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Rise Broadband internet review: Not bad for rural internet

With speeds up to 50Mbps, unlimited data options and an impressive Wi-Fi service, Rise Broadband is a leading ISP in many suburban and rural areas.

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Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Internet options are harder to come by in rural areas. When exploring those options, here's one you may want to consider: fixed wireless. A fixed wireless connection beams internet signals from nearby cell towers to a small antenna at your home. From there, a modem converts the signals into the internet connection you use for streaming and browsing the web. It's a bit like satellite internet, only without the high latency and stiff data restrictions, or the need to mount a dish. Now, take that technology, add speeds ranging from 25 to 50 megabits per second, unlimited data options and mesh Wi-Fi capabilities and you've got Rise Broadband.

Rise Broadband won't blow you away with high speeds or super-cheap pricing, but you may find the Wi-Fi service and low latency (which, unlike satellite internet, can support online gaming) to be impressive. That is, of course, if your signal isn't out thanks to a thunderstorm or snowshower between your home and the wireless tower. 

6.2

Rise Broadband home internet

Like

  • Availability in rural areas with no direct cables to the home required.
  • Significantly higher data allowances than satellite.
  • Advanced Wi-Fi equipment and service available.
  • Online gaming is possible.

Don't Like

  • Max speeds of only 50Mbps.
  • Unavoidable $11 monthly equipment fee.
  • Line of sight to nearby wireless tower required.
  • Possible service disruptions in bad weather.

If satellite and DSL are your only other options, I'd most likely prefer Rise Broadband due to its pricing, relatively faster speeds and data allowances, though DSL can be the cheaper, faster option in some areas. On the other hand, if cable or fiber internet is available, I would look to those providers first before considering Rise Broadband.

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Rise Broadband's fixed wireless internet service spans 16 states.

FCC/Mapbox

Rise Broadband plans and prices

Rise Broadband offers four home internet plans in most areas. There isn't much speed variety, unfortunately, as the four plans offer just two speeds (25 or 50Mbps) and two data options between them. In some locations, only the 25Mbps plans are available.

Rise Broadband home internet plans

Plan Max speeds Starting price Price after 1 year Equipment fees Data cap
25Mbps Internet 25Mbps download, 4Mbps upload $35 $45 $11 modem rental (mandatory), $5-$15 router rental (skippable) 250GB
25Mbps Internet w/ Unlimited Data 25Mbps download, 4Mbps upload $45 $55 $11 modem rental (mandatory), $5-$15 router rental (skippable) Unlimited
50Mbps Internet 50Mbps download, 5Mbps upload $55 $65 $11 modem rental (mandatory), $5-$15 router rental (skippable) 250GB
50Mbps Internet w/ Unlimited Data 50Mbps download, 5Mbps upload $65 $75 $11 modem rental (mandatory), $5-$15 router rental (skippable) Unlimited

The 25 and 50Mbps tiers are fairly consistent across Rise Broadband service areas, but pricing may vary a bit from one market to another. For example, the 50Mbps Unlimited plan is $65 in Greeley, Colorado, but the same plan is $70 a month in Springfield, Illinois. Not a huge difference, sure, but it's something to be aware of.

Something else to remember is that with Rise, your bill will typically go up after the first year, typically by $10. Rise's introductory prices vary by location, so the exact jump might be a little more or less than that -- and it might be slightly higher with some unlimited plans -- but overall, the jumps are smaller than you'll see with other providers. For instance, cable internet plans from Xfinity, Spectrum and Cox will typically go up by at least $20 after the first year, if not $30 to $40.

All told, Rise isn't the best value in home internet by any stretch. None of the company's plans charge any less than $1 per Mbps of download speed; with cable and fiber providers, that figure can fall as low as 25 cents per Mbps. Those are faster technologies, though. Compared with other common rural options like satellite and DSL, Rise offers relatively strong value. For instance, with Hughesnet, you'll be paying a minimum of $2.40 per Mbps for speeds of 25Mbps. Similarly, with CenturyLink's DSL service, a 20Mbps plan will cost you $2.45 per Mbps, though you'll find better value if faster plans are available at your address.

Rise Broadband equipment and fees

Regardless of your service area and the plan you choose, expect Rise to add an unavoidable $11 equipment fee to your bill. And, sorry to say, that's just for the antenna and the modem. 

Call me naive, but I expect "equipment fees," especially unavoidable ones of $11 per month, to include a router. In most cases, they do, but not with Rise Broadband. If you want Wi-Fi service, you can rent a router from Rise Broadband for an additional $5 per month per device, or supply your own. 

deco-m4-mesh-router-rise-broadband

If you aren't using your own router, you can rent a TP-Link Deco M4 mesh system from Rise Broadband for $5 per month per device. The three-piece setup seen here would add $15 to your monthly bill.

TP-Link

Renting your Wi-Fi router

Renting your Wi-Fi router will raise the equipment fee to $16 and add to your overall monthly costs. Still, you may find the added fee to be worth it, particularly if you're interested in trying out a mesh router. At just $5 per Deco M4 device, Rise Broadband's router rental fees are lower than most providers (but remember they're still getting you with that $11 monthly fee for the modem), and you do have the option to use your own and avoid renting a router at all. 

One Deco M4 should be enough for very small homes and apartments, but you might want to try adding a second or third device as an extender if the main signal isn't reaching far enough into your home.

