Rural Internet Providers
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About Rural Internet
Like gas and electricity, the internet is essential to modern life. Yet many areas of the country are underserved, in part because of the cost involved in building networks that reach every home in America. Government subsidies help providers deliver broadband service to some rural areas, but a new generation of satellite internet coming in 2020 may solve connectivity problems without the need for installing hardwired networks. In the meantime, don’t lose hope! If you live in a rural area, you may have more options than you think.
Rural Internet Service Types
Don’t settle for dial-up. Shoot for DSL service instead. Just like dial-up, DSL sends data on existing phone lines, but it’s up to ten times faster than dial-up because it relies on a higher frequency. Plus, you can still use the phone while connected.
If DSL isn’t an option in your area, consider satellite internet. Satellite internet is popular in rural areas because all you need to connect is a satellite dish facing the southern sky. With new satellite technology, download speeds have greatly increased, making satellite internet a better option than it’s been before. You can expect faster speeds and lower latency in the next few years as low-orbit satellite systems like Starlink, OneWeb, Telesat, Project Kuiper, and LeoSat begin offering internet service worldwide.
Another option that’s becoming more workable is fixed wireless internet. By setting up a fixed wireless tower in a rural area, ISPs (Internet Service Providers) can transmit internet data using radio signals. Once a tower has been positioned in an area, the entire community can benefit from the broadcasted wireless signal. See the FAQ section below for more information on fixed wireless.
Rural internet options will only continue to expand. In upcoming years, we anticipate that 5G internet will change the game for broadband in rural areas—but don’t wait around for the best things to come. DSL, satellite, and fixed wireless internet are already widely available across the United States. Keep reading below to see which options may be available near you.
Rural Internet Service: Buying Guide
ISPs vary by region. When you’re looking for rural high-speed internet providers near you, the fastest way to find your options is by checking our database. To find what’s in your area, enter your ZIP code in the zipfinder tool.
Find internet providers in your community:
How much of the rural US has access to high-speed internet?
According to a 2018 survey by the Federal Communications Commission, only 73% of rural Americans and 67% of Americans living on tribal lands have access to internet download speeds of 25 Mbps or higher. By contrast, 98% of urban Americans have access to those same speeds.
Why is it difficult to get internet in rural areas?
Laying cables for internet services is an expensive process. The geographical distances and topographical barriers make it even more expensive, and low population density means ISPs may not get a strong return on the investment. So rather than spend money to expand to rural areas, many ISPs focus instead on maintaining and building in densely populated metro areas.
How many satellite internet providers are there?
Two satellite internet providers remain from the last decade: HughesNet and Viasat. Many former satellite providers either merged with current providers or switched to fixed wireless internet service. But many companies are entering the satellite internet industry in the next few years: Telesat, Starlink (funded by SpaceX), LeoSat, Project Kuiper (owned by Amazon), and OneWeb (funded by Tokyo-based SoftBank Group). Learn more about current satellite services by reading our “The Best Satellite Internet Providers” post.
How can I find fixed wireless internet where I live?
Some widely known ISPs like AT&T and Windstream offer fixed wireless and may survey your area to see if it’s suitable to expand into. Also, this directory can help you see if there are any independent fixed wireless internet providers already available that can provide internet service in your area.
Aside from DSL, satellite, and fixed wireless internet, are there any other ways to get rural broadband?
Mobile hotspots are another option in some rural areas. These small gadgets convert a 4G LTE connection into a Wi-Fi signal for your home. If you don’t get cellphone service, it won’t work. But if you do have cell service, consider purchasing a mobile hotspot and data plan. Check out Amazon for prepaid options.
How can I save on rural internet?
The Lifeline program helps low-income consumers afford telecommunication services, including internet, with a subsidized monthly price. To see if you qualify, enter your zip code below, find a provider in your area, and ask a customer service representative about your discount options.
Best Internet for Rural Areas Summary
|AT&T||Fixed Wireless||10 Mbps|