Best Fixed Wireless Internet Providers


Kristin Cooke
Researcher & Writer
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Published on March 05, 2021

The best fixed-wireless providers keep families in small towns and rural areas connected online—and many cost less than $50 per month. If you’ve looked into rural internet service where satellite plans cost two or three times that much, you know this is a rare find.

Why choose fixed-wireless internet service?

Fixed-wireless internet can deliver broadband internet service to homes that aren't connected to cable or fiber lines. Fixed-wireless is transmitted through wireless (mobile phone) signals and cell phone towers. An antenna mounted to the outside of your home picks up the signals and communicates with a modem and router inside your house, giving you a strong home Wi-Fi network. Many plans are priced at less than $50 per month and offer download speeds around 25 Mbps. 

Fixed-wireless isn't like trying to use your cell phone for internet service—you'll get an ample amount of data with this home internet connection. (Although most plans are not unlimited.)  The best fixed-wireless internet plans offer around 250 GB of data per month (although the data limit varies by plan and carrier).

If you can’t get a cable, fiber, or DSL internet service, we highly recommend checking out fixed-wireless service. Fixed-wireless internet typically offers more data than satellite internet and other rural internet options, and it's a lot cheaper.

How to find the best fixed-wireless internet service

Although we have over 1,200 fixed-wireless internet companies in our database, most of these providers serve small geographical areas. So, most people have only one or two fixed-wireless providers.

Finding the best fixed-wireless internet service is often as simple as checking out which provider covers your area. Then, compare fixed-wireless internet plans with any other internet options you have. Look at speed, data, and price. According to the FCC, about 45% of Americans have fixed-wireless internet service  in their area. Most are small companies, rather than the big telecoms.

So, even though we’ve picked two fixed-wireless internet providers to recommend, you may not have these two options to choose from. A smaller, localized fixed-wireless provider might offer just what you need (with better customer service, to boot). You can find out if wireless broadband service is available in your area by entering your zip code below.

Find out if fixed-wireless service is available in your area.

How does fixed wireless work?

Fixed-wireless broadband delivers fast internet to your home with radio waves transmitted over a wireless antenna system. Ground stations equipped with antennas send and fetch data to antennas attached to nearby homes. Fixed-wireless uses low frequency radio waves, which are not as susceptible to weather interference as satellite internet signals.

Because fixed-wireless internet operates on a modified line-of-sight system, large buildings, mountains, and heavy foliage can block the signal.

Like you would with every internet service provider (ISP), you’ll need to do an address check to confirm fixed-wireless service is available at your address. If it is, the available provider will send a technician to your home to install the outdoor antenna (see image).

Technician installing fixed wireless antenna

A technician will install a fixed wireless antenna to your home. Source: AT&T Fixed Wireless Overview.

Fixed-wireless installation

Your fixed-wireless installation technician will set up the antenna to make sure you’re getting the strongest signal possible from the fixed-wireless tower (the better the signal, the faster the internet). The antenna needs a direct line of sight to the tower. This is why you can’t set up or install fixed-wireless internet yourself. Proximity and direction matter too—the closer you are to the tower, the stronger your signal will be.

Because you’re relying on an antenna for internet service, most weather shouldn’t affect your service. Continuous, heavy rain may slow things down, but anything that physically blocks the line of sight to your outdoor antenna is a bigger threat to reliable internet service than extreme weather.

Internet type comparison chart

Internet type
Max speed
Latency (ave.)
Data
Price (ave.)

Satellite

25–100 Mbps

594–624 ms

10–150 GB/mo.

$50.00–$150/mo.

DSL

100 Mbps

25–43 ms

1 TB/mo.

$25-$50/mo.

Cable

1,000 Mbps

15–35 ms

1 TB/mo. or more

$40–$125mo.

Fixed-wireless

100 Mbps

40–60ms

160 GB/mo. and up

$40–$70/mo.

*Data as of 3/4/2021. Availability varies by location.

Comparing fixed-wireless internet to cable or DSL

Although fixed-wireless broadband isn’t as fast as cable internet, fixed-wireless is a good choice over many other rural options. Fixed-wireless offers much more data per month than satellite or mobile phone internet.

