May 19, 2019

Best Internet Providers in Chicago

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If you don't order fast enough internet, you may find that you can't do what you want at home. There are many options for internet service providers in the Chicago area.

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The internet provider and package that you choose should depend on what you want out of your internet. If you aren't going to stream movies, run smart appliances, or have multiple devices running at one time, your internet needs may be basic. If you have a need for extensive internet access, though, you'll want the package that can support your needs without excessive buffering or down time.

Keep reading to find out the internet service provider options you have in Chicago.

What Types of Internet Are Available?

Chicago offers a variety of internet connection options depending on where you live. You'll likely find that you can choose from DSL, cable, fiber, or satellite internet if you live in the heart of the city. If you live in the one of the outlying suburbs, though, you'll likely have to rely on satellite internet service.

You'll find a wide range of speeds available as well, depending on where you live and what you want to spend on internet every month. Typically, fiber and cable connections offer the fastest internet speed, but it depends on the company you choose and even the package from each company. If you live in an area where you can't get wired internet, as is the case for most rural areas, you may have to resort to satellite internet.

What to Look for in an Internet Provider in Chicago

You will probably have the option of choosing from the largest names in ISPs, including AT&T, Xfinity, and Spectrum. Knowing what to look for in the company and your internet package can help you make the right choice.

Ask yourself what is most important to you of the following:

Availability
Do you live in a remote area or are you in the heart of the city? Depending on where you live, you may not have as many options as you'd hoped. While numerous companies offer their services in Chicago, those in the outlying suburbs may have to rely on DSL or satellite services.

Capability
What type of speed do you need? Are you a casual internet surfer or a serious gamer? This will make a difference in your required speed. A casual internet surfer can get away with the slower speeds offered by DSL or cheaper cable internet packages. A serious gamer or large family with many devices streaming at once may fare better with a fiber internet provider or faster cable internet connection.

Data Cap
How much data do you need each month? Many ISPs have some type of data cap. You may find the cap as high as 1 TB, which you will probably never touch, so that's almost as good as unlimited. Others cap your data at a certain point and then use "speed throttling." This may lower your upload/download speed for the remainder of the billing cycle.

Cost
Certain types of internet connections, such as fiber optics, cost more than DSL in most cases. However, costs can vary within the same provider as well. Ask yourself what you need. Do you want a contract that locks you into a package for 2 years or do you want a month-to-month contract to allow you to make changes? Do you need to rent a modem? That will add to your monthly costs. Finally, think about the cost of installation. Do you want a professional to install it or can you handle a DIY option?

Bundles
Do you pay for television and phone service too? You may want to explore your options to bundle internet, TV, and phone or even just internet and TV. You may save the most money this way as companies sometimes offer significant discounts on bundled packages.

Customer Service
You'll want to pay close attention to the customer service that a company offers. Their method of communication, hours, and ability to manage outages quickly should play a role in your decision.

Best Internet Provider

Understanding what you need will help you choose the right internet service provider from our list below.

Best Internet Provider in Chicago's City Limits

Xfinity
Xfinity covers 99% of Chicago, offering their fast cable internet service. They have seven packages for you to choose, including packages with download speeds of up to 25 Mbps all the way up to 2,000 Mbps.

Xfinity's packages do include a data limit, but it's typically large enough that most people don't go over it. The packages offered by Xfinity cater to the basic internet surfer all the way up to the family that needs unlimited devices streaming at the same time.

Xfinity offers its customers access to Norton Security Suite, which can help keep you protected as you browse the internet. Xfinity also offers access to hundreds of Xfinity hotspots throughout the city of Chicago. This gives you access to your internet while on the go and at no extra cost. One aspect many users love about Xfinity's internet service is the ability to manage it right from an app on their phone. Parents who want to restrict access to the internet can simply pause access for a specific amount of time.

Best Internet Provider in the Chicago Suburbs

AT&T
AT&T covers a majority of the Chicago suburbs with their DSL service. Some lucky areas also have access to AT&T's fiber internet service. Their packages often include a Wi-Fi gateway to help you connect your devices to the internet wirelessly. You'll also receive a McAfee Internet Suite to protect you while browsing.

AT&T offers an estimated 30,000 hotspots that you can access while on the go. You should expect a data cap on most of the AT&T internet plans available in the Chicago suburbs, with the exception of their largest plans, which are often much more data than a standard household requires.

AT&T does have quite a few bundled plans available, which can be good if you pay for television service and a home telephone. Most plans require a one- to two-year contract and require installation charges. One of the largest benefits of bundling your AT&T services is the access to an unlimited internet data plan.

Best Business Internet Provider in Chicago

Verizon
Verizon offers businesses access to DSL internet connections for businesses. Their fiber internet isn't available yet in most areas of Chicago. Verizon offers four DSL business packages to choose from, each of which offer the option to choose between a 2-year contract and a no-contract plan.

Verizon tops the charts year after year with their exceptional customer service, which can be beneficial when you are trying to run a business. You don't have time for downtime or long wait times when calling customer service. Verizon has also consistently offered the highest speeds in the area, sometimes even exceeding the speeds they advertise.

The only downside we could find with Verizon's business internet service is the lack of transparency when it comes to downtime compensation. A downed internet connection can mean a loss of sales or business for you. Knowing what type of compensation you'll receive as a result of the downtime can be a crucial part of your decision.

The Best Satellite Internet in Chicago: If you are in a rural area of Chicago, you may not have access to cable or DSL internet providers. If that's the case, satellite internet may be your only option. HughesNet offers fast download speeds and affordable packages to make it easy to get access to the internet, no matter where you live in Chicago.

Best Cable Internet Provider in Chicago

WOW
WOW is one of the premier internet service providers offering cable connection, which tends to offer faster service than DSL. WOW offers a 2-year price guarantee (you must sign a contract) and they don't have any data caps. This eliminates the risk of going over your data limit and either slowing down your speed or costing you more money.

WOW offers some of the fastest speeds for cable internet in Chicago. They currently offer three plans, called "Fast," "Faster," and "Fastest."' The speeds are 100 Mbps, 500 Mbps, and 1,000 Mbps. WOW does offer bundled services that can help you save money on your internet, TV, and phone service.

WOW does have a reputation for excellent customer service. They offer the option to call customer service or email your request. Just know that you'll wait up to 24 hours for an answer to your email. Keep in mind that your monthly cost may be higher if you have to rent equipment from WOW; they do offer the option to buy your own modem as long as it's compatible with WOW's service.

Cheapest Internet Provider in Chicago

RCN
RCN offers four different internet-only plans starting at just $29.99 per month. RCN guarantees their prices for 12 months and they don't require you to sign a contract. If you need to rent equipment from them, though, you may pay more each month.

Not only do you get cheap rates with RCN, but PC Magazine also rated them as #1 in both speed and reliability. If customer service is important to you, RCN's 24/7 customer service will also appeal to you. RCN also doesn't have set data limits, helping you to avoid excessive use charges each month.

If you order your RCN internet online, you can often get some type of deal, such as free installation, which can save you quite a bit of money over other internet providers.

Bottom Line

Take your time when choosing the right ISP for your home or business. Each company has different packages and contract requirements. Know what you are getting and what your requirements are before agreeing to a plan and committing yourself to the service for one to two years.

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