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Best satellite internet providers of 2023

HughesNet
HughesNet

Best for affordable plans

Viasat
Viasat

Best for faster speeds and more data

Starlink
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.


Cara Haynes
Managing Editor
Published on January 10, 2023

HughesNet, Starlink, and Viasat are the best satellite internet providers. Satellite internet is a good option if you live in a rural area where cable, fiber, or DSL internet providers aren't available. The best satellite internet services offer up to 300 Mbps download speeds, and you can get unlimited data from all three internet service provider, although all three throttle speeds if you exceed your plan's data cap.

Internet from satellite providers is more expensive and usually comes with a smaller data cap than cable and fiber options you'll find in cities. Satellite internet data caps range from 15 GB to 1 TB, the former from HughesNet's cheapest plan and the latter from Starlink's residential internet plan. No one likes data caps, but satellite internet service is available nationwide, which makes satellite internet a popular option in rural areas.

So if you're looking to get WiFi in a remote area, first examine the pros and cons of satellite internet. Then, we'll show you how to pick the best satellite internet for you.

Compare the best satellite internet providers

Provider
Price
Data
Installation
Download speeds
Get it
$64.99–$149.99/mo.15–100 GB/mo.Free25 Mbps
$69.99–$299.99/mo.*35–150 GB/mo.Free12–100 Mbps
$110.00–$500.00/mo. Unlimited $599.00–$2,500.0050–500 Mbps

Actual speeds may vary and are not guaranteed. †$10 off for 6 months. 24 mo. commitment required. Pricing not available in all areas. Offer valid 6/31/22-8/31/22 *Promotional price is for the first 3 months. Regular internet rate applies after 3 months ($50–$200/mo.). 

Choosing the best internet from satellite providers comes down to what you need most in a satellite internet plan. For example, how much are you willing to pay for broadband internet access each month? What activities do you need internet for? How much internet data do you need to match?

The best satellite internet provider for you also depends on what's available where you live. All satellite WiFi providers are available nationwide (except Starlink isn't quite yet), but you'll have access to different internet speeds and data depending on your location.

HughesNet internet

HughesNet tops out at 25 Mbps download speeds, which still qualifies it as broadband speed (according to the Federal Communications Commission). That's not a ton of speed, but its what you need for all basic internet tasks like paying bills online, surfing the web, and even streaming TV. It's also available everywhere in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Alaska. HughesNet doesn't coverall of South America, but it does offer satellite connectivity in Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Chile, Mexico, and Brazil. 

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

Unfortunately, HughesNet satellite service does offers smaller max monthly data caps than either Viasat or Starlink, but it tries to make up for it with cheaper prices and the Bonus Zone, which allows you to use data with no limits during off-peak hours.

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 the season premiere of your favorite Netflix show.

If you're interested in satellite internet on the go or on the road internet, HughesNet isn't a great choice for a portable satellite internet option. Its residential satellite internet needs a stable, unmoving location, but Starlink does offer portable satellite connectivity. Read on for more.

HughesNet Fusion 

HughesNet also offers new low-latency Fusion plans that combine a satellite internet connection with a terrestrial wireless connection. HughesNet Fusion mitigates the high latency that comes from sending your data into space and back by automatically connects to nearby wireless networks when doing latency-sensitive activities like playing games or using video chat, greatly reducing lag.

Viasat internet

With a download speed up to 100 Mbps, Viasat (run by Viasat Inc.) is the best satellite internet provider if you're looking for faster speeds and higher data caps than HughesNet offers but don't have Starlink availability. Unfortunately, those juicy data caps come at a hefty price.

Viasat has the widest pricing range of the three satellite internet providers. Its fastest plans are the most expensive traditional satellite residential internet plans available, and its prices go up significantly after the three-month promotional period: $80 more a month, to be exact. Plus, with both Viasat and HughesNet, you have to sign a 2-year contract, so it's costly to jump ship if you don't want to pay the higher prices that kick in for the majority of your contract. 

That all said, Viasat has greater availability than Starlink, so if you need those fast speeds, Viasat's prices are likely worth it. Viasat also offers great extra features, like its special Viasat browser that's designed to get the most out of your satellite internet, and nice optional services to bolster your experience, like Viasat Shield and Viasat Easycare.

