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The Best Satellite Internet Providers

ProviderIntroductory PriceDownload SpeedAvailability
$50.00–$150.00/mo.Up to 12 Mbps–100 MbpsNationwideView Plans
$59.99–$129.99/mo.Up to 25 MbpsNationwideView Plans

Viasat (formerly Exede) and HughesNet are now the only satellite internet providers available to the US. Both provide nationwide service, so you can choose between the two wherever you live.

In the past, there were more satellite options available. But keeping up with advancing satellite technology is expensive, and only Viasat and HughesNet stayed in the game. Because of this, a lot of satellite internet providers adapted or redirected their services. Take a look at some of the standouts.

Satellite Internet Providers Summary

  • dishNet: Discontinued, but you can bundle DISH with internet from other providers
  • EarthLink: Discontinued satellite internet but now sells HughesNet internet
  • Exede: Changed branding to Viasat
  • HughesNet: Available nationwide
  • Viasat: Available nationwide
  • WildBlue: Acquired in 2009 by Exede (now Viasat)

Trying to choose between Viasat and HughesNet? Read our versus article to see how the two compare.

family with satellite internet

What is satellite internet, anyway? 

Find out what it is and how it works. 

Pros and Cons of Satellite Internet

Thumbs Up Pros

  • Availability: Satellite internet is available almost everywhere in the US. That makes it an excellent solution for rural areas.
  • Speed: Satellite internet is much faster than dial-up internet, even allowing you to stream videos online. Some plans are as fast as DSL or cable internet plans.

Thumbs Down Cons

  • Data Allowances: Satellite internet plans come with an allotment of data—a benchmark for how much information you can download or upload. After you reach that data cap, your speeds will slow down considerably.
  • Latency: Sending information to space and back takes a few seconds, making it difficult to play fast-paced online games.

Satellite vs. DSL vs. Cable

Because of small data allowances and latency issues, satellite internet can’t quite keep up with DSL or cable internet. But that doesn’t mean it’s miles behind them in every category.

Internet TypeMax Download SpeedMax Upload SpeedAvailability in US
Satellite100 Mbps3 Mbps99%
DSL75 Mbps3 Mbps90%
Cable400 Mbps40 Mbps89%

*Data is estimated from currently offered plans from popular providers and subject to change.

For a more accurate pricing comparison, let’s look at what a 25 Mbps plan might look like from each provider type. This is a useful speed to compare since it’s a good fit for a household of 2–4 people who need access to Ultra HD streaming.

Internet TypeDownload SpeedIntroductory Price
Satellite25 Mbps$49.99–$129.99/mo.
DSL25 Mbps$45.00–$50.00/mo.
Cable25 Mbps$24.99–$44.99/mo.

You may have noticed the price range for satellite internet is much broader than that of DSL and cable. The variation comes from HughesNet, which sets all its plans at 25 Mbps but adjusts the pricing based on the data allowance, unlike DSL and cable plans, which are priced by speed.

With those comparatively high prices and low data allowances, satellite internet keeps up with the competition by offering something its competitors can’t: wide availability.

Satellite internet is an excellent solution for rural areas that don’t have a connection for DSL or cable internet.

How does satellite internet work?

satellite internet

Satellite internet uses a satellite in space, a satellite dish at your home, and the provider’s Network Operation Center (NOC) to provide you with internet services, even in hard-to-reach rural areas. Thanks to its advanced technology, satellite internet offers high-speeds that greatly surpass dial-up internet.

Sitting over the equator, satellites can send and receive signals through “spot beams” that cover most of the US. As long as you’re within one of these beams and other users aren’t using all the data capacity, you can get satellite internet service.

There are two main choices for satellite internet: Viasat (formerly Exede) and HughesNet. Either can set you up with a small satellite dish pointed toward its satellite in the southern sky and a modem/router for your home.

Data transfers from your home internet devices to the satellite in space and then to the NOC back on Earth—and back. All of this happens in a fraction of a second.

For more on the ins and outs of satellite internet, check out “How Does Satellite Internet Work?”

Satellite Internet FAQs

What equipment will I need for satellite internet to work?

To use satellite internet, you’ll need an internet-ready device (like a computer, tablet, or gaming console), a modem/router, and a satellite dish. You probably already have internet-ready devices at home, and your satellite internet provider can set you up with a modem/router and satellite dish.

Which modems and routers work with satellite internet?

Both HughesNet and Viasat have their own modems because satellite internet modems don’t have industry standards. While they also have modem/router combos, you can buy your own router, such as the NETGEAR Nighthawk. Almost any modern router will be compatible.

How fast is satellite internet?

Viasat has a wide range of plans with maximum download speeds from 12 Mbps to 100 Mbps. All HughesNet plans come with up to 25 Mbps. Most satellite internet plans have 3 Mbps upload speeds.

How does satellite TV work?

Satellite TV works in a relay system similar to satellite internet, but it uses a set-top box and a TV instead of a modem and internet-ready device.

How can I get high-speed internet in rural areas?

Satellite internet is available in almost every rural area in the US. Satellite internet plans come with download speeds from 12 Mbps to 100 Mbps, and 25 Mbps is the current FCC standard for high-speed internet.

What is satellite broadband?

Satellite broadband is another term for high-speed satellite internet. The FCC standard for broadband requires a minimum download speed of 25 Mbps.

Is satellite internet good for gaming?

Because of the distance satellite internet data has to travel—22,000 miles to outer space and back twice—lag is unavoidable. Any game that requires rapid response, like Call of Duty and other first-person shooters, will be unplayable with satellite internet’s delay.

Is satellite internet a good option?

Satellite internet is a great option when DSL, cable, and fiber internet aren’t available. It comes in high speeds up to 100 Mbps, but it can be a bit pricey. Data caps and lag associated with satellite internet make it less than perfect as well, but it can get the job done and is certainly better than no internet at all.

Is satellite internet better than DSL?

Depending on the provider, DSL and satellite internet speeds are on par with each other. Satellite is more widely available, but DSL usually has higher data caps. Refer to our Satellite vs. DSL vs. Cable section to determine which internet type is best for you.

Can you stream with satellite internet?

Yes, it’s easy to stream with satellite internet. You may notice some lag if you’re skipping around the video, but once a show starts streaming, it will download at a normal pace. Both HughesNet and Viasat have options to help you save data when you stream so you don’t use up your data allowance too quickly.

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Internet Sent from Above

Your internet prayers have been answered. You can now find all the satellite internet providers available in your area with the click of a button. Simply enter your zip into the search box, and you’re on your way to streaming, gaming, and chatting on a connection that’s out of this world.

 

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Educate Yourself

Use our resources section for tips on selecting a satellite internet provider. You can also use it to learn more about satellite internet basics and bundling options. And while you’re there, check out our detailed comparison of the two leading providers: Viasat and HughesNet. Everything you need to know is just a click away.

Resources

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