High-Speed Internet Options for Rural Areas

If you live in a rural or harder-to-reach area (think farms, mountains, plains, or even outside the suburbs), you know how difficult it can be to get reliable internet. But we know that internet access is an integral part of our everyday lives, from working remotely to completing class assignments to staying in touch with loved ones.

Check Internet Availability in My Area

Product availability and speed varies by address.

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Curious what internet options are available in rural areas?

Here’s the short and sweet version:

Satellite internet icon

Satellite Internet
Widely available across the U.S. and has speeds comparable to cable, but has higher lag times and an expensive installation.

DSL internet icon (phone lines)

DSL Internet
Uses existing phone lines to provide an internet connection and offers speeds up to 15 Mbps on a dedicated connection.

Questions? We’re about to dive deep, but you can speak directly with one of our Internet Experts 7 days a week and find out what’s available for you.

Rural Internet: Necessities and Challenges

With the rapid popularization of remote work, telehealth, and online school, internet is no longer a want — it’s a real need. But living outside a city center shouldn’t mean you don’t have good options.

But why can it be difficult to get reliable rural internet? Like Mark Zuckerberg says: It’s complicated.

Wired internet relies on buried cables. Lots of them. DSL uses a phone line, cable internet uses copper wires, and fiber internet uses glass strands. All of these require an infrastructure investment, and that can take time. That’s part of why DSL is so common in more rural areas – phone lines are typically still readily available, even if they’re not actively being used for phone service.

Another popular option has been satellite internet. It requires a satellite dish to work, and that gets installed on or near the home. The equipment can be costly, and it’s typically the responsibility of the internet user to cover the expense.

How to Get Rural Internet

At EarthLink, we make it easy to get broadband internet for rural areas. Just enter your address into our availability checker, and you can see every option for you. Or you can call our Internet Experts at 866-383-3080, and they’ll help you find the right connection based on where you live and what your internet needs are.

No matter what, we’re working hard to keep everyone connected to what matters.

What Internet Options are Available in Rural Areas?

It’s important to know exactly what kind of internet is available to you – and what the benefits are of each.

Satellite Internet

Satellite internet has long been a popular option for wireless internet in rural areas because it’s available just about anywhere. However, with long contracts and high equipment fees, it hasn’t always been the best option for all consumers. Satellite internet uses a dish that’s installed on (or near) your home to send and receive information from a satellite in space — a process that takes less than a second. All you need is an unobstructed view of the sky.

That said, if you’re wondering “does weather affect WiFi?” the answer for satellite is: it can. Storms or strong winds can affect your WiFi connection because it can obstruct the signal being sent and received by the satellites. Unless your dish is knocked out of place and needs to be readjusted, all you can really do is wait it out. Typically, the issue resolves itself in time.

Check out our quick breakdown of EarthLink Satellite internet:

Pros

  • Available in many areas
  • Speeds up to 100 Mbps

Cons

  • Has data caps
  • Multi-year contracts
  • High delay, or latency, especially when playing live games
  • Can be affected by the weather

DSL Internet

EarthLink DSL internet has been around for longer than satellite and wireless home internet. It uses phone lines to deliver internet (with or without an active landline telephone service), so it doesn’t require new infrastructure.

Because phone lines are common, most homes are already set up for DSL, making it a convenient form of rural internet. As a bonus, it runs on a dedicated line. In other words, your household is the only one using that specific on-ramp to the web. This is different from cable internet, which uses a shared connection — sometimes among a whole neighborhood.

Here’s a sample of what to love about EarthLink DSL internet:

Pros

  • Very accessible and available
  • Reliable, dedicated connection
  • Affordable
  • No internet data caps

Cons

  • Slower speeds
  • Quality of connection varies depending on location

At EarthLink, we know how important it is to have high-speed wireless internet for rural areas. So, we’re excited to be able to offer so many options for our customers. No matter where you live, we can help get you connected to what matters most.