Internet access is an essential thing to have, especially in 2020 and beyond when more and more job opportunities and shopping in moving online due to the pandemic.
For people living in urban areas, getting a solid internet provider is a piece of cake. There are normally several reputable providers to choose from and one even has an option to going either with a cabled or wireless option. However, it is a completely different situation in remote rural areas. Actually, you’d be highly surprised now many remote areas actually struggle with an internet connection.
In this article we will present you with high-speed internet solutions for rural areas and as such provide you with an applicable option for your internet needs. So, if you are an individual living in a rural area or happen to know someone in that position who also struggles with getting a high-speed internet connection, then you came to the right place.
So, are you ready to dig deeper into high-speed internet solutions for rural areas? Let’s do this.
Why is it so hard to get fast internet access in rural areas?
The main reason behind the fact that it is often very difficult to get high-speed internet access in rural areas lies in the financial aspect. You see, setting in place the necessary infrastructure that provides high-speed internet connection is rather costly.
In urban areas, where population density is high, the user density will also be high, which means that the investment-related cost will be returning in a relatively short period. However, in rural areas, the population density tends to be very low and thus there are just not enough potential users to make the investment profitable.
The above may change if the United States government starts to treat the internet as a basic utility, which it definitely is for many people. Currently, broadband internet connection is not considered as a basic utility, like landline phone and electricity are, which means that profitability still plays a major role.
There is already the Connect America Fund rolled out by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which has already resulted in some improvement and rural areas internet coverage, however, many areas are still not covered.
Luckily, there are several alternative options that can provide solid speed connection, however, those can rarely match the internet speeds available in the metropolitan areas.
Is it possible to have high-speed Internet in rural areas?
Before we can discuss high-speed internet options, we need to define what speeds count at high speeds. So, by definition, high-speed internet, also known as broadband internet, includes services that offer download speeds of at least 25 Mbps.
If we follow the above definition strictly, there are very limited options to attain those speeds in many remote rural areas. However, if we are to take the definition above and loosen it a bit, the number of options becomes greater but you will mostly not be able to stream 4K videos. Let’s call those “high-speed” internet options.
That said, there are some “high-speed” internet options available. Those include satellite internet, DSL internet, cable internet, fixed wireless, mobile/cellular hotspot, and in some rare case fiber internet.
Dial-up internet options are also available in many rural areas, however, if we were to account those for high-speed connections, it would require too big of a stretch and will for that reason exclude them from this article.
We will take a closer look at each of these options in the following sections.
How To Improve Rural Area Internet Speed
The only way to improve internet speed is by choosing the best available option in your area. There are some little tweaks you can do that can improve your local signal, however, when it comes to the speed you are always limited by the maximum speed offered by the provider. As such, it is important to choose the best available alternative.
Unfortunately, in certain areas, you will only have a single option available and will thus be forced to work with what you got.
As promised in the previous section, it is now time to take a closer look at various high-speed internet solutions for rural areas.
There is an alternative method that lets you combine your multiple internet connections – Speedify. Speedify is a fast bonding VPN that applies channel bonding technology in order to combine two or even more internet connections simultaneously and thus creates faster connection speed. Combining several internet connection options may result in an increased price, however, if you can afford it, it is worth giving Speedify a shot.
Satellite internet is not the best option. It has many cons including high price and caped data, however, there are areas where satellite internet may be your only option for solid speed internet. Satellite internet is what tends to be available even in the most remote areas. You can look at satellite internet as your last resort; if none of the more affordable alternative options is available, go with satellite internet.
To access satellite internet you will need to install a satellite dish (preferably on your rooftop). The installation will typically be performed by the satellite internet provider.
When it comes to satellite internet speed, the average lies between 12 – 100 Mbps, which is quite impressive.
Satellite Internet Pros
- High availability – because it transmits via satellite in the orbit, it is available virtually anywhere on earth (you still need to ensure that provider is supporting your area)
- Very decent speeds – delivering speeds up to 100 Mbps, makes satellite internet faster than DSL
Satellite Internet Cons
- Latency problems – Satellite has inherent latency issues, which is especially problematic with video conferencing and VoIP applications
- Reliability – since circuit quality is highly susceptible to moisture (weather) and objects, such as trees and vegetation, which all make satellite internet unreliable
- Very expensive – Satellite Internet is one of the priciest broadband technologies on the market
Compared to satellite internet, DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) is much more affordable, however, there are many remote rural areas where this option is not available. DSL is based on copper wireline technology and operates based on pre-existing phone lines. As such, the infrastructure for this option is very high and offers quick installation.
