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2021 is almost over. This time around, you would find a lot of listicles online, about the ‘hot’ and the ‘not’ that trended earlier during the year. And all that could trend in the future. Calling this thing a yearly tradition won’t be wrong. 

Here we are, keeping the tradition alive. And sharing with you, the best urban Vs rural internet connections of 2021. Whether you reside in an urban area. Or a rural locality far-off from the reach of wireline broadband services. We’ll take you through the best urban and rural internet providers, that America preferred this year. 

Help yourself with the right one for you. And get ready to start the New Year with a reliable internet connection for your home.

The Best Rural Internet Providers of 2021

Types of Connection Available in Rural Areas

Rural areas have been always ruled by the Digital Divide. Options aren’t too many. Providers are a handful. Internet speeds are limited. And a myriad of factors, geographical, corporate, bureaucratic, etc. continues to affect the expansion of broadband infrastructure in rural America despite a variety of initiatives and forward looking action.  

Relative to urban areas, rural localities still have a pretty long way to go before accessing high-speed internet such as Fiber. While dial-up is fast becoming absolutely obsolete, a commonly available wired option for rural residents is DSL. It does not come cheap, and speed is not as fast as you may get in an urban or suburban vicinity, but it offers a stable internet connection. Other than DSL, you will find satellite internet available coast to coast. While the reach of Fixed Wireless infrastructure is fast expanding, and it makes for a less pricey wireless internet option relative to satellite.   

Top DSL Providers in Rural Areas

AT&T

768 Kbps – 100 Mbps downloads for $45.00/mo. for 12 months

No annual contract  

AT&T Internet is one of the top internet services in the U.S. AT&T owns the biggest wireless and Fiber networks in the country. For rural areas, AT&T primarily utilizes its traditional wireline network in 21 states. The speed you get is totally dependent on how far you are located from the provider’s hub. If you are not close, it may seem slow. But it is sufficient to get routine tasks done. Plus you get 1 TB monthly data allowance which  is sufficient for standard household consumption, and then some.

CenturyLink

15 to 100 Mbps download for $50/mo.

No annual contract & unlimited data

CenturyLink offers straightforward pricing and a ton of freedom to subscribers. There’s no obligation of contracts. Whenever you want, you have the freedom to cancel your CenturyLink subscription without incurring any consequences. The prices are affordable. While the speed you get is tied up with your proximity to the provider’s hub, you do get a reliable internet connection to fuel the necessary tasks. Plus data is unlimited! Add the Simply Unlimited home phone to Simply Unlimited Internet, and you can connect your home better for less.

Windstream

25 Mbps to 100 Mbps download (offers and pricing may vary with location)

No annual contract & unlimited data

A stable internet connection is all that rural residents need. Windstream Kinetic offers customers a great choice where available. The provider is aggressively engaged in extending its Fiber network to more and more rural communities across its 18 service states. Again, depending on your distance from the Fiber-fed hardware, you can access reliable speeds up to 100 Mbps over the Windstream network. Plus, there are no data caps, so you don’t face a throttled connection or an overage charge. 

Top Satellite Internet Provider in Rural Areas

HughesNet

Download up to 25 Mbps  

Monthly data from 10 GB-50 GB  

Plans start from $39.99/mo. for 6 months

Satellite internet does not have many providers. HughesNet is one of the top 2 with exceptional coverage in urban and rural areas alike. HughesNet Gen5 Internet gets you 25/3 Mbps speeds in areas where you would either have no access to a wired service or it is too slow to work for you. In such situations despite being capped, HughesNet plans deliver download and upload speeds that meet the FCC’s broadband benchmark. That means, even with your connection being wireless, you can get done with all the essentials, and then some.

While it is the least recommended for gaming due to latency, which is inherent to this type of internet, you can stream video with ease. And if your monthly data allowance is not enough, HughesNet gives you a big helping hand with its 50 GB Bonus Zone data on top of your allowance.

Top Fixed Wireless Internet Provider in Rural Areas

AT&T

10 Mbps - 25 Mbps downloads for $69.99/mo. for 12 months

No annual contract  

 

AT&T does not only have a wired footprint in rural America. Rather where its traditional service does not reach, AT&T Fixed Wireless is available for rural communities, homes and businesses alike. The expected download speed is up to 25 Mbps, and AT&T pledges not to deliver lower than 10 Mbps. The data allowance is capped at 350 GB. While speed and data may not seem alluring from the urban viewpoint, in a rural area away from the reach of wireline services, this can actually serve as a lifeline.  

Rise Broadband

Enjoy 25 to 50 Mbps download

Plans start at $50/mo. for 12 months

Freedom to choose plans with capped and unlimited data 

Rise Broadband is the biggest Fixed Wireless provider in the U.S. And when pitched against satellite internet, it makes for a more affordable option, which gets you about the same speed or better. While wireless, it makes for a reliable internet connection for rural residents based on how Rise Broadband chooses to deliver it. Focused point-to-point wireless devices and a good line of sight make it a good connection to game on. The best part is Rise lets you pick a plan with capped or unlimited data depending on your needs.  

