Advanced Rural Transportation Systems (ARTS) intend to utilize developing ITS technologies to improve safety and efficiency of rural surface transportation systems. Many of these functions require communications support. However wireline communication networks that currently serve urban areas are often unavailable in rural environments. To fill in this gap, wireless communications solutions need to be considered. Thus a need exists to identify wireless communication options that are likely to address successfully needs and features of ARTS applications. This study provides a systematic assessment of current and emerging wireless communications systems and technologies with respect to rural ITS applications. Wireless communication functions associated with rural ITS functions are identified. Existing and emerging wireless communication systems and technologies are reviewed. The vision of future rural wireless communications options is also discussed. The synthesis of information in this paper is expected to benefit rural ITS planners to identify suitable wireless solutions under different rural contexts.