Rural Internet in the US

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Apr 1, 2022 | Published: Feb 19, 2021

Rural Internet in the United States

Rural internet customers face a few challenges when it comes to the internet. The most prominent issues are slow internet speeds and a lack of options compared to urban and suburban homes. Internet connections are often less reliable, too, with weather-impacted options like satellite internet. Rural customers often pay more for lower speeds and face more data restrictions because of bandwidth constraints of satellite and mobile broadband internet.


Internet Options in Rural Areas

Dial-up and DSL

DSL is available in rural areas with access to landline phones. It is usually the fastest and cheapest wired internet type available in rural America. Dial-up also provides internet access through landlines, but at much slower speeds.

Fixed Wireless Internet

Using radio waves, fixed wireless internet offers consistent, low-latency speeds to rural customers. You can expect similar speeds from fixed wireless and satellite internet, but it is not as available as satellite for rural customers.

Satellite Internet for Rural Homes

Satellite internet offers the most widespread coverage for rural residents. Your internet will travel from a satellite in orbit to a dish installed on the roof of your home. While its speeds are fast in some areas, satellite internet has tight data caps that can limit how often you’re able to get online.

Mobile Broadband

Rural Americans in areas with good cell signal can use mobile broadband to connect their home. Like fixed wireless, mobile broadband uses radio waves from cell towers to deliver service.


Rural Internet Data Caps

Data caps are common with rural internet providers, but they’re much smaller, often providing 250 GB or less each month. There are unlimited data plans available for rural customers, but not all of them are truly unlimited. Instead, providers like Viasat offer “priority data” plans. Once that data is used, your internet speed will decrease significantly. This is the alternative to paying overage fees or losing internet access after reaching your data cap; however, it is not preferred as rural internet speeds are already limited.

While they may cost more, rural Americans can find unlimited data plans with mobile broadband providers, as well as some fixed wireless and DSL providers. Be sure to check each plan’s details as some providers call their plans unlimited when, in fact, they have a “priority data” cap.


Frequently Asked Questions about Rural Internet

  • How to get internet in rural areas?

    Internet options in rural areas are limited to a few internet types: DSL, fixed wireless, satellite, and mobile broadband. Satellite internet may not be the fastest rural internet option, but it is often the only available option for homes and businesses.

  • What is the best internet service for rural areas in the US?

    DSL and fixed wireless internet provide rural areas with the fastest internet speeds, but they aren’t as widely available in rural locations as satellite internet services. Satellite internet is typically more expensive than fixed wireless and DSL, but it may be best for people in highly remote locations.

  • Which rural internet option is best for gaming?

    DSL and fixed wireless internet are the best rural internet options for gaming. Latency, or “ping”, for these types is much faster than other rural internet options.

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