How to Get Internet Without Cable or a Phone Line


Dave Schafer
Jan 24, 2024
bullet8 min read

If you live in a rural area or plan to move to one, you may be concerned about getting the internet—but don’t fret too much. Even without cable or phone lines, there are plenty of internet options for rural areas, including satellite internet, 5G, and hotspot plans. You may even (technically) get fiber internet without cable or phone access.

Of course, sifting through all the options can be overwhelming. That’s where we come in. We’ll run through all your choices for wireless internet without cable or phone and make recommendations along the way. Let’s dive in.

Satellite internet

Satellite internet beams information to and from satellites orbiting Earth. An antenna dish at your home picks up the signal and sends it to a modem, which translates it into something your devices can understand (and often broadcasts it as a Wi-Fi network).

The biggest advantage of satellite internet is its nearly universal availability. Since signals come from space, they don’t require wires or other infrastructure—you can get it basically anywhere you have a clear view of the sky.

However, there are two main drawbacks with satellite internet. Firstly, it tends to be expensive. It’s common to pay over $100 per month for satellite internet. While there are relatively affordable plans, they tend to have slow speeds, low data caps, or both.

The second drawback is performance. Even the fastest satellite internet plans won’t hold a candle to cable or fiber speeds. Satellite internet also tends to suffer from higher latency due to the distance signals have to travel through the air). Some internet is obviously better than no internet, but if you’re a gamer, satellite might not be your best bet.

Provider
Price
Speed
Data
$69.99–$299.99/mo.Up to 150MbpsUp to 500GB high-speed, unlimited at reduced speeds
$49.99–$79.99/mo.Up to 100MbpsUnlimited standard data
$120.00–$5,000.00/mo.Up to 220MbpsUnlimited standard data

There are currently three major players in the satellite industry space that we recommend: Viasat, Hughesnet, and Starlink.

Viasat

Viasat is an excellent satellite internet provider with nearly nationwide coverage. Viasat tends to be more expensive than other providers (at least for home internet), but it offers (theoretically) faster speeds and more high-speed data.

Viasat plans range from $69.99–$299.99 per month, with speeds up to 150Mbps in some areas. The exact plans and speeds available do vary from location to location, however. We’ve found, based on millions speed test results, Viasat’s national average speed is about 23Mbps—faster than Hughesnet, but slower than Starlink.

Hughesnet

Hughesnet is the more affordable satellite internet option. However, that affordability comes at the cost of performance—it’s the slowest of the three with max speeds of 50Mbps and average speeds of 14Mbps, based on aggregated data.

Hughesnet plans range from $49.99–$79.99 per month, which makes it a solid option for users who need basic internet access and aren’t concerned about having the fastest speeds. If you just want to check email and the weather occasionally, you may not need the performance of something like Viasat. You can get a good enough plan and save some money with Hughesnet.

Starlink

Starlink sits in a weird spot in the satellite internet world right now. It’s the fastest of the three providers, often rivaling cable service in speed. And while it’s more expensive than Hughesnet, we think it’s a better deal than Viasat for equivalent speeds.

Starlink’s residential plan is $120.00 per month for speeds up to 100Mbps (48Mbps on average, based on our testing). It offers truly unlimited data, which is fantastic, and it also offers lower latency than other providers (although not by as much as you’d think).

However, there have been some availability issues that make it tough to recommend. Starlink is also associated with Elon Musk (it’s a SpaceX service), which may be more cause for concern than excitement for many these days.

Our recommendation

Satellite internet is a fantastic option if you have no other sources for internet in your area. Because of the wide availability, it’s available even in remote places.

We generally recommend Viasat for users who are more concerned about performance and Hughesnet for those that are more concerned about price. Starlink isn’t a bad option, but it sometimes feels more like a big experiment than a serious service, so we’d just caution you to know what you’re getting yourself into.

The exception here is if you need portable internet, such as for an RV or camper. Starlink Mobile, also known as Starlink Roam, is pretty unique in this regard and doesn’t currently have a major competitor.

5G home internet

You’ve probably heard of 5G internet in the context of cell phone service, where it’s been the big buzzword for the last several years. 5G builds on 4G LTE to bring faster internet to mobile devices. 5G home internet takes this same cellular connectivity and brings it to your home, using a wireless gateway that basically acts as a giant hotspot.

There are a couple advantages to 5G internet. First, it requires relatively little new infrastructure—just cell towers nearby—so it is often easy to get in rural areas. Second, performance can be quite good, with speeds over 200Mbps possible.

