The Best Satellite Internet Providers of 2024

Enter your zip code to find the best satellite internet providers in your area.
Mikayla Rivera
Jan 22, 2024
bullet22 min read
Published on January 22, 2024

What are the best satellite internet providers?

  • HughesNet—best for affordable plans
  • Viasat—best for fast satellite speeds 
  • Starlink—best for unlimited high-speed data 

The six major satellite internet providers are HughesNet, Viasat, Starlink, Project Kuiper, OneWeb, and Telesat. But HughesNet, Viasat, and Starlink are the best for most people. The others sell either mostly to businesses or are not yet available.

Fortunately, HughesNet, Viasat, and Starlink all offer high-speed internet, unlimited standard data, and availability to 99% of the US so you can get connected anywhere. HughesNet and Viasat both run off of geostationary satellites, while Starlink uses low Earth orbit satellites. The difference in technology can make a big difference to things like latency and reliability, so read on to decide which satellite provider works best for you. 

HughesNet - Best for affordable plans
HughesNet
Starts at
$49.99
/mo
  • 99% availability
  • 50–100Mbps speeds
  • Unlimited standard data
Viasat - Best for fast satellite speeds
Viasat
Starts at
$69.99
/mo
  • Wide availability
  • Speeds up to 100Mbps
  • Prices go up after 3 mos.
T-Mobile - Best cheapest satellite alternative
T Mobile
Starts at
$40.00
/mo
  • Unlimited data
  • Fast speeds
  • Wide availability
Starlink - Best potential (limited availability)
Starlink
Starts at
$120.00
/mo

• 5–100Mbps
• Unlimited data
• Average nationwide speed: 48Mbps

HughesNet internet: Best for cheap satellite plans

Best for affordable plans
HughesNet
HughesNet
HughesNet has been around a long time and offers the most affordable satellite internet plans, but slower speeds and smaller data caps to match. It's a great budget pick overall.
pro Most affordable prices
pro Bonus Zone data
pro Speeds up to 100Mbps
con Max 200GB priority data
$49.99–$149.99*
/mo.

HughesNet used to offer the slowest speeds of the best satellite internet providers, but at the end of 2023 it increased the speeds of all its plans, so you can get 50Mbps–100Mbps. HughesNet offers this service everywhere in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Alaska. The satellite company doesn't cover all of South America, but it does offer satellite connectivity in Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Chile, Mexico, and Brazil. 

Aside from its awesome coverage, HughesNet prices are better than Viasat's for basically the same speeds. In fact, HughesNet usually offers sweet deals to new customers, something Viasat and Starlink rarely if ever do.

Hughesnet plans and pricing

Data plan
Price
Speed
Select$49.99/mo.*50Mbps
Elite$64.99/mo.*100Mbps
Fusion$79.99/mo.*100Mbps

Data as of 01/2/2024 Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
*Offer for 12 months. Service plans require a 24-month commitment. Equipment Lease or Purchase fees extra. Service plans require a 24-month commitment. Equipment Lease or Purchase fees extra.

All HughesNet plans used to come with only 25Mbps, but fortunately, HughesNet has moved beyond minimum broadband speeds to the 50Mbps–100Mbps range. That puts it on even footing with its competitors, even Starlink, at least in advertised range. In fact, 50Mbps to 100Mbps should be plenty of internet speed for most people’s needs. With it, you should be able to enjoy browsing, social media, emailing, and even streaming. 

Fortunately, that hasn’t stopped HughesNet’s affordable prices from staying affordable. But do keep in mind that after the first few months, HughesNet prices raise about $20–$30 depending on your plan. Even with that, it can still be one of the cheapest satellite providers, but it’s certainly something to be aware of.

HughesNet reliability

We look for consistency of service and speeds to determine reliability in our internet providers. When it comes to Hughesnet service reliability, your experience will depend on exactly where you live and the typical weather and topographical conditions you experience there. 

For example: if you have dense trees around your house, you’ll likely experience more disruption from the organic material blocking your satellite’s sightline to the sky. You’ll also experience, like with just about all satellite internet, issues if the weather gets too stormy or snow collects in your satellite dish. Fortunately, with a little preparation those shouldn’t interrupt your service too much, and HughesNet fairs fairly well in these conditions as long as the satellite is installed well.

When it comes down to consistent speeds, Hughesnet is pretty darn reliable. Using our speed test proprietary data, we found Hughesnet speeds don’t fluctuate drastically from one region of the US to another, so users can expect a typical experience (more on that below) instead of some users getting super high speeds and others experiencing super low speeds despite paying the same amount per month.

HughesNet speeds and data

We ran over 7 millions speed tests in 12 months and found that HughesNet's average national speed was 14Mbps from September 2022 to September 2023, with some times of day reaching up to 49Mbps. Keep in mind that HughesNet’s offered speeds ranged only from 15Mbps to 50Mbps during this time, so it seems the company is delivering around the expected range.

