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RCN CABLE page on DSLReports
Six Month Rating

Reviews:
bullet 363 reviews (189 good) (84 bad)
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Review by laslo4 See Profile

  • Location: Bethlehem,Northampton,PA
  • Cost: $78 per month
  • Install: about 3 days
Good "Extremely fast, good technical support"
Bad "Terrible customer service and billing service"
Overall "Highly recommended if you want fast internet connection"
Pre Sales information:
Install Co-ordination:
Connection Reliability:
Tech Support:
Services:
Value for money:
(ratings match consensus)

I upgraded from one way cable which was unreliable to two way "MACH 5" cable modem service. I have tried several bandwidth tests and maximum speeds are about 5.5 MBits. Typical range is 3.5 to 5. I have had service for 3 weeks with no interruption, always on. Technical support is very good. I needed it a lot with one way modem but no problems with the 2 way.

Billing is very frustrating. RCN has a new billing system. I am supposed to receive paper bills and email notification. I do not receive either. Also online Web based bill paying does not work for me. I have called Customer service several times but issue has not been resolved and poor follow up by RCN in calling me back. I have to call RCN each month and pay bill via telephone using my credit card.

member for 10.8 years, 6 visits, last login: 3.7 years ago
lodged 10.8 years ago

Comments:

Review by byronshock See Profile

  • Location: Boston,Suffolk,MA
  • Cost: $46 per month
  • Install: about 5 days
Good "Very fast downstream, very fast upstream, peered with Northern Crossroads (local universities)"
Bad "Infrequent brief unannounced interruptions for network service, unstable connection since 12/03"
Overall "Much better than DSL for the same or lower price; great for students, and gamers; good for telecommuters (a bit unstable)"
Pre Sales information:
Install Co-ordination:
Connection Reliability:
Tech Support:
Services:
Value for money:
(ratings match consensus)

Overall, my experience with RCN has been excellent, and has surpassed all my DSL experiences. I got exactly what I expected, and the consistency of the speed I get is excellent. I am particularly pleased with the upstream speed, which at ~700 kbps allows me to transfer large files to school as well as from school.

As a student at Boston University, I use a lot of SSH and X-Window sessions. With a stable ping of 15 ms thanks to RCN's peering with Northern Crossroads (nox.org) and excellent bandwidth both ways, these sessions are a pleasure. In many ways, I find it easier to do my work from home now.

Less of a pleasure have been other ping-sensitive (e.g. gaming) connections. From November through January, many connections to East Coast servers outside of New England were routed through Chicago and/or California. This nonsensical routing invariably resulted in at least a 100 ms ping penalty. RCN's replies to my concerns were intelligent, but the problem remained after many weeks. (It has recently improved considerably--please see the UPDATE below.) As a consequence of the routing problems, I would still be somewhat hesitant to recommend this connection to online game enthusiasts. (Note that my pings throughout this period remained as good as or better than any DSL connection I've had in Boston, however.) Prior to November, my RCN Cable ping times to East Coast servers were typically good to excellent, in the 40-60 ms range. Many pings I got between November and January were in the 70-140 ms range, and were in the 110-170 ms range when connections were getting routed through San Francisco! Although there were always some servers with low pings, many of my favorites were affected.

A minor concern I have is that brief interruptions sometimes occur in the early morning hours. These are infrequent, but they can be painful if I'm actually trying to do something. I'm sure RCN warns about these interruptions on their website (there is an outage listing), but I usually do not get the warnings in time.

If you plan on using broadband for media or telecommunications, I recommend RCN Cable in Massachusetts without reservations. If you need a broadband connection for gaming, RCN is good, not great, but is still probably better than all of the alternatives in the Boston area.

UPDATE (1/20/2003): Over the last several weeks, I have been consistently getting routings through Chicago, rather than through San Francisco, to many servers in New York. Although not ideal, this is a considerable improvement, as it halves the penalty for such labyrinthine routings.

UPDATE (2/28/2003): I updated the review to reflect the current status. Connections throughout the country have been getting very good, stable pings. To get a ping as high as 100 ms, I have to connect to a resource that is geographically distant. Connection latency and reliability have improved, and I have upgraded the score in the connection reliability category from 3 to 4 as a result.

