As a tech consultant helping small business owners get connected in rural locations for over 10 years, I‘ve researched all the latest options for getting fast, reliable internet in the country.
Getting good rural broadband can be a challenge, but with the right technology and provider, it‘s possible to get the connectivity you need.
Here are the 4 best internet options for rural residents and business owners:
1. Satellite Internet
Satellite reigns supreme when it comes to delivering solid speeds regardless of how remote your location. Leading providers like Viasat offer 100Mbps plans with no hard data caps.
Average Satellite Internet Speeds:
- Basic Plans: 25-30Mbps
- Standard Plans: 50-75Mbps
- Premium Plans: 100-150Mbps
While latency used to be extremely high with satellite internet, new technologies like ViaSat-3 promise latency as low as 100ms. For most basic web browsing and streaming, modern satellite works very well.
Pricing ranges from $50-150 per month with equipment purchase/lease and installation costing ~$200-500. Contracts are rarely required anymore.
I always recommend business owners combine satellite with a 4G backup plan for maximum uptime. Satellite suffers occasional outages during extreme weather events.
Try These Satellite Providers
- Starlink (Waitlist in many areas)
2. Fixed Wireless Internet
Fixed wireless delivers fast speeds by beaming internet signals from radio towers directly to a dish installed on your home or business. Its capabilities rival cable and fiber.
Typical Fixed Wireless Speeds:
- Entry-level Plans: 10-25Mbps
- Mainstream Plans: 25-50Mbps
- Premium Plans: 50-100Mbps+
Because it doesn‘t rely on physical cable infrastructure, fixed wireless can reach rural locations up to 15 miles from the radio tower site. Latency is much lower than satellite, making it great for VoIP, video calls and real-time services.
installation costs ~$200-500. Monthly fees range from $50-100 per month. No data caps!
Connect with regional WISPs (Wireless Internet Service Providers) providing fixed wireless internet in your local area. Reach out to compare availability and pricing.
Top Fixed Wireless Providers
- Rise Broadband
- Clearwave Communications
3. 4G/5G Wireless Internet
Harness the power of cellular with a 4G or 5G internet modem or mobile hotspot.
Average 4G LTE Speeds:
- Basic use: 5-12 Mbps
- Standard use: 12-25Mbps
- With carrier aggregation: 25-50Mbps
New 5G networks promise fiber-like speeds exceeding 100Mbps! However, watch out for restrictive data limits:
- 4G data limits: 10GB to 50GB
- 5G data limits: 50GB to 100GB
Overage fees or throttling applies once thesecaps are exceeded. For light internet users or as a backup option, 4G/5G works, but read the fine print before streaming, gaming or running a business.
Hotspot Hardware Costs:
- Modems – $100-$200
- Hotspot devices – $50+
- Monthly service charge – $25-$100 per month
I recommend combining an uncapped home internet service (like satellite) with a 4G/5G plan or unlimited hotspot for conducting business on-the-go.
Top Cellular Providers With Rural Reach
- Verizon Wireless
4. TV White Space Internet
Ever heard of TV White Spaces? It‘s an innovative new technology using vacant UHF/VHF TV bands to deliver wireless internet over long distances.
Speeds can match cable/fiber:
- Download Speeds – Up to 100Mbps
And because it operates on lower frequencies below 700MHz, the signals propagate farther over rugged rural terrain while retaining excellent reliability.
As a newer internet delivery method optimized for rural access, TV White Space shows great promise to connect the unconnected. It continues gaining traction with governments, NGOs and companies focused on universal internet adoption.
Monthly pricing should be very competitive with other rural internet types at around $50-100 per month as coverage expands.
For staying on the bleeding edge while future-proofing your country connectivity, keep an eye on TV White Space ISPs arriving in your state soon!
TV White Space Providers
- Redzone Wireless
- Key Bridge Wireless
- Microsoft Airband
Tips for Getting Good Rural Internet Speeds
Beyond choosing the right technology and provider, optimize your internet performance by:
- Testing speed directly connected vs over WiFi
- Moving equipment away from radio interference
- Elevating antennas higher if signal is marginal
- Extending your WiFi network range with mesh systems
- Using wired backhaul connections where possible
- Configuring quality of service (QoS) settings
- Setting up VPN tunnels to secure traffic
- Adding channel bonding modems/gateways
With the right setup, rural business owners can stay productive and competitive regardless of location. For personalized guidance assessing your connectivity options or developing a cost-effective rural access plan, don‘t hesitate to reach out!