Verizon Fios vs. RCN 2020

Verizon Fios has positive customer ratings and superb fiber technology—but RCN gets the edge on low prices and wide selection.

Best deluxe service
  • Ultrareliable fiber connections
  • Symmetrical upload and download speeds
  • Overpriced DSL plans

Plans start at $39.99/mo.

View Plans for Verizon

Best value
  • Affordable prices
  • Lots of choices
  • Varying prices depending on region

Plans start at $19.99/mo.

View Plans for RCN

Bottom line

Verizon Home Internet is all about maximum speeds and top-notch tech. Running on a formidable fiber network, it has a plan that delivers up to 940 Mbps download speeds and options for symmetrical download and upload speeds—an impressive, rarefied feature that vastly boosts the strength of your uploading capabilities (like teleconferencing and uploading files to cloud servers). It’s not necessary for everybody, but if you require the fastest and most versatile internet for work or play, then go with Verizon Fios.

RCN is better if you’re more concerned about low prices and flexibility. It offers gigabit speeds (1,000 Mbps) over cable internet at a lower price than Verizon Fios. But you don’t have to get the fanciest speeds with RCN to get quality service. There are a bunch of other plans in a variety of speed tiers to choose from as well, with prices starting at just $19.99 per month.

Current internet deals

Verizon Home Internet will give you a free yearlong subscription to the hot new streaming service Disney+ (and $6.99 per month after) if you sign up for either the 200 Mbps, 400 Mbps, or Fios Gigabit Connection plan. Head to Verizon Fios’s Mix & Match bundles page for more details.

Verizon also waives the $99 setup charge if you order online, with no coupon code needed. And starting on September 24, Verizon customers who sign up for the Fios Gigabit Connection plan can take advantage of a cool deal. It includes the new Marvel’s Avengers game, Disney+ for 12 months ($6.99/mo after), a free Stream TV, and the router rental included at no extra cost.

RCN will hook you up with free installation if you redeem a coupon code while ordering online. Just go to the Free Installation page on RCN’s website to find the code for your area. Free installation coupon codes are also listed along with the packages in the Features & Plans page.

You can also find deals for different RCN markets on the company’s Special Offers page.

If you’re looking for more bargains, discounts, deals, and steals with other internet providers, make your way to our best internet deals guide to see what’s on offer.

Verizon Fios vs. RCN internet

Verizon RCN

Type of service

Fiber and DSL

Type of service

Cable

Price

$39.99–$79.99/mo.* (Fiber)

$69.99/mo. (DSL)


Price

$19.99–$59.99/mo.†

Contract

Month-to-month

Contract

Month-to-month

Download speeds

200 Mbps–up to 940 Mbps (Fiber)

0.5 Mbps–15 Mbps (DSL)

Download speeds

25 Mbps–940 Mbps

Equipment fees

$15.00/mo. (no monthly router rental fee when signing up with Fios Gigabit Connection)

Equipment fees

$2.00–$18.95/mo. (depending on equipment and service area)

Installation fee

$99.00 (free if you sign up online)

Installation fee

$49.95 (plus $10 activation fee)

Customer satisfaction

(3.96/5)

Customer satisfaction

(3.61/5)

View Verizon Fios plansView RCN plans
Verizon

Type of service

Fiber and DSL

RCN

Type of service

Cable

Verizon

Price

$39.99–$79.99/mo.* (Fiber)

$69.99/mo. (DSL)


RCN

Price

$19.99–$59.99/mo.†

Verizon

Contract

Month-to-month

RCN

Contract

Month-to-month

Verizon

Download speeds

200 Mbps–up to 940 Mbps (Fiber)

0.5 Mbps–15 Mbps (DSL)

RCN

Download speeds

25 Mbps–940 Mbps

Verizon

Equipment fees

$15.00/mo. (no monthly router rental fee when signing up with Fios Gigabit Connection)

RCN

Equipment fees

$2.00–$18.95/mo. (depending on equipment and service area)

Verizon

Installation fee

$99.00 (free if you sign up online)

RCN

Installation fee

$49.95 (plus $10 activation fee)

Verizon

Customer satisfaction

(3.96/5)

RCN

Customer satisfaction

(3.61/5)

Verizon View Verizon Fios plans
RCN View RCN plans

Verizon Fios vs. RCN packages and pricing

Verizon Fios brings the goods when it comes to speed and reliability. It’s got a deluxe fiber-optic plan featuring near-gigabit speeds and options for symmetrical upload and download speeds—perfect for the serious Wi-Fi connoisseur.

