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Last updated on Nov 18, 2020

Best Rural Internet Providers

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Enter your ZIP code to find providers, plans, and prices in your area.

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Those living in rural areas know better than anyone how difficult it can be to find a good internet service provider. Finding one that covers your area is already a challenge, so finding one that can provide high internet speed is another huge task. 

Generally, your best options for internet in a rural area will be either a satellite or a DSL connection. Satellite connectivity can work almost anywhere, whereas DSL works by hooking up to your existing phone lines. However, wireless technology has also come a long way in recent years. 

While the search can be difficult, there is a lot more choice out there when it comes to internet options for rural areas. We will cover the top 10 rural internet providers and look at criteria such as price, speed, data and more. 

The 10 Best Rural Internet Providers


AvailabilityBandwidthCustomer Service Rating on BBBStarting Prices
Viasat50 statesUp to 100 Mbps1/5 stars $70/mo. 
AT&T21 statesUp to 1,000 Mbps1/5 stars $59.99/mo.
Suddenlink14 statesUp to 940 Mbps1/5 stars$35/mo.
Rise Broadband16 statesUp to 50 Mbps3/5 stars$29.95/mo.
Verizon Wireless50 statesUp to 900 Mbps1/5 stars$39.99/mo.
HughesNet50 statesUp to 25 Mbps1/5 stars$59.99/mo.
Windstream18 statesUp to 1000 Mbps1/5 stars$9.99/mo.
CenturyLink36 statesUp to 940 Mbps1/5 stars$49/mo.
Xfinity39 statesUp to 2,000 Mbps4/5 stars$14/mo.
T-Mobile48 statesUp to 47 MbpsN/A$50/mo.

*Data as of 09/23/20.

1. Viasat 

Best for satellite internet
Viasat

Viasat

Viasat’s satellite internet is available almost anywhere in the U.S. including rural and remote locations. The company offers satellite technology that can meet or exceed the speeds you would expect from DSL or cable internet providers. Viasat provides several different plans to choose from, with high download speeds.

✓ Best For:

Satellite internet

Not For:

Cheap prices

  • Satellite: Viasat uses satellites to deliver its internet services. This produces fibre-quality broadband, in almost any location. 
  • 10 plans: Viasat offers 10 different plans to choose from so you can find an internet plan that ticks all the boxes.

    Further Reading:

2. AT&T 

Best for customer service
AT&T

AT&T Internet

AT&T is a highly affordable and accessible internet provider that excels in customer service. AT&T Fiber manages to deliver ultra-fast speeds while claiming over 99% reliability. However, the AT&T Internet plan offers slightly slower speeds in comparison. Another good thing about AT&T’s internet service is that it promises to have no annual contract.

✓ Best For:

High speeds

Not For:

Those outside the 21 covered states

  • Fibre: AT&T’s Fiber plan offers high speeds of up to 1,000 Mbps. Fiber works by using fiber-optic cables that use light waves instead of electrical signals to send data faster.  
  • Bundles: AT&T Internet can be bundled with its TV service, saving $20 a month for the first year. 
  • No data caps: There are no limits on the amount of data you can use, which is great for busy households. 

    Further Reading:

3. Suddenlink

Suddenlink can be found in several states such as Texas and Louisiana and is popular in rural areas. Suddenlink’s speeds range from 100 Mbps to 1,000 Mbps, and the 1,000 Mbps plan comes with a Price for Life guarantee.

✓ Best For:

Price guarantee

Not For:

Those outside of the covered states

  • Price for Life: This is a guarantee that the price will not change each year, which gives customers great peace of mind. 
  • Bundling options: SuddenLink offers an internet and TV bundle for just $20 extra per month.
  • Free gift: If you choose the Internet & TV bundle, you could receive a $100 Amazon gift card.

4. Rise Broadband

Best fixed wireless
Rise Broadband

Rise Broadband

Rise Broadband uses fixed wireless technology for its rural services, which is a fairly new technology. While Rise Broadband’s service can be just as good as satellite internet, there’s only one plan option with a max speed of 25-50 Mbps. However, the data cap is unlimited.

✓ Best For:

Fixed wireless technology

Not For:

Fast internet speeds

  • Fixed wireless technology:  Fixed wireless internet uses radio waves transmitted by a base station rather than a cable. You will need a receiver installed in your home for this. 
  • Easy setup: As fixed wireless technology doesn’t really require cables or invasive installation of equipment, it’s easier and quicker to set up.

5. Verizon Wireless

Best mobile provider
Verizon

Verizon Wireless

Verizon’s mobile hotspots are a great option for those already on a Verizon cell phone plan. If you don’t need a lot of data or fast download speeds, Verizon could be a simple option for you. For those who need fast speeds, another provider may be a better fit due to Verizon’s data caps. 

✓ Best For:

Mobile hotspots

Not For:

High speeds or large data usage

  • Mobile hotspots: Verizon uses mobile hotspots due to its experience as a mobile provider. If you already have a Verizon cell phone, you can set up with one of their hotspots.  
  • Nationwide coverage: As one of the more recognizable names on the list, Verizon offers nationwide coverage for customers.

    Further Reading:

6. HughesNet

Best for nationwide coverage
HughesNet

HughesNet

HughesNet is praised for its nationwide coverage and fast speeds. The company guarantees 25 Mbps with every plan; however, customers can choose their data limit, which is usually between 10-50 GB per month. Compared to other providers, those are very low limits.