NOTE (2/28/2003): As of 4/1/2003, the cost of high-speed internet will rise from $50 a month to $57 a month for those without RCN cable TV. RCN customers will continue to pay an incremental monthly charge of $46, although the cable TV price will be rising (you guessed it) by $7 a month. The effective price if you get multiple services (cable, telephone, internet) bundled through RCN is even lower--additional savings due to bundling can reach $25 a month.

UPDATE (4/28/2003): I raised the Value for Money from 4 to 5 to reflect the exceptionally good pricing that I now receive by having an RCN Essentials CPI (Cable, Phone, Internet) package. This reflects my individual circumstances, which may not be representative of all RCN users! The change is saving me approximately $20 a month over the unbundled cost of RCN cable and internet services (previously with a low-usage metered service telephone line from Verizon), and I am pleased with each and every component. Note that this is applicable *only* to users in my situation, with RCN's competition limited to incumbent providers for telephone and cable. The value for money here in Boston is extraordinary for those who can get RCN's services.

I would emphasize that I cannot receive DirecTV at this location, so the only competitors that factor into the overall package price comparison are Verizon Telephone and Comcast Cable.

I lowered the Install Co-ordination score from 5 to 4 to reflect a misstep in my latest installation. The order failed due to Worldcom's incompetence, and the DSL line lock from hell that has prevented me from getting RCN phone service for over ten months even though I wasn't getting DSL service. Anyway, RCN did NOT notify me that the order had failed, and I found myself waiting around at home on the day of a non-existent installation. This installation experience has been averaged in with my previous experiences, all excellent.

The connection reliability remains very good, and I'm reiterating February's score of 4. RCN seems to have responded to users' routing concerns not only with the stock "well, it's within our specifications" answer, but also by fixing their routing issues to ensure that they do not continue to plague otherwise good service. Time will tell if they have solved this problem.

UPDATE (11/5/2003): Routings have remained much better. Pings are stable and low.

UPDATE (1/27/2004): Since RCN increased the downstream cap to 3 Mbps, the quality of my connection has gotten much worse. Intensive use of the connection (performing an rsync operation with files at school, for example) often crashes the cable modem. RCN technical support has only been moderately helpful, wasting far more than $60 of my time to fix a $60 modem. A firmware upgrade seemed to fix the problem, but then it resumed after a few weeks.

This problem, and RCN's inability to diagnose it on the first two attempts, has resulted in a downgrade of the Connection Reliability score from 4 to 2 and a downgrade of the Tech Support score from 4 to 3. This less reliable connection represents worse value for the money as well, so that has been downgraded from 5 to 4.

Routing seems to have consistently improved over the past year as indicated by my broadbandreports.com line monitor ping graphs.

member for 14.4 years, 230 visits, last login: 28 days ago
updated 10.9 years ago

Comments:

Review by Jim1133 See Profile

  • Location: Lexington,Middlesex,MA
  • Cost: $45 per month
Good "Very reliable service"
Bad "Long hold times when calling customer service"
Overall "Costly, but worth it"
Pre Sales information:
Install Co-ordination:
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(ratings match consensus)

I had DSL service with Bell Atlantic in the dark days beginning February, 2000. Service was very unreliable.When RCN cable became available in October 2001, I made the switch and have not regretted it for one minute. In two years, the service has been down about four times and only for brief periods. The worst was a week ago, and it was down about four hours that I'm aware of. They had a recorded announcement on tech support naming my town as having a servie outage which was being worked on.

Update 1/11/04

Moved from original location to two condo buildings away. Had to change 1/6 due date to 1/7 a/c mover delay. Three RCN guys showed up on 1/6 anyway. No wonder they are in financial trouble sending multiple employees to do a one-man job. They are non-union so it must be that RCN only trains their people on a limited part of the job.

On the next day another RCN guy arrived soon to be followed by a second one. From the look of the tools the second man was carrying, he must be the wire man. my son had wired 4 locations for TV, but only one for the internet using a 4-way spitter. The RCN installer changed the feed to a 2-way splitter using one side for the modem and the other to feed the TV sets. He mentioned DB loss which is why he wanted to isolate the modem connection from the TVs.