Pros and cons of fixed wireless

Pros

The biggest pro of fixed-wireless broadband service is the wireless part: it delivers internet service to areas cable and DSL can’t reach (both rural and urban), and no phone line is required. Also, most fixed-wireless providers offer more monthly data than other rural internet options. Fixed-wireless internet also has lower latency (or delay) than satellite internet.

Cons

Fixed-wireless internet requires an outdoor antenna for service, and it has to be installed by a technician. So, it’s a longer installation and setup process, and it results in higher costs upfront. And if you’re dealing with proprietary equipment (like an outdoor antenna) you’re going to have to sign a long-term contract that can last anywhere from one to two years.

What is the best fixed-wireless provider?

Our pick: Rise Broadband

Rise Broadband is our top pick for fixed-wireless internet service, thanks to its blazing fast speeds and affordable pricing. The 250 GB data plans are $34.94 for 25 Mbps speed or $44.95 for 50 Mbps. The Unlimited Data plan is $54.95 per month.

Rise Broadband
  • Check
    No contract required
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    High customer service ratings
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    Serves 16 states
  • X
    Price increases $10/mo. in second year
  • X
    Unlimited data plan not available everywhere

*Price listed includes autopay discount. Data effective 6/22/20. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

As the largest fixed-wireless internet company in the US, Rise Broadband (formerly JAB Broadband) has a good reputation in rural areas. Service is steady and lower priced than satellite internet service. You get a 30-day money-back guarantee when you sign up, which is exceptional in the internet industry.

You can get Rise Broadband in 16 states in the midwestern, southern, and the western US: from the southern tip of Texas, through Wisconsin and Nebraska, and all the way north to Minnesota and North Dakota. If you’d like to add VoIP phone service, it’s an extra $20 per month.

In the past five years, Rise Broadband has invested over $30 million into building out its network in rural and underserved areas. This earned Rise Broadband millions of additional customers and a loyal following.

We really like that Rise Broadband includes the monthly equipment rental with internet service. Monthly service includes equipment fees for an antenna, managed router and SM radio—which will save you a hundred or more dollars every year. Plus, service doesn’t require a contract. There is a $75 installation fee, but you can split it up into three $25 payments spread out over the first three months.

Rise Broadband fixed-wireless internet plans

Download speed
Data cap
Price

Up to 25 Mbps

250 GB/mo.

$34.95/mo.*

Up to 25 Mbps

Unlimited

$54.95/mo.*

Up to 50 Mbps

250 GB./mo.

$44.95/mo.*

*Data effective 3/4/2021 with autopay discount. Price does not include taxes. Equipment fee included in monthly pricing. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Rise Broadband has budget-priced plans in some areas with less data—150 GB of data per month. If you opt a less expensive plan, monitor your data usage throughout the month so you don’t incur data overage fees. Rise Broadband promises that it will notify you by email if you reach 75% of your data cap, and then again when you are charged for additional data. But you will be safer if you check it regularly. 

True, Rise Broadband is still a big internet company, but its affordable pricing, reliable service, and above-average customer service ratings put them ahead of the pack when it comes to fixed-wireless providers.

 Runner-up: AT&T Fixed Wireless

ATT
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    Bundle options w/ DIRECTV
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    High reliability ratings
  • X
    Varying speeds based on location
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    Data overage charges of $10/50 GB

*Data effective 3/4/2021. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

We recommend AT&T Fixed Wireless to folks living in the country who have limited internet options in their area. At about $50 per month, it’s a better deal for 250 GB of data than you’ll pay with satellite internet service.

Data overage charges can add up fast, though. If you reach the 250 GB data limit before the end of the month, you’ll be automatically charged $10 for 50 GB of additional data, with a maximum charge of $200 in extra data charges each month. Data doesn’t roll over into the next month.

AT&T Fixed Wireless internet plans

Plan name
Download speed
Data cap
Price

Fixed Wireless

Up to 25 Mbps

350 GB/mo. (overage charges apply)

$59.99/mo.*

Fixed Wireless + DIRECTV

Up to 25 Mbps

350 GB/mo. (overage charges apply)

$119.98/mo.*

* Data effective 3/4/2021. Price w/24-mo. TV, 12-mo. internet agmts. AutoPay & paperless billing required. Ltd. avail./areas in U.S. Prices higher in 2nd year. Incl 350GB data/mo., overage charges apply. Price does not include taxes.