That might not sound like an expected average for the promised range, but very few internet providers do. You should always expect your internet speeds to average less than your plan speed says. In fact, the speeds you see advertised from most internet providers are “up to” promises—meaning you could get up to that amount of speed, but the provider isn’t saying you will. Some of that is because internet speeds naturally fluctuate based on usage and bandwidth, but we give bonuses to providers like T-Mobile 5G Home Internet that advertise their average speeds, not up-to Mbps.

That all said, HughesNet’s newest plans offer up to 100Mbps, which now means it’s matching competitors like Viasat and Starlink. If you sign up for HughesNet, you can always track your speeds to get an idea of your true average experience using our Hughesnet speed test.

We ran over 7 millions speed tests in 12 months and found that HughesNet's average national speed was 14Mbps from September 2022 to September 2023, with some times of day reaching up to 49Mbps.

HughesNet's data caps, however, are still on the smaller side compared to its competition, but they've been trending upwards. In fact, HughesNet premium data caps now top out at 200GB, which is a lot on the satellite internet world. Keep in mind that premium data is basically the high-speed stuff, and HughesNet, like Starlink and Viasat, offers unlimited standard data once you exceed your premium data allotment. Standard data comes with the risk of deprioritization or speed throttling, so it might be significantly slower than your premium data experience. And if you're already dealing with slower speeds, you can imagine what that could lead to.

That said, we've tested HughesNet ourselves over the course of several months, and we purposefully exceeded our premium data cap to figure out what the standard HughesNet data experience is like. We didn't find out speeds slowed significantly; in fact, after averaging it, there was little difference. So, though you might experience slower speeds, you also might not at all. It’ll depend mostly on where you live and how dense satellite customers are in your area or how difficult it is to get a signal to your home.

You can also buy HughesNet Data Tokens at reasonable prices if you want more data in a month, and unlike Viasat's extra purchasable data, Data Tokens don't expire in the same month you purchased them. In fact, you can hold onto the data as long as you want, saving it up for Christmas or to stream Netflix’s latest season premiere.

Of course, as a budget pick, HughesNet's biggest advantage doesn't come in blazing fast speeds (though HughesNet Gen 5 technology certainly helps with that) or generous data allotments. HughesNet really shines as a simple, cheaper option for those who want to be able to check their email and browse the web occasionally, but don't rely on it as a huge part of their day-to-day life. Or for those who want internet in their summer home without expensive prices year-round.

HughesNet installation and equipment

HughesNet internet satellite dish installed on our roof

We had an overall positive experience with testing and installing HughesNet internet, although the performance was much worse than Viasat simply because the max speeds are so much lower (25 Mbps vs. Viasat's 100 Mbps). 

HughesNet offers professional installation, and your installer will handle everything from finding the spot your satellite dish will get the best signal, to setting up your satellite dish in that spot, to making sure your new satellite modem/router combo is up and running. After cross-referencing our experience with other customers we've interviewed, the whole process takes about 2–3 hours.

HughesNet equipment list:

  • HughesNet satellite dish
  • Dish mounting equipment
  • HughesNet Wi-Fi Modem gateway and power adapter
  • Coaxial cables to connect dish and modem

For more on the HughesNet installation process, check out our HughesNet Installation Guide. We break down everything from fees to what you should ask your installer. 

HughesNet customer service

No one really enjoys talking to their internet service provider’s customer service team—mostly because it means something gone wrong in the first place. But as far as customer service goes, HughesNet’s isn’t too shabby. For one, you can contact it through phone or live chat, so it’s already better than Starlink’s, which only allows you to submit tickets through a convoluted message system.

To avoid unnecessary time wasting, we suggest going through our troubleshooting HughesNet list before jumping into a customer service call. But if you’re checked the basics and it’s not working, here’s how you contact HughesNet.

HughesNet phone number

When you first call HughesNet customer service, you'll encounter a prerecorded robotic greeting that will then tell you your estimated wait time for a human representative. No one likes wait times, but at least it's possible to get to a human representative, so HughesNet earns some points there. 

HughesNet live chat

We generally recommend live chats because it's easier multitask while waiting for an agent. However, if you find it difficult to type quickly or you're having trouble connecting to the internet in the first place, phone calls are best.

If you do choose to live chat HughesNet, you'll first fill out a short form, including your name and account number, so have those ready to begin your conversation.

HughesNet customer reviews

We gather customer reviews during our annual customer satisfaction survey for satellite internet providers. Keep in mind that the following reviews are just a sampling and are from users who had HughesNet’s service in 2022, before the company's recent plan changes.

Happy customer reviews
Satisfied customer reviews
Unhappy customer reviews
“I like that I have few outages. When I have outages, it is fixed in a timely manner. Price is fair for what I get. Customer service is very friendly if I have to contact them.” “They have gotten better in the 6 years I've had them. I was never able to stream and now I can. It used to lag a lot and now it doesn't. I was going to go with a new fiber internet but now I will probably stay with Hughesnet.”“We thought we would get decent service with Hughesnet but being in a rural area, the service is pretty bad and we pay quite a bit for it not to work.”
“I really have enjoyed Hughesnet. I like them alot. I probably won't ever switch.”“I like the price that we pay. But wish the speeds would be better. We live in an area where we can't get other service besides satellite.”“The price needs to come down and better speeds, more mega bytes!!! And quit freezing all the time.”

