The digital divide in the U.S. is slowly reducing. There was a time when only the residents of urban and suburban regions could access broadband internet. In 2007 an estimated 35% of rural population had access to a broadband internet connection. But in early 2019, a Pew research study revealed the number had risen to 63% since. Residents of rural regions are now 12% less likely to be connected to broadband internet compared to fellow Americans in urban and suburban regions. Back in the 2007 this difference was 16 percentage points.
The reduction in the digital gap is well-owed to initiatives of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). For instance, the FCC Lifeline Support program. Which makes it possible for low-income households to access subsidized high-speed internet, and has played a significant role in making broadband internet more common. As well as the Connect America Fund. Which focuses on funding network deployment in eligible areas across the United States, and has encouraged nationwide ISPs to upgrade and extend their network reach.
Rural America is now certainly more wired than yesterday, but large swaths of rural territories still lack the infrastructure needed to deliver high-speed internet. Also, regions that do have this access, get significantly slower speeds, relative to urban and suburban neighborhoods.
Rural adults may still be less likely to adopt new technologies. And, they may still use the internet less frequently. But, 24% of them also believe getting access to high-speed internet is a major problem for their local communities. Meaning, despite the amount of effort and money invested, there is a long road ahead until the digital divide is bridged.
For as long as it takes to bridge the digital gap between non-rural and rural America, available rural internet options are expected to remain limited. Fewer rural internet providers, limited availability, slower speeds, and capped data mean less choice. Rural life may not be as dependent on availability of high-speed internet as the urban lifestyle. But, in this age and time, it is still a utility that can not be done away with. Sure dial-up internet access is still alive in rural regions. And it comes cheap. However, dial-up speeds are obsolete-slow.
Let’s take a look at the available variety of rural internet providers based on the type of internet service they deliver. If you are aware of what each type is capable of doing. And, you know what each provider offers. The choice you make is more likely to be right for you.
DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) is the more affordable way to enjoy a solid internet connection in rural localities. Copper line network infrastructure is widespread in the U.S. and makes DSL one of the most readily available options—92% of the U.S. is connected via DSL networks.
Unlike dial-up DSL doesn’t get in the way of your phone communication. And, provides a more reliable and faster connection. DSL services are able to offer speeds starting from 1 Mbps up to 100+ Mbps. Speed available in your neighborhood depends on how far you are located from your provider’s hub. If you are far from the fiber optic backbone of the network, you are likely to have slower internet available to you. That is why not all speeds offered by a rural internet provider may be available at your address.
|AT&T||768 Kbps to 75 Mbps with up to 1TB data allowance||
for 12 months
|CenturyLink||15 Mbps to 100 Mbps with 1TB data allowance||
Price for Life
|Frontier||6 Mbps to 115 Mbps with unlimited data||
Starting at $27.99/mo.
for 12 months
|Windstream||50 Mbps to 100 Mbps with unlimited data||
Starting at $27.00/mo.
for 12 months
Satellite internet is the most widely available type of internet connection in the US. As long as you get a clear view of the southern sky, you can get a satellite internet connection for your rural home. That makes it available pretty much from coast to coast.
Satellite internet uses wireless signals from a satellite in space to transmit data. Unlike wired internet it does not require a landline network to reach you. The satellite dish at your end sends and receives the signal. The data first travels to the orbiting satellite from your location. Then it goes to the provider’s Network Operations Center on earth. And after the internet connection has been established, it travels all the way back to your end. That is why when you consider satellite internet you must pay keep the latency factor in mind.
But, in recent times providers like HughesNet have done exceptionally well at reducing the latency. HughesNet Gen5 internet from the rural internet provider utilizes fifth generation satellite networking tech. And, brings you stable speed which you can even play games with. If budget is not an issue, HughesNet makes for a great rural internet option.
|Provider||Max. Speed||Data Allowance||Price|
|HughesNet||Download @ up to 25 Mbps & Upload @ up to 3 Mbps||From 10GB to 50GB per month||
Starting from $59.99/month
for 12 months
Wireless internet is available in rural America as fixed wireless and mobile broadband. Fixed wireless networks cover over 40% of the U.S. territory while mobile broadband is available to nearly 100%.
Both types of services use radio waves to transmit the signal. But, fixed wireless uses a point-to-point connection to transmit data. While cellular network towers broadcast the signal in a general direction. So, a fixed wireless network comes with better bandwidth, lower latency, and faster speed. Overall it performs better, is less costly, and gives a more generous data allowance relative to competition.
Rise Broadband is the largest fixed wireless nationwide provider. And, Rise services are available in over 15 states to about 26 million people. The service comes at competitive prices, and gives you the option to choose between a capped or unlimited data plan. With no mandatory contracts, Rise makes for a great value option. And since it is quite widely available chances are you will find yourself in the line of sight of a Rise access point.
AT&T is the largest mobile broadband provider in the U.S. And comes forward with a variety of wireless tech to provide nationwide services—3G/4G, 4G LTE and 5G. You can get download speeds up to 7, 64 or 140 Mbps respectively, depending on which technology connects you. Some AT&T wireless plans in the market limit access to certain network technologies or impose a maximum speed limit. But, other plans allow access to all available technologies. And give maximum possible speed at your location.
Choosing the right ISP for yourself is important. But, not the easiest task. It becomes more difficult when you are living away from the hubbub of urban centers. We’d advise you to assess your needs well. And think about all factors related to rural internet services available to you before you choose your rural internet provider and plan. Shopping for an ISP isn’t something that we do quite often. So, don’t rush the process.