You can also bundle your Viasat internet plan with Viasat Voice, its VoIP phone service. Its our favorite VoIP plan from any of the satellite internet providers because it doesn't use up any of your internet data when in use.

Starlink internet

Starlink seems like the satellite internet provider solution we've all been waiting for, but we'll see if its performance can live up to its promises as the satellite service continues to launch. Most Starlink users experience 50–250 Mbps speeds, which makes Starlink the fastest residential satellite provider available. It also has the largest data caps of any satellite providers, with a 1 TB restriction in daytime hours.

Starlink also has a Starlink Business plan, which offers internet speeds up to 500 Mbps. That's amazing, but those download speeds come with an installation fee of $2,500. Wowza!

Starlink also offers other specific internet offerings besides its residential and business plans, like Starlink RV, Starlink Maritime, and Starlink Aviation. All of these come with varying levels of expense, with up to $150,000 in equipment fees for Aviation. Flat High Performance Starlink (Starlink's extra special satellite equipment) is probably one of the most expensive offerings for the day-to-day person.

Of course, some of the higher prices could be worth it for faster internet (not Starlink Aviation, though--that's for flight businesses). And that's because, unlike the geostationary satellite networks Viasat and HughesNet use, Starlink employs low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites, which are closer to the Earth and allow for lower latency (as low as 20 ms) and faster speeds.

The fact that Starlink Business boasts satellite internet speeds up to 500 Mbps is truly astounding and a testament to the capabilities of low Earth orbit satellites. However, Starlink availability is still highly limited, internet connection and speeds are spotty, and the hefty installation fees makes its lower monthly price point less enticing. 

Location
Is satellite internet service your best internet option?

We recommend internet from satellite providers when you don't have cable or fiber options available in your area. Use our zip code tool at the top of the page to see all internet providers available near you, including the best satellite internet plans. 

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

Pros and cons of 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).
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.

HughesNet: Best for affordable plans and no price hikes

Best for affordable plans
HughesNet
HughesNet
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 75 GB per month (100 GB for Fusion Plans).
pro Most affordable prices
pro Bonus Zone data
con Speeds max out at 25 Mbps
pro Now offering 50% more data!
$64.99–$174.99*
/mo.

*15 GB to 50 GB plans $20 off per month for 6 months. 100 GB plan $50 off per month for first six months. 24 mo. commitment required. Pricing not available in all areas. Offer valid 9/1-9/28.

Is HughesNet internet any good?

HughesNet has the lowest long-term prices on satellite internet—although HughesNet speeds also top out at 25 Mbps. HughesNet is also running a deal right now, so its plans cost even less than usual for the first six months of a new signup—you could save anywhere from $120 to $300 total.

Even without the deal, HughesNet costs less than its competitors because it offers plans with less data. If your household doesn’t use much data because you use the internet only occasionally, you could use a HughesNet plan and save money. HughesNet plans also don't come with the massive price hikes you'll get with a Viasat plan. The price you pay when you sign up is the price you'll pay for 24 months.

Those who want more out of their internet connection can also sign up for HughesNet Fusion plans, which use a combination of satellite and Earth-based wireless network to address some of the problems that residential satellite internet customers face, such as latency. Latency is the time it takes for a signal to travel from your computer to a remote server and back, and it’s very important in real-time activities like games, livestreaming, and video chat.

LEO satellite constellations like Starlink also attempt to solve the latency problem by moving their satellites closer to Earth. The advantage of HughesNet fusion is that it uses proven technologies that have been used in business internet for years and it’s offered by a company that has a proven track record of serving a nationwide customer base.

HughesNet does offer a Bonus Zone, where you can use extra data between 2:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. HughesNet also technically offers unlimited satellite internet, so if you surpass your data allotment, your internet connection won't be cut off. You'll just get even slower speeds until you begin your next month. The Bonus Zone can really help you stretch your data cap to avoid hitting that point.

For the lowest price on satellite broadband internet, go with HughesNet. Read our full hands-on HughesNet review to learn more.