RCN is more practical. Its prices vary slightly depending on your service area, but generally it’s got a whole bunch of speed and pricing options—everything from a thrifty 25 Mbps plan to a well-priced 940 Mbps deal.

Verizon Fios and RCN both don’t have data caps on their internet plans. With either provider, you can download, browse, stream, and game to your heart’s content. You can also cancel and switch providers whenever you want since both providers’ contracts go month to month.

Verizon Fios packages

PackagePrice fromSpeedInternet type
Internet 200/200$39.99/mo.**200 MbpsFiber
Internet 400/400$59.99/mo.**400 MbpsFiber
Fios Gigabit Connection$79.99/mo.**Up to 940 MbpsFiber
High Speed$69.99/mo.‡.5–15 Mbps*DSL
PackageInternet 200/200
Price from$39.99/mo.**
Speed200 Mbps
Internet typeFiber
PackageInternet 400/400
Price from$59.99/mo.**
Speed400 Mbps
Internet typeFiber
PackageFios Gigabit Connection
Price from$79.99/mo.**
SpeedUp to 940 Mbps
Internet typeFiber
PackageHigh Speed
Price from$69.99/mo.‡
Speed.5–15 Mbps*
Internet typeDSL

We’re impressed with Verizon’s Fios Home Internet 200/200 Mbps and 400/400 Mbps plans. Both will get you matching upload and download speeds, bulking up your ability to do upload-heavy activities like Zoom teleconferencing. And 200–400 Mbps is incredibly fast and will be more than enough speed for most users.

Verizon’s single DSL plan seems a bit pricey for its relatively limited speeds, but the deal comes bundled with a landline phone plan (price included with listed package price). You should consider this only if your only other option is expensive satellite internet.

Otherwise, stick with Verizon’s fiber plans—you can’t go wrong with the sweet fiber.

RCN packages

PackagePrice†SpeedInternet type
25 Mbps Internet$19.99/mo.25 MbpsCable
50 Mbps Internet$29.99/mo.50 MbpsCable
100 Mbps Internet*$29.99/mo.100 MbpsCable
250 Mbps Internet$29.99–$39.99/mo. (depending on service area)250 MbpsCable
500 Mbps Internet$34.99–$49.99 (depending on service area)500 MbpsCable
Gig Internet$49.99–$54.99940 MbpsCable
Package25 Mbps Internet
Price†$19.99/mo.
Speed25 Mbps
Internet typeCable
Package50 Mbps Internet
Price†$29.99/mo.
Speed50 Mbps
Internet typeCable
Package100 Mbps Internet*
Price†$29.99/mo.
Speed100 Mbps
Internet typeCable
Package250 Mbps Internet
Price†$29.99–$39.99/mo. (depending on service area)
Speed250 Mbps
Internet typeCable
Package500 Mbps Internet
Price†$34.99–$49.99 (depending on service area)
Speed500 Mbps
Internet typeCable
PackageGig Internet
Price†$49.99–$54.99
Speed940 Mbps
Internet typeCable

RCN seems to have a little something for everybody. Are you a broke college student in need of a quick-and-easy internet plan? The low-priced 25 Mbps Internet plan is the pick for you. But the best part is it won’t cost you that much more to boost your speeds to a robust 100 Mbps—that’s perfect if you’re living with a lot of roommates or have a family that loves to stream on 10 devices at once.

Higher-tier plans vary in price depending on your service area, but RCN still keeps the starting rates low. Its Gig Internet plan is a great offer—it’s the same speed as Verizon Fios’s competing gigabit plan but at a much lower price.

However, its availability is a bit more limited compared to Verizon. RCN provides internet service in the cities of Boston, Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley. Verizon Fios casts a wider net with coverage in New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Delaware, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia and Washington, DC.

Verizon Fios vs. RCN: Who has the fastest internet speed (and more)?

Internet speeds

Both Verizon Fios and RCN offer plans with speeds up to 940 Mbps. Verizon’s plan is on a fiber-optic network, which is the fastest and most reliable kind of internet. But RCN’s 940 Mbps plan is significantly cheaper and still plenty reliable since it’s cable.

But since Verizon Fios uses fiber, it delivers two plans featuring symmetrical upload and download speeds.

