Best internet providers in Chicago, Illinois
Chicago has several great options for internet, including our top picks: AT&T and Xfinity. Coupling high speeds and superior customer service, AT&T gives you the best bang for your buck, with speeds up to 5 Gbps—though you likely won’t need speeds that fast. Fiber is the future of internet connections, and several companies (AT&T among them) are looking for aggressive expansion in this arena. Not every address will be viable, though, at least not yet, as AT&T fiber only covers just under 60% of the Chicago area.
If AT&T fiber is unavailable in your area, Xfinity is another great option. Cost-wise, Xfinity’s plans cost a fraction of what you’d pay with its competitors, while not sacrificing anything in the way of reliable and fast service. Those concerned with Xfinity’s spotty customer service record will find Astound Broadband a stellar alternative, with a price similar to Xfinity’s.
Disclaimer: Availability and pricing are subject to location. Conditions apply. For offer details, visit the provider's website.
Our top 3 ISP choices in Chicago, IL
Here we’ll break down our top picks, with more in-depth analysis of AT&T, Xfinity, and Abound, our gold, silver, and bronze medalists for the Chicago area.
#1: AT&T internet
AT&T is our top pick, with the combination of price, speed, reliability, and impeccable customer service vaulting it to the top of our charts. As it expands its fiber footprint, allowing for speedy upload and download speeds, there’s hope for anyone looking to hop on the AT&T train.
Unfortunately, as only about 60% of the Chicago area is currently viable for fiber connectivity, not every address will be able to obtain the high speeds and reliable internet afforded by a fiber connection. If that’s the case with you, other services will have what you need—AT&T no longer offers DSL to new customers, so if you can’t get fiber, consider another option in your area.
Read our full AT&T internet review.
#2: Xfinity internet
Speed and reliability are benchmarks for Xfinity, which consistently ranks high in performance metrics, and lucky for you, it covers nearly 96% of the Chicago area. $25 a month can get you internet speeds up to 200 Mbps, more than enough speed for streaming, downloading HD videos, music, gaming, etc. Offering several options for bundling internet, home phone, home security, and TV, Xfinity offers a home to anyone who wants a single bill that covers everything at the end of the month.
In the past, Xfinity was criticized for having poor customer service, not exactly what a paying customer wants to hear before committing at least a year to a company, but it seems to be improving in that department.
Read our full Xfinity internet review.
#3: Astound Broadband internet
Though Astound scores higher than Xfinity with both our staff and customers, limited availability knocks it down to third on our list, though it’s still a fantastic option for the Chicago area. Offering speeds of up to 300 Mbps for only $25 a month, anyone looking for a budget-friendly deal will find Astound, well, astounding. You can also bundle TV and internet under one plan. The best part is there are no contracts required, and the price is locked in for two years if you take advantage of the current promotion of their website.
There are some disclaimers on Astound’s website that are worth reading through; Astound will provide the modem for free but stipulates that “additional equipment” may be required to reach promised internet speeds, though it doesn’t clarify if a basic modem will accomplish that. Covering just under 60% of the Chicago area, Astound is a great option if your address is viable, though eventual price hikes are a real possibility.
Read our full Astound internet review.
All internet providers in Chicago
Aside from our top three, there are several other providers in the Chicago area. T-Mobile offers fixed wireless plans to nearly 96% of the area, and if you already have a T-Mobile phone plan, consider adding internet to form a bundle and nab the accompanying savings. Same applies to Verizon, though it’s not as widely available (covers only 60% of the area).
There are several satellite providers that cover 100% of the Chicago area, including Starlink, HughesNet, and Viasat. Overall, our impression of satellite internet is that it’s a growing industry with several hang-ups in its current constitution that make it either unreliable, unaffordable, or technologically restrictive. High upfront equipment costs, high latency, required contracts, and more limit its appeal to a wider audience; future technological advances may change that, but as of now, there are too many simpler, more affordable, less restrictive options in your area to recommend satellite internet with any confidence. If you’d still like to take a dive into the satellite internet pool, Starlink is the highest rated by our staff.
If you’re looking for speedy internet for multi-family residences, Zentro is the leading provider in that arena, mostly covering residential towers and highrises. It only covers about 2% of the Chicago area, but if you live downtown, in a multi-apartment, multi-story building, Zentro has great deals and high speeds, with its basic package starting at $29 a month.
Fastest internet providers in Chicago
Xfinity and Astound are neck and neck with speeds, with Xfinity holding a slight edge at 1.2 Gbps over the 1 Gbps offered by Astound. AT&T is far and away the winner here, though, with speeds up to 5 Gbps, overkill for a typical household, but for those speed demons with a hankering for seamless downloads, uploads, streaming, and more, AT&T has you covered. Keep in mind this is for a fiber connection, so be sure to check and see if your address qualifies first (only 60% of Chicago is viable for AT&T fiber).
How much speed do you need?
Cheapest internet providers in Chicago
Technically, Xfinity comes in as the cheapest option in the Windy City, with plans starting as low as $20 a month, should your address fall into an area offering that price. These areas seem to be centralized around high-competition pockets in the city, where Xfinity is competing with other companies such as T-Mobile and AT&T, hoping to gain an edge by offering a lower price.
Astound, however, isn’t far behind, and if your address is viable, we’d recommend it over Xfinity, at least for the first two years (with their current two year price-lock promotion). Price hikes aren’t uncommon with Astound, but there aren’t any multi-year contract obligations, so if you’d like to swap Astound for a better deal if they threaten a price hike, more power to you!
