Like any other necessity, the internet has also become essential to modern life, and yet rural areas are still underserved due to a lack of network infrastructure and high build-out costs. This is why the rural population has limited internet options, making it difficult to find a high-speed broadband connection.
Texas has one of the best network infrastructures in the country, and it ranks as the 8th most connected state with an average internet speed of 63.3 Mbps. People living in metropolitan areas of Texas enjoy access to the best broadband networks, but the same cannot be said for the rural population. About 1.2 million people lack a basic internet connection, and a majority of them live in rural Texas. Today, we will be looking at the available internet options in rural areas of Texas.
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Rural Internet Service Types in Texas
Different types of internet services cover rural areas, but not all of them are available everywhere, and many ISPs in Texas also offer different connections depending on the location. The internet options in rural areas differ in availability, cost, and latency, but not everyone cares about these factors. There is no single ‘best’ internet service; the choice depends on your internet activities and preferences. The internet types available in rural Texas include:
At times, Satellite Internet is the only available internet option for the rural population in Texas. Its wireless signal transmission and independence on wires and cellular towers make it available everywhere in the US. High latency is a very common issue, but the introduction of low-Earth orbit satellites can change everything.
DSL uses existing phone lines to transmit signals and provide much faster speeds and reliable connectivity than dial-up. It’s inexpensive and also available in rural areas by a bigger margin compared to other wired internet services.
Fixed wireless uses a central tower to broadcasts the signals to the surrounding community. It is mostly seen in large communities and near urban areas. Its lower latency and higher speeds make it an ideal choice compared to other wireless services.
Internet Service Providers in Rural Texas
Viasat is a satellite internet provider known for providing higher internet speeds than HughesNet. It provides various internet speeds ranging from 12 Mbps to 100 Mbps depending on the location and costs about $30 to $170 per month, and its plans hike up by 33% after the end of the 3-month promotional period. Viasat plans also come with a contract and an ETF.
High latency, vulnerability to bad weather, and data caps are unfortunate aspects of satellite internet connection, and Viasat throttles your speed after you exceed the data limit set in your plan. Although the data situation isn’t ideal, its biggest advantage is its nationwide availability, and if you have enough data, you’ll have high speeds to engage in your daily internet activities.
- Nationwide availability
- High speed
- Data caps
- Price hikes
- Contract enforcement
HughesNet is also another ideal option for rural Texans. It is a satellite internet provider known for its consistent speed of 25 Mbps and better track record with outages. It offers various plans with different data allowances ranging from 15 GB to 75 GB and costs from $65 to $170 per month.
It is slightly cheaper than Viasat and also binds its customers in a contract with an ETF of a whopping $400 in the first 90 days, but it allows its new customers to save $20 a month for the first six months and the availability of promotional rates depend on your location. Just like Viasat, HughesNet is also susceptible to bad weather and high latency. All of its plans come with additional 50 GB of data per month during the Bonus Zone. Although it has soft data limits, it also throttles your speed from 1 Mbps to 3 Mbps after you exceed your set limit. Pros:
- Bonus zone data
- Cheaper than Viasat
- Fewer plans
- Data caps
- 2-year contract
Kinetic by Windstream
Kinetic by Windstream offers its services across 18 states including Texas and mainly focuses on rural and suburban areas. It is a fast and affordable rural internet option in Texas, offering unlimited data with no contract enforcement. Its DSL network is faster than satellite and other DSL internet options, but the speeds and prices vary depending on the location.
Kinetic provides two types of internet connections; fiber and DSL services. You can enjoy its fiber internet if you live closer to the cities and suburbs in Texas, but if not, then its DSL network is not a bad option either. With broadband level speeds of 100 Mbps and costs ranging from $37 to $70, you can enjoy unlimited internet. All Windstream internet plans also come with a promotional price that is revised after the end of that period.Pros:
- Unlimited data
- No contracts
- Available in rural areas
- Scattered coverage
- Poor customer service
The other DSL internet option in rural areas of Texas is Frontier. Although Frontier also provides a fiber internet connection, it’s only available in urban areas, and the rural population usually gets its DSL connection. It provides its services in 25 states with varying speeds depending on your location. It has DSL plans with 6 Mbps, 25 Mbps, and 115 Mbps internet speeds and prices ranging from $40 to $55 per month. The prices aren’t fixed and hike up after the promotional period of 12 months.
Frontier also doesn’t enforce any contracts or data caps, making it easier for their subscribers to enjoy unlimited data. The downside of this provider is its inconsistent speeds of DSL connection, and most of the time, the remote rural areas are stuck with 6 Mbps internet.Pros:
- Unlimited data
- No contracts
- Slower DSL speeds
- Unclear price hikes
AT&T fixed wireless internet service is available in rural areas of Texas. AT&T launched this service as an alternative to its wired services. A fixed wireless network uses a central tower to send signals to the surrounding areas. Where available, the rural population in Texas can access this internet with 25 Mbps speed and 350 GB of data for $60 per month. Unfortunately, AT&T also enforces data caps in this service, and customers have to pay an extra $10 as an overage fee for every extra 50 GB of data. Pros:
- Reliable connection
- Doesn’t depend on cables or fixed lines
- Data caps
- Limited availability
While the internet options in rural Texas may seem limited, the Government and ISPs are working towards some major developments, and cutting-edge technologies, including low-Earth orbit satellites and broadband internet over cell towers. People like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are also showing interest and are investing in rural internet startups. These developments can transform the rural internet scene in the upcoming years