UPDATED 11/20/2020 after AT&T announced it was no longer accepting new orders for AT&T internet. More information below.
There are a lot of factors to consider when moving to the mountains in and around Asheville, NC. One of the most important is access to a reliable high-speed internet connection. Buyers that move here from more urban areas sometimes take for granted that robust internet access is readily available. But Western North Carolina’s mountainous topography and variety of urban, suburban, and rural areas mean that there is a wide variety of internet services available, and there are significant differences between them.
In this post, we’ll discuss the different internet service providers (ISPs) in the Asheville region, where each one is available, and the differences in speed between each one.
What Internet is Available in Asheville?
Spectrum Cable Internet
Formerly known as Charter, Spectrum is the only cable company in Buncombe County. For high-speed, reliable internet, Spectrum is usually your best choice. You can also bundle phone and tv service, as well as your cell phone (although we typically recommend Verizon Wireless for the best cell coverage in the mountains).
Spectrum internet is available in most of Asheville, Black Mountain, and other cities and townships. As you get further out into more mountainous regions, there’s a good chance Spectrum cable internet is not available. You can check Spectrum internet availability by entering a property address on the Spectrum website.
Spectrum comes in a variety of speeds, including 200Mbps, 400Mbps, and 940Mbps (940 is Spectrum’s Gigabit speed offering).
AT&T Internet Service
Another major internet provider in the Asheville market is AT&T. AT&T offers internet, tv, and phone service. Their internet service is available in a much wider geographic area than cable internet, although at varying speeds.
AT&T internet speeds are not as fast as cable, although they are typically acceptable for most users. In urban and suburban areas, it’s common to see speeds of 18Mbps. Homes in more rural areas may be connected to DSL, which maxes out at 5Mbps. However, AT&T is no longer accepting new orders for DSL connections. So if you’re considering a property in a more rural location, AT&T DSL is no longer an option. You can check if AT&T’s non-DSL internet is available for a particular address on their website.
Skyrunner is an Asheville-based internet service provider that offers “fixed wireless broadband.” More information on how this technology works is available here.
Skyrunner has towers all over Western North Carolina, including Buncombe County and all of the surrounding counties. It’s a great option for urban and remote properties alike. The key is that you need line of sight to a Skyrunner tower. Skyrunner can usually tell you over the phone or via email with a fairly high level of certainty whether your home can access Skyrunner. Of course, confirmation can happen after a site visit with one of their technicians. We’ve had real estate buyers do this during Due Diligence to confirm that they can access this ISP.
Skyrunner is a lifesaver for many rural homeowners, as its speed is far superior to DSL. As of this post, Skyrunner offers several packages, including 5Mbps, 10Mbps, and 25Mbps plans. They even offer 1Gbps (Gigabit) plans in some areas.
Another internet option in our area is satellite. Satellite internet is available from several companies, but Viasat is one of the more common options. Satellite internet speeds have improved over the years, and Viasat now offers plans with speeds of 12 Mbps, 25Mbps, 50Mbps, and 100Mpbs although at a higher price than other internet providers. Satellite is a good option for rural areas where speeds faster than DSL are needed.
Many tourists and second-home owners in the Asheville area use a wireless hotspot when they travel to be sure they can stay connected if the house they’re in has less than ideal internet service. But for some users, a wireless hotspot is also a great option for their main internet connection at home. As long as there is good cell coverage available, a wireless hotspot can provide a reliable internet connection.
What Internet Service is Available in the Mountains Outside of Asheville?
As you get into the counties surrounding Asheville, there are often different internet providers. For instance, Madison County to the north (which includes the towns of Marshall and Mars Hill, NC) has Spectrum internet in some areas. But some areas in Madison County have cable internet access through a small company called Country Cablevision, which also serves Yancey County. And many areas in Madison County have access to French Broad Fiber Internet (with speeds up to 1Gbps!).
McDowell County (just east of Buncombe County) includes the towns of Old Fort and Marion. One of the main providers here is Frontier DSL (as well as Spectrum and Skyrunner).
In some areas of Haywood County west of Asheville (including Waynesville and Maggie Valley), Telemetrics is a good option for line-of-sight internet with speeds up to 9Mbps.
Asheville Internet Cafes and Free WiFi
In addition to a wide variety of internet service companies, the Asheville area also offers tons of great cafes, coffee shops, breweries, and other businesses where you can connect to free wi-fi. These free wifi hotspots are great for those times when you need a few minutes (or a couple of hours) to catch up on some work or school. The added bonus is that you’ll get to enjoy a cup of coffee, a cold beer, or have a bite at one of Asheville’s great restaurants!
We can Help you Understand your Asheville Internet Options
Internet access is a requirement for almost anyone considering a move to Asheville. For many, working from home is a way of life, and streaming entertainment is the norm. For most real estate in the Asheville area, there are multiple internet service providers available, ranging from fiber to radio tower to satellite. For more rural properties, there are different options than what’s available in town. This is why it’s important to understand your internet connectivity needs before you begin searching for a home or land for sale. Give us a call or contact us below and we’ll be happy to help you find your perfect connected home!
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