As you can see, most people like Hughesnet’s customer service but think the speeds should be better. Fortunately, Hughesnet seems to have listened to that feedback because its 2024 satellite internet plans have increased from only 25Mbps to a comfortable 50–100Mbps. We’ll be interested in seeing what customers think of the improved service this coming year.

Viasat internet: Best for fast satellite speeds

Best for fast speeds
Viasat
Viasat
With generous data allowances up to 500GB per month, Viasat is a reliable choice for home internet in rural areas. Viasat speeds reach 100Mbps in many locations.
pro Wide availability
pro Speeds up to 100Mbps
con Prices go up after 3 mos.
$69.99–$299.99
/mo.

Viasat offers satellite internet speeds up to 100Mbps in some locations of North America—that’s four times faster than the top HughesNet speed. Viasat also offers much more data than HughesNet plans, with the top plan offering 500GB. Unfortunately, it's also significantly more expensive. It costs to go fast.

If you want a fast satellite internet connection with more data and more reliable availability than Starlink's ever-changing maps, get Viasat. Read our full Viasat review to learn more.

Viasat

Viasat plans and pricing

Plan
Price
Data Cap
Speed
Choice 12Mbps/60GB
$69.99
/mo
60GBUp to 12Mbps
Choice 25Mbps/60GB
$69.99
/mo
60GBUp to 25Mbps
Choice 25Mbps/100GB
$99.99
/mo
100GBUp to 25Mbps
Choice 30Mbps/150GB
$149.99
/mo
150GBUp to 30Mbps
Choice 30Mbps/300GB
$199.99
/mo
300GBUp to 30Mbps
Choice 30Mbps/500GB
$299.99
/mo
500GBUp to 30Mbps
Choice 50Mbps/100GB
$99.99
/mo
100GBUp to 50Mbps
Choice 75Mbps/150GB
$149.99
/mo
150GBUp to 75Mbps
Choice 100Mbps/300GB
$199.99
/mo
300GBUp to 100Mbps
Choice 100Mbps/500GB
$299.99
/mo
500GBUp to 100Mbps

Data as of 8/18/23. Prices and availability vary by location. Installation fees, monthly equipment lease fees, and taxes may apply. After 100 GB of High-Speed Data usage, you still have unlimited access to Standard Data, which may result in slower speed.

Viasat plans max out at 100Mbps, but with a comfortable 500GB of high-speed data (and standard, usually slower, data thereafter). That may be only half of Starlink’s data cap, but it’s still one of the best data caps in the satellite internet business. 

You can find Viasat deals that offer generous promo pricing for the first three months, but after they end, your price can go up anywhere from $20–$100 a month. We generally recommend Viasat’s Choice 75 and above, since the real benefit of Viasat lies in the speeds and data caps of its higher-end plans. Just make sure their non-promo prices fit your budget before purchasing.   

Viasat plans vary by location, so that's why some plans above have the same speeds and data caps, but different prices. The reason for the variability is Viasat's differing capacity depending on which geostationary satellite beam your home is under. 

If you want the fastest satellite internet connection available with more data, get Viasat. Read our full Viasat review to learn more.

Viasat reliability

Like we mentioned above, we determine internet reliability by how consistent the service stays connected and how much the speeds vary. Viasat comes in a bit lower than Hughesnet on both accounts

Viasat is susceptible to all the same typical disconnection issues as Hughesnet: sky obstructions (branches, trees, buildings), windy weather, deep snow. Any one of those weather conditions could interrupt your service fairly easily. But even with that taken into account, more Viasat customer reviews overall complain about outages than other providers’ users. 

This is likely because of or made worse by Viasat’s satellite issues in 2023. That year, Viasat had hoped to launch a new GEO satellite that would have increased speeds and stability for all its users, but an issue basically made the satellite explode during launch. Viasat didn’t try to replace it, so it’s now running an overtaxed network with the older satellites it already has.

So that’s also likely contributing to the volatility in speeds available across the US to its customers. Using the same speed test data we gather year-around, Viasat’s speeds have large differences depending on what area of the country you’re in. Viasat tries to manage these differences by making different plans (and thus speeds) available in different areas, at least, but it’s always a bummer knowing you might be paying the same price for slower internet as someone else is for faster speeds.

Viasat speed and data

Viasat’s maxes out at 100Mbps and 500GB for its top-tier plans, which keeps it about even with Starlink and HughesNet speed-wise and definitely more impressive in the data department than HughesNet. Of course, as with any provider, even if you’re paying for 100Mbps it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll actually see those speeds regularly, and the same goes for all the lower speed plans it offers.  