Their service has been great. About 2300 down and 700 up.

member for 14.8 years, 2578 visits, last login: 8 years ago
updated 10.9 years ago

Comments:

Review by cradle See Profile

  • Location: Chicago,Cook,IL
  • Cost: $55 per month
  • Install: about 25 days
Good "Uptime"
Bad "S L O W - Bad Sys Admin Group - Company nearly Broke despite 1.2 Billion from P. Allen"
Overall "No way near 9th Fastest - READ Why!"
Pre Sales information:
Install Co-ordination:
Connection Reliability:
Tech Support:
Services:
Value for money:
(ratings below consensus)

RCN ups it’s rating by including a dedicated line to a local High Rise apartment building under construction. Using this router (fordhamips.f.subnet.rcn.com) as a sample is intentionally misleading. They’re testing a dedicated line to the Fordham building, that’s not capped with few users on the line... (>100)

For comparison, look at the rest of the RCN stats in 606xx or anywhere else in the country, subtracting the Fordham router, then calculate their true speed.

The real speed is approx. 1000/256 at best – non-peak.

Seems amazing that no one else saw this...

Finally it’s interesting to see how they get away with using their AUP as a shield for delivering such poor performance.

Finally, having spoken to their severely lame sysadmin staff, it sure isn’t what Enteract (Chicago ISP bought by 21st Century / RCN) was about.

member for 10.9 years, 0 visits, last login: 10.9 years ago
lodged 10.9 years ago

Comments:

Review by spanko4 See Profile

  • Location: South San Francisco,San Mateo,CA
  • Cost: $80 per month
  • Install: about 7 days
Good "Really really fast...wow really fast.."
Bad "so far NONE!"
Overall "comcrap better watch out!"
Pre Sales information:
Install Co-ordination:
Services:
Value for money:
(ratings above consensus)

I ordered RCN cable about a week or so ago, forget actualy date, i put 7 days on order from live, im really not sure, could have been 6 or 8 about a week. Anyway I ordered the gamer cable package, which is 5000/800 for 80$ a month. My ex isp, craplink, i mean earthlink was 1000/100 for 66$ a month plus i had to have a basic phone which was another 15 so about same price. The earthlink was horrible, I did a review about it, just search. But anyway, the RCN guy came while i was at work, when i got home everything was hooked up, and running great! I did a speed test first thing here using the speakeasy ca test link. I got 3200/755, download was nowhere near 5000, but then i went and downloaded sven coop3.0 form fileshack.com and it never dipped below 480, fluctuated from that to 510. DAMN FAST! Anyway my craplink contract expried and i was looking for isps, i was gonna go comcrap then i read a review of rcn from someone in my area and hopped onboard. Lets see comcrap 3000(maybe)/384?or256? for 52.95 or RCN standard 3000/800 for 44.95, or comcrap ultra 5000/384?256? or rcn gamer 5000/800? and RCN doesnt disconnect people for going over non existant invisible limits! The choice was easy, and im glad i made it! Ive had comcrap before what a nightmare.. anyone else out there doing a isp switch and considering comcrap, see if u can get rcn!

ps. couldnt rate tech support, havent used it!

member for 12.7 years, 16 visits, last login: 3.5 years ago
lodged 10.9 years ago

Comments:

Review by dfurbush0 See Profile

  • Location: San Mateo,San Mateo,CA
  • Cost Contract price not specified.
Good "Fast and reliable"
Bad "Customer service can be rude"
Overall "The best I ever had"
Pre Sales information:
Install Co-ordination:
Connection Reliability:
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Value for money:
(ratings match consensus)

Eight months ago I switched to RCN's bundled service for phone, cable TV and internet in San Mateo, California. The phone service is adequate (although the voicemail is substandard), the cable TV is really good, and the internet access is awesome. I consistently get over 5 MB/sec downloads and the upload is just fine. In the past I had high speed internet access through DSL through multiple providers and cable through AT&T, subsequently Comcast. Reliability problems with DSL drove me away (multiple-day outages with endless efforts to contact someone who could fix it). The AT&T/Comcast connection was a big improvement but still had regular outages (which fortunately were normally fixed within a half day or so). RCN has been rock steady and the download speed is amazing. The only thing I don't like is calling their customer service people on the phone -- they are difficult and sometimes rude. But the service guys who have come to my house (once for the initial installation and once to upgrade me to an HDTV set top box) have been great.

