The best ways to get high-speed internet in rural areas of USA in 2023 is one of the first questions, people ask when considering leaving the city to build their dream home on some gorgeous land.
Some people need fast internet to maintain their income if they work remotely. Many people want to ability to work from home, at least part of the time. And many people have gone to full time remote work.
Obviously this trend was accelerated in recent years. However this option was simply not available to you in the past as rural internet was simply not an option (and if it was there- it was painfully slow).
Now the options are far superior and many rural areas can receive good high-speed internet fast enough for zoom calls, gaming and streaming.
It can be very attractive to consider living in a rural area. Many people are considering becoming modern homesteaders. The wide open spaces, the fresh air, being closer to nature, the a strong sense of community and a slower pace of life.
Whilst some people want to live off the grid and escape from society, most people do wish to stay in touch with family and friends and stay up to date with current events.
In our digital age, internet access is no longer a luxury - it's a necessity for everything from education and work to entertainment and communication.
When we sell land to our customers in rural areas, access to high-speed internet is a common question.
Reliable, fast internet will certainly make the value of the property increase enormously.
Luckily there are many options available to access high-speed internet in most rural areas of the USA now. Here are some of them:
Option 1: Fixed Wireless Internet
Fixed wireless internet is a type of internet connection that uses wireless technology to transmit data between a fixed location (such as your home or business) and a nearby wireless tower.
Fixed wireless internet is often used in rural areas where it is not feasible to lay traditional broadband cables, such as fiber or copper.
Instead of using a satellite dish, it relies on an antenna mounted on your roof or another high location near you. The antenna receives the signal from a nearby tower and transmits the signal to your modem, which in turn connects you to the internet.
One of the benefits of fixed wireless internet is that it can offer relatively high speeds, with some providers offering speeds of up to 50 Mbps or more. It is also generally easier and less expensive to install than other types of broadband, as it does not require the installation of cables or a physical connection to your home or business.
A significant advantage of fixed wireless is that it does not require a wired connection to the home or office, which can be helpful in areas where it is difficult to run wiring. Ie it is relatively easy to set up.
Additionally, fixed wireless connections are often more affordable than other types of high-speed internet, making them a good option for budget-conscious consumers.
However, there are a few drawbacks to fixed wireless internet:
Sometimes there can be disruptions due to poor weather conditions.
Also signal strength can vary depending on your location and the terrain between your home and the wireless tower.
It requires an unobstructed line of sight between the antenna and the tower. It might not work well if you're deep in the woods.
The range of fixed wireless internet is limited, so it may not be available in all rural areas.
Option 2: Satellite Internet
Satellite internet is another option for getting internet in rural areas. As the name suggests, satellite internet uses satellites orbiting the earth to transmit data to and from your home or business.
The good thing about this option is that it does not require any ground-laid infrastructure to work, making it relatively easier to set up than other options.
You only need a dish receiver with open access to the sky, a modem, and constant electricity. Once you have everything, you can access the internet in even the most remote areas of the world. It is available virtually anywhere, as long as you have a clear view of the sky.
This makes it an ideal option for people living in remote or rural areas where other types of internet are not available.
However, there are some drawbacks to satellite internet:
One is that it can be significantly slower than other types of internet such as fiber optics and cable internet with some providers offering speeds of up to 5-25 Mbps or less.
In addition, the latency (or delay) on satellite internet can be high, which can make it difficult to use for real-time applications such as online gaming or video conferencing.
Finally, satellite internet can be expensive, with some providers charging high upfront fees for equipment and installation. Monthly costs often range from $50-100 or more.
Satellite internet would typically be considered a last resort, but for the introduction of SpaceX's Starlink.
Starlink is a satellite internet service from Elon Musk's SpaceX company. What sets Starlink apart from most competitors is that it uses thousands of small low-earth-orbit satellites (i.e., closer to the earth), ensuring faster speeds, rather than larger satellites that are farther.
Users on the ground connect to the internet through a small terminal (about the size of a laptop) that is placed on the exterior of their home or business. The terminal communicates with the satellites using a directional antenna.
The satellite receives the user's internet request and sends it to a ground station, which then forwards the request to the wider internet via fiber optic cables.
The response is sent back through the same process, with the ground station sending the data to the satellite, which then transmits it to the user's terminal.
Starlink has been proven to provide speeds of almost 100MBps –blowing its competitors out of the water – and is more suitable for everyday internet use like gaming, video calls, etc.
It also has low latency (the amount of time taken between a user's action over the internet and response) – Starlink's network latency is around 45 milliseconds (ms), compared to its major competitor's latency, which is usually over 500 milliseconds.
Starlink is a relatively new service with plans to improve its features in the future. So far, it is cheaper than regular satellite internet.
It is not available everywhere yet but its coverage continues to improve.
The response to Starlink's internet service has been overwhelmingly positive from many customers receiving service. Head on over to the Starlink subreddit(opens in new tab), and you'll find users posting images of their new satellites, with accompanying speed tests.
