RCN Internet Review 2021

RCN offers no contracts and fast download speeds—if you live in the right zip code.
Recommended Plans
PlanPriceDownload speedDetails
25 Mbps Internet$19.9925 MbpsView Plan
250 Mbps Internet$39.99250 MbpsView Plan
Gig Internet$59.99940 MbpsView Plan
PriceDownload speedDetails
$19.9925 MbpsView Plan
$39.99250 MbpsView Plan
$59.99940 MbpsView Plan

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.

Pros

  • No contracts
  • Fast download speeds

Cons

  • Limited availability
  • Price hikes after one year

Find out if RCN internet is available in your area.

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:

RCN internet promotional prices in Chicago, IL
PlanPriceDownload speedData capDetails
25 Mbps Internet$19.99*25 MbpsUnlimitedView Plan
50 Mbps Internet$29.99*50 MbpsUnlimitedView Plan
250 Mbps Internet$39.99*250 MbpsUnlimitedView Plan
500 Mbps Internet$49.99*500 MbpsUnlimitedView Plan
Gig Internet$59.99*940 MbpsUnlimitedView Plan
Data effective 10/26/20. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* For the first 12 months.
Heads Up icon
RCN doesn’t offer the same plans everywhere, so before you take the plunge, make sure you know what’s available to you.

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.

RCN internet price comparison
ProviderMonthly priceDownload speedsLearn more
RCN Internet$19.99$59.99*251000 MbpsView Plans
Verizon Fios Home Internet$79.99940 MbpsView Plans
Xfinity Internet$39.99$79.99501000 MbpsView Plans
Data effective 10/26/20. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* For the first 12 months.
w/Auto Pay + taxes. Equipment charges may apply.
For the first 12 months. Some packages require a 1- or 2-year contract.

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.

RCN download speeds and upload speeds in Chicago, IL
PlanDownload speedUpload speedData cap
25 Mbps Internet25 Mbps4 MbpsUnlimited
50 Mbps Internet50 Mbps10 MbpsUnlimited
250 Mbps Internet250 Mbps15 MbpsUnlimited
500 Mbps Internet500 Mbps20 MbpsUnlimited
Gig Internet940 Mbps20 MbpsUnlimited

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.

RCN internet speed score1
ProviderOverall rankCable ISP rank
RCN6th out of 38 ISPs1st 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.

RCN equipment

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.

RCN customer service scores3
RatingOverall scoreCustomer service score
HighSpeedInternet.com 2020 Customer Satisfaction 3.61 out of 53.8 out of 5

If you do need to call RCN customer service, we’ve got some tips to help you keep your cool, plus a few different ways for you to get a hold of a service rep:

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.

100 Mbps Internet
RCN Internet - Boston
Download speed:
100 Mbps
Data cap:
Unlimited
$29.99 a month
250 Mbps Internet
RCN Internet - Chicago
Download speed:
250 Mbps
Data cap:
Unlimited
$39.99 a month

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.

1 Gbps Internet
RCN Internet - Chicago
Download speed:
1000 Mbps
Data cap:
Unlimited
$59.99 a month

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)

Data effective 12/17/2020. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* For the first 12 months.

Look for RCN internet plans in your area.

RCN FAQ

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.

Sources

  1. Catherine McNally, Reviews.org, “The Fastest Internet Providers,” December 2020. Accessed December 17, 2020.
  2. RCN, “Boston 2020 Residential Rates,” February 2020. Accessed December 17, 2020.
  3. Rebecca Lee Armstrong, HighSpeedInternet.com, “2020’s Best Internet Providers in Customer Satisfaction,” May 2020. Accessed December 17, 2020.
  4. RCN, “Restoring Internet Freedom Order and RCN,” 2020. Accessed December 17, 2020.