member for 15 years, 33 visits, last login: 10.8 years ago
lodged 10.9 years ago

Comments:

Review by mwarren42 See Profile

  • Location: Wakefield,Middlesex,MA
  • Cost: $175 per month (month by month)
  • Install: about 7 days
Good "No packet loss, no excessive latency, good peer connectivity, good achievment of advertised bandwidth (5Mb), good tech support"
Bad "Some minor cable box problems, but quickly resolved"
Overall "Excellent uptime, extremely happy with the service esp. the Internet connectivity"
Pre Sales information:
Install Co-ordination:
Connection Reliability:
Tech Support:
Services:
Value for money:
(ratings match consensus)

DHCP dynamic address assignment, but changes very infrequently. Any computer can connect to the cable modem and get an IP address from the DHCP server. The DHCP server does not require a particular MAC address (no swapping NICs when if your PC dies, etc). Lots of bandwidth, 5Mb both ways. Great tech support in-so-far as I've had to call them. Only had some minor setup problems with the cable box, quicly and easily resolved. I'm exteremely happy with the Internet connectivity. No packet loss, no excessive latency, good peer connectivity. No complaints. Would recommend. Cable TV/Digital Cable, Cable Internet and local/long distance phone service can be bundled.

member for 11 years, 7 visits, last login: 10.7 years ago
lodged 11 years ago

Comments:

Review by (hidden by request)

  • Location: San Francisco,San Francisco,CA
  • Cost: $35 per month
Pre Sales information:
Install Co-ordination:
Connection Reliability:
Tech Support:
Services:
Value for money:
(ratings above consensus)

I just had RCN installed today, part of the cable/internet/phone package. Not only am I saving about $50 a month using RCN for all their services with no contract, the promised 5 Mbps down/8kbps up is indeed a reality. Way faster that any DSL I've ever had. I had a static IP address added to the account. Which didn't work at first, a call to tech support (about a 2 minute wait on the phone) and the modem was re-provisioned in flash. The tech actually knew what he was talking about and was not reading from a script. Dealing with the tech support on the cable TV side (bunk remote) was a pleasant experience too. Quick response, again a knowledgeable tech. Pre-sales the guy was ultra friendly, did not try and sell me a bunch of stuff I didn't need. So far so good...I'd give RCN my highest recommendation and a breathe of fresh air from Earthlink and Comcast.

(review was emailed from domain mac.com)
lodged 11 years ago

Comments:

Review by FLea973 See Profile

  • Location: Morristown,Morris,NJ
  • Cost: $39 per month
  • Install: about 7 days
Good "Smooth Installation; Good downloads [update] not as good now[/update]"
Bad "Tech Support; Uploads [update]since Patriot Comm - speed cap[/update][update] Tech Support(Patriot)[/update]"
Overall "1-Way service is a Catch-22 but 2Way is SWEET"
Pre Sales information:
Install Co-ordination:
Connection Reliability:
Tech Support:
Services:
Value for money:
(ratings match consensus)

[updates below]

Well its been 3months since I got service figured I had enough to review.....

Ordering the service was quite smooth with one exception, when talking speeds I was talking and thinking Kbits and sales was talking and thinking Kbytes so there was a little confusion. The installation occurred when they said it would... but they they gave me a 6 hour window (am of the day).

My initial problems were related to forgotten tweaking I had done for my 56K conn long ago, however, trouble shooting with tech support did not help -- I eventually realized what was happenning and remembered the tweaks. At the time, all tech support did was point me to »speedguide.net -ironically DNS crashed everytime I tried to go there.. some tech support people had the same problem. (however, now that that issue is resolved, I, like them, refer people there as a great site for learning/adjusting/tweaking/testing broadband - if I could have gotten there earlier my problems would have been realized and fixed immediately (I also refer people here to DSLR))

Since that time I have had/still have certain issues like when my dialup dials the call doesn't go through. The problem is (I can't complain about a busy signal like AOL users) the call just doesn't go through. I have two local numbers; unlike my previous ISP (Superlink), when one won't go through, the other won't either. When I do get a connection, speed can be a crap shoot at any time of day -- peak or off-peak) I get not-infrequent "pauses" in my throughput but when it works ....those downloads fly - uploads are still at least 2x faster in pure 56K dialup to the same dialup number.

