What is fixed wireless internet?
Fixed wireless internet is a type of internet service that uses broadcast towers to transmit and receive internet signals in the form of radio waves. A small dish or antenna receives the signals and sends them to a modem, which converts them into the internet service you use to browse the web, send emails and stream TV.
Similar to satellite internet, fixed wireless broadband eliminates the need for a phone or cable line for service, making it a popular choice for residents of rural areas. Fixed wireless towers can only send signals to roughly a 10-mile radius however, meaning fixed wireless is available to fewer areas than satellite internet.
Where is fixed wireless available?
According to the FCC, fixed wireless internet service is available to about 46% of the U.S. population, with 29% having access to broadband speeds (up to 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload or higher). Main service areas for fixed wireless internet providers include rural regions in the Northeast, Midwest and western U.S., but some providers, such as Starry, may provide fixed wireless service exclusively in major metropolitan areas.
Fixed wireless internet providers
|Provider||Starting price*||Speed range||Monthly data allowance|
|AT&T Fixed Wireless||$49.99/mo.||10 – 25 Mbps||160 – 250 GB|
|Etheric Networks||$99.00/mo.||3 – 100 Mbps||300 GB – 4 TB|
|GHz Wireless||$39.95/mo.||5 – 50 Mbps||Unlimited|
|King Street Wireless||$50.00/mo.||1 – 12 Mbps||2 GB – Unlimited|
|Rise Broadband||$29.95/mo.||5 – 50 Mbps||150 – 500 GB|
|Starry Internet||$50.00/mo.||100 – 200 Mbps||Unlimited|
|Verizon LTE (installed)||$60.00/mo.||5 – 12 Mbps||10 – 40 GB|
*Pricing per month plus taxes for length of contract. Additional fees and terms may apply. Pricing varies by location and availability. All prices subject to change at any time. May or may not be available based on service address. Speeds may vary. As of 09/29/21.
Depending on your address, there may be availability of one or more of the fixed wireless providers listed above near you. There are dozens of other fixed wireless internet providers serving residents all over the U.S., but most are small regional providers that serve less than 1% of the population.
Your home needs to be close to a fixed wireless tower, ideally within 10 miles or less. For this reason, some addresses may not be eligible for fixed wireless internet service, even if there is a provider in their ZIP code.
For the most part, fixed wireless providers operate in rural areas since cable and fiber providers are already established in most cities. Plus, tall buildings and densely populated areas can obstruct fixed wireless signals.
Starry $30/mo. service brings affordable fixed wireless to select cities
Some providers, such as Starry Internet and T-Mobile, offer fixed wireless service in major cities including Boston, Denver and Los Angeles. Currently, Starry is offering internet with speeds up to 200 Mbps starting at price-for-life guaranteed $30/mo. in select areas.
In larger cities, fixed wireless providers often run service to an entire building, such as an apartment complex, rather than to individual homes. Consequently, service may not be available at your address, even if there is a fixed wireless provider in your area that serves local buildings.
Fixed wireless provider service areas
- AT&T – Available in California, Florida, Texas and 19 more states
- Etheric Networks – Available in California
- GHz Wireless – Available in Texas
- King Street Wireless – Available in California, Illinois, Indiana and 21 more states
- Rise Broadband – Available in California, Colorado, Idaho and 16 more states
- Starry Internet – Available in Boston, Denver, Los Angeles, New York City and Washington, D.C.
- Verizon LTE – Available in California, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and Texas
Shop internet plans near you
Unlimited data allowance
AT&T consumer home internet or Fixed Wireless Internet customers can use unlimited internet data through September 30, 2020.
Self-installation is the default installation option when available for customers.
Temporary speed upgrade
Get a temporary speed upgrade to 50 Mbps when you order Cox 10 & 30 Mbps internet plans. Offers valid through June 30, 2020.
Self-installation encouraged. Select your desired installation date, and a Cox representative will call to confirm or reschedule your appointment.
Safety-first Installation: A Frontier technician will perform your installation with appropriate safety protocols including wearing protective equipment and maintaining social distancing. In taking these precautions, it’s recommended that Frontier customers wear a face mask or face covering for the safety of technicians.
New TV plan
Introducing a new “Local 50” video plan to support contactless installation.
Contactless installation: Mediacom will send an installation kit and a technician to set up a single high-speed data connection, phone, or one local TV channel plan with the help of someone in your home.
Self-installation is encouraged. For professional installation, contact-free delivery is available for work done outside of the home. For customers moving more than 7 days from the date the order is placed, professional installation is available.
Free Contactless Delivery: An Xfinity technician will drop-off your equipment with installation instructions, then perform any outside work. Get your installation fees back in a customer credit for a no-charge installation.
What is fixed wireless internet good for?
Fixed wireless is a good solution for home internet service, but it may not be perfect for everybody. Compare the pros and cons of fixed wireless service to see if it is right for you.
What to love about fixed wireless
Affordable pricing – Fixed wireless tends to be a more cost-efficient internet option compared to satellite internet. It is similar to DSL internet in pricing and speeds.
Availability in rural areas – Fixed wireless requires no direct lines to your home, so it is often available in areas where cable, DSL and fiber are not. Satellite internet is the only connection type that has wider availability.
Online gaming is possible – The short distance between fixed wireless towers and receivers reduces the latency that makes online gaming impossible with satellite. This also means Zoom calls and live streaming are much easier with fixed wireless than satellite.
Things to consider
Equipment and line of sight – Similar to satellite internet, fixed wireless internet requires installing a small dish, which needs a direct line of sight to a fixed wireless tower to receive service.
Service and equipment cost – Monthly and initial startup costs for fixed wireless internet may be higher than other internet types, such as DSL internet.
Weather disruptions – Rain, snow, fog and other instances of inclement weather can disrupt your connection.
How fixed wireless internet is expanding
Fixed wireless internet is already available to nearly half the U.S. population, but many providers hope to continue expanding their networks to bring the service to more areas.
AT&T’s fixed wireless availability covers covers parts of 21 with its highest coverage in California, Texas and Illinois.
Verizon’s fixed wireless internet — LTE Internet (installed) — is already available in most locations where Verizon 4G LTE service is offered. As Verizon continues to roll out their 5G network, new fixed wireless plans with faster speeds may become available in select areas.
With eyes on competitors like Spectrum and Xfinity, both AT&T and Verizon plan to make fixed wireless access a top priority for small businesses.
Fixed wireless expansion into metropolitan areas
Major cities, such as Boston, Denver, Los Angeles and New York, that typically do not have access to fixed wireless service are starting to see options come available thanks to providers such as Starry Internet. These fixed wireless networks often provide internet to entire buildings and may not be available for individual homes.
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Written by:Ari Howard
Associate Writer, Broadband & Wireless Content
Ari is an Associate Writer for the Allconnect team, focusing on broadband and wireless news, as well as broadband and TV provider deals. She recently graduated from Davidson College with a bachelor’s degree in… Read more
Edited by:Robin Layton
Editor, Broadband Content
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