In fact, Viasat’s average national speed is actually 23Mbps (data taken from our 7 million Viasat speed tests run from September 2022 to September 2023). That’s higher than Hughesnet’s but lower than Starlink’s. 23Mbps is just shy of the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) definition of high-speed internet, but you’d be surprised how much you can do with 23Mbps.

As for data, Viasat’s 500GB high-speed data allotment is second only to Starlink’s in impressiveness, and the fact that you still get unlimited standard data (data that could be throttled if your area is congested) is fantastic. Of course, if you’re on some of the lower tiers, high-speed data can dry up faster. 

If you’re not ready to payout for the larger data plans—understandable. Viasat is expensive already. You can always buy more Viasat data if you want a little more of the high-speed stuff to get you through a month. Just remember that purchased, unused Viasat data doesn’t rollover to the next month like Hughesnet’s does.  

Viasat equipment

Viasat dish installed on roof

We had Viasat Internet installed and tested it for 3 months. We were impressed with how the 100 Mbps speeds compared to our cable internet plan—there wasn't much difference! The main thing we noted was increased latency with satellite internet, but it was just a few seconds longer than what we got with our landline connection.

Viasat comes with its own modem/router gateway, the Viasat satellite dish, and of course all the cabling required to connect them. You can rent the Viasat gateway for $12.99/mo. or purchase it up-front for $299.99 fee. Since Viasat requires a 2-year contract, we do actually recommend purchasing the equipment up-front if you can. It’ll save you some dollars over the years, and even the lump sum is cheaper than Starlink’s. 

As for making use of your equipment, your free professional installation should handle most of the set up. You’ll just want to make sure your satellite dish stays obstruction-free—watch out for snow on your dish in winter, for example—and ask the installer to give you an overview of your Viasat gateway, just so it’s a bit easier for you to maintain your new satellite modem/router.

Viasat also has a few other services that can enhance your equipment and service experience, like Viasat’s special browser.

Viasat customer service

One of the places Viasat shines is its customer service. Well, no one likes to talk to customer service in the first place because it means you couldn’t troubleshoot Viasat yourself, but at least the company allows you to talk to real people (which is more than Starlink can say). Viasat even offers a premium customer service line (for an additional price, alas). 

We recommend the latter if you have a business, but otherwise, Viasat’s other customer service options should do you fine.

Viasat phone number

Viasat live chat

Viasat does have live chat, but it’s accessible only through your MyViasat account. Log in to your account to reach out.

Viasat email

For a deeper look into Viasat’s customer service options, including business support and so on, check out our Viasat customer service guide

Viasat customer reviews

Happy customer reviews
Satisfied customer reviews
Unhappy customer reviews
“We live 5,000 feet in the mountains where service is not happening here with other providers. Viasat's coverage area fits our internet needs, nicely.”“Mostly reliable service and acceptable price. Customer service is not bad. They might provide higher speed for more competitive prices”“When it is raining or is windy our internet is either slow or no internet for a while. I wish they could do something about it and not let the weather interact with the internet.”

We picked the customer reviews from our annual satisfaction survey that best represent the range of Viasat’s customer responses. As you can tell, most people wish it was faster and less expensive, and unhappy customers are those experiencing Viasat outages and unreliable connections. 

If you have more questions about Viasat’s service, check out our Viasat FAQ to see what other customers and potential customers are wondering about. 

Starlink internet: Best for unlimited data

Best potential (limited availability)
Starlink
Starlink
Starlink recently rolled out service to all of the United States (including Hawaii and Alaska) after years of waitlists.
pro Unlimited data
pro Faster satellite internet speeds
con Unpredictable availability
$120.00–$250.00
/mo.

Elon Musk’s Starlink Residential (now called Starlink Standard) service has made waves and names for itself across the rural internet community, especially now that Starlink availability has expanded.

We think it's actually ties with Viasat as fastest satellite internet plan for at-home users available, but we gave Viasat the edge because Starlink Residential, or as it's called now, Starlink Standard, is on a lower data priority than many of its other plans, so it can at times be slower. Plus, though Starlink is now available to all of the USA, it's been making several plan and policy changes that make it just a bit more inconsistent and unpredictable by comparison.

Starlink

Starlink plans and pricing

Plan
Price*
Speed
Latency
Equipment fee
Starlink Standard$90.00–$120.00/mo.25–220Mbps25–50ms$599.00
Starlink Priority$140.00–$500.00/mo.40–220Mbps25–50ms$2,500.00
Starlink Roam$150.00–$200.00/mo.5–50Mbps25–50ms$599.00–$2,500.00
Starlink Mobility$250.00–$5,000.00/mo.220Mbps25–50ms$2,500.00
Starlink Maritime$250.00/mo.–$5,000.00/mo.220Mbps100+ms$2,500.00
Check Availability

Starlink Residential is only one of Starlink’s many new internet plans, and it’s the main Starlink one we’re evaluating in this best satellite internet provider comparison. Starlink Standard offers unlimited data and speeds up to 100Mbps for $120 a month and a hefty, up-front $599 equipment fee. Starlink Standard is for fixed locations, so at-home use only, but you can take it with you if you move and change your address.

