If your home isn’t connected to cable, phone, or even electricity, it doesn’t mean you have to stay disconnected from the outside world. As long as you have a source of power, you can get one of these off-grid internet options: fixed wireless, satellite internet, or cellular data plans.
Best Off- Grid Internet Options of 2023
Data effective 5/7/2021. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. *Plus taxes and fees. With Auto Pay.
Fixed wireless internet providers
In many off-grid homes, RVs, tiny houses, and cabins, cellular service is available, which makes it likely you can get fixed wireless internet. Fixed wireless uses cellular data to deliver internet with decent speeds and for cheaper prices than you can get typically from satellite internet, so it's a great option if you live in a fixed wireless service area.
That said, fixed wireless also comes with some minor latency issues like satellite internet, and exactly what kind of speeds you get will depend on whether you can get 5G home internet or 4G LTE home internet.
Fixed wireless: 5G home internet
*w/ Auto Pay. Available in select areas.
**w/ Auto Pay. Regulatory fees included in monthly price for qualified accounts. See full terms.
5G home internet is the fastest kind of fixed wireless internet, but it's also available in the fewest amount of places. Your best 5G home internet options, and your cheapest ones too, come from Verizon or T-Mobile. If you can get them, these plans are a bargain compared to other rural internet options with great prices, unlimited data, and decent to fast speeds. Check if they're in your area using our zip check below.
These two providers offer the fastest fixed wireless speeds in the US, thanks to their 5G infrastructure and plans. Download speeds can be anywhere from 50Mbps to 1,000Mbps, although your actual speeds depend on whether you can get their 5G plans, network congestion, and how close you are to a cell phone tower.
Verizon and T-Mobile both also offer LTE and 4G home internet plans if you're interested, but we say that if the 5G is available near you, spring for it. 5G home internet is cheaper than satellite internet and faster than 4G home internet providers, so it's a great deal all around, even if it's not nearly as available as other LTE home internet providers, like those below.
Fixed wireless: LTE home internet
Fixed-wireless providers outside of T-Mobile and Verizon tend to be small and local (though AT&T is an exception to that), and they often deliver internet in areas without decent cellular coverage. There are over 1,500 fixed-wireless networks in the US. You can read more about fixed-wireless internet in our in-depth review.
For now, here's a look at some of our fav LTE home internet providers. Their speeds aren't as fast, but you might find them available to your off-grid location where T-Mobile and Verizon's faster speeds are not.
* Data effective 4/25/2023 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.
Fixed wireless providers like AT&T and Rise Broadband take cell phone data, turn it into a radio signal, and broadcast it into rural areas with antennas, so you don’t need to have cable or phone lines running out to your property. For that reason, fixed wireless can be an especially great option for sparsely populated towns, farms, and wide-open spaces where there’s a straight shot to the nearest cell phone tower.
LTE home internet from fixed wireless providers definitely offer slower speeds than those you'd experience from T-Mobile and Verizon's 5G internet, capping out around 50Mbps. But you'll also find LTE and 4G LTE home internet available in more places, so you're more likely to have it available off grid. Part of this is because LTE home internet has a longer range, so it can cover more area from its cell towers than 5G can.
MVNO LTE home internet plans
• AT&T, T-Mobile, or Verizon network
• AT&T or T-Mobile network
• Mobile phone bundling options
• Data: 350 GB–750
• AT&T network
• Unlimited data
Data as of 5/7/2021. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. See full disclaimer.
*Plus $249 One-Time Membership Fee.
†Plus 434.98 to $469.98 Start Package (includes first month of service).
‡Plus $149.00 One-Time Membership Fee.
§Plus $314.99 in start up costs for purchasing the MoFi SIM4 4G LTE Gateway modem/router.
If you have an RV, a summer cabin, or a winter home away from the snow, you will benefit from getting a portable LTE home internet plan from an MVNO. Unlike fixed wireless providers (which, like the term suggests, are stationary), they plans give you the option to take your internet service with you on the road. They also offer service in any location with mobile phone service.
MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) don’t own their own cell phone towers and networks. They buy data from one of the major network providers (T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T). The advantage MVNO plans offer is that MVNO plans are often portable. You can take MVNO plans with you on vacation or while working on the road. Home LTE plans from Verizon and T-Mobile, on the other hand, are tied to your home or business address and can’t be moved without an official service transfer--or risking being booted from the service altogether.
All of these plans are available nationwide in most areas with cellular service. When you sign up, some of these providers allow you to choose which network you want your service through (AT&T, Verizon, or T-Mobile), while others work on just one network.
When choosing a 4G LTE provider, you’ll want to choose the one with the strongest network network in your area.
Use the Opensignal app to find out which mobile carrier has the best service and fastest speeds in your area. It will show you where the closest cell phone tower is and the download and upload speeds with each provider. Use this information to decide which network you want to get service with.
In any area, Opensignal shows you the network strength for the three main carriers: T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T. In some places, it still lists the Sprint network (even though Sprint is technically part of T-Mobile now).
If you are interested in 4G LTE internet service with a MVNO (a mobile virtual network operator) like Unlimitedville, you’ll want to choose a plan that offers the best service in your area. Some 4G LTE providers limit you to a single network and some allow you to choose which network you’d like when you sign up. Most don’t allow any sort of “roaming” on another network.
Satellite internet service for off-grid internet needs
Best satellite internet service plans
Data as of 5/7/2021. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
*$150/mo. after 3 months.
†$200/mo. after 3 months.
In rural areas without mobile phone service, satellite internet is the best option. Providers like Viasat, HughesNet, or Starlink can give you steady internet service even if your residence is off the grid, remote, or unserved by utility companies. You don’t need to have cell phone service in your area to get satellite internet service. You just need a clear view of the southern sky.
Satellite internet service is available from Viasat and HughesNet almost anywhere in the US (with the exception of Hawaii and most of Alaska). Starlink has a more limited coverage area than HughesNet or Viasat but offers faster speeds and unlimited data. If you have Starlink (from SpaceX), expect periodic outages that could occur several times an hour for the next year or so. Once the Starlink constellation is fully built out, there won’t be interruptions in service.
For more information on selecting the best satellite service, check out our comparison review on Viasat vs. HughesNet.
Best for boats: Maritime satellite communications
And, finally, for the seafaring crowd, we recommend satellite internet or a satellite phone system with basic data capabilities.
|Best in class satellite system||Sea Tel SAILOR 900 VSAT System|
• Global service
• iDirect data network (Ku band)
• Download speeds up to 768 Kbps
• Expensive equipment & data
Data: $249/3 GB & up
|Top satellite phone option||KVH’s TracPhone HTS|
• Global VOIP and data service
• VSAT data network
• Speeds up to 5 Mbps download/2 Mbps upload
• Expensive equipment & data
|Equipment: $16,999 & up
Data: $300/GB & up
|Best satellite hotspot||Iridium Go! Satellite Wi-Fi Hotspot|
• Global service
• GPS, tracking, and SOS
• Slow speeds (2.5 Kbps)
• Expensive data
• Voice and SMS text only
Data: $653/12-month/300 min. prepaid card
|Learn more||Buy prepaid data card|
|Best budget satellite phone||Garmin inReach Explorer+|
• Global service
• Weather, mapping, SOS, and navigation
• Very slow speeds
• Voice and text only
*Data as of 5/7/2021. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. See full disclaimer
These internet solutions for boating require a device purchase and an active data plan. For instance, with the Garmin inReach Explorer+Satellite Communicator, you’ll need a satellite subscription from Iridium. You can buy a monthly data plan or get a prepaid Iridium satellite SIM card and pay as you go.
The best in class satellite system for boats is the Sea Tel SAILOR 900 VSAT System, which works from almost anywhere in the world (barring the polar regions). It’s priced at about $35,000 for the satellite equipment setup.
