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National vs Rural Internet Providers

Apr 4, 2019, 10:39 AM by Emily Acord

National vs. Rural Internet Pricing

National Carriers

AT&T, Comcast, Charter, and Time Warner, are not only well-known internet providers, but they also own and generate large amounts of media content. These companies cover large service areas and therefore provide service on a much larger scale than a rural carrier.

National carriers serve densely populated areas, with tens or even hundreds of thousands of people so they can target large numbers of subscribers that are close together to maximize the use of their networks. They aim to reduce costs by outsourcing sales and support overseas, and avoiding less-populated areas that would require building more pedestals or service boxes. There is also less work for technicians as there is no need to run long spans of cabling when consumer’s homes and businesses are closer in proximity.

The large volume of customers and cost-saving measures enable these carriers to offer lower-priced service plans, while taking customer churn in stride. National carriers are repeatedly losing and gaining customers as customer retention is not at the utmost importance to them. Quality sometimes lacks as well, but they make up for it in volume.  Taxes in the telecommunications industry can sometimes kick back to those providers, so urban areas offer another financial advantage. And it also means that urban subscribers still pay extra on their cheaper service through taxes.

Simply stated national carriers do not want to set up shop in rural areas. There is not enough profit to acquire as their margins are too lean.

Rural Carriers

Local rural carriers such as Madison serve much smaller populations usually a couple thousand, rather than the larger cities that national carriers provide to. Rural service runs not only to individual properties, but spans the farmland and wide open spaces between. Between infrastructures, smaller subscriber base and technology costs being higher rates may not seem “competitive” with national brands. 

There are numerous reasons to support your rural provider:

  • Our staff live and work in this community
  • We offer quality wages and keep the tax dollars local to support the community
  • Our workforce is 100% USA-based
  • Network quality is as important to us as it is to you, since we all live in the same community, we use the same services as you do
  • We typically serve areas that the national companies won’t


Pricing Comparison Trap

It’s easy to compare nationally-televised internet rates with local providers and draw conclusions about the value. Now hopefully it is clear as to why pricing can vary so much from region to region and especially from urban to rural markets, the best comparison for your wallet is between your local service providers. It’s also more than just rates, what quality and capacity of service can you get? And of course, what do you need?

Our residential internet packages can reach speeds up to 100Mbps. Local competitors may offer lower speeds for lower prices. Yes, they’re cheaper, and if you just want to check email and a couple websites from time to time, it’s a bargain that might meet your needs. But it’s often almost 17x slower! Do you download music? Do you subscribe to Netflix or Hulu or any other streaming web service? How many people in your household have devices that can connect to Wi-Fi? And how many devices does each person have?

These days, even a single-person household can be filled with internet-connected devices: phone, computer, tablet, TV, Blu-ray player, video game console, thermostat, and even your lights or appliances! That many devices connected all at once to the internet? That requires a good high-speed connection.

Choose your internet service based on your needs. Try to compare apples to apples with other local companies that service the same community. As your internet needs grow, you’ll likely feel very lucky to have a local company that can offer the high speeds at community-sustaining pricing that benefits your local economy.