Starlink Roam is the portable version of Starlink internet service. You can take it on the road wherever you go, with either a set-it-up-when-you-park style plan or a more expensive use-it-on-the-move style one. Compared to Starlink Standard, Starlink Roam plans do suffer with throttling more often, but only if the area you’re currently traveling in is at high capacity.

Starlink also has a Starlink Business plan, now called Starlink Priority, which offers internet speeds up to 220Mbps. Those speeds are slower than they used to be (Starlink Business once offered 500Mbps), but the plan is still a great deal. You’ll have to decide, though, if the download speeds are worth the one-time, up-front equipment fee of $2,500.

Starlink also has Mobile and Mobile Priority plans that further break down into particular data limitations and heart-stopping expenses, but you can check out our Starlink Mobility breakdown for more on those.  

Starlink reliability

Customer reviews from our internet customer satisfaction survey often mention how much they like Starlink’s reliability—AKA, satisfying speeds and few outages. That average 48Mbps is treating them all, we see, though our proprietary data also shows Starlink customers can experience vastly different speeds depending on their state/location. It never feels good to know you’re paying the same amount as someone else for slower speeds, but with a 48Mbps average, at least most people getting above-broadband speeds most of the time. 

As for outages, Starlink is as susceptible as HughesNet and Viasat for weather-based outages (though the Starlink dish heater really helps with snow). Obstructions can also interrupt service, but more of that lies on the homeowner’s shoulders, since self-installation requires you to pick a spot and secure the satellite yourself.

Starlink speed and data

While Starlink Residential actually offers the same speeds as both HughesNet and Viasat, it has an average national speed of 48Mbps download, according to our 7 million speed test data taken from September 2022 to September 2023. 

Starlink also offers the rare gem of unlimited data—sort of. Starlink data rules fluctuate depending on what plan you get, but Starlink Standard does say it offers an unlimited experience unless you become a data hog. 

The terms of service don’t reveal a specific threshold, but it does clarify that if you’re using significantly more data than the average Starlink user—particularly enough to drain the network in your area—your speeds will be throttled. And honestly? We think that’s fair. 

Starlink equipment

Starlink unpacked equipment

Caption: The Starlink kit includes all equipment you’ll need to run Starlink internet, minus electricity. Photo by Mikayla Rivera

Starlink kit

The Starlink app isn’t physical equipment per se, but you need it to set up your Starlink internet service. We tested this process ourselves and found it relatively easy, but be aware that you’ll likely need to drill a hole in your house to get the satellite cable outside. And it has a large end, so maybe grab some caulk before your start you setup process.  

For more details on the setup process, check out our Starlink installation guide.

Starlink's standard satellite needs a large clearing of exposed sky to connect without obstructions. Roof-top installation is recommended so your house doesn't get in the way like ours did when we set up the satellite in the backyard. | Photo by Mikayla Rivera

Starlink also has a Starlink Business plan, which offers internet speeds up to 220Mbps. Those speeds are slower than they used to be (Starlink Business once offered 500Mbps), but the plan is still a great deal. You’ll have to decide, though, if the download speeds are worth the one-time, up-front installation fee of $2,500.

In fact, satellite internet is generally a service where you'll have to way some strong cons against staying connecting. Satellite internet is its own dimension of the internet space, so let's break it down a bit more for you.

Starlink customer service

To be honest, no internet provider has fantastic customer service, but Starlink customer service is particularly problematic. Some customers in our annual satisfaction survey mentioned they like the all-in-your app experience, but just as many users write in to us frustrated and distressed because they can’t get any humans on the phone to help them. 

We find Starlink’s online customer service fairly good for what it is. The app is usually easy to follow. But we also think it’s a huge oversight not to offer a phone number. If you get locked out of your account, or your customer service issue is one that’s taken out your internet, there’s no way to get assistance from Starlink.

We minus a lot of points for that, even though we like the service, since many satellite internet users are in out-of-the-way places where they would need another not-internet way of contacting their ISP for help. 

Quotes from Starlink customers

Happy customer reviews
Satisfied customer reviews
Unhappy customer reviews
“It's really fast. We can stream almost anything. I rarely get service issues.”“We live in an area that was only serviced with slow DSL, so Starlink was MUCH better. However, if fiber was going to be available in this area—we would switch. Fiber is generally lower cost and faster.”“Its service is mostly reliable. Prices continue to go up every year. The provided router was subpar.”

Like our other customer reviews, these reviews were gathered from customers using the service in 2022, so keep that in mind. While we receive many reviews our annual customer satisfaction survey, we showcase the reviews that appear most representative of most user’s experience. 

As you can tell, most users enjoy Starlink’s reliability and its speeds. Most Starlink customers also think that it’s a bit expensive or pricey.

