Astound Broadband Internet Plans: Pricing, Speed and Availability Compared (2024)

Astound Broadband Internet Plans: Pricing, Speed and Availability Compared (1)

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  • Low first-year pricing
  • No data caps
  • No contracts


  • Availability limited to metro areas
  • Sharp price increase after the promotional period
  • Confusing equipment fees

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Astound Broadband internet plans and pricing (Texas market)

PlanMonthly price Max speedsFees and service details
Astound Internet First
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$10-$20150MbpsNo equipment fees, no data caps or contracts
Astound 300
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$20300Mbps download, 20Mbps uploadModem free, $15 for router (optional), no data caps or contracts
Astound 600
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$35600Mbps download, 35Mbps uploadModem free, $15 for router (optional), no data caps or contracts
Astound 1000
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$451,000Mbps download, 50Mbps uploadModem free, $15 for router (optional), no data caps or contracts
Astound 1500
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$551,500Mbps download, 50Mbps uploadModem free, $15 for router (optional), no data caps or contracts

Source: CNET analysis of provider data

Astound Broadband recently reintroduced its affordable program for low-income households due to the Affordable Connectivity Program ending in May. The Internet First plan features two speed tiers: 50 megabits per second for $10 a month and 150Mbps for $20 with no contracts or data caps and equipment included. You might be eligible for this program if you participate in the Supplement Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, SSI or other federal programs. That's not all -- new customers can get three months of service for free if they are eligible for this program.

Last year, Astound Broadband upgraded its 1,200Mbps plan to 1,500Mbps -- in all but Anne Arundel County, Maryland. Among US internet providers, that puts it as one of the fastest cable broadband providers available nationally. Not too shabby.

Locating local internet providers

But I have to be honest. I nearly titled this review Confusion in Cable Land. Why? Because my eyes glazed over as I pored through the offerings for the 11 markets covered by Astound Broadband Powered by RCN. (Whoa, that's a mouthful!) But that hardly matters for most people unless you plan to relocate from one Astound Broadband market to another. What matters most is what Astound offers in your area.

Astound Broadband Internet Plans: Pricing, Speed and Availability Compared (2)

What Astound brings to the table is some of the most aggressively priced promo offers for cable internet. Add in the fact that Astound doesn't enforce contracts, termination fees or data caps, and you're looking at a winning combination -- or an appealing one, at least.

Locating local internet providers

Astound Broadband Internet review

Astound Broadband Internet Plans: Pricing, Speed and Availability Compared (3)

What's the catch? Astound's monthly fees jump a considerable amount after your promo period. I would typically ding it quite a bit for that escalation. Don't get me wrong, it's a sizable leap, and you need to be aware of that extreme increase, but it's not quite what we would term "trap pricing." The main reason is that Astound doesn't tie you into a term agreement, so when you run into that price hike, you are free to either bail or try to negotiate with your provider before paying those larger bills.

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Let's dig in and learn more about Astound Broadband.

What kind of connection does Astound Broadband have?

According to the latest data from the Federal Communications Commission, Astound's coverage consists mostly of cable connections. Its lesser-known fiber and DSL connections are available but only in very select areas. Its cable coverage provides about 2.813% of unit coverage, whereas its fiber and DSL provide 0.421% and 0.0023%, respectively.

You might not have much luck finding decent speeds with the DSL plans, but Astound's fiber-internet offerings reach speeds of 1,500Mbps starting at $55 a month. Select areas in Austin, Texas; Chicago; Santa Barbara, California and San Francisco to name a few, may be eligible for the fiber offerings.

Where can you get Astound Broadband?

Astound Broadband Internet Plans: Pricing, Speed and Availability Compared (4)

Residential Communications Network, better known as RCN, has been in business since 1993 and is currently owned by Astound Broadband. Astound also provides services under the Grande Communications and Wave Broadband regional brand.

Astound offers home internet service to eleven of the following states in the US:

  • California
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Washington

Residents in Brownsville, Texas, and many other cities in the Lone Star State can enjoy a variety of Astound's offerings, as this state has the widest service reach of any region.

  • Austin
  • Corpus Christi
  • Dallas
  • Houston
  • Midland
  • Odessa
  • San Antonio
  • San Marcos
  • Temple
  • Waco

Plans and pricing for Astound Broadband

This is where I felt like I was wrangling cats. While Astound typically offers the same plans and pricing across all of its markets, download speeds might differ depending on your location.

Additional fees

All Astound Broadband markets charge a one-time activation fee of $15, which isn't unusual among ISPs. However, what isn't quite so common is an add-on monthly fee that Astound calls a Network Access and Maintenance Fee. This is an additional charge of $13 per month.

Equipment included, sort of

While the modem is included in your monthly bill, Astound charges $15 a month for the standard wireless router. On the bright side, Astound allows you to skip any equipment fees altogether by using your own devices. You can use your own modem and router if they're compatible with Astound's network. As you're about to see, this may be the easiest way to navigate a web of potential add-ons.

More options, but also potentially more fees

Although Astound gives you the chance to skip the equipment fee, it also makes several supplemental items available that could help boost your home networking hardware -- while bumping up your bill too.

For example, while a standard Wi-Fi router typically costs about $15 a month, Astound gives you the option to add enhanced Whole-Home Wi-Fi to your home for an additional $5 a month. This is supplied via the Eero Pro 6 mesh router, which my CNET colleague Ry Crist gave high marks when he tested it.

There are other opportunities to upgrade your broadband experience, including the option to add a Max subscription for $15 per month.

