Americans residing in rural areas suffer from a lack of internet options due to the underdevelopment of telecommunication infrastructure in comparison to urban areas. According to the FCC’s 2020 report on broadband deployment, 22.3% of rural residents don’t have access to recommended internet speed of at least 25 Mbps, ideal for working from home and online schooling. However, the question of what is the best internet option for rural areas will be discussed broadly in this article.
On the other hand, only 1.5% of Americans don’t have access to these recommended internet speeds in metropolitan locations. Therefore, lack of internet connectivity in rural areas contributes to a lower number of college graduates than Americans living in urban areas and low productivity for those working from home. Some students get free government internet and laptop, driving the need to increase internet options in the rural areas.
Notably, the common reason for reduced rural internet is that it’s expensive for internet providers to delocalize and update infrastructure. Fortunately, in collaboration with internet service providers, the Federal Communications Commissions (FCC) are tirelessly working to bridge the gap and expand broadband connections for rural areas that have been underserved for past decades. If you’re hunting for the best provider for internet service in a rural area, it helps to know available options as mentioned below.
What Internet Options Available For Rural Areas?
In rural areas, the common widely spread internet connection options are DSL, cable, and satellite. Besides, cellular hotspot internet and dial-up are also present in rural areas, but it might be costly.
Generally, the most recommendable types include;
i) Satellite internet
Satellite internet covers more rural and remote areas compared to any other type of internet connection. On the downside, it has high prices and low data caps, but if the satellite is the only available option, it’s still a great internet option worth having.
ii) Cable internet
The cable features the fastest speeds and the most data at a low price. However, it’s not spread in many rural areas, and if it is present in your area, you might pay extra compared to the neighboring suburbs.
iii) DSL internet
DSL may seem like an older technology that’s slower than cable, but it’s still a solid choice due to its lower prices and higher data caps in comparison with satellite internet. DSL is more widely spread in rural areas, though many providers are phasing out DSL internet service.
iv) Fixed wireless
Fixed wireless is the newest technology that’s still scaling up its availability. Interestingly, its prices are slightly lower than what satellite internet providers charge, and some fixed wireless providers even offer the cheapest phone plans with unlimited everything.
v) Mobile hotspot
A mobile hotspot is a temporary internet connection, and in some cases, you may have hotspot data added to your current cell phone plan. Hence, in such a case, there’s no need to pay extra. However, you may experience tiny data allowances and slow speeds once you deplete all your data.
How Do You Get Internet In Rural Areas- Providers
1) Rise Broadband
Rise Broadband is the best value internet option that offers well-priced speeds and the option of unlimited data. Besides, Rise Broadband delivers speeds up to 50Mbps, sufficient to support online gaming and genuinely unlimited data options, all at reasonable low pricing.
- Connection type- Fixed wireless
- Price range- starts from $35-$70 per month
- Speed range- from 5-50Mbps
- Data cap- 250GB, unlimited data options available
Rise Broadband fixed wireless internet provider covers around 7% of US households, mostly in rural areas. The coverage targets 16 states, with widespread availability in Colorado, Nebraska, Texas, Idaho, Iowa, Illinois, and Utah.
However, the connection for fixed wireless service from rising Broadband doesn’t need direct lines to the home, making it an accessible and suitable choice for rural areas residents where cable, fiber optic, and even telephone lines do not reach.
Moreover, Rise Broadband is also an excellent choice for wireless internet in rural areas having Premium Wi-Fi and Premium Mesh Wi-Fi service present as add-ons to all internet plans.
Windstream is actively expanding its fiber network and offers the fastest possible download speeds, with its competitively priced 1,000 Mbps plan to be available in your area soon. Windstream provides internet service in 18 states across the South, Midwest, and Eastern US. It’s primarily available in rural and suburban areas, with a fifth of Windstream’s network using fiber technology.
- Connection type- DSL, fiber optic
- Price range- starts from $37-$67 per month
- Speed range- from 25-1,000Mbps
- Data cap- None
If fiber service is available, Windstream customers can enjoy download and upload speeds starting from 25Mbps to up to 1,000 Mbps, which rates the fastest speeds coming from any significant rural internet provider. These speeds make Windstream ideal for streaming and online gaming, which poses a challenge with rural internet service.
On the other hand, areas with no fiber service can access broadband-level speeds, as download speeds starting from 100 Mbps or higher are present in more than half of the provider’s DSL network. Windstream is an excellent choice for unlimited rural internet connection despite the available network, as all plans feature no data caps or contracts.
Mediacom is a cable provider that can deliver much faster speeds than satellite, DSL, or fixed wireless service, but the service coverage is more limited. Mediacom is present to just over 2% of US residents. Most coverage is on areas across much of the Midwest and South and parts of California and Delaware.
- Connection type- Cable
- Price range- starts from $20-$80 per month
- Speed range- from 60-1,000Mbps
- Data cap- from 60-6,000GB
However, Mediacom is among the best cheap internet providers, with services starting at just $20 per month. Notably, the cheapest Mediacom plan only features 60GB of data, and exceeding the limit can increase your bill by up to $50. Besides, more data applies with higher-tiered plans, up to 6,000GB, but no Mediacom plan provides unlimited internet service in rural areas.
4) Suddenlink Communications
Suddenlink provides cable internet service across the rural regions of Louisiana, Texas, Missouri, Arizona, Arkansas, North Carolina, and West Virginia, among others. However, it’s not the outright cheapest rural internet option, but the speeds you receive for the price with Suddenlink will compete with any primary provider.
- Connection type- Cable
- Price range- starts from $30-$70 per month
- Speed range- from 200-940Mbps
- Data cap- 350GB, unlimited data available
However, at $30 per month for up to 200Mbps, the price per Mbps on Suddenlink’s cheapest-priced plans is about 15 cents, while Mediacom’s lowest-priced plan cost per Mbps is around 33 cents. Additionally, Suddenlink customers will enjoy the higher data cap of 350 GB that comes with Suddenlink’s 200Mbps plan.
Viasat satellite internet is the best rural option available in almost every 50 states of the US. Besides, it provides the most extensive data caps and fastest internet speeds compared to HughesNet.
- Connection type- Satellite
- Price range- starts from $50-$150 per month
- Speed range- from 12-100Mbps
- Data cap- from 40-150GB (no hard data cap)
However, residents can choose between Viasat or HughesNet in areas where satellite internet is the only available broadband option. Both providers’ plans pricing is the same, but Viasat plans feature more data and, in some states, more speed, with up to 100Mbps available in select regions.
On the other hand, Wi-Fi equipment rental costs $5 a month cheaper than HughesNet, bringing Viasat a more affordable wireless internet option. Viasat also provides Viasat Flex, a new satellite/DSL hybrid service to improve signal reliability and lower latency. The service is currently offered at no direct extra cost within AT&T’s DSL network in rural areas.
CenturyLink provides service in select regions across the country and is available to more than 16% of US residents, except for California and much Northeast.
- Connection type- DSL, fiber optic
- Price range- starts from $49-$65 per month
- Speed range- from 1-940 Mbps
- Data cap- None
Most importantly, those in rural areas covered by CenturyLink will only have access to DSL service, which can deliver maximum speeds of anywhere from 1-100 Mbps. However, CenturyLink DSL plans up to 100 Mbps features unlimited data, no contract requirements, and a price-for-life guarantee.
The above picks for the best rural internet providers enable you to narrow down your potential choices. You can choose any of your suitable options depending on factors such as pricing, availability, data caps, and customer satisfaction. If you stay in rural areas, you clearly understand the lack of affordable internet options. Thus, availability is such a critical determining factor in selecting which internet provider to use.