How to Get Internet in Rural Areas?

Unlike the urban cities, not all high-speed internet options (especially Fiber internet) are available for rural regions due to a lack of network infrastructure. However, other connection types like DSL, Fixed Wireless, Satellite and Cable internet offer speeds as high as 1000 Mbps.

Some of the best ISPs offering reliable and high-speed internet to rural areas are Viasat, CenturyLink, Rise Broadband, HughesNet, etc. The choice of the right ISP is highly dependent on the type of connection accessible in rural regions. So, how to get internet in rural areas with the right ISP? All you need is to follow this guide to get all your answers.

How to Determine the Best Internet Type for Rural Areas?

There are various ways to get high-speed internet in rural areas, but each one has its advantages and disadvantages that you must know to pick the right one for you:

1. DSL

Stands for Digital Subscriber Lines, DSL offers high-speed internet using existing copper telephone lines, like Dial-up connections. However, it gives you ten times faster internet speed than the dial-up connection.

Pros

  • Widely Available
  • Affordable than other connection types
  • Easy to set up – Just need a DSL modem

Cons

  • Offer slower speed than other internet types (Cable and fixed wireless internet)
  • Doesn’t support too many devices simultaneously
  • The farther the source is, the weaker will be the signal

2. Satellite

Satellite internet is the only internet type almost available for all rural regions of the US. The technology provides internet signal through ISP’s satellite in space; thus, it is more expensive than others.

Pros

  • Widely available
  • Easy to set up as doesn’t require any underground wiring
  • It can be used anywhere

Cons

  • Offers download speeds up to 100 Mbps only with high latency
  • Restrictive Data Caps
  • Expensive than other connection types (DSL and Cable internet)

To solve the problem of high latency, now advanced LEO (Low-Earth Orbit) Satellites are soon to be introduced by ISPs like Starlink and OneWeb. Instead of one large satellite in earth’s orbit, there will be plenty of tiny LEO satellites around the orbit to offer get better internet in a rural area with low latency. But it will take some time to be readily available for all rural regions.

3. Fixed Wireless

Fixed Satellite is another popular connection type available for both rural and urban areas. The connection works somewhat similar to Satellite internet, but instead of a satellite, it transmits signals from a central tower located on a mounted place. The connection can offer download speeds up to 100 Mbps but with lower latency than Satellite internet.

Pros

  • Easy to setup – doesn’t require a wired connection
  • Affordable
  • Reliable and faster than Satellite internet
  • Suitable for modern needs like gaming and streaming due to low latency

Cons

  • Less availability than other connection types in rural regions
  • Speed gets affected due to bad weather
  • Only works effectively when you are within the range of the tower (not suitable for those living in deep woods)

4. 4G LTE

4G broadband is a great alternative for DSL or cable internet in rural areas for mobile devices. It utilizes your sim card’s existing 4G network and then transmits signals via a small, battery-powered portable WiFi router. Like fixed wireless, it also requires antenna or cell towers to transmit radio frequencies. Depending on your chosen mobile carrier, you can get speeds up to 100 Mbps with low latency on a 4G connection.

Pros

  • Comes with higher data caps and low latency
  • Simple plug-and-play setup
  • Widely available for rural areas
  • Portable connection type
  • Cheaper than Satellite or DSL connections

Cons

  • Has a coverage range of around 10 miles
  • Doesn’t support too many devices at a time
  • Consumes a lot of battery

5. Cable Internet

Like the name suggests, Cable internet offers reliable connection speed in many rural areas using the existing cable TV lines. While it can offer low-latency high speeds like Fiber connection for up to 1 Gbps, it is not widely available for all rural regions. But in the regions it is available, it is the best high-speed internet option for gamers and streamers.