HughesNet

HughesNet plans and pricing

Data plan
Price
Speed
Satellite-only 15 GB$64.99/mo.25 Mbps
Satellite-only 30 GB$49.99/mo.*25 Mbps
Fusion 50 GB$74.99/mo.*25 Mbps
Fusion 100 GB$124.99/mo.*25 Mbps

Data as of 12/16/2022 Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
†Service plans require a 24-month commitment. Pricing not available in all areas.
*Pricing for the first 6 months.

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). 

Money
HughesNet plans now offer 50% more data.

HughesNet recently raised its data caps, which is a big deal in satellite internet! The max HughesNet data cap is now 100 GB (previously 75 GB). 

Viasat: Best for faster speeds and more data

Best for fast speeds
Viasat
Viasat
With generous data allowances up to 150 GB per month, Viasat is a reliable choice for home internet in rural areas. Viasat speeds reach 100 Mbps in many locations.
pro Wide availability
pro Speeds up to 100 Mbps
con Prices go up after 3 months
$69.99–$299.99
/mo.

Is Viasat internet fast?

Viasat offers faster speeds than HughesNet—up to 100 Mbps 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 Viasat’s largest plan, you can get 150 GB of data per month, which is twice as much data as you can get on HughesNet’s largest plan.

Viasat plans vary by location, so don't be surprised if you sign up for Viasat and see some differences in what's offered than what we have listed here. That said, these four Viasat satellite internet plans are the most common. The data cap range you see reflected in the table below will be determined by where you live. The reason for the variability is Viasat has 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 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

Viasat plans and pricing

Plan
Promo Price
Speed
Data Cap
Regular Price
Choice 25 Mbps/40 GB
$49.99
/mo
Up to 25 Mbps40 GB
$69.99
/mo
Choice 50 Mbps/60 GB
$69.99
/mo
Up to 50 Mbps60 GB
$99.99
/mo
Choice 75 Mbps/100 GB
$99.99
/mo
Up to 75 Mbps100 GB
$150.05
/mo
Choice 100 Mbps/150 GB
$149.99
/mo
Up to 100 Mbps150 GB
$199.99
/mo
Choice 100 Mbps/300 GB
$199.99
/mo
Up to 100 Mbps300 GB
$300.00
/mo

Data as of 2/23/2022. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. 

*Promotional price is for the first 3 months. Regular internet rate applies after 3 months. One-time installation fee may apply. Equipment lease fee is $12.99/mo. Taxes apply. Minimum 24 month service term required.

Starlink: Best potential (limited availability)

Best potential (limited availability)
Starlink
Starlink
Starlink is available in limited areas, although you must join a six-month waiting list. The upfront cost for equipment is $599.00–$2,500.00. But monthly service is reasonably priced at $110.00 for unlimited data and $500.00 for Starlink Business.
pro Unlimited data
pro Faster satellite internet speeds
con Super limited availability
$110.00–$500.00
/mo.

Is Starlink worth buying?

The most enticing thing about Starlink residential is that it currently offers lots of data and fast internet download and upload speeds. Plus, Starlink is better for fast-paced gaming since it has lower latency thanks to its LEO satellites. It does have a hefty installation cost ($599 for Starlink equipment and $2,500 for Starlink Business equipment). But if Starlink's unlimited satellite internet is available in your area, you should definitely check it out.

Then again, Elon Musk has said that he plans on reducing the equipment cost in the future (here come some changes, Starlink Dishy), so it might be worth waiting a few years until the network is more fleshed out.

If you're in the market for it, Starlink just launched Starlink Business, which has faster speeds but an even heftier equipment fee at $2,500. You'll also have to pay $500 a month for Starlink Business. But that's all for unheard of 500 Mbps satellite internet speeds. That's even faster than most landline options.

If you use oodles of satellite internet data each month—and you have $599–$2,500 to invest upfront in satellite internet equipment—try Starlink Internet or Starlink Business (as long as it's in your area). It's great satellite internet with the largest data cap of them all: a full 1 TB per month in daytime hours (and truly unlimited in the off-peak night). That's as much as cable and fiber providers offer.

Read our full Starlink review to learn more.

