The 5 Best Rural Internet Services

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The 5 Best Rural Internet Services

Key Points

  • 22.3% of people in rural areas lack internet, and 27.7% of people in Tribal lands lack basic broadband coverage.
  • CenturyLink, Kinetic by Windstream, Mediacom, Rise Broadband, and Ziply Fiber are the top rural internet service providers in the US.
  • CenturyLink offers speeds up to 940Mbps, making it a top choice for rural areas.
  • Kinetic by Windstream provides DSL and fiber access with no data caps on any plans.
  • Mediacom offers cable internet with data caps but has solid service speeds up to 2Gbps, Rise Broadband offers wireless service with speeds up to 250Mbps and no data caps, and Ziply Fiber provides fiber service with plans ranging from 100Mbps to 2Gbps.

Living away from civilization has its appeal, but what are the best rural internet services? Anyone who has lived outside of the city understands that life in a rural area comes with some drawbacks. Sure, your neighbors could be miles away and you get peace and quiet.

However, you may find where you live doesn’t have the sort of internet access you want for just the day-to-day activities of modern living. Despite being away from the city, most of modern life is still connected online.

While the United States isn’t top in the world for providing basic broadband access to the entire population, there are options. Detailed below are five of the best rural internet service providers in the entire country. If you’ve been looking to get connected, it could be a great place to start.

Rural Internet Overview

The US Department of Agriculture reports that 22.3% of people in rural areas lack internet. A further 27.7% of people in Tribal lands lack basic broadband coverage. Why is this the case?

When you’re looking at what it takes to develop infrastructure for internet service, there is a massive expense that goes into just things like cabling. Further, residents in rural areas aren’t as tightly packed as you might find in a more urban setting.

Tourist towns and the like usually have enough population density. This can warrant laying down cabling and providing service from the major ISPs. Rural areas provide more of a challenge as it stands. Now, that isn’t to say that rural areas are without internet access.

In the worst-case scenarios, options like fixed wireless access or satellite internet provide basic coverage. It won’t be ideal for things like streaming, gaming, or any other data-intensive activities. If you’re just looking for basic web browsing, email, and other tasks, it can serve you quite well.

The 5 Best Rural Internet Service Providers

best rural internet
Just because you’re in a rural area doesn’t mean you’re without internet coverage.


There are multiple rural internet service providers to choose from. However, you may find your area is only serviced by one of these ISPs. Thankfully, even the baseline service from these providers is equivalent to the baseline service you’ll find in an urban area.

Other options do exist, which will also get covered. As it stands, these are the five best providers in the entire nation for rural internet service.


CenturyLink provides services to rural and urban areas. You’ll find options like broadband internet access, TV, and phone plans readily available depending on where you live.

Base-level internet service from CenturyLink ranks at 100Mbps, more than adequate for online shopping and streaming your favorite songs. In some areas, you’ll find it goes up to 940Mbps, or nearing fiber speeds.

This is a great option for using online shopping, streaming music and video, and even online gaming. You can even use multiple devices on the same connection without running into network congestion. CenturyLink is probably the top provider available for rural areas.

You’ll want to check their coverage map or talk to a representative before pursuing services, however. While CenturyLink provides great service in areas where available, it isn’t nationwide coverage across the board.

Kinetic by Windstream

Kinetic by Windstream provides DSL access to rural internet users. Kinetic’s total coverage area is much smaller than CenturyLink, but it does use existing phone lines for access. In some areas, Kinetic even provides fiber access.

Kinetic is great in that it doesn’t actually come with any data caps on any of the monthly service plans. That means you’ve got more than enough wiggle room to do your favorite activities online without overage charges.

Windstream only provides service to 18 states, so you’ll definitely want to check with a representative to see if you’re covered. If you’re in the American South or the Midwest, you might be covered.

The basic Kinetic plan clocks in at 100Mbps, well above the national minimum of 25Mbps. In areas where fiber is provided, you can get up 1000Mbps with symmetrical upload and download rates. This is more than enough to get you up and running online.


