Equipment fee: Yes ($3 to $15 per month for modem and router rental, depending on region)
Can you skip it? Yes
Astound Broadband offers home internet service in several large metros across the country -- including Austin, Chicago, Houston, New York and Seattle -- and the modem and router rental terms vary from region to region and plan to plan. In some cases, the rental fee can be included for as low as $3 per month, but in others, you'll need to pay as much as $15 monthly.
Regardless of the price, the rental fee includes both a modem and a router, and you can skip it by using your own hardware (here's Astound's list of approved modems). That said, it's worth noting that Astound also offers "Enhanced Wi-Fi" in some regions, which gets you a fancier router for an additional $10 per month. In some regions, Enhanced Wi-Fi means that you get the Eero Pro 6 mesh router, which is excellent, but in others, it's just the standard Eero 6 router, which wasn't nearly as strong a performer in my tests.
Customers can also rent the Netgear Nighthawk XR1000 Wi-Fi 6 gaming router for $13 per month, which isn't a bad deal at all, given that it usually costs around $300.