Best Rural Internet Providers ️

We’ve researched and tested dozens of internet providers. These are the five best options for folks in rural areas.

Best overall provider
T-Mobile 5G Home Internet
T-Mobile 5G Home Internet
4 out of 5 stars
4
Starts at
$60/mo.
Download speeds of 72–245Mbps
Great availability
No contracts or data caps
Best satellite internet
Starlink
Starlink Standard
4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3
Price:
$120/mo.
Satellite internet speeds of 40–220Mbps
Very low latency and easy installation
No contracts or data caps
Best wired internet
Centurylink
Simply Unlimited Internet 100 Mbps
4 out of 5 stars
4
Price:
$50/mo.
DSL download speeds up to 100Mbps
Available across the country in rural areas
No contracts or data caps
Best DSL alternative
Frontier
Frontier Internet
3.8 out of 5 stars
3.75
Price:
$64.99/mo.
DSL download speeds
Available across the country in rural areas
No contracts or data caps
Best customer service
ATT
AT&T Air
4.3 out of 5 stars
4.25
Price:
$55
/mo
Download speeds up to 140Mbps
$20 discount for AT&T Wireless customers
No contracts or data caps
Easton Smith
Mar 12, 2024
Icon Time To Read7 min read

Just because you live in the country doesn’t mean you have to settle for slow and expensive internet. We’ve researched all the best high-speed rural internet options, like satellite internet and 5G home internet. This is what we found.

T-Mobile 5G Home Internet is the best option for most people, offering good speeds and a low, no-strings-attached price. For those who want an off-grid internet connection, Starlink is the way to go.

We’ve also got the low down on good DSL picks, like CenturyLink, and a screaming deal for AT&T customers in rural areas. Read on for all the details.

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Top rural internet providers comparison chart
Provider
Price
Download speeds
Data cap
Details
T-Mobile 5G Home Internet$60/mo.*72-245 MbpsUnlimited
Starlink Standard$120/mo.20-100 MbpsUnlimited
Simply Unlimited Internet 100 Mbps$50/mo.Up to 100 MbpsUnlimited
Frontier Internet$64.99/mo.^NAUnlimited
AT&T Internet Air$55.00/mo. ($35.00/mo. with qualifying wireless plan)°Up to 140Mbps-2 Mbps
* w/ Auto Pay. Regulatory fees included in monthly price for qualified accounts. See full terms.
Plus hardware, shipping & handling fees, and tax. Fully refundable. Depending on location, some orders may take 2 weeks or more to fulfill.
Speed may not be available in your area. Paperless billing or prepay required. Additional taxes, fees, and surcharges apply. Get the fastest internet speed available at your location (max speed is up to 100 Mbps).
^ w/ Auto Pay & Paperless Bill per month for 24 mos. One-time charge on disconnect applies.
° AutoPay and paperless billing required. Monthly State Cost Recovery Charge in TX, OH, NV applies. . Service subj. to Internet Terms of Service at att.com/internet-terms. Offers may be modified, or discontinued, at any time without notice. Other conditions may apply to all offers. Speeds based on wired connection. Actual speeds may vary. For more info, go to www.att.com/speed101.

What to look for in rural internet

Here’s how to pick the perfect plan for your household

Rural internet options are limited, but you still have to choose between a few different options. Here’s a quick guide to help you make the right decision.

Internet features that work best for rural customers

Here’s what to look for when picking your rural internet plan.

