Cord Cutting Guides, News, and Reviews
Comcast vs RCN
August 26, 2020
Xfinity is a great choice for TV-only customers, mobile viewers, and sports fans. RCN makes more sense for cord-cutters and those who want a better DVR experience. (More storage and features than Xfinity's surprisingly storage-starved X1 DVR.
Xfinity has been trying to live up to the “infinity” in their name by adding thousands upon thousands of titles to their X1 Streaming library. RCN, meanwhile, may as well stand for “Really Cheap Netflix,” as they offer unlimited streaming. (Xfinity caps data at 1TB.)
Xfinity is a go-to provider for sports fans who want to bundle their entertainment with fast, simple cable Internet. They also offer nationwide public hotspots for on-the-go use.
RCN, meanwhile, offers some of the fastest Internet available and does so at surprisingly reasonable prices. Their TV selection is also affordable and offers a decent variety of channels certain to appease all but the most demanding viewers.
These services definitely have their differences, and the information below should help make choosing a provider a little bit easier.
Overall, Xfinity is a solid choice for TV users. With a wide selection of channels and good sports options, it will likely exceed expectations. The provider falls behind in Internet speeds, however, and is generally more expensive.
RCN definitely leads the pack when it comes to Internet speeds, with speeds up to 1000 Mbps. It has fewer options when it comes to TV, but this is more than made up for with its reasonable prices.
When deciding on an Internet provider, it’s helpful to have a basic understanding of network infrastructure. The system with which these providers deliver Internet to your home can have a large impact on how fast and reliable your speeds will be.
Xfinity has an extensive network that utilizes cable connections. Their Internet service is delivered through the coaxial cables that hook up to your TV, and is capable of speeds that are many times faster than dial-up or DSL. Cable was previously the gold standard of Internet, and provides a speedy connection that will be sufficient for all but the heaviest use.
Keep in mind, however, that a cable connection sometimes lacks consistent speeds. The speed of your connection is reliant on how heavy your neighbor's usage is, so when everyone gets home and turns on Netflix for the evening, you may see your speeds suffer.
RCN on the other hand, is one of a few providers in the United States that is rolling out a fiber-optic network. Fiber optics is currently the best technology commercially available option when it comes to Internet speeds. Data is transmitted as light bounces between glass or plastic rods, and the transfer is incredibly fast.
One of the downsides to Fiber networks is how expensive they are to implement. RCN doesn’t have nearly the same amount of coverage that Xfinity offers. If you’re lucky enough to be in an area their fiber network covers, they’re the clear best choice. For many, however, it will be a long while until fiber networks become more commonplace.
Both Xfinity and RCN offer double and triple play options that incentivize bundling TV, Internet, and phone together.
You’ll find discounts with both providers, but RCN really outclasses Xfinity in this section with outstanding deals for new customers. RCN is generally the cheaper option already, but if you’re going for multiple services it's an even better deal.
Availability and prices of bundles will vary based on your location, but in general, it seems that RCN pulls ahead.
Xfinity offers a few more options that make it the better provider when it comes to TV programming, but RCN is not without its perks. The TiVo DVR is more fleshed out than Xfinity’s equipment, and the service is also more affordable.
Either provider will serve you well if you’re in the market for TV, but Xfinity is admittedly a slightly more premium option in my eyes.
Although both television providers cover the majority of sports, Xfinity has the edge with a slightly more comprehensive coverage and a DVR that integrates with the games to display score tickers and other semi-interactive features.
Xfinity is definitely the more comprehensive provider when it comes to TV service, and that also extends to their sports coverage. TV only customers or those who value TV above other services will be more than happy with Xfinity.
While not available in all locations, RCN offers fiber Internet that blows Comcast’s cable network out of the water. Throw in some cheap prices and great bundle deals, and it’s easy to see why RCN is a worthy competitor.
TiVo has been the king of quality DVRs for years, and RCN’s use of this product wins it major points in the “equipment” section.
With higher-end options recording up to a terabyte of data and boasting the ability to record up to six shows simultaneously, there are simply no options from Xfinity that can compete.
Although Xfinity does offer some good sports functionality with their DVR and a good amount of storage at 500 GB, it’s lacking some of the features that make TiVo DVRs so great.
As for your basic Internet service and modem, both services offer a self-installation kit that is usually the more economical option. If your situation is unique or you don’t feel confident in your ability to install the equipment on your own, professional installation is available for an additional fee.
Professional installation from RCN costs around $50, while Xfinity can cost anywhere from $25 to $100 based on your contract or deal. (If you sign a contract, they sometimes even knock it down to zero.)
There are also additional monthly equipment rental fees from both providers, which vary depending on equipment type and region.
Although both providers offer a quality service, I feel that RCN is the winner in this “battle of the ISPs” due to their fiber network and low prices.
While Xfinity’s speeds are generally fast enough for the vast majority of users, the prices are unfortunately not as great of a deal. You can get faster Internet for cheaper with RCN: it’s a no-brainer.
Heavy TV users or TV only customers may get more use out of Xfinity, but for bundlers and Internet junkies, RCN is the clear winner.
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