Verizon Fios is one of the few internet providers that prioritizes upload speeds as much as download speeds. Most of what we do online uses downloaded content, so most internet providers tend to prioritize download speeds. But upload speeds are important for things like using Zoom or uploading YouTube videos.

RCN’s upload speeds tend to be much slower than the download speeds—its Gig Internet plan delivers 940 Mbps download speeds, but only 20 Mbps upload speeds. This is similar to the upload and download differences with most internet providers, which is what makes Verizon Fios’ symmetrical speeds so unique and cool.

Test your speed:

Not sure what speeds you have on your current Wi-Fi? Run a quick diagnostic using our speed test.

Internet types

Verizon offers two types of internet—fiber-optic and DSL. Fiber runs through bundled fiberglass cabling, delivering a consistent connection at ultrafast speed. DSL runs over landline phone wiring, so it’s much slower but also more readily-available and affordable.

RCN’s network is cable internet, built on the same coaxial cables that deliver cable TV.

Verizon Fios’s fiber option is the fanciest and satiny-smoothest of these three internet types. Compared to cable and DSL, fiber is much less susceptible to signal interference and network-wide bottlenecks.

But fiber’s availability is also a lot more limited. And recent changes in communications technology have allowed cable companies like RCN to ramp up internet speeds over coaxial connections. RCN can deliver near-gigabit (940 Mbps) download speeds, though it can’t match Verizon’s upload speeds. Its cable network may slow during peak hours, but it’s still fast and reliable.

Verizon’s DSL option is the slowest of the bunch, only capable of delivering max speeds of up to 15 Mbps.

TV bundles

Verizon Fios allows you to “mix and match” your internet and TV options to get the package that’s just right for you. Pick the internet and TV plan you want, and they’ll be combined into one monthly bill.

Verizon’s Fios fiber network delivers broadcast TV channels. You also have option to pay for additional features like premium channels (including ESPN and HBO®), a cloud DVR service, and a voice-activated remote.

RCN also offers TV and internet bundles. Its digital cable TV service gives you hundreds of channels for news, entertainment, and sports. You can also get the usual premium favorites like HBO and SHOWTIME® as well as options for on-demand content and cloud DVR. You can use RCN’s TiVo® service (which comes with the TV plan) to access apps like Netflix, YouTube, and Facebook through your TV screen.

Editor’s pick:

We think RCN’s TV and internet bundles are a much better deal than what you get with Verizon. You can get fast Wi-Fi and a bunch of channels for one set price rather than paying for each plan individually as you do with Verizon Fios—saving you a lot of money in the long run.

Verizon Fios vs. RCN fees and contracts

Both Verizon Fios and RCN go easy on the customer when it comes to the fine print.

Neither of these providers requires you to sign an annual contract. There are no early termination fees (ETFs) if you switch providers. There are also no data caps, so you can use as much internet as you want.

Still, there are some fees to look out for. Here’s a breakdown of what to expect if you sign up with Verizon Fios or RCN:

Verizon Home Internet fees

FeesAmountMore info
Modem/router rental$15/mo. (no monthly router rental fee when signing up with Fios Gigabit Connection)Learn more
Installation$99 (free if you sign up online)Learn more
Late feeNo late fee with Auto PayLearn more
Early termination feesNoneLearn more
TaxesCost may varyLearn more

You’ll need to add $15 a month onto your bill if you want to rent a router from Verizon Fios, but this monthly router fee will be waived if you sign up for the Fios Gigabit Connection plan. You can also get a break on installation if you sign up online.

All in all, these are pretty standard fees—no monkey business here.

RCN fees

FeesAmountMore info
Modem/router rental$2.00/mo.–$18.95/mo. (based on equipment and service area)Learn more
Installation$49.95 (free with coupon)Learn more
Activation fee$10.00Learn more
Late fee$5.00Learn more
Early termination feeNoneLearn more
TaxesCost may varyLearn more

The cost of renting a modem and router from RCN depends on your service area and the equipment you’re getting. Prices run anywhere from $2 a month to $18.95 a month. The lowest price covers the most basic modem while the higher price provides a DOCSIS 3.1–compatible modem/router combo, capable of delivering 1,000 Mbps speeds.

RCN also levies a $10 “activation fee” for getting your internet up and running. Activation fees seem a bit arbitrary to us, but they’re not unheard of. The good new is you can find coupon codes on RCN’s website to waive the installation fee, so it’s not the end of the world.

Pro tip:

If you’re looking to add some legal literature to your reading list, RCN’s Moby Dick–length Policies and Disclaimers page can keep you occupied for quite some time.

