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Best Fixed Wireless Internet

Best Fixed Wireless Internet in 2020

In 2020, consumers have plenty of internet options to choose from—a significant shift from the slow and, sometimes, the unreliable connection of dial-up, the pioneer of the internet. Still, some areas across the United States don’t have access to popular high-speed internet options, like cable or fiber-optic. Fixed wireless internet is one type of broadband connection that caters to rural residents who are underserved by other types of internet connections.

Fixed wireless internet lets rural residents benefit from high-speed internet from local providers that can get your service running quickly and easily. The service can typically give you enough speed to check email, browse the web, and stream on one or two devices. This comprehensive guide features everything you need to know about fixed wireless internet, including what it is, how to set it up, and where you can find the best fixed wireless internet providers in your area.

The Pros and Cons of Fixed Wireless Internet

Pros Cons
  • Provided mostly by local providers
  • Those in rural areas can access
  • Easy-to-understand pricing
  • Simple setup compared to other types of internet
  • Speeds are capable of handling light streaming activities
  • Can be expensive
  • Hills, buildings, trees, and other objects in the line of sight to the station can interfere with service
  • No support for roaming

What Is Fixed Wireless Internet?

Fixed wireless internet helps you connect to the World Wide Web through radio wave signals sent to your home. It’s an excellent option for rural residents who need more speed than other rural internet types, like satellite, DSL, and dial-up, allow.

How Does Fixed Wireless Internet Work?

Fixed wireless internet makes a connection between your home receiver and a cell tower that’s a short distance from your home. This type of internet requires no hard-wired cables in your home. Instead, you’ll use a router that connects to the receiver on the outside of your home.

How Does Fixed Wireless Internet Compare to Other Connections?

Fixed wireless is generally the best option for rural residents who need more than a basic internet connection. Satellite internet is usually pricier, slower, and less reliable than fixed wireless. DSL is often the more affordable option of the three, but it may not offer enough speed for streaming, online gaming, and other high-bandwidth tasks.

Top Fixed Wireless Internet Providers in 2020

The internet providers listed below are some of the best to consider when finding a fixed wireless internet provider in 2020. When choosing a fixed wireless provider, there are several points to consider:

  1. Monthly pricing
  2. Upload and download speeds
  3. Data cap limitations

The table below details these important features to help you compare each provider at a glance.

Fixed Wireless Provider Speed Range Monthly Price Range Data Cap Range
Rise Broadband 5-50 Mbps $29.95-$59.99 150-500 GB
King Street Wireless 0-12 Mbps [$50-$70] 2-6 GB
AT&T Internet 10-25 Mbps $49.99 250 GB
Starry Internet 0-200 Mbps $50 No Data Cap
Agile Networks 0-25 Mbps [$48-$120] No Data Cap

*Prices are subject to change

What to Expect From Fixed Wireless Internet

Fixed wireless internet is one of the newest options for people in rural areas without access to higher-speed internet types, like fiber. If your online activities go beyond browsing simple websites and retweeting Twitter tweets, you might consider fixed wireless. Here’s what you need to know.

Performance

Fixed wireless is often faster and more reliable than satellite internet. Its reliability results from grounded towers providing signals rather than satellite space towers that weather can easily affect. Fixed wireless is only improving, too. From 2015 to 2019, fixed wireless speed performance increased by 250%.

Internet Speeds

Although fixed wireless speeds are usually much slower than fiber speeds, they are similar to cable, which gets about 50 Mbps for download speeds, on average. These speeds can support light online gaming and streaming, making video calls, surfing the web, and hanging out on social media. Fixed wireless tends to be faster than other rural internet options, like DSL and satellite. Some fixed wireless providers even offer speeds up to 1,000 Mbps, the same as fiber, but this heavily depends on the ISP’s coverage availability and location.

Pricing

You can expect to pay an average of about $50 per month for fixed wireless internet. Higher-priced plans may offer higher data caps or unlimited data. Depending on how much data you expect to use, paying a higher price per month might be worth it.

How to Install Fixed Wireless Internet

Fixed wireless internet requires you to have a receiver in the form of an antenna attached to your home, usually on the roof, to give it a clear path to the signal station. A cable connects from the antenna to your modem. You can then connect a router to your modem to provide access to Wi-Fi throughout your home.

How to Find the Best Fixed Wireless Internet in Your Area

Fixed wireless internet providers operate in areas all over the country. You can use BroadbandNow to find fixed wireless internet providers that serve your zip code.

What Is the Future of Fixed Wireless Internet?

Fixed wireless is a relatively new type of internet that’s growing in popularity, especially in the rural sector of the United States. Currently, Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Nebraska, and Colorado are the states with the most fixed wireless coverage. Texas, Illinois, and California have the highest number of fixed wireless ISPs, with Texas having access to a whopping 269 providers.

About 4 million fixed wireless internet subscribers existed by the end of 2016, but that number is expected to double to 8 million by 2021. 5G networks are also expanding across the country, which could profoundly affect fixed wireless internet and lead to record-breaking numbers by 2024.

Is Fixed Wireless Internet Right for You?

Is fixed wireless internet right for you and your home? If you live in a rural area and need higher speed and performance than satellite and DSL typically provide, then fixed wireless is a good choice. Fixed wireless ISPs usually offer lower monthly prices for this type of internet, and you’ll have access to light streaming and moderate web browsing tasks.

Frequently Asked Questions About Fixed Wireless Internet

Is fixed wireless internet better than satellite?

Fixed wireless could be a better option than satellite for some people. Fixed wireless internet usually gets faster speeds than satellite and isn’t as affected by weather conditions. Satellite internet is often the more expensive option of the two.

Does weather affect fixed wireless internet?

Yes, weather can sometimes affect fixed wireless internet, similar to satellite internet. However, the weather does not interfere with fixed wireless as much as satellite. Fixed wireless signals come from a nearby station on the ground, whereas satellite signals come from satellites in space. Rain, clouds, and storms can interfere with your satellite signals as they pass through these obstacles.

What is the difference between fixed wireless and DSL?

DSL internet is another type of rural internet service. DSL connects to the internet using a phone line, while fixed wireless has a point-to-point connection between your receiver and the fixed wireless station. Fixed wireless usually offers higher speeds than DSL.

Does fixed wireless require a line of sight?

Yes, fixed wireless requires a line of sight. Like satellite internet, fixed wireless requires a line of sight from the receiver on your home to the service station. Obstructions like trees, hills, and buildings can interfere with your connection, causing spotty internet service. Your ISP installs a receiver somewhere where a line of sight is possible, usually on a rooftop.