HughesNet vs. Viasat vs. Starlink

HughesNet
HughesNet
HughesNet
Our Rating
3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7
• $49.99–$149.99/mo.*
• 15–50Mbps
• 15–200GB/mo.
• Average nationwide speed: 14Mbps
Viasat
Viasat
Viasat
Our Rating
4 out of 5 stars
4
• $69.99–$299.99/mo.**
• 12–100Mbps
• 60–500GB/mo.
• Average nationwide speed: 23Mbps
Starlink
Starlink
Starlink
Our Rating
4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1
• $120.00–$5,000.00/mo.***
• 5–100Mbps
• Unlimited data
• Average nationwide speed: 48Mbps

*Actual speeds may vary and are not guaranteed. Pricing for the first 6 months. Service plans require a 24-month commitment. Pricing not available in all areas. **Offer available to new qualifying customers. One-time standard installation fee may be due at checkout. Minimum 24-month service term required. Equipment lease fee is $14.99/mo. Taxes apply. Speeds are “up to,” will vary and are not guaranteed. Service is not available in all areas. ***Offer may be changed or withdrawn at any time. Plus hardware, shipping & handling fees, and tax. Fully refundable. Depending on location, some orders may take 2 weeks or more to fulfill.

It’s quite a lot to break down the top three satellite services: HughesNet, Viasat, and Starlink. But we’ve spent years with these providers, so here’s some quick round matchups to help you evaluate which satellite service’s plans, prices, reliability, etc. are the best fit for you.

HughesNet vs. Viasat

Satellite provider
Contract?
Equipment fees
Data cap
See more
2 yrs. $14.99–$19.99/mo. (or a one-time $449.99)15–200GB (unlimited standard)
Viasat Viasat
2 yrs.$12.99/mo. (or a one-time $299.99 fee)50–500GB (unlimited standard)

HughesNet is a better value than Viasat when you look at dollar for speed, so we generally recommend it over Viasat. But Viasat does offer more priority data—if you like streaming TV online, take note of that. 

Read our HughesNet vs. Viasat breakdown for a deeper look at the providers. 

Starlink vs. Hughesnet

Satellite provider
Contract?
Equipment fees
Data cap
See more
2 yrs. $14.99–$19.99/mo. (or a one-time $449.99)15–200GB (unlimited standard)
Starlink Starlink
Month-to-month$599.99 up-front, one timeUnlimited

HughesNet is much more affordable than Starlink, both in monthly rate and in equipment fees, while offering the same speeds. But Starlink doesn’t require a contract and offers the closest thing to unlimited data the satellite internet world has seen.  

Check out our Hughesnet vs. Starlink review for more details.

Starlink vs. Viasat

Satellite provider
Contract?
Equipment fees
Data cap
See more
2 yrs. $12.99/mo. rent (buy for $299.99)60–500GB (unlimited standard)
Starlink Starlink
Month-to-month$599.99 up-front, one timeUnlimited

Starlink is less expensive per month for more data than Viasat’s max plan, so if your choice comes down between these two, we recommend Starlink over Viasat. Viasat is still a solid choice, but for those details, check out our Starlink vs. Viasat comparison.

Starlink vs. other competitors

Starlink is the new kid on the block making all the cool waves, but it won’t be alone for long. Project Kuiper, Amazon’s new LEO satellite internet service, is planning to beta-test its service in 2024.

Satellite provider
Price
Availability
Speeds
See more
Starlink Starlink
Month-to-month$599.99 up-front, one timeUnlimited
Amazon Project Kuiper
UnknownComing late 2024Projected up to 400Mbps
T-Mobile 5G Home Internet T-Mobile Home Internet
$30.00–$50.00/mo.* 90%+ of the US 72–245Mbps

*w/ Auto Pay and qualifying mobile plan

The Starlink vs. Project Kuiper battle will be a fascinating one to witness in the next few years, so check back with us for more updates as Project Kuiper’s service develops and rolls out.

In the meantime, Starlink vs. T-Mobile 5G Home Internet may not seem like a natural comparison since T-Mobile uses 5G tech to deliver internet, not satellites, so its coverage is a bit smaller. But its coverage area is catching up quickly to satellite, and it can deliver impressive speeds for much cheaper. 

There are more internet providers to compare Starlink with—everything from OneWeb to Spectrum to Comcast or fiber internet in general. Read more about those internet options using our guides if you’re interested. 

In the meantime, we recommend T-Mobile Home Internet over Starlink if you can get it. If not, Starlink will treat you right. Check if T-Mobile 5G Home is available near you using our zipcheck below.

Enter your zip code below to find the best internet providers in your area.

What do I look for in the best satellite internet providers?

We always say the best internet provider depends on your lifestyle and needs, so here’s a little guide to figuring out how to determine if a satellite providers works for yours. 

Satellite internet speeds

Speeds are of course an important factor when picking any internet provider. Here are the average speeds from the top three satellite providers. 

Provider
Average national download speed
Average speed 6a.m.–4p.m.
Average speed 4p.m.–11p.m.
Average speed 11p.m.–6p.m.
HughesNet14Mbps19Mbps15Mbps11Mbps
Viasat23Mbps26Mbps24Mbps18Mbps
Starlink48Mbps71Mbps53Mbps35Mbps

We found these national averages from over 7 million proprietary speed tests collected from September 2022 to September 2022, which didn’t include HughesNet’s new faster 50–100Mbps plans. So we’d expect HughesNet’s new plans to have higher averages, for the record.

