representative of what you'll find across all the Astound markets, but I do want to point out some of the differences as well. Overall, across all Astound markets and plans, you will see an average cost of 5 cents per Mbps for your promo pricing. That is right at the top among all cable ISPs we've reviewed, including Xfinity (8 cents), Optimum (11 cents), WideOpenWest (12 cents), Spectrum (13 cents), Sparklight (19 cents) and Cox (19 cents). 

For example, Astound customers in New York City will see some extremely competitive pricing for that area. New Yorkers can sign up for a promo rate of $55 a month for 1,500Mbps. That's an impressively affordable 4 cents per Mbps on introductory pricing for our friends in the Northeast that's more affordable than the gig offers from Optimum and Verizon Fios. To top it off, those customers will also get one month of service for free and 50% off installation.

Internet rate card from Astound Broadband.

Astound Broadband's rate card for Texas residential services.

That's the good news. The not-so-great side of the story is the price jump after the introductory rate. Whereas the average cost per Mbps was 5 cents for the introductory pricing, Astound's regular rate, which kicks in after six to 24 months, holds an average price of 16 cents per Mbps. While that's not the highest we've seen among cable ISPs -- here's looking at you, Cox (23 cents per Mbps) -- it's undoubtedly one of the starkest differences we've seen between the promo rate and the regular rate.

What does that look like in real terms? Check out the table above and look again at the sticker shock awaiting customers of the 300Mbps-to-1,500Mbps plans. All of those offerings have a monthly price that leaps by more than $50 after the first year, which is staggering compared with the average price jumps of cable competitors like Xfinity (average increase of $28 to $48 after 12 months), Cox (average increase of $20 to $50 after 12 months) and Spectrum (average increase of $30-$40 after 12 months). Still, an increase of $50 or more in the monthly cost of your home internet service is an extremely tough pill to swallow, especially if you're trying to keep your budget buttoned down.

When we asked Astound about that massive jump, its spokesperson said, "It's important to note that promotions do not increase to the standard retail rates published on the rate card ... [which are] generally the maximum price that one may pay, and what is published for consumers to reference.

"Additionally, customers are provided advanced notice that the promotion is coming to an end, along with their new monthly rate," they said. "This information is included in their billing statement the month before the promotion ends." 

Either way, you're not tied down to Astound with a term agreement, so as you approach the end of your promo period, you can see what terms Astound offers or try researching other ISPs in your area. For example, Verizon Fios may be an option for customers in the Washington, DC, area, and Chicagoans may choose to switch to Xfinity. In each case, though, make sure to do your homework. If Verizon's DSL service is the only other option for you, Astound will still be cheaper, and those considering a jump to Xfinity will need to be aware that to receive the best rates, you'll need to sign up for a term contract, which isn't required of Astound customers.

Additional internet fees

All Astound Broadband markets charge a one-time activation fee of $15, which isn't unusual among ISPs. However, what isn't quite so common is an add-on monthly fee that Astound calls a Network Access and Maintenance Fee. This is an additional charge of $13 per month. 

As far as equipment goes, a free modem is standard across the markets for the first couple of years. You will have to chalk up an additional $5 each month for Wi-Fi rental, but expect that fee to also increase after the promotional period expires -- just as Astound's internet rates do.

You can avoid the monthly equipment charge 

Astound does give you the option to skip any equipment fees altogether by using your own device. You can use your own modem and router if they're compatible with Astound's network. As you're about to see, this may be the easiest way to navigate a web of potential add-ons. 

More options, but also potentially more fees

Although Astound gives you the chance to skip the equipment fee, it also makes several supplemental items available that could help boost your home networking hardware -- while bumping up your bill too. 

For example, while a standard Wi-Fi router is typically going to run you $20 a month (it is included in most plans), Astound gives you the option to add enhanced Wi-Fi to your home. This is supplied via the Eero Pro 6 mesh router, which my CNET colleague Ry Crist gave high marks when he put it through its paces.

Astound also taps on the shoulders of gamers by offering a chance to upgrade to a gaming router. Customers can opt to rent the Netgear Nighthawk XR1000 for $13 per month on top of their monthly modem charge.

There are other opportunities to upgrade your broadband experience, including the option to add a Max subscription for $15 per month.

Yes, all of these options will ultimately increase your bill -- and if you plan on using your equipment for longer than a year or two, it probably makes more sense to buy them outright rather than rent them. Still, these add-ons might provide significant value to your service, especially if you can foresee using them for those initial 24 months when your broadband bill is at its lowest. You might also find it helpful to try a mesh network out in your home to see if it makes a meaningful difference. If it does, you could consider purchasing one for yourself outright. If not, you're out only a single month's rental fee.

Deals and promotions

Astound offers a few intriguing deals to try to sway your attention. It has a handful of limited-time offers available, including 50% off installation (in all markets), a $40 value. In addition to this, most markets also offer a free month of internet service -- but it'll depend on your location.

Astound Broadband's customer satisfaction numbers are solid 

Astound doesn't appear on either the J.D. Power US Residential Internet Service Provider Satisfaction Study or the latest ISP report from the American Customer Satisfaction index. We've used these two industry benchmarks to track how broadband providers measure up with American consumers. This has become especially important as more and more of us lean on our home internet for work and school, not just bingeing Netflix. 

Over at PCMag's 2023 Readers' Choice awards, Astound did very well. It scored a 7.8 in overall customer satisfaction, which put it in the top 10 of internet providers. It also scored well above the average industry score, which was 7.4. 

The bottom line on Astound Broadband home internet service

Astound Broadband is at the top of the class for cable internet providers. It gives you many options to customize your service, and its promo pricing is second to none. Yes, that significant change in monthly price after your introductory period is substantial -- but to an extent, that is mitigated by the lack of contracts binding you to those hefty charges. With no early termination fees looming, the power is in your hands to try to negotiate with Astound or seek services elsewhere after your first year. 

Astound Broadband home internet FAQs

What does RCN stand for?

RCN began as Residential Communications Network back in 1993. Although it's now owned by the parent company Astound Broadband, RCN still has its headquarters in Princeton, New Jersey.

Show more

How do I contact Astound customer service?

Much of what you need can be found online at the Astound Support Center and using the Astound Mobile app. Astound Broadband also has a US-based customer support staff available by phone every day, all hours at 800-427-8686. Lastly, you can also connect to Astound on Facebook.

Show more

What is Astound's Internet First program?

Astound began the Internet First program in April 2020 in response to the pandemic. It's an affordable internet service offered to low-income families participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Medicaid. Qualifying households will have access to max download speeds of up to 50Mbps for $10 monthly. There are no activation or installation fees, no contract is required and participants receive free service for the first 60 days.

Show more
Looking for internet service?
Check availability
Tell us your address to view what’s available
Tell us your address to view what’s available
Why do we ask for your address?
  • Sometimes a provider is available in your Zip code, but not at your exact address
  • See what exact plans are available at your home
provider image
Enter your address
Why do we ask for your address?
  • Sometimes a provider is available in your Zip code, but not at your exact address
  • See what exact plans are available at your home
Prefer to speak with an expert live? Call (833) 891-6413 for availability in your area.
Prefer to speak with an expert live? Call (833) 891-6413 for availability in your area.
Enter your address to view what's available near you
Why do we ask for your address?
We ask for your address to help pinpoint which providers and plans are available in your area.
Prefer to speak with an expert live? Call (833) 891-6413 for availability in your area.