Finding a good high-speed internet provider can be tricky if you don’t know the jargon and the “catch”, especially if you live in rural Oklahoma. In this article I will offer my insight and experience with the choices that are found in Hughes and Seminole Counties, as well as the fringes of some other surrounding counties.
What to Look For
Anyone can compare download speeds. What ISPs (internet service providers) don’t emphasize as much are upload, latency, reliability, and monthly download caps.
These can be just as important, however. Who cares if you are subscribed to a 5 Mbps plan if you can only get 1.5 Mbps, and the internet connection constantly disconnects?
In this article we will try to provide ISP-specific information on these points where they are especially relevant.
If you can get a high-speed wired connection such as DSL, cable, or fiber, that is usually your best option in terms of speed, latency, reliability, and bang per buck. The only downside is that very often wired providers will not have a local office, especially in rural towns.
One misconception that some people have is that they need to subscribe to “wireless internet” to be able to use the internet wirelessly. Not so. Any broadband provider you go with will be capable of providing the internet wirelessly within your home, either by providing a wireless gateway or by connecting a wireless router. The difference is how they get it to your home.
In my personal experience, if you have good phone lines and are close enough to one of their stations to get 6 Mbps or more, AT&T DSL or U-Verse provides rock-solid speed and latency.
The biggest drawback to DSL service is that you are generally limited to 1 or 1.5 Mbps upload at the most.
AT&T is the company many people love to hate, but this is usually for reasons such as cell phone reliability and customer service. Even in the customer service department, it has been my experience around these parts that their technicians are friendly and accommodating.
Prices range from about $30/mo to about $70/mo, depending on which plan you subscribe to.
You can check them out at their website here, but at the time of this post I would recommend calling them instead of trying to order online. Their website is saying that they are unavailable at my address (which is weird, ’cause I have their service).
Vyve Broadband is wired, but it uses cable instead of phone lines. Cable internet is often the most highly recommended because it often offers the best bang for your buck in terms of maximum speed. It also has generally higher upload speeds than DSL.
The thing to know about cable versus DSL, however, is that cable is a shared line, while DSL is not. Generally, unless the DSL provider is overloaded at the back end, your going to get a pretty solid speed (almost your maximum) at all times of the day.
With cable, the number of people using the same cable line at the same time can affect the maximum speed.
Vyve Broadband does offer the best speeds in town here in Holdenville, OK. As far as I know, AT&T only offers up to 18 Mbps, whereas Vyve’s lowest offering is 25 Mbps. Their highest offering is a whopping 105 Mbps! Wow!
I haven’t tried Vyve Broadband, yet, but if I were moving and needed internet installed at my new house, this would probably be my pick. Their customer satisfaction is better than AT&T according to broadbandnow.com, and their 25 Mbps plan is cheaper overall than AT&T’s 18 Mbps plan.
Click here to go to Vyve’s website. Their plans range from $49.99/mo to $89.99/mo.
A fixed wireless internet provider is an ISP which gets internet to your home by beaming it wirelessly from a tower.
A technician will generally come out to your house and install a CPE (customer premises equipment) on your house. Because they point to a tower instead of the sky, they may need to add height to the CPE by using a pole or tower so they can overcome trees and/or hills.
Fixed wireless is often the next best solution if you cannot get wired service. However, the experience can vary not only from ISP to ISP, but from tower to tower, and even might depend on which AP (access point) you are connected to on a given tower.
If you get a reliable connection to an AP and tower that are not overloaded, and the tower is connected to a back end that is not overloaded, fixed wireless can be a great experience for rural customers.
Some people think that this is satellite internet but there are some major differences. Bandwidth caps, which are a major issue with satellite internet, are often non-existent with fixed wireless internet companies. If you are a gamer, you might know that latency (ping times) can be between 500ms to 2000ms with satellite, whereas a good fixed wireless connection will normally get you between 30ms and 100ms.
AtLink is a large Oklahoman WISP (wireless internet service provider) based in Oklahoma City. Click here to see their coverage map.
According to their website, their most expensive plan offers speeds that are faster than wired services. However, as is the norm with fixed wireless companies, this speed is not available everywhere.
At AtLink’s testmy.net host history page, their download speed is over 1 Mbps a fair amount of the time, which is a good sign. My guess is that quite a few of their customers have a 1.5 Mbps plan, which is enough to stream video. On the other hand, they don’t list their speeds on their website; being non-transparent is a bad sign.
I do not have any personal experience with AtLink. Here’s what I could find out through online research:
- They have a great online front. From their Facebook page to their website, they know how to do it.
- They have recently received a government broadband initiative grant to build out and provide service to unserved and underserved areas of Oklahoma.
- broadbandnow.com shows a pretty good customer satisfaction rate, though 13 ratings (as of the time of this post) is a small sampling of users.
Click here to visit their website. Their residential plans range from $44/mo to $80/mo.