  • Service type: The main factor that will determine your internet performance is the type of service. 5G Home Internet offers fast wireless speeds, but it can be less reliable than wired options. Satellite internet also has some issues with reliability, but it has more to do with your location than the network itself. DSL is the most consistent rural internet option, but often the slowest.
  • Speed: Rural internet speeds will never match those of city dwellers, who can get cable and fiber connections. But with the right plan, you can expect to get at least 20 to 50Mbps, which is enough for streaming movies, online gaming, and scrolling through TikTok. Some plans can get you speeds over 100Mbps. However, you won’t see great upload speeds in most cases, which can make video conferencing and uploading large files hard.
  • Price: It used to be really hard to find cheap internet in the countryside, but prices have definitely gone down now that 5G Home Internet is an option. Unless you're paying for off-grid internet, like Starlink, you shouldn’t pay more than $70 a month (and that includes equipment rental costs).
  • Contracts and perks: Pretty much every internet provider has gone contract free, which we love. But watch out for sneaky installation fees or price hikes, which can kick-in after a certain amount of time. Also, look around for sweet discounts and perks, like the $20-a-month discount that AT&T Wireless customers can get on AT&T 5G internet.

Now that you know what to look for, let’s dive into the plans.

T-Mobile 5G Home Internet: Best overall rural internet provider

Unlimited high-speed internet for $50 a month, no strings or wires attached
T-Mobile 5G Home Internet
T-Mobile 5G Home Internet
4 out of 5 stars
4
bullet Download speeds of 72–245Mbps
bullet Easy and free installation
bullet No data cap
$60
/mo
Data as of 04/05/2023. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

One of the biggest hurdles to getting better internet in rural areas is infrastructure. It’s not very profitable to lay miles of wire in sparsely populated areas. But 5G home internet companies have found a great way to provide high-speed internet without any new wires.

Of all the companies that have jumped into the 5G market, T-Mobile has the best range, covering over 50 million customers across the U.S. But that’s not the only reason we think it’s the best 5G home internet provider.

T-Mobile 5G Home Internet gives you everything you need in a home internet plan in one simple, cheap, and easy-to-get package: $50 a month gets you a contract-free plan with unlimited data, a wireless receiver and router, and enough speed to support HD video streaming, gaming, and even working from home.

T-Mobile Home Internet plan details
Plan
Price
Download speeds
Data cap
Details
T-Mobile 5G Home Internet$60/mo.*72-245 MbpsUnlimited
* w/ Auto Pay. Regulatory fees included in monthly price for qualified accounts. See full terms.

T-Mobile uses its existing mobile service infrastructure to power its 5G home internet service. All you have to do is “plug in” to the network. Signing up online is easy and you can get a package with everything you need in just a couple of days. T-Mobile claims that customers can “go from box to browsing in 15 minutes.”

If you value simplicity, affordability, and flexibility, then T-Mobile should be at the top of your list of rural internet providers.

The biggest downside with T-Mobile is that your internet speed will not be as reliable as it would be with a wired internet connection. You may end up having certain times where streaming on multiple devices and other high-demand activities are difficult because there’s too much traffic on the network.

Starlink: Best satellite internet for rural areas

Starlink isn’t cheap, but it’s clearly the best option for totally off-grid internet
Starlink
Starlink
bullet Download speeds of 40–220Mbps
bullet Unlimited data
bullet Lowest latency satellite internet
$120
/mo
Data as of 04/05/2023. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

If you live in an area where even cell phone reception is spotty, then satellite internet is probably your best option. You can be literally anywhere in the United States (or pretty much the entire world) and get fast, reliable satellite internet service through Starlink.

While there are two other major satellite providers in the U.S.—Viasat and Hughesnet—Starlink is the clear frontrunner. It has faster speeds, lower latency (which is very important for things like gaming and video conferencing), and it doesn’t have any hard data caps.

Starlink has three plans for rural residential internet. We'd recommend the cheapest Standard plan for most users. It comes with plenty of speed and data for basic activities, like streaming movies and light online gaming. But you can upgrade to get more Priority data if you have a lot of people and devices in your household.

Here’s a breakdown of the three different Starlink residential plans.

Starlink rural internet deals
Plan
Price
Download speeds
Equipment cost
Data cap
Details
Starlink Standard$120/mo.20-100 Mbps$120Unlimited
Priority 40 GB$140/mo.40 Mbps$2,500Unlimited
Priority 1 TB$250/mo.40 Mbps$2,500Unlimited
Plus hardware, shipping & handling fees, and tax. Fully refundable. Depending on location, some orders may take 2 weeks or more to fulfill.