In Missouri, users are reporting download speeds of 150 Mbps. Another user in Idaho uploaded 72 hours worth of test results, and found speeds to be an average of 71 Mbps.
A user in the U.K. saw a massive leap in internet speed after installing Starlink. He went from 1 Mbps to 175 Mbps. While he pays more for Starlink than traditional internet, he feels the price is worth it
Option 3: Broadband over Power Lines (BPL)
Broadband over power lines (BPL) is a type of internet connection that uses the existing electrical wiring in your home or business to transmit data. BPL is often used in rural areas where it is not feasible to lay traditional broadband cables, such as fiber or copper.
One of the benefits of BPL is that it can offer relatively high speeds, with some providers offering speeds of up to 50 Mbps or more.
It is also generally easy to install, as it does not require the installation of cables or a physical connection to your home or business.
However, there are a few drawbacks to BPL.
One is that the signal strength can vary depending on your location and the condition of the electrical wiring in your home or business. This can lead to spotty or unreliable service.
In addition, BPL is not available in all areas, and it may not be offered by all internet service providers (ISPs).
Option 4: Mobile Broadband
Another option for getting internet in a rural area is through mobile broadband, which uses cellular networks to provide internet access. Mobile broadband is available through a variety of devices, including smartphones, tablets, and mobile hotspots.
This grants internet connections to your devices using a cellular network. It is a reliable backup to conventional cellular service and works effectively in place of cable/DSL broadband connections.
Mobile broadband uses a small, portable, battery-powered router that can connect to existing 4G or 5G networks via a SIM card. Your devices can then connect to the router via Wi-Fi to access the internet.
Towards the 2020s, the 5G, the successor of the 4G, was released. It promises even lower latency and higher speeds of over 10GBps. It is also claimed to have less interference than 4G. We'd recommend you try 5G if it's available to you.
Mobile broadband is portable, so you can take it with you wherever you go.
It is super easy to set up and doesn't require any additional infrastructure.
It is a good option for those who only need occasional internet access or for those who don't want to commit to a long-term contract.
However, if you use it a lot, mobile broadband can be expensive, especially if you exceed your data limit.
One drawback with this option, though, is coverage. The signal can be spotty in rural areas, and you may not get a strong connection everywhere.
4G wavelength has a coverage of about 10 miles, while 5G has a range of about 1000 feet. This means if you are really way out in the sticks, it is unlikely you will get service.
The speed can vary depending on the strength of the signal and the number of people using the network at any given time. Often the network can only support a very limited number of devices at any one time.
As the years passed, this technology has advanced, allowing it to get lower network latency and higher speeds close to 100MBps (depending on your carrier).
Internet For Recreational Vehicle (RV) Owners
Rv owners, travellers and nomads are always on the move. Having permanent wires and cables underground is not an option.
Portable internet provider like a mobile broadband or satellite internet is the best option. Try out both services and see which one works best in your area. As you travel across the country, of course, the coverage and service may change. So remember to be flexible.
Internet For Home Owners
With the advances in smart security systems, it's now possible to have a camera that alerts you to activity at your home, even when you're away.
So whether you are looking to monitor your city house when you are in the countryside or monitor your country home when you are back in the city, you require a stable, consistent internet connection for it to work.
Option 5: Fiber Optic Cables
Basically, fiber optics technology is a "pipeline for light." Light, carrying data through fine glass or plastic fibers bunched together and secured in a glass/plastic casing called fiber optic cables.
It is a reliable choice, favored by people because of its high speed and efficiency.
There are two types; single-mode fiber, which is used for longer distances, and multimode fiber, used for shorter distances. Single-mode offers slower but more stable signals, while multimode has faster speeds but is more prone to signal loss.
You should confirm if a fiber optic connection is available in your area since they are often expensive, and cable companies don't always provide them for sparsely populated areas.
Fiber optic cables offer super fast internet speeds.
They are more resistant to electromagnetic interference.
They can be passed underwater.
Fiber optic cables are lighter and more durable than copper cables, and require less maintenance.
I have been pleasantly surprised to have discovered fiber optic cable service available in several rural areas that I have worked in recently.
However fiber optic networks may not be available everywhere.
They are costly. Installation is often complex and demanding.
The fibers within the cables are fragile. They can cause a signal loss if broken.
Option 6: DSL
One option you may want to consider is the digital subscriber line (DSL). This technology delivers high-speed internet service through telephone lines. And since it uses existing infrastructure, it's often much more affordable and easier to set up than other types of internet services – you just need a DSL modem.
It is not the best in terms of speed, but DSL can be modified to be just as fast as cable or fiber connections.
However, one downside of DSL is that it does not support too many users at the same time. Its signal strength and speed also drop with distance.
What Speed Do I Need?