A Rise Broadband technician will install and configure your router(s) during the initial installation, even if you supply your own, which is nice. That means if you do supply your own, you'll need the router you intend to use at the time of installation. Rise Broadband's installation fee for new service is steep at $150, but that fee is often waived when you sign up.

Data caps, contracts and added fees

While some Rise Broadband plans come with unlimited data, others have a 250GB cap. 250GB is a decent amount of data, but you'll want to be mindful of your usage as the average household used 344GB per month in 2020

Exceeding your monthly data cap will result in a $5 charge for each 10GB block required to accommodate your overage. So if you had a 250GB cap and used the same amount as the average household in 2020, you'd be over the limit by 94GB, and subsequently hit with a $50 added fee. Fortunately, the unlimited data plans are only $10 more per month, so if you're at risk of regularly breaking the cap, then it's probably a worthwhile investment.

It is fairly simple to monitor your monthly data usage online, and the company will send you a notification each time a $5 data fee is charged, but to be safe, I'd recommend just choosing a plan with unlimited data. You'll want to opt for the unlimited data plan ahead of time if you go that route, as upgrading your plan while under contract comes with a $150 Service Upgrade Fee per occurrence. That's flat-out stingy -- internet providers should never punish their customers for seeking an upgrade. 

The good news is that Rise Broadband is primarily a month-to-month service, so you shouldn't have to worry about early termination fees (up to $125 on one-year contracts, up to $250 on two-year contracts), or that senseless upgrade fee. There may be some locations and promotions that require a contract, however, so be sure to ask if your service comes with one when signing up.

A competitive option for rural internet

Rise Broadband has greater availability and faster speeds than other fixed wireless providers, though pricing is somewhat higher, especially when considering the added fees. It's not likely that you'll have the choice of Rise Broadband and other fixed wireless providers, however. 

Rise Broadband versus satellite internet

If your internet connection comes down to Rise Broadband and satellite from either HughesNet or Viasat, Rise Broadband will be the better value. Compared to satellite internet, Rise Broadband comes with lower pricing, latency low enough to support online gaming and much, much more data. Both internet connection types are susceptible to service disruptions from rain, snow and even the wind, but fixed wireless connections like what Rise Broadband offers pose less of a risk than satellite. This is because the signal has a shorter distance to travel, and therefore is less likely to encounter bad weather along the way.

Rise Broadband versus cellular internet

Cellular internet providers, like Verizon LTE and T-Mobile Home Internet, are comparable to Rise Broadband. Verizon offers speeds up to 25Mbps and unlimited data starting at $60 a month ($40 a month for qualifying Verizon mobile customers) and T-Mobile has a $60 a month unlimited plan that comes with speeds up to 50Mbps or higher. 

As 5G service from these providers and others becomes more widely available, cellular internet may become more enticing, but for now, there is little difference if any to Rise Broadband fixed wireless in terms of speeds and pricing. You're likely to get better equipment and service reliability with Rise Broadband over cellular internet, but if installing the antenna is a concern, you may want to consider Verizon LTE or T-Mobile Home Internet.

Rise Broadband versus DSL internet

DSL internet service, another popular choice for rural internet, can vary widely by provider and location. In some areas, DSL providers such as CenturyLink, and Windstream can deliver speeds of 100Mbps for prices comparable to Rise Broadband. These speeds aren't common with DSL, however, and many rural locations will only be eligible for sub-broadband download speeds (less than 25Mbps). If that's the case in your area, you'll probably find Rise Broadband to be the better provider.

Rise Broadband versus cable and fiber

Cable providers including Mediacom, Spectrum and Xfinity are available in many Rise Broadband service areas. Some locations, such as Irving, Texas and Salt Lake City, may also have access to fiber-optic internet. Cable and fiber-optic services will almost always offer faster speeds than you can get with Rise Broadband. You're also likely to have more plan options and better reliability since you'll have a wired connection. In short, if cable internet or fiber-optic service is available, it's almost certainly going to be the better option.

What do customers think of Rise Broadband?

Customer satisfaction resources like The American Customer Satisfaction Index and J.D. Power do not include Rise Broadband in their reports, so official customer satisfaction indicators are scarce. 

Turning to the Better Business Bureau, Rise Broadband has held an A-plus rating since 2015. Overall, the number of filed complaints is relatively low with only 337 over the past three years. Additionally, 360 Rise Broadband customers who left a review gave the provider an average of 3.39 out of 5 stars -- a score that is exceptionally high among internet service providers.

Rise Broadband customer service

When it comes to customer service, Rise Broadband is as accommodating as any provider. While its Customer Care line (844-816-9149) is not available on Sundays, it is open 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mountain time Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. MT on Saturday. Tech Support (877-910-6207), on the other hand, is available seven days a week -- 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. MT Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. MT on Saturday and Sunday.

Rise Broadband is also one of the few providers that are accessible by email (see addresses here), which can be convenient if you don't have a pressing concern and don't want to wait on hold. Other than email, there's no practical online customer or technical support available. There is no live online chat function on the Rise Broadband website, unfortunately, and there's little to no order on the FAQ page, which could make it difficult to quickly find the answers you need.

To sum up

Rise Broadband is a great choice for rural internet service with 25 and 50Mbps plans available in 16 states. Unlimited data options are available, too -- a rarity for rural internet -- but even if you don't choose an unlimited plan, the 250GB you get with the company's non-unlimited plans is enough for lots of online activity. Just try to avoid going over the data cap if you have one, as doing so will add to the monthly equipment fees.