Best Cheap Internet Plans and Providers for Rural Areas

Best for availability
HughesNet
HughesNet
  • Icon Pros  Light
    99.99/mo.
  • Icon Pros  Light
    30 Mbps
Best for data usage
Rise Broadband
Rise Broadband
  • Icon Pros  Light
    $64.95
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Up to 50 Mbps
Best for affordability
CenturyLink
CenturyLink
  • Icon Pros  Light
    $49.99/mo.
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Up to 100 Mbps
Best for performance
Verizon
Verizon
  • Icon Pros  Light
    $40.00-$60.00/mo.
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Up to 50 Mbps

Peter Holslin
Researcher & Writer
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Published on July 22, 2021

Finding cheap internet isn't easy. Wi-Fi plans can come at a hefty monthly fee, and you usually have to pay for installation, equipment rentals, and other extra fees on top of that.

A cheap Wi-Fi plan is even harder to come by in rural areas and small towns, where network infrastructure is limited and internet service providers (ISPs) have to invest more to maintain services. Still, cheap internet is out there—you just have to know where to look.

We’ve outlined the best internet options for the price, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of different plans and providers. We also highlighted ideal options for rural customers. Read on to save some money.

How do you get the best cheap internet?

You can get good internet at a cheap price by seeking out low-cost plans that give you adequate speeds, a decent data cap, and minimal extra fees.

The cheapest internet plans aren’t always the best—they may give you grindingly slow speeds or have painfully low data caps, leading to high overage charges at the end of the month. Some plans look cheap up front, but they come with unexpected seasonal price hikes or stringent data-usage restrictions.

When shopping for cheap internet, it’s important to make sure you find a plan that’s fast in addition to being affordable. You can shave bucks off your bill by picking a provider that waives your installation costs or offers unlimited data caps with its plans.

Many ISPs also have no-contract options, which means you can cancel any time without worrying about pesky early termination fees (ETFs).

With internet as with life, the devil is always in the details.

Best cheap internet plans:

  • Good speeds
  • Generous data caps (or unlimited data)
  • Few extra fees
  • Flexible no-contract options

Worst cheap internet plans:

  • Slow speeds
  • Low data caps
  • Hidden fees and price hikes
  • Annual contract requirements
Pro tip
Info

If you need internet while on the road, take a look at our guides to internet for RVs and internet for truckers.

Best cheap rural internet plans

Plan
Price
Speed
Data cap
View plan
Best for availabilityHughesNetHughesNet 30 GB Data Plan$99.99/mo.30 Mbps30 GB*
Best for data usageRise BroadbandRise Broadband Internet 50Mbps Unlimited$44.95/mo.Up to 50 Mbps250 TB
Best for convenienceCenturyLinkCenturyLink Simply Unlimited Internet$50.00/mo.Up to 100 MbpsUnlimited
Best for performanceVerizon Authorized DealerVerizon LTE Home Internet$40.00-$60.00/mo.Up to 50 MbpsUnlimited

*Data as of 7/10/2021. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
†Speed may not be available in your area. Rate excludes taxes; activation fee applies.
‡Requires 24-month agreement.

The best cheap option for internet in a rural area is Rise Broadband’s Up to 50 Mbps plan for $44.95 per month. It runs over a fixed-wireless connection, so it works well in areas with cell phone service.

The ISP also provides up to 50 Mbps download speeds, which is great for streaming movies, downloading modest files, and browsing on social media. It also gives you unlimited data—a solid deal by fixed-wireless standards.

CenturyLink’s up to 100 Mbps plan is an excellent option if you live in a household with landline phone service. Its no-contract option and unlimited data plans make the ISP affordable and convenient.

You won’t have to pay an early termination fee (ETF) if you choose to switch providers at any point during your subscription. With unlimited data, expect to pay zero overage fees at the end of each month, which is useful for on-the-go users or residents in rural areas as you can generate a hotspot without worrying about hitting that data cap.

You should also consider Verizon’s LTE Home Internet, a relatively new technology that gives customers fast and stable home internet over an LTE cellular network. Users with a Verizon phone plan should expect to pay $40 per month, and those without will pay $60 per month.

Verizon’s internet download speeds range from 25 Mbps to 50 Mbps and the latter works best for multiplayer gaming, work from home, and streaming music, video and TV. The former works best if it's only used for working from home and light streaming.

