The best internet providers in Chicago

The best internet providers in Chicago

Like many other densely populated cities in the United States, Chicago does suffer from sub-par to relatively good internet service. The city located on Lake Michigan in Illinois doesn’t have a lot of internet services providers, but there are actually a number of plans and packages to choose from for those who are looking to get an internet connection installed. Finding internet providers in Chicago may be a straightforward endeavor for some residents, but other may find it difficult to get a single connection at all.

The city currently has a number of patchwork networks that serve numerous areas around the city. However, there are areas that are literally “in the dark.” Due to how these networks have been laid out, some areas around the city may not have many options when it comes to wired internet service. Some neighborhoods may have access to two or three wired internet options while some may only have one.  

Fortunately, some internet service providers may be able to remedy this problem by sending out technicians to connect a specific area to their network.  As of the moment, the largest internet service providers in Chicago are Comcast, through their Xfinity network and AT&T internet. The two wired internet providers have a decent coverage of the entire city and they do offer residents a number of package options. Other providers such as Wow! and RCN cover relatively smaller areas around the city. These providers also offer residents with great plans that offer good internet speeds and reliability. However, only those that are covered by their limited coverage can avail of their services.

All in all, there are currently at least 12 active residential internet providers in Chicago, with other providers only catering to businesses. Chicago is currently the third most connected city in Illinois, right behind cities such as Riverside and Forest Park. Based on published speed test data, the average internet connection speeds within the city is around 31.1 megabits per second. The city’s average internet speed is 10.7 percent slower that the state average. It is also 13.3 percent slower than the national average. That average speed is expected to dramatically increase with the introduction of fiber optic internet. A company called Webpass, which was recently acquired by Google Fiber, is now supplying gigabit speed internet to select establishments and neighborhoods around the city. At least 93 percent of residents in the city have access to high-speed internet connections faster than 25 megabits per second.

Best internet provider in the city

According to the latest reviews, the best overall residential internet provider in the city is Xfinity by Comcast. The company currently offers residents with a “one size fits all” packages.  Thanks to the company’s multiple plans and packages, there should be a plan to fit different budgets. Through the use of hybrid fiber-coaxial cable networks, the company is able to provide residents with gigabit speed internet. The technology basically combined the best of both networks, namely the speed of a fiber optic network and the affordability of a traditional cable internet service. (Learn more from Being a cable internet provider, the company is also able to throw in add-on features, which it already includes in most of its packages.

Customers can choose between a number of cable internet packages that may already include a cable television plan and even a residential telephone line with unlimited nationwide calls. Comcast currently offers Chicago residents with more than 15 different internet plans that range from $29.99 for basic internet-only plans to its $154.99 triple play packages. Basic cable internet plans will include internet connection speeds of up to 60 megabits per second. Customers who want to get cable television access can opt to get a higher tier plan such as the company’s $49.99 Economy Double Play plan, which includes 100 megabits per second internet connection and basic digital cable television. Basic cable television will give customers access to dozens of channels that include digital versions of locally available programs. Higher tier packages from Comcast will give customers cable television access to hundreds of channels that will include HD channels, exclusive channels, and foreign-language channels. Large households and small to medium business may want to opt for one of the company’s many Triple Play packages, which will include all three services, namely an internet connection, cable television access, and a residential landline. Residents who want to have the fastest internet connection possible from the company can choose either the Super Triple Play plan or the company’s Gigabit plan, which will include internet connection speeds of up 1,000 megabits per second.

It has to be noted that similar to other internet providers in Chicago, with the exception of Wow!, Comcast does implement a monthly data cap for all of its users. Comcast currently has a standing 1 terabyte monthly data cap for most of its plans. While the data cap might be of concern to most users, 1 terabyte is probably more than enough for most uses except really heavy users who stream hours of high-resolution videos and movies on a daily basis.

Other internet providers in Chicago

Those who for some reason do not want to get a subscription from Comcast, can choose from a number of other alternatives. Among the other internet service providers in the city, Wow! Internet would be the best second choice. As previously noted, the company does provide residents with an internet connection that doesn’t have a monthly data cap. The company also offers several packages with different cable television plans attached. The only reason why the company isn’t the best option for most residents is because of its limited coverage. Basic plans with the company cost around $29.99 per month with the priciest package, which includes all three services, costing around $10.9.99 per month. Among all the of the internet service providers within the city, RCN currently offers the cheapest plans at $24.99 per month for its most basic package.

Those that are lucky enough to be in the coverage of Google’s Google Fiber service can opt to get a subscription given that it is actually the best internet service in the city. Chicago is actually one of the few cities in the United States where Google had first rolled out their Webpass gigabit internet service. As previously mentioned, the company fiber optic internet service is only available in select buildings and areas around the city. This means that not a lot of people will have access to the service. Lucky subscribers of the service will get to enjoy true gigabit internet connections that feature better reliability and signal quality when compared to DSL and cable internet.

Those who are living in the outskirts of the city or in remote areas can still get an internet connection from the city’s two satellite internet providers. HughesNet and ViaSat are two of the country’s best satellite internet providers and they are both available in Chicago. Viasat currently offers the best deal among the two with basic packages costing only around $30 per month. A basic satellite internet package with the company will include internet speeds of up to 25 megabits per second. Due to the complex process involved in sending internet signals to and from satellites in outer space, internet speeds are actually very limited when compared to its wired counterparts. Satellite internet plans are also mainly sold on data-usage tiers. This means that higher tier packages will not necessarily include higher speeds. Higher tier packages will instead only offer users with more monthly data allocations. Satellite internet plans also regularly comes with strict multi-year contracts. Users who will prematurely terminate their accounts are liable to pay additional monthly fees to cover the cost of the hardware, such as the required satellite dish, and its installation.

One can also avail of the different internet plans that Spectrum has to offer starting at $44.99 for its internet plan only and you can go all the way up to $119.97 for its triple play packages with 100mbps internet as its introductory speed offering.

Issues with Chicago’s internet services

Due to the nature of how the city was built and the number of residents found in each area, Chicago currently suffers from a lack of overall internet infrastructure. A lot of residents have complained about the quality of the internet in different areas. Because of the limited bandwidth in some areas and the thousands of users connecting simultaneously at any given time, most internet providers in Chicago has had to implement strict data capping rules. Data capping is a common complaint among residents in the city. However, those who properly keep track of their monthly data usage shouldn’t have any problems. Most companies will generally not charge any additional cost to those who go beyond their monthly allocation. Instead, companies will dramatically slow down a user’s internet speeds, sometimes up to 1 or 5 megabits per second, when he or she goes beyond his or her monthly allocated data.

The internet speeds are reset to their original speeds after the billing cycle rolls over. Residents who have not properly read their internet contract may also be surprised that some companies will add in a monthly equipment rental fee. This can easily be resolved by residents purchasing their own modem router, which will actually save them some money when compared to paying for monthly rentals. Residents also have to consider that most companies will have multi-year lock-in contracts that will not allow users to prematurely terminate their accounts. If this happens, customers are typically charged a termination fee.

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