The Best Cable Internet Providers for Rural Areas

Best overall
Up to 1,000Mbps
Coverage in 44 states
Coverage in 48 states
Up to 2,000Mbps
Coverage in 19 states
Best rural cable alternative: Frontier
Up to 5Gbps
Coverage in 25 states

Dave Schafer
Dec 14, 2023
Icon Time To Read7 min read

If you live in a rural area, you’re probably familiar with the challenge of getting decent internet access. Many areas are limited to basic (and slow) DSL, while in some spots, satellite internet is the only option. Cable broadband internet, which is much faster than DSL or satellite, requires additional infrastructure, so it is often unavailable.

That said, there are some cable providers with coverage in rural areas, including big names. Our top picks for rural cable internet are Spectrum, Xfinity, and Cox. Frontier provides another alternative to satellite if you need a wired connection.

Of these, we think Spectrum is the best for most people. It has affordable prices, fast speeds, and surprisingly great rural availability. Xfinity is a close second—it’s a bit cheaper but may be harder to find for rural customers.

How to get cable internet in rural areas

If you live in a rural area, your internet options are probably limited. You likely have access to satellite internet, and you may be able to use your phone’s hotspot (though it’s not ideal). You might have DSL service available. However, cable access is often a little more limited. If you do have cable available, it may only be through a single provider.

There are a couple of reasons for this. First, rural areas may be quite far from existing infrastructure, which means cable companies will need to build new networks to bring service to the area. When they do, the greater distance between homes can mean it’ll be more complicated.

Combine these infrastructure challenges with the typically smaller populations over any given area and you start to see the problem: bringing cable to rural areas requires a significant investment that may not yield much (if any) payoff due to a lack of customers.

If cable internet isn’t available at your current address, you might not be entirely out of luck. Cable companies sometimes operate in a broader area but don’t install wiring to a home until it’s requested. For this reason, it’s always worth calling local internet service providers (ISPs) and asking if it’s possible to get service at your residence.

Enter your zip code below to find all the best internet providers available in your area.

Spectrum Internet availability

pro Solid price-to-speed ratio
con Reputation for so-so customer support (at best)
Price range: $49.99–$79.99/mo.
Availability: Available in 44 states, with the most coverage in California, Texas, and New York

Spectrum is our pick for the best rural cable internet. It’s a solid provider that offers wide availability, good prices, and fast speeds. In particular, we’re impressed with Spectrum’s broad rural coverage—it’s the main reason we chose it over its main competitor, Xfinity.

Spectrum's three fastest plans offer 300Mbps, 500Mbps, and 1,000Mbps. This makes it easy to choose a package—simply decide how much speed you need. The prices are competitive, and the performance generally lives up to its advertised speeds (though we have seen a few complaints in this area). Best of all, there is no data cap, so you can set up a home Wi-Fi network to stream all your favorite shows and never have to worry about how much bandwidth you’re using.

Spectrum is one of the most widely available cable companies in the country. While California, Texas, and New York have the most coverage, Spectrum offers coverage in 44 states. And its rural availability is impressive. Midwestern customers, in particular, can appreciate the wide availability of speedy cable.

We recommend Spectrum for rural customers who need speedy, affordable cable broadband with no data caps.

Xfinity availability

pro Reliable service
con Unlimited data costs extra
Price range: Starts at $20.00*
Availability: Available in 48 states, with the most coverage in California, Florida, and Illinois

*Promotional price expires 5/1/2024. Final price depends on location.

Xfinity is a close runner-up for best rural cable internet. This provider offers a wide selection of plans to suit any budget and need, whether that be super-affordable or superfast. It also offers some of the widest availability of any ISP. Xfinity has a reputation for highly reliable service—the author had Xfinity internet for several years and doesn’t recall any notable issues. 

Xfinity offers coverage in a whopping 48 states, with a strong presence in California, Florida, and Illinois. Its rural coverage is also excellent, though it’s a bit less spread out than top pick Spectrum—particularly in the Midwest. This means residents of these states may need to be closer to large population centers to get service.

There is surprisingly little overlap between Spectrum and Xfinity, so your choice ultimately comes down to which is available at your location. Overall, we think it’s hard to go wrong with Xfinity or Spectrum internet.

Cox availability

pro Good speeds and reliability
con More expensive than competitors for the same speeds
Price range: $49.99–$149.99/mo.
Availability: Available in 19 states, with the most coverage in Arizona, California, and Virginia

Cox offers plans from a basic 100Mbps up to 2,000Mbps (named Cox Go Beyond Fast). These speeds put it right in line with other cable providers like Spectrum and Xfinity, and there’s enough variety in the plan selection to cover nearly any need.

Unfortunately, Cox’s plans are quite a bit more expensive than similar packages from competitors. For example, 1,000Mbps costs $119.99 per month with Cox, whereas the same plan runs $89.99 per month with Spectrum and just $80 per month with Xfinity.

