Over 307 million Americans use high-speed internet today. That’s more than 90% of the U.S. population.
We use high-speed internet for work, education, entertainment, research, to reach out to friends and family, and much more.
Those who live in cities have a plethora of high-speed internet options to choose from. But if you live outside of a city or town? What then are your rural internet options?
The oldest and most common rural internet option has been satellite. Your choice will be between Viasat and Hughs.net.
The pros of this service are many:
- Available just about everywhere
- Download speeds of 25 and 30mbps
- Installation isn’t difficult or expensive
The cons of this service also need to be noted:
- Upload speeds are a fraction of the download speeds
- High signal latency makes it unsuitable for interactive apps, like games
- Data caps can limit how much you can make use of the service
DSL and Fiber Rural Internet Options
If you’re lucky and DSL or fiber is available where you live, choose one of those options and call it done. However, unless you are on the edge of a town or city, you likely won’t have access to either.
Very few rural communities are within the distance-limited access of DSL, and fiber installation costs are high, making it unprofitable for providers to build it out to sparsely populated areas.
5G Cell Service
If you have a good cell signal, you can browse the internet through your phone. If you have 5G access, your download speeds can be in the 50 Mbps range on average in rural areas.
But 5G coverage in rural areas is spotty, similar to DSL and fiber. Maybe you’ll get lucky and be near a tower, but don’t bet on it.
4G Cell Service
If you’re not able to get rural 5G, you can still get decent download speeds in the 5-10 Mbps range with 4G, which covers an impressive expanse of rural America, making it one of the best rural internet options.
Note: T-Mobile now has an exciting new 25 Mbps cell service designed for rural customers. Availability remains limited but stay tuned as they work on expanding coverage.
One of the unique benefits of 5G or 4G Internet service is you can use it for vehicles while on the move, such as providing wifi for school buses.
One of the best rural internet options other than 4G or 5G is fixed wireless broadband.
Most rural areas are within the range of one or more fixed wireless providers. These providers beam out a signal similar to what your cell phone uses, but typically at a higher frequency that isn’t as good at penetrating hills, houses, and trees.
With this type of service, you need line-of-sight to a tower. An antenna is fixed to your house to receive the signal. This service can achieve 50 Mbps for downloads.
A big plus to fixed wireless is that the upload speed is often better than other options at around 1 Mbps.
Rural Living Doesn’t Have to Mean No Internet
You can enjoy living away from the crush of the city, where streetlights do not obscure the night sky, and still have rural internet options.
High-speed internet options for rural areas were once quite limited, but more services are available now and others are coming, especially now that the U.S. government has become more committed to providing high-speed internet access everywhere.
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