DSL Internet Pros
- Accessibility – DSL runs through phone lines, which makes it relatively widely available nationwide, including many rural areas. Some statistics claim that DSL cover 90% of the USA.
- Relatively inexpensive – it is cheap than many other broadband options
DSL Internet Cons
- Relatively slow – rural DSL speeds are typically below 3 Mbps (often as low as 128 kbps) (but those speeds can also be above 25 Mbps)
- Inconsistency – circuit quality relies heavily on the distance from an ISP’s central hub, which causes a problem for remote rural areas, resulting in speeds and network inconsistency
Unlike DSL internet, which is highly available even in many rural areas, there is a much slimmer option for rural areas to offer cable internet. However, since it is a good option, it is worth checking availability with potential local providers. Cable internet uses the same coaxial cables that are used to transmit a picture signal. Cable internet in rural areas usually comes at a greater cost than in cities, however, if available it is still cheaper than satellite and faster than DSL.
Both DSL and cable internet are often offered by landline companies.
Cable Broadband Internet Pros
- Simple and quick installation – like DSL, it uses existing infrastructure (TV cable)
- Fast– Cable is able to provide much higher speeds than DSL and satellite
Cable Broadband Cons
- Unreliable– since cable connections are shared with other nearby users varying speeds during peak usage times are quite common (however, in rural areas this is not such an issue as there are normally fewer users)
- Rarely available in rural areas – cable infrastructure outside the cities is often very limited and thus often unavailable
Fixed wireless is quite new technology and comes as a more affordable alternative to satellite internet. Its speeds are not that impressive, now ever it can be more than enough for an average user. To use fixed wireless, you will need to install an antenna and, of course, have a provider in your area. Fixed-wireless providers then beam your internet connection from a fixed location to your antenna, which directs the signal to your router. Fixed wireless internet is often offered by wireless providers.
Fixed Wireless Pros
- Low latency
- Quite moderate availability
Fixed Wireless Cons
- Not available in all rural areas
- Data caps can be very low
If you have a smartphone then you’ve surely used it to access the internet before, right? That principle can be used to connect your laptop or PC online. The mobile hotspot can be created using a smartphone or you can use separate devices. It requires a good mobile signal. If a 4G LTE signal is available, speeds can be quite decent.
Cellular/Mobile Hotspots Pros
- Super easy access – if there is reliable 4G LTE reception in the area, you can use it immediately if your wireless package includes hotspot data
- Fast and easy installation – this is the simplest method to install; if you are using your phone, you only need to turn the hotspot on
Cellular/Mobile Hotspots Cons
- Coverage inconsistency – you depend on the cellular reception, which is quite inconsistent in many areas
- Limited speed – Average rural mobile internet speeds are around 12 to 15 Mbps and tend to fluctuate depending on the number of people connected to the network
- Capped data usage – mobile broadband plans typically come with data caps, with quite expensive overcharges (this is set in place to prevent network saturation)
Fiber internet is the most modern and fastest broadband internet option. It can be quite costly, however, it is the most popular option in urban areas these days. Unfortunately, most rural areas do not have fiber internet infrastructure set in place.
Fiber Broadband Pros
- High Speed – Fiber can deliver top internet speeds
- Highly Scalable and flexible bandwidth – once installed, bandwidth can be increased or decreased basically on-demand.
Fiber Broadband Cons
- Limited network – currently fiber internet is available in only 32% of the country
- Costly and slow to deploy – fiber optic cable is exceptionally costly to deploy and requires trenching (often stalled by lengthy permitting processes)
- Only most rare rural areas have access to fiber
What are the best rural areas’ internet options?
In this section, we will present you with some of the best internet providers for rural areas. The companies presented below offer different types of internet connections (as presented in the previous section). You will learn about the main pros and cons of each provider and their rural option to help you better decide.
Note: Keep in mind that your actual location is the one that will determine which of the presented options are actually available in your area. Before you finally decide on any of the providers, make sure that their services are available in your area. To do so visit their official website and look for ‘coverage’ or call their customer support.
Best Satellite Internet Providers in Rural Areas
Viasat is one of the best and most reputable rural satellite Internet providers. Its services come in a range of plans and have a higher download speed option available at reasonable prices. Viasat even offers a download speed of up to 100 Mbps with their most expensive plan (Platinum 100) that runs at $150/month and offers 150GB of monthly data. With this plan, you can stream videos on several devices while surfing the internet at the same time. Viasat’s most affordable plan is called Basic 25 and offers 12GB of monthly data at speeds of up to 25 Mbps for $50/month.
