I love answering reader questions. Gail dropped me a line this week wondering about the best options for rural internet access. If you have a question feel free to contact me and I’ll do my best to answer. There’s always a chance that your question ends up as a fancy blog post too.
So here is Reader Gail’s question: I live in a zip code area where virtually nothing “outside the box” is available for internet service providers. Any suggestions? I pay $40.00 for internet service barely above the dial-up speeds. I don’t need service for videos nor Netflix, just basic fast service for internet browsing and email, etc.
Here’s my response:
Thanks so much for your question. Here’s the deal on rural internet service.
Unfortunately as internet technology has expanded around the nation the one group of Americans that have been left out of the developments are those who live in rural areas. The cities and the suburbs have seen all of the technological development and therefore the increase in choice. Although the choices we have in the cities are still subpar compared to those of other countries due to our lack of robust competition. But I digress.
There is unfortunately only one real choice for high speed internet in the rural parts of our nation, and it’s not a great one – satellite. Satellite internet can be spotty but the choices have actually gotten much better over the last few years. A few of the big players are Exede, HughesNet, Dish Network, and WildBlue. I would check out all four of them but their plans are actually pretty similar. Exede and HughesNet have sub $50 options, which is nice. They are all sticklers for data usage and you’ll pay more for extra GB of internet usage. 10GB is the standard amount on the cheapest plans. Some of these guys will make you pay more for not bundling services so watch out for the tiny print. The equipment can also be expensive and some providers will make you lease the equipment which can end up costing you major dough too. Be on the lookout for special offers that help cover equipment costs.
Because you don’t stream video the cheapest plans should be plenty for your needs. 10GB is definitely enough to handle the e-mail and web surfing you’ll be doing. For folks that do want to watch a lot of video they’ll have to spend around $80-$130 a month to ensure they have enough GB per month and that their download speeds can handle video content.
There are amazing things about living in rural America. Land and housing are cheaper. The views of our magnificent country can be amazing when you leave the city lights behind. One of the unfortunate downsides is access to technology. But, big changes are in store over the next ten years. I’m sure access to fast and reliable internet will become more affordable. It might even come in the form of a hot air balloon.
[photo courtesy of Michael]