RCN Internet Review 2021
|25 Mbps Internet||$19.99||25 Mbps||View Plans|
|250 Mbps Internet||$39.99||250 Mbps||View Plan|
|Gig Internet||$59.99||940 Mbps||View Plans|
RCN’s service area is laser-focused on big metropolitan cities like Chicago, Boston, and Washington DC, and its no-contract internet plans have the flexibility and speed that most of us need.
But RCN’s prices change depending on where you live, making it difficult to nail down expectations. And those promotional prices stick around only for one year. So is RCN internet worth it? Let’s dig in and find out.
- No contracts
- Fast download speeds
- Limited availability
- Price hikes after one year
RCN prices and plans
RCN keeps prices low, but costs could change depending on where you live.
RCN’s prices range from $19.99 to $59.99 a month, making it one of the cheapest internet providers out there. But, depending on which city you live in, you might see different pricing compared to other cities RCN serves.
For example, a 500 Mbps plan in New York City costs $34.99 a month, while the same 500 Mbps plan costs $49.99 a month in Chicago.
Despite muddying the waters with regional price changes, RCN internet remains cheap. Here’s a quick look at its prices for Chicago, IL:
|Plan||Price||Download speed||Data cap||Details|
|25 Mbps Internet||$19.99*||25 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plans|
|50 Mbps Internet||$29.99*||50 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plans|
|250 Mbps Internet||$39.99*||250 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plan|
|500 Mbps Internet||$49.99*||500 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plans|
|Gig Internet||$59.99*||940 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plans|
RCN’s slower plans, like the 10 and 25 Mbps plans, are great for people like my grandparents, who just send me pie recipes and emails with subject lines like “RE: RE: The truth about UFOs”. But, to be honest, we wouldn’t recommend those slow download speeds for most folks.
On the other hand, RCN’s higher-speed plans are perfect for the majority of families with kids want to play Xbox in the basement and parents want to stream HBO upstairs. (Or finish up that work project at home.)
At the top of the speed charts is RCN’s gigabit plan, with enough power to fuel a small business and to compete with some of the best ISPs for gaming.
Is RCN internet cheap?
RCN’s prices make our wallets smile, and they still look pretty low when compared to the competition.
For example, Verizon Fios Home Internet offers a 200 Mbps plan for $39.99 a month, but for the same price you get 50 more Mbps from RCN. And Verizon’s connection is fiber, which generally performs better than a cable connection like RCN offers.
Another ISP you’ll find in the same areas as RCN is Xfinity, which usually offers pretty good deals for the speeds you get. It also offers a 200 Mbps plan for the same price as RCN, but if you need more speed than that, Xfinity becomes more expensive.
|Provider||Monthly price||Download speeds||Learn more|
|RCN Internet||$19.99–$59.99*||25–1000 Mbps||View Plans|
|Verizon Fios||$39.99–$79.99†||200–940 Mbps||View Plans|
|Xfinity Internet||$39.99–$79.99‡||25–1200 Mbps||View Plans|
RCN internet speed and data
RCN is ranked as one of the fastest ISPs in the US.
RCN offers download speeds anywhere from 10 to 940 Mbps.
We wouldn’t recommend its slower plans to anyone doing some serious web surfing, but its 50 and 100 Mbps plans are a great place to start for a small family—and the speeds just get better from there.
|Plan||Download speed||Upload speed||Data cap|
|25 Mbps Internet||25 Mbps||4 Mbps||Unlimited|
|50 Mbps Internet||50 Mbps||10 Mbps||Unlimited|
|250 Mbps Internet||250 Mbps||15 Mbps||Unlimited|
|500 Mbps Internet||500 Mbps||20 Mbps||Unlimited|
|Gig Internet||940 Mbps||20 Mbps||Unlimited|
And when it comes to delivering on the speeds it promises, RCN is tops. Okay, it’s one of the tops.
RCN earned a weighted score of 47.4 out of 100 in our analysis of the fastest ISPs in the US. That makes it the sixth fastest internet provider (third if you exclude smaller ISPs that serve only a city or two) and the No. 1 fastest cable internet provider, beating out competitors like Xfinity, Optimum, and Frontier. We’re impressed.
|Provider||Overall rank||Cable ISP rank|
|RCN||6th out of 38 ISPs||1st out of 22 cable ISPs|
To put this in perspective, the highest-scoring ISP was Google Fiber with 75.6 out of 100. So while RCN’s score of 47.4 may seem below average, it’s actually excellent.
The reason fiber providers like Google and Verizon Fios Home Internet score so well is because we averaged the download and upload speeds, plus the latency, for more than 1 million speed test results for each ISP. And because fiber internet has faster upload speeds, it naturally scores higher than cable or DSL internet.