The Best Urban Internet Providers of 2021

Types of Connection Available in Urban Areas

In urban areas, residents have multiple types of wired connections to choose from. The speeds are substantial. Many internet options that are available come with no data caps. The top wired internet connections commonly available for urban residents are:

  • Fiber 
  • Cable
  • High-speed DSL

Top Fiber & High-speed DSL Internet Providers of 2021

AT&T 

Affordable Fiber Internet plans starting from $35/mo. for 12 months

Equal download and upload speeds

When it comes to affordability and best value, AT&T Fiber wins the game. AT&T Fiber gets you a 100% fiber broadband connection, and ensures 99% reliability. The plans are great! The starting one offers 300 Mbps download/upload. The mid-tiered plan offers 500 Mbps. And the biggest one offers 940 Mbps. All the plans come with an unlimited data allowance, which is like an added perk. 

AT&T also offers high-speed DSL internet plans in areas where the Fiber network has not yet reached. AT&T Internet delivers a maximum speed of up to 100 Mbps. Of course, the speeds won’t be symmetrical like Fiber. But they’ll be enough to keep a small family well connected. AT&T high-speed internet plans are priced at $45/mo.

CenturyLink

Up to 940 Mbps download/upload for $65/mo.

No annual contract & unlimited data

Like CenturyLink high-speed DSL, fiber internet from the provider gets you good value for money. You get a Fiber-to-the-Home connection, with equal upload and download speeds, and unlimited data. You don’t need to sign an annual contract, and there is no early cancellation penalty. The big advantage with CenturyLink is you are not likely to see a price hike after the “promo term” because you start paying month-to-month at the standard rate from the get go.  

Windstream

Windstream Kinetic plans ranging from 200 Mbps - 940 Mbps (offers and pricing may vary with location)

No annual contract and unlimited data

Windstream Kinetic not only reaches out to rural communities, but urban and suburban neighborhoods in its service states can enjoy super fast internet. The advantage of the Fiber-fed Windstream network works more in favor of users in such regions, and the appealing promotional offers often put out by Windstream become all the more enticing. Plus if you get lucky, you maybe able to subscribe to Fiber Gigabit via a Fiber-to-the-Home connection from Windstream. With unlimited data allowance and no mandatory annual contract, Windstream plans make for a bargain deal if you are able to get you hands on a promotional offer. 

Top Cable Internet Providers of 2021

Mediacom

Standalone internet plans starting from $49.99/mo. for 12 months

Competitively priced double and triple play bundles are available

Mediacom offers a variety of bundles. There are 300 Mbps, 500 Mbps, and 1 Gbps standalone internet options. All internet plans come with a substantial data allowance, snuggly enough to last you an entire month. There are double and triple play bundles as well. If you’re seeking packages with greater value, then Mediacom can be a safe bet. 

Charter SpectrumTM

Standalone internet plans starting from $49.99/mo. for 12 months

Contract free plans with unlimited data

Spectrum primarily provides cable internet, TV, and phone services to urban and suburban areas, albeit Spectrum’s network is now also expanding into rural America. Spectrum Internet comes in three-tiered standalone plans: 200, 400, and 1000 Mbps. All three plans are free from data caps. Moreover, there are bundles for those who prefer savings. Double play bundles include Spectrum Internet 200 + Spectrum TV of your choice. And, triple play bundles have phone service added onto that. 

Optimum by Altice

Get the best value with 300 Mbps plan for $39.99/mo. for 12 months

A wide array of affordable bundles available

Optimum offers cable internet service in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. Users have the freedom to choose between standalone internet plans and bundles. The standalone plans offer 300 Mbps, 500 Mbps, and 1 GIG downloads. Optimum double play bundles are available in TV + Internet and Internet + Phone combos. Prices are competitive. And there are value features included.

All Things Concluded

When it comes to having wired internet connections, urban areas have always been lucky. Rural areas suffer because of lower population density and a small number of wired internet providers. Which often leaves rural communities at the mercy of Fixed Wireless or Satellite.   

This year, we saw a handful of rural internet providers leading the market, pretty much the same “big guys” in the industry which were prominent on account of their services for urban and suburban residents. Maybe, next year we would get to witness some more wired internet providers in the rural areas. 

Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs

1- How is internet connection in rural areas?

In rural areas, residents have limited options to choose from. The more widely available types of internet in rural areas include DSL, satellite, and Fixed Wireless. While Cable also has a footprint in rural America, it is too limited at this time.

2- Why do rural areas have poor internet?

Rural areas have fewer potential internet users per square mile. And it is not profitable for the internet service providing companies to invest in areas where the demand is low.  

3- What is a broadband desert?

Areas with no or very little internet service are called broadband deserts.