What Are the Best Rural Internet Options?

Those who live in rural America enjoy all the perks that come with country life, such as fresh air, wide open spaces, and a slower pace of life. Unfortunately, if you have to stay connected, life in a rural setting can also mean a slower Internet connection. It’s just one of the compromises you have to make.

However, when cable or DSL is not an option, the rural Internet options available to us now have improved over the years, meaning — for most, at least — we are steps ahead of dial-up these days.


Satellite Above

For many living in a rural setting, satellite is one of the top options for Internet. This service works in a similar fashion as satellite TV, meaning the satellite is placed in orbit and enables the satellite dish installed at your house to connect with the orbiting satellite. An important thing to keep in mind with satellite service is that the southward view of the sky, where you place your satellite dish, must be unobstructed.

Some of the top satellite Internet providers are:

  • HughesNet
    Pricing/Service: Plans starting at $39.99 and includes speeds up to 15 Mpbs
  • Dish
    Pricing/Service: Service starting at $39.95 and includes speeds up to 10 Mbps
  • Exede
    Pricing/Service: Service starting at $39.99 and includes speeds up to 12 Mpbs

Mobile Wireless Broadband

Other rural Internet options include a wireless broadband service offered by companies like AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon. These carriers have different service plans which include the use of a mobile hotspot, such as a MiFi, which allows for several devices to connect to a Internet hotspot. Keep in mind, if you have several users on at once, and they are using up some serious bandwidth watching movies or playing online games, it could affect your overall Internet speed. (You can always run a bandwidth test to see what speeds you are getting with your MiFi.) In addition to using something as a standalone MiFi for Internet only, you can also use the tethering feature available on many smartphones or tablets, which turns your device into a hotspot. Be sure to check with your provider to learn about any additional costs for using the tethering feature on your mobile devices.

Wireless Broadband

You may want to see if there is a WISP — a Wireless Internet Service Provider — servicing the area you live in. The service is often available from a local ISP and usually works by using a point to point connection. The provider may need to install equipment, such as a small antenna to the top of your home, which then will communicate with their equipment which is often placed in an elevated location, such as a radio tower.

Photo credit: Flickr