To get an idea of what kind of speeds you need, think about how you use the internet. If you just want to browse the web and check your email, you'll need a minimum of 3 Mbps (megabits per second). But if you're regularly streaming video or gaming online, you'll need much more - up to 25 Mbps.
And if you plan on watching 4K video or streaming on multiple devices simultaneously, you'll need even higher speeds.
So before you sign up for service, make sure to ask your provider about their available speeds and whether they can meet your needs.
Beware Data Caps
Data caps limit the amount of data you can transmit over the provider's network each month. If you exceed this limit, you will usually be charged extra fees.
By limiting the amount of data that can be used each month, rural providers can keep their costs down, making their services more affordable for everyone. So, if you live in a rural area, be sure to check with your Internet service provider to see if they have a data cap. And, if they do, try to avoid using services that will use up a lot of data each month.
Rural Internet Providers
Here are a couple of well known Rural Internet service providers:
CenturyLink offers DSL internet services for homes and businesses. They offer contract-free plans with unlimited data caps, so you won't have to worry about early termination fees if you switch providers. With prices starting at $50 per month, you can expect speeds topping out at 100 Mbps, which should be more than enough for most people.
CenturyLink also offers fiber internet services which are slightly costlier than their DSL at approx $70 monthly. Naturally, this option provides faster speeds than the DSL, capable of reaching up to 960MBps, depending on your location.
Despite its being an older technology that most companies are actively phasing out, DSL remains one of the most common ways you can connect to the internet out in the country. Some local providers may offer a DSL connection, and other large providers like CenturyLink are also available in certain areas.
HughesNet is a satellite internet provider used in rural communities where fiber, cable, and DSL phone lines are unavailable. HughesNet has better prices and better speeds than its major competitor, Viasat. Its top package is approx $160 for 75GB per month.
HughesNet's meager 25 Mbps cannot handle Netflix streaming and modern gaming requirements but is good enough for surfing the web, social media, and even streaming video clips.
Compared to other options on this list, HughesNet is on the pricier side of things, making it more of a last resort option.
Best 4G LTE provider
For rural dwellers who have trouble getting consistent internet speeds, Verizon 4G LTE Home Internet is a lifesaver. Not only does it offer unlimited data, but it also has some of the fastest download speeds available.
And if you already have Verizon cell service, you can get it for just $40 per month. That's an incredible deal for anyone who lives in a rural area. So if you're looking for a fast, reliable internet connection, Verizon 4G LTE Home Internet is the way to go.
Clever Tips For Improving Your High-Speed Internet Service in Rural Areas
1. Internet bonding
This is also called channel bonding. This process combines multiple internet connections into one stronger one to maximize speed and performance.
There are no restrictions to combinations in bonding. For example, 4G can be bonded with DSL, fiber, cable, and more. You can even bond 4G service from different carriers.
Internet bonding can seem complicated, especially if you are not tech-savvy. Thankfully, there are two methods you can go about it using software.
One is with free software called OpenMPTCPRouter, which takes a while to understand. For the non-techies, there is another alternative called Speedify.
Speedify is a paid software that is accessible via monthly subscription. This software works by automatically bonding all available internet connections to give your computer a faster internet speed.
2. 4G signal booster
The 4G signal booster works precisely as the name says. It receives a weak cell signal, amplifies it, and then rebroadcasts it in a localized area to improve internet speed.
These devices usually come as three components; an outdoor receiver to capture weak signals, an amplifier to enhance the signal strength, and an indoor antenna to broadcast the boosted signal within its vicinity. All of these are connected by a coaxial cable.
3. Set up a separate network
One helpful tip is to set up two separate internet networks, one for high-speed activities like gaming and working from home and one for general use like streaming movies and TV shows.
This way, you can keep a steady internet speed without losing connection entirely if someone else in the house is using the internet for a high-bandwidth activity. Of course, this won't work if everyone in the house is trying to use the internet simultaneously, but it can be a helpful way to manage your internet performance.
4. Buy a new router or place it close to your most used Wi-Fi devices
If you constantly suffer slow internet speeds, consider updating your router or buying a new one.
Upgrading to a newer model, such as a Wi-Fi 6 router, can significantly improve your connection speed.
Another tip is to place your router closer to your most used Wi-Fi devices. This will help to reduce the amount of interference between your devices and the router, resulting in better performance.
Finally, make sure to keep your router updated with the latest firmware. Router manufacturers frequently release updates that can improve performance and address known issues.
5. Try changing your rural Internet provider
One reason you have a poor internet connection in your area could be that your service provider is not very strong there. You may have to ask around to find a provider that offers better service in the area before switching to it.
Have you found the best way to get high-speed internet to your rural area yet?
Depending where you live, you may have plenty of choices. In other areas, your choice may be more limited. However high speed internet coverage is improving rapidly every year. Especially satellite internet!
Don't let a fear of "no internet" stop you buying land in rural areas. There is usually a solution for everyone- and besides, maybe you will be having so much fun outside, you wont be needing the internet quite as much anyway 🙂