Not every rural internet provider will be available at your address. And, when an ISP services your area, it is not necessary that you are able to access the entire variety of plans and promotions. Before finalizing your pick, make sure to confirm availability of a provider, and its plans by using your ZIP code.
The type of connection plays a huge role in internet performance. How fast can you download depends on whether the connection is satellite, fixed wireless, DSL or cellular. And latency also varies with each type. Satellite being the most vulnerable to higher latency. Make sure you match your needs with the available type of internet.
Speed and data make the core of what helps you judge if an internet plan is right for you. Often speed and data are closely linked to the type of internet connection. But, providers vary in their offers too. Plus available speeds from a provider can vary from one location to another. So make sure to well compare your available rural internet options before deciding on any.
Rural internet is usually expensive than is internet in urban/suburban regions. And, some types of internet are by default more expensive because infrastructure costs a fortune to deploy. For instance satellite. If budget is a concern, compare rural internet prices and assess the value each plan gets you before you pick one.
For rural communities, data caps are more like a thing of routine. Because more often than not, DSL, fixed wireless and satellite internet plans tend to come with a data cap. Satellite internet for rural areas is capped. Although, fixed wireless, DSL and mobile broadband providers do offer unlimited rural internet options.
Consumers have always called out providers for imposing data caps. Providers, on the other hand, have stood in favor of the policy. Some ISPs say, data cap is imposed in order to manage network congestion. While others claim data caps assist with “Fair Usage Policy”. In any case, for the urban consumer limited data is a big nuisance due to their usage patterns. Rural internet does not have to fulfill similar demands. So having a data cap does not cause much of an issue for most subscribers.
When you are on a fixed data allowance, and your internet usage exceeds that, there is an overage fee that you must pay. For instance, with CenturyLink, you pay $10 for every 50GB used above your 1TB data allowance. HughesNet does not charge you an overage fee, nor does it disconnect you. But, reduces your download speed to 3 Mbps from 25, while your upload speed drops to 1 Mbps from 3.
With that said, it is estimated a vast majority of subscribers find their allotted data sufficient for their needs. So, if you know how much data your household consumes, you can pick the rural internet plan which gives you enough to do the job. And, if you are fortunate, you can grab a Windstream or Frontier deal that gives you unlimited rural internet at your address.
Here, take a look at some of the top rural internet deals from renowned U.S. rural internet providers.
Internet in rural areas is a victim of lacking infrastructure. And geographical factors add fuel to the fire. Your rural internet options may be limited. But, if you know what you want out of a rural internet service, you can land a good fit. Quite a few well known names in the ISP industry have significant presence in various geo-regions. It is easy to check which ones offer plans in your area. Call at 1-855-349-9328 and speak to an expert. Or fetch yourself rural internet options via our ZIP code search tool.
|Rural Internet Provider||Service Features|
When you think of home internet, you think wired. Not many people think about a mobile broadband connection as a wholesome alternative to other types. But, if your internet usage is not extravagant, with a mobile hotspot you can easily power your laptop or another internet enabled device. If you are using the 4G LTE network, and in the range of a strong signal, you can easily stay connected via a good cellular wireless plan. The best part is you will not suffer from the dilemma of availability. And with AT&T Wireless available across the U.S. you are likely to grab a good bargain deal.
With that said, let us not rule out the possibility of getting a dial-up internet subscription from a local provider. No matter how obsolete the internet tech is, it is still alive. And comes cheap and handy in time of need.
Last updated: Jan 4, 2021
To access high-speed internet in rural areas you can use Fixed Wireless, Mobile Broadband, Satellite, and even DSL internet connections. Cable broadband is available in very select rural neighborhoods from Suddenlink by Altice.
Internet is a vast network that connects digital devices around the world. Digital data is transferred from one point to another via standard networking protocols and equipment. On the other hand Wi-Fi is the technology that allows internet enabled devices to interface with the internet. You can think of internet as a cloud while Wi-Fi is the tech that connects you to that cloud via radio signals.
Latency is the delay that occurs between sending data from your device, and receiving a response from the destination server.
Aside from these options, you can get high-speed internet via mobile broadband in rural areas.
According to the Office of Advocacy 2019 report, in 2017 high speed internet was available to about 93.5% of US population via fixed terrestrial tech, and this included about 73.6% of rural areas.
Lower demand for ultra fast internet and lack of infrastructure are two of the biggest reasons why rural internet options remain limited.
The top two satellite internet providers in the US are HughesNet and Viasat.
You can save on rural internet by making sure you know how much speed and data you need. Also, compare available rural internet plans to see which one fits your needs and brings you the most value. A careful match of your needs with what is available can help you pay only for what you use.
Satellite internet is infamous for latency. But, with HughesNet Gen5 the latency level is well under control and you can play light online games with ease.
Fixed wireless is relatively cheaper and offers faster speed with lower latency compared to satellite internet. Plus the service gives a more generous data allowance too. Rural internet providers like Rise Broadband even offer unlimited rural internet options.
The best way you can improve your rural internet speed is by signing up for a mobile broadband plan if you are in a good location to catch a strong signal. If you are lucky you may just be covered by the latest 5G network from AT&T and T-Mobile.
For gaming, the best type of rural internet would be high-speed DSL.
DSL and Mobile Broadband are the most available rural internet services that are also cheaper. Satellite internet is available everywhere but it is pricey. Whereas fixed wireless is not yet available as widely.
CenturyLink plans are among the best Wi-Fi options in rural areas. High-speed DSL plans from CenturyLink come with the Price for Life Guarantee.
Rural 4G internet is the term used to refer to mobile broadband internet offered by leading service providers like AT&T via 4G or 4G LTE technologies.
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