But overall, you can see that, as expected, satellite internet providers don’t hit their advertised speeds, just like most if not all internet providers. But Starlink gets the closest with all of its average speeds remaining over 25Mbps (the FCC’s measurement for high-speed internet). 

We can’t wait to see how these speeds update over the next year. 

Satellite internet data

Most other internet types now have 1Tb or unlimited data caps. But satellite internet tech has tighter bandwidth restrictions just by nature, so data caps are still part of the discussion. 

Provider
Premium data
Standard data
HughesNet15–200GB Unlimited
Viasat60–500GBUnlimited
StarlinkUnlimitedUnlimited

Knowing how much data you need is half the battle here, but knowing the difference between standard data and premium data is the other.

Standard data is data that could be slowed or throttled. This allows the provider to make sure someone who’s used up all their allotted data doesn’t hog the bandwidth and slow someone else’s experience. That said, standard data isn’t always significantly slower than premium data. Sometimes it's even the same—it depends on how many people are online, whether the internet service will feel the need to slow your connection. 

Premium data, on the other hand, is data working at peak performance, or data that isn’t slowed. If someone with premium data and someone who exceeded theirs and was now on standard data were both streaming 4K TV at the same time, the person with premium data would have an un-slowed, un interrupted experience, where the person with standard data probably wouldn’t. 

Each provider has its own specific rules about monthly data. Viasat lets you buy more premium data in a month, for example, and so does Hughesnet but its data also rolls over into future months. 

Starlink data caps, on the other hand, can actually depend on the plan you get. Starlink residential’s are simple, but Starlink Mobile plans have completely different allotments of premium data depending on what you’re willing to pay for. 

We recommend checking out our provider reviews so you know how to get the most of your data during Zoom meetings, streaming Netflix, and even just browsing online safely

Satellite internet latency

Latency is the measurement of how long it takes for a signal to go from the provider, to you, and back. Out of all internet services, satellite has the largest latency measurements. 

Satellite tech type
Average latency
Providers
GEO satellites~500msHughesnet, Viasat
LEO satellites~50msStarlink, Project Kuiper

As you can tell, LEO satellite systems make a big difference to latency. It makes Starlink and upcoming Project Kuiper better options for video calls and gaming online. 

You might notice lagging with HughesNet and Viasat’s services, but it won’t be too much of an issue outside of 4K TV streaming (which isn’t recommended on data limits anyway) and co-op gaming where accuracy is more difficult to obtain or is extra necessary. Latency is just part of the beast with all satellite internet service, we’re afraid. 

For a more comprehensive breakdown on the subject, check out our What Is Latency? guide. 

But you know—while you’re deciding what to look for in satellite internet, you might want to ask if you need satellite internet at all. Rural internet keeps growing, so check out some of these satellite internet alternatives before signing anything. 

Best satellite internet alternatives

We love satellite internet for its widespread availability, but it isn’t the only internet option for rural areas. You can often find fixed wireless or DSL in these areas, which both have cheaper monthly prices.

Provider
Price
Data
Download speed
Get it
$40.00–$50.00/mo.*Unlimited72–245Mbps average
$35.00–$80.00/mo.**UnlimitedUp to 1,000Mbps
Rise BroadbandRise Broadband
$35.00–$80.00/mo.**UnlimitedUp to 50Mbps

*w/ Auto Pay and qualifying mobile plan. Regulatory fees included in monthly price for qualified accounts. See full terms. **w/ Auto Pay. Available in select areas.

T-Mobile 5G Home Internet and Verizon 5G Home are the best 5G home internet providers and are our favorite satellite internet alternatives. 5G Home Internet providers may still take second place to satellite when it comes to availability, both Verizon and T-Mobile have been expanding their internet footprints aggressively.

These two are great internet options for rural areas because both offer unlimited internet, no contracts, and no equipment fees for average speeds in the 100Mbps+ range. That's a lot of awesome, and for a really feasible price ranging from $30–$80, depending on which provider you choose and whether you already have a cellular plan with the company.

Rise Broadband is worth a mention in this category too as the largest indie fixed wireless provider. Certain of its plans are even cheaper than T-Mobile and Verizon, and its speeds are decent. But you’ll have to check if you’re in its smaller, if rural, coverage area.

What about DSL and other rural internet providers?

DSL internet is a bit of a relic in the US, but it's also a solid land-based internet option for rural areas, especially areas cable providers have spurned. Some DSL providers have fast speeds, but don't expect too much from these old telephone lines. DSL is neck-and-neck with satellite internet when it comes to speed, but it doesn't suffer with as much latency, so depending on your internet activities, you should check out the Best DSL Internet for Rural Areas.  

You’re more likely to be able to get DSL than cable in rural areas, but you never know who’s moved into your neighborhood. Check what internet services might be near you below.

