For many years living in a remote location where broadband infrastructure was never put in place meant you were stuck with one internet option, dial-up. Remember the unforgettable connection sound and turtle-like 56k speeds? Imagine trying to run a modern-day online business on that.
Although many people still use dial-up, whether they are unaware of alternatives or simply don’t use the internet often, advances in technology have presented rural residents with modern-day internet options that are suitable for running an online business.
Out of all rural internet options, satellite Internet has the largest coverage zone and tends to be the most reliable. Because your service comes from the sky, it’s possible to reach areas where fixed-wire cables can’t, and with the continual improvement of satellite technology, speeds are now on par with cable and DSL services.
The biggest drawback with satellite internet is the existence of monthly data limits. Just like your phone plan, your satellite Internet plan will have a monthly allowance on the amount of high-speed service you get. If you surpass your data limit your internet won’t turn off, but gets throttled to lower speeds which could greatly slow down common day tasks for your business.
Currently, there are two big players in the satellite space – HughesNet and Exede.
In December of 2016 HughesNet launched a new, high-powered satellite and currently offers much faster plans (25 Mbps vs. 12 Mbps), greater coverage, slightly better pricing, and spot on monthly data. If choosing between the two, HughesNet is currently the better option but Exede recently launched a new satellite of their own that’s set to go live in early 2018. Its best to take a close look at the current offerings of both providers.
Also, when ready to pull the trigger take a look at DISH Network’s internet offerings. They recently pulled their satellite internet service off the market but may re-establish themselves.
Mobile Broadband/Mobile Wi-Fi
If you live in a location with strong cell coverage, mobile broadband might be a good high speed solution for you.
Running off the same towers that provide data for your phone, mobile broadband providers send data directly to a Wi-Fi router in your home which allows wireless devices to connect to it for instant internet access.
The distance between you and the cell tower will greatly affect the speeds your able to get, but most commonly your download speed will be between 5Mbps and 12Mpbs.
Just like the above mentioned satellite internet plans, you will have a monthly data allowance, and the price per GB of data tends to cost much more than HughesNet or Exede.
Your location will determine which providers will be available, but the most popular are: Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, H20 Wireless, Sprint, Karma, Consumer Cellular, At&T, Boost Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and NetZero.
Wireless Broadband (WISPs)
Wireless Internet Service Providers or WISPs have been popping up across the country over the last 10 years. WISPs are generally small, local-owned companies that build and maintain their own towers and place an antenna on your roof to deliver internet to your home.
The signal broadcast from the towers isn’t as powerful as what the mobile broadband companies can achieve, so generally you need to have a direct line-of-sight to the main tower, or any additional towers the company has put up.
There are hundreds of WISPs across the country, and the speeds available to you will vary between 5 and 30 Mbps, but unlike satellite and mobile broadband there are no data limits.
WISPs aren’t regulated in the same way as a large company so its best to do your research, but if you find a provider and have a clear line-of-sight this could end up being your best bang-for-the-buck, and give you the best change to succeed online.
To find if there are any local WISPs near you use the address search found here.