Finally, 5G home internet extremely affordable. Many plans fall in the $35.00–$50.00 per month range, and most carriers offer hefty discounts if you have qualifying cell service with them. That makes it a much better deal than satellite.

Provider
Price
Speed
Data
$40.00—$50.00/mo.*Up to 245MbpsUnlimited
$60.00–$80.00/mo.Up to 1,000MbpsUnlimited
$55.00/mo.Up to 140MbpsUnlimited

*w/Autopay and qualifying mobile plan.

T-Mobile Home Internet

T-Mobile Home Internet is our favorite 5G home internet service right now for several reasons. It’s priced at just $60.00 per month, and if you have a qualifying cell plan, that price drops to just $40.00 to $50.00 per month, which is, frankly, a steal. Plus, the performance is excellent, with real-world speeds up to 245Mbps (and unlimited data, so you can actually use those speeds).

Coverage is also fantastic. T-Mobile has one of the largest and most consistent 5G networks right now, which means you’re highly likely to have T-Mobile Home Internet available. It’s a lot easier to recommend a service when you know people can actually get it!

Verizon 5G home internet

Verizon’s 5G home internet service is similar to T-Mobile’s. The main difference here is that there are two plans to choose from: 5G Home offers excellent performance, while 5G Home Plus offers, well, excellent performance and 4K streaming. Prices are $60.00 per month for 5G Home and $80.00 per month for 5G Home Plus, or $35.00 and $45.00 with qualifying cell plans. Both offer unlimited data.

The more expensive plan does come with a few extra perks, such as a free Amazon Echo, Whole-Home Wi-Fi, and Verizon Cloud Unlimited. However, we wouldn’t say these are a reason to upgrade—just get the plan that matches your performance needs.

Speaking of, it’s worth noting that, although Verizon advertises speeds up to 1,000Mbps with 5G Home Plus, these are pretty theoretical. Some users in some areas might see that kind of performance, but general real-world speeds are pretty similar to T-Mobile (i.e., closer to 200Mbps).

AT&T Internet Air

Internet Air is AT&T’s take on 5G home internet. You get unlimited data for $55.00 per month, or $35.00 with a qualifying cell plan, and speeds are up to 140Mbps. That’s a bit slower than the competition, but still reasonable for the price.

Unfortunately, AT&T Internet Air is limited to just a few markets, which makes it difficult  to recommend. The company is adding new markets consistently, but AT&T seems reluctant to cut into its fiber markets, so availability may never reach the same levels as T-Mobile and Verizon.

Our recommendation

When it comes to 5G home internet, go with whichever provider you already use for cell service. There’s no tremendous difference between the three service providers, but you want to save money bundling with a qualifying cell plan.

If you don’t currently have a cell plan with any of the three providers, we think T-Mobile is the best of the bunch. It’s slightly more affordable, and its nationwide 5G network makes it likely you can keep the service if you ever need to move.

Fiber internet

Fiber—or fiber-optic internet—is one of the coolest types of internet on the market right now. It uses cables, but they’re not the typical coaxial cables you might think of. Instead, they’re made of long, thin strands of highly pure glass.

These glass cables transmit data in the form of pulses of light, and they’re capable of moving a lot of data quickly with minimal signal loss, which is why fiber internet has such high bandwidth and speed.

That’s the main advantage of fiber—it’s extremely fast and offers a lot of speed for your money. The only disadvantage is that fiber networks tend to be regional, so what’s available in one town—if anything—is likely to be different from what’s available in nearby towns. This is due to the amount of infrastructure needed—all those fiber optic cables have to come from somewhere.

Provider
Price
Speed
Data
$55.00–$250.00/mo.Up to 5,000MbpsUnlimited
$70.00–$150.00/mo.Up to 8,000MbpsUnlimited

AT&T Fiber

AT&T Fiber is one of the best fiber services available in the country. It offers excellent speeds (up to 5,000Mbps in some areas) and unlimited data, for a fantastic price. The 1,000Mbps plan is just $80.00 per month—to put that in perspective, you’re getting 10 times the speed of Starlink for two-thirds of the price. You can also drop the price another $20.00 per month if you have a qualifying AT&T cell plan.

AT&T also has excellent customer service, which is more than we can say about some providers. The author has used AT&T fiber for both work and home internet for years, and in the few instances where contacting customer support has been necessary, the experience has been fast and pleasant.

