Looking for rural internet? Now you’ve got choices behind doors one, two, three, and four.
Between satellite internet, DSL, fixed wireless, and 4G LTE home internet, you should be able to find a rural internet option in your area. A steady internet connection will enable you to read the news online, watch Netflix, take classes, and video chat with friends and family from the comfort of your own home.
Hopefully we’ll see even more internet options make their way to rural areas in the future, when LTE home internet providers and Starlink expand further into rural areas. But for now, we’re just glad that options are expanding.
10 fastest and slowest rural areas for internet
- Hyden, KY (4.2 Mbps): Rural area with the slowest average internet speed in the US
- Boardman, OR (103.8 Mbps): Rural area with the fastest average internet speed in the US
- 45.9 Mbps: National average for all rural speed tests completed
- 592: Number of rural US cities ranked
According to the FCC’s 2020 Broadband Deployment Report, 22.3% of rural Americans don’t have access to internet download speeds of at least 25 Mbps (which is the recommended speed for working from home and online schooling).4,5 And the numbers are even worse on Tribal lands, where 32.1% of Americans don’t have access to internet speeds of 25 Mbps.5
Yet in metropolitan areas, only 1.5% of Americans lack access to these same speeds.5 Rural America’s lackluster internet speeds contribute to the homework gap and a lower percentage of college graduates when compared to Americans living in metropolitan areas.6,7
The most common reason for slow rural internet is that it’s expensive for internet providers to expand and update infrastructure, so it’s less financially motivating to expand to rural areas with fewer people.
To counteract this, the US government is trying to incentivize wider broadband rollouts to underserved areas through programs like the Connect America Fund. Satellite internet providers like Viasat and HughesNet help bring internet access to rural areas, and next-generation satellite provider Starlink (by SpaceX) will benefit rural communities with faster speeds and lower latency in the near future.
How we got our results
Our data comes from speed tests taken on HighSpeedInternet.com. We examined results from more than one million US speed tests to find the fastest and slowest average rural internet speeds.
We defined a “rural” city as a community with a population of less than 10,000 people that is geographically removed from an urban city, which we qualified as meaning it’s at least an hour drive away from the nearest major city. We also filtered out locations with fewer than 50 speed test results to ensure accurate representation of the city’s average speed. In all, we ranked and researched nearly 600 rural cities in the US.
Because the rural cities are ranked by average speed, it is entirely possible to find much faster- or slower-than-average internet speeds in any given area. These numbers do not represent actual internet speeds but are a reflection of the average tested internet connection in an area.
- Haag, Matthew, New York Times, Manhattan Vacancy Rate Climbs, and Rents Drop 10%, August 18, 2020. Accessed September 8, 2020.
- Parker, Will, New York Times, Once Booming San Francisco Apartment Market Goes in Reverse, June 2020, Accessed September 8, 2020.
- Wong, May, Stanford News, “Stanford research provides a snapshot of a new working-from-home economy,” June 2020. Accessed September 15, 2020
- Federal Communications Commission, “Broadband Speed Guide,” February 2020. Accessed September 15, 2020.
- Federal Communications Commission, “2020 Broadband Deployment Report,” April 2020. Accessed September 15, 2020.
- National Education Administration, “COVID-19 exposes homework gap and digital divide,” April 2020. Accessed September 10, 2020.
- USDA, “Rural Education At A Glance,” April 2017. Accessed September 11, 2020.