Alas, if only rural internet options were as beautiful and endless as rural America itself. If you can't bear to part with the country but don't want to release Netflix, no worries—rural internet isn't half bad. Here are the best rural internet options that will keep you connected to that sweet rural Wi-Fi—no matter where you are.
Best Rural Internet Options in 2022
Data as of 12/21/20. *Promotional price is for the first 3 months. Regular internet rate applies after 3 months. **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). *** Price is with paperless billing and auto pay discount applied. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
Our pick: Which rural internet provider is best?
We’ve picked HughesNet as your best rural internet provider option because it delivers broadband speeds at better prices, with higher availability, and with better data carryover than other options. Those are all a big deal in the rural internet community.
HughesNet is also our pick for the best satellite internet provider. It’s one of the cheapest rural internet options, and though it offers only 25 Mbps in speeds, it’s a trusted rural internet option that’s available nationwide. In fact, it’s available in all 50 states and US territories, so you can get access no matter how far off the grid you live.
But if you need faster speeds than HughesNet, check out our other suggested rural internet options like CenturyLink DSL or fixed-wireless internet providers (both types available in only select locations).
The 5 best rural internet providers
|$54.99–$149.99/mo.†||Up to 25 Mbps||Up to 75 GB||Nationwide||View Plans|
|$50.00/mo.*||Up to 100 Mbps||Unlimited||36 states||View Plans|
|$40.00–$60.00/mo.**||25–50 Mbps||Unlimited||48 states||View Plans|
|$129.00–$149.00/mo||2–150 Mbps||Unlimited||50 states||View Plans|
|$35.00–$65.00/mo.||25–50 Mbps||250 GB–Unlimited||16 states||View Plans|
Data as of 12/21/2021. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. †$10 off for 6 months. 24 mo. commitment required. Pricing not available in all areas. Offer valid 6/31/22-8/31/22 *Rate requires paperless billing and excludes taxes. Additional fees apply. Speeds may not be available in your area. **Price for Verizon home internet plan is $40/mo. with a mobile phone plan or $60/mo. without other Verizon services.
What should you look for in a rural internet provider?
But let’s keep it real. If you’re a rural resident, we don’t need to tell you that rural internet options are disappointing compared to what you can get in more crowded areas, so it’s important to start your search with the right expectations. With rural internet, just know upfront that you’ll be paying more each month for less speed and less data than you would in the city. This can be particularly frustrating if you're looking for Los Angeles County internet and have few options when there's a bustling metropolis with infinite internet options just miles away.
That said, it truly is amazing just how far rural internet coverage can go—especially with nationwide providers like HughesNet and Viasat. And finding the best rural internet provider for you can make your life possible, whether you want to work remotely from your farm in Montana or travel the country in your RV for the summer.
Once you know which rural providers are available, the next step is finding a plan that’s the right balance of speed, data, and price. You don’t want to pay for more speed or data than you need to if monthly cost is an important factor for you.
Best overall: HughesNet
Data as of 8/4/22. *$10 off for 6 months. 24 mo. commitment required. Pricing not available in all areas. Offer valid 6/31/22-8/31/22
We recommend HughesNet because it has better prices and lets you rollover purchased data, unlike its satellite competitor, Viasat. Even if it's not super fast, HughesNet's 25 Mbps is plenty to search the web, pay bills or shop online, and even stream TV.
Both HughesNet and Viasat limit your data usage based on the plan you pay for, but neither cuts you off once you exceed your data allotment for the month. That’s the “unlimited” satellite internet each brand advertises, but it’s not truly unlimited, either. After you use up all your full-speed data, your speeds slow to 1 to 3 Mbps.
So, yeah, the data situation isn’t ideal with satellite internet. But HughesNet’s biggest advantage is its availability. It’s often the only available internet connection in rural communities as an alternative to cable and DSL phone lines.
All HughesNet internet plans chug along at a minimum of 25 Mbps. That’s not super fast, but its plans are a better value than Viasat’s cheapest plans, which start at 12 Mbps, and it’s significantly cheaper than Viasat’s most expensive plans and their ensuing price hikes, which can get your monthly cost up to $299.99 a month. HughesNet prices stay the same for 24 months.