As to tech support, I have read some things positive, and some negative..... my personal experience is negative. Personally, I have had long wait times, 50% of my calls where I am put on hold after finally talking with someone has resulted in a disconnect. The best call I had was as the result of being tranferred to the wrong department.. Corporate Accounts -- that guy was knowledgable and helpful , even listened to my rant on Support employeee's knowledge on how to work a hold button, then stayed on the line while transfering me to the correct dept.... course it went downhill from there.

I have never had problems with RCN support for CATV - they are always knowledgable and helpful - not to mention the wait time is ALWAYS less than 5 (usually instantanious).

I have two options now that Northpoint is dead - RCN or 56K; at this time.. the download speed outweighs everything else.

[update] 1 year later: Tech support has improved immensly since my review. About 5mos ago I started have problems where I kept losing my downstream connection. The 3-Com CMX modem I was provided has been replaced twice and finally replaced with a SB3100. Since the SB3100, the problem has gone away. My upload speeds also went from 9K to 24K when the SB3100 was installed (may not seem like much but a VAST improvement - one-way cable still sucks).

I no longer have any illusions about receiving 2-way service from RCN - the people on the phone won't even quote the old and tired "6mo - 1yr" from the scripts and both an installer and an RF tech have told me that I will see 2-way "when I move to an area that has it" ::sigh:: [/update]

[update 2003-04-22] Well its been a while - If the website hadn't reminded me I'd of forgotten to update this. Anyway, after following advice here and a few places linked from here I managed to tweak my connection to achieve roughly 6mb down from decent ftp servers (also the OOL ftp speed test) needless to say - though my pings still sucked (24k up still sux) the speeds were very nice especially when getting patches. Now Patriot Communtications has bought my service area.... around that time there were some DNS issues but those are gone - but now I experience roughly 800-900 kbps downloads from the same tests -- no changes made to any of the settings - since there have been a few post regarding tis issue it appears that a cap has been introduced though there is no "official" word on this. According to the build out map at rcn (which as part of the terms of sale imposed by the state require to be met) I should be seeing 2-way before the end of 2004. Last month I got tempting news from Verizon - MY phone line was eligible for 1.5 DSL service now for roughly the same cost that my cable costs... but because its MY line and not the primary line to the house (which is still ineligible for any grade of DSL) the cost of maintaining the line + DSL service puts it beyond the price point. I could use the higher upload speed but its not worth that price..... and for those out there who wonder why I want the higher upload.. realize that a 1-way cable connection even with a 6mbit download still pings quake/hl/rtcw servers like a 56k (and in my case since I connect at 33.6k, somewhere between a 33.6k and 56k - but unlike a dial-up, its rock steady connection wise. [/Update 2003-04-22]

[update 2003-05-01][RANT]

Well its May 1,2003.... the conversion from RCN to Patriot has begun.... and not very successfully from my stand point. I got home from work and the modem was out - not a biggie because I lost downstream a lot under RCN.... I reset it and promptly got a receive signal - but wouldn't logon - so I called support (RCN... I forgot) was told by a nice newly added prompt that Patriot Media was my contact point now... called there and fortunately a recording said they knew that no one had modem service and that they were working on it -- fine, I've done enough conversions to know that there is a good reason you start it 5pm Friday night - because no one will be on it while you work out the kinks and hopefully have it working by 9am Monday (but sometimes even that doesn't happen) but these guys had to do it on a live network that is up 24/7 - so I can give them a little slack.

