Living in rural America doesn’t have to mean that you have to remain disconnected from the rest of the fast-paced world. Sure, connectivity options in rural areas are limited. In fact, it has been reported that broadband internet is unavailable to around 42 million U.S. citizens. In another study by Microsoft, it was determined that around 162.8 million U.S. residents still cannot access the internet at standard broadband speeds.
That is because of scarce availability, slow and difficult deployment, terrestrial obstacles, high infrastructure costs, and inaccurate air and land navigations that have contributed towards such high inaccessibility of broadband across rural regions of America.
This gap among the rural and urban residents is a great avoid, which can be narrowed with unbiased use of hybrid technologies to build broadband infrastructures in rural America.
The latest cutting-edge broadband types such as fiber-optic and 5G may be difficult to deploy in rural America, but other technologies like Digital Subscriber Line (DSL), cable, satellite, and fixed wireless can quickly help disseminate internet connectivity in the previously inaccessible areas.
However, it’s not all gloom and there has been some incredible progress with rural internet connectivity as some Internet Service Providers like AT&T, Suddenlink, Windstream, Xfinity, CenturyLink, and HughesNet. have been taking considerable leaps in deployment with multiple broadband technologies.
So here are our top picks for rural internet providers this year who offer the best packages and stable connectivity to its residents.
|Provider||Starting price||Download speeds||Connection type||Data Allowance||Contract|
|AT&T||$45.00/mo.||25 Mbps — 100 Mbps||Fixed Wireless & DSL||High data allowance (1Tb for DSL and 250GB for Fixed Wireless)||No Contract|
|CenturyLink||$49.00/mo.||10 Mbps — 100 Mbps||DSL||Unlimited Internet Data||No Contract|
|HughesNet.||$59.99/mo.||25 Mbps||Satellite||Low Data Allowance (Up to 50GB/month + Bonus Zone)||24-months Contract|
Before we delve into the details of our top favorite rural providers, know that what broadband types are available in rural regions.
Internet Connection Types in Rural Areas
- Cellular Hotspot
- Fixed Wireless
Rural residents acquire internet connectivity via these broadband connections. Some of them are quite stable and deliver adequate internet speeds like cable, DSL, and fixed wireless. While satellite service may experience and downtime fluctuations due to the distance between the residence and the satellite in space.
A cellular hotspot may cost a pretty penny to the residents with its limited data and high prices. However, internet connection prices are generally higher in rural areas due to scarce availability and expensive infrastructure costs at the provider’s end.
Lastly, dial-up is the most outdated and slowest internet connection on earth and it is utilized in highly inaccessible areas in the U.S.
So let’s decide which rural provider offers the best connectivity experience to its residents.
AT&T offers internet connectivity in rural areas through multiple technologies i.e. DSL and Fixed Wireless. The provider’s DSL infrastructure is fairly old, employing twisted copper lines to deliver internet services throughout some areas. Whereas, in other areas, there is a better version of DSL infrastructure erected.
Therefore, you will notice the AT&T plan divided as Internet Basic Plan, which offers speeds from 0.8 Mbps to 5 Mbps, and AT&T Internet, which offers speeds from 10 Mbps to 100 Mbps. Both internet plans come with 1TB of data allowance per month, which are hard to beat despite hardcore streaming, gaming, and working. And rest assured, that larger areas are delivered faster internet speeds through AT&T Internet.
AT&T Fiber is also offered by the provider, but its coverage is limited and will most likely be unavailable in rural areas. Those fortunate lot, who can access AT&T fiber, get unlimited internet data every month
Fixed Wireless is a new technology AT&T deployed to deliver high-speed internet to previously inaccessible areas. The provider delivers the fastest internet speeds of up to 25 Mbps in the area with a 250 GB data allowance per month, and the service doesn’t suffer fluctuations or signal quality degradation like other broadband networks in rural areas.
AT&T Internet Prices for Internet Basic Plan and AT&T Internet are $45/mo. for 12 months. The Fixed Wireless costs $49.99/mo. The AT&T Fiber price varies, from $35/mo. to $60/mo. for the first 12 months, as per the speed tier
- Economical in Pricing
- Discounts and Freebies upon bundling
- Plenty of Internet Data Allowance
- No contracts
- Speeds may not reach 100 Mbps in every area
CenturyLink Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) internet connectivity is provided via the telephone lines scattered throughout the 36 U.S states. The Internet provider covers many rural regions in the Midwest and Northwest.
The network-based on phone lines is much more commonly found in the rural regions, so you are more likely going to find a DSL internet service rather than cable.
CenturyLink offers its internet packages with a lot more enticing rates and higher download speeds compared to other providers. Like AT&T, CenturyLink offers the best internet speed it can deliver at your address at the same price, which is $49.99/mo. The plus point is that CenturyLink offers unlimited internet data every month. So you don’t have to worry about data while doing some heavy downloading, streaming, and gaming.
The problem with DSL is that like cable, that signal quality of the connection worsens depending on the distance from the infrastructure. The further it is, the more it degrades. Still, this broadband internet despite its limitations is a thousand times better than the dial-up connection.
- Comparatively low monthly rates
- No contracts
- Unlimited Data Allowance
- Limited availability in rural areas
- Poor signal quality over distance
There are only two residential satellite internet providers in the U.S. HughesNet. is a prominent name in the satellite internet arena, delivering high-speed internet to far-flung areas of the 50 U.S. states.
The satellite internet comes with its own set of limitations as the process of data travel is much lengthier than it is for other networks, so delays in signal delivery, fluctuations, and downtimes are expected.
However, since HughesNet. introduction of Gen5 technology, the provider has been able to improve its service and deliver stable internet speeds of up to 25 Mbps. These speeds are enough for streaming videos, listening to music, sharing files and photos, sending emails, and even working from home.
HughesNet. plans are much more expensive than other providers, mainly due to its high infrastructure costs. The starting price is %59.99/mo. and goes as high up as $150/mo. The speeds offered in all plans are the same, only data allowance differs. The more you pay, the more data you get. But data allowance is very low with 50 GB per month on the most expensive plan.
Due to its limited data allowance, HughesNet. attempts to placate its customers by not charging once the monthly allowance for data has exceeded and does not even halt the connectivity. Just slows down your internet connection until the beginning of next month.
Moreover, HughesNet. Bonus Zone offers an additional 50 GB of data per month during off-peak hours, which are from 2 am to 8 am.
- High-speed internet in rural areas
- Far-reaching coverage
- Bonus Zone
- High Prices
- Long-term contracts
- Low Data Caps
- Poor signal over distance
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