Starlink

Starlink plans and pricing

Plan
Price*
Equipment fee
Speed
Starlink Internet
$110.00
/mo.
$599.0050–250 Mbps
Starlink Business
$500.00
/mo.
$2,500.00150–500 Mbps

*Plus hardware, shipping & handling fees, and tax. Fully refundable. Depending on location, some orders may take 6 months or more to fulfill.

Starlink satellite internet

Best satellite internet plans for rural areas

Best for basics
HughesNet
HughesNet 30 GB Data Plan
• Price: $64.99/mo.*
• Download speed: 25 Mbps
• Data: 30 GB/mo.
Most recommended
Viasat
Viasat Choice 100
• Price: $149.99–$199.99/mo.*
• Download speed: Up to 100 Mbps
• Data: 150 GB/mo.

*$10 off for 6 months. 24 mo. commitment required. Pricing not available in all areas. Offer valid 6/31/22-8/31/22

The Viasat Choice 100 plan is about as fast as satellite internet can get (pending Project Kuiper and Starlink). With speeds up to 100 Mbps and a nice data cap, you can get rural internet that keeps up with a modern lifestyle. The catch? Viasat's fastest plan is expensive, isn't available everywhere, and of course, the unlimited satellite internet isn't truly unlimited.

Although Viasat internet is available all across North America, its fastest speeds are offered only to select areas. You'll have to see which satellite internet plans are available where you live using Viasat's website.

If you just need an internet plan but don't plan on using it much, go with the HughesNet 30 GB Data Plan. You'll get speeds up to 25 Mbps, which is fast enough for a few people to do most things online. The price is also impossible to beat. Choose this plan if you just want your satellite internet to be available but not used very often.

Learn more about Viasat vs. HughesNet.

All satellite internet providers

HughesNet, Viasat, and Starlink are the best satellite internet providers, but there are more satellite internet providers around the globe or on their way like Amazon's satellite internet, Project Kuiper. See the full list of available or upcoming satellite internet providers

Click on the links above to read our full reviews on each, but here's the most important highlights you'll need to know about these other satellite internet providers.

Project Kuiper

People like to call Project Kuiper Amazons internet, and they're not wrong. Specifically, Project Kuiper is Amazon's new satellite internet service that's meant to help internet users in underserved areas get the connection they need. It's not yet available but set to launch by 2029.

Prototype testing suggests Project Kuiper internet may reach up to 400 Mbps, which would make it even faster than Starlink. But we'll have to see once the satellite internet system is actually up and running.

OneWeb internet

OneWeb is a satellite internet service that's backed by both commercial and government cash. It's mostly for European use, with backing specifically from the UK government. Read our OneWeb review for more.

Telesat internet

Continuing the international internet connection bend, Telesat is actually a Canadian company that sells satellite internet services to enterprises and other businesses. In other words, you can't sign up for Telesat like you can one day sign up for Project Kuiper and OneWeb. But if you're a large business, this baby might be up your alley. 

What is satellite internet and how does it work?

Play Video

Satellite internet is wireless internet that beams a connection from a satellite in space to a satellite on your house. The satellite on your house then translates the signal through your router/modem, which beams satellite WiFi through your entire home. Although it's available nationwide, satellite with internet is more common in rural areas.

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. Take a look at how this year's best rural internet options compare to last year's fastest and slowest rural cities

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.

How to get high speed internet in rural areas

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. So satellite with internet is available virtually everywhere.

That means you can get satellite internet anywhere you are, so long as you have a clear view of the southern sky and a place to install your satellite dish.

With satellite internet, 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 an internet connection even if where they live lacks cable or fiber infrastructure.

Satellite internet services and latency

Your satellite internet speeds and experience will depend on which satellite provider you go with and which plan. Different providers use different technology that will alter your internet speeds and latency.

For example, Starlink satellites are different from existing satellite internet providers like Viasat and HughesNet. Starlink relies on low Earth orbit satellites (LEO satellites), which means it has thousands more satellites that circle the Earth at a lower altitude, making it possible to offer faster speeds and lower latency.

