If you’re a heavy gamer, chances are that you’re not getting much screen time if you live in a rural area. Living further out into the country can mean you probably deal with slower speeds, higher ping rates, and possibly even more data issues than someone in a city or suburb might experience. The combination of all three of these factors can make gaming alone or with friends at your home nearly impossible.
It’s the unfortunate reality that because it is more expensive to run lines, cables, and equipment to houses that are spread much further apart than in other neighborhoods, companies like Comcast, Charter, and Verizon don’t see all the effort being worth the expense.
Of course, there have been some changes made over the years to rural internet. Most people in these areas at the very least said goodbye to dial-up a long time ago, but additional options have certainly been created as our internet needs in the modern world have changed from being once luxury to now a necessity.
Though it’s unlikely rural customers will be seeing high-speed fiber internet in the next year or so, there’s the opportunity now to try other options that include fixed wireless internet and mobile broadband. Below, we’ll go into further detail about how such options could make streaming movies and playing video games possible – and even easy – for rural residents.
Fixed wireless is often confused with satellite internet. To clarify, fixed wireless provides internet access to rural customers through means of radio waves via cell towers. Satellite internet beams signals from the sky to a satellite dish that is installed at your home.
The good thing about fixed wireless internet is that most of the providers who offer this option are small and privately-owned. This creates a lot of competition, meaning that there’s an extensive variety of plans offered across the country that won’t have sky-high prices. In fact, most plans offered range between $40 to $60 for speeds of 5 – 30 Mbps and a 20 – 60 MS ping.
These figures are great for gaming, and because most providers do not have data caps, you can game and stream to your heart’s desire. Additionally, many allow month-to-month plans, eliminating your worry about having to sign a termed contract.
The downside to fixed wireless internet is that you must have a line of sight to the tower without too many barriers potentially blocking the signal such as trees, mountains, or large buildings. With the other restriction which is that you must live within 10 miles of a tower to be eligible for service, this option is not super available to rural customers.
The best way to find out for sure is to perform a Google search to locate fixed wireless providers that may be in your area.
Mobile broadband internet has improved over the years in terms of network coverage, infrastructure, and more. It’s also become an increasingly popular choice for rural residents because of how it differs from fixed wireless. While fixed wireless internet uses radio waves to deliver signals, mobile broadband “piggybacks” off of your local cell towers to deliver your service.
With mobile broadband, you just need an activated router from your chosen provider in order to receive service, though you’ll definitely need a modem also if you want to connect other devices via WiFi. Speeds with this internet option can range from 3 – 30 Mbps and ping rates are often below 60 MS. However, broadband is usually pricey and has pesky data caps to keep in mind.
If you’re a rural resident whose options are limited, mobile broadband is still a good option if you go through a provider like Blazing Hog. They have agreements with several large mobile broadband providers that allow you to have unlimited data with no caps or throttling. Sure, their plans of $99/mo sound steep, but when you factor in your unlimited amounts of uncapped data, it’s completely worth the cost.
Customers with mobile broadband internet often see speeds of around 25 Mbps and a ping of 40 MS. If these average speeds are what you need to game, then signing up for an unlimited plan with Blazing Hog will be a great option for you to enjoy limitless gaming.
The reason we suggest Blazing Hog internet as an option for mobile broadband service as opposed to one of the giants is because those large providers can’t offer unlimited plans. For heavy gamers, this is a problem, because as soon as your meet your data cap your speeds will slow dramatically (or your service may even be cut off) and you’ll have to purchase additional costly data. Instead of dealing with these inconveniences, choose someone like Blazing Hog, Unlimitedville, or UnlimitedToGo that has agreements with the larger providers to resell their services through their towers with unlimited data.
Since cell service through the major providers has nearly nationwide coverage, it’s very likely that you can receive mobile broadband in your area. You must live within 12 miles of an AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, or T-Mobile tower, but you can use an online tool to check this.If you live a bit further out from the nearest cell towers, it’s possible that you can receive service with the help of a booster.
It’s also worth noting that the mobile broadband industry might soon be changing with the emergence of 5G. It should be for the better though!
Fast DSL, if it’s an option where you live, could be a good choice for you. Because DSL runs through your home’s existing phone lines, it won’t tie up your phone, it will generally have low ping rate, and data caps are usually very high or nonexistent.
Where we run into issues with DSL is with location – unfortunately, the further you live from a highly-populated area, the slower your speeds will be. And, because we’re discussing options for rural residents, you might not have fast speeds with DSL if you live outside a city.
If it’s available where you live, speeds with DSL internet can range from 1 to 100 Mbps through providers such as AT&T, CenturyLink, Windstream, Verizon, EarthLink, & Frontier Communications.
Estimating the speeds you’ll receive at your actual address can be tricky, so it’s a good idea to plan on trying a provider for a few months at a time to see if you are satisfied. Just watch out for contracts – signing a 1 or 2-year contract will lock you in, and you could pay some hefty early termination fees for canceling.
Much like a high-speed cable plan, you’ll experience the same service with DSL internet if it’s available in your area. However, without a stable connection, gaming won’t be very fun with DSL. Speeds will be slow, with those living at the edge of a provider’s network seeing speeds of less than 3 Mbps.
Though real-time FPS games like Fortnite and Overwatch won’t be possible with these speeds, you can still play real-time strategy or multiplayer games as long as you have a constant download speed of 1 Mbps.
DSL varies greatly in availability. Talk to a service representative to find out if service is available at your address.
With coast-to-coast availability, satellite internet can reach even the most rural locations because the technology can cover so much ground nationwide. Plans can cost between $50 and $150/mo for speeds ranging from 10 – 100 Mbps. The major drawbacks of satellite service are the soft data caps and high ping rates, neither of which are good for gaming.
The high ping rates with satellites make it impossible to play real-time games that require fast or instant reactions. Turn-based games will work just fine, but once you surpass your monthly data allotment, your service will slow until the next billing cycle.
Since the two major providers, HughesNet Internet & Viasat, cover nearly the entire United States, a satellite is likely available at your home. There are still some dead zones, but as long as you have a clear connection for your satellite to point at the sky, you should be able to receive service.
Unfortunately, choosing the provider to best suit your gaming needs is up to your discretion. However, we hope the information above will help you make an informed decision. Find out what is available first in your area, and go from there to find the speeds, ping rate, and data allowances that will work for you.