Rural internet customers have a bit more trouble than most finding cheap Wi-Fi since internet access is more limited in less-populated areas of the US. If you live in a sparsely populated area, expect slower speeds and more restrictions on your data usage than you would have in a big city.

Even so, there are plenty of internet options to choose from—and many deals to be had.

How do you get the best cheap internet?

Internet type
How it connects
Speeds
Price

Fixed-wireless internet

Cellular tower and reciever

Up to 25 Mbps

$69.99/mo.

DSL internet

Landline phone jack

Up to 100 Mbps

$45.00/mo.

LTE home internet

Wireless cell phone network

Up to 50 Mbps

$34.95–$44.95/mo.

Satellite internet

Satellite antenna

Up to 25Mbps

$59.00–$149.00/mo.

Dial-up internet

Landline phone jack

Up to 56 Kbps (.056 Mbps)

$8.95–$20.00/mo.

Data as of 7/10/2021. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
*For 12 months plus taxes. Includes a $5/mo. discount with AutoPay and paperless billing discount. $10/mo. equipment fee applies.

Best for accessibility: Satellite internet

The most common way to get rural internet is through a satellite internet connection.

Satellite internet is available in most places because it’s a signal beamed down from space. You can get connected whether you live on a 2,500–acre farm or in a mountain cabin. 

Even so, there is a catch.

Satellite internet connections have long delays (cue the spinning beach ball of doom) and provide less monthly data to work with, which makes them more expensive than other internet types.

Starlink by SpaceX is striving to bypass these challenges by creating a low-Earth orbit satellite network. SpaceX recently announced a public beta version of its Starlink service. It promises great speeds, but will cost beta testers $99 per month, in addition to another $499 up front to cover equipment costs.

Other satellite providers like Viasat and HughesNet impose strict limits on the amount of internet data you can use. Although the data is technically unlimited, if you go over your allotted amount, your speeds will substantially slow until the following billing cycle.

Best satellite internet providers

  • HughesNet
  • Viasat

Best for affordability: Fixed-wireless and DSL internet

Fixed-wireless and DSL internet are both relatively fast, reliable, and come at a fair price. All you need for them to work are a cell phone tower nearby (for fixed wireless) or a home setup with landline phone service (for DSL).

Most DSL internet plans cost around $30–$60 per month and come with generous data caps, usually 1 TB. But they require access to landline phone service, so they’re not as widely available as fixed-wireless internet in rural areas.

Fixed-wireless requires access to a nearby cell tower to operate, and the plans cover a wider price range. Some cost as low as about $50 per month, but they give you fairly strict data caps, only 250 GB per month. You’ll have to pay up to $100 per month for a plan with unlimited data—but honestly, it’s worth it because you won’t have to worry about using up your data and paying overage charges.

Best DSL and fixed-wireless providers

  • EarthLink (DSL)
  • CenturyLink (DSL)
  • Rise Broadband (fixed wireless)
  • AT&T (fixed wireless)

Best for fast speeds: LTE home internet

LTE home internet is a great option for areas that have cellular service but few other Wi-Fi options. Rather than the cabling of fiber or cable internet, it uses cellular radio towers to get you an internet signal, so there’s no underground infrastructure required. Prices can be high upfront if you need to buy a modem, but you’ll have faster speeds (usually in the range of 12–25 Mbps) and more data.

Best LTE home internet providers

  • Verizon 4G LTE Home
  • UbiFi

Best for kickin’ it old school: Dial-up internet

Dial-up internet is the old-fashioned way of connecting to the web. It’s extremely slow (typically under 1 Mbps) and doesn’t require a landline phone to stay logged on.

It is, however, dirt cheap, so it may be worth the downsides if you use the internet for basic browsing or checking emails. This is not an ideal option if you work or learn from home, or want to stream music and TV.

Best dial-up internet provider

  • NetZero
Pro tip
Info

Read our guide to high-speed internet in rural areas for a complete look at your Wi-Fi options.

Best cheap fiber internet plans

Provider
Plan
Price
Speed
View Plan

AT&T

Fiber Internet 300

$35.00/mo.*

300 Mbps

Frontier

FiberOptic 500 Mbps Internet

$49.99/mo.