Internet options in nearby cities
All of the satellite internet providers technically cover 100% of the Chicago area and surrounding suburbs, but signal reception can be spotty. The major players (AT&T, Xfinity, Verizon, and T-Mobile) are also available around the Chicago area. The coverage map for these companies in cities such as Joliet, Naperville, Aurora, and Elgin is virtually identical to the Chicago area, though Verizon does offer service to slightly more addresses in Aurora than Chicago.
Aurora also has options available for the major players, but Astound Broadband, Rise Broadband, and Metronet also offer service to the area, though in a very limited capacity, with all three companies barely cracking 5% coverage combined.
What Chicago residents are saying on Reddit
Most of the complaints we hear and see are leveled at T-Mobile’s phone service, relevant here because the signals are the same for home Wi-Fi. You could experience reduced efficiency if you live in a building with thick walls, but no customer complaints were aimed at this specifically.
With that said, some customers love T-Mobile for its speeds and reliability, so it’s a mixed bag here.
Xfinity, AT&T, and Astound Broadband seemed to be the most appealing options for Chicago residents. Xfinity’s price, speed, and reliability marked high with customers, though widespread outages that last several hours do seem to peeve some consumers. Sentiment about AT&T, already known for its excellent customer service, was also very positive. Though Astound Broadband will eventually hit you with a price hike, customer sentiment was still mostly positive as the company seemed willing to accommodate customers after the first year…with a little “persuasion.”
In our neighborhood Comcast is the only non-cellular (5G) internet option we have access to, so we’re, effectively, stuck in Comcast hell.
We’ve reached out to every other imaginable provider (RCN, Everywhere Wireless, ATT, WOW) and no one else services our area.
We’d jump to a 5G option (T-Mobile or Verizon) but they don’t play nice with certain streaming providers (Hulu Live).
We’re exasperated, as are our neighbors. I’ve spoken with several who are interested in petitioning our Alderperson for a solution, like investing in the infrastructure needed to provide fiber. Is that a waste of time?
What other options should we explore?
Edit: Thanks for all the awesome feedback. Per someone’s recommendation I reached out to the Alderperson before creating a petition and received no response. I’ll follow up with her again. I’ve also checked into all the recommended services and none of them service our neighborhood.
Also, in the past two weeks we’ve had internet outages twice. With one of them being for 24+ hours. These guys are the absolute worst.
Apprehensively switched to T-Mobile internet and never looked back and honestly it was the same quality from the "best streaming option" Comcast offered. The difference between the 2? At least 60-70$.
Who is the provider? Do you like them?
Edit - yes, meant internet not “wifi”
AT&T fiber for the past two years or so. $70 per month 940mbps. Never had an outage. I do reset the Wi-Fi every two or three days if it starts to lag. Overall I’m happy with it.
I live in river west and my 5g signal drops for 5-10 minutes at a time. This happens all day long. Don't have this problem at work in Roscoe Village.
Ever since getting a new device a month ago w 5G I've not been impressed. The 4G side was always fantastic.
Anybody else in Chicago/Chicagoland having problems with their Xfinity internet?
Edit: Seems like a nationwide outage. To everyone who telecommutes, enjoy your late start/day off 😁
I blame the refs for this as well.
Internet news and infrastructure in Chicago, IL
As of December, 2022, Illinois received a huge boost of over $250 million to increase broadband infrastructure across the state.
According to Lily Ogburn, a reporter in the Chicago area: “In light of the new funding, which has yet to be distributed, community advocates in Evanston and Chicago are hoping to bring attention to bridging the digital divide, or unequal access to internet and devices.” (2)
Chicago is hoping to get a chunk of that windfall, and could theoretically expand its internet infrastructure across the city, specifically to assist lower-earning families and those without proper devices or internet connectivity.
After acquiring FastMesh (2), Astound Broadband is looking to expand to more multiple dwelling units in the Chicago area. If more residential buildings are built in the downtown Chicago area, Astound can increase its footprint, as it is the go-to provider of web services and internet connections for high-density apartment living in the area.
Frequently asked internet questions in Chicago
Yes, fiber is the best option for its higher resistance to interference, transmission speeds, and overall reliability, as fiber-optic connections remain strong during peak hours, while cable speeds may vary depending on the number of individuals pulling from the same broadband. Learn more about how fiber works and if it’s the right choice for your household.
AT&T and Astound Broadband are the top two providers of fiber-optic internet in the city. Value-wise, Astound is the way to go, at least for the first year, as price hikes after year one are common, though it’s currently running a deal for a two-year price lock with no data caps, enabling users to hold on to the service for a little longer.
For those looking for excellent reliability, no contracts, and ultra-fast speeds, AT&T is tops in the business; faster speeds will cost you, but it still has reasonable prices for great speeds that will satisfy the average household.
Compare Astound Broadband and AT&T to make an informed decision based on the factors that are important to you.
Xfinity is a great option for those on a budget, but we’d actually recommend Astound Broadband if your address is viable. It will come in slightly cheaper than Xfinity (about $5 cheaper for the addresses we checked) and has award-winning service and speed. On the other hand, Xfinity’s customer service is improving, and it’s competitive with their budget plans, so this may be a case-by-case (i.e. address-by-address) basis.