- Speeds of up to 100 Mbps
- Widely accessible thanks to the satellite technology
- Since it is satellite internet it is relatively expensive
- Performance tends to be spotty at times
HughesNet Gen5 is a satellite internet provider that offers fast internet speed in rural areas. All their plans come with 25 Mbps download speeds. Considering the high speed, their prices are quite affordable. The price of their plan depends on the amount of cap data, and it starts at 59.99/month for a 10GB plan. The 20GB plan costs only $10 more, which adds up to $69.99/month.
HughesNet Gen5 pros
- Offers satellite internet connection, which is accessible even in remote areas
- united plans offered throughout all US locations
- packages come with 50GB/month of additional data during off-peak hours (2 am – 8 am)
HughesNet Gen5 cons
- Expensive cancellation charge
- No unlimited plans
- Weather conditions affect the connection speed
DSL Internet Providers in Rural Areas
CenturyLink is the best and most reputable rural DSL internet provider. It offers reasonably low monthly rates and higher download speeds. Probably the main advantage of CenturyLink is that it is also widely available. All plans come with unlimited data and vary according to connection speed (20, 80, or 100 Mbps at $50, $55, or $65/month).
- No contracts
- Affordable rates
- Unlimited data
- High-speed options available
- Available in many rural areas
- The signal is degraded within long distances (issues with remote rural areas)
- Limited accessibility in many remote areas
If you have a landline phone, you most likely can get DSL internet and AT&T tends to be a reliable option. AT&T’s DSL internet provides relatively high speeds for DSL (they promise to get you as close to 100 Mbps download speeds as possible). That’s more than enough speed to use your internet connection for all your needs. Though keep in mind that those kinds of speeds are not available in all areas. You might be able to bundle your AT&T Internet with DIRECTV satellite TV service, which can save you some additional bucks. Their plan is relatively affordable at $35/month (especially if your area actually enables you to get up to 100 Mbps speed). It is capped at 1TB, which is almost as good as unlimited.
AT&T Internet pros
- Affordable price
- Option to bundle with DIRECTV
AT&T Internet cons
- Actual speed may be way below 100 Mbps in many areas
Cable Internet Providers in Rural Areas
Xfinity is one of the highly reputable internet providers with the broadest accessibility of internet services in rural areas. Unlike many other providers, Xfinity (Comcast’s company) uses cable internet, which enables high speeds. All their plans come with unlimited data, starting at 15 Mbps up to 250 Mbps. The lowest speed deal goes for a highly affordable $29.99/month, while the top speed still comes at a reasonably affordable $69.99/month.
- Various speed options
- High speeds at affordable prices
- Unlimited monthly data<
- The signal is degraded with long-distance (which is often the case with rural areas)
- Remote rural areas have very limited accessibility
Suddenlink is also a great cable internet provider that particularly focuses on rural areas, mainly in Texas, Louisiana, and West Virginia. If you live in those areas, Suddenlink may be the best internet option for you. It offers amazing speeds, unlimited data, and reasonably priced plans. Their 100 Mbps plan goes for $34.99/month, while their most expensive plan with 1000 Mbps runs at $74.99/month.
- Very fast speeds for rural areas
- No contracts
- Unlimited data
- Highly affordable price for 1,000 Mbps plan
- Price increase after one or two years for most plans (pay attention to those)
Fixed Wireless Providers in Rural Areas
Rise Broadband is a fixed wireless provider that offers their plan across 19 states. As mentioned above, fixed wireless is a new technology and definitely worth noticing. It is way more affordable than satellite internet but it offers decent internet speeds.
Rise Broadband keeps things simple by offering only one plan. It comes with a max speed of 25 Mbps and unlimited data. That fact is a real game-changer. Data caps are a real downer with satellite internet and to be able to carelessly enjoy unlimited data is really great. The plans go for $49.95/month.
Rise Broadband pros
- Unlimited data
- Reasonable price (highly affordable compared to satellite internet options)
Rise Broadband cons
- The antenna requires a clear line of sight
- Relatively limited availability
AT&T Fixed Wireless
Similar to Rise Broadband’s fixed wireless, AT&T also offers this service in 19 states. Their typical speed is also 25 Mbps. However, unlike Rise Broadband, AT&T does not offer an unlimited plan. Their monthly data is capped at 250 GB/month (which is quite a lot). Another major drawback is that in order to get this service, AT&T requires you to get another qualifying service that costs at least $29.99/month.
AT&T Fixed Wireless pros
- Solid speeds
- Relatively high data package (250GB)
AT&T Fixed Wireless cons
- Requires additional qualifying service at min. $29.99/mo.
