While there are many benefits of living in a rural area, one potential drawback is the lack of quality service providers. Just like electricity and gas, the internet has become a dire necessity of modern life and the rural population is no exception to that. Although the people living in rural areas do not have access to super-fast fiber and cable internet, they still have some pretty decent internet services available.
Everything You Need to Know About Rural Internet Providers
Shopping for internet in rural communities remains a challenge. Yet the possibilities of improvement in an open broadband access to the outskirts are evident. Hopefully, in this guide you will find all the information that you need to get the best internet plan for your household.
What are the internet options available in rural areas?
Rural areas have fewer internet options than urban areas, but the situation is gradually improving and in the upcoming years, we might notice a drastic increase in the number of providers offering their services in rural areas. However, for now, the internet options in rural areas include the following:
Satellite is the most widespread service, which is readily available throughout the country, especially in rural areas. All you need is a satellite dish and a clear view of the southern sky. However, this internet connection is slower than most other options and users might experience high latency rates.
DSL internet uses the existing phone line to deliver the internet service to your home. If you have telephone lines installed at your place, getting a DSL connection might not be a problem. DSL is usually a better option for most users due to its high speed but it is not available in all rural areas.
Fixed wireless is fairly a new technology but it costs less than satellite internet. You can get incredible internet speeds with this connection but first, you will have to install an antenna so you can catch the signals. It is worth noting that to receive high-speed internet, you will have to locate close to a cellular tower in order to obtain strong signals from the provider.
Dial-up is a good choice for people with moderate internet usage who just have to check their emails and communicate with the world. It is a cheap connection that works with telephone lines. However, since this technology is obsolete and does not offer high-speed connectivity, users do not prefer going for this type of connection anymore.
Mobile hotspot comes in handy when you need the internet for a short period of time. You might not receive high internet speed but you can certainly take advantage of this service when traveling or when your home internet is not working.
What factors to look for when buying rural internet service?
Now that you are aware of the options available in rural areas, it is time to talk about the factors that would affect your decision when choosing between different rural internet providers.
The price of the service is, without a doubt, the most important factor when it comes to buying a rural internet connection. Unfortunately, rural internet options are not economical, but thankfully, there are ways to control the cost. We understand that unlimited data plans are tempting, but think about it for a second. Do you really need unlimited data? Will you be able to justify that much data by the end of each month? Is it worth it? To find answers to these questions, monitor your internet usage for one month and then, look for a plan that matches your needs and requirements.
Secondly, keep an eye out for price hikes. Many providers tend to increase their prices after the first 12 months of the service. To avoid this problem, carefully go through the terms and conditions of the contract and make sure to enquire about the service before sealing the deal.
Lastly, compare the cost of the equipment offered by each provider. You can either go with a provider that offers a free modem or you can simply purchase your own modem and get rid of the issue once and for all. Purchasing your modem is a good option because you can get quality equipment and enjoy greater internet speed, reliability, and stability.
The speed of the service is another crucial factor that you need to address before buying the connection. It is true that high-speed internet sounds appealing, but you might need less than what you think. As per the recommendations of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), you need:
- 1Mbps for email, social media, and browsing.
- 3 to 4 Mbps for streaming videos in standard definition that is 480 pixels.
- 25 Mbps for streaming videos in 4K resolution.
- 3 to 4 Mbps for online gaming.
The above-mentioned speed requirements are for one user only. Multiple people and devices would require more speed and bandwidth.
For those who love watching movies and shows on Netflix, data limit can be a killjoy. However, if you need the internet to check emails, stock prices, and browsing, then you do not require an unlimited connection because you will never reach the data cap. Unlimited internet plans cost a lot more than the ones with data caps. So, to minimize your expenses, you can choose a greater data limit of 50 GB, which is more than enough to carry out all your online activities including video streaming, online gaming and communicating.
Due to limited internet choices, availability is a key factor in rural areas. In 2016, the FCC published a report, which clearly stated the fact that 36% of the rural residents did not have access to broadband internet. DSL and satellite are perhaps the best choices in rural areas because of their availability and speed. The emergence of fixed wireless and mobile networks has improved the situation in rural areas to a very large extent. In the near future, you might witness more internet providers in rural areas with better plans and packages.
What are the best rural internet providers?
There are several options available to the people who live on the outskirts of a city or in remote areas.
1. Top Satellite Internet Providers in Rural Areas
Both HughesNet and Viasat are the best satellite internet providers in rural areas. Each provider offers a reliable satellite service to more than 300 million people in all the 50 states of the country. With their greatest coverage in Texas, New York, and California, HughesNet and Viasat both require a two-year contract agreement under a similar pricing strategy.