Our top budget pick for deep ocean cruising is the Garmin inReach Explorer+Satellite Communicator. With this maritime satellite communicator, you can send text messages, make voice calls, and access GPS and navigation systems from almost anywhere on the planet. It’s a far cry from a land-based Wi-Fi setup that lets you stream Netflix at sea, but you aren’t sailing the Mediterranean for the internet, right? The Garmin inReach Explorer+ keeps you connected anywhere in the world with Iridium satellite service (satellite subscription required).
For more tips on getting connected while out on the open water, check out our picks for the best internet for boats.
Yes, cellular data will work on many boating excursions, and it's a whole lot cheaper than satellite data. After all, not every boating excursion crosses through deep ocean waters, right? For boaters who stay closer to shore or go cruising in lakes and rivers, skip satellite and pick cellular data for the cheapest way to stay connected.
If you stay within a mile or two of the shoreline, a mobile hotspot device and a data plan will keep you connected on weekend excursions or month-long voyages. AT&T’s NETGEAR Nighthawk M1 Mobile Hotspot is a solid choice for hotspotting. Pair it with AT&T’s prepaid 100 GB data plan (an affordable $55 per month—contract free), and you’ve got an affordable solution for most boaters.
4G vs. 5G: Get great internet off grid
As your can tell by our chocie of T-Mobile 5G home internet, we're a fan of 4G and especially 5G internet providers. But you may have access to only one or the other if you're looking for internet off grid, so here's a run down to help you understand what 4G vs 5G internet looks like.
What is 4G?
4G stands for "fourth generation" and refers to wireless technology. It's also often referred to as LTE or 4G LTE, which stands for Long-Term Evolution. Basically, it's a subtype of 4G tech that powers cell phones. Fortunately, now, however, 4G LTE can also be used as a home internet options by using the data sent over cell towers. This makes it available in more places than typical land-based rural internet options.
4G home internet can’t quite keep up with cable and fiber speeds for home internet, so it‘s primarily used in areas that can’t get other types of service. But 5G home internet? It's so much faster that some people use it even in big cities.
What does 5g mean?
5G is the fifth generation of wireless technology, and unlike 4G, it can actually rival cable and fiber speeds. As a bonus, 5G home internet plans, like 4G internet options, still have the same very low prices, plus bundling options with T-Mobile and Verizon that make it even cheaper. Low prices and fast speeds don't usually go together in hard-to-reach and off-grid areas, so if it's available in your area, snap it up.
Check out our 4G vs. 5G internet comparison for more details.
FAQ about off-grid internet
Can you get internet off the grid?
Yes, you can generally get internet off the grid as long as you have a source of power (solar, wind, or standard power service with a utility company). Satellite internet is available almost everywhere in the US, and LTE home internet (delivered with cellular data) has an expanding footprint. In addition, fixed-wireless providers help fill in coverage gaps and are a boon to people living in rural areas.
How can I get off-grid Wi-Fi in my tiny house?
If your tiny house is in the city, you’ll have more internet options than if your property is in a rural off-grid location. City dwellers can get 5G service or cable, as long as your tiny house has cable wired to it. If you’re in a rural area, you won’t have cable internet and might not even have landline phone service. You can get satellite internet almost everywhere, although it requires a 1–2 year contract. LTE home internet service is more flexible than satellite. It’s usually contract free and is available in most locations where you can get a mobile phone signal.
Are there off-grid internet solutions for boats?
Yes, there are many off-grid internet solutions available for boaters. The cheapest way to get service on a boat is with cellular data by using a hotspot or LTE home internet plan—although this won’t work if you venture more than 10 miles from the shoreline. Satellite internet and phone are the only options if you’re traveling far from the shoreline or through international waters. For more tips on getting off-grid Wi-Fi on the water, check out our best internet options for boats.
Which mobile carrier has the best service in my area?
If you’re going to rely on cellular data—either for phone service or for a LTE home internet connection—you’ll discover that signal strength varies widely based on your exact location. In general, Verizon has the widest coverage but the reality is that in some areas AT&T or T-Mobile will outperform Verizon. You can study coverage maps, but the easiest way to find out which carrier has the best service is to use an app like Opensignal.
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