This price difference is the main reason we ranked Cox in third place, but there’s another issue—it’s not nearly as widespread as Spectrum or Xfinity. Cox offers service in 19 states around the country, which is good in isolation. However, compared to the 40+ states covered by other ISPs, it suddenly seems a little lacking. Residents in the rural Southeast are especially out of luck—Cox has little presence there. 

Overall, Cox is a decent choice if it’s the only cable provider you have available. The service isn’t bad by any means. However, if you have either Spectrum or Xfinity in your area, we think you’d be better off with one of them.

Frontier availability

pro Very fast speeds available
con Most areas limited to slower DSL
Price range: $49.99–$154.99/mo.
Availability: Available in 25 states, with the most coverage in California, Florida, and Connecticut

Our final pick, Frontier, offers something a bit different. Rather than cable internet, Frontier offers ultra-fast fiber service in select markets and DSL over a wide coverage area. Frontier's fiber service can get up to 5Gbps. The 1,000Mbps service costs just $70 per month, which makes it a much better deal than even the most affordable cable providers.

Frontier covers a wide area with service in 25 states. The majority is DSL, the less exciting type of service most rural customers can access. Frontier offers coverage in a number of areas that our other picks don’t, so it may be the only option for many. 

If you’re stuck without any of our top cable picks but don’t want satellite service, Frontier’s DSL is a solid option. And if you happen to live in one of Frontier’s fiber markets, we highly recommend checking it out.


From 12/17/23–12/31/23, Frontier is offering free professional and self installation, even including some of its fiber plans. If you've been debating getting Frontier, now's a good time to set yourself up for the new year. 

Is cable internet good for rural areas?

Yes, cable internet is great for rural areas—especially compared to the other options normally available in these spots. Cable options are likely to be much faster, more reliable, and more affordable  than satellite or DSL. Cable also tends to offer either very high data caps or unlimited data, which gives it a major advantage over satellite.

The tradeoff is that cable requires more infrastructure than DSL and satellite internet, so it isn’t as widely available.

Enter your zip code below to find all the best internet providers available in your area.

What internet works best in rural areas?

In terms of speed, reliability, and overall value, fiber-optic internet is almost always the best option, followed by cable. Unfortunately, rural customers often don’t have access to either of these. DSL is more common in rural settings, but it tends to be slow and expensive.

Satellite internet is a solid choice, and it’s available pretty much anywhere. Fixed wireless is also becoming more common and can be a great alternative to satellite. Finally, some mobile internet providers, like Verizon and T-Mobile, offer home internet via wireless hotspots.

Other internet options for rural areas

Best Cable Providers FAQ

Internet type
SatelliteUp to 100Mbps
SatelliteUp to 150Mbps
Fixed wirelessUp to 50Mbps
4G or 5G wirelessUp to 1,000Mbps
4G or 5G wirelessVaries

Is cable internet good for rural areas?

Yes, cable internet is excellent for rural areas. It’s usually much faster and often more affordable than rural alternatives like satellite or DSL. Cable speeds can reach up to 1,000Mbps or more, and the service is often highly reliable.

Does Spectrum Internet work in rural areas?

Yes, Spectrum Internet works in rural areas. In fact, it’s one of the largest cable providers in the U.S. However, rural coverage can be tricky and may depend on how rural you’re thinking—a small town may have a better shot at getting Spectrum than a single residence in the middle of open farmland.

How do I know if my Spectrum is available in my area?

The easiest way to determine if Spectrum is available in your area is to use our zip code tool. Simply enter your zip code and we’ll show you all the internet service providers available in your area.

Enter your zip code below to find all the best internet providers available in your area.

Does Xfinity do rural areas?

Yes, Xfinity offers service in rural areas. However, options in small towns and rural areas are often limited. The best way to determine your internet service options is to use our zip code tool.

Enter your zip code below to find all the best internet providers available in your area.

How do I get internet in a rural area?

If you need internet in a rural area, you can start by checking out available cable providers. You may have one (or more) available and just need the cable run to your home. If that’s not an option, we recommend a wireless internet service like Hughesnet (satellite) or Rise Broadband (fixed wireless). These providers can get a signal to your home without complex infrastructure in place, so they tend to be more available in rural areas.

How do I know if Cox internet is available in my area?

The fastest and simplest way to know if Cox is available in your area is to use our zip code tool. Just enter your zip code to get a list of every internet provider in your area.

Enter your zip code below to find all the best internet providers available in your area.

How much does Cox hotspot cost?

Cox provides wireless hotspot access at no additional cost to all Cox internet customers. This means you can make use of over four million hotspots around the country—very handy for travel or getting some work done at the coffee shop.

Dave Schafer
Written by
Dave Schafer
Dave has written professionally for tech companies and consumer technology sites for nearly five years, with a special focus on TV and internet. He uses his industry expertise to help readers at get the most out of their services. No matter the project, he prefers his coffee black (the stronger, the better).