Unlimited Internet for Rural Areas

Unlimited high-speed internet isn’t just for city slickers.
Best Unlimited Satellite Internet in Rural Areas
Viasat
Viasat
Price:
$99.99/mo.
Speeds:
25–150Mbps
Data caps:
Unlimited
Best Unlimited 5G Home Internet in Rural Areas
T-Mobile 5G Home Internet
T-Mobile 5G Home Internet
Price:
$40.00—$50.00/mo.*
Speeds:
72–245Mbps
Data caps:
Unlimited
Best Unlimited Cable Internet in Rural Areas
Spectrum
Spectrum
Price:
$29.99–$89.99/mo.
Speeds:
Up to 1,000Mbps
Data caps:
Unlimited
Best Unlimited DSL Internet in Rural Areas
Earthlink
EarthLink
Price:
Starting at $69.95/mo.
Speeds:
Up to 45Mbps
Data caps:
Unlimited
Check Availability
filled red circle with the letter i cut out of the middle filled green circle with a check mark cut out in the middle

*w/ Auto Pay and qualifying mobile plan


Easton Smith
Jan 04, 2024
Icon Time To Read7 min read

How to get rural internet without data caps

The internet is faster and more reliable than ever. But if you live in a rural area, your options may be more limited, especially if you want a service without a pesky data cap. But there are internet service providers (ISPs) out there that won’t limit or throttle your internet use.

We think Viasat, T-Mobile 5G Home Internet, Spectrum, and EarthLink are the best options for folks who live out in the sticks but still want unlimited high-speed internet. We’ll go over everything you need to know about these ISPs and their competitors, including prices, speeds, data caps, and installation.

We’ll also talk more in depth about data caps and how to evaluate your internet data needs.

Which is the best internet for rural areas?

There are several different types of internet service that are common in rural areas: Satellite internet, fixed wireless internet, DSL internet, and cable internet. Unfortunately, the fastest and most reliable kind of residential internet—called fiber—is virtually non-existent in rural areas.

How do you know which kind of rural internet is best for you? It really depends on your lifestyle and your specific location. Generally speaking, wired internet—like cable internet—is faster than wireless options, like fixed 5G and satellite. But if you’re living off-grid or in a mobile home, you obviously need something that doesn’t require being connected to a wired network.

What about wireless hotspots?
Bullhorn

While wireless hotspots are not usually the best option for home internet, they can be great for those who are always on the go. You can learn more about this option in our review of the best wireless hotspots.

One of the best places to start is to put your zip code into this internet plan finding tool. It will show you all of the options available in your area. You can narrow down the perfect plan from there.

Enter your zip code to find all the best internet providers near you.

Unlimited satellite internet

Satellite internet is one of the best internet options for those who live out in the sticks. It’s available in nearly every square inch of the United States and can usually give you enough speed for streaming, working from home, and even some light online gaming.

One thing about satellite internet is that there are always some limits on the amount of high-speed data. While many plans have unlimited standard data, that data is much slower than the high-speed data most people want. If you pay extra you can get a higher data cap, but there’s no way to get truly unlimited, high-speed data, like you can get with wired internet plans. 

Satellite internet also often requires specialized equipment and a more rigorous installation process. That said, for many people it’s the best option for technically unlimited internet in rural areas.

Best satellite internet options for unlimited rural internet

Provider
Price
Data cap
Installation
Download speeds
Get it
Viasat$99.99/mo.Unlimited$0—$30025–150Mbps
Hughesnet$74.99–$119.99/mo.100–200GB/mo.Free50–100Mbps
Starlink$110.00–$500.00/mo.Variable $599.00–$2,500.0050–500Mbps

Viasat

Viasat is our favorite satellite internet company for those who want a lot of high-speed data without throttling. It’s a reliable and affordable service provider that provides unlimited data.

It has a single plan, that features no contract.

Hughesnet

Hughesnet is another very popular satellite internet company that services almost every part of the United States. It’s the cheapest of the satellite internet providers, but it’s also the slowest. That makes it a great option for those who just need reasonable speeds for streaming Netflix.

Hughesnet doesn’t give you unlimited high speed data. You can get anywhere from 100 to 200 GB of unthrottled data, depending on the plan.

Starlink

Of all the satellite internet providers, Starlink has the loosest data caps. While Starlink customers will usually get some form of unlimited data, that data is broken down into different priority categories. This means your speeds may be slower in certain situations—or if you use too much of it. Starlink also doesn’t disclose exactly how much data is too much for its standard plans.

Many customers prefer the straightforward data caps set by Viasat and Hughesnet, but for others, Starlink’s fast speeds and low latency make it worth the confusion.

Fixed wireless internet

Fixed wireless internet uses cell phone towers or other fixed signal arrays to deliver residential internet without any wires. It’s a great option for those who want an affordable, no-fuss internet option. Plus, fixed wireless is available in many rural areas and usually doesn’t have data caps.

Best fixed wireless internet options for unlimited rural internet

Provider
Price
Data cap
Installation
Download speeds
Get it
T-Mobile 5G Home Internet $40.00—$50.00/mo.*Unlimited dataFree72–245Mbps
Rise Broadband$59.95/mo.Unlimited data$149Up to 500Mbps
Verizon 4G Home Internet $25.00–$70.00/mo.Unlimited dataFree25–1,000Mbps

*w/ Auto Pay and qualifying mobile plan

T-Mobile 5G Home Internet

T-Mobile 5G Home Internet is a huge name in the fixed wireless game. It’s available all over the country, making it the perfect alternative for small families and couples who need an affordable, mid-range internet plan that’s easy to install.

T-Mobile has just one plan that costs $50 a month. It doesn’t require a contract and it has truly unlimited data.

