Google Fiber offers affordable gig speeds with no contracts, data caps, fees, or fuss. Unfortunately, it’s still hamstrung by extremely limited availability.
Rise Broadband offers competitive fixed wireless speeds at reasonable prices for rural customers. While it won’t compete with your typical fiber or cable internet service, it offers a compelling alternative to satellite.
Google Fiber internet is an excellent value for the money. There are only two plans: 1,000 Mbps (1 gig) for $70 per month and 2,000 Mbps (2 gigs) for $100 per month. The 1 gig plan is among the most affordable we’ve seen at that speed, costing a little more than half the national benchmark fro similar plans (1). The 2 gig option is also drastically cheaper than many other providers’ similar offerings (if they even have a 2 gig plan). There’s no budget option for those who don’t need speeds this fast, but for what Google does offer, the value is hard to beat.
Rise Broadband is a tough service to rate because it’s not your typical ISP. Rise Broadband provides what’s known as fixed wireless service, which means the signal is beamed from a tower wirelessly to your home (rather than running through cable or fiber lines). It’s also generally aimed more at rural areas where cable lines don’t exist. This means it primarily competes with satellite internet and DSL. All this has to be taken into account when considering value.
So, where does Rise stand? Compared to DSL and satellite, it’s an outstanding value. It offers better performance and higher data allowances (with an unlimited data add-on available) than satellite and DSL, and at significantly lower prices. That said, if you’re in an area that has a cable or fiber option, you may find that those providers offer more for your money.
Google Fiber is one of the fastest internet providers and offers excellent performance. The speeds are more than enough for even the heaviest users, and there’s enough bandwidth to power a whole household of HD streams. Since this is fiber, upload speeds are also excellent—1,000 Mbps on both plans. Unlimited data is the cherry on top of this delicious internet sundae. Our only knock is that some providers have started offering even faster speeds (though the majority of households won’t need more than what Google offers).
Performance-wise, Rise Broadband offers solid speeds—with the caveat that we’re comparing internet options in rural areas here. Most coverage areas have a choice of 25 Mbps and 50 Mbps plans, and some select areas have up to 100 Mbps available. These speeds would be pretty bad in areas with more options. However, if you’re considering fixed wireless, you probably don’t have many more options.
Compared to a satellite provider like Viasat, these speeds are about average—maybe even a little slow. However, fixed wireless like Rise won’t suffer from the huge latency of satellite internet, which makes it much more usable for gaming and other real-time tasks. Rise should handle HD streaming in a small household without too much trouble. You can optionally add unlimited data for an extra $10 per month, which makes a big difference without making the price unreasonable.
Equipment is another area where Google Fiber really shines. Installation of the fiber jack is free, and there are no monthly fees for the network box, which functions as both a modem and router. This means that, outside of any state-imposed access fees, the advertised prices are what you’ll actually pay for broadband internet service. Many other providers end up costing $10–$15 more per month due to equipment rental fees, so this is a refreshing change of pace.
Additionally, Google doesn’t charge any sort of activation fee. This is another area where other internet providers sometimes get you—they advertise free installation, but charge a significant “activation fee” that negates the deal.
On paper, Google Fiber and its equipment are fantastic. We had to bump this score down, however, because of the slow pace of installation. Some customers complain of having to wait for months or even years to have fiber installed at their homes, even after the fiber-optic cables have been laid in their neighborhoods.
Rise Broadband offers surprisingly competitive equipment. The provider offers the TP-Link Deco M4 mesh system, which can easily cover an entire large home. Customers can choose to rent up to three of the devices for $5 more per month each, so you can save a little money if you don’t need the full range of all three routers.
Rise Broadband’s installation fee is a whopping $150. That’s one of the highest of any providers we’ve seen. However, many promotions waive this fee. If you can’t find one in your area, it’s also worth asking the sales rep about it—you never know.
Given the excellent speeds, (relatively) affordable pricing, and lack of fees, it’s safe to say that living with Google Fiber makes for a fantastic experience. For the most part, you can just do what you need to do online and forget that you even have an internet service provider, which is great. When Google anticipates a change to your account or service, it generally lets you know well in advance.
If you do end up needing support, you’re dealing with Google. In general, this means really good online help and so-so phone support. That said, we’ve seen comparatively few customer service complaints about Google Fiber, and our own experience with Google Fiber has been that we rarely need customer support anyway. The company claims (2) it topped results in over 20 categories in an American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) survey, but the actual results of that survey don’t appear to be public, so all we have are anecdotes.
Something else that we love about Google Fiber is how straightforward the billing is. The monthly statements are very clear about how much you owe and when you’ll be charged compared to the sometimes confusing internet bills from other providers, so there’s no ambiguity about charges. You can also access your account and billing info using your Gmail login, so you don’t have to worry about yet another username and password.
The customer experience with Rise Broadband is good overall. It offers solid speeds at a great price—if you’re coming from satellite, it’ll be a whole new world. Our one major gripe isn’t so much with Rise as it is with fixed wireless in general: it’s more susceptible to weather interference than most other types of internet. If you’re in an area with frequent heavy rain or snow, you might have some reliability issues (although satellite would likely have the same issues, too).
Multiple customers have noted that speeds fluctuate throughout the year, possibly due to network congestion followed by maintenance and new infrastructure to accommodate the additional traffic. Unfortunately, your experience may be hindered by limited self-help troubleshooting options if you have any issues.