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Cara Haynes
Researcher & Writer
Published on December 01, 2021

The best satellite internet providers of 2021


Viasat: Best for fast speeds and high data caps


HughesNet: Best for affordable prices


Starlink: Best potential (limited availability)

Actual speeds may vary and are not guaranteed. *Promotional price is for the first 3 months. Regular internet rate applies after 3 months ($50–$200/mo.). Service plans require a 24-month commitment.

Viasat, HughesNet, and Starlink are the best satellite internet providers in the US. If you live in a rural area where cable internet, fiber internet, or DSL internet aren't available, satellite internet is a good option for you. Satellite internet service can give you good download speeds—and some of the best satellite internet plans can even give you unlimited data.

Although satellite internet is more expensive for what you get and usually comes with less data than the cable and fiber internet options you'll find in the city, it's available everywhere, which is its best feature. Satellite internet is a steady internet option to get online in even the most remote locations.

Editor's note:

We recommend satellite internet only if it's the best internet provider option available in your area. Use our ZIP code tool at the top of the page to find all the internet provider deals available where you live—including all the best satellite internet plans.

Compare the best satellite internet providers

StarlinkStarlink (beta)
Download speeds12–100 MbpsUp to 25 Mbps50–150 Mbps
Data50–300 GB/mo.10–50 GB/mo.Unlimited
Installation feeFreeFree$499.00
Get it

Actual speeds may vary and are not guaranteed. *Promotional price is for the first 3 months. Regular internet rate applies after 3 months ($50–$200/mo.). †Service plans require a 24-month commitment.

Choosing the best satellite internet provider for you comes down to what you value most in a satellite internet plan and how much you're willing to pay each month.

With speeds up to 100 Mbps, Viasat is the best satellite internet provider for the fastest speeds and higher data caps—but it'll come at a price. Viasat's satellite internet plans are the most expensive and prices go up significantly after the three-month promotional period. With both Viasat and HughesNet, you have to sign a 2-year contract, so it's costly jump ship if you don't want to pay the higher prices that kick in for the majority of your contract.

HughesNet, on the other hand, tops out at 25 Mbps but its prices stay the same throughout your entire 2-year contract. HughesNet offers smaller max monthly data caps, but it makes up for it with the Bonus Zone, which allows you to use data during off-peak hours with no limits. That said, 25 Mbps is really not that fast, especially when you consider that's the max speed you'll get with HughesNet.

Starlink is ideally the satellite internet solution we've all been waiting for, but it's still to be determined if its performance can live up to its promises. Unlike the geostationary satellites employed by Viasat and HughesNet, Starlink employs low-Earth orbit satellites, which are closer to the Earth and allow for lower latency and faster speeds. However, Starlink availability is still highly limited, service is spotty as the network continues to launch, and the hefty installation fee makes its lower monthly price point less enticing.

Viasat: Best for fast speeds and high data caps

Best for fast speeds
With generous data allowances up to 300 GB per month, Viasat is a reliable choice for home internet in rural areas. Viasat speeds reach 100 Mbps in many locations.
Pro Bullet Wide availability
Pro Bullet Speeds up to 100 Mbps
Con Bullet Prices go up after 3 months

Why choose Viasat?

Viasat offers faster speeds than HughesNet—up to 100 Mbps in many locations. That’s four times faster than the top HughesNet speed. Viasat also offers much more data than HughesNet plans. With Viasat’s largest plan, you can get 300 GB of data per month, which is six times more data than you can get on HughesNet’s largest plan.

If you want the fastest satellite internet available with more data, get Viasat.

HughesNet: Best for affordable prices

Best for affordable prices
HughesNet has the biggest customer base of any satellite internet provider, serving internet to over a million rural homes across America. HughesNet speeds can hit 25 Mbps, and data allowances top out at 50 GB per month.
Pro Bullet Most affordable prices
Pro Bullet Bonus Zone data
Con Bullet Speeds max out at 25 Mbps

Why choose HughesNet?