McCoy Satellite started out as a satellite TV and internet dealer. They have since started using fixed wireless, as well, and have quickly expanded from their original tower south of Wetumka, OK.
They do not have a website, so information is not readily available online, but I can tell you that they do not use the cheapest equipment on the market. I know this because they are a primary competitor to Plainsnet, who I used to work for.
I have not personally used the service. Back when I talked to a lot of people about it, there did not seem to be a high rate of dissatisfaction, but who knows how that has progressed as more have signed up for their service.
Plainsnet is a small WISP based in Holdenville, OK. It is a subsidiary of Visual Lease Services, which is a technology company also based in Holdenville, OK.
I worked for Plainsnet for about seven years. I left in February of 2015, so as of this post it has been about ten months.
During my tenure we had our ups and downs, but for most of my time there I could honestly recommend them as the best option for rural internet. The customer service was local and normally quite good. The service itself was very good, as well, relative to the other rural options.
A little less than a year before I left, the service started going downhill in terms of speed and latency. Sometimes there were even reliability issues. This was for reasons that I do not feel at liberty to discuss. To be fair, running a WISP is something that sounds great on paper but is very hard to implement successfully. People should cut ISPs more slack than they do.
The customer service was (and likely still is) good as far as the technicians are concerned, but I find it hard to recommend the service anymore until they improve it.
However, if your only other choice is satellite, Plainsnet might still be your best option in certain areas. Gaming is next to impossible on satellite, whereas it is still possible at times on Plainsnet. Also, Plainsnet still has no bandwidth caps as far as I know.
Their prices range from $29/mo for 600 kbps to $79/mo for 2 Mbps. Click here to go to their website (which, by the way, I designed; I don’t think I did half bad, though I dare say I’ve gotten better since then).
UPDATE 12/23/2015: I have learned that Plainsnet is expecting to be able to implement better back end service in February 2016, which would remove most of the cons mentioned here. I intend to keep up with the development and to update this article as soon as I learn they have done this.
Rise Broadband is the largest WISP in the U.S. Locally, it was formerly Rhino Communications, but it’s parent company was JAB Broadband, which owned several other subsidiaries. These have all been merged into the current name, Rise Broadband.
Rise is a rapidly growing company, and sometimes it shows. When 2015 started out, they only had one local technician covering a large area that included places near Ada and Seminole, to name two. This resulted in slow service times, as my parents, who are Rise subscribers, can attest.
Because of Rise Broadband’s size, they have lots of experience and technology at their disposal. This does not always result in faster speed, but they do seem to maintain their network pretty well. No back end problems here. And if you absolutely cannot live without great speed, they can give you your own private wifi connection for a steep price if you have line of sight to one of their towers.
As of now, broadbandnow.com shows Rise’s customer satisfaction at around 50%. Not great, but large communications companies are notorious for having low satisfaction ratings. People tend to complain more than praise them. When’s the last time you left a good review for one?
My parents’ experience has been up and down over the years, but lately there has been very few problems.
Click here to go to their website. They are such a large company and the technology is such that their price probably varies by location, which is likely why they do not show it on their website.
Satellite internet is hit and miss. Some people get great speeds and little connectivity issues, while others have low speeds and are disconnected a lot.
The good thing about satellite internet is that you can generally get it no matter where you live as long as you can see the southern sky.
NUMBER ONE SATELLITE TIP: Before choosing a provider, ask people in your area who have the service about how well it works.
The main drawbacks of satellite internet, even at its best, are as follows:
- Very high latency—between 500ms and 2000ms! Anything that requires real time communication, such as Skype video calls or many online games, will either suffer greatly or be impossible.
- Bandwidth caps. While these have gotten less restrictive over time, if you are a big fan of Youtube or Netflix, be prepared to either pay for extra bandwidth, or get your speed throttled way down when you go over your limit.
- Customer service is often either hard to get on-site due to distance, or is provided by local dish installers. Mileage may vary.
Around where I live in Oklahoma, HughesNet seems to be the biggest player. They are also the one I have used the most at the most places, and the one my family used to subscribe to.
Nowadays they allow you to pay for more bandwidth if you go over your monthly limit.
The monthly limit has even gotten better: 55 GB/mo for their lowest plan, and 70 GB/mo for their highest plan. That’s not bad. A Netflix movie every once in a while would not be out of the question—if you had a solid connection with good download speed.
And therein lies the main drawback. It’s hit and miss. Some people have a good connection, some don’t. I know people in both groups. I used to be one of the bad connection people.
Bottom line: if you have a great view of the southern sky and are unimpressed by your other options, HughesNet might be worth a shot these days. Just be sure to ask for Gen4.
Click here to visit their website. Their plans range from $49.99/mo for 5 Mbps to $129.99/mo for 15 Mbps.