500 Mbps

Google Fiber

Google Fiber 1000

$70.00/mo.††

1,000 Mbps

Data as of 7/10/2021. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
*For 12 mos. 12 mo agmt. req'd. Incl 1 TB data/mo. $10 chrg for each add'l 50 GB (up to $100/mo)
†Per month for 12 mos. One-time charges apply. Maximum speeds are wired speeds. Wi-Fi, actual and average speeds vary. Service performance details at frontier.com/internetdisclosures
††Terms and Conditions: Plus taxes and fees. Service not available in all areas. Upload/download speed and device streaming claims are based on maximum wired speeds.

Fiber internet is the fastest, most reliable, all-around buttery-smoothest internet type you can find. It’s also the least available internet type: in some places getting it is like encountering a rare bird in the jungle.

If you happen to have access to fiber internet in your area, go for it. If not, then don’t worry because you have other options.

Which cheap fiber plan is the best value?

The best cheap fiber internet plan is AT&T’s Fiber Internet 100 plan. It costs $35 per month, a very serious bargain for an incredibly reliable fiber connection.

You get symmetrical speeds, so you’ll have fast downloads and fast uploads for all of your Zoom meetings and TikTok dance videos.

Best cheap cable internet plans

Provider
Plan
Price
Download speed
View plans
Xfinity

Performance Pro Plus

$39.99/mo.*

200 Mbps

Mediacom

Access Internet 60

$19.99/mo.†

60 Mbps

Spectrum

Spectrum Internet®

$49.99/mo.

Up to 200 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)

R C N logo

25 Mbps Internet

$19.99/mo.

25 Mbps

*for the first 12 months with a 1-year agreement
for 12 months. Plus activation, installation and monthly modem rental fees.
††  Wireless speeds may vary
for the first 12 months

Although still relatively rare, cable internet is a lot more common than fiber in rural areas, and it can often hit the same download speeds—so you can get top-of-the-line internet speeds and a very reliable connection if you have a cable operator in your area.

 

Which cheap cable plan is the best value?

The best cheap cable internet plan is Xfinity’s Performance Pro, which gets you 200 Mbps download speeds for $39.99 per month.

That’s seriously fast—it’s enough speed to host multiplayer gaming and streaming off several devices simultaneously. Xfinity also has a very large nationwide network, so there’s a better chance of access in rural areas  than other cable providers.

Want to see if you can get cable in your area? Take a look with our zip code tool.

Best cheap DSL internet plans

Provider
Plan
Price
Download speed
View plans
CenturyLink

Up to 100 Mbps

$50.00/mo.*

Up to 100 Mbps (depends on service area)

Earthlink

45 Mbps Internet

$69.95/mo.†

45 Mbps

Frontier

Preferred Internet

$39.99/mo.‡

25 Mbps

*Paperless billing or prepay required. Additional taxes, fees, and surcharges apply. Get the fastest internet speed available at your location (max speed is up to 100 Mbps).
with a 12 month contract.
per mo. for 24 months. Equip. fees, install, Internet Infrastructure Surcharge, other taxes & fees apply. Subj. to availability.

DSL internet is a cheaper and faster alternative to satellite but still lags behind fiber and cable with regard to download speeds.

Even so, it’s also widely available in small towns and rural areas since it’s connected through the copper-wire network of a landline phone.

DSL ranges in speed depending on where you live and how close you are to the main network, so keep in mind that you likely won’t get 100 Mbps max speeds if you spring for a plan from CenturyLink.

In some cases, speeds may be as low as 1.5–15 Mbps with DSL plan. Try to find a DSL plan that offers at least 25 Mbps download speeds, as this will allow you to browse, post, and stream video in HD on multiple devices.

Which cheap DSL plan is the best value?

The cheapest DSL plan is the Frontier Internet plan, which costs just $39.99 per month and gives you respectable 25 Mbps download speeds.

If Frontier isn’t available in your area, try out EarthLink’s 45 Mbps Internet plan, which costs $69.95 per month.

EarthLink got top ratings in HighSpeedInternet.com's latest customer satisfaction survey winning first place out of 15 providers for overall performance. The best thing about EarthLink is that it folds all its fees into the baseline price, so you won’t have to worry about hidden costs in the fine print.

