Top Internet Satellite Providers for Rural Areas - A Comprehensive Guide

Top Internet Satellite Providers for Rural Areas - A Comprehensive Guide
8 min read
28 August 2023

Living in a rural setting often entails giving up certain urban conveniences, and one notable example is the potential lack of access to a fast and dependable internet connection. Establishing a wired connection, exemplified by providers like CenturyLink - our top choice for comprehensive rural internet services, can be a challenge in these areas. Still, it's likely to be your optimal solution, if feasible. Other wired options for rural locations, such as Kinetic by Windstream, Mediacom, and Ziply Fiber, also present excellent alternatives for attaining high-speed, budget-friendly broadband connectivity.

For regions where fiber optics, cable, and telephone line access aren't available, considering wireless internet services becomes crucial. Fixed wireless internet through Rise Broadband or T-Mobile's 5G home internet stands out as prime possibilities. In cases where no other practical broadband services are accessible within your vicinity, portable satellite internet via HughesNet or Viasat remains a viable alternative.

So, which internet provider suits your rural residence the best? Here are my recommendations for the most promising options available in rural locales. These selections were made considering factors such as coverage, speeds, pricing, data limits, and customer contentment. After highlighting my top two preferences for rural internet services, the remaining providers are presented in no specific sequence.

Best Satellite Internet Providers for Rural Areas

Internet Provider

Cost

Download Speeds

Data Cap

Availability

Hughesnet

$49.99 to $174.99

15 to 50 Mbps

Up to 200 GB

Nationwide

Verizon

$40 to $60

25 to 50 Mbps

Unlimited

48 states

CenturyLink

$50

Up to 100 Mbps

Unlimited

16 states

Visible Hotspot

$30 to $45

Up to 5 Mbps on Unlimited

Unlimited

50 states

Rise Broadband

$35 to $65

25 to 50 Mbps

250 GB - Unlimited

16 states

1. CenturyLink - Best Satellite Internet Provider for Rural

Top Internet Satellite Providers for Rural Areas - A Comprehensive Guide

Excluding satellite internet providers and T-Mobile, CenturyLink arguably boasts the most extensive coverage of any ISP. This coverage predominantly encompasses suburban and rural areas across 36 states spanning the entire nation. The majority of this coverage is facilitated through their DSL network, implying that a significant portion of rural inhabitants within CenturyLink's service regions will likely have access primarily to DSL service.

The positive aspect is that a considerable number of DSL subscribers will have the opportunity to enjoy broadband speeds or even higher. This translates to download speeds of up to 25Mbps and upload speeds reaching 3Mbps. Furthermore, a subset of users may qualify for maximum download speeds of 60, 80, or 100Mbps. In many of its service areas, CenturyLink is capable of matching or surpassing the internet speeds offered by satellite internet providers. Additionally, their service is accompanied by a lower starting cost ($50 per month), unlimited data usage, and a lack of contractual commitments.

For those fortunate enough to reside in an area where CenturyLink's fiber service, known as Quantum Fiber, is accessible, consider yourself in a favorable position. Quantum Fiber extends two plan choices: one offering speeds of 100 or 200Mbps, starting at $30 per month, and another offering gigabit service, starting at $70 per month. Both of these options represent significant advancements compared to satellite, DSL, or other types of rural internet connections. Given this scenario, I'd suggest evaluating your speed requirements and opting for CenturyLink's fiber service if it's within your reach.

2. Mediacom

Functioning as a cable provider, Mediacom possesses the capacity to furnish notably swifter and more dependable speeds compared to DSL, portable satellite internet, or fixed wireless services. However, its coverage footprint is somewhat constrained. Mediacom extends its reach to a fraction slightly exceeding 2% of the United States populace, encompassing service zones that primarily span a significant portion of the Midwest and South regions, along with select sections of California and Delaware.

Despite these limitations, Mediacom stands out as one of the top economical internet service providers for rural locales, commencing their offerings at a mere $25 per month. It's crucial to note, though, that the most economical Mediacom plan is accompanied by a data allocation of 300GB, and exceeding this threshold can result in additional charges of up to $50 on your invoice. More expansive data allowances are available through higher-tier plans, reaching as high as 6 terabytes. Nevertheless, it's important to recognize that no Mediacom plan provides completely unrestricted rural internet service.

The pricing structure of all Mediacom plans escalates after the initial year, eventually settling around the average range seen among cable internet providers. Yet, introductory prices spanning from $25 to $80 per month remain relatively competitive, particularly considering the context of catering to rural internet needs.

3. Rise Broadband

Rise Broadband stands out as a prominent fixed wireless internet provider, extending its service coverage across 16 states. The states where its presence is most notable include Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, Texas, and Utah.

Top Internet Satellite Providers for Rural Areas - A Comprehensive Guide

Comparable to satellite internet, Rise Broadband's fixed wireless service eliminates the need for direct wiring to residences. This characteristic renders it accessible to individuals residing in rural regions where conventional connectivity methods like cable, fiber-optic, and telephone lines fall short. When considering options, particularly in areas where it's accessible, I would recommend Rise Broadband over satellite internet. This preference is grounded in the fact that Rise Broadband delivers speeds reaching up to 100Mbps, maintains low latency suitable for online gaming, and presents genuinely limitless data alternatives. All of these benefits come at a comparatively reasonable cost when contrasted with satellite service.

Furthermore, Rise Broadband presents an excellent solution for Wi-Fi in rural locales, featuring the availability of Premium Wi-Fi and Premium Mesh Wi-Fi services as supplementary offerings to all their internet plans.

4. Hughesnet - Valuable Satellite Internet Provider

HughesNet extends a measure of relief from the steep costs associated with portable satellite internet, offering initial pricing that undercuts Viasat, albeit only marginally. Notably, HughesNet's entry-level plan presents a higher degree of value compared to Viasat's counterpart. With a starting rate of $50 per month, HughesNet furnishes speeds reaching up to 25Mbps and a data allocation of 15GB. In contrast, Viasat's corresponding package, starting at $70 per month, provides speeds of 12Mbps and an allocation of 60GB.

At first glance, Viasat's plans seem to offer significantly larger data allowances. Nevertheless, HughesNet introduces an extra 50GB each month for all customers, irrespective of the plan they choose. Referred to as the "Bonus Zone," this additional data is accessible during the hours spanning from 2 a.m. to 8 a.m., a period presumed to have minimal network congestion. Admittedly, the timing might not be ideal for those not inclined towards nocturnal activity. However, if you can strategically time your downloads to coincide with this window, it has the potential to make a substantial contribution to your monthly data quota.

Conclusion

In our final words, for those residing in rural areas seeking reliable internet connectivity, the choice of the most suitable satellite internet providers hinges on various factors such as coverage, speed, data limits, and budget. CenturyLink emerges as a top recommendation due to its widespread DSL coverage and competitive pricing, especially for areas with access to its Quantum Fiber service. Mediacom, operating as a cable provider, offers faster speeds but with limited coverage, making it an attractive option where available. Rise Broadband's fixed wireless service stands out for its high speeds, low latency, and unlimited data options, making it a preferred alternative to satellite internet inaccessible regions. HughesNet, while a valuable satellite option, distinguishes itself with a reasonable entry-level plan and the "Bonus Zone" data allowance. Ultimately, making an informed choice requires assessing individual needs against the offerings of each provider to ensure optimal connectivity in rural settings.

 

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Rahul Kumar 2
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