Providers like Viasat and HughesNet use satellites operating in geostationary orbit. The distance of these satellites increases your latency and sometimes offer slower speeds, but there are limitations to low Earth orbit technology that may make Starlink by SpaceX service more spotty than Viasat's and HughesNet's.

Other players in the low Earth orbit satellite provider game include Jeff Bezos with Project Kuiper. Kuiper plans to offer a similar product to Starlink, but with a smaller terminal and at a more affordable cost. It wants to make internet access affordable to remote locations. Kuiper by Jeff Bezos is not yet available as a satellite provider, but it will be within the next couple of years.

Another way that satellite providers are dealing with high latency is through multitransport connections like HughesNet Fusion. HughesNet Fusion deals with latency by making use of terrestrial wireless networks for latency-sensitive data. This means that if you start watching a Twitch stream or make a Zoom call, your HughesNet equipment will switch over to a wireless connection to deliver that data to your device without the lag you’d get using your satellite connection.

Like LEO satellites, hybrid satellite internet like HughesNet Fusion have the potential to deliver a much better online experience to rural communities that lack access to cable or fiber internet.

Learn more about how satellite internet works.

Unlimited satellite internet

Is there such thing as unlimited satellite internet?

Unlimited satellite internet--or satellite internet service with no data caps or data slowdowns--doesn't exist, but Starlink's 1 TB data cap during daytime hours and unlimited data during the night is pretty close.

Unlimited satellite internet is more difficult to obtain than unlimited internet with other internet types like cable or fiber. That's because of all the reasons we spelled out above-- satellite internet systems have more complicated infrastructure from the get go. But people used to say 1 Gbps speeds with cable would be impossible, and now they're common.

That said, it wouldn't surprise us if unlimited satellite internet became the standard in the next few decades. Just keep an eye on on our website for all satellite internet and satellite tech updates; we'll let you know when we see the dream of truly unlimited satellite internet on the horizon.

Is HughesNet internet Unlimited? Does Viasat have an unlimited plan?

Technically, all HughesNet and Viasat plans offer unlimited satellite internet. But it's not truly unlimited. You get a set amount of priority data, or high-speed data, at the speeds you sign up for. After you run through that, you're not disconnected from the internet, but your speeds are usually throttled.

We've experimented with HughesNet, and after we blew through out data one month, we found our speeds weren't affected. That might be because there weren't a lot of other HughesNet internet users in our area, and therefore, there was no reason to throttle our speeds and clear the internet highways. But you can't rely on that, so remember: technically unlimited satellite internet isn't the same as truly unlimited satellite internet. Just like with cellphone data plans!

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

More rural internet options beyond satellite internet

Although satellite internet is by far the most available internet type, there are several other satellite with internet alternatives for rural areas, including fixed wireless and 5G home internet. Going with one of these alternatives to satellite internet might be a better internet access option for you.

With 5G home internet and mobile hotspots, you can even take your internet on the road with you to your cabin or RV. Explore more rural internet service providers:

Learn more about the best rural internet providers.

You can also get rural internet from national mobile providers like Verizon and T-Mobile. Check out our reviews to learn more:

FAQ about the best satellite internet providers

How much does satellite internet cost?

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 satellite 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.

Is satellite internet fast?

Satellite internet is not as fast as fiber or cable internet, but it can reach speeds up to 500 Mbps with Starlink Business. As Starlink continues to develop its network, satellite internet speeds may get faster. Starlink has already been changing widely held preconceptions of what satellite internet is capable of. With lower speed and latency, Starlink may be the innovation that makes satellite internet fast.

Is satellite internet a good option?

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.

Is satellite internet the same as WiFi?

Satellite internet is an excellent way to get WiFi if you live in a rural or remote area, but a satellite internet connection and a WiFi network are slightly different things. Satellite internet WiFi 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 WiFi signal for your home.

Additionally, satellite internet makes it possible for you to get WiFi everywhere, providing WiFi speeds up to 500 Mbps, depending on which plans and providers are available in your area.

Can you get high-speed internet with satellite?

Satellite internet offers anywhere from 25–250 Mbps 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 25 Mbps or above—but that doesn't mean you won't experience slowdowns or latency issues with satellite internet compared to cable or fiber. 

What is HughesNet Fusion?

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.