Best Satellite Internet Providers: HughesNet vs Viasat vs Starlink

In the battle of the best satellite internet providers, you’ve got three options: HughesNet, Viasat, and Starlink. The playing field is ‌smaller than other types of internet services, but remains competitive. So out of the three, which satellite service offers the best option? 

Below, we will run a comparison between the three major satellite providers. You’ll also find out more about why you should choose satellite internet. 

What is satellite internet?

Satellite internet is a specific type of internet you get from satellites orbiting the earth. Satellite providers have the distinct advantage of deploying the internet anywhere in the world with almost no equipment.

Satellite service providers are an alternative for people who can’t get standard internet. Traditional sources, like cable or fiber optic internet, rely on physical networks of wiring. Because of this, these internet types rely on where companies want to build infrastructure. 

There are other types of wireless-only internet. These include both fixed-wireless internet and 5G internet. Fixed-wireless internet is another rural alternative, while 5G internet relies on cell towers. Neither has the extensive availability from satellite internet. 

Pros and cons of satellite internet

Because of the inherent nature of satellite internet, there are some advantages and disadvantages of using these providers:


  • Allows you to take the internet anywhere with clear skies.
  • Modern technology allows for download speeds up to 100 Mbps. 
  • Provides internet to those who normally don’t get access.
  • Significantly faster than dial-up or DSL internet.
  • Typically faster than the other wireless internet alternative: fixed wireless.


  • Has some incredibly stringent data caps to be aware of.
  • You can lose the internet because of the bad weather‌.
  • Lower latency makes it less appropriate for gaming, torrenting, or streaming.
  • Because of the need for advanced tech, the cost is higher. 
  • Doesn’t offer the faster speeds of fiber or cable internet. 

Satellite internet is typically the first choice for rural customers. Residential customers who can get cable or fiber internet should usually avoid these providers.

Comparing satellite internet providers - Which is best?

From our intro, you can see there are three major satellite providers on the market:

  • HughesNet
  • Viasat
  • Starlink 

Each of these companies have their own pros and cons. Below, we will dig into the most important internet concerns and who wins each competition. 

Who is the most reliable of the satellite internet service providers? 

In a reliability comparison, all three companies are comparable. There is no one company that stands at the head of the pack in this category.

This rating mainly comes from the inherent problems of the satellite internet type: weather‌

Satellite internet must rely on an open eye to the sky. So when that eye is blocked by a thick patch of clouds about to produce a thunderstorm, the internet suffers. No satellite company is immune to this issue, creating an even playing field. 

Who is the fastest of the satellite internet providers?

If you want the fastest speeds from your satellite internet, Starlink provides the best overall option. Starlink speeds go up to 250 Mbps, well above alternative satellite providers. 

Viasat holds a firm number two slot on this list, offering speeds up to 100 Mbps. The “Unlimited Platinum 100” plan is one of Viasat’s more popular options for those looking for fast internet. There is a complete breakdown of Viasat plans compared to these other providers below.  

HughesNet offers the slowest speeds of the three providers. You won’t see these speeds go beyond 25 Mbps, which is just enough to stream a single 4K video. 

No satellite providers will ever find themselves on a “fastest internet provider” in the US list. Because of ‌how satellite internet works, this is unlikely to change for a long while.

Which is the cheapest of the satellite internet providers?

If you want cheap internet providers in the satellite world, your lowest price starts at $49.99 per month. This cheap internet pricing comes from HughesNet, easily the cheapest of the satellite internet providers.

HughesNet doubles down on this cheap focus by offering promotional pricing that is $50 (on average) less expensive than the next provider. You might also qualify for free installation, which is available in places that qualify for these internet deals.

Viasat is relatively close regarding internet prices, offering promotional pricing that matches HughesNet in some areas, but typically goes as high as $69.99 per month under most circumstances. Viasat justifies this by offering faster speeds and higher data caps. 

Viasat also offers free installation, but requires equipment rental fees of about $12.99 per month on average. You can also choose to pay $300 upfront for continued access through your time with Viasat. 

Starlink sites on the far end of the other side, offering minimum pricing at $110 per month. The initial equipment fees are also far higher, requiring an upfront payment of nearly $600 for installation. If you qualify for Starlink Business, this cost can go to $500 per month with further equipment fees. 

Which satellite internet provider offers the most availability? 

When looking at availability, both HughesNet and Viasat tie for first. Both providers offer availability in 99% of the United States, mainly because of how satellite internet works. 

Both Viasat and HughesNet hold a distinct advantage: longevity. Because they’ve been around for a while, their technology is established and active. Meanwhile, Starlink is still in the early phases of release.

Because of this, Starlink is available in fewer locations. It is likely that this will change over time. However, ‌it is likely you won’t find Starlink near your home. 