Internet contracts

Verizon Fios and RCN don’t require any annual commitments on their internet plans. If you sign up for either of these providers, you’ll be paying on a month-to-month basis and won’t pay an early termination fee if you bail and switch providers.

This is helpful because you won’t end up paying extra to terminate your contract if you have to move somewhere that doesn’t get coverage from the same providers.

Editor’s pick:

We think both Verizon Fios and RCN deserve lots of credit for their month-to-month plans, but if you really had to pick a favorite plan, we recommend RCN’s 250 Mbps Internet plan.

It starts off at a very reasonable $39.99 per month and blasts off at an incredibly fast internet speed that—while not the fastest on Earth—will still perform excellently if you’re living with a big family or lots of roommates.

Verizon Fios vs. RCN equipment

Renting a modem and router

If you don’t have the patience for setting up equipment and troubleshooting Wi-Fi connections, you’ll want to rent a modem or router from your internet provider. When you order your internet, you can simply opt for a rental option. All the equipment you need comes with the package when it’s installed.

Buying a modem and router

Verizon Fios doesn’t require a modem—its fiber internet instead uses an Optical Network Terminal (ONT), which comes free with your plan. But you’ll also want a router to go with your fiber plan, and Verizon Fios allows you to use your own.

You can save some money this way, since you won’t be paying rental charges. And this also lets you be a bit more selective about your needs. Just keep in mind that—as posters on Verizon forums make clear—it requires a tiny bit of technical knowhow to make the switch from a Verizon Fios router to your own.

To set up your own router on a standalone Verizon Fios internet plan, you’ll need to plug it into the ONT using an Ethernet cable. The router is normally connected through a coaxial cable—keep that plugged in so you don’t lose your internet. Once the Ethernet cable is connected, call customer service and tell them to switch your connection from coaxial to Ethernet. Double-check the internet to make sure it’s working, and presto! You’re all set!

RCN also lets you buy your own modem and router for use on its network. Make sure you get equipment that’s certified for use on RCN networks—it will be labeled so on the box, and if not you can call RCN to double-check.

It’s also important to get something that can meet the capabilities of your internet plan. Avoid using a dusty old router that’s been sitting around the house, because it may not be up-to-date enough to deliver the speed on your plan.

If you’re on a cable gigabit plan, then you can shop around for a solid gigabit modem with extra Ethernet ports. If you’re living in a house with a complex layout and lots of rooms and hallways, then a long-range router or mesh network could be just what you need. And you may be able to shave even more expenses off your Wi-Fi budget by investing in a combination modem and router.

Pro tip:

If you live in a big house or apartment, you can pay a little more to get set up with RCN’s mesh Wi-Fi system, which uses eero routers to carry a signal across every nook and cranny of your humble abode.

Verizon Fios vs. RCN customer service

Verizon gets some of the best ratings out of all the providers, landing the number-two spot for overall satisfaction in our latest customer satisfaction survey. RCN doesn’t perform as well, coming in seventh place among the 15 providers covered in the survey.

Installation and setup

Verizon

Installation fee: $99.00 (waived if you order online)

Installation type: Pro and self-install

Installation customer satisfaction rating:

(4.08/5)

 

Schedule an installation

RCN

Installation fee: $49.95

Installation type: Pro and self-install

Installation customer satisfaction rating:

(3.97/5)

 

Schedule an installation

Verizon Fios comes in second place for installation and setup in our 2020 customer satisfaction survey, beating out many of the biggest rival ISPs in all the land.

This is likely because you can get installation from Verizon for free if you order online. A technician will need to come by your place to install an ONT box—the “optical network terminal” required to carry a fiber-optic internet signal.

RCN doesn’t shine as bright. In the category for installation and setup, the cable provider comes in thirteenth place among the 15 providers in our satisfaction survey. But just like Verizon Fios, you can get installation for free from RCN—all you need is a coupon code and you’re set.

Customer satisfaction

Verizon

Overall customer satisfaction rating:

(3.96/5)

RCN

Overall customer satisfaction rating:

(3.61/5)

Customers were pleased with Verizon Fios—it’s ranked second out of 15 providers for customer satisfaction in our 2020 survey. It has great ratings in all of the other categories as well. It ranks lower in billing, though, which is understandable since it’s a bit more of a deluxe internet option and its prices skew higher.