All of WildBlue’s plans are advertised at up to 12 Mbps, or 25 Mbps if you pay $10 to $20 more.
The difference is how much bandwidth you get per month, which ranges from 10 GB to 30 GB. Not great, but even when you are throttled you are only supposed to go down to 1-5 Mbps, which isn’t bad as long as that’s accurate.
To be honest, I don’t know much about WildBlue’s service, except that their Exede service is advertised quite a bit locally. From what I hear, it seems to have all the drawbacks I have mentioned.
However, there seem to be a lot of people out there that say it is far better than HughesNet. Click here to see a conversation about it on dslreports.com, a site that I used to use sometimes when I was in the business.
Bottom line: based on that forum conversation alone, I would go with Wild Blue over HughesNet as long as I could get the Exede technology.
Click here to go to their website. Their pricing ranges from $49.99/mo to $109.99/mo.
UPDATE 02/10/2016: I inquired about the current situation on the dslreports.com forum. Click here to read the responses for yourself. They are varied, but are in line with my recommendations.
Mobile internet is something most smartphone owners use all the time. With some phones you can make your phone a wifi hotspot, at which point laptops and tablets can be connected (desktops, too, if they have a wireless adapter).
There are also other options, such as buying prepaid wifi hotspot boxes that you plug in and use whatever amount of bandwidth you pay for.
The bandwidth is the main drawback. Often it is very restrictive, and GB per dollar is unimpressive.
In both speed and latency, however, 4G cellular service can excel.
3G is another matter. While the speed can be okay, latency is not great, so gaming and voice or video calls don’t do well.
There are so many options for mobile internet that I won’t list them all here. I would probably choose Wild Blue’s Exede over any of them at this point. If you still want to check them out, though, just do some research on the coverage and plans of the cellular providers in your area. You can also look at some of the prepaid options, as well.
Towns Covered in this Post
This article was partly a response to seeing that people are searching for internet providers in Atwood, OK and Cromwell, OK. Hopefully, the insights expressed here will be useful to those people.
This article also applies to the towns of Bearden, Calvin, Holdenville, Horntown, Lamar, Seminole, Spaulding, Wetumka, Wewoka, Yeager, and probably a few others.
Below I will give my opinion on which ISP(s) I would check out in each location. Keep in mind that each of these suggestions have two caveats.
- Try to ensure that you will get at least a consistent 1 Mbps from any given provider.
- Who you go with will often depend on your usage scenario. For example, do not go with satellite if you are wanting to play FPS games online. This second point also ties in with the first: if you will need more than 1 Mbps, then try to ensure that you get it.
If I were in Atwood without access to wired internet, I would probably check out AtLink, WildBlue Exede, McCoy Satellite, and Plainsnet, in that order. If Plainsnet gets their act together they would probably move to the top of the list.
If I were in Bearden without access to wired internet, I would probably check out Rise Broadband, WildBlue Exede, and McCoy Satellite, in that order.
If I were in Calvin without access to wired internet I would probably check out AtLink, WildBlue Exede, and Plainsnet, in that order.
If I were in Cromwell without access to wired internet, I would probably check out Rise Broadband, WildBlue Exede, and Plainsnet, in that order.
If I were in Holdenville without access to wired internet, I would probably check out WildBlue Exede and Plainsnet, in that order. If Plainsnet gets their act together they would definitely move to the top of the list. They have good equipment in Holdenville.
If I were in Lamar without access to wired internet, I would probably check out McCoy Satellite, Rise Broadband, and WildBlue Exede, in that order.
If I were in Seminole without access to wired internet, I would probably check out Rise Broadband and WildBlue Exede, in that order. I’m fairly certain that Rise Broadband has some pretty good equipment in Seminole.
If I were in Wetumka without access to wired internet, I would probably check out McCoy Satellite, WildBlue Exede, and Plainsnet, in that order. McCoy Satellite’s home base is south of Wetumka, so he is likely to have good equipment there.
If I were in Wewoka without access to wired internet, I would probably check out Rise Broadband, WildBlue Exede, and Plainsnet, in that order. If Plainsnet gets their act together they would probably move to a spot above WildBlue but still below Rise.
If I were in Yeager without access to wired internet, I would probably check out McCoy Satellite, WildBlue Exede, Rise Broadband, and Plainsnet, in that order. If Plainsnet gets their act together they would probably move to the top of the list, or at least right below McCoy Satellite. McCoy’s home base is near enough to Yeager to make it likely that he will be able to reach it with good equipment.
Some links on this page might be affiliate links, which means that I make money if you click through them and buy something from the affiliate online. However, none of the ISP links are affiliate links.
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Located in the rural town of Holdenville, OK, I serve the local residents and businesses with on-site and drop-off computer repair and networking services, and provide web design nationally. With 11+ combined years in the IT industry, including 7 years in the fixed wireless internet industry, I would love to help you in whatever way I can.