What to look for in fixed wireless internet service

When checking into home internet service, you want to look for a generous data cap (250 GB per month or more), broadband internet speeds (which means download speeds of at least 25 Mbps), and reasonable prices. Wireless broadband delivers these features fairly consistently, although prices vary.

Download speed

If you’re looking at fixed-wireless internet, you will want download speeds of at least 25 Mbps, if possible. This gives you a steady connection that will allow for video streaming, video conference calls, and limited gaming, although only on one device at a time.

You can stream in a higher video quality without buffering as you get faster download speeds. It will use more data though—and fixed-wireless companies like AT&T will charge you extra if you go over your data cap of 350 GB per month. Streaming in standard quality will use much less data. If you have download speeds of less than 12 Mbps or more, you may not be able to use the internet on more than one device at a time.

Pro tip
Info

To minimize data usage, keep video quality set to the lowest possible option for everyday viewing. If you’re watching a game or want a special movie night, up the video quality for a few hours.

Monthly data allotment

Most fixed-wireless internet plans have a monthly data allotment, which is inconvenient if you’re used to unlimited internet plans. Since data is channeled through a tower, there’s a limited amount of bandwidth the providers can offer in any given area. Fixed-wireless providers measure out the data to each customer to help ensure that there’s enough bandwidth to go around to all their customers.

For example, AT&T Fixed Wireless and Rise Broadband offer plans with set data allotments each month, starting around 50 GB per month and going up to 500 GB per month.

  • Rise Broadband data cap: 250 GB/mo.
  • AT&T Fixed Wireless data cap: 350 GB/mo.

If you go over the data cap, you can expect to be charged a data overage fee. Extra data doesn’t roll over into the next month.

  • Rise Broadband data overage charge: $5 for every 10 GB (after reaching your data cap)
  • AT&T Fixed Wireless data overage charge: $10 for 50 GB of data (after reaching your data cap)

Despite having a data cap, fixed-wireless internet plans are cheaper than satellite internet service and they often offer more data. So if you have a choice between the two, fixed-wireless is usually the best choice. 

How to check your monthly data data usage.

  • AT&T Fixed Wireless: Log onto att.com and go to Account Overview. Go to Internet Plan and then See All My Usage. 
  • Rise Broadband: Log onto RiseBroadband.com and select My Account. Scroll down the menu to Check My Data Usage and click Check Usage.

Our verdict

It’s worth your time to check out fixed-wireless internet if you live in a rural area or have limited internet options. Of course, not all fixed-wireless internet is created equal, and we haven’t been able to review all of the 1,210 providers we found so far (we’ll get there someday!). But we really like what Rise Broadband is offering its customers—broadband speeds, plenty of data, fair pricing, and better-than-average support.

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Fixed-wireless internet FAQ

Is fixed-wireless good for gaming?

Fixed wireless is not good for competitive gaming like Fortnite or Apex Legends, although you can do some gaming, depending on your connection speed. Fixed wireless isn’t usually a top choice for gamers because of the relatively slow speeds. With fixed wireless, you’ll have download speeds around 25 Mbps, but you’ll be competing against other players with fiber internet speeds around 2,000 Mbps—which will put you at a disadvantage.

Is fixed-wireless internet good for rural areas?

Yes, fixed-wireless is a good choice, particularly for people in small towns or rural areas who don’t have access to cable or fiber internet. Fixed-wireless internet delivers decent speeds for an affordable rate. It outperforms many other rural internet solutions, although speeds and data vary widely from one provider to the next. But if your neighborhood is wired for fiber or cable internet, get cable internet instead of fixed-wireless.

Can you game online with fixed-wireless internet?

You can enjoy some online gaming on faster fixed-wireless plans, but you will be competing with gamers who have faster speeds and lower latency. For this reason, turn-taking games are a good bet with fixed-wireless internet, while fast-paced shooter games are more difficult. For more information on gaming, check out our online gaming guide.

Kristin Cooke
Written by
Kristin Cooke
After graduating with a degree in English from the University of Utah, Kristin learned to geek speak while working as a technical recruiter, interviewing software developers and tech companies. For over 20 years, she has created award-winning content for technology, health, and finance companies. Kristin is an advocate for affordable internet for all and writes about rural internet solutions, satellite internet news, and tech products at SatelliteInternet.com. Her work has been featured in New York Post, PCMag, Forbes, Business Insider, Telecompetitor, Space.com, and The Benton Institute for Broadband & Society.