RCN is in the middle rankings for customer satisfaction, rated just above satellite provider HughesNet and a notch below DSL and fiber carrier CenturyLink. In more specific categories, it hovers around the middle and bottom rungs.

Verizon Fios vs. RCN availability

Verizon Fios is available mostly in New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Delaware, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia and Washington, DC.

RCN’s coverage also extends to big cities across the East Coast but extends to the Midwest as well. It’s available in Boston, Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC. RCN also has a network in the Lehigh Valley metro area, covering the Pennsylvania cities of Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton.

Run a search to see if Verizon Fios or RCN have internet in your area:

Verizon Fios vs. RCN pros and cons

Pros

  • Incredibly fast speeds
  • Excellent customer service ratings
  • Symmetrical upload/download speeds
  • Free installation if you order online

Cons

  • High prices
  • Slow and costly DSL plans

Pros

  • Lots of options
  • Low prices for fast speeds
  • Month-to-month contracts
  • Free installation with coupon

Cons

  • Less-than-stellar customer satisfaction ratings
  • Inconsistent pricing and availability

Our verdict: Verizon Fios wins for deluxe performance—but RCN has great prices.

Verizon Fios is the way to go if you require high-performance internet for gaming or work—or if you just want high-quality internet service that will stream and download without a hitch. Otherwise, stick with RCN and its affordable prices and multiple speed options.

RCN has lower prices than Verizon Fios, a wider range of speeds to choose from, and can still deliver impressive bandwidth capacity without breaking the wallet. There’s no data caps and no annual commitments. And you can use a coupon code when signing up to get a break on installation costs—sweet deal, for sure.

Still, it’s clear that Verizon Fios takes the cake on performance alone. Yes, it will definitely cost you more money, but it also has no data caps or contracts. It has excellent customer satisfaction rankings and provides a highly reliable fiber-optic connection. Some plans also feature symmetrical upload/download speeds, which are perfect for handling upload-heavy activities like Zoom videoconferencing and uploading files to content hubs like YouTube.

Want to sign up for some juicy internet? See if Verizon Fios or RCN are in your area:

Verizon Fios vs. RCN FAQ

Are Verizon Fios and Frontier FiOS the same company?

No, Verizon Fios and Frontier FiOS are two separate internet providers. In 2015, Frontier purchased Verizon’s broadband and landline networks in Florida, Texas, and California. But Verizon Fios still maintains fiber and DSL internet networks under its own name in other states.

Is RCN fiber optic?

No, RCN is a cable internet provider. Fiber-optic internet uses bundled fiberglass cabling, while cable internet delivers a signal through coaxial cabling.

Is Verizon Fios better than RCN?

Verizon Fios is better than RCN when it comes to performance and speed because it provides internet service over a state-of-the-art fiber network and offers incredibly fast upload speeds.

But it’s also a lot more expensive than RCN, and most users won’t need top-of-the-line internet. RCN’s capabilities and bandwidth are still great, and its plans have a lot of options to choose from.

Is Verizon Fios’s fiber internet faster than cable internet?

Verizon Fios’s fiber internet and RCN’s cable internet are both capable of achieving 940 Mbps download speeds—the fastest speeds available to many residential Wi-Fi customers. However, Verizon Fios delivers much faster upload speeds compared to RCN. This comes in handy if you do things like videoconferencing and uploading files, which puts more strain on your upload bandwidth.

What kind of internet is RCN?

RCN delivers cable internet over a coaxial cable network. It’s not quite as fancy as fiber internet, but it’s fast, reliable, and you can bundle it with a TV plan if you like.

Author -

Peter Holslin has spent more than a decade writing for Rolling Stone, VICE, BuzzFeed, and countless other publications. He graduated with a BA in liberal arts and journalism from New York City’s The New School University in 2008. Since then, he has roved from city to city and lived overseas, mastering his craft as an editor, staff writer, and freelancer while also acquiring ninja-like skills to address feeble Wi-Fi speeds and other internet challenges.

Editor - Cara Haynes

Cara Haynes has edited for HighSpeedInternet.com for three years, working with smart writers to revise everything from internet reviews to reports on your state’s favorite Netflix show. She believes no one should feel lost in internet land and that a good internet connection significantly extends your life span (buffering kills). With a degree in English and editing and five years working with online content, it’s safe to say she likes words on the internet. She is most likely to be seen wearing Birkenstocks and hanging out with a bouncy goldendoodle named Dobby, who is a literal fur angel sent to Earth.

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