Pros

  • Offer high speed with reliable uptime and low latency
  • Faster than Satellite, DSL and Fixed wireless internet
  • Affordable than Satellite internet

Cons

  • Limited coverage in rural areas
  • Can be more expensive than DSL internet

Best Internet Providers for Rural Areas

Now when you know the best internet methods available for rural areas, it is time to check some best ISPs offering various speed plans widely for these connection types:

Internet ProviderMax SpeedConnection Type
CenturyLink100 MbpsDSL
T-Mobile Home Internet100 Mbps4G LTE and 5G
Kinetic by Windstream100 MbpsDSL
AT&T25 MbpsFixed Wireless & DSL
Viasat100 MbpsSatellite
HughesNet25 MbpsSatellite
Verizon50-100 Mbps4G LTE and 5G
Starlink200-500 MbpsSatellite
Rise Broadband50 MbpsFixed Wireless

Best DSL Internet Providers for Rural Areas

1. Centurylink

Centurylink is the leading DSL internet provider in the US, offering speeds up to 100 Mbps. The ISP provides various speed plans for Fiber and DSL connection with unlimited data, 99% reliable uptime and no annual contracts. But in rural areas, only its DSL service is available.

There are no surprise overage charges or promotional rates that increase suddenly after a few months. On top of that, even if you consider switching your ISP, Centurylink won’t charge you any early termination fee.

Its popular DSL plan offering speeds up to 100 Mbps starts from $50 per month. It offers unlimited data to connect 4-5 devices for HD streaming, online gaming and browsing purposes. There is an additional modem rental fee of $65 per month and a one-time $149 installation fee.

2. Kinetic by Windstream

Kinetic by Windstream is another popular DSL and Fixed Wireless Internet provider for rural areas, serving across more than 40 states of the US. Its DSL internet plans are relatively cheaper than other providers, starting from $19 for speeds up to 250 Mbps. The plan speeds vary from 25 Mbps to 250 Mbps, depending upon your region, speed requirements and other factors.

In some rural areas, it also offers Fixed wireless internet with the same speed(up to 100 Mbps), starting at $45 per month. The ISP offers unlimited data with no overage charges or data throttling.

Best Satellite Internet Providers for Rural Areas

1. Viasat

Viasat is the US’s leading and reliable Satellite internet provider, serving over 50 states. The ISP offers high speeds of up to 100 Mbps with different data plans depending on your requirements. The plans start from $49.99 per month to go as high as $149.99 per month, depending on how much high-speed monthly data you require (from 40 to 300 GB).

All plans come with the same upload speed of up to 3 Mbps. Once the high-speed monthly data is over, you will get unlimited standard data to browse at lower speeds.

Here are some of its popular plans you can choose from:

  • Choice 25 Mbps: Offers 40 GB high-speed monthly data, starting at $49.99 per month.
  • Choice 30 Mbps: Offers 60 GB high-speed monthly data starting from $69.99 per month.
  • Choice 50 Mbps: Has two data plans for this speed. You can choose 150 GB high-speed monthly data starting at $149.99 per month or go for higher 300 GB high-speed data at a monthly cost of $199.99.
  • Choice 100 Mbps: Offers up to 300 GB of high-speed internet data access per month starting at $199.99.

2. Starlink

Starlink is the newer satellite internet provider in the US by SpaceX. While the ISP is currently available only in some rural areas, it offers reliable, low-latency internet plans with speeds up to 200-500 Mbps (more than any other satellite provider currently provides).

As Starlink uses advanced satellite technology to offer strong internet speeds, its plans are quite expensive than other providers, starting at $119 per month. Here are the two popular internet plans you can choose from if the service is available in your region:

  • Starlink: Starts at $110 per month to offer speeds between 50-200 Mbps.
  • Starlink Business: Starts at $500 per month for those with high-data requirements for professional work, streaming, etc. The plan offers speeds between 150-500 Mbps.

The provider also charges an upfront equipment fee of $599.

3. HughesNet

HughesNet is popular in the US for its wide coverage (in areas where DSL, cable or fixed internet has poor connectivity). Unlike its major competitor Viasat, the ISP doesn’t have any hard data limits, thus offering better pricing and data plans.

Once your monthly data is over, there are no overage charges, and you can browse at lower speeds (1-3 Mbps).