As you can see, Starlink isn’t cheap. If you want to see some cheaper (and slower) satellite internet options, then check out Viasat or Hughesnet.

Starlink isn’t just for those who live out in the country.
Megaphone

It also has mobile plans for RVers, boaters, and those who are living that #vanlife. Just be wary of those equipment costs, which can stack up fast.

There used to be a long waitlist for those who wanted to sign up for Starlink. Not anymore. You can get one of the best rural internet solutions in a week or two if you order online. Most folks will be able to do the installation themselves and get online the same day that their equipment arrives.

CenturyLink: Best wired rural internet provider

CenturyLink is our favorite DSL provider for rural internet customers
Centurylink
CenturyLink Internet
4 out of 5 stars
4
bullet Reliable high-speed connection
bullet No contracts or price hikes
bullet No data cap
$50
/mo
Data as of 04/05/2023. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

Wireless internet options, like 5G and satellite, have come a long way in recent years. But they are still not as reliable as ol’ fashioned wires. If you’re willing to sacrifice a little bit of speed for a more stable connection, we recommend checking out CenturyLink.

In many rural areas across the country, CenturyLink offers a DSL connection that gets you speeds up 100Mbps and costs $55 a month. This plan requires no contract, has no data caps, and doesn’t include any annoying price hikes, making CenturyLink our favorite DSL provider on the market.

CenturyLink rural unlimited internet plan
Plan
Price
Download speeds
Data cap
Details
Simply Unlimited Internet 100 Mbps$50/mo.Up to 100 MbpsUnlimited
Speed may not be available in your area. Paperless billing or prepay required. Additional taxes, fees, and surcharges apply. Get the fastest internet speed available at your location (max speed is up to 100 Mbps).

CenturyLink’s Simply Unlimited Internet plan for rural customers does have some drawbacks. First of all, you can get faster speeds with 5G home internet connections and, in certain circumstances, with satellite providers like Starlink.

Secondly, you’ll have to shell out a little extra money for equipment, unless you already own a DSL modem and router. CenturyLink charges $15 a month for equipment rental (or you can buy your own).

Frontier: Best DSL alternative for rural areas

Frontier is our runner up for DSL internet plans
Frontier
Frontier High Speed Internet
3.8 out of 5 stars
3.75
bullet Reliable DSL connection
bullet Covering outstanding features
$64.99
/mo
Data as of 04/05/2023. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

CenturyLink is our favorite DSL provider, but it isn’t available everywhere. In fact, Frontier seems to cover precisely the areas that CenturyLink doesn’t. Just check out this map from the FCC that shows both providers’ DSL coverage. CenturyLink coverage areas are in blue and Frontier’s are in red.

Frontier vs. CenturyLink rural internet coverage
Screenshot of Frontier vs. CenturyLink rural internet coverage map

Image source: screenshot taken from broadbandmap.fcc.gov

So, if you want DSL internet in your rural area, but you can’t get CenturyLink, we recommend checking out Frontier. It’s a little bit pricier and the speed performance is harder to verify, but it will still give you a relatively affordable and reliable connection for streaming, browsing, and other everyday activities.

Frontier DSL internet for rural customers
Plan
Price
Download speeds
Data cap
Details
Frontier Internet$64.99/mo.^NAUnlimited
^ w/ Auto Pay & Paperless Bill per month for 24 mos. One-time charge on disconnect applies.

As you can see, we don’t have verified information about Frontier’s download speeds. That’s because the company doesn’t advertise them and they can vary greatly, depending on location. But, in general, DSL speeds are not great. We would expect download speeds with the Frontier Internet plan to hover around the 20–50Mbps mark.

You won’t have to sign a contract with Frontier for DSL service, but you may have to pay for an $100 expert installation. Thankfully, there are no equipment rental fees!

