Many rural communities remain underserved by high-speed, high-quality internet services. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
In this article, find out how to get high-speed internet in rural areas, and what rural internet options there are. We’ll help you pick the best internet service providers for rural communities.
How Can Rural Areas Get Internet?
That leaves more than a quarter of people living in rural areas without internet access. So, how can rural areas get internet? Let’s look at the solutions.
Digital Subscriber Line (DSL)
Getting internet in rural areas isn’t a problem if communities have existing telephone lines.
This method allows rural families to access the internet at high speeds, with some providers offering plans maxing at 100 Mbps. The slowest DSL internet connection can still outpace conventional dial-up (10 to 20 Mbps vs. 56 Kbps).
DSL remains one of the best rural internet options because it’s inexpensive and straightforward to install.
This rural internet service relies on high-tech satellites orbiting in space, which makes it a reasonable solution for those trying to get internet in the woods.
It’s a plug-and-play type of internet for rural areas and remote locations where other internet technologies aren’t supported. Unfortunately, internet speeds can only reach 20 Mbps on average.
How much does Starlink cost a month?
One of the most popular satellite internet services is Elon Musk’s Starlink. According to Forbes, Starlink prices can be as low as $110 monthly for residences, $135 for RVers, and $500 for businesses.
Starlink is a great satellite internet option because it delivers up to 100 Mbps internet connection speed, which is significantly more than the average 20 Mbps.
Fixed Wireless Internet
This internet service is similar to mobile broadband, except it’s “permanent” or “immobile.” Fixed wireless internet providers set up an antenna in the home and connect it to a modem. This device then sends wireless signals to internet devices.
Installation is a cinch, and the service is more affordable than other internet options. Different WiFi companies offer different speeds, but expect at least 25 Mbps.
With average speeds of 20-100 Mbps, cable internet is a popular option for rural communities, especially those with existing cable television subscription lines.
It’s similar to fiber optic internet or DSL, except it uses cable TV network infrastructure to connect homes to the internet.
Fiber Optic Internet
Fiber optic technology relies on the “speed of light” to deliver data through plastic or glass fibers at blistering speeds. It’s available in two types: single-mode and multimode.
The former is ideal for households that want high-speed internet but with increased signal loss tendencies. Meanwhile, single-node fiber optic internet is suitable for short distances.
Fiber optic internet can deliver 940 Megabits per second (Mbps), making it by far the fastest internet technology.
Unfortunately, not all rural communities have this service. Contacting the Internet Service Provider (ISP) will confirm the availability of fiber optic internet.
Cellular Broadband Network
One of the best options for rural area internet is a 4G (fourth generation) or 5G (fifth generation) broadband cellular network. You’ll insert a SIM card into a portable mobile broadband router, giving internet access to multiple devices.
Alternatively, smartphones with 4G or 5G cellular network coverage can serve as a “hotspot” – a virtual location for connecting to the internet.
4G LTE technology offers a maximum data connection speed of 150 Mbps (download) and 50 Mbps (upload), while 4G LTE-Advanced can deliver 300 and 150 Mbps (download and upload, respectively).
Meanwhile, 5G cellular technology can deliver at least 10 Gigabits per second (Gbps) downloading data or 1 Gbps uploading information, which makes it significantly faster than its predecessor.
However, some communities might have poor reception or zero network coverage. Calling the mobile company should address this issue.
How do I get internet from my house to my barn?
Getting internet from house to barn is best facilitated through mobile data. You should be able to access the internet from anywhere, provided there is cellular network coverage.
How to Improve Internet Speed in Rural Areas?
Signal issues and data transmission speeds can still be problematic even with the best internet for rural areas. So, how do you improve internet speed in the countryside?
1. Consider “internet bonding”
This technique combines different internet connections to create a stronger and more stable data transmission platform, allowing users to optimize performance and speed. For instance, it’s possible to pair cable, fiber optic, mobile broadband, and DSL to boost internet speeds.
