There are situations where you need to know about rural internet options.
The lack of high-speed broadband has brought many challenges to rural areas, from commerce to education. The small population, i.e. potential customers, means that it’s very expensive for private internet providers to install broadband lines.
Since only 19% of rural areas have a choice of providers, you may think your internet options are extremely limited. There are several ways to stay connected, even in remote areas. You won’t need to resort to trekking to the library just to read your email.
Keep reading to learn what you need to know about rural internet options.
If you’re used to the high-speed internet, be prepared to get taken back to the days when America Online (AOL) would mail CDs to every home to encourage people to try their dial-up service. Or you might remember this sound of dial-up access.
Dial-up connections still work for rural areas. As of 2015, 2.1 million people still use AOL as their internet service provider.
That’s because dial-up connections use phone lines that already exist, and this type of connection doesn’t require a new, expensive infrastructure to be built.
The disadvantages of dial-up are that the connection is slow, which means that you cannot watch videos. You’re unable to accept calls coming on the same line while you’re connected to the internet. It takes a minute or two to establish a connection, and you’re normally charged a per-minute rate, instead of a flat monthly fee.
DSL is a digital subscriber line, which also runs on phone lines, but at much higher speeds. DSL lines tend to be more reliable and you can make and receive phone calls while you’re online. While this sounds like a potential option, DSL isn’t always available in rural areas.
There are several drawbacks to using DSL. The first is that you have to be close to the internet service provider to receive a good, fast connection.
If you’re in business, you know how important it is to stay in front of people with social media.
Since phone lines weren’t built to handle large amounts of data at once, upload speeds are slow. Keep that in mind if you need to upload images or videos to social media.
Mobile wireless broadband connects to the internet through your cellular phone. These are offered through wireless phone companies like AT&T and Verizon.
Mobile companies have improved download and upload speeds over the last several years, making this a viable option to download and upload content.
Have you ever had a mobile phone call drop off in your area? If you have, then connecting via mobile hotspot may not be right for you.
You’re using the same service for internet connections. If your phone calls drop off, chances are your internet connections will suffer the same fate.
Be wary with mobile hotspot plans. They tend to be very expensive, especially if you go over the amount of data allotted each month.
Mobile hotspot connections also tax the mobile device’s batteries, which can limit your mobility around the house.
When most people think about rural internet options, satellite comes to mind. On the upside, satellite technology can be accessed from anywhere. This option works like satellite tv. A satellite orbits around the earth and it’s able to send and receive signals from the dish on your property.
You have to have a southward facing area that isn’t obstructed in order for the satellite to work. Coverage is also dependent on the weather. If there’s a storm or bad weather, your signal might get lost.
With satellite internet, pages do take a while to load and there may be overage fees if you’re not careful.
Satellite internet is often the most expensive rural internet option and you still might not always get the fastest speed.
Some providers have what’s called a Fair Access Policy, which means they can throttle, or deliberately slow down, internet speeds during certain times of the day.
Point to Point Rural Internet
Point to Point is a rural internet option that is becoming more common. The good news is that point to point delivers broadband speeds without having to use satellite technology.
Point to Point uses towers located near customers, and a dish is installed on your roof to receive signals from those towers.
Just because you live in a rural area, it doesn’t mean that you have to give up watching your favorite shows on Netflix. Companies like WaveDirect offer plans at high-speeds so you can stream video without it slowing down every other sentence.
How to Find the Right Internet Company
Not all areas have a choice when it comes to rural internet options. If you’re lucky enough to live in an area that has plenty of options, how do you choose the right internet company?
Read the fine print. If you’re used to accessing the internet in a city, you may have become accustomed to unlimited bandwidth or guaranteed speeds.
That’s not always the case with rural internet providers. Technology, especially in a rural area, is unpredictable at best. It doesn’t take much for service to get knocked out for a period of time.
Before you get too excited about a cheap internet plan, it’s important to note that many rural internet plans have data caps and fees if you go over those caps. There may be equipment charges and other monthly fees.
Some internet providers offer a free trial. Take advantage of it to test out the services before you commit to a contract.
Rural Internet Options for Your Home
When it comes to rural internet options, you have to do a little homework. You need to know what technologies exist in your area, and what companies have to offer.
It helps to understand that you may not be limited to only one option.
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