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Rural internet options: not a myth

Even without fiber and cable, there's hope for getting rural high-speed internet.

  • Service from satellite, DSL, and fixed wireless providers

  • Speeds as fast as 100 Mbps with Viasat

  • Unlimited rural internet with no overage fees

How to get internet in rural areas

Commercials from the big-name cable internet providers make hyper-fast internet sound dreamy, but they tend to leave out one difficult detail: they don't always offer internet for rural areas. Lucky for you, that doesn't mean you have to go without rural broadband.

Internet providers like Viasat have developed creative and, most importantly, effective rural internet solutions. It's not fair that in today's connected world, you should go without just because you live "too far" from a cable provider—and Viasat is doing something about that.

If you need to get connected in a hard-to-reach area soon, take a look below to learn more about your rural internet options.

Rural internet options by provider type

Technologies that provide internet for rural areas

Satellite

Satellite internet sends internet signals to and from your home by bouncing them off stationary satellites in the earth’s orbit. With more advanced technology than ever, Viasat can now offer unprecedented rural satellite internet speeds—up to 100 Mbps in some areas. That’s as fast as some cable plans.

Satellite internet has a bit more latency (lag) than traditional internet, because the radio waves carrying your data travel 22K miles to space and back. But latency is measured in milliseconds, so it’s often undetectable. Plus, with the faster speeds now available from Viasat, you can expect better overall internet performance.

Best for: Daily activities like banking, shopping, email, social media, and occassional streaming, depending on your plan speed

Dial-up

Dial-up, the first type of internet ever available, is still available in most areas because it runs on landline phone networks.

As you may already know, dial-up can’t support a Wi-Fi network, run at the same time as your landline phone, or reach speeds above 1 Mbps. As a result, it’s often a last resort for getting rural internet access—but a lifeline all the same.

Best for: Web surfing and checking email on a single computer

DSL

DSL, which stands for Digital Subscriber Line, runs on landline phone networks just like dial-up does. However, it sends rural broadband signals at higher speeds than dial-up and doesn’t block your telephone signal.

DSL isn’t always available in rural areas, and when it is, it’s often slow. That’s because distance affects the speeds you can get—the farther you live from the provider’s ground station, the less speed will reach you.

Best for: Daily activities like web surfing, email, and social media on a few devices, depending on your plan speed

Fixed wireless

Fixed wireless internet runs partially on a wired ground network, but instead of wiring the “last mile” to individual homes, the provider blasts a massive wireless internet signal to entire communities.

With fixed wireless, proximity is crucial for getting a reliable signal. Your home equipment needs a clear line of sight to the broadcast tower, or your connection will be spotty.

Best for: Daily activities on a few devices, depending on your plan speed

How to choose a rural satellite internet plan

4 factors to consider when shopping satellite internet options for rural areas

Activities you do

Some online activities require more speed to give you a seamless experience. As a rule, the more audio, video, and user interaction in your internet activities, the more speed your rural satellite internet plan needs.

Time you spend

If you hold weekly video calls with your family, you'll use more data than a family that has the same tradition once a month. Look for a higher plan speed and priority data threshold for better performance through the month.

Devices you connect

Every device puts demand on your home Wi-Fi network. Look for plans with higher speeds to support multiple phones, tablets, computers, and other smart gadgets, especially ones with large or high-resolution screens.

Pricing structure

With unlimited rural internet from Viasat, you never have to budget for overage fees. Plus, after your new customer price expires, your rate stays locked in through month 24. Plan for the speed you can afford with Viasat.

Frequently asked questions

Can I use my satellite TV dish for rural internet?

No, unfortunately. Both satellite internet and TV transmit radio waves through space, but satellite TV dishes only receive incoming signals, while satellite internet dishes need to be able to send outgoing signals too.

Can I use my Viasat dish for satellite TV?

Also no. Viasat wouldn’t be able to deliver such fast and reliable high-speed internet in rural areas if it dedicated an equal amount of the network to TV broadcasts. Although network TV is a worthy service, Viasat prioritizes rural high-speed internet because it’s in higher demand and offers access to key online services like telehealth, schooling, and banking.

How do I get Wi-Fi for rural areas?

To get Wi-Fi for rural areas, sign up with a rural broadband DSL or satellite provider and follow your provider’s instructions for setting up your home network.

You can also get wireless internet in the country by signing up with a fixed wireless provider. It won’t be a private home Wi-Fi network, because the signal will come en masse from your provider’s tower. But, provided you have a clear signal, you can use the connection from any room.

How do I get unlimited internet for rural areas?

Dial-up, DSL, and fixed wireless connections tend to offer unlimited data as the default, so they don’t state that as a benefit. Traditional satellite providers may sell metered plans with data caps in some areas, while Viasat offers primarily unlimited plans and clearly states that in the package details.

That said, plans, speeds, and prices often vary by location. When you shop for unlimited rural internet options, look for the terms 'unlimited plans', 'unlimited data', or 'no overage fees' in the package details. If you’re not sure, call and ask.

One-time setup fee may be charged at the time of sale. Minimum 24-month service term unless you select the no long-term contract option. No long-term contract option requires an upfront $500 nonrefundable payment. Monthly service fees and taxes apply. Equipment lease fee is $12.99 per month. Speeds are “up to,” are not guaranteed, and will vary. Service plans are subject to Viasat’s Unlimited Data Policy or Data Allowance Policy available at www.viasat.com/legal. Service is not available in all areas. Offer may be changed or withdrawn at any time. Viasat and the Viasat logo are trademarks of Viasat, Inc.

1The price lock guarantee applies only to the standard monthly internet service fee and the monthly equipment lease fee (in each case, before any promotional discounts) and excludes all taxes and surcharges.

2Cancellation of EasyCare within 90 days after purchase may result in charges for EasyCare services previously received. Re-enrollment in EasyCare may be restricted for up to 180 days after cancellation. EasyCare not available in Alaska or Hawaii.

3Unlimited Data Plans: Depending on the specific unlimited data service plan available at your location, after you use the following amount of data, we may prioritize your data behind other customers during network congestion: Basic 12 (15 GB); Bronze 12 (35 GB, 40 GB or 80 GB, depending on your specific plan); Silver 12 (45 GB); Gold 12 (65 GB); Bronze 25 (35 GB); Silver 25 (60 GB, 100 GB or 120 GB, depending on your specific plan); Gold 30 (100 GB or 200 GB, depending on your specific plan); Gold 50 (100 GB or 200 GB, depending on your specific plan), and Platinum 100 (150 GB or 300 GB, depending on your specific plan). Streaming video quality is “up to,” will vary and is not guaranteed.

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