What are the best options for cable TV + Internet in Chicago?
July 15, 2008 8:43 AM   Subscribe

What are the best options for cable TV + Internet in Chicago?

Is it basically a choice between the lesser of two evils, Comcast and RCN? I'm not 100% sure RCN is available in my area, because their database says my address is unknown. But I'll be living in North Center, if that changes anything. Are there any other players in the Cable game?

I work from home so I need a good, solid Internet connection. I have an HDTV, so ideally I'd like a cable solution that offers the most bang for my buck.

Can't do Dish unfortunately.

Would I be better off doing a separate company for TV and Internet? Any benefit to that?

Help a Chicago cable newb.
posted by c:\awesome to Grab Bag (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I've been happy with RCN for several years. less expensive than Comcast.
posted by Jason and Laszlo at 8:53 AM on July 15, 2008

I've used both RCN & Comcast, and would suggest going with RCN.

I think RCN is slightly better, but they used to be better still -- I think they've gone downhill a bit over time.

I presently use Comcast against my will. They're OK for the TV portion of things, but I don't trust them with my data.

Having said that, I have a friend who despises RCN. YMMV.

Note that if you're not in their database, you probably can't get RCN. I'm not in their database, and can't get service even though I can look out my window and see an RCN box on a pole across the alley. Someone's gotta be on the wrong side of the boundary, and this time it's me.
posted by aramaic at 9:09 AM on July 15, 2008

Do you already have a phone line? If so you can get DSL for 24.99. If you dont you can get "naked DSL" for 28.99. Thats pretty much half what Comcast charges for data.

As far as video goes, I'd avoid Comcast if possible. Unfortunately you cant do dish so that only leaves you RCN and perhaps AT&T u-verse, if available.

The comcast video + data package is on sale for 99 dollars but then jumps to 133.00 per month, which is pretty excessive. You can probably do RCN + AT&T for Comcast's sale price forever.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:14 AM on July 15, 2008

Response by poster: I don't, and won't, have a land phone line.
posted by c:\awesome at 9:36 AM on July 15, 2008

Response by poster: I just called RCN and I can't get service... so I guess Comcast it is?
posted by c:\awesome at 9:42 AM on July 15, 2008

AT&T u-verse isn't yet available in Chicago proper.. only a few burbs.. I checked on this recently.

Comcast's customer service is utterly atrocious - I've been fighting with them for years and the only reason I'm still with them is because of their monopoly, and my unwillingness to step down in speed to AT&T's highest speed DSL (slower than cable, but getting faster and faster these days)...

AT&T is an option for you though... they offer DSL up to 6mb/sec down and 1mb/sec up for $35/mo.

Dish may also be an option for you even if you think it's not. It's possible your building would allow a dish on the roof if there are several residents who want it, etc... Some buildings are sticklers though, so... you may have already exhausted this search / option.. just throwing it out there in case...
posted by twiggy at 9:56 AM on July 15, 2008

Dish is horrible, especially if you want HD programming. Terrible selection, and doesn't even offer WTTW (local PBS) in HD.

Also, if it rains, or even snows hard, the signal goes out for a few minutes. Thunderstorm? Expect to lose the signal on and off for the duration.

I'm stuck with them because I live in a condo building.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 10:02 AM on July 15, 2008

One thing that's nice about Comcast is that in many locations, you can order just data ($46/month, I think), then get a splitter and plug it into your TV as well and also get cable TV. It's not digital cable, but you do get Comedy Central, Cartoon Network, and the Food Network.

Comcast's customer service uses a horribly cynical system in which you can never talk to the same person twice, however.
posted by ignignokt at 11:53 AM on July 15, 2008

Huh, I must be the lucky person that always gets the only nice Comcast representative in existence. They've been great to me. That said, their phone service sucks ass - we miss tons of calls because the phone never rings and doesn't go to voicemail. I haven't bothered to follow up with that because we're just going to get rid of it and use our cell phones anyway.
posted by desjardins at 2:17 PM on July 15, 2008

You no longer need a phone line to get AT&T DSL in Chicago. If you pursue that route, call them up and ask for a "dry loop" - it'll save you $10 or so bucks a month. I think my DSL with a dry loop is around $23 a month?

I can't fathom paying for commercial television, so cable is not an option for me... OTA HD channels in Chicago are good enough and free.

I have friends who spend over $140 a month on cable tv and internet. Yesh...
posted by wfrgms at 7:09 PM on July 15, 2008

I signed up for the Comcast cable modem+cable+digital phone package, which ends up being $123 a month for the first year. I totally want to cancel and switch to this "dry loop" DSL. Am I stuck waiting out the year contract, or is there a way to cancel without getting hosed?
posted by bdk3clash at 7:29 PM on July 15, 2008

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