Astound vs. the competition: It's hard to beat its competitive pricing

The monthly prices you see in our chart at the top are representative of what you'll find across all Astound markets, but I do want to point out some of the differences as well. Overall, across all Astound markets and plans, you will see an average cost of 5 cents per Mbps for your promo pricing. That is right at the top among all cable ISPs we've reviewed, including Xfinity (8 cents), WideOpenWest(8 cents),Optimum (11 cents), Spectrum (13 cents), Sparklight (19 cents) and Cox (19 cents).

For example, Astound customers in New York City will see some extremely competitive pricing for that area. New Yorkers can sign up for a promo rate of $55 a month for 1,500Mbps. That's an impressively affordable 4 cents per Mbps on introductory pricing for our friends in the Northeast. That's more affordable than the gig offers from Optimum and Verizon Fios. To top it off, those customers will also get two months of free service and 50% off installation.

Astound also taps on the shoulders of online gamers by offering a chance to upgrade to a gaming router. Customers can opt to rent the Netgear Nighthawk XR1000 for $13 per month on top of their monthly router charge.

Yes, all of these options will ultimately increase your bill -- and if you plan on using your equipment for longer than a year or two, it probably makes more sense to buy them outright rather than rent them. Still, these add-ons might provide significant value to your service, especially if you can foresee using them for those initial 24 months when your broadband bill is at its lowest. You might also find it helpful to try a mesh network out in your home to see if it makes a meaningful difference. If it does, you could consider purchasing one for yourself outright. If not, you're out only a single month's rental fee.

Astound Broadband Internet Plans: Pricing, Speed and Availability Compared (5)

That's the good news. The not-so-great side of the story is the price jump after the introductory rate. Whereas the average cost per Mbps was 5 cents for the introductory pricing, Astound's regular rate, which kicks in after six to 24 months, holds an average price of 18 cents per Mbps. While that's not the highest we've seen among cable ISPs -- here's looking at you, Cox (23 cents per Mbps) -- it's undoubtedly one of the starkest differences we've seen between the promo rate and the regular rate.

What does that look like in real terms? Check out the table above and look again at the sticker shock awaiting customers of the 300Mbps-to-1,500Mbps plans. All of those offerings have a monthly price that leaps by more than $50 after the first year, which is staggering compared with the average price jumps of cable competitors like Xfinity (average increase of $28 to $48 after 12 months), Cox (average increase of $20 to $50 after 12 months) and Spectrum (average increase of $30-$40 after 12 months). Still, an increase of $50 or more in the monthly cost of your home internet service is an extremely tough pill to swallow, especially if you're trying to keep your budget buttoned down.

When we asked Astound about that massive jump, its spokesperson said, "It's important to note that promotions do not increase to the standard retail rates published on the rate card ... [which are] generally the maximum price that one may pay, and what is published for consumers to reference.

"Additionally, customers are provided advanced notice that the promotion is coming to an end, along with their new monthly rate," they said. "This information is included in their billing statement the month before the promotion ends."

Either way, you're not tied down to Astound with a term agreement, so as you approach the end of your promo period, you can see what terms Astound offers or try researching other ISPs in your area. For example, Verizon Fios may be an option for customers in the Washington, DC, area, and Chicagoans may choose to switch to Xfinity. In each case, though, make sure to do your homework. If Verizon's DSL service is the only other option for you, Astound will still be cheaper, and those considering a jump to Xfinity will need to be aware that to receive the best rates, you'll need to sign up for a term contract, which isn't required of Astound customers.

Deals and promotions

Astound offers a few intriguing deals to try to sway your attention. It has a handful of limited-time offers available, including 50% off installation (in all markets), a $40 value. In addition to this, most markets also offer a month of free internet service -- but it'll depend on your location.

Solid customer satisfaction

Astound doesn't appear on either the J.D. Power US Residential Internet Service Provider Satisfaction Study or the latest ISP report from the American Customer Satisfaction Index. We've used these two industry benchmarks to track how broadband providers measure up with American consumers. This has become especially important as more and more of us lean on our home internet for work and school, not just binging Netflix.

Over atPCMag's 2024 Readers' Choice awards, Astound did very well. It scored 8.1 in overall customer satisfaction, which put it in the top 10 of internet providers. It also scored well above the average industry score of 7.6.

What's the bottom line on Astound Broadband?

Astound Broadband is at the top of the class for cable internet providers. It gives you many options to customize your service, and its promo pricing is second to none. Yes, that significant change in monthly price after your introductory period is substantial -- but to an extent, that is mitigated by the lack of contracts binding you to those hefty charges. With no early termination fees looming, the power is in your hands to try to negotiate with Astound or seek services elsewhere after your first year.

Astound Broadband home internet FAQs

What does RCN stand for?

RCN began as Residential Communications Network back in 1993. Although it's now owned by theparent company Astound Broadband, RCN still has its headquarters in Princeton, New Jersey.

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How do I contact Astound customer service?

Much of what you need can be found online at the Astound Support Center and using the Astound Mobile app for iOS and Android. Astound Broadband also has a US-based customer support staff available by phone every day, all hours, at 800-427-8686. Lastly, you can also connect to Astound on Facebook.

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What is Astound's Internet First program?

Astound began its Internet First program in April 2020 in response to the pandemic. Since then, the government's Affordable Connectivity Program came to close early this month, forfeiting aid to millions of Americans in need of home broadband. It's an affordable internet service offered to low-income families participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Medicaid. Qualifying households will have access to max download speeds of up to 50Mbps for $10 monthly. There are no activation or installation fees, no contract is required and participants receive free service for the first three months.

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Astound Broadband Internet Plans: Pricing, Speed and Availability Compared (2024)
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