RCN data caps
Thankfully, RCN is among the many ISPs that have done away with data caps. This is true for all of their plans, from 25 Mbps to 1 Gbps. So feel free to binge, game, and browse!
RCN fees, contracts, and equipment
RCN is no stranger to fees, but it has fewer fees than some.
All of RCN’s regular internet plans come with no contract. Your price is locked down for only 12 months, but you’re able to cancel at any time—get this—without any early termination fees.
Your internet can only go as fast as the equipment that’s hosting it.
Thankfully, RCN offers a modem rental option for $14.95 a month. And you can add an eero whole-home mesh Wi-Fi system for an extra $9.95 a month.
- Modem rental fee: $14.95 a month
- eero Whole-Home Wi-Fi system: $9.95 a month
- Additional Whole-Home Wi-Fi beacons: $5.00 a month
If prefer to buy your own gear, then make sure that you get a DOCSIS 3.0 or 3.1 compatible modem. We recommend checking out the NETGEAR Nighthawk modem/router combo, available on Amazon, for the full RCN Wi-Fi experience. It’s expensive, but a whole year of renting RCN’s modem will cost you just about the same: $179.40.
RCN service fees2
Just because you avoid those infamous early termination fees with RCN doesn’t mean you’re out of the haunted fee forest quite yet.
- Installation fee: $49.95, but RCN regularly offers free installation deals.
- Activation fee: $9.99
- Early termination fee: None
- Service call fee: $54.95
RCN customer service
RCN’s customer service is all, “Press one for repetitive hold music.”
It’s one of the great mysteries of our age: internet companies can bring the entire world to our fingertips almost instantly, but somehow they cannot manage to answer our basic technical questions.
RCN is sadly no exception to this unwritten rule. It scored 11th out of 15 ISPs that HighSpeedInternet.com rated in its latest customer satisfaction report.3 And that means RCN customers aren’t happy: it earned just 3.8 out of 5 for customer service.
|Rating||Overall score||Customer service score|
|HighSpeedInternet.com 2020 Customer Satisfaction||3.61 out of 5||3.8 out of 5|
Our RCN internet plan recommendations
100 or 250 Mbps Internet
Who it’s best for: Internet-savvy duos up to mid-size families
Why we picked it: 100 or 250 Mbps download speeds will keep your connection steady for most any activity—surfing Imgur, enjoying the latest episode of The Mandalorian, or jumping into the battle in a game of Call of Duty. (Oh, and home office stuff too.) That, and the price is great for the speeds you get.
1 Gbps Internet
Who it’s best for: Gamers, small business owners, and Brady Bunch–sized families..
Why we picked it: Plans can start getting absurdly expensive at these higher speeds. But at $59.99 a month, RCN’s gig internet plan is just per 6¢ per Mbps. That’s definitely the cheapest gig-speed plan we’ve seen around in a while.
Recap: Is RCN internet good?
RCN internet offers some great perks: no contracts, fast download speeds, and extremely low promotional prices.
But you could also call it inconsistent. RCN is available only in a handful of large cities, its prices and policies vary by location, and its customer service seems to be getting worse, not better.
This means that RCN might not be the best overall, but it’s still a great option for those in specific areas of the US who want fast, no-contract internet at a fair price.
Recap: RCN promotional prices (Chicago, IL)
- 25 Mbps Internet: $19.99/month,* 25 Mbps download speeds, unlimited data
- 50 Mbps Internet: $29.99/month,* 50 Mbps download speeds, unlimited data
- 250 Mbps Internet: $39.99/month,* 250 Mbps download speeds, unlimited data
- 500 Mbps Internet: $49.99/month,* 500 Mbps download speeds, unlimited data
- Gig Internet: $59.99/month,* 940 Mbps download speeds, unlimited data
Data effective 12/17/2020. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* For the first 12 months.
Q: Does RCN throttle its traffic?
RCN states that it “doesn’t block or throttle consumer access to lawful internet content.”4 So maybe no torrenting, but if you’re doing legitimate internet things, you’ll be ok.
Q: Does RCN have a mobile app?
Yes, it does! You can find it in the App Store and on Google Play.
- Catherine McNally, Reviews.org, “The Fastest Internet Providers,” December 2020. Accessed December 17, 2020.
- RCN, “Boston 2020 Residential Rates,” February 2020. Accessed December 17, 2020.
- Rebecca Lee Armstrong, HighSpeedInternet.com, “2020’s Best Internet Providers in Customer Satisfaction,” May 2020. Accessed December 17, 2020.
- RCN, “Restoring Internet Freedom Order and RCN,” 2020. Accessed December 17, 2020.