Cord Cutting Guides, News, and Reviews
Verizon vs RCN
November 17, 2020
RCN and Verizon Fios are both strong options for cord cutters since they don't have data caps. They each offer affordable internet-only plans with speeds that go as high as 940 Mbps. However, while RCN’s plans differ significantly by location and internet type, Verizon Fios generally offers the same three fiber internet plans to everybody in its network.
Honestly, you can’t go wrong with choosing either provider. They have some of the lowest prices I’ve seen for high-speed internet. But if you’re lucky enough to have both providers available, I’d recommend the Fios 200 plan for any household (especially if you are Disney fans).
Though their coverage maps do have some significant overlap in certain states, RCN’s availability is concentrated in Boston, Chicago, DC’s metro area, Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, New York City, and Philadelphia. A little more than four million people have access to RCN internet, with the majority of those people only having access to RCN’s cable network (as opposed to its faster fiber-optic network).
Verizon Fios has a greater reach, with more than 34 million having access to its fiber network. The bulk of Verizon Fios’ network is in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Fiber internet is typically reserved for big cities due to its expensive installation cost, but Verizon Fios is available in some areas that I wouldn’t necessarily expect to have access to fiber internet. Even though they’re only available in the northeast, Verizon Fios has the largest fiber network in the US.
RCN offers more variety with its plans overall, but these plans vary by location. Most cities in the RCN network have access to three of RCN’s plans. Regardless, each city has RCN’s up to 250 and 940 Mbps plans.
While cable internet is sometimes just as fast as fiber internet, cable isn’t able to provide the same upload speeds or reliability as fiber. Fiber internet like Verizon Fios’ isn’t bothered by network congestion like cable internet is. If you live in an apartment building or neighborhood where most people have RCN, you’re more likely to see download speeds slower than what your plan advertises.
Verizon Fios fiber internet costs more, especially if you want the up to 940 Mbps plan, but you’re paying for a more reliable connection.
While RCN gives you more bang for your buck than Verizon Fios does, RCN’s speed and pricing structure is more complex. The prices listed for RCN internet are promotional prices, meaning they will only last for the promotional period — in this case, the first 12 months — before they increase to a higher rate. RCN is not very transparent about its standard rates, which may be an issue if you’re trying to stick to a budget.
You also have to consider that RCN’s internet plans vary widely by region. For example, their lowest-priced plan, up to 25 Mbps for $19.99 a month, is only available in Philadelphia and the DC Metro area. The price for RCN’s fastest plan ranges between $44.99 and $59.99 a month, with Chicago having the most expensive prices.
RCN offers a few perks that will probably entice new customers. For certain plans in Chicago and the DC metro area, new subscribers can qualify for a $100 gift card. In Philadelphia, all new subscribers get their first month free of charge, while New York City subscribers get their first three months of service for free.
Regardless of your location, all RCN internet plans come with the option to get one free month of Eero Enhanced Home Wi-Fi. If you choose to keep Eero’s service after the free trial, it will cost $9.95 a month. This service provides better Wi-Fi reception and is ideal if you have dead zones in your home. Some plans also come with a free Whole Home Audio system powered by Sonos. After the first month, RCN charges $5.99 a month for the Sonos One Smart Speaker.
Verizon Fios only offers three plans: Fios 200, Fios 400, and Fios Gigabit Connection. While you may find some exceptions in less populated locations, all three plans are available across the majority of its network. Verizon Fios also offers a more transparent pricing structure. There isn’t any promotional pricing to worry about: The price you see is what you’ll pay each month.
Verizon Fios’ perks aim to please streamers and cord cutters. All Verizon Fios plans come with one year of Disney+ for free. On top of that, the Fios 400 plan offers six months of Hulu for free. The Fios Gigabit plan is about $20 more than RCN’s gigabit plan, but the features make it well worth the price. You’ll get one year of Disney+ and a year of Hulu for free, a free modem (meaning no monthly equipment fee), and a free Stream TV (Verizon Fios’ streaming device). I have yet to see another provider offer speeds that high with so many features for less than $100 per month.
Internet + Phone: starting at $30.99
Internet + Phone + TV: starting at $54.99 per month
Internet + Phone: starting at $59.99 per month
Internet + Phone +TV: starting at $109.99 per month
Unfortunately, RCN and Verizon Fios have some of the most expensive bundle plans I’ve seen. Both providers offer a large channel lineup, but RCN’s cost more than Verizon’s after you add up RCN’s equipment costs. Like Verizon Fios, RCN offers perks like a voice remote, access to streaming apps like Netflix, and apps for watching TV on the go.
With Fios TV, a DVR is optional. Skipping it can help you save $12-20 per month. With that money, you could upgrade to the More Fios TV plan and get 300+ channels for the same price you’d pay for RCN’s Signature TV and internet bundle. If you want to bundle TV, I’d recommend Fios TV over RCN.
Account Activation Fee: $9.99
Professional installation: $49.95
Equipment rental fee: up to $14.95 per month
Professional installation: $99
Equipment rental fee: $15 per month
Overall, RCN has cheaper setup and equipment fees. Both providers will allow you to install your own equipment for free via a self-installation option, but that isn’t an option for everyone. RCN’s professional installation only costs $49.99, while Verizon Fios’ professional installation is almost twice that price. Either way, RCN and Verizon Fios offer monthly deals that often waive the professional installation fees.
Verizon Fios’ equipment fee is only $2 more per month than RCN’s, but you can avoid both providers’ equipment fees by getting your own modem. Providers always recommend using their equipment. If you plan on bundling, you’re better off getting Verizon Fios’ router. Without it, you may not have access to some Fios TV features. Unlike RCN, Verizon Fios allows you to purchase their modem for $299.99 — that sounds expensive, but you’ll save money with this option if you stay with Verizon for more than 21 months.
Whether you just want internet or an internet and TV bundle, Verizon Fios is a better choice for streamers due to its large fiber-optic network. RCN technically offers the same speeds as Verizon Fios, but fiber is able to deliver its advertised speeds more often than cable internet. If you’re new to cord cutting or looking to start, Verizon Fios’ freebies will give you a great introduction to the content on demand, commitment-free life.
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