How to choose the best rural internet service option for you?

Farmer in field using tablet with rural internet options

Internet access has become an increasingly essential part of our everyday lives. It’s how we connect with many people and businesses on a regular basis. People who live in suburban and urban areas can access fast internet connections through a variety of top internet service providers. However, it’s more challenging for residents in rural America to find reliable high-speed internet service. Our guide will help you understand how to choose the best rural internet provider for your home.

Internet access difficulties in rural areas

A digital divide exists between Americans that the Federal Communications Commission is trying to fix. Those who live in or near a city have greater access to broadband internet and speedy fiber-optic internet service, while many rural communities struggle to find internet service providers in their area. Here’s a closer look at the issues many rural residents face.

Limited service availability

Home internet service availability is limited in rural areas because very few internet service providers are established in these sparsely populated communities. It’s very expensive for an ISP to expand its services throughout a large rural area. And since there aren’t many potential customers in one place, these companies don’t want to invest where profit expectations are low.

If you’re presently struggling with limited service availability in your home, there is hope, though. The FCC has recently proposed a Rural Digital Opportunity Fund to provide money to ISPs willing to expand their services to rural homes. The goal is to make internet access available to at least 4 million rural homes and small businesses that currently lack modern broadband service.

Depending on where you live and your proximity to cellphone towers, you might be able to access one of the following rural internet options typically on the market:

  • Fixed wireless internet
  • Mobile wireless internet
  • DSL internet
  • Satellite internet
  • Dial-up internet

Enter your home address into service availability check to see what internet plans, pricing, and exclusive offers are available in your area.

Slow connection speeds

Since few ISPs invest in rural internet access, rural homes are left dealing with limited options of outdated internet services. Download speeds and upload speeds are slower because of the older methods of accessing the internet people must use. Plus, the more people trying to use the internet in and near your home, the slower the connection becomes as you all try to share the limited bandwidth.

The FCC classifies internet service speeds into three categories by megabits per second.

  • Basic: 3 to 8 Mbps
  • Medium: 12 to 25 Mbps
  • Advanced: >25 Mbps

Good internet speed is usually at least 25 Mbps, while a fast connection is 100 Mbps or more. Rural residents often struggle with speeds at the basic service level or below. Slow speed and high latency levels make it impossible to stream high-definition videos or have multiple devices connected to the internet at the same time. Many people struggle to use the internet for work and school in rural areas.

0–10 Mbps
  • Good for:
  •  Checking email
  •  Browsing websites
  •  Browsing social media
10–50 Mbps
  • Good for:
  •  Connecting multiple devices
  •  Streaming videos
  •  Online gaming for one player
50+ Mbps
  • Good for:
  •  Streaming videos in HD
  •  Online gaming for multiple users
  •  Video chatting with friends

Unreliable internet connections

Rural internet connections are more susceptible to reliability issues, due to problems like poorly maintained infrastructure and bad weather. Storms and winds can interfere with phone lines and satellite dishes, causing internet connections to slow down, work intermittently, or completely shut down.

Limited service technicians pose another problem in rural communities. Since there are fewer techs in a rural service area or because techs need to travel greater distances, a connectivity issue can take longer to address and resolve.

Rural DSL internet options from Frontier

DSL service is a high-speed internet solution for many rural homes. DSL stands for digital subscriber line, as it’s a method that connects users to the internet through phone lines. Landlines have long been established throughout the country, so that’s how an ISP can reach even the most remote homes. And unlike dial-up, DSL uses a different frequency so that you can talk on your home phone and browse websites at the same time.

Frontier is well-known as a top provider of rural DSL internet service in many states:

  • We don’t require an annual contract commitment,
  • No caps on data limits for the first year

Can you get fiber-optic internet service in rural areas?

Fiber-optic internet is the newest internet service available today. It’s also the fastest: Fiber-optic speeds surpass all other internet connection types, including wireless internet service and cable broadband speeds. Frontier’s Fiber Internet offers internet plans with varying max speeds.

  • 500 Mbps: This plan is best if you’ll have multiple users and devices on the internet in your home at the same time. It also allows you to stream with the high-resolution video quality.
  • 940 Mbps: This top-tier plan is the fastest internet you may have ever experienced in your life. It’s best for larger households and when you need to do work and/or school from home.
  • 2000 Mbps: This is our fastest internet with symmetrical upload and download speeds – meaning you can upload and download at the same speed.

These fast internet speeds are achieved by sending and receiving messages via lightwaves. The light quickly travels through thin, flexible glass wires encased in cables. Fiber-optic internet cables aren’t affected by the condition of phone lines or other users connected to the same cables and bandwidth, like with broadband cable internet. Lightwaves also have no problem traveling uninterrupted over great distances.

Fiber-optic internet requires the installation of new cables, plus compatible modems and routers for gigabit internet service. It’s generally available in most major cities, but providers are expanding fiber-optic services as quickly as possible. Some rural areas enjoy fiber-optic internet, while others are still waiting for this service to reach their address. Check the availability of Frontier’s Fiber Internet Service in your rural community today.

Choosing the best rural internet option for you

Decide what types of internet service and speed you need for your household to function best, and then compare the availability in your area to find the right option for you. Consider how much each provider’s plans cost. Find out if there’s a set contract you have to agree to qualify for special pricing, plus all terms and conditions. And be sure to discuss data caps and overage charges that may apply.

In addition to cable broadband, DSL, and satellite internet, many rural areas rely on wireless internet options to stay connected online. A fixed wireless internet provider connects a single home to internet services by installing an antenna to send and receive radio waves. Other wireless options available in your area may include mobile hotspots with fast 4G LTE speeds (available only near cell towers) or in-home Wi-Fi hotspots.

Find which of the fastest ISPs are available near you


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Discover rural internet options from Frontier

From video conferencing to online gaming, most Americans access the internet every day to work and play. Rural communities face a variety of challenges when it comes to finding the best internet access — or even any internet — for their needs.

Frontier has a variety of internet connection types to serve Americans from coast to coast, plus plans for every type of budget. From DSL to fiber optics, see which Frontier internet services are available in your area today.

Max speeds are wired speeds. Wi-Fi speeds may vary. See performance details. Check the availability of Frontier’s Fiber Internet service in your area here.