Best cheap fixed-wireless internet plans

Provider
Plan
Price
Speed
View plans
ATT

Up to 25 Mbps

$69.99/mo.*

Up to 25 Mbps

Rise Broadband

Up to 50 Mbps

$44.95/mo.

Up to 50 Mbps

PREMIUMLINK20

$79.95/mo.

Up to 20 Mbps

Data as of 7/10/2021. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. *for 12 mos. 12 mo agmt. req'd. Incl 1 TB data/mo. $10 chrg for each add'l 50 GB (up to $100/mo)

Fixed wireless often gets overshadowed by better-known internet connections. But it makes for a great option for users—especially in rural and remote areas with working cellular service.

Unlike fiber or cable, fixed-wireless doesn’t rely on underground cable connections.

Instead, use a remote console to pick up a radio signal beamed from the nearest cell tower. You can usually get decent speeds, but make sure your plan also provides adequate data for the month. Even if you have to pay more, an unlimited data plan could be worth it because it’ll save you from future overage charges or service slowdowns.

Which cheap fixed-wireless plan is the best value?

The best cheap fixed-wireless internet plan comes from AT&T, which gives you speeds up to 25 Mbps for $49.99 per month and a 250 GB data cap.

You can easily burn through 250 GB of data in a few nights’ worth of watching Netflix and playing online video games, so consider springing for an unlimited plan if you use the internet more frequently. Rise Broadband’s Up to 50 Mbps plan gives you unlimited data for $75 per month. The speeds are generally faster, too, so that’s another plus to justify the extra cost.

CenturyLink's Simply Unlimited Internet up to 100 Mbps plan gives you unlimited data for $50 per month. The speeds are generally faster, too, so that’s another plus to justify the extra cost.  

Want to see if you can get some sweet fixed-wireless internet? Type in your zip code below to get a look at providers in your area:

Best cheap satellite internet plans

Provider
Plan
Price
Speed
View Plans
HughesNet

HughesNet

10 GB Data Plan

$59.99/mo.*

25 Mbps

Viasat

Viasat

Unlimited Gold 50

$99.00-$149.99/mo.

Up to 50 Mbps

Starlink

Starlink

“Better Than Nothing Beta”**

$99.00/mo.

50–150 Mbps

*Requires 24–month agreement
$149.99/mo after 3 months
**Requires email invitation to participate in beta testing

HughesNet and Viasat are the two main satellite providers available to the vast majority of satellite customers in America. Viasat gives you options for faster speeds and more data, but be aware that it has regular price hikes. HughesNet has a fixed speed of 25 Mbps for all of its plans, but you can pay more to get more data, and it doesn’t have price hikes.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX recently launched a beta version of its much-hyped Starlink satellite service. Although it’s still in the preliminary stages, it delivers much faster speeds than HughesNet and Viasat, which were the two exclusive contenders for satellite service in America until Starlink arrived.

Starlink beta plan costs a pretty penny: $99 per month plus $499 for a satellite dish and router to go with it. That might change as the network continues to get up to speed, but it’s probably not your best option for now if you’re looking for cheap internet. But keep watching Starlink. It could soon help satellite internet grow out of its current doldrums as a sluggish fallback option into an excellent and egalitarian service.

Which cheap satellite plan is the best value?

The cheapest satellite internet plan is HughesNet’s 10 GB Data Plan. For $59.99 per month, you get 25 Mbps speeds and 10 GB of data. You also get 50 GB of “Bonus Zone” data, which means you can use the internet as much as you want during the downtime hours of 2:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.

Viasat appears to have the cheapest satellite internet plans around—but all of its plans go up in price by 33% after the first three months of your two-year contract.

The main thing to watch out for with satellite internet is how much data you use. The cheapest plans come with extremely low data caps. Once you’ve surpassed your data cap, your speed will be slowed to a crawl as your traffic gets “deprioritized,” which means it’s essentially bumped to the back of the line behind other paying customers who haven’t hit their data caps yet. If you use the internet regularly, consider investing in a plan that gives you more monthly data to work with.

Pro tip
Info

For a full explanation of satellite internet pricing and packages—which we know can be confusing—see our Viasat vs. HughesNet buyer’s guide.

Best cheap LTE home internet plans

Provider
Plan
Price
Speed
View plans
Verizon

Verizon

LTE Home Internet

$40.00–$60.00/mo.