Is satellite internet good for you?

Satellite internet dishes enable internet connection to happen in rural and remote areas.

Satellite internet is a great opportunity for people in rural areas or places with few, slow, or no other internet options. You can get speeds up to 100Mbps (sometimes even faster) and data caps up to 1TB. With Starlink’s new LEO satellite developments, and Viasat and HughesNet’s new GEO satellite launches, satellite internet can only continue to improve.

Satellite internet pros
pro Availability: Satellite internet is available almost everywhere in the US.
pro Speed: Satellite internet is usually faster than DSL or dial-up internet, but it’s not as fast as fiber or cable internet.
pro Flexibility: Satellite internet is good for browsing, emailing, and even occasional video streaming (just watch that data cap).
Satellite internet cons
con Data caps: After you reach your data cap, your internet speeds will slow down.
con Latency: Sending information to space and back takes some extra time, which means satellite internet has high latency.
con Cost: The average cost of satellite internet (around $100 per month) is higher than other types of internet.

Our satellite internet testing methodology

At SatelliteInternet.com, we evaluate internet providers through a mixture of first-handing testing (using the internet plans we review both for work and pleasure to get a well-rounded view of the service), proprietary data from over 7 million speed tests we take per year, interviews we conduct with real customers, and our internet survey. We focus in on the things most important to our traveling, off-grid, or out-of-luck internet users: availability, reliability, price, and speed. Combined with heavy hours of research, we consolidate our experience, other users' experience, and raw information and data to help you find the internet solution best for your needs.

Best satellite internet providers FAQ

Starlink and Viasat are both great satellite internet providers, but Starlink certainly gives you more data for less money per month—if it’s available in your area. Viasat is available to 99% of the US population, where Starlink’s availability is limited and its policies often volatile. 

Check out our Starlink vs. Viasat comparison to help you decide which provider is better for you. 

Starlink is already faster than HughesNet by an easy 75Mbps, since HughesNet and HughesNet Fusion offer only a max of 25Mbps per plan. Check out our Starlink vs. HughesNet breakdown for more details.

All satellite internet providers have data caps, though some of them are a bit more secret or “technical” than others. Viasat and HughesNet, for example, technically offer unlimited data, but it’s slowed, standard data that’s available after you run past your priority, or faster speed, data cap. 

Starlink, meanwhile, probably has the closest thing to truly unlimited satellite internet, but it, too, has a data cap hidden in the terms and conditions—it just doesn’t tell you what it is. All Starlink clarifies is that customers who use more than the average consumer allotment of data will be throttled. That said, Starlink used to offer a 1TB data cap, so we’d hazard a guess that the undisclosed average user data cap is fairly generous. 

Satellite internet is an excellent way to get Wi-Fi if you live in a rural or remote area, but a satellite internet connection and a Wi-Fi network are slightly different things. Satellite internet Wi-Fi networks work just like any other Wi-Fi network. Your satellite internet dish will connect directly with your modem/router, which will translate the signal from your dish into a Wi-Fi signal for your home.

Additionally, satellite internet makes it possible for you to get Wi-Fi everywhere, providing speeds up to 500 Mbps, depending on which plans and providers are available in your area. So once you do have it set up, you can enjoy your satellite Wi-Fi even in remote areas.

Satellite internet costs $49.99 to $500.00 per month, depending on your contract and how much speed and data you want. The average person will pay around $100 a month for quality satellite internet. Satellite internet is one of the more expensive internet options for how much speed and data you get. Still, if it's your only option, it's usually worth it to get an internet connection in rural and remote areas.

Satellite internet is a good option for people who have no other internet options. If you live in a rural or remote location, satellite internet is a great way to get online when you don't have any other source of connection. All you need to connect to satellite internet is a clear view of the southern sky.

Satellite internet is not a good option if you have cable internet or fiber internet available where you live.

Satellite internet is an excellent way to get Wi-Fi if you live in a rural or remote area, but a satellite internet connection and a Wi-Fi network are slightly different things. Satellite internet Wi-Fi networks work just like any other WiFi network. Your satellite internet dish will connect directly with your modem/router, which will translate the signal from your dish into a Wi-Fi signal for your home.

Additionally, satellite internet makes it possible for you to get Wi-Fi everywhere, providing speeds up to 500Mbps, depending on which plans and providers are available in your area. So once you do have it set up, you can enjoy your satellite WiFi even in remote areas.

Satellite internet offers anywhere from 25–250Mbps download speeds depending on the provider, so you can definitely get high-speed internet with satellites. Keep in mind that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) defines high-speed broadband internet as 25Mbps or above—but that doesn't mean you won't experience slowdowns or latency issues with satellite internet compared to cable or fiber. 

HughesNet Fusion is a new plan option that combines satellite and wireless connections. This addresses the biggest problem facing satellite internet—the high latency that comes from the physical distance to a communication satellite. Fusion uses additional equipment that connects to nearby wireless networks when performing latency-sensitive activities like playing games or using video chat, dramatically reducing lag.