|AT&T Fiber||5,000 Mbps||$55.00/mo.||Fiber and IPBB|
|Verizon 5G||1,000 Mbps||$50.00/mo.||Fixed Wireless|
|T-Mobile Home||245 Mbps||$50.00/mo.||Fixed Wireless|
|Google Fiber||2,000 Mbps||$70.00/mo.||Fiber-optic|
|Spectrum||1,000 Mbps||$49.99/mo.||Fiber and Cable|
Chicago is the most digitally connected city in Illinois. Around 99 percent of its population (2.58 million people) can access broadband internet with a minimum download speed of 25 Mbps. There are a total of 50 internet service providers in Chicago, Illinois. Among them:
Fiber internet is the fastest option for uninterrupted internet connectivity in Chicago, Illinois. Nearly 46.2 percent of the city can access hyperfast 5 Gig upload and download speeds on the city’s well-constructed fiber-optic internet system. Some of the best neighborhoods in Chicago for connecting to a fiber internet network are the Magnificent Mile, Wicker Park, Avondale, Grand Boulevard, and Clearing.
Fiber internet service providers in Chicago use the fastest existing thing in the universe, light, to transmit internet data to subscribers’ homes. Fiber-optic cables are made of silica glass. The double-layered, transparent structure of a fiber strand allows refraction and causes the light photons to repeatedly bounce against the walls of the wire in a fast wave-like motion. This method of signal transmission prevents attenuation, resulting in blazing-fast internet speeds over long distances.
Currently, there are 12 fiber internet service providers in Chicago, delivering an average internet speed of 1,028 Mbps to at least 500,661 homes.
The 3 best fiber internet service providers in Chicago offer symmetrical internet speeds of up to 5,000 Mbps, with unlimited data and 99.9 percent network reliability, for a median monthly fee of $60.
Cable is the most widely available wired internet technology in Chicago, Illinois. More than 99 percent of the city is connected to the sprawling coaxial cable networks, delivering download speeds of up to 1.5 Gigs. The only part of Chicago not connected by coaxial cable systems is the Millenium-Maggie-LakeView Park stretch. However, Chicagoans can access free WiFi in Millenium Park thanks to the ChicagoWiFi initiative by the City Government.
Cable internet service providers in Chicago use the existing cable TV infrastructure in the city to distribute internet data as analog (electric) signals to individual homes. An internet modem is installed in every subscriber’s home that converts analog signals into digital signals for reliable high-speed internet usage.
By 1991, half a million homes in Chicago were connected to the city’s extensive cable TV network. Today, that number has doubled to 1 million. While many have jumped ships to modern-day TV streaming services, the coaxial cable TV lines remain active, delivering ultrafast internet service by Comcast, RCN, Times Warner Cable, and WideOpenWest (WOW).
The 3 most popular cable internet service providers in Chicago deliver maximum download speeds of up to 1,500 Mbps for a starting price of just $25 per month.
Being the third-largest metro area in the United States, Chicago was one of the first cities to experience 5G home internet service. In 2018, the home internet technology made a quantum leap with the addition of fifth-generation fixed wireless internet. Cellular long-term-evolution (LTE) towers were now used to emit ultra-wideband radio frequencies with downstream capacity of up to 4 Gbps (4,000 Mbps). Internet users seeking greater mobility and reliable coverage in remote locations need a cordless 5G modem to convert 5G radio frequencies into WiFi internet data.
Typically, fixed wireless internet service providers in Chicago offer download speeds of up to 250 Mbps for a median price of $60 per month. However, Verizon 5G Home internet plans can deliver ultrafast download speed of up to 1,000 Mbps, making it the first and fastest fixed wireless internet service provider in Chicago, IL. Verizon’s 5G Home Plus plan offers 1 Gig download speed for only $70 per month, and customers get unlimited data, a compatible 5G WiFi router, a 30-day free trial, and a 3-year price guarantee.
Below are the 3 best fixed wireless internet service providers in Chicago that offer wireless internet coverage in more than 65 percent of the city.
Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) internet is the second most widely available source of wired broadband in Chicago, Illinois. Approximately 92.5 percent of the city can get a download speed of up to 100 Mbps via telephone lines used to distribute digital data in the form of analog signals. DSL internet service is available in most residential and commercial districts, except for spotty coverage in the city’s green spaces.
