RCN Review – 2020

RCN has very low prices which makes it very competitive. It operates in only seven states, but they contain densely populated areas, which is where RCN concentrates its services. The company serves Chicago, Boston, Washington DC metropolitan area, Lehigh Valley, New York, and Philadelphia.
Rating:
4/5

Overview of RCN Internet Services

RCN Corporation was originally called Residential Communications Network. The company started in business in 1993. The company is based in Princeton, New Jersey. The company is a cable TV provider and it also offers telephone and internet services over its network. It is the 8th largest cable internet provider in the United States.

Serving densely populated urban areas has the advantage of shortening the distance between the internet access point in the regional office of the company and many customers. The company uses a fiber-optic backbone to carry traffic between local exchanges and the data center. The short runs needed for that stretch means RNC saves a lot of money. The link from the local exchange to each customer’s home is run over coaxial cable. This type of cable is much cheaper than fiber-optics.

So, RCN is able to bring its prices down because its costs are low. However, the company also uses hidden extras and misleading prices to enable it to publish low headline prices while ultimately charging a lot more.

Table of Contents

Pros of RCN

  • Faster than DSL
  • Network is partially fiber optic
  • No data caps
  • No contracts
  • Offers bundles that include internet, TV, and/or telephone service
  • Free installation

Cons of RCN

  • Secretive pricing

Some Points About RCN

RCN doesn’t enjoy an exclusive coverage area. In all of its markets, it is competing with other cable TV providers. This fact makes the company’s ability to squeeze prices very important. The company uses innovative partnerships to enable it to infiltrate locations that are already dominated by a well-established rival.

One of those partnerships is with local power companies. RCN pays a fee to a local power company in the city so it can run its cables across city streets up in the air alongside power cables held high by poles. This strategy means the company doesn’t have to apply to City Hall for rights of way. It doesn’t need to pay any fees when it needs to access its cable runs as those competitors who send their cables beneath the sidewalk have to do. The installation of new cable runs is quick and cheap.

Another money-saving move is the way it provides its telephone service. Most cable TV carriers don’t produce any entertainment themselves. They sign agreements with television production companies that supply large bundles of channels. RCN uses a similar approach to its telephone service, rather than trying to run its own exchanges. Instead, it passes through its voice traffic to an established telephone provider, saving the cost of buying, running, and maintaining telephone exchange equipment.

The result of all of this innovative deal-making is that RCN is run as a complicated web of service agreements between many different specialist companies.

RCN Plans

Here is a selection of RCN’s internet-only plans.

 

Plan Download Speed Upload Speed Contract Data Cap
Internet 50 Plan Up to 50 Mbps 10 Mbps None None
Internet 250 Plan Up to 250 Mbps 15 Mbps None None
Internet 500 Plan Up to 400 Mbps 20 Mbps None None
Internet Gig Plan Up to 1000 Mbps 20 Mbps None None

The absence of data caps is very welcome and is probably a good marketing move by the company, which is up against rival providers in all of its locations. The lack of a contract is another feature that greatly appeals to the American public.

RCN Pricing Overview

The table below shows a selection of Suddenlink’s internet service plans and their prices.

 

Plan Promotional Price per Month Regular Price per Month Installation Fee Equipment Cost/Month Activation Fee
Internet 50 Plan $29.99 Not known $0 $12 $9.99
Internet 250 Plan $29.99 Not known $0 $12 $9.99
Internet 500 $49.99 Not known $0 $12 $9.99
Internet Gig $59.99 Not known $0 $12 $9.99

All prices are all subject to tax.

RCN goes to great lengths to hide its regular prices. I have gone through the ordering process for a plan almost to the point of purchase and I still didn’t find any notification of the regular price at the end of the promotional period, which is 12 months.

It may well be that the promotional price for the first 12 months is the only price. This is because the company does not require customers to sign a contract. The terms and conditions specifically state that the company does not charge an early termination fee (ETF) if a customer cancels the service. Therefore, it would be very difficult for the company to enforce a higher price.

The customer has to have a modem in order to connect to the internet service. RCN allows customers to use their own modems, in which case the equipment cost will be nothing. The standard modem offered by RCN for rental includes a Wi-Fi router and costs $12. The company offers other equipment, such as enhanced Wi-Fi and smart voice-activated speakers. However, this other equipment is optional.

RCN currently offers a signing bonus of free installation.

All RCN plans include a 30-day money-back guarantee.

RCN Customer Service

Customer reviews of RCN don’t give RCN a high customer satisfaction rating. Complaints point to unexpected charges on the bill and also poor customer service performance. The company provides a freephone number to enable customers to get in touch with the Customer Service department. However, it is this phone line that attracts the most complaints and so, perhaps, should be avoided.

The website provides a number of customer service channels. Each customer gets an account area, which is password protected. This area enables customers to check on bills and pay them, raise a technical support ticket, check on technician appointments, and make changes to the account details.

A Help section of the website includes guides, answers to frequently asked questions, troubleshooters, and user guides. This might be the most useful part of the company’s customer service effort because it enables customers to fix problems themselves. Other contact channels include the RCN Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Choosing RCN Plans

It is frustrating that it isn’t possible to know exactly what all the charges are on an RCN internet account. It also seems clear that the company has different plans with different speeds and prices in each of the cities where it provides services.

The company also provides bundles, which include TV entertainment packages along with internet service. It is also possible to add a landline telephone service to a package. Again, the total cost of any of these plans can only be guessed at. However, it works out cheaper to buy these services together as a bundle than to subscribe to each service separately.

Given that RCN operates in cities where there are other internet providers, any potential customer has a choice and shouldn’t need to get trapped into a service that has some nasty surprises when the first bill arrives.

It is better to order the service online because that gets a waiver on the installation charge. However, it would be a good idea to phone the helpline and ask outright exactly what charges you will have to pay and whether the price will increase at the end of the promotional period. If you are satisfied with the answers, go back to the site and place an order.

The 30-day money-back guarantee will get you a refund if you are unhappy with the service. If you subsequently get a nasty surprise on a bill that arrives after the guarantee period expires, you still have the option to cancel and not continue on to the next month because there are no early termination fees.

RCN offers a very good deal and its services seem to be reliable. The company has a poor track record thanks to its Customer Services department, but also has many loyal customers who have stuck with RCN for many years. It is worth the relatively small risk of giving it a try.