- Capped data
Cellular/Mobile Hotspots Providers in Rural Areas
Verizon allows you to use basically any WiFi-enabled gadget to access the internet through your cellphone. It offers high coverage and it comes with two plans. The Beyond unlimited plan offers you 15 GB worth of data (4G LTE), and the Above Unlimited plan gives you 20 GB worth of data (4LTE). The download speed for both plans is very solid at over 15 Mbps.
Verizon Wireless pros
- 4G LTE Speeds
- WiFi practically everywhere
Verizon Wireless cons
- Data caps
- Coverage is limited in rural areas
AT&T Wireless does not offer as great coverage as Verizon, however, it is definitely one of the amazing options when it comes to mobile hotspot options. It may even cost you less than Verizon. Their unlimited plans start at $75/month for 15GB or hotspot data or $85/month including 30GB of hotspot data.
AT&T Wireless pros
- Solid coverage (4G LTE speeds)
AT&T Wireless cons
- Caped data (after that is used your hotspot speed drops to 128 Kbps)
- Relatively high price
What To Look For When Buying Rural Internet
Below are the most important aspects to consider when buying a rural internet plan.
Make sure to check availability in your area. Also, ask what exact speeds are available in your specific area. Rural areas are tricky and to get the most accurate information, you will perhaps need to call a couple of providers. We strongly advise you to first consider fiber, cable, and DSL as the best options (in that same order). If none of those is available, then have a look at mobile hotspots, fixed wireless, and satellite internet options.
Speed is quite important. Of course, it all depends on your needs. If you only use the internet to check emails or if you want to stream 4K videos, makes a huge difference. The amount of devices that you plan on using simultaneously also plays a major role. Wherever possible, we advise you to aim for speeds above 25 Mbps. Below is a useful guideline for internet speed.
Internet speed guideline:
- Social media, email, and browsing the internet: 1 Mbps
- Streaming video in standard definition (480p): 3–4 Mbps
- Streaming video in high definition (720p): 5–8 Mbps
- Streaming video in 4K: 25 Mbps
- Gaming: 3–4 Mbps
It is great to have an unlimited internet plan. Those are mainly offered by fiber, cable, and DSL providers. However, if those are not available in your area, do not despair. First, consider your user habits. Do you actually need unlimited data? It turns out that many users do not spend more than 10GB per month.
These days all reputable companies know that high-quality customer service is very important and as such go the distance to help their customers as much as possible. All companies that we mentioned herein offer high-quality customer service.
If you can get fiber, cable, or DSL internet, you will get high speeds at reasonably affordable prices, however, if those options are not available in your area, you need to be prepared to pay extra to get high-speed internet. As such the price depends greatly on availability. It can range from as low as $29.99 up to $150 per month.
Infrastructure maintenance and expansions
When choosing a provider, it makes sense to check if any of the affordable options providers plan to expand their infrastructure to your area. Sometimes it makes sense to wait a while and meanwhile use mobile data or other solutions that can be perfect for temporary internet solutions.
What is the best internet service for rural areas?
It depends on what services are available. Fiber would be the best option overall, however, it is not available in most areas. Satellite internet is available in basically all areas but comes at a high cost. There is no one best option.
What internet speed can I get in rural areas?
Depends on the type of internet service, however, speeds of up to 100 Mbps are possible.
Should I get fixed-wireless internet service in rural areas?
If fiber, cable, or DSL are not available, fixed wireless will be more affordable than satellite, however, it offers lower speed.
Is there any unlimited satellite internet in rural areas?
No, all satellite internet options offer only limited plans.
Is there a way to get the internet without a provider in rural areas?
No, you always need a provider of some sort of services to access online. If you already have a mobile plan that offers hotspot data, then you can use that.
How do gamers get internet in rural areas?
It depends on what kind of games they want to play. For some online games 25 Mbps is enough, others (in top resolution) may require a speed of up to 1 Gig or more. Unless cable or fiber internet is available in the gamers’ area, they are forced to go with alternative options, which will normally limit them to up to 100 Mbps speeds.
How can I get better Wi-Fi in rural areas?
The speed of your Wi-Fi in a rural area will mainly depend on the speed of your internet deal. This mainly depends on what types of internet connections and providers are available in your area. If you can get fiber internet, you’ll be best off. Either way, to get solid speed, aim for deals that offer speeds above 25 Mbps.If you want to knew about free WiFi anywhere please visit How to get free WiFi anywhere
What if I don’t have ANY Rural Internet Options?
If you can’t get a cell phone reception, neither satellite signal, then you are highly unlikely. However, make sure to check for all of the internet options mentioned in this article. For low cell phone signals, large outdoor antennas can be used to boost the signal. However, there are areas, where there is no internet option available. In that case, you will just have to wait for the infrastructure to be updated and hopeful to cover your remote area.