HughesNet has the lowest prices on satellite internet—although it isn’t the best choice for everybody. HughesNet plans are cheaper because they offer plans with much less data than Viasat plans. If your household doesn’t use much data because you use the internet only occasionally, you could get by with a HughesNet plan and save money.

For the lowest price on satellite broadband internet, go with HughesNet.

Starlink: Best potential (limited availability)

Best potential (limited availability)
Starlink is available in limited areas, although you must join a six-month waiting list. The upfront cost for equipment is $499.00, but monthly service is reasonably priced at $99.00 for unlimited data.
Pro Bullet Unlimited data
Pro Bullet Faster satellite internet speeds
Con Bullet Super limited availability

Why choose Starlink?

The most enticing thing about Starlink so far is that it currently has no data limitations. In addition, Starlink may perform better for fast-paced gaming since it has lower latency. It does have a hefty installation cost ($499 for equipment), but if it’s available in your area, you're very lucky and it might be worth checking out.

If you use oodles of data each month—and you have $499 to invest upfront in satellite internet equipment—try Starlink.

Best satellite internet plans for rural areas

Most recommended
Viasat Unlimited Platinum 100
• Price: $150.00/mo.*
• Download speed: Up to 100 Mbps
• Data: 300 GB/mo.
Best for basics
HughesNet 10 GB Data Plan
• Price: $59.99/mo.*
• Download speed: 25 Mbps
• Data: 10 GB/mo.

*Promotional price is for the first 3 months. Regular internet rate applies after 3 months. Actual speeds may vary and are not guaranteed.

The Viasat Unlimited Platinum 100 plan is about as good as satellite internet can get. With speeds up to 100 Mbps and a generous data cap, you can get rural internet that will keep up with a modern lifestyle. The catch? Viasat's fastest plan isn't available everywhere. Although Viasat internet is available nationwide, the fastest speeds are offered only to select areas. You'll have to see which satellite internet plans are available where you live through Viasat.

If you just need an internet plan but don't plan on using it much, go with the HughesNet 10 GB Data Plan. You'll get speeds up to 25 Mbps, which is fast enough for one person to do most things online. The price is also impossible to beat and makes sense if you just want your satellite internet to be available but not necessarily utilized to a great extent.

Pros and cons of satellite internet

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

How satellite internet works

Satellite internet solves the problem of how to get internet to small towns and rural areas, where fiber and cable infrastructure aren't in place.

In urban areas, homes and skyscrapers are wired with cable and fiber lines that bring the internet to people living in cities and areas with dense populations. Installing fiber is cheap in an apartment building, where the cost per customer is minimal. But what about people who live beyond the city limits? Running fiber lines out to each home in rural America would be extremely costly.

That's where satellite internet comes in. Unlike most other types of internet service, satellite internet doesn’t need any land-based infrastructure running out to your home. Instead, a home satellite dish communicates with a satellite in space to provide internet service.

Data transfers from your home internet devices to the satellite in space and then to the Network Operations Center back on Earth. All of this happens in about half a second. Thanks to satellite internet, people can still enjoy internet access even if where they live lacks cable or fiber infrastructure.

Learn more about how satellite internet works.

More rural internet options

Although satellite internet is by far the most available internet type, there are several other common internet options for those who live in rural areas. Explore more about 4G LTE home internet, DSL, fixed wireless, and hotspots.

Learn more about the best rural internet providers.

Use your zip code to find rural internet providers near you.

FAQ about the best satellite internet providers

How much does satellite internet cost?

Satellite internet costs $30.00 to $169.99 a month, but those prices can change depending on your contract and how much speed and data you want. The average person will pay around $100 a month for satellite internet.

Is satellite internet fast?

Satellite internet is not as fast as fiber or cable internet, but it can reach speeds up to 100 Mbps. As Starlink continues to develop, satellite internet speeds may get faster.

Is satellite internet a good option?

Satellite internet is a good option for people who have no other internet options. It's available everywhere, which is its main strength. Satellite internet is not a good option if you have cable internet, fiber internet, or DSL internet available where you live.