HughesNet provides satellite coverage across the United States with a variety of plans designed to cater to the need of every household. This satellite company offers 25 Mbps of internet speed in all its plans. The price of each plan varies with the amount of data that is offered in a month. Although HughesNet does not offer unlimited data plans, the provider does offer bonus data that users can consume during off-hours, which are 2 am to 8 am.
|HughesNet Internet Plans and Prices|
|Plan||Download Speed||Data Limit||Price – First 6 Months||Regular Price|
|10 GB||25 Mbps||10 GB/mo.||$39.99/mo.||$59.99/mo.|
|20 GB||25 Mbps||20 GB/mo.||$49.99/mo.||$69.99/mo.|
|30 GB||25 Mbps||30 GB/mo.||$79.99/mo.||$99.99/mo.|
|50 GB||25 Mbps||50 GB/mo.||$129.99/mo.||$149.99/mo.|
HughesNet Installation Costs
The installation fee depends on your decision. You can either purchase the equipment or lease the equipment for a monthly fee. This satellite service requires you to mount a dish on your outside wall or rooftop so your modem can receive the satellite signals and deliver the service to your home.
If you decide to lease the equipment, you will be provided with free professional installation. However, you do have to pay the set-up fees, which accumulates to $99 (one-time cost). Renting the equipment will cost you $9.99 per month in the first year, and $14.99 per month afterward. Alternatively, if you choose to purchase the equipment, you will have to bear a one-time cost of $349.98 plus an installation fee of $199.99. You can ask the provider to waive off the installation fee, given that you are a new customer and have selected a high-tier plan.
Data Caps and Cancellation Charges
HughesNet offers internet plans with different data caps ranging from 10 GB to 50 GB per month. In case you have consumed all your monthly data, you will still have access to the internet but at incredibly slower speeds.
The provider requires a two-year contract agreement and if you cancel the services within the first 90 days, you will be charged an early termination fee amounting to $400.
Being the second largest satellite provider of the nation, Viasat (formerly known as Exede), offers coverage in all the states with internet plans that feature speeds going up to 25 Mbps. The provider also allows getting bundled services at a discounted rate, which include internet and phone. Viasat is not offering its TV service, but if you want one, the provider can easily arrange DirecTV or Dish TV with its internet plans so you can enjoy all the services in a single package.
|Viasat Internet Plans and Prices|
|Plan||Download Speed||Upload Speeds||Data Limit||Price|
|Liberty 12||12 Mbps||3 Mbps||12 GB/mo.||$50/mo.|
|Liberty 25||12 Mbps||3 Mbps||25 GB/mo.||$75/mo.|
|Liberty 50||12 Mbps||3 Mbps||50 GB/mo.||$100/mo.|
|Unlimited Silver 25||25 Mbps||3 Mbps||Unlimited||$150/mo.|
Viasat Installation Costs
Just like HughesNet, Viasat also requires its customers to install a dish on their rooftop so it can receive the signals from the satellite and deliver the internet service. You can either purchase the equipment for a one-time payment of $300 or lease the equipment for $9.99 per month. Purchasing the equipment is a great option for long-term users because you will not have to pay the monthly rent and at one point in time, you will have justified that lump sum amount. Additionally, you get to keep the equipment even after canceling the services. However, if you choose to rent the equipment, you will have to return it upon cancellation and failure to do so might result in a penalty.
Data Caps and Cancellation Charges
Viasat offers both, plans with data caps and plans with unlimited data. The data caps start from 12 GB per month and go up to 50 GB per month. If you exceed your data limit, the provider will deprioritize your connection, which would result in slower speeds and during peak hours, you might not be able to access the internet at all.
Apart from that, Viasat requires a two-year contract and if you decide to opt-out of the agreement before its ending period, you will have to pay an early termination fee, which is $15 per month for every month remaining on your contract. Some Viasat customers can choose to end the contract for an extra cost of $300, but it is only available in limited areas.
2. Top DSL Providers in Rural Areas
AT&T and CenturyLink are among the top providers in rural areas offering DSL internet services to millions of customers. Both these providers offer bundle plans with TV and phone facilities so that customers can get multiple services at a discounted price.
AT&T offers three types of internet services across the United States including DSL, Fixed Wireless and the super-fast Fiber. Since fiber-optic lines are not available in rural areas, we will only talk about DSL and fixed wireless connections. AT&T’s DSL internet is widely available throughout the nation to more than 120 million customers, which makes it one of the largest DSL providers of the country.
|AT&T DSL Internet Plan|
|Download Speed up to 100 Mbps|
|Upload Speed up to 20 Mbps|
|Price: $49.99/month for the first 12 months|
|Regular Price: $59.99/month|
AT&T Installation Costs
AT&T offers two installation options: Self Installation and Professional Installation. Self-installation costs $35, while the professional installation costs $99. The provider charges extra equipment fees with some plans, but mostly the plans come with a combination of a modem and a router. Moreover, some plans allow you to waive off the installation fee so you can get your services at a lower price.