So as long as you have a plan with enough data for your needs, HughesNet internet speeds should support most online activities—barring multiplayer online gaming, 4K TV streaming, or tons of teleconferencing. Satellite internet generally has a hard time with these internet-heavy activities, especially with its higher latency and when weather interferes with the satellite connection.
Starlink is the only satellite internet provider with totally unlimited data. But Starlink availability is highly limited. Starlink currently offers speeds of 50–500 Mbps through its Starlink Internet and Starlink Business plans. Once Starlink’s satellite constellation is fully built out, Starlink speeds could continue to increase. Read our Starlink review to decide if it’s right for you.
In the next few years, HughesNet and Viasat will both be launching new satellite systems that will deliver increased internet speeds, reduced latency, and more data to their customers, making them possibly even better alternatives than Starlink despite Elon Musk’s best efforts.
Read our full report on the 10 Fastest and Slowest Rural Cities for Internet.
Best rural DSL internet: CenturyLink
CenturyLink is your best bet for DSL internet in a rural area, mostly due to its contract-free plans and unlimited data caps. You won’t have to pay early termination fees (ETFs) if you choose to switch providers at any point during your subscription.
Plus, its lack of data caps means you can skip out on overage charges at the end of the month—regardless of how much data you use. This is good news for streamers and online gamers.
DSL is an older internet technology that relies on telephone lines. So, if you live in a remote rural area where there’s no infrastructure, CenturyLink is likely not on the table for you. DSL usually tops out at 100 Mbps, which is the fastest speed you can expect from a CenturyLink DSL plan. This is enough speed for one person to do most things they want to do online easily, but things could get sluggish if multiple people are sharing the connection—especially if you experience a slowdown, which is common with DSL.
That said, for how much speed and data you get for $50 per month, CenturyLink is much cheaper than even HughesNet and other rural internet providers. If you live in a rural area and CenturyLink is available, we recommend you go with that over satellite providers to get the most for your money.
If you’re browsing CenturyLink’s site and stumble upon its 940 Mbps plan, don’t be shocked.
By augmenting the DSL line with a fiber connection, many ISPs—CenturyLink included—can offer gigabit speeds. Don’t get your hopes up just yet though. If you live in a rural area, it’s quite likely you won’t get these fiber-based speeds. Bummer, we know. Still, it’s always worth checking.
Best 4G LTE internet
We chose Verizon as our top pick for home internet from a mobile carrier, mainly due to its high marks for coverage from OpenSignal and RootMetrics. For folks who live away from cable and fiber infrastructure but within cell phone coverage areas, 4G LTE internet from Verizon is an excellent option. It gives you average download speeds of 25 to 50 Mbps and that blessed unlimited data.
But where things really start to get good is if you already have Verizon cell service. If you add Verizon 4G LTE Home Internet to a qualifying mobile phone plan, it’s just $40 per month (with paperless billing, autopay, and not including taxes and fees). If you get Verizon Home Internet without bundling it with a cell phone plan, it’s $60 per month. Just a heads up though: you’ll need to buy Verizon’s $240 modem/router up front. Also, even though the service is provided through mobile data, Verizon LTE Home Internet service is tied to your location, so it isn’t portable.
Best for RV internet: Nomad Internet
Nomad Internet is another LTE internet option that you can take with you on trips in RVs. Nomad Internet is available nationwide, so you’ll get coverage all the way from Florida to California. However, your speeds will increase or decrease depending on your proximity to the nearest cell tower.
Nomad Internet operates on AT&T and T-Mobile towers. MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) LTE home internet plans cost more than getting a home internet plan directly from T-Mobile or Verizon. But the benefit of providers like Nomad is that they’re available almost everywhere, are fully portable, and you can take them with you anywhere there’s cell service. You can also get one of these plans and use it as an unlimited mobile hotspot.
Nomad Internet also offers two different types of equipment: there’s a stationary router that requires being plugged into your power supply and there’s a portable router that has a 4–5 hour battery life. So you’re covered with internet service whether you want to stick around the RV or venture out to blog from the beach.