Rise Broadband

Rise Broadband is a smaller fixed wireless provider that’s only available in parts of the Midwest and Mountain West states. Where it’s available, the ISP offers some impressive speeds at a reasonable price. In some areas.

Rise does require a hefty installation fee and isn’t as easy to sign up for as T-Mobile, but it gives you truly unlimited data.

Verizon 4G Home Internet

Like T-Mobile, Verizon leverages its large mobile network to provide home internet service. In certain cities, it offers fast 5G internet at a great price. In rural areas, its service is more limited, offering slower speeds.

That said, it’s a good option for those who don’t need superfast internet and want truly unlimited data.

Cable internet

If you can get cable internet in your rural community, it’s probably your best option for unlimited high-speed internet.

Cable internet offers incredible download speeds, simple installation, secure connection, and most plans don’t require a contract or a data cap.

Best cable internet internet options for unlimited rural internet

Provider
Price
Data cap
Installation
Download speeds
Spectrum$29.99–$89.99/mo.Unlimited data$65.00Up to 1,000Mbps
Xfinity$20.00–$80.00/mo.*1.2 TB$89.99150–1,200Mbps
Frontier$49.99–$129.99/mo.Unlimited dataFreeUp to 5Gbps

*Promotional price expires 5/1/2024. Final price depends on location.

Spectrum

Of all the major cable internet providers, Spectrum has the widest rural footprint. That’s great news for country folk because Spectrum has cheap and speedy internet plans. You can easily get a plan to support a family of five or six heavy internet users for under $60 a month.

Plus, Spectrum has killer deals on bundle packages that combine cable TV, internet, and even mobile phone plans into one simple bill.

Xfinity

Comcast Xfinity also offers cable internet in many rural areas. It’s often among the fastest and more affordable, but the company does impose a 1.2 TB monthly data cap on its plans. That’s more data than many people will use in a whole year, but it might be a deal breaker for serious gamers or big families.

Frontier

As the name might suggest, Frontier Internet has decent coverage in rural areas. Where it’s available, you can get incredible download speeds with their cable (and in some places even fiber) internet service. The prices are fair and it doesn't have any data caps.

DSL internet

DSL internet is being slowly phased out all over the country because it uses an outdated and inefficient technology. But, in certain rural areas it’s still the best option for unlimited high-speed internet.

Best DSL internet internet options for unlimited rural internet

Provider
Price
Data cap
Installation
Download speeds
EarthlinkStarting at $69.95/mo.Unlimited data $79.95 Up to 45Mbps
CenturyLinkStarting at $55.00/mo.1 TB$15.00Up to 100Mbps
Kinetic by Windstream$50.00/mo. for 3 yearsUnlimited data$35.00Up to 50Mbps

EarthLink

EarthLink doesn’t operate its own internet infrastructure. Instead it offers plans with a variety of local partners. That means that it has wide availability, but it also means it can be pricier than working directly with an ISP.

One major plus of EarthLink plans is that they all come with unlimited data.

CenturyLink

You’ve probably worked with CenturyLink at some point in your life. It’s one of the largest internet providers in the country. In certain rural areas, it’s the best game in town. While CenturyLink’s prices and speeds are usually great, it does have a 1 TB data cap that may annoy big households and remote workers who use the internet heavily.

Kinetic by Windstream

Kinetic is a more niche DSL provider, but the company’s plans are affordable and cover some areas that don’t have other great options for high-speed internet.

Unlimited vs. “unlimited” internet

Many companies advertise unlimited data plans. But it’s important to look at the fine print because not all data is the same. Many unlimited plans give you only a certain amount of full-speed or premium data. After you hit the data cap, your speeds can be slowed down or throttled.

Premium data

Premium or full-speed data is data that your ISP doesn’t slow down or deprioritize. Some internet plans come with truly unlimited premium data, but many impose a data cap. Some companies that don’t officially cap premium data will still slow your data if you’re engaging in certain activities, like mining for cryptocurrency.

Standard data

After you hit your data cap on your internet plan, you’ll likely still get unlimited data. But it will be standard or deprioritized data. This data is often far too slow for activities like HD video streaming, online gaming, and Zooming into a work meeting.

How much data do I really need?

OpenVault’s “Broadband Insights Report” from the first quarter of 2023 found that the average household in the United States used 560.5 GB of internet data a month. So, if you consider yourself to be an average internet user, you probably want at least 500 GB of data.

That said, your data needs will really depend on the size of your household and what kind of activities you engage in online. Here’s a breakdown of some common online activities and how much data bandwidth they use.

Activity
Data use per hour
Streaming HD video2GB/hr.
Video call in SD340MB/hr.
Online gaming200MB/hr.
Using a smart home security camera2GB/hr.
Streaming audio60MB/hr.
Web browsing180MB/hr.

Certain activities, like Zooming into a conference call, can gobble up a lot of data in an hour. But you might be surprised at how little data you use when binging the new season of Love Is Blind on Netflix.

You can learn more about internet data usage in our comprehensive data guide.

Methodology

When we review internet providers, we use a variety of methods to obtain accurate, relevant, and up-to-date information, including first-hand testing, proprietary data, customer reviews, and publicly available data from providers and third parties.

Once we’ve analyzed each provider, we make our recommendations for different kinds of users based on a variety of criteria, including price, availability, reliability, speed, and data allowances. We hope we’ve helped you find the perfect plan.

Unlimited internet in rural areas FAQ

Can I use my mobile phone for rural home internet?

Yes, with many mobile plans and devices you can set up a mobile hotspot. If you have sufficient mobile signal, a hotspot can be a decent alternative connection, though it will usually be slower and have less data than a normal home internet service.

Easton Smith
Written by
Easton Smith