Aircards are One Option for Rural Internet Access

Is a wireless aircard the best choice for rural internet access?

If you live in the country you may have few options for internet access. I live in a rural area where there are no cable or dsl internet services. Even the dial-up access is slow due to poor telephone lines. I was connecting at a typical speed of 24kbs. Ouch, that's slow! It made uploading pictures or viewing video nearly impossible. Any website with a lot of graphics loaded so slowly it wasn't worth trying. So what options did I have? What alternatives to dial-up can rural internet users rely on for high speed internet access?

There are basically three alternatives including a wireless aircard. You can choose between satellite, long distance wifi (if it's available,) or an aircard.

  • Satellite Internet Access - This works almost anywhere with a view of the southern sky. It is a stable way to connect to the internet at high speeds in a rural location. However, it is more expensive to install than the other options like a wireless aircard. Installation of the satellite reciever is often nearly $700, but sometimes there are deals you can get or the provider may work the installation cost into your monthly service plan. After paying for installation, it usually costs about $60 per month for the basic plan, which is about the same as what it costs for an aircard service plan from a cell phone carrier.
  • Long Distance Wifi - In some rural areas you can have an antenna put on your house that recieves a signal from a long distance wifi tower. This works sort of like the wifi signal you connect with at your local coffee shop, but in this case, it works over long distances. There is an installation fee. The fee in my area of Missouri for this wireless service is about $300 for installation. A monthly service fee also applies and these vary from company to company.
  • Wireless Aircard (also known as a wireless modem) - An aircard is the method I chose. I bought an aircard, or wireless usb modem, from my local Alltel store. The aircard connects to my laptop computer via a usb connection. It allows my computer to connect with cell phone towers and uses their 3G connection to provide high speed internet. It works anywhere I can get cell service. One advantage of an aircard over long distance wifi or satellite is the fact that I can take it anywhere. With the other options I'm limited to my home. With an aircard you can go almost anywhere. I've even used it while riding down the highway. I no longer have to consider whether or not a hotel has wifi service; if I have my aircard I can connect to the internet at high speed through the nearest Alltel cell phone tower. It only cost $25 dollars to get the aircard installed and Alltel gave me the aircard itself for signing a 2 year service agreement. It costs $60 a month for an unlimited internet data plan. Also, if you buy a Cradlepoint too, an aircard can be used to set up a wifi network in your home or wherever you go.
If you know of any other options for rural users to get high speed internet service or would like to know more about how aircards work, let me know in the comments. As far as I'm concerned, the best option for me is an aircard, so if you live in a rural area and you're looking for a high speed option, check with your local cell phone provider and see if a wireless aircard is for you.


  1. I, too, live in a rural area-no cable, no DSL, satellite..too pricey w/purchase of seperate dish..$800. I got an AT&T quicksilver 3G aircard, but I don't have a laptop, just a 5 yr old Dell Dimension desktop. I love the card when it is working, but it's very intermitent. I live @ 2.5 mi. from the tower so that's not the problem. It gives a NO WIRELESS DEVICE DETECTED message more often than not. AT&T cust. serv. has been really patient but have now given up on me..they say to buy a new laptop or call DELL tech support. Any ideas I could try before I shell out a grand for the laptop?(or a minimum $50. to tell Dell "it is working now, sometimes not?" ??? I was so happy to find this blog, tho! Paula

  2. t1 internet services - have become the most popular method for Internet access among small, medium and big enterprise. Its fast and reliable uptime guarantees the secure services at clients end. As long as you are connected with your computer T1 connections are “always on,” or in simple words its features are similar with DSL.

  3. I also live in a rural area that only has dialup available to me as DSL ends 1 mile away. I am on the edge of the white area of the cell tower map. The nearest cell tower is 3 miles away with NLOS because there is a ridge with trees in between me and the tower. I am considering a laptop aircard with outdoor antenna wired to my wireless router. Which antenna should I use?

  4. Be alert when buying an aircard now. They no longer offer unlimited data usage plans. They are limited to 5GB/month and charge .03-.05/MB if you go over. Internet gaming and downloading are going to be cost probibitive.

  5. can you unlock the option quicksilver for AT&T?

  6. I am now considering an aircard from Verizon with some very good reviews from people I know who live in the country. DON'T ever get Hughes Net satellite. After one year of awful service they came out and the girl at the satellite service said there would be no charge. So I let them come in and the technician said my modem was bad (only one year old) and that the installation of the satellite service was not done properly and they had to reinstall. Now I get a bill for $125 for the technical help. I called them and said "why should I pay for something that never worked right all year, I paid $76 per month and now you're charging me for something that should have been done right in the first place." The young woman I spoke too, most definitely in India kept saying I agreed to pay the $125 and I kept saying but it was never installed right in the first place. She didn't get it and I got off the phone planning to cancel and fight them on the penalty of early disconnect. I hate that company, they're awful, their service stinks and now I'm hopeful that this aircard will solve this problem.

  7. I want to get a air card, because I have dial-up and it is awful. You might as well not have anything. It use to be better a few years ago, but now I think with more people on line it has gotten slower over the years. I need something affordable desperately. I only concerned I'll get the NO WIRELESS DEVICE DETECTED signal after paying all that money per month. Let me know what you think. Is it worth it to take the chance. I have US Cellular phone service and was thinking about going with them. Phyllis

  8. I also live in the country and can't get dsl or cable. Does anyone know of in cellular provider that has an unlimited broadband plan, Thanks.

  9. Now this is something new, I been recently using a satellite internet connection which I must admit it's really fast. And this thing, Aircard, I find it interesting since this is the first time I've seen it. Does it also offer high speed internet just like in satellite internet since it's using 3G?...

  10. There are certainly a lot of satellite connection choices. The satellite internet connection is a good one for me.

  11. I have had satellite internet service with several different companies over the past five years. Hughes was the last. Hughes was the worst. I would not recommend Hughes out of any I've tried -- unless you love dealing with Gustapo-types.
    After my two-year nightmare with Hughes was up, I got an aircard. I'm in a low signal area, but it seems about as fast as satellite was.
    By the way, we had to replace satellite modems every nine months with all satellite companies we were with and had to pay to have bad installations fixed also.
    I have ordered an antenna for my aircard, and I think it will be nice. I have a 5gig download with AT&T, and a 4gig download on my iPhone tethered.
    I think my internet life will be better. The AT&T service was $40 a month cheaper than I was paying Hughes.
    Good luck to all. Here's hoping we can all rise from a third-world interest service.

  12. Hello,
    We provids Hughes Net Gen4.This is the next generation of best high-speed satellite Internet that will let you do more of what you want online You may use it....