Mediacom is another fixed-wired solution for rural internet access. It ranks among the best rural internet services simply due to having cable as the sole option. In areas where cable TV is provided by Mediacom, you can likely get covered quite affordably.

Mediacom does have data caps on its plans, which is more or less the norm with some rural internet services. Higher service levels do provide more data per month, however. You can even get up to around 6TB of monthly bandwidth.

That said, nothing on offer from Mediacom is truly unlimited. If you’re just in need of basic internet service and can live with a data cap, it is a great option. In some areas, it might be the only option. Service speeds are solid, thankfully.

The basic package comes in at 100Mbps, more than enough for most users. You can get service all the way to 2Gbps, however. This is in their highest tier of service, but the speeds on offer rival what fiber providers have in urban areas.

Rise Broadband

Rise Broadband service is available in 16 states, and the service is wireless. Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with fixed wireless service. Most urban users are familiar with its usage if they have mobile phones on an LTE or 5G plan.

Rise’s offering is great because it doesn’t require you to be in an area where cabling is available. Instead, this best rural internet service relies more on sight lines to provide connections. Speeds are generally much slower than you’ll find with traditional wired solutions.

The maximum speed on offer is 250Mbps, which is much slower than the other services covered so far. However, there are no data caps or hidden fees. In most cases, you’ll be able to have installation for the service provided for free.

In limited areas, Rise has already started deploying fiber connectivity. As such, you could get a level of service that isn’t available to most major cities across the country.

Ziply Fiber

best rural internet
Some companies even offer fiber access for rural locations.

©Teerasan Phutthigorn/Shutterstock.com

The final of the best rural internet service providers is Ziply Fiber. Ziply is only available to the American Northwest and offers up quite a few service options.

Now, the most expensive plan is the 10Gbps plan, which costs well over $300 a month. That said, most users aren’t going to need that level of service.

You’ll find plans start at 100Mbps and go all the way up to 2Gbps. Given the symmetrical connection of Ziply’s fiber service, you’ll actually find it works better than an equivalent cable or DSL connection.

The limited service area is a bit of a disappointment. Fiber is also only provided in select areas, meaning other locations will be stuck with Ziply’s DSL option. The DSL is fast enough, ranking at 115Mbps. That said, if you’re able to get fiber it is a great choice.

What About Satellite Internet?

In the event that your location doesn’t offer up fixed wireless or wired options, you’ll find your last resort is going to be satellite internet. Now, it certainly is usable, but there are a lot of trade-offs that come with opting for satellite internet.

Most satellite internet service providers have data caps, even on their highest tier of service. You could choose something like Starlink, but you’re still at the mercy of clouds. At any rate, it is a usable option. You wouldn’t be indulging in online activities, but it would be adequate for communications and basic tasks.

One option to keep an eye on, which isn’t active yet, is Amazon’s Kuiper service. Like Starlink, Kuiper is looking to provide high-speed internet access to everyone at a minimal monthly cost.

If you’re in a rural locale, it might serve as a useful option if you aren’t able to get fiber, DSL, or cable internet coverage where you live.

The 5 Best Rural Internet Services FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Can I get internet in a rural area?

It will greatly depend on your overall location. You’ll find in some rural locales the coverage can differ just based on the street.

Is DSL still usable?

Very much so, it has the benefit of not needing new infrastructure to deploy. DSL uses phone lines so it is simply a matter of the service provider providing hardware for connecting to the service.

Is fiber faster than cable?

In most metrics, yes. You’ll find speed caps vary between fiber and cable internet plans. However, fiber is symmetrical meaning data is being uploaded as fast as it is being downloaded. This isn’t the case with cable connections.

Why live in a rural area?

Your career might rely on being in a rural location. Things like machining, fabrication, and farming all rely on being in rural locations.

What is the overall best rural internet provider?

CenturyLink is likely the best. It has great customer service, superb service, and pricing for people on a budget.

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