Video gaming was already booming before the pandemic arrived. But, being locked down and socially restricted saw online gaming surge. In March 2020, Steam broke its record for concurrent users as 7.25 million individuals went on the platform to indulge in their favorite pastime.
There are currently somewhere in the region of 3.24 billion gamers, and there are thousands of streaming channels and gameplay videos on platforms such as YouTube. Twitch has 30 million daily active users and made millionaires from streamers such as xQc and Summit1g.
With all of this gaming activity on the internet, it is easy not to believe everyone can access high-speed broadband and play online. But this isn’t true.
What are the problems facing gamers living in rural areas?
Over time, rural residential areas have slowed in growth. Around 50% of rural counties now have fewer inhabitants than they did 2 decades ago. However, around 46 million individuals live in rural counties.
Anyone wishing to enjoy online gaming in one of America’s rural counties could have a tough time. The choice of internet service providers is lower than in urban areas, and the speeds available are lower.
For ISPs, introducing the equipment and technology necessary for broadband is expensive, and the rural geography is not always forgiving. Nevertheless, there are ISPs for rural gaming, and some of the best are listed below.
What are the best ISPs for gamers in rural America today?
The rollout of 5G certainly brings the promise of ultra-high speed connections for gamers, and it is predicted that 55% of Americans will have 5G by 2025. But, at the moment, 25% of rural towns and villages’ population completely lacks broadband access.
This means that around 14.5 million rural-dwelling Americans struggle to reach minimum broadband speeds of 11 Mbps. If you are one of these internet users, you may be interested in comparing the following ISPs.
This ISP aims to bring high-speed broadband to rural Kentucky. Currently, they have a cable and fiber network of over 400 miles through Kentucky, plus fixed wireless products for internet, phone, and cable TV.
As far as gamers in rural Kentucky are concerned, Broadlinc ISP boasts speeds of up to 200 Mbps, dependent on location. Minimum basic broadband packages from Broadlinc are pegged at 25 Mbps.
A giant in telecommunications, AT&T can also boast about being one of the top 3 fastest ISPs in the US today. AT&T broadband speeds range from 25 Mbps right up to 5,000 MBps. But, before you get too excited, those top speeds are unlikely to be available in rural areas.
Nevertheless, AT&T is a good option in many rural areas. As this network has vowed to switch all 3G connections over to 4G LTE, rural areas could use mobile hotspots with AT&T for gaming if no wired or wireless network is available.
As the name implies, this internet service arrives via satellite. While this is typically not as fast as fiber or DSL, satellite internet could be a viable gaming option for those in rural areas.
Inhabitants of rural areas are 10 times less likely to have broadband than their urban counterparts. While gaming is an engaging pastime, internet access is vital for communication in general, and the divide between urban and rural areas was noticeable during Covid.
However, Viasat offers speeds from 12 Mbps to 100 Mbps in all areas of the US including remote and rural locations.
Another satellite internet provider. This one is recommended to anyone who has no internet access at all. If you have cable, fiber, or DSL, in your area then you may have better options already.
HughesNet offers up to 25 Mbps for download speeds meaning that it is one of the slower options here. But, as internet gaming only requires a minimum speed of 1 Mbps for upload and 3 Mbps for downloading it may be an option where there is no other.
It is said that 5G might shape the future of gaming and make wired and WiFi connections redundant. Until then, rural areas still need ISPs to invest in fiber and provide internet access to inhabitants. Windstream is another company taking rural internet access seriously and is plowing $2 billion into its fiber deployment strategy.
Windstream covers 18 states which involve many rural counties and areas. Speeds promised by Windstream on their fiber network are 1 Gbps for downloads.
All of these ISPs are servicing rural areas. The speeds they can provide will depend on their coverage, and just how remote you are. Satellite internet may not provide the fastest connection, but in some locations, it may be the only or the best choice.
Other things to consider when you choose an ISP for rural gaming are installation fees, activation fees, monthly rental fees, and additional fees for phone and cable TV.
Compare the speeds available, look for free installation offers or combination packages, and check how your area fares with your chosen ISP before you sign any contract.
Rural areas in the US are still lagging behind urban dwellings, but it is heartening to see that many internet providers are taking this seriously. Investment in rural areas will help to provide vital communication links to millions of people who are currently denied broadband and in some instances any internet access at all.
For those who wish to game online, the news is good also. The ISPs here will all help any Fortnite or Warzone fan link up to the fastest server in the US for extended gameplay.