I hung out on hold for about 40min because I needed to know the ip range for their DNS servers so that I could preconfigure the ol'firewall, but then I had to go to dinner...Big Mistake... got back called again... busy signal from 8:30 to 11pm then surprise surprise it started ringing, here is why:

said by patmedia.net:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Hours: M-F 7am-11pm, Sat. 8am-8pm, Sun. 8am-6pm

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I never thought I was spoiled with 24/7 support - heck even my old LOCAL DIAL-UP ISP had 24/7 support years ago (though they contracted it out)

Well starting at about 9pm I could connect to the net. I was still hardcoded into using RCN DNS servers but I could only access microsoft.com, msn.com and patmedia.net - everything else INCLUDING dslreports.com was a DNS error. So I followed the advice the have on their page and switched to automatic DNS so they could assign their own servers (turned off my firewall for testing) and also followed this advisory they posted on their front page:

said by »www.patmedia.net/patriot/index.html:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Attention Modem Customers

If you are still experiencing a connection problem, please take the following steps:

1. Shut down your PC.

2. Unplug the modem’s power cord from the wall outlet.

3. Wait 30 seconds.

4. Plug the cable modem’s power cord back in the wall outlet.

5. Wait until you see 4 green lights appear on the modem.

6. Restart your computer.

If you're still having trouble after following these steps, please call 1-(866)-PAT-1776.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Well a lot of good that phone number does... it was constantly busy and its now after 11. Anyway using the DNS servers they assigned me, I couldn't even access WWW.PATMEDIA.NET!!! So I switched back to my old DNS servers and voila there it is... with my limited browsing.

Now you might be saying that its fixed because I am posting here... but you'd be wrong.... I never got around to ditching the AOL account on my machine because I have family that only uses it and they call asking for help - so I need to see what they are talking about...anyway I had a thought and remembered the days about 10yrs ago that gave me the reason to get another ISP in the first place, frequently when I wanted to go to a web site, I couldn't and would get a message like: all connections were in use and I should try again later -- AOL (even the BYOconnection model) connects to the web using its own connections. Anyway, I thought "hmmm, connecting to AOL doesn't need DNS.... lemme give it a try" - and lo and behold - it worked! Then on to my next experiment: can I connect from there to dslreports for 1)my fix 2)to post this rant. AND I CAN!!!

Sadly I can... I am in an AOL window looking at Dslreports - but at least it works. As most of you here in the RCN Forum (er..now RCN/Patriot) know... RCN's DNS servers weren't the best at least as far as routing went... but unlike Patriot's, they WORKED!

[/RANT]

[PLEA for Help]

Does anyone have some good (heck, working) DNS server IPs they can post for me to try?

If there are any Patriot Media employees reading this willing to tell me - and the others - that there WILL be an automatic credit for the month of May for the loss of service - even if it is prorated?

[/PLEA for Help]

At the very least Patriot Media could have kept the call center up overnight for the first few days of the conversion and staffed it up - its not like RCN where they have to service NJ AND the rest of the eastern seaboard DC to Boston plus Chicago and San Fran.[/update 2003-05-01]

[update 2003-11-24] Well, things have smoothed out conciderably since before. Finally got upgraded to 2-way digital service about a month ago. My connections have stablilized and I have noticed no problems. One of my splitters wasn't replaced with a new "digital" splitter, but I don't have the modem or a converter box after that one so it fine for now (but it is the main splitter in the attic that all the rooms except the basement are split from). -- As far as customer service goes, NJ law now requires that I get to speak to someone within 30sec - but I haven't had to call yet so that remains untested, [/update 2003-11-24]

member for 13.8 years, 1129 visits, last login: 6.5 years ago
updated 11 years ago

Comments:

Review by thebombs12 See Profile

  • Location: San Francisco,San Francisco,CA
  • Cost: $19 per month (4 month contract)
  • Install: about 3 days
Good "I received 3 Mbps down with RCN"
Bad "No fancy smanshy interface in their portal. 1 email account, predefined with your first/last name."
Overall "RCN's promotion was better than Comcast's all for the same price."
Pre Sales information:
Install Co-ordination:
Connection Reliability:
Value for money:
(ratings above consensus)

Installation:
- Coordinated with 3 others who helped with the installation.
- Took less than 1 hour (new wiring b/c RCN uses different cables)
- Installer came early, which was a good thing.

Speed:
- 3 Mbps down
- 100 KB up

member for 13.1 years, 2071 visits, last login: 60 days ago
lodged 11.1 years ago

Comments: