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Best Internet Providers in Chicago

If you want to get online in the Windy City, you've got plenty of options. Let CNET help you explore what's best for your home.

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Ryan_Crist2.jpg
Ry Crist Senior Editor / Reviews - Labs
Originally hailing from Troy, Ohio, Ry Crist is a writer, a text-based adventure connoisseur, a lover of terrible movies and an enthusiastic yet mediocre cook. A CNET editor since 2013, Ry's beats include smart home tech, lighting, appliances, broadband and home networking.
Expertise Smart home technology and wireless connectivity Credentials
  • 10 years product testing experience with the CNET Home team
trey-paul
trey-paul
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
Ry Crist
Trey Paul
12 min read
Xfinity - Best availability for an internet provider in Chicago
  • Prices from $20 - $300 per month
  • Speeds from 75 - 6,000Mbps
  • Data caps on some plans
Or call to order: (877) 938-9493
AT&T - Best fiber plans among internet providers in Chicago
  • Prices from $55 - $180 per month
  • Speeds from 300 - 5,000Mbps
  • Unlimited data
Or call to order: (866) 810-0517
Verizon 5G Home Internet - Best fixed wireless provider in Chicago
  • Prices from $50 - $70 per month
  • Speeds from 85 - 1,000Mbps
  • Unlimited data
Or call to order: (877) 348-2934
Rise Broadband - Best internet option for the western suburbs of Chicago
  • Prices from $25 - $65 per month
  • Speeds from 25 - 50Mbps
  • Unlimited data on some plans
Or call to order: (844) 493-4152

Like most major cities, Chicago offers internet users a wide variety of options for getting connected. Traditional cable providers like Xfinity and Astound Broadband/RCN have long dominated the market. Still, the rise of fiber and the emergence of new alternatives like 5G have given internet users across the Windy City more choices than they might realize. Meanwhile, other competitors have been working on expanding their footprints, sometimes by way of acquiring the competition outright.

That means now is a great time for Chicagoans to take another look at what's available at their address. You can keep reading for a rundown of the best, the fastest and the most affordable broadband plans from internet providers in Chicago.

Best internet providers in the Windy City

Below, you'll find our list of the providers Chicagoans should look to first when shopping for a home internet plan, based on extensive research and a close comparison of value, terms and availability. Speeds, prices and technologies will vary from provider to provider, and different providers service different parts of the city, so you'll need to check what's available at your address. 

Read moreAT&T vs. Xfinity: Comparing Largest Fiber and Cable ISPs

A phone displays the Xfinity Logo
Sarah Tew/CNET

Xfinity

Best availability for an internet provider in Chicago

Or call to order: (877) 938-9493
Product details
Price range $20 - $300 per month Speed range 75 - 6,000Mbps Connection Cable Highlights Data caps on some plans, lots of plan options, solid customer satisfaction numbers

Per the Federal Communications Commission, Comcast offers gigabit download speeds to 98% of serviceable addresses across the US, which amounts to about 34% of the population.

Availability: Comcast's Xfinity internet service is the nation's largest cable provider and offers services across much of Chicago and its surrounding suburbs. If you live in the area, or you're moving there, the odds are that Xfinity will be one of your main internet options.

Plans and pricing: In Chicago, you can expect to see 1,000Mbps and 1,200Mbps plans for $75 or $80 per month during the first year, which is fairly competitive. For lighter users, the $30-per-month Connect plan (75Mbps) and the $40-per-month Connect More plan (200Mbps) stand out as decent values, too, though you'll need to pay an extra $14 per month to rent the Comcast gateway. On top of that, Comcast is rated above the industry average for customer satisfaction by both the American Customer Satisfaction Index and J.D. Power.

Fees and service details: Just be sure to watch out for the 1.2TB data cap and moderate price hikes of about $15 to $40 after Year 1. Also, remember that as a cable provider, Comcast's upload speeds will be much slower than its download speeds. None of those are deal-breakers, so Xfinity should be one of the first providers you consider unless your home is wired for fiber.

Read our Xfinity home internet review.

Or call to order: (877) 938-9493
A phone showing the AT&T logo on its screen
Sarah Tew/CNET

AT&T

Best fiber plans among internet providers in Chicago

Or call to order: (866) 810-0517
Product details
Price range $55 - $180 per month Speed range 300 - 5,000Mbps Connection Fiber Highlights Unlimited data, no contracts, equipment included

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. If so, put AT&T right at the top of your list. 

