Compare the top satellite internet providers of 2019
Shop satellite internet plan availability, pricing and speeds from providers in your area.
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What is satellite internet?
Satellite internet is an internet connection that sends and receives data via satellite signals. Using geostationary (fixed position) satellites, providers can offer a reliable internet connection to nearly anywhere in the U.S.
Modern satellite dishes used for satellite internet are capable of sending and receiving data. This means you can use a satellite internet connection for downloading, streaming and uploading. In addition to a fixed satellite dish, satellite internet requires a modem and a router for home Wi-Fi service.
Top satellite internet providers of 2019 by availability
- HughesNet –Best for consistent pricing and speeds. Available throughout the U.S. including Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.
- Viasat – Best for speed options. Available throughout most of the U.S. excluding Alaska and parts of Arizona.
- DishNET – Best for bundle discounts. DishNET service is no longer available. However, DISH offers TV and internet bundle incentives with various providers.
HughesNet and Viasat will be your two best satellite internet options. All HughesNet plans feature the same speeds but vary by monthly data allowances. Viasat satellite internet plans offer varying speeds and data allowances where available. Use our serviceability check to shop available satellite internet plans for your address.
What is the fastest satellite internet service?
Viasat download speeds range from up to 12 to 100 Mbps with upload speeds up to 3 Mbps depending on where you live. All HughesNet Gen5 plans offer download speeds up to 25 Mbps and upload speeds up to 3 Mbps. Here’s a look at satellite internet plans and pricing from HughesNet and Viasat.
HughesNet satellite internet plans
|Plan||Price starting at*||Speeds up to**||Data allowance|
|Gen5 10 GB||$59.99/mo.||25 Mbps||10 GB/mo.|
|Gen5 20 GB||$69.99/mo.||25 Mbps||20 GB/mo.|
|Gen5 30 GB||$99.99/mo.||25 Mbsp||30 GB/mo.|
|Gen5 50 GB||$149.99/mo.||25 Mbps||50 GB/mo.|
*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 05/13/19.**Actual speeds may vary and are not guaranteed.
Viasat satellite internet plans
|Plan||Price starting at*||Speeds up to||Data allowance|
|Unlimited Bronze 12||$50/mo.||12 Mbps||40 GB/mo.|
|Unlimited Silver 25||$70/mo.||25 Mbps||60 GB/mo.|
|Unlimited Gold 50||$100/mo.||50 Mbps||100 GB/mo.|
|Unlimited Platinum 100||$150/mo.||100 Mbps||150 GB/mo.|
*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 05/13/19.
When comparing HughesNet and Viasat services, it’s important to note that while HughesNet’s plans and pricing are consistent throughout the U.S., Viasat’s are not. Your address will determine which Viasat plans, speeds and pricing are available. For example, only speeds of up to 12 Mbps may be available in your area, and plan tiers will vary by monthly data allowance, similar to HughesNet plans.
You’ll also want to consider monthly price increases when comparing Viasat and HughesNet. Viasat pricing increases after 3 months of service and could raise your monthly bill anywhere from $20 to $50 per month. New HughesNet customers, however, get the same introductory price for 12 months.
Satellite internet and data caps
Monthly data allowances are a catch that come with satellite internet plans, no matter which provider you choose. Viasat plans tend to offer a higher monthly data allowance than HughesNet, depending on the plan.
To give you an idea of how much data you’ll need with your satellite internet plan, here is an estimate of data usage for various online activities.
How much data am I using?
- Browsing the web/social media for 200 hours – 3 GB
- Streaming 200 hours of music – 0.8 GB
- Streaming 50 hours of SD video – 35 GB
- Streaming 20 hours of HD video – 50 GB
- Downloading a full-length SD movie – 4 GB
- Downloading a full-length HD movie – 10 GB
- Downloading a video game – 40+ GB
As you can see, streaming and downloading are the biggest data consumers. To minimize how much data you use, consider streaming video in standard definition. For large downloads, such as an HD movie or video game, HughesNet customers can save data by scheduling these downloads during the “Bonus Zone” hours.
Fortunately, both satellite internet providers feature “unlimited data.” Once you reach your data limit, you will experience reduced, or throttled, internet speeds, but not an interruption in service or fees for going over your data limit. HughesNet’s “Bonus Zone” offers an additional 50 GB of data per month for free available during the hours of 2 to 8 a.m.
Both providers also give you the option to purchase additional data “tokens” if you don’t want the speed restrictions. Price and data amount for data tokens varies by satellite internet provider and plans.
Who is satellite internet a good option for?
Satellite internet is available virtually everywhere, but it’s not for everyone. Satellite internet is best for residents of rural or suburban areas where cable or fiber internet connections are not available.
Satellite internet is improving, but still currently lacks the speeds and bandwidth capabilities of cable and fiber internet. In areas where satellite and DSL internet are the only available options, satellite internet may be your best option for broadband speeds.
Compare your available internet options and see if satellite internet is right for your home with our free zip check service.
Pros and cons of satellite internet
- Faster speeds than a standard dial-up connection with speeds comparable to DSL internet.
- Satellite internet providers are perfect for rural areas where DSL and cable internet is not available.
- Service usually has enough bandwidth to support light to moderate usage, web browsing and streaming movies and music.
- Prone to weather-related disruptions or lags in speed.
- Service can be more expensive than cable or DSL service.
- Many satellite internet providers place monthly data caps on how much data a user may download or upload.
- High latency makes playing real-time online gaming impractical.
Satellite internet provider customer satisfaction ratings
HughesNet speeds of up to 25 Mbps and Viasat’s 100 Mbps plan offer speeds similar to select cable plans, but satellite internet speeds are more closely comparable to DSL internet.
Yes. Satellite internet is already significantly faster than it was in previous years and new, low-orbiting satellites could bring even faster speeds. Amazon recently announced Project Kuiper, which aims to launch over 3,000 satellites across the world to provide broadband internet access. Additionally, the low-orbiting satellites could also drastically reduce latency issues with satellite internet.
Bad weather and extensive cloud coverage can interfere with your satellite signal, but if that doesn’t seem to be an issue, try these tips to boost your satellite Wi-Fi signal.
- Reset your router
- Disconnect Wi-Fi devices currently not in use
- Adjust the router antennas for better signal coverage
- Upgrade your router equipment
Both Viasat and HughesNet offer “unlimited” data internet plans. These plans have monthly data allowances, but not hard data limits. This means that customers who go over their monthly data allowance won’t incur extra fees or disconnection of service, but may experience reduced speeds until the next billing period begins.
Satellite internet has high latency compared to other types of internet. This makes playing real-time multiplayer online games impractical. Satellite internet is, however, ideal for playing turn-based online games.
Last updated 05/13/19.