2. Use a cellular network signal booster
People living in rural areas that rely on 4G LTE or 5G network internet can boost data transmission speeds by using a signal booster. This device amplifies cellular network signals before rebroadcasting them to connected gadgets.
3. Create dedicated internet networks for different uses
It’s possible to categorize internet usage by assigning an internet network. For example, a 200 Mbps fiber optic connection can be excellent for gaming, while a 100 Mbps cable can facilitate work-from-home activities and streaming.
4. Invest in a new router
Legacy modems and Wi-Fi routers have limitations. Purchase the latest wireless internet router to boost data transmission speeds.
5. Reposition the router
If you’re not keen on buying a new router, reposition the existing router next to or closer to the client device (i.e., laptop, desktop computer, or mobile device). This trick minimizes signal interruptions between the router and connected devices.
6. Consider switching to a new rural internet service provider
Try searching for “internet options for my address” and research each ISP’s strengths and weaknesses. There’s a good chance your current internet provider doesn’t provide particularly strong service in the local area. Switching to an ISP with a more robust local infrastructure, backed by positive user reviews, should boost internet speeds.
4 Best Rural Internet Providers
Choosing the best from the many mobile broadband, fiber, DSL, cable, satellite, and fixed wireless internet providers can be daunting. We took the liberty of identifying the best to make it easier for you to choose.
Although Xfinity specializes in cable internet, it offers people living in rural areas DSL, fixed wireless, and broadband internet services. It’s available in 41 states and across many different plans, with the lowest at $20/monthly for 50 Mbps.
This satellite internet provider is best for folks living off the grid or in places without DSL, cable, or mobile broadband internet coverage. Plans start at $39.99 with 12 Mbps internet speed.
You have two options with this ISP: fiber optic or DSL. The company has limited fiber network coverage. DSL is available in 36 states and is $50 a month, while fiber optic costs $65 a month.
4. T-Mobile 5G
T-Mobile’s 4G and 5G networks should keep users connected if in need of high-speed fixed wireless internet. For a low monthly cost of $50, you can enjoy speeds of 30 to 115 Mbps. Moreover, you’re never bound to a contract or installation fees.
What to Utilize High-Speed Internet for in Rural Areas
We already know how to get internet in rural areas. But not everyone will want or need it. Below, consider some of the ways high-speed internet can be used in rural areas.
1. Socialization, entertainment, and other activities
We are social creatures, and more and more, the way we socialize is online. Not only that, but our media consumption is increasingly done through streaming services.
Enjoy watching new films and the latest series, gaming online with friends, or catching up over social media through the internet.
2. Off-grid lifestyle
Some folks prefer living off the grid. Balancing this with the desire to stay abreast on current events can be surprisingly challenging without the internet.
Satellite internet is an excellent option for those wanting to stay-in-the-know about current affairs, since it doesn’t require speedy internet to get the latest news.
3. RVers, backpackers, campers, and travelers
Mobile broadband is a favorite of these road warriors. They can stream, hear the news, play games, socialize, and do other things wherever they go.
4. Communication and security
Is there a way to get the internet on the road?
A mobile phone data plan is the most practical and straightforward method for getting internet on the road. You can also turn on your smartphone’s hotspot capabilities to let other devices connect to the internet.
How do I get outdoor internet?
A Wi-Fi extender or booster can receive internet signals from the indoor router and broadcast them outdoors.
How can I determine if high-speed internet is available in my rural area?
You can ask rural internet providers if they have high-speed internet in your area.
How do I choose the best internet service provider for my rural area?
Research each ISP’s internet speeds, coverage or availability, and prices when choosing an ISP in your rural area.
Can I use a mobile hotspot as a high-speed internet option in rural areas?
Yes, mobile hotspots can serve as a high-speed internet option in rural areas, especially those with 4G LTE or 5G cellular network coverage.
There are several reliable rural internet options as well as the less-common high-speed internet options in rural areas, including fiber optic, DSL, cable, fixed wireless, mobile broadband, and satellite internet.
People living in rural areas may want to consider a combination of these services to maximize internet usage. Always check with providers to find out.