Compare the best satellite internet providers of 2019

Shop satellite internet plan availability, pricing and speeds from providers in your area.

What is satellite internet?

Satellite internet is an internet connection that uses satellite signals to send and receive data. Using geostationary (fixed position) satellites, providers can offer a reliable internet connection to nearly anywhere in the U.S.

Consumer satellite services were not available until 1996 and they have been a huge benefit for the nearly 20% of the country who live in rural areas. Prior to satellite internet, these parts of the country would have had access to dial-up, or no internet at all.

The good news is modern satellite dishes used for satellite internet are capable of sending and receiving data at a much faster rate than ever before. You can use a satellite internet connection for downloading, streaming, uploading and even some gaming. Just like other types of internet providers, satellite internet requires a modem and a router for home Wi-Fi service, in addition to a stationary satellite dish.

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Satellite internet providers in your area

There are only two nationwide satellite internet providers: Hughesnet and Viasat. Both have different options for households of various budget, speed and data needs. Some rural areas have a third option called fixed wireless. While fixed wireless plans can require a satellite dish, they are not the same as satellite internet. Fixed wireless are privately-built networks, typically funded by mom-and-pop businesses, that transmit signals from a local tower.

Best for consistent pricing – HughesNet

Available throughout the U.S., including Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico, HughesNet is the same company that Wal-Mart and the U.S. Air Force rely on for service in their rural areas. 

Best for speed options – Viasat

Available throughout most of the U.S., excluding Alaska and parts of Arizona, Viasat offers speeds up to 100 mbps.

Click below to shop available satellite internet plans for your address.

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Quick Guide: Satellite internet plans from HughesNet and Viasat 

HughesNet
Viasat
Price starting at*
$59.99/mo.
$50/mo.
Speeds up to**
25 Mbps
100 Mbps
Plan term
Two-year agreement
Two-year agreement
Data allowance
Between 10-50 GB, depending on plan
Between 40-150 GB, depending on plan
Extra data available?
Yes, costs $9-$75
Yes, costs $10-$48
Phone bundle available?
Yes
Yes
TV bundle available?
You would purchase DISH or DIRECTV plans separately
Yes, Viasat bundles with DIRECTV

HughesNet vs. Viasat

There are two main differences between HughesNet and Viasat

  • HughesNet plans, speeds and pricing are consistent throughout the U.S. Plus, new HughesNet customers get the same introductory price for 12 months.
  • Viasat’s plans, speeds and pricing are determined by which plans are available at your address. For example, if only speeds of up to 12 Mbps are available in your area, plan tiers will vary by monthly data allowance. Viasat pricing increases by $20 to $50/mo. after three months of service.

See the complete list of HughesNet plans here.  See the complete list of Viasat plans here.

Satellite internet speeds, latency and data caps

Both HughesNet and Viasat plans have monthly data allowances. Viasat plans tend to offer a higher monthly data allowance than HughesNet. To give you an idea of how much data and speed you’ll need with your satellite internet plan, here is an estimate of speeds and data needs for various online activities.

What speed do I need?

These are minimum speed recommendations. Speed requirements can vary.

  • Email and basic computer programs: 3-4 Mbps
  • Skype call – 10+ Mbps 
  • Large file transfers – 40+ Mbps 
  • Stream videos in standard definition – 3 Mbps
  • Stream videos in HD – 5 Mbps
  • Stream videos in HDR or 4K – 25 Mbps

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

What is latency?

Latency is the amount of time it takes data to transfer. Because satellite internet has more latency than other types of internet providers, real-time gaming is not practical. Streaming and downloading are functional with satellite latency, however they 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. The “Bonus Zone” gives all HughesNet customers access to 50 GB of additional data from 2 a.m. until 8 a.m. daily. Current Viasat plans do not have any similar bonus time.

Unlimited satellite internet services

Fortunately, both HughesNet and Viasat offer no hard data limits. 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.

Both providers also give you the option to purchase additional data “tokens” if you don’t want the speed reductions. 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 code check service.

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Pros and cons of satellite internet

Advantages of satellite internet

Disadvantages of satellite internet

  • Prone to weather-related disruptions or lags in speed.
  • Service can be more expensive than cable or DSL service.
  • 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 frequently asked questions

Is satellite internet as fast as cable internet?

Current satellite internet technology offers speeds comparable to DSL internet, but cannot deliver the speeds available with cable or fiber-optic services. Satellite internet speeds max out at up to 100 Mbps, while most cable providers can offer up to 10 times that speed.

Will satellite internet get faster?

Yes. Satellite internet is already significantly faster than it was in previous years and new, low-orbiting satellites could bring even faster speedsAmazon 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.

How can I boost my 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
  • Connect your device using a wired connection (vs. using Wi-Fi)

Is unlimited satellite internet available?

Both Viasat and HughesNet offer plans with no hard data limits. While these plans are not “unlimited” in the typical sense of endless high-speed cable internet, customers who go over their monthly data allowance won’t incur extra fees or service interruptions. Customers may experience reduced speeds until the next billing period begins.

Is satellite internet good for online gaming?

Due to latency, playing real-time multiplayer online games with any satellite internet provider is impractical. Turn-based online games should work fine.

What is the fastest satellite internet service?

This answer depends on where you live. Where available, Viasat offers the fastest satellite internet speeds with download speeds up to 100 Mbps. However, in some areas, Viasat only offers speeds up to 12 Mbps, which would make HughesNet the fastest satellite internet provider in that area with speeds up to 25 Mbps.


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Moving or looking for a new deal? Let Allconnect help you find the right internet plan for your needs. Call now to start comparing providers, prices and speeds in your local area.

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