AT&T Internet Air: Best customer service

ATT
AT&T Internet
4.3 out of 5 stars
4.25
bullet High-speed wireless internet
bullet $20.00/mo. discount for AT&T Wireless customers
bullet No contracts or data caps
$55.00
/mo
Data as of 04/05/2023. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

AT&T’s fiber internet is one of the best services you can get, anywhere. But it’s definitely not available in rural areas. Luckily, AT&T has just rolled out a new 5G Home Internet service called AT&T Internet Air, and it’s quickly gaining steam.

AT&T’s 5G service isn’t quite as far reaching as T-Mobile’s or as fast as Verizon’s, for certain people, they are the best offer. Those people are existing AT&T Wireless customers. Those who are on a qualifying mobile plan will get a full $20 off their AT&T Internet Air bill, every single month! It’s a wildly good deal.

AT&T Internet Air plan
Plan
Price
Download speeds
Data cap
Details
AT&T Internet Air$55.00/mo. ($35.00/mo. with qualifying wireless plan)°225 Mbps-2 Mbps
° AutoPay and paperless billing required. Monthly State Cost Recovery Charge in TX, OH, NV applies. . Service subj. to Internet Terms of Service at att.com/internet-terms. Offers may be modified, or discontinued, at any time without notice. Other conditions may apply to all offers. Speeds based on wired connection. Actual speeds may vary. For more info, go to www.att.com/speed101.

One way that AT&T really stands out is with its customer service. Most ISPs fail miserably when it comes to keeping their customers happy. But rural internet customers can rest easy knowing that AT&T will pick up when they call for help.

According to the latest American Customer Satisfaction (ACSI) telecommunications reports, AT&T is among the top ISPs.  Here’s a look at the numbers.

Rating
Score
ACSI 202375 out of 100
ACSI 202273 out of 100

Recap: Best Rural Internet Providers

Here’s everything we said before but shorter

That wraps up our review of the very best rural internet providers. Hopefully we’ve helped you find the perfect internet plan for your household in the country. But if you’re still making up your mind, here’s a quick recap of the important points:

  • Best overall provider: T-Mobile 5G Home Internet gives you high-speeds for just $50 a month, without any fussy wires, contracts, or fees. It’s perfect for most rural households.
  • Best satellite internet: It’s not cheap, but Starlink has leaped ahead of other satellite internet providers by offering faster speeds, lower latency, and universal sign ups.
  • Best wired internet: If you want the reliability of a wired internet connection then CenturyLink DSL is a great option. It’s widely available, relatively affordable, and offers decent speeds.
  • Best DSL alternative: If you can’t get CenturyLink in your rural area, then check out Frontier Internet. It’s slightly more expensive, but you can still get high-speed internet way out in the sticks.
  • Best customer service: AT&T’s new 5G Home Internet plan is a great deal for anyone who wants wireless internet and responsive customer service. But it’s a really, really good deal for existing AT&T Wireless customers who get $20 off their bill every month. 

Methodology

In every internet service review, we strive to provide the most useful, up-to-date, and accurate information so that our readers can find the perfect plan to fit their lifestyle.

For this review, we started by researching all of the top internet service providers that operate in rural areas. We looked at customer reviews, consulted our own real-world speed data, and dug deep into the statistics to narrow down our list. Ultimately, we made our recommendations based on the following criteria.

  1. Availability
  2. Download speed performance
  3. Price
  4. Contracts, fees, and equipment
  5. Customer service

We tried to make recommendations that would meet the different needs of different kinds of customers, like big families, highly mobile households, and low-income folks.

Easton Smith
Written by
Easton Smith
Easton has worked as a freelance writer and researcher for several years, reviewing health, lifestyle, and technology products. He has probably read more Terms of Use contracts than any human alive. When he’s not sitting in front of a computer, Easton spends his time camping, climbing, and volunteering with humanitarian aid organizations.

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