Cincinnati, the third largest city in Ohio, can claim many notable people as its own, including the first man on the moon Neil Armstrong, director Steven Spielberg, Uncle Tom’s Cabinauthor Harriet Beecher Stowe, actor and alcohol entrepreneur George Clooney, and actress Sarah Jessica Parker. It’s also where both Play-Doh and Pringles were invented. (The latter’s creator had some of his ashes buried in the iconic can.)
But whereas the small and mighty Queen City punches above its weight regarding notable people and products, it can’t say the same about its options for connecting residents to the internet. Most of the city has access to just two wired internet providers, Spectrum and Altafiber (previously known as Cincinnati Bell), 5G home internet from T-Mobile and Verizon, and satellite internet providers.
With limited options, it’s no surprise that Cincinnati’s median download speeds are low compared with other American cities and even those in Ohio. The Queen City places 79th on Ookla’s list of internet speeds in the nation’s 100 most populous cities, with median download speeds of about 175 megabits per second and upload speeds of about 34Mbps. Both Columbus and Cleveland can boast median download speeds of more than 200Mbps.
Best internet providers in the Queen City
Residents of Cincinnati have limited options when it comes to their selection of ISPs. Out of those choices, our pick for the best internet provider in Cincinnati goes to Altafiber, based on its speed and pricing.
Note: The prices, speeds and features detailed in the article text may differ from those listed in the product detail cards, which represent providers’ national offerings. Your particular internet service options – including prices and speeds – depend on your address and may differ from those detailed here.
All available Cincinnati residential internet providers
The primary choice of ISP in Cincinnati will mainly be Altafiber or Spectrum. However, some city residents can access 5G home internet offerings from Verizon or T-Mobile. Satellite internet is also available from HughesNet and Viasat.
- HughesNet: If you’re in Cincinnati or its immediate suburbs, you probably don’t need satellite internet. It’s only available at speeds of 25Mbps, with prices starting at $50 with a two-year contract and equipment fees.
- T-Mobile Home Internet: Cincinnati residents can access 5G internet from Verizon and T-Mobile. T-Mobile’s home internet service is available for $50 (with autopay) and offers speeds up to 245Mbps.
- Viasat: The other major satellite internet company (until SpaceX’s Starlink launches more widely), Viasat’s monthly prices start at $50 and go up to $300, with speeds ranging from 25 to 100Mbps based on the plan.
Pricing info on Cincinnati home internet service
Not including the pricey satellite internet options, Cincinnati residents can expect to pay just under $50 for internet service. The Queen City’s internet pricing is in the middle of the pack compared with other metropolises, such as Los Angeles’ average of $38 monthly.
Cheap internet options in the Cincinnati metro area
Connecting to the internet in Cincinnati doesn’t necessarily come cheap. The most affordable plan in the city comes from Altafiber, which offers 400Mbps for $45 per month. This price will last for the first 24 months of service, after which the company may raise the rate. Those eligible for the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program may get Altafiber’s 100Mbps service for free.
Fastest internet providers in Cincinnati
Median download speeds in Cincinnati according to Ookla are about 175Mbps. Not bad, but not great. Thankfully, high-speed internet options are available in the city.
Need fast download speeds? Look at Altafiber’s 2,000Mbps plan for $85 per month, available at certain addresses. If you don’t have access to that plan, Altafiber also offers 1,000Mbps for $65 monthly. Verizon’s higher tier 5G internet at $80 per month tops out at 1,000Mbps, while Spectrum’s 1,000Mbps plan costs $90. That Altafiber 2 gig plan sure is appealing if it’s available.
What’s the final word on internet providers in Cincinnati?
For most Cincinnati residents, the choice of ISP will come down to either Altafiber or Spectrum, although some city residents also have access to 5G internet from T-Mobile and Verizon. Prices start around $50, and higher speeds are available for those willing to pay up to $85 per month.
How CNET chose the best internet providers in Cincinnati
Internet service providers are numerous and regional. Unlike the latest smartphone, laptop, router or kitchen tool, it’s impractical to personally test every ISP in a given city. So what’s our approach? We start by researching the pricing, availability and speed information drawing on our own historical ISP data, the provider sites and mapping information from the Federal Communications Commission at FCC.gov.
But it doesn’t end there. We go to the FCC’s website to check our data and ensure we’re considering every ISP that provides service in an area. We also input local addresses on provider websites to find specific options for residents. To evaluate how happy customers are with an ISP’s service, we look at sources including the American Customer Satisfaction Index and J.D. Power. ISP plans and prices are subject to frequent changes; all information provided is accurate as of the time of publication.
Once we have this localized information, we ask three main questions:
- Does the provider offer access to reasonably fast internet speeds?
- Do customers get decent value for what they’re paying?
- Are customers happy with their service?
While the answer to those questions is often layered and complex, the providers who come closest to “yes” on all three are the ones we recommend.
To explore our process in more depth, visit our How We Test ISPs page.