The DSL internet service providers in Chicago can deliver an average download speed of 68 Mbps for an average price of $70 per month. Despite its expansive coverage area, DSL internet is the preferred option for online connectivity for only 3 percent of Chicagoans. DSL internet’s slow speeds, high prices, and low network reliability add to its unpopularity.
Residents of central Chicago are most likely to get faster speeds on their DSL connections. Whereas, subscribers in the southeast will experience slower speeds.
EarthLink Internet is the largest DSL internet service provider in Chicago. For a starting price of $49.95 per month, it can offer a download speed of up to 80 Mbps in 91.51 percent of the city.
Here are the 3 best DSL internet service providers in Chicago that promise basic broadband access in fiber-deprived areas of the city.
The motto of satellite internet service providers in Chicago is “100 percent coverage guaranteed”. Unlike other broadband services, satellite internet providers do not need citywide infrastructure (wires and towers) to transmit data signals directly into subscribers’ homes.
Satellite internet is often the last resort for broadband access in Chicago. Its slow speeds, high costs, and data caps make it worth consideration for less than 1 percent of the residents. The 3 best satellite internet service providers in Chicago promise 100 percent network coverage with download speeds of up to 220 Mbps for a median price of $71.33 per month.
AT&T Fiber is the fastest internet service provider in Chicago. For a starting price of $55 per month, it can deliver the same upload and download speeds of up to 5,000 Mbps (5 Gigs). AT&T Fiber internet plans are accessible in over 55 percent of Chicago and include unlimited data, cutting-edge WiFi 6 gateway, ActiveArmor cybersecurity, and no-contract service. Customers can combine their fiber internet service with an AT&T Wireless Unlimited mobile plan to get a monthly discount of $20 on the bundle deal.
|AT&T Fiber Internet Plans in Chicago, IL|
|Plan||Standalone Price||Bundled Price||Speed|
|AT&T Fiber 300||$55.00/mo.||$35.00/mo.||300 Mbps|
|AT&T Fiber 500||$65.00/mo.||$45.00/mo.||500 Mbps|
|AT&T Fiber 1 Gig||$80.00/mo.||$60.00/mo.||1,000 Mbps|
|AT&T Fiber 2 Gig||$150.00/mo.||$130.00/mo.||2,000 Mbps|
|AT&T Fiber 5 Gig||$250.00/mo.||$230.00/mo.||5,000 Mbps|
EarthLink Fiber relies on AT&T’s fiber-optic transmission lines to distribute symmetrical internet speeds of up to 5,000 Mbps to subscribers. Therefore, we will not consider EarthLink as the fastest internet service provider in Chicago.
Chicago’s high cost of living has pushed 19.5 percent of its population to the brink of poverty. The price of basic amenities in Chicago is 20 percent higher than the national average. On average, a broadband plan in Chicago costs between $40 and $60 per month. Financially distressed families are unable to fork out this amount. As a result, 15.6 percent of the households in Chicago (close to 173,563 families) cannot afford broadband internet at home. Luckily, one Chicago internet provider offers superfast internet speeds at just $25 per month.
Astound is the second-largest cable internet service provider in Chicago. Starting at just $25 per month, Astound’s cable internet plans include one month of free service, free expert installation ($79.95 in value), up to 2 years of price lock guarantees, a $100 gift card, and unlimited monthly data.
|Astound Cable Internet Plans in Chicago , IL|
|Internet 300||$25.00/mo.||300 Mbps||1 year|
|Internet 600||$45.00/mo.||600 Mbps||2 years|
|Internet 800||$50.00/mo.||800 Mbps||2 years|
|Internet Gig||$60.00/mo.||940 Mbps||2 years|
|Internet 1.5 Gig||$70.00/mo.||1,500 Mbps||2 years|
Equitable access to affordable internet remains an unachieved goal for thousands of low-income, unserved, and underserved families in Chicago. About 20 percent of the households in Chicago are without internet, preventing them from participating fully in the economy, society, and democracy.
Chicago’s digital divide was brought to light in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. During the lockdowns, many students and professionals from financially challenged homes could not study and work remotely. Federal Communications Commission’s Affordable Connectivity Program was launched to drive digital equity across Chicago, and the Office of the Mayor formed the Digital Equity Council to oversee the successful implementation of the government-sponsored initiative. Top-ranking Chicago internet providers were invited for partnership and dissemination of free and discounted internet services through the $30/month subsidy.