However, all its plans have the same maximum download speed of 25 Mbps and 3 Mbps upload speed with built-in WiFi. The plan ranges between $55 to $150 per month, depending upon how much monthly data you choose for your requirements:

  • 15 GB: Starts at $49.99 per month
  • 45 GB: Starts at $99.99 per month
  • 75 GB: Starts at $149.99 per month

Best Fixed Wireless Internet Providers for Rural Areas

1. AT&T

While AT&T is primarily known for its super fast internet in rural areas, offering Gig plans (speeds up to 5 Gbps) in the US, it only provides its Fixed wireless internet services for rural regions. The ISP has extensive coverage in rural areas, offering download speeds of up to 25 Mbps and upload speeds of 1 Mbps.

The plan starts at $59.99 per month when bundled with its TV services and offers 350 GB monthly data. Once you exceed the data usage, overage charges will be applicable. The plan includes a free WiFi gateway router and is suitable to connect 2-3 devices simultaneously.

2. Rise Broadband

Rise broadband is an affordable fixed wireless internet provider for rural areas with speeds up to 25 Mbps. The plan starts as low as $25 per month (for 12-months). Users can get unlimited internet data at an additional cost of $20. In some regions, the ISP is offering speeds up to 50 Mbps at an additional $10 fees.

The speed offered by Rise broadband fixed wireless internet is faster than the DSL connection and similar to cable internet. Under its bundle packages, the provider also gives 50% off on installation costs with an option to add a broadband digital phone for $20.

How to Choose the Right Internet Provider?

To choose the right internet provider for rural areas, here are some factors you must consider:

1. Connection Availability

It is the foremost important factor to consider. Not all connection types mentioned above are available in all rural regions. In fact, an ISP’s internet plans and types also vary for different areas. So, ask the provider what kind of services they offer for your region and then compare their ratings and performance with other providers in your region.

2. Speed Requirements

How much speed you require for your daily online activities also helps determine what connection type and ISP is suitable for you. If you have basic data requirements like web browsing, emailing, and occasional streaming on 1-2 devices, then 25-50 Mbps speed is enough.

However, if you have high-data requirements, like video streaming, online gaming, and video calls on 4 or more devices, choose an ISP offering 100 Mbps or more speeds.

3. Data Caps

Most rural internet plans come with data caps to limit the amount of internet you can use each month. Upon exceeding the monthly data usage, overage charges may apply. By restricting data usage per month, ISPs try to keep their costs lower, making internet plans affordable for rural areas. If you don’t want to pay overage charges, look for ISPs offering unlimited data or no data caps.

4. Annual Contracts

ISPs offering data plans with annual contracts charge an early termination fee if you switch their services before a year or so. Ideally, you should go for the one offering no yearly contracts, so if you are not happy with their services, you can switch without paying any additional cost.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to get free internet in rural areas?

One of the best ways to get free internet in rural areas is to apply for FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program. The eligible users can get up to $30 monthly credit (or internet worth it) as a subsidy. Else, several municipalities in various rural regions offer free access internet to people living there. Also, ISPs like Juno and NetZero offer 10-hour free internet every month.

Does portable WIFI work in rural areas?

Yes, now most rural areas have 3G, 4G LTE, and even 5G broadband services to be used as portable internet in your mobile devices. Portable Wifi uses your phone’s sim card to work just like your mobile’s hotspot.

How to get fiber optic internet in rural areas?

Unfortunately, fiber internet is not (or very less) available for rural regions. However, there are 4G, 5G and some cable internet providers like Verizon, Centurylink, etc., offering high-speed internet (similar to fiber internet) with speeds between 200-1000 Mbps.

Which is the best internet for rural areas?

Fixed wireless internet and 4G broadband are the best connection types for rural regions offering low latency and high speeds. In regions where they don’t have availability, Satellite internet is the best option.

Verdict

So, while these connection types make the internet accessible in rural areas, not all might be available or suitable for your needs. Thus, check the connection availability, speed requirements, ISP’s performance, data caps, annual contracts, and plan costs to pick the right one.


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