Google Fiber

Google Fiber is another favorite fiber internet provider. Google’s service offers speeds up to 8,000Mbps in select markets, although the 1 Gig and 2 Gig plans are more common. These are priced super competitively, too: $70.00 per month and $100.00 per month, respectively.

Google is also known for a great customer experience. The author has known Google Fiber users that were extremely impressed with the simplicity of the experience and how thoughtful the billing and other processes were.

Check out your local providers for the best chance of getting fiber

We’re big fans of both of these providers—you really can’t go wrong here. However, given how localized fiber is, you’ll really need to compare what’s in your area. Fortunately, our easy-to-use zip code tool can help you see all your internet options.

Hotspot data plans

A hotspot is a device that turns a mobile phone signal (think 4G LTE or 5G) into a Wi-Fi network that other devices can connect to. Many cell plans these days come with some hotspot data, and you can also purchase standalone hotspot data plans.

Hotspot data is not a great substitute for home internet, as these plans can get expensive. However, hotspotting is an excellent portable internet option, and you can also use it at home in a pinch.

Plan
Price
Speed
Data
Visible (phone plans)$25.00–$45.00/mo.Up to 5G speedsUnlimited (but capped at 5Mbps)
AT&T Prepaid 100 GB Data$55.00/mo.Up to 5G speeds100GB
T-Mobile Magenta MAX$85.00/mo.Up to 5G speedsUnlimited
Verizon Pro$60.00–$90.00/mo.Up to 5G speeds100GB

Our recommendation

The best hotspot plan really depends on how you intend to use it. For occasional use, such as backup internet or a travel option, we like T-Mobile’s hotspot plans for their low price. If you need unlimited hotspot data, however, we recommend Verizon—the provider has several plans that offer unlimited high-speed hotspot use.

Hotspot devices

With hotspots, you usually have two options: You can use your phone and its accompanying plan, or you can opt for a dedicated hotspot device (and plan). The former is convenient, but the latter is better if you intend to use the hotspot extensively or have multiple devices connected at once.

Device
Provider
Price
Ellipsis Jetpack MHS900LVerizon$79.99 or $3.33/mo.
Nighthawk LTE Mobile HotspotAT&T$249.99
Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot ProAT&T$699.99
Franklin T9 Mobile HotspotT-Mobile$90.00 or $3.75/mo.

Our recommendation

The best hotspots really depend on which provider you go with. You’ll want to narrow that down, then look at features like battery life and number of simultaneous connections compared to your budget to see which is right for you.

The verdict

If you need internet access but don’t have cable or a phone line, you might think you’re out of luck. Fortunately, that couldn’t be further from the truth—there are several great options for getting online without these types of infrastructure.

In general, we recommend going down the list of options in the following order:

  • If you have access to fiber, that is the way to go. It’s the fastest and also the best all-around value.
  • If fiber isn’t available, look for 5G home internet. It’s not as speedy, but it’s fast enough and one of the most economical internet types on the market right now.
  • If 5G home internet isn’t available, your next stop is satellite. It’s pricey and a bit slow, but you should be able to get it basically anywhere in the country.
  • Finally, if you need something portable, or a backup internet option for the home, go with a mobile hotspot.

Methodology

At SatelliteInternet.com, we base our analyses on thorough research, including customer interviews, first-hand testing, results from our speed test tool, and proprietary internet provider data on speeds and pricing. We also dive deep to get all the details on plans, fees, and future developments. We then bring this info together in one place so you can find it easily. Finally, we use our satellite internet industry expertise to help you make the best decisions you can for your household. As always, thanks for reading!

How to get internet without cable or a phone line FAQ

Can I get internet without cable or phone lines?

Yes, absolutely. There are a ton of options for internet access that don’t require cable or phone lines. Some of the best options include satellite internet, 5G home internet, and cellular hotspots.

How can you get home internet in a rural area?

Many rural areas will have some cable access. However, if yours doesn’t, you can go with satellite internet or 5G home internet, both of which have much lower infrastructure requirements. In other words, you can get them in places where you can’t get other types of service. This is especially true of satellite.

Do I need a landline phone to get internet in the country?

No, not at all. In fact, internet based on phone lines (dial-up or DSL) is outdated and slow—you probably wouldn’t want it anyway. Satellite internet or 5G home internet make much better options these days. Satellite, in particular, is available nearly anywhere in the country.

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 HighSpeedInternet.com get the most out of their services. No matter the project, he prefers his coffee black (the stronger, the better).