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Rural Internet Providers

Enter your zip to see providers in your area

  • Verizon
    • Speed: Up to 1,000Mbps
    • Price: $25.00–$70.00/mo.
  • T-Mobile
    • Speed: 72–245Mbps
    • Price: $50.00/mo.
  • Viasat
    • Speed: 12–100Mbps
    • Price: $69.99–$299.99/mo.
  • Starlink
    • Speed:5–100Mbps
    • Price:$120.00–$200.00/mo

Like access to utilities like water and electricity, internet access is essential to modern life. Despite the internet’s importance for work, entertainment, and civic engagement, rural areas are often underserved due to the cost of building out network infrastructure like cables and broadcast towers. This can make it difficult to find the best high-speed broadband option for rural areas, so we’ve compiled all the best options for you.

About rural internet

Internet access is a huge determinant of wealth and quality of life in the U.S., yet rural communities often have the fewest options because internet service providers (ISPs)  have less incentive to build out expensive networks in areas with low population density. Fiber and cable networks often don’t extend into rural areas, leaving only DSL or wireless options.

On the other hand, some of the most exciting developments in internet technology are happening in the rural internet space. From low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites to multi-transport wireless connections, new technologies may transform rural internet over the next few years. Additionally, many government programs are targeting infrastructure for rural broadband, bringing the benefits of the internet to underserved areas.

Popular rural internet providers

ProviderTypeSpeedPriceOrder online
GSO Satellite12–100Mbps$69.99–$299.99/mo.*View Plans
GSO Satellite25–50Mbps$25.00–$65.00/mo.View Plans
Starlink LEO Satellite5–100Mbps$120.00–$200.00/mo.View Plans
Rise Broadband Fixed wireless25–50Mbps$25.00–$65.00/mo.View Plans
Fixed WirelessUp to 25Mbps$59.99/mo.§
T-Mobile Home Internet 4G/5G home72–245Mbps$50.00/mo.View Plans
4G/5G homeUp to 1,000Mbps$25.00–$70.00/mo.#View Plans
Windstream DSLUp to 100Mbps$65.00/mo.**View Plans

Wired connections like fiber and cable are generally the fastest, most reliable, and most cost-efficient ways of getting internet. Although they’re mostly found in more urban areas, internet providers are steadily expanding the reach of these networks into less populated parts of the country. Regardless, there are still many areas that don’t have these options and must make due with other internet technologies. Each of these technologies works better in certain situations than others, making it important for people in rural areas to be internet savvy.

Although fiber and cable networks rarely extend into rural areas, you often can still get a wired connection using DSL. Windstream offers DSL internet throughout the Eastern and Midwest United States. DSL is both faster and cheaper than technologies like satellite, making it a welcome option.

 

Wireless connections are the most common way to connect people in areas that lack infrastructure. Satellite connections, like those provided by Viasat and HughesNet, are the most ubiquitous wireless technologies because they allow you to basically connect from anywhere in the country.

Satellite has a few big downsides, such as high cost, low download speeds, and high latency. Low-Earth orbit satellites aim to overcome many of the technical hurdles that traditional satellite internet faces. By placing a constellation of tiny satellites in a low orbit, providers like Starlink promise faster speeds and lower latency than other providers’ satellite-only plans.

During its extended beta testing period, Starlink boasted impressive speeds, but it has steadily revised those speeds down as strain on the network has caused more congestion. Speeds will likely continue to change as new satellites are launched, as old ones deorbit, and as the number of people using the service increases. The company also runs Starlink Roam, which makes its satellite system portable, though at an increased monthly cost and reduced speed.

HughesNet’s solution for the common satellite internet latency issue is its new HughesNet Fusion plans. HughesNet Fusion combines satellite and fixed wireless connections to offer a more reliable connection with lower latency. With some additional equipment, it routes your connection over either satellite or wireless, giving you lower latency when you need it, though other issues associated with satellite internet, such as low speeds and data caps, could still be an issue.

Cellular technologies are another valuable technology for connecting rural communities. Verizon and T-Mobile provide internet service to rural areas using their 4G LTE  and 5G networks. These connections use the same cellular networks they use for phone service. The difference is that 4G LTE and 5G home internet is designed to provide internet to an entire household, giving you a faster and more reliable connection than you might get by using your phone as a hotspot.

Some providers deliver wireless internet to rural customers using fixed wireless connections. These connections are fast and reliable, but require a direct line of sight to a nearby transmitter. This means that availability is much more limited, but it’s a great choice if you can get it.

Want to find out which internet options are available in your area? Enter your zip code below to see a list of the providers in your area.

Improving rural connectivity

Finding an ISP in rural areas is especially challenging due to the distinct lack of competition among broadband providers. Over the years, many ISPs have engaged in anticompetitive practices that allow them to inflate prices instead of following market demand. This has meant higher prices and lower speeds for rural customers in underserved areas where there are even fewer options than you’d find in more urban areas of the country.

 

To address this problem, the White House issued an executive order in July 2021 instructing the FCC to prevent ISPs from engaging in some of these anticompetitive practices, such as colluding with landlords to force tenants into contracts with specific providers. The order also aims to make pricing more transparent, to limit excessive early termination fees, and to restore net neutrality. If implemented by the FCC, these measures could make it easier for people in rural communities to find more affordable, good internet options.

 

The 2021 bipartisan infrastructure bill also increased available funding for rural broadband. This included $1.15 billion in loans and grants through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) specifically for helping people in rural areas get access to high-speed internet.

These programs will certainly make higher speeds available in rural areas, but it’s equally important to establish competition among providers to ensure that rural Americans have connections that are both fast and affordable.

Rural internet FAQ

How can people in rural areas get assistance on their internet bills?

People in rural areas can get assistance on their internet bills through the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). This program helps low-income families afford an internet connection by subsidizing the cost of their internet bill. The ACP provides $30 per month toward a household’s internet bill, though households on Tribal land or in high-cost areas might be eligible for enhanced support of up to $75 per month. With certain plans, this subsidy can cover your entire internet bill.

To qualify, someone in your household must be enrolled in certain social programs (Lifeline, SNAP, WIC, National School Lunch Program, and others)—or you can qualify based on your income. This program replaces the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program that was instituted in 2021 to help those dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rural households can also receive benefits through other programs. You can find out more in our in-depth analysis of government assistance programs for internet access.

Why is it difficult to get internet in rural areas?

Rural areas have lower population densities and cover greater distances, so ISPs get a much lower return on investment than they get in dense urban areas. Building infrastructure like underground cables and radio towers is an expensive process. And there isn’t enough competition among ISPs, so there’s often no motivation to expand into underserved areas.

In some areas, communities have addressed this problem by creating their own municipal broadband. These providers work as public utilities, providing faster speeds than even those available in the largest cities and at a fraction of the price for customers.

How can I save on rural internet?

Many rural internet customers can save on their internet bill through the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The goal of the ACP is to help every U.S. household have access to high-speed internet. Those currently enrolled in many other government assistance programs already qualify for the ACP, but many other low-income households are eligible as well.

There are also other government programs that can help you get cheap internet, as well as other tips and tricks that can get you cheap or free internet service.

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