Many internet providers offer you monthly discounts if you sign up for paperless billing and autopay. Usually it’s to the tune of $5–$10 per month, which adds up fast.
Best fixed wireless rural internet: Rise Broadband
*Speeds and prices may vary and are subject to change. Prices are with a 12-mo. agreement, plus taxes & equip fees
Rise Broadband offers speeds up to 50 Mbps. That’s not bad, considering we’ve seen DSL speeds of about 2 Mbps while visiting family in rural Wisconsin.
Fixed wireless internet service is slowly replacing DSL in rural America, which is a good thing. It’s more widely available, doesn’t require a phone line, and offers faster speeds than DSL in many cases.
If this is the first time you’re hearing about fixed wireless, you should know that it functions differently than a hotspot or satellite internet. But it’s still just as viable of an option for rural America. In a nutshell, fixed wireless providers beam your internet connection from a fixed location to an antenna installed on your roof. This signal then goes to your router, which broadcasts a home Wi-Fi network. It’s a cheaper way to bring faster internet speeds to rural areas rather than waiting on big ISPs to install expensive and labor-intensive underground cabling.
One downside to Rise Broadband and fixed wireless in general is that some plans have data caps, depending on your plan and how much you’re willing to pay. Most fixed wireless data caps are not as low or limiting as satellite internet’s data caps that start at 10 GB per month, but several fixed wireless providers do charge you extra if you hit your max, rather than just slowing you down like satellite internet does.
Our verdict: Go with HughesNet unless CenturyLink is available.
We recommend HughesNet as the best internet option for the most rural residents. Its nationwide (and even overseas) availability combined with its excellent prices make it a great solution for anyone living in a rural community, from the local bar owner to your online learner.
That said, satellite internet is inherently expensive and offers less data for the price. So if you’re someone who needs data more than speed and doesn’t want to fork out more than $50 a month for internet service, go with CenturyLink DSL. It’s often the only landline internet option available for rural residents—if it’s available at all.
Of course, your best bet is to check all your internet options where you live first and then make your final decision from there.
FAQ about the best rural internet options
What is the fastest internet for rural areas?
The fastest internet for rural areas is Starlink or Viasat, although Viasat's rural internet speeds are more dependable and far more expensive. Starlink advertises internet speeds up to 500 Mbps while Viasat advertises 100 Mbps speeds.
Why aren’t there more rural internet options?
There aren’t many rural internet options because internet infrastructure is expensive to build in rural areas. The best internet options are usually based on fiber or cable, and it takes a significant investment from internet companies to lay down the necessary infrastructure for these internet types. Usually that investment is worthwhile only if the new infrastructure can reach a lot of people in a small area, which is difficult to achieve in rural areas.
That said, unlimited internet service in rural areas has become a goal for the FCC and many politicians, who have passed the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund and proposed additional measures to expand rural internet options with unlimited data.
What is the best internet service for rural areas?
The best internet service for rural areas is satellite internet from HughesNet or Viasat, but we’d recommend HughesNet for its better prices and lack of prices. Plus, if you need to purchase more data, HughesNet lets you roll it over for as long as it lasts, unlike Viasat.
Other good rural internet options include 4G LTE home internet, DSL, and fixed wireless. Although satellite internet is often the best option, we recommend checking all your options first before signing up just in case a landline provider like CenturyLink or Xfinity happens to be available in your area.
What alternatives to satellite internet are there?
The best alternative to satellite internet is 5G/4G LTE home internet service from Verizon or T-Mobile or fixed wireless service from Rise Broadband. DSL internet is also a cheaper alternative to satellite internet. But if you live in a remote area, satellite internet might be your only (and best) option.
Should I get fixed wireless internet service?
You should get fixed wireless internet service if it’s available in your area and if you want a cheaper alternative to satellite internet. Often the prices are quite affordable in comparison to other types of rural internet service, and as long as you don’t need download speeds faster than 50 Mbps, you’re good to go on speed too.
Do Viasat or HughesNet offer unlimited satellite internet?
Yes, technically HughesNet and Viasat both offer unlimited satellite internet plans, but your speeds will be significantly slowed once you hit your data allotment. So far, Starlink is the only satellite provider promising truly unlimited data, but its availability is still limited.