Data Caps and Cancellation Charges
The standard data cap with most AT&T internet plans is 1 TB. However, for an additional $10, you can purchase 50 GB of data. Although the provider offers some plans with unlimited data, you can always purchase this option with your current plan for $30/month. AT&T requires you to sign a contract agreement, which can last from 12 months to 24 months. Bear in mind that if you choose to cancel the services before the ending period, you might have to pay an early termination fee, which can go up to $180. Apart from that, the provider charges $10 for every late bill payment.
CenturyLink offers a wide variety of plans with four internet options including DSL, Fiber, Copper and Fixed Wireless connections. However, since we are talking about rural internet, we will only discuss the DSL option. The provider offers its DSL internet connectivity in approximately 39 states in the country making it available to 49 million customers.
|CenturyLink DSL Internet Plan|
|Download Speed up to 20 Mbps|
|Requires Paperless Billing|
|Data Limit: 1024 GB/month|
|Price For Life|
CenturyLink Installation Costs
CenturyLink offers two types of installation options: Self Installation and Professional Installation. The professional installation costs up to $125, while self-installation is totally free of cost. However, with self-installation, you might have to pay the shipping and handling of equipment. CenturyLink gives you the option to either purchase the equipment for a one-time payment of $150 or rent it on a monthly basis for $15/month. Customers also have the option to purchase their own equipment from other sources like Amazon.
Data Caps and Cancellation Charges
CenturyLink internet plans are capped with 1 TB data limit but thankfully, there are no data overage charges. However, customers may experience restrictions and suspensions if the data is frequently overused. The provider offers the option to purchase additional data of 50 GB at $10 for customers who require excessive data limits.
With contract-free plans, CenturyLink offers its customers to get bundle packages with TV and phone so they can enjoy all the three services in a single plan. In case you fail to make the payment on time, you will have to incur an additional expense of $15 per month plus 5% of the unpaid bill amount. The equipment provided by the company costs $50, which includes shipping and handling.
3. Top Fixed Wireless Providers in Rural Areas
AT&T and Rise Broadband, both specialize in providing fixed wireless internet service to customers living in rural areas. Although this internet service is not as fast fiber, it is certainly a good option when it comes to remote areas where there are no cable lines. While both these companies have similar customers, the key differences lie in their internet plans and policies.
As mentioned earlier, AT&T offers a wide range of services to residential and business clients across the United States. Offering its services in 22 states, this internet company offers one of the best fixed wireless internet to rural residents.
|AT&T Fixed Wireless Internet Plan|
|Download Speed up to 10 Mbps|
|Upload Speed up to 1 Mbps|
|Data Limit: 250 GB/month|
|Price: $60/month for the first 12 months|
|Regular Price: $70/month|
AT&T Installation Costs
The fixed wireless service by AT&T requires an outdoor antenna and an indoor gateway to ensure smooth connectivity of the internet. The installation of this equipment will cost you up to $99. Other than that, there are no major set up costs involved in this service. Data Caps and Cancellation Costs
AT&T fixed wireless internet plan comes with a data limit of 250 GB per month. You can also purchase additional data of 50 GB, which would cost you $10. The service requires a one-year contract agreement and if you cancel before the ending period, you will have to pay an early termination fee, which can cost up to $120 ($10/month for each remaining month in the contract). Upon cancellation, you are required to return the leased equipment with 21 days after which you are bound to pay $150 for equipment non-return fee. However, this fee is refundable if you return the equipment within 90 days of cancellation.
Rise Broadband is the largest provider of fixed wireless internet in the United States. Serving more than 25 million people, this internet company houses internet plans with speeds going up to 50 Mbps. To ensure quality service, users must be located within 10 miles from the broadcast towers so they can easily receive radio signals. Rise Broadband currently offers two services including internet and phone. However, if customers wish to avail TV service as well, they can add DirecTV or Dish Network to their current plan to form a triple bundle deal.
Rise Broadband Installation Costs
The installation process for fixed wireless internet requires a dish receiver. The setup and professional installation charges for mounting the dish receiver accumulate to $75. The fee can be reduced if customers decide to go with a two-year contract agreement. In addition to this, customers are expected to pay for the leased modem, costing $10.99/month and receiver dish, costing $11/month. Rise Broadband offers some plans with no equipment costs but they are available in selected areas only.
Data Caps and Cancellation Charges
With its internet-only plans, Rise Broadband offers data limits going up to 250 GB per month. Nevertheless, some plans come with unlimited data but are only available in certain areas.
The company offers both, contract-free plans as well as two-year contract plans. Prices of contract plans are usually lower than the contract-free plans. However, if customers decide to opt-out of their contract agreement before the ending period, they will be charged an early termination fee, which may go up to $250. Upon cancellation, customers are obligated to return all the leased equipment or else they might face a penalty of $300.
Rural internet options will continue to expand in the upcoming years. Among all the aforementioned connections, carefully choose the one that perfectly blends with your needs and requirements. It is worth mentioning the fact that providers vary by region. Therefore, when you are looking for a high-speed internet service, the fastest way to come across the best providers is to search for them by your zip code on Local Cable Deals.