Availability: AT&T offers service throughout most of the Chicagoland area, including surrounding suburbs like Evanston, Elgin, Schaumburg, Naperville, Joliet, Tinley Park and others. 

Plans and pricing: For the same price as that 18Mbps DSL plan ($55 per month), fiber customers can get matching upload and download speeds of up to 300Mbps. Near-gigabit speeds of 940Mbps are available, too, and while AT&T's blazing fast multigig plans with speeds of 2 and 5 gigabits per second aren't available to everyone in Chicago yet, it may just be a matter of time.

Fees and service details: AT&T Fiber has no data cap and no prescheduled price increase after the first year. 

Read our AT&T home internet review.

Or call to order: (866) 810-0517
Verizon logo on a phone screen
Sarah Tew/CNET

Verizon 5G Home Internet

Best fixed wireless provider in Chicago

Or call to order: (877) 348-2934
Product details
Price range $50 - $70 per month (50% off for eligible 5G mobile customers) Speed range 85 - 1,000Mbps Connection Fixed wireless Highlights Unlimited data, no contracts, free equipment, 50% discount for qualifying Verizon mobile customers

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. 

Availability: Your two main options are Verizon and T-Mobile, both of which offer home internet connections in Chicago, but you'll need to verify that your address gets a strong enough signal to qualify for service. If fiber isn't available at your address, it's worth checking with both providers to see if 5G might be an option. Both are interesting, but between the two, I'd start with Verizon. 

Plans and pricing: Verizon 5G Home Internet is available to fewer households overall than T-Mobile, but it offers speeds of 85 to 300Mbps for $50 per month or 300 to 1,000Mbps for $70 monthly, faster than T-Mobile's speeds of 33 to 182Mbps for $50 a month. 

Fees and service details: Verizon 5G Home Internet offers a two- to three-year price guarantee (depending on which plan you choose) and a 50% monthly discount if you have an eligible Verizon phone plan. There are no additional equipment fees and no data cap.

Read our Verizon 5G Home review.

Or call to order: (877) 348-2934
rise-broadband-chicago-coverage.png
FCC/Mapbox

Rise Broadband

Best internet option for the western suburbs of Chicago

Or call to order: (844) 493-4152
Product details
Price range $25 - $65 per month Speed range 25 - 50Mbps Connection Fixed wireless Highlights Unlimited data on some plans, low price increase

Availability: You won't find it available in the city, but if you're living deep in the Chicago suburbs (think DeKalb, Joliet, Rockford) and faster cable and fiber plans are unavailable at your address, then Rise Broadband is definitely worth a look for your home's internet service.

Plans and pricing: As a fixed wireless provider, the company can't promise speeds any faster than 50Mbps, but it does offer relatively fair pricing for rural internet, including plans that don't come with a data cap, and the $10 price increase after Year 1 is reasonable by ISP standards. 

Fees and service details: It's really more of an option for homes where slower DSL and satellite connections are the only other alternatives, but if cable, fiber or cellular internet plans won't work at your address, give Rise Broadband a shot.

Read our Rise Broadband review.

Or call to order: (844) 493-4152

Chicago internet options compared

Let's take a look at how those top picks compare with the rest of your options in Chicago, starting with a quick overview of what's out there:


Internet technologySpeed rangeMonthly starting price Monthly price range (after promo)Data caps
Air Wans Fixed wireless3-15Mbps (aggregated upload and download speeds)$50-$100 SameNone
Astound Broadband Cable110-1200Mbps downloads, 15-50Mbps uploads$25-$70 $123-$168 None
AT&T Internet DSL10-100Mbps downloads, 1-20Mbps uploads$55 $70 1.5TB
AT&T Fiber Fiber300-940Mbps downloads and uploads$55-$80 SameNone
Comcast Xfinity Cable75-6,000Mbps downloads, 5-6,000Mbps uploads$30-$300 $49-$300 1.2TB
Rise Broadband Fixed wireless25-50 downloads, 4-5 uploads$25-$65 $35-$75 250GB on some plans
T-Mobile Home Internet Fixed wireless (5G/LTE)33-182Mbps downloads, 6-23Mbps uploads$50 SameNone
Verizon 5G Home Internet Fixed wireless (5G/LTE)85-1,000Mbps downloads, 5Mbps uploads$50-$70 SameNone
Show more (3 items)

All available Chicago residential internet providers

Air Wans
Air Wans is a folksy fixed wireless provider servicing the rural areas of Illinois and Indiana surrounding Chicago, including Braidwood, Coal City, Crete, Elwood, Grant Park, Homer Glen, Merrillville, Minooka, Monee, Orland Park, Oswego, Plainfield, Preston Heights, Tinley Park and Valparaiso. Pricing ranges from $50 to $100 per month with no contracts, no data caps, no throttling and no 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.

Image of Astound Broadband van
Astound Broadband

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, including Evanston, Naperville and Rolling Meadows. Recent metro expansions include broadband development in Logan Square, Fulton Market and West Town.

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-webpass-chicago-coverage-map.png

Google Fiber Webpass offers high-speed internet connections at select buildings throughout Chicago.

Google

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 per month for a month-to-month plan with no commitment. You can search for serviceable buildings on Google's Webpass map here.

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-gateway

T-Mobile's Home Internet gateway connects you to the internet over 5G and LTE airwaves.

Rick Broida/CNET

T-Mobile Home Internet
Like Verizon, T-Mobile now offers cellular home internet service in hundreds of cities across the country, including Chicago. To get connected, 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 33 to 182Mbps 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. All of that makes it a worthy option if available at your address, but I'd want to know if I could get faster speeds for the same price from Verizon before I signed up.

Zentro Internet
Zentro Internet (formerly Everywhere Wireless) is a Chicago-based internet provider offering fiber speeds of up to 2Gbps (2,000Mbps) to select addresses throughout a semi-scattered footprint centered around the downtown area. The company provides free Wi-Fi services at many Chicago parks and beaches, as well as at the Field Museum, the Shedd Aquarium and several prominent Chicago-area business headquarters.

As for residential internet, service seems to be most prevalent in the South Loop, Greektown and stretching along Milwaukee Ave. through Wicker Park, focusing on providing service to luxury condominiums, high-rises and other population-dense addresses. If your address falls within the coverage map, you can expect reasonable rates with no contracts, no data caps and no fixed price increases after your first year, which is great. Still, the wide majority of serviceable addresses will only have access to a fixed wireless connection, and according to the FCC, speeds higher than 100Mbps are only available to about 61% of customers.

Read more: Best Internet Service Providers for Streaming in 2023

Chicago internet details at a glance

Although Ookla's data put the Windy City in the bottom 10 among the nation's top 100 most populous cities (at an inglorious 92nd position), Chicagoans still have plenty of options for getting high-speed internet in their homes.

Pricing details on Chicago home internet service

If you take into account only the starting prices of all internet plans offered by providers in the Windy City, the average starting price of broadband service is approximately $43 per month. That's certainly not the best rate we've seen among the markets CNET has covered thus far -- Brooklyn, Los Angeles and Denver are all under $40 a month. However, Chi-Town is also not the highest either. Charlotte, Las Vegas, San Diego and St. Louis all chime in around $50 monthly.

What are the cheapest internet plans in Chicago?

You won't need to pay more than $50 per month or so if you're just looking for the most affordable internet plan at your Chicago address. If AT&T offers the service at your address, you can even get fiber speeds of 300Mbps at that price, but if not, the Connect plan from Comcast is a decent consolation available almost everywhere, with download speeds of 75Mbps and upload speeds of 10Mbps. Not blazing fast, but a decent value at $30 per month during the first year. 

Stepping up to Xfinity's Connect More plan more than doubles your download speeds to 200Mbps for $40 per month, which is a slightly better value, but to my eye, the best value is the Fast plan, which gets your uploads up to 10Mbps and shoots your download speeds up to 400Mbps for $55 per month during the first year. The cost-per-Mbps for that plan, a rough indicator of value, comes out to about 14 cents, compared to 40 and 20 cents for Connect and Connect More, respectively.

Chicago's cheapest internet plans

ProviderStarting monthly rateSpeedsData caps
Astound Broadband 300Mbps $25 300Mbps downloads, 15Mbps uploadsNone
Rise Broadband 25Mbps $25 25Mbps downloads, 4Mbps uploads250GB
Xfinity Connect $30 75Mbps downloads, 10Mbps uploads1.2TB
Air Wans Basic $50 3Mbps (downloads and uploads aggregated)None
T-Mobile Home Internet $50 33-182Mbps downloads, 6-23Mbps uploadsNone
Verizon 5G Home Internet $50 85-1,000Mbps downloads, 50Mbps uploadsNone
AT&T Internet $55 100Mbps downloads, 10Mbps uploadsNone
AT&T Fiber 300 $55 300Mbps downloads, 300Mbps uploadsNone
Show more (3 items)

Other good values to look for at your address include cellular home internet service from Verizon and T-Mobile, both available for $50 per month (make that $25 from Verizon if you already have select cell phone plans with them, or $30 with eligible T-Mobile wireless subscriptions).

Chicago's cheapest plan comes from Astound Broadband, and it nets you download speeds of 300Mbps and upload speeds of 15Mbps for just $25 per month during your promo period. But watch out -- according to Astound's Chicago rate card (which, I might add, is somewhat buried on the Astound website), that price can shoot up to $123 per month after that introductory rate.

"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," a company spokesperson said when we asked about those rate jumps. Still, unless Astound commits publicly to rates lower than those, you're left at its mercy after the initial term is up. Let the internet buyer beware.

Are there internet options for low-income households in Chicago?

Most major providers 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, as well as provider-specific instructions for signing up at the links below:

Chicago skyline at dawn
Joe Daniel Price/Moment/Getty Images

Internet speeds in the Windy City

As I mentioned earlier, Ookla data puts Chicago among the slowest of the big cities in the US. How slow? It chalks up a median download speed of approximately 145Mbps, which is a full 100Mbps behind a top-five city like San Antonio.

Download speeds

Chicago - 124 Mbps
IL - 144 Mbps
US - 133 Mbps

Upload speeds

Chicago - 41 Mbps
IL - 39 Mbps
US - 46 Mbps
*Data sourced from M-LAB speed tests taken by real users in Chicago.

Fastest internet providers in Chicago

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 speeds of 940Mbps and upload speeds of 880Mbps at an attractive flat monthly rate of $80. Costlier, multi-gig plans with speeds as high as 5Gbps are available elsewhere in the nation from AT&T, but they haven't widely come to Chicago just yet.

"AT&T Fiber is available to hundreds of thousands of customers in the Chicago area," a company spokesperson said when I asked about fiber availability in Chicago. "AT&T will continue to roll out multi-gig speeds across its fiber footprint and densify fiber in Chicago, among other cities across Illinois. For more information or to check availability for all speed tiers of AT&T Fiber, visit att.com/hypergig."

Meanwhile, local provider Zentro offers fiber connections with upload and download speeds of up to 2Gbps at extremely select addresses, but it's quite unlikely that those will be an option. In most cases where it's available, you'll connect via fixed wireless at much slower speeds.

Comcast also advertises multi-gig fiber plans, including one with upload and download speeds of up to 6Gbps. However, that plan is only available nationwide at a tiny fraction of serviceable addresses. At almost all Chicago addresses, a cable plan with download speeds of up to 2Gbps and upload speeds of 50Mbps will be the fastest plan you can get. It's fairly well-priced at $100 per month, but that shoots up to $130 monthly after two years.

What are the fastest internet plans in Chicago?

Provider Max download speedMax upload speedStarting priceData capContract
Xfinity Gigabit X2 2,000Mbps50Mbps$100 NoneNone
Astound Broadband 1,200Mbps50Mbps$70 NoneNone
Xfinity Gigabit Extra 1,200Mbps35Mbps$80 1.2TB2 years
AT&T Fiber 1000 1,000Mbps1,000Mbps$80 NoneNone
Rise Broadband 1,000Mbps1,000Mbps$100 NoneNone
Xfinity Gigabit 1,000Mbps35Mbps$75 1.2TB2 years
Astound Broadband 940Mbps50Mbps$60 NoneNone
Show more (3 items)

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 only available 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 per month 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 $50 per month. Faster plans will cost more, with gigabit service from AT&T costing $80 per month in Chicago. Some providers enforce a price increase after your first year -- Comcast Xfinity's fastest Chicago plan nets you download speeds of 1.2Gbps and costs $80 per month for the first year, then $109 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.

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