What’s the Best Internet for Rural Gaming?
While the number of internet service providers (ISPs) available in many areas can seem staggering, rural areas usually have far fewer options. But, that doesn’t mean there’s no hope for finding internet to play your favorite games. On the contrary, several ISPs offer gamer-friendly packages with speeds high enough to power your favorite computer and console video games.
Windstream, Mediacom, Viasat, and Rise Broadband offer some of the best rural gaming internet options out there. We’ve pulled together details about how these providers compare, what they offer, reviews showcasing what others are saying about them, key considerations, and answers to frequently asked questions to help you make the best decision.
The big players
Windstream, also called Kinetic by Windstream, is available in 18 states, including Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and Arkansas. It offers plans that start at $37/month for up to 200Mbps. With a fiber internet plan from Windstream, you can also select 400Mbps for $47/month, 500Mbps for $57/month or 1000Mbps for $67/month. If fiber isn’t available in your area, you may still have access to DSL service that provides 50 to 100Mbps for between $27 and $60/month. Data is unlimited, so you can spend as much time gaming as you want. There’s no contract required, and you can even add identity theft protection as an add-on.
Mediacom covers more than 2,100 cities in 22 states, including Alabama, Iowa, and Indiana. With Mediacom internet, you can get up to 60Mbps for just $19.99/month. However, there’s a 200GB monthly data limit with this plan. Gamers may instead prefer the 100Mbps plan with a 1000GB limit, which costs $39.99/month. If you want to max out your speed, you can get 1000Mbps and a 6000GB limit for $69.99/month. A whole-home Wi-Fi extender is also available for an extra $10/month. Every plan includes Total Defense’s Internet Security Suite for up to five devices, too.
Viasat’s satellite internet service is available anywhere in the US, and it’s one of the most popular ISPs for rural households. With Viasat you can get up to 50Mbps of high-speed internet for $99.99/month. For $149.99/month, you can get 100Mbps which is more than enough speed to handle the needs of most gamers. With all Viasat internet plans, you’ll get unlimited data, which means you don’t need to worry about hitting any data limits as you game.
Rise Broadband provides internet service in 16 Midwestern states, including Colorado, Idaho, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. For $25/month, you can get up to 25Mbps. If you want speeds up to 50Mbps, that plan costs $39.95/month when you sign up for automatic payments. With Rise Broadband internet, you can add digital phone service with either plan for an additional $20/month.
Windstream charges a $35 professional installation fee and a $50 activation fee. If your home needs a new phone jack, you’ll need to pay an additional $65. Mediacom usually charges a $99.99 installation fee and a $10 activation fee. However, free installation from Mediacom is occasionally available, so keep an eye on current promotions. Viasat has a $99.99 installation fee, but runs frequent promotions with free installation as well. Rise Broadband’s standard installation fee is $149.
Windstream rents its modems for $9.99/month and will provide a free replacement if needed. You can also buy and use your own modem if you’d like to save on monthly fees. The Mediacom modem fee is $12/month and you can get a Wi-Fi router for additional $10/month. With Mediacom, you can also purchase your own router and modem. Viasat charges $12.99/month or $299.99 if you prepay for the life of the equipment. With Rise Broadband, equipment rental costs $11.99/month. You can rent a router for $5/month or use your own equipment with a rented modem.
Upload speed determines how fast you can send data. The faster the upload speed, the faster your games load and process, which means fewer delays. Windstream’s lowest tier plan includes 4Mbps upload speed. With their 1000Mbps fiber internet plan, you’ll get the same download and upload speeds. Mediacom’s upload speeds start at 5Mbps. Their 100Mbps plan has 10Mbps upload speeds, and the 1 Gig plan has 50Mbps upload. With Viasat, all plans have an upload speed of 3Mbps. Rise Broadband’s 50Mbps plan has a 5Mbps upload speed.
What others are saying
Opinions on the best internet for gaming in rural areas can vary, but these companies earn excellent reviews from a variety of sources.
“Windstream’s DSL network is equipped to deliver speeds faster than many satellite, fixed wireless or other DSL providers can. Plans are also likely to be cheaper, and of a better connection quality than satellite or fixed wireless service – and don’t discount the value of unlimited data.” – CNET
“Mediacom is a cable ISP that ties for No. 5 in our Best Internet Service Providers of 2022 rating with a score of 3.7 out of 5. It jumps five places from our 2020 ratings and also takes the No. 2 spot for ISPs with the Fastest Plan, offering up to 1 gigabit (Gb) upload speeds. It ranks 5th in our Best Cable Internet Service Provider rating and is the sixth Best ISP for Gaming.” – U.S. News & World Report
“If speed and data are your priority and cost is not an issue, you’ll probably find Viasat’s unparalleled top-speed plans to be worth the price.” – ZDNet
Rise Broadband received an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and CNET gives the provider a score of 6.2/10, stating “Rise Broadband won’t blow you away with high speeds or super-cheap pricing, but you may find the Wi-Fi service and low latency (which, unlike satellite internet, can support online gaming) to be impressive.”
Internet for rural gaming FAQs
How fast does my internet need to be for online gaming?
You don’t need fast speeds for every online game, and many titles that don’t require quick reaction times work well with 25Mbps. However, you could experience frustrating delays when playing first-person shooter games with sophisticated graphics like Call of Duty or Halo. For these titles, it’s a good idea to get at least 50Mbps. And internet plans with even faster speed will make downloading updates for your games that much easier.
How can I increase my internet connection speed?
If you already have the best package in your area, you can increase your speed by using a wired ethernet or cable connection instead of Wi-Fi for gaming. Connect to servers as close to your home as possible, and pause downloads and software updates until you’re done playing.
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*Pricing varies by location and availability. Speeds may vary. All prices subject to change; for current pricing and availability visit our internet service page. Prices as of 3/12/22.
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