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CNET Member Asks: What's the best way to get online in rural areas?

A tale of two Ricks: Both live in rural areas of America and both struggle with fast and reliable internet. What are their options?

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What are fast and reliable internet options for people living in rural areas?

Eric Mack/CNET

In this edition of CNET Member Asks, we're dealing with an important subject and an interesting twist of fate. This week we are combining two member-submitted questions on the same subject, both from guys named Rick.

Rick A. is from West Milton, Ohio. Rick T. is from an area outside of Louisville, Kentucky.

Both have the same problem. They both live in rural areas, which leaves them with no reliable or fast connection to the internet. In fact, more than half of all rural Americans deal with this problem. Both Ricks sound pretty fed up -- rightfully so, in my opinion. Somehow this "Rick telepathy" led them to submit similar questions. So without further ado, here's what they had to say:

"I live in a rural area of Ohio where cable service is not available and DSL service is extremely slow (1Mbps). I would like to reliably stream Netflix or another TV service. Satellite internet (HughesNet) is very expensive and reduces throughput to 2Mbps when you hit your data cap of 10/20/30/50GB (the price increases as the data cap goes up). My research says the average home uses about 100GB of data per month, so all of the HughesNet data cap limits are pretty low for a streaming household. Is there a good internet provider for rural customers who want to stream TV or other video?" -Rick A. 

"Is there any hope for those of us in rural areas without access to broadband? This problem leave[s] folks in the boonies feeling left behind. Cord cutting? Smart Home? Security camera app? You must be joking. Streaming music lessons, nope. Skype or Duo, occasionally works. Other significant "modern" norms are problematic. When we moved here in 2003, landline connections were still common for internet. Satellite was/still is overly expensive, latent and unreliable. 4G hot spots offered false hope as they drop constantly. Always-on connection appears to be a pipe dream.I read the tantalizing news about 5G deployment coming in 2019, but wonder if it will be offered in rural areas and sounds like it may be worse at building/tree penetration than 4G. Sigh."-Rick T.

With such rapid technological advancements in this modern era, it's no wonder they feel left behind. AT&T seeks to deploy high-speed internet in rural areas by 2021, but that's at least three years away. We need answers now. 

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Manuel Flores/CNET

So if you have some knowledge on the matter, please share your answer in the comments section. I know the two Ricks would appreciate it. And please vote in the poll below to tell us how you feel about Rick and Rick's predicament. And as always, if you have a question you'd like answered, head over to the CNET Member Asks main page and fill out the submission form! 

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