Rural high speed internet is often not cheap or easy to come by. If you live on a farm with miles between you and your closest neighbor, there is a good chance that there is no DSL hub in your area. Similarly, it is unlikely that there is a cable company that will provide your internet. Therefore, your options are limited. You can always go with dial-up if you want to have internet access just in case but never really plan to use it. However, if you think you will occasionally surf the web, dial-up service will only have you breaking everything within arms reach. For the sake of your Richard Petty mugs, I advise that you go with high speed internet.
Satellite High Speed Internet
High speed satellite internet is slower and more expensive than both cable and DSL. The data is relayed between your home computer and a satellite in geostationary orbit. Due to the fact that the data has to travel back and forth between Earth and outer space, there is a high latency, meaning there is a delay, or lag, between when you execute a command and when the desired effect actually happens. This is particularly problematic in real-time experiences such as online games. Face-paced first-person shooters are particularly affected by a high latency.
Another possible problem with high speed satellite internet is the effect of weather. It is common for very overcast or stormy days to cause problems for satellite television, sometimes causing a loss in picture quality and sometimes causing a lost signal altogether. The same problem occurs with satellite internet service. Your internet connection will be affected by bad weather not only above the satellite dish in your house, but also in the area of the satellite operator's hub. Aside from weather problems, however, high speed satellite internet service is very reliable.
Satellite internet providers will often require service commitments. In addition, you need to pay for the equipment they install, including an antenna and dish outside, which often runs from $300 to $600. The ISPs will often have rebates and other promotions that offset that cost, though. Your monthly payment for satellite internet access will usually be between $50 and $120, but for many people that high cost is preferable to dealing with the snail-like dial-up service.
Every satellite internet provider has some form of a Fair Access Policy (FAP), which is sometimes called a Reasonable Use Policy. These policies place a restriction on the amount of data a customer can upload or download from the internet during a given time period. If the user exceeds the allowed amount, they are placed in a “recovery period,” where their speeds are restricted and everything runs slower than usual.
In terms of satellite internet ISPs, there are only a handful in the United States and not many more globally. The most popular is HughesNet, though Wild Blue also gives good competition. Here is a sampling of the two companies:
Wild Blue: Wild Blue offers 2 different high-speed plans for their satellite internet. The Select Pak (1 Mbps) costs $69.95 per month and the Pro Pak (1.5 Mbps) costs $79.95 per month. Both plans come with free installation and a $50-off voucher for equipment costs.
HughesNet: HughesNet offers 2 different high-speed plans for their internet. The Pro plan (1 Mbps) costs $69.95 and the Pro Plus plan (1.5 Mbps) costs $79.95 per month.
The price for both companies is contingent on a 24-month commitment. HughesNet allows you to either lease or buy their equipment, while Wild Blue only allows leasing.
Wireless High Speed Internet
High speed wireless internet, or Wi-Fi, is the way of the future and the future is now. Remember the days when we first learned you could make a phone call from outside of your house? Thanks to Trekkies who thought the Star Trek characters had cool wireless communications devices, cordless phones and then cellular phones were invented and nowadays a lot of people don't even have a land line at all. Soon we will think it silly that people once surfed the internet while confined to a a bulky computer on a desk. With laptop computers becoming more popular, wireless internet service is booming along with it. There are even some cities in the United States that have wireless internet access throughout the entire city, to which you can connect for free.
Many laptops and some desktop computers come with a built-in wireless adapter. Other computers require a wireless card to be inserted. Either one gives the computer access to any wireless hotspot, with is a local area network (LAN) run by radio waves instead of wires. The internet signal is carried across the radio waves by a hub that brings in the internet connection. The hub broadcasts the radio waves and any computer with a wireless adapter within range of the radio waves can connect to the network.
High Speed Wireless Internet
Even in a rural area, there may be wireless internet radio waves flying around outside that you can pick up by putting an antenna on your roof. Soon companies such as Verizon plan to offer wireless internet access to rural areas that can be used by computer and cell phone. As of right now, however, there are not a lot of wireless hot spots in rural areas, but it never hurts to check. Call local ISPs that offer wireless service and see if they cover your area.
Leach Off Others
If you own a laptop computer, another way of getting high speed internet in a rural area is to pack up your notebook and go over to your favorite coffee shop or other area with wireless internet. Surely even the most rural areas have a Starbucks, right? I mean, there is a Starbucks everywhere! If there are no coffee shops or other areas with Wi-Fi access in your area, you really do not have the ability to leach internet off others without breaking the law. Sorry.