✓ Best For:

Data limit choice

Not For:

High data use

  • Nationwide coverage: HughesNet is one of the few providers which has nationwide coverage, making it more accessible than other providers. 
  • Choose your own data limit: Customers can choose data limits between 10 to 50 GB per month. 

    Further Reading:

7. Windstream

Best for low starting prices
Windstream Internet

Windstream Internet

Windstream offers fast speeds and unlimited internet usage with no data caps. Plans start from just $9.99 and there are three to choose from, depending on your connectivity speed needs. Windstream is ideal for rural locations and uses DSL technology. 

✓ Best For:

No data caps

Not For:

Consistent prices — prices rise after first year

  • No data caps: With no data caps, you won’t be limited in your internet usage, meaning you can stream to your heart’s content. 
  • DSL technology: Windstream uses DSL technology, which uses existing phone lines to transport high-bandwidth data to rural communities. 

8. CenturyLink

CenturyLink provides wireless internet for those in rural areas and combines its fiber-optic network with wireless technology. CenturyLink has a Price for Life deal that guarantees there won’t be any price hikes. There are also no contracts, credit checks, or cancellation fees.

✓ Best For:

Fixed prices

Not For:

Bundling options

  • Contracts: Unlike most other providers, CenturyLink offers flexible month-to-month agreements rather than contracts. 
  • High-speed wireless internet: CenturyLink uses its wireless technology and fiber-optic network to supply rural areas with high-speed internet.
  • Speed tester: CenturyLink has a handy “Select your speed” option which shows you the speeds of certain activities depending on which connection you choose. 

    Further Reading:

9. Xfinity 

Best for high speeds
Xfinity Internet

Xfinity Internet

Xfinity Internet from Comcast provides fast internet with speeds between 25 to 2,000 Mbps. Xfinity is widely available across the U.S., and there are plenty of bundling options to help customers save some money. Xfinity has affordable prices on its lower plans, with plenty of higher plans to upgrade to.

✓ Best For:

Range of plans

 ✗ Not For:

Anyone looking for no contracts

  • High speeds: Xfinity boasts the highest advertised speeds on this list so it’s the ideal choice for those who love to stream 4K movies.
  • Customer experience: Xfinity is also the highest-rated internet provider in terms of customer reviews on the Better Business Bureau, with 4 out of 5 stars.
  • Bundling: Xfinity customers have the benefit of accessing some great bundling options. The Internet plan can be combined with TV packages and mobile plans.

    Further Reading:

10. T-Mobile

Best LTE/4G provider
T-Mobile

T-Mobile

Pros

Unmatched unlimited plan
Additional perks

Cons

Weaker network

T-Mobile’s connectivity is powered by its nationwide LTE network. The provider regularly scores very highly for its download speeds and 4G availability. T-Mobile operates across the U.S., so it’s one of the more accessible services for rural communities. This provider also guarantees that there are no hidden fees, data caps, price hikes, contracts or hardware costs.

✓ Best For:

Accessibility and speed

Not For:

Cheap prices

  • LTE network: This stands for Long-Term Evolution which is the standard for wireless internet connections. This technology increases connectivity speed. 
  • Transparent pricing: With no hidden fees, price hikes or inflexible contracts, T-Mobile’s service is ideal for those looking to avoid a long, expensive contract.

Guide to Rural Internet

Check availability

The first step to choosing an internet provider is to look at availability. Living in a rural area makes it naturally more difficult to find a good provider, so this is the first important step. Luckily, checking which providers cover your area is straightforward. You can either check on the provider’s website or use a service such as In My Area.

Decide How Much Speed You Need

When deciding how much speed you need, it’s important to brush up on some terminology first. Upload and download speeds are measured in megabytes per second or MBps for short. 

What speeds you need will depend on your usage. If you’re only browning the internet occasionally, you may not need top speeds. If you are regularly streaming HD or 4K movies, then you will need an internet connection that can keep up without buffering.

Study pricing

When shopping around for internet providers, another thing to bear in mind is total cost. While each provider will vary, the average price per month for high-speed internet can cost between $43 to $91. It’s worth reading our guide on hidden costs of internet services to get a grasp of how much you may end up paying. 

Consider bundling 

One way to reduce costs is to bundle internet service with other services the company provides. Most bundles that providers offer will include both internet and cable TV. If you’re also looking for a TV service provider, it’s definitely worth looking into potential internet bundles to save some money. 

Look for flexible contracts

As well as bundling options, another thing you can look at is whether the provider offers flexible contracts. No one likes being tied down into a long contract, particularly if you like to shop around each year. Some providers will offer introductory prices but will tie you in to a long contract of 12-24 months. If you would rather have the flexibility to switch and save money, look into those with flexible contracts. For example, CenturyLink offers no-contract options. 

FAQs

About the Authors

Kara is a freelance writer for Reviews.com. For the past few years, she has covered a wide range of personal finance topics such as home insurance, mortgages and personal loans for a variety of websites. She has been featured in The Simple Dollar, Bankrate.com and Interest.com among others. She holds a bachelor's degree in Creative Writing from LJMU in the UK. Kara's favorite review on Reviews.com is The Best International Travel Insurance Companies.

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