Phones Canada’s geography, like its citizens, is proudly diverse. One in six Canadians lives in rural areas where fibre optic cable installations are prohibitively expensive. Rural internet providers offer these remote customers unique solutions that deliver reliable connectivity. Our top picks for the best Canadian rural internet providers include Xplornet, Starlink, Bell, Rogers, SaskTel, and Telus. We’ve scoured all the best cable, fibre optic, DSL, wireless, and satellite internet plans, analyzing the speed, reliability, and price offered by each provider so you can make an informed purchase.
Here are the best rural internet service providers in Canada for December 2023:
Xplore: Our favourite rural internet provider is Xplore, offering extensive coverage through its independent 4G LTE network and WiMAX fixed wireless towers. Xplore also offers consumer satellite internet service in areas where its wireless network can’t reach. The company continues to install fibre optic and 5G services in select communities, further improving rural internet infrastructure.
Starlink: Starlink internet, the high-speed satellite provider from Elon Musk’s SpaceX, is now available in most of Canada. While the service is still new, we were impressed with its performance and accessibility.
Bell: Bell Canada offers a large variety of rural internet options, including fibre optic, DSL, fixed wireless, and mobile hotspot. The company is a major participant in the Broadband Fund, installing fibre optic cable in small, remote communities and building wireless broadband towers. Bell also offers cable internet and mobile hotspot telecommunications services.
Rogers: Rogers launched its wireless home broadband service in response to increased demand for high-speed internet in rural Canada during the pandemic lockdown in 2020. The service, which launched in southwestern Ontario, has expanded to include western Canada.
Telus: Telus operates the fastest, largest, and most reliable cellular network in Canada and leverages that technology to provide rural internet service. The company also provides high-speed internet over fibre optic, DSL, and mobile hotspot.
SaskTel: As the largest communications provider in Saskatchewan, SaskTel offers fusion internet plans, making it the best choice for rural Canadians without hardwired internet access. Bundling an unlimited voice and data cell phone plan reduces the cost and increases the full-speed data cap.
Good, fast, cheap. Choose two. Canadian internet consumers must balance their needs between a reliable internet connection, high-speed downloads, and affordable monthly rates. As of 2023, only 62% of rural communities have reliable broadband access to the internet. However, government incentives through the Broadband Fund compensate internet providers for installing broadband connectivity for all Canadian households, despite the cost.
To choose the best internet provider for your needs in rural Canada, it’s important to understand the six high-speed technologies and compare rural internet technologies: Cable, Fibre optic, DSL, Mobile hotspot, Fixed wireless, and Satellite.
In rural areas, DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) is a reliable and affordable option, while mobile hotspot offers fast speeds and nationwide coverage. Fixed wireless provides reliable performance and good coverage in rural communities, while satellite internet has a large coverage area but comes with high latency and weather issues.
Overall, rural Canadians have several options for high-speed internet connectivity, each with its own advantages and drawbacks. As the Canadian government continues to invest in the Broadband Fund, the availability and quality of rural internet service are expected to improve even further in the coming years.