For as long as it takes to bridge the digital gap, available internet options in rural areas are expected to remain limited. Fewer providers, limited coverage and capability of infrastructure, slower speeds and capped data options, mean less choice. Rural lifestyle may not be as dependent on availability of high-speed internet as the urban, but in this age and time, it is still a necessary utility.
If you are looking for a faster internet connection, here are your best rural internet options:
DSL is a practical option for a solid internet connection in rural localities—if it meets your needs. It uses the copper telephone wires, you already have inside your home, to deliver the internet. And is one of the most readily available options in the U.S.
DSL internet speeds typically start from 1 Mbps and go up to 35 Mbps―with newer technologies DSL-based networks are now able to deliver 100+ Mbps for downloads. The speed available at your specific location however depends on how far you are from your provider’s hub. That is why not all speeds offered by a provider may be available at your address.
Satellite internet is the most easily accessible service type that uses wireless signals from an orbiting satellite in space to transmit data. At the user’s end a satellite dish is responsible for the transmission of signal to and from the satellite in space. Because data with satellite-based networks is transmitted over an extremely large distance, latency is a factor to consider.
HughesNet however utilizes the latest generation satellite networking tech and brings you stable speed with reduced latency that you can use for online gaming. In the absence of wired high-speed internet, HughesNet is a decent option, especially with its new Fusion plans. The data is capped, but you get FREE 50 GB Bonus Zone data. And, there is no hard limit so you never go offline.
|Provider||Max. Download/Upload Speed||Data Allowance Options||Prices|
|HughesNet||25/3 Mbps||15 GB | 30 GB | 50 GB | 100 GB||
$49.99/mo. ─ $99.99/mo.
In select markets. For 6 months. Service plans require a 24-month commitment. Equipment lease or purchase fees extra.
Fixed Wireless is a fast-growing rural internet option in the U.S. Many different technologies are used to deliver fixed wireless internet―but basically it utilizes a series of broadcast towers to transmit signals via radio waves. And, instead of Copper or Fiber cables, an over-the-air microwave platform is used to transmit signals from the backhaul tower to the subscriber’s location. This internet type offers rural residents faster speeds, lower latency, and unlimited data options.
Rise Broadband is one of the largest fixed wireless internet providers in the U.S. Rise services are available throughout rural and suburban parts of the Midwest, Rocky Mountain and Southwest. With competitive prices and no mandatory contracts, Rise makes for a great value option.
|Provider||Download Speed Range||Data Allowance||Price|
|Rise Broadband||25 Mbps - 50 Mbps||Unlimited||$55/mo. to $65/mo.||View Plans|
Mobile broadband, like Fixed Wireless, uses radio waves to transmit the signal. The difference is cellular network towers broadcast the signal in a general direction instead of point-to-point transmission. If you are using the 4G LTE network or have access to 5G, and are in the range of a strong signal, you can easily stay connected via a cellular plan―like one from AT&T Wireless.
AT&T is the largest mobile broadband provider in the U.S. and uses a variety of wireless technologies to provide nationwide services—3G/4G, 4G LTE and 5G. Some AT&T Wireless plans in the market limit access to certain network technologies or impose a maximum speed limit. But, others allow access to all available technologies and maximum possible speed.
|Provider||Download Speed Range||Data Allowance||Price|
$35/mo. per line
when you get 4 lines
Req’s autopay & paperless bill. Taxes and fees extra.
AT&T may temporarily slow data speeds if the network is busy.
*Price shown is after all discounts, which start w/in 2 bills.
†Compatible device for 5G, and AT&T ActiveArmor app access. Download of app req’d. Some mobile security features are not avail. while roaming internationally. 5G may not be available in your area. For coverage details, see att.com/5Gforyou. Video may be ltd. to SD. Credit card may be req’d (except MA, PA, ND).
Choosing the right home internet service is not the easiest task―and if you’re living in rural America, it becomes more difficult. Start by assessing your needs, think about all the factors related to an option available to you―such as the ones listed below―and don’t rush the process!
Not every internet provider will be available at your address. Even when a service is accessible in your area, it is not necessary the entire variety of its offers is also available. So, start by confirming which providers serve your rural address, and what do they offer.
The type of connection plays a huge role in its performance. How fast you can download depends on whether you’re using satellite, fixed wireless, DSL or cellular internet. Latency also varies with each type. So make sure to match your needs the best with what is available.
Speed and data make the core of what helps you assess an internet plan. Both aspects are closely linked to the connection type, while providers vary in their offers too. Plus, available speeds from a provider can change from one location to another. So, compare with carefully!
Internet in rural areas is usually expensive. And, some types 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 of each plan before you pick any one.
For rural communities, data caps has been a thing of routine because more often than not, high-speed internet in rural areas comes with a data cap. Unlimited data options are becoming more available now, but if you are on a fixed data allowance, exceeding your data limit may result in an overage fee or throttled internet speed.
With that said, it is estimated a vast majority of subscribers find their allotted data sufficient for their needs. So, if you know your household’s data usage, your goal is to pay for what your unique set of needs requires.
|Rural Internet Provider||Service Features|
The digital divide in the U.S. is at last reducing.
In June 2016, around 36% of rural population had access to at least one provider that offered 100/10 Mbps or higher speeds―compared to nearly 76% urban population. But in December 2020, FCC data about 72% of rural population could access at least one provider compared to around 98% urban population.
The narrowing digital gap is largely owed to initiatives of the FCC taken in collaboration with internet service providers.
Programs such as Lifeline Support and Affordable Connectivity have played a significant role in making broadband more accessible for low-income households.
Also FCC funding, focused on network deployment in eligible areas, has encouraged internet service providers to upgrade and extend their network reach.
Rural America is now certainly more wired, but large swaths of the rural territories still lack the infrastructure needed to deliver high-speed internet.
It may be claimed rural adults are less likely to adopt new technologies, and use the internet less frequently. But it cannot be denied access to high-speed internet is a major problem for their local communities―and there is a long road ahead until the digital divide is totally bridged.
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 Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) broadband availability map, in 2020 an estimated 72.71% of the rural population was able to access at least one provider. Albeit only 25.07% could access the service of 2 or more providers at their address.
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 widely available rural internet services that are also cheaper than others like Satellite and Fixed Wireless. Satellite internet is the most readily available but expensive. Fixed wireless is cheaper and does not have a latency issue. Its coverage is also expanding rapidly across the U.S. Each service type has its own pros and cons. Depending on what is available at your address, you must asses which one would fulfil your needs better.
All rural internet providers offer you equipment to setup in-home Wi-Fi. Some like AT&T do not charge an added rental fee, and the wireless gateway comes included in the price. While others like Kinetic by Windstream often include the equipment FREE for a limited time. Most providers however charge a monthly rental fee for the wireless equipment on top of the service fee. To determine which rural internet providers serve your area call at 855-349-9328.
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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