Over 7,000 internet providers offer services in the United States, but finding high-speed internet in rural areas remains a challenge. Most Internet providers use wired networks, connecting users to the internet through fiber-optic, cable, or phone lines. The need for wired infrastructure often limits an internet provider’s ability to serve remote rural areas. Here, we’ll explain how to reliably get internet in rural areas.
Why do many Internet providers underserve the rural United States? A lack of infrastructure is a major obstacle. So too are the distances involved—the rural U.S.A. makes up 97% of the nation. Most urban centers already have the infrastructure required for high-speed Internet, making it easier, cheaper, and, yes, more profitable for an IP to focus on urban areas. Fortunately, options such as satellite internet for remote areas provide online access to the rural population.
Before we get into it, it’s important to remember every household and business has different internet habits and usage requirements. A large family who regularly game online requires more bandwidth than a single person who uses their connection largely for social media and streaming movies. Both examples differ from the needs of a business with an online store. Before choosing high-speed internet in rural areas, consider the following points:
- How many people will use the internet at the same time?
- What will you use the internet for (i.e. browsing, social media, email, gaming, etc.)?
- What time of day will you use the internet the most—morning, afternoon, or evening?
- Where in your home or business will you use the internet?
These questions help you determine how much data you’ll need each month and whether you need a Mesh Wi-Fi Node to ensure coverage throughout your property. As you can see from the different Hughesnet internet plans, you can choose a range of internet speeds and data limits.
Availability and Coverage
While urban centers have multiple internet services, rural users typically have limited options. Rural areas are often beyond the reach of cable and fiber optic-based internet providers.
Depending on your location, you may have access to the following options for high-speed internet in rural areas:
Cable internet uses cable television wires to connect your home network. It’s common practice for cable companies to offer packages that bundle television and internet services. Cable internet is reliable and offers high speeds. While available in many areas, remote locations often lack the infrastructure to support cable internet.
Unlike cable, DSL, and fiber optic internet, satellite internet is not limited by wired infrastructure. A satellite internet service provider is an excellent choice for rural users, as satellite internet provides coverage by streaming data to and from orbiting telecommunications satellites. While once a relatively slow internet option, satellite internet now provides high speeds and reliable service anywhere with an uninterrupted view of the southern sky. Check out Hughesnet reviews to see what our customers say about satellite internet in rural areas.
Fiber Optic Internet
Fiber optic internet providers offer high-speed download and upload rates by sending data as light signals along fiber optic cable. The infrastructure for fiber optic internet is mostly confined to urban areas and their immediate surroundings and is rarely available in rural areas.
DSL, or digital subscriber line, provides broadband internet over your phone line. DSL is not the same as dial-up internet, which is outdated and rarely used. DSL offers a constant connection with high bandwidth, but like many wired internet services, it is not always available in rural locations.
Home cellular internet uses your cell phone data, a router, and Wi-Fi to connect your home network. Cellular internet limits the amount of data you can use to your phone plan’s data limit and requires you to be within range of a cell tower. 5G, the latest global wireless standard for cell phone transmissions, offers faster speeds, but 5G cell towers have a limited range and are typically confined to urban areas.
Speed and Bandwidth
Bandwidth describes the amount of data a network can transmit and is directly related to how fast you can download or upload information. Your bandwidth is important, as it determines what you can or cannot do online. The number of devices on your network also impacts your bandwidth, as the devices share your overall bandwidth.
Hughesnet internet plans offer up to 50 Mbps download speeds pn select plans in select areas, and 3 Mbps upload speeds.
Reliability & Experience:
Consider the reliability of rural internet networks before making your choice. An unreliable connection limits your ability to use the internet for entertainment, communication, business, and healthcare. As the market for internet service providers grows, it’s essential to consider each provider's history and experience. Which providers are new to the market, and which have been innovating for years?
Reliable, innovative internet providers like Hughesnet have proven track records for reliability and a commitment to connecting consumers. Look for companies focusing on remote internet connections instead of those that see rural internet as a small portion of their larger business. Hughesnet specializes in providing satellite internet to rural areas, and as such, we invest in quality customer service, continuous service improvement, and innovative solutions.
Many of the most popular online activities require sharing personal information. Online shopping, setting up a gaming profile, checking bank statements, and more all involve sensitive data that cannot be allowed into the wrong hands. A secure internet connection helps protect your personal information, so it’s crucial to understand what security options your internet service provider uses.
While many ISPs offer in-house data protection, most also work with third-party security management providers like Norton 360 to keep your data as safe as possible.
The quality of an internet provider’s customer service is crucial if you live in a remote area. You want an ISP that provides 24/7 customer service and customer representatives with an understanding of the challenges of technical support to remote users. Online reviews often provide insight into a provider’s customer support quality.
Equipment and Installation
All types of internet connection require some degree of equipment. You’ll need a modem to connect your local network to the larger network. A wireless router is necessary to set up a Wi-Fi network. If you’re using a satellite internet service provider, you'll also need a satellite dish to transmit and receive data.
Most ISPs provide the equipment needed to connect to their network, but a few require you to purchase routers, modems, and other equipment. Be sure to check this before choosing your provider. It’s also important to ask if the ISP offers professional installation. Having a technician set up your network saves you time and often results in a more secure internet connection.
Finding the right internet service provider is an important decision. Taking time to assess which providers are available where you live, the experience and reliability of each provider, your specific needs, and the service’s security options help you choose a rural internet service provider you can depend on.