Satellite internet providers - plans and pricing comparison 

Knowing there are only three providers makes it easy to compare these plans. To save you the need to click between three screens, here’s a comparison of plans, costs, and their data caps:

Viasat data caps, pricing, and plans 

These plans are likely to change depending on where you live: 

  • Unlimited Bronze 12 - 12 Mbps - 35 GB data cap -  $69.99 per month (renews at $99.99)
  • Unlimited Silver 25 - 25 Mbps - 60 GB data cap - $99.99 /mo. (renews at $149.99)
  • Unlimited Gold 30 - 30 Mbps - 100 GB data cap - $149.99 /mo. (renews at $199.99)
  • Unlimited Gold 50 - 50 Mbps - 100 GB data cap - $99.99 /mo. (renews at $149.99)
  • Unlimited Platinum 100 - 100 Mbps - 150 GB data cap - $149.99 /mo. (renews at $199.99)

The pricing you see above lasts for three months before you see the increase. Despite this, Viasat requires a two-year commitment to sign up for its services. 

You’ll also need to include equipment rental fees ($12.99) assuming you don’t want to pay $300 per month. The $300 per month is more cost-effective if you plan on sticking around for the entire two years.

Paying for extra data is about $10 per gig, with small discounts as you buy in bulk. At most, you can get an extra 10 GB for $95.

Compare Viasat internet plans near me.

HughesNet data caps, pricing, and plans

HughesNet offers the same speed (25 Mbps) across its plans. Instead, it prices these plans based on data caps:

  • 15 GB - $44.99 per month (renews at $64.99 /mo.)
  • 30 GB - $54.99 /mo. (renews at $74.99 /mo.)
  • 45 GB - $89.99 /mo. (renews at $109.99 /mo.)
  • 75 GB - $139.99 /mo. (renews at $139.99 /mo.)

Much like Viasat, you can choose to lease for $14.99 per month or pay for equipment upfront for $349.98. The equipment purchase includes free standard installation.

There are cheaper options when you compare this to other internet providers. However, among satellite options, HughesNet still provides the least expensive option.

Compare HughesNet internet plans near me.

Starlink pricing and plans 

Starlink is unique because it doesn’t have data caps. Instead, it is the only satellite provider that offers unlimited data, something unheard of before Starlink. 

Pricing for residential customers is also limited to one plan: $110 per month. This removes the flexibility, but you trade this off for higher speeds. 

What turns most people away comes down to initial equipment costs: $599 upfront. This doesn’t include shipping & handling of $50 (on average) and tax of $45. 

Meanwhile, business customers start by paying $500 per month with equipment costs up to $3,000. While the upfront investment reduces your costs down the road, the upfront cost is something some families might struggle to afford. 

How do I find the best satellite internet providers near me?

Satellite internet includes some of the largest internet providers by spread. However, they aren’t available everywhere, so you need a tool that can find satellite internet providers by zip code. 

So if you are one of those people searching for “internet service providers near me,” you need the InternetAdvisor “Find a Provider” tool. 

This tool allows you to find the best internet service by zip code. All you need to do is enter your zip in the search bar in the upper-right-hand corner. From there, click “search” and the tool will populate all the best providers near your location. 

From there, you can enter more information about your address to be doubly sure that these internet providers work for you. The tool also links you directly to their service pages. You can also call using the ‌phone numbers on our site. 

How to pick the best among these satellite internet providers

The best satellite internet provider for you depends on your priorities. 

If speed is your priority, ‌stick with either Viasat or Starlink. Starlink has less availability, however, meaning Viasat will be more likely to provide you with better internet.

If you want cheap internet, HughesNet offers the best overall option. Pricing on these plans (even the better ones) is less expensive than other options. Many providers also choose HughesNet because of their stellar customer service ratings. 

All satellite providers excel in one area, but are weaker compared to fiber and cable internet providers. So if you want to pick a satellite provider, check your zip code through us to be sure there are no hidden providers in the area. 

Satellite internet providers - FAQs

Is satellite internet good for gaming? 

Satellite internet is not usually good for online gaming. Speeds of most providers average at about 25 Mbps, which will max out your internet requirements. This leaves you little room to share your internet among family members. 

Can you use satellite internet for streaming?

Yes, satellite internet is great for streaming video at 720p quality or lower. If you want to stream 4K video, you might find your internet struggling. Higher quality videos like this require much faster internet. 

How fast is satellite internet? 

Satellite internet speeds vary from 12 to 250 Mbps. Most satellite providers stick on the lower end of this, averaging at about 25 Mbps. So satellite has the potential to offer high-speed internet. 

Is satellite internet cheap? 

Some satellite internet plans, like those through HughesNet, start at cheap prices (below $50 per month). Other types of internet have lower average pricing per month, some starting at $30. 

Is satellite internet better than fiber-optic internet?

Satellite internet is better in one respect: availability. Because satellite internet doesn’t rely on physical wires, you can use it anywhere with greater ease. Regarding speed and reliability, fiber-optic internet provides the better overall choice. 

Do satellite providers bundle with television? 

While you won’t see any cable network associated with satellite, you will see satellite TV providers. For example, DISH TV partners with Viasat to provide satellite television services to rural locations. 

Why is satellite internet so much more expensive? 

Because other types of internet don’t rely on signals coming from space. The extra effort required to have a data center hovering around Earth is more expensive. Setting lines requires ‌less effort, making wired options cheaper. 

InternetAdvisor Team

We are passionate about aggregating large, accurate data sets and providing it all to our users in an easy-to-use format. Simply put, shopping is easier for the consumer when he/she knows all available options. We are not beholden to any single provider and therefore are dedicated to transparency and giving you unbiased information on all providers.

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