AT&T is one of the best ACP internet providers in Chicago. It offers a $30 discount each month on its internet and mobile phone plans to ACP-qualified households. The $30 government incentive applies to all the AT&T Fiber internet plans, including the Fiber 100 service, which becomes completely free after the ACP discount.
|AT&T ACP Plans in Chicago|
|Plan||Regular Price||Price After ACP||Speed|
|Fiber 100||$30.00/mo.||Free||100 Mbps|
|Fiber 300||$55.00/mo.||$25.00/mo.||300 Mbps|
|Fiber 500||$65.00/mo.||$35.00/mo.||500 Mbps|
|Fiber 1 Gig||$80.00/mo.||$50.00/mo.||1,000 Mbps|
|Fiber 2 Gig||$150.00/mo.||$120.00/mo.||2,000 Mbps|
|Fiber 5 Gig||$250.00/mo.||$220.00/mo.||5,000 Mbps|
You can also consider the following low-income Chicago internet providers for free home internet with download speeds of up to 150 Mbps.
|Top 3 Low-Income Internet Service Providers in Chicago|
|Provider||Regular Price||Speed||Price After ACP|
Chicago is the most populated city in Illinois, and the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin metro area is the third-biggest economic center in the country, with a combined GDP output of over $7.6 hundred million. The economic vitality of Chicago would have been impossible without a robust broadband infrastructure.
A cohort of more than 50 Chicago internet providers offers seamless connectivity in 100 percent of the city, for monthly rates as low as $25.
Here is a breakdown of the coverage areas of wired and unwired internet services available to Chicagoans:
|Availability of Internet Service in Chicago, IL|
|Type of Internet Service||Coverage Area in Chicago|
|Fixed Wireless Internet||65.7%|
Together, the satellite, fixed wireless internet, fiber-optic, cable, and DSL internet service providers in Chicago offer a median internet speed of 121.82 Mbps, which is 53.76 Mbps slower than the state average.
|Citywide Coverage of Chicago Internet Providers|
|Providers||Coverage||Type of Internet|
|T-Mobile Home||63.5%||Fixed Wireless|
|Verizon 5G||48.6%||Fixed Wireless|
|Spectrum||26.5%||Fiber and Cable|
We applied a simple 3-check rule to determine the best internet service provider in Chicago. All the 10 top-rated Chicago internet service providers were analyzed based on their citywide availability, maximum internet speeds, and starting prices. After an in-depth evaluation, we concluded that AT&T Fiber was the only Chicago internet provider that offered the best of all three.
AT&T Fiber internet service is available in 55.3 percent of the city. Customers can receive supremely fast equal upload and download speeds of up to 5 Gbps for a starting price of $55 per month. A wide array of complementary perks, like free equipment, free installation, discounted bundle deals, and contract buyouts, further enhance its A-grade service.
Around 46.2 percent of Chicago is connected to a robust fiber-optic internet network and can access equal upload and download speeds of up to 5 Gbps. AT&T Fiber is the largest fiber internet service provider in Chicago, IL. For a starting price of $55 per month, it can offer hyperfast 5 Gig internet speeds to 45 percent of the city. Google Fiber is another prominent fiber internet service provider in Chicago with speeds of up to 2 Gbps. However, its citywide coverage is less than 35 percent.
Xfinity is one of the most widely available wired internet service providers in Chicago. Its coaxial cable internet network covers more than 99 percent of the city. Xfinity cable internet plans start at $35 per month, and customers can enjoy download speeds of up to 1,200 Mbps.
The average download speed in Chicago for a fixed broadband connection is 121.82 Mbps. This speed was last updated in July 2023 and is based on millions of consumer-initiated tests taken daily on Ookla Speedtest®. However, the median download speed for mobile internet in Chicago is 116.94 Mbps.
The average upload speed offered by internet service providers in Chicago is 17.95 Mbps for fixed broadband and 12.46 Mbps for mobile internet. Whereas, the median latency in Chicago was found to be 13 milliseconds (ms).
Yes. free internet service is widely available in Chicago for eligible low-income families through the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). Subscribers of AT&T Fiber, Spectrum Internet®, Xfinity, and Astound can get $30 off on their 100 Mbps internet plans and bring down their monthly internet bills to $0.
Apart from the government-sponsored ACP deals, Chicagoans can get free WiFi service in public spaces, like airports, libraries, recreational spots, parks, and coffee shops.
Additionally, you can also access free internet in Syracuse at various public locations. Libraries such as Beauchamp Branch, Betts Branch, and Dewitt Community Library offer free wireless internet access points. These facilities provide an essential service for those who may not have internet access at home or need a reliable connection for short periods.