25 Mbps

UbiFi

UbiFi

The SIMPLY Unlimited Plan

$99.99/mo.

12–25 Mbps

Data as of 7/10/2021. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. *with AutoPay

4G LTE home internet delivers internet from a cell phone tower, making it a solid option if you live in a rural area with cellular access but scant infrastructure to support cable or DSL networks. It gives you decent speeds—often faster than DSL in similar areas—and more data to work with compared to satellite internet. It also doesn’t require infrastructure installation, although you may have to pay a somewhat high price up front for a modem.

Which cheap LTE home internet plan is the best value?

The best cheap LTE home internet plan is Verizon’s LTE Home Internet. It costs $40 per month if you have a Verizon mobile plan or $60 if you don’t, and it gives you download speeds of around 25 Mbps. That’s a solid speed and a seriously winning price for a rural area—and the unlimited data makes it even more tantalizing as an alternative to data-thrifty satellite plans. Yay!

Pro tip
Info

If you can’t get home internet over an LTE network, consider using a mobile hotspot, which uses data from a phone plan to give you Wi-Fi. Take a look at our mobile hotspots guide to see which hotspot fits your needs best.

Best cheap no-contract internet plans

Provider
Plan
Price
Speed
View plans
CenturyLink

CenturyLink

Simply Unlimited up to 100 Mbps

$50.00/mo.*

Up to 100 Mbps

Spectrum

Spectrum

Spectrum Internet®

$49.99/mo.

Up to 200 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)

*Speed may not be available in your area. Rate excludes taxes; activation fee applies.* †for 12 months

A low price is important when you’re shopping for an internet plan, but you also want to keep contracts in mind. If you don’t like your service or have to move, breaking a contract can be expensive: providers will hit you with early termination fees (ETFs) that rack up based on how many months you have left on your contract.

The solution? Get a no-contract internet plan. Some ISPs offer plans that go month to month, meaning you can cancel any time without worrying about ETFs (the fees so infamous they have an acronym).

This isn’t always an available option though—satellite providers HughesNet and Viasat both require you to sign up for two-year commitments on their plans. But if you can go without a contract, we recommend it.

Which cheap no-contract internet plan is the best value?

CenturyLink has the best cheap no-contract internet plan. It gives you speeds of up to 100 Mbps for $50 per month. This price will increase at the end of your first-year term agreement, but you can switch providers at any point during your subscription without paying ETFs.

Pro tip
Info

Put in your zip code to find out which rural internet providers are available in your area.

FAQ about cheap rural internet plans

Who has the cheapest internet?

Xfinity has the cheapest internet plan that’s most available to rural areas. Its Performance Pro plan costs $39.99/mo. for 200 Mbps speeds.

HughesNet has the cheapest internet for satellite internet customers. Its cheapest plan costs $59.99 per month and gives you 10 GB of data—plus 50 GB of “Bonus Zone” data you can use during off hours.

There are other internet providers with cheaper plans, but they have very limited networks, so it’s not as likely that you’ll benefit from their low prices.

What is the cheapest cable internet plan?

Xfinity has the cheapest cable internet plan available in rural areas. It’s called Performance Pro and gives you 200 Mbps speeds for $39.99 per month.

RCN has the cheapest cable internet plan all around, but it may not be available in your area since RCN’s service area is limited to the cities of Boston, Chicago, New York, Washington, DC; Philadelphia, and parts of Pennsylvania. In some parts of RCN’s service area, you can get 25 Mbps download speeds for just $19.99/mo. There are no contracts and no data caps.

What is the cheapest DSL internet plan?

Frontier has the cheapest DSL internet plan. It’s called Preferred Internet and gives you 25 Mbps speeds for just $34.99 a month.

Frontier has a relatively limited network, so if you want another option that might be more accessible, consider CenturyLink. Its DSL plan maxes out at 100 Mbps speeds and costs $50.00 a month.

What is the cheapest satellite internet plan?

HughesNet’s 10 GB Data Plan is the cheapest satellite internet plan you can get, costing $59.99 per month for 25 Mbps speeds. It gives you 10 GB to work with, plus 50 GB of “Bonus Zone” data that applies to any internet usage during the hours of 2:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.

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Peter Holslin
Written by
Peter Holslin