If you haven’t looked into satellite internet in a while, you may be surprised by how good it is. Not many companies offer satellite internet service these days, but the service is faster and more reliable than it used to be. And thanks to recent satellite upgrades, broadband satellite internet is available almost anywhere in the United States.
Satellite Broadband Providers
Download speeds up to 100 Mbps
Packages start at $50.00/mo.
Download speeds up to 25 Mbps
Packages start at $59.99/mo.
Data valid as of 01/10/2019. Speeds and pricing vary by area and are subject to change. Actual speeds may vary and are not guaranteed.
Now there’s a broadband connection for everyone.
Download speeds for satellite internet start at 25 Mbps and upload speeds fall around 3 Mbps. Speeds that fast classify satellite internet as broadband according to the FCC (Federal Communications Commission), which means broadband internet is now available in rural and remote areas.
As for providers, Viasat and HughesNet are the top residential Internet Service Providers (ISPs) for satellite broadband. To see how they stack up, check out our Viasat vs. HughesNet review.
Satellite Broadband Pros
Good for Streaming
Now that satellite internet is available at broadband speeds, it works for streaming video.
Available in Rural and Remote Areas
You can get satellite broadband almost anywhere. It’s the most universal internet option for the US.
Faster than Dial-Up
If your choice is between dial-up and satellite, go with satellite. Satellite broadband is almost always a faster option than dial-up.
Satellite Broadband Cons
Not Ideal for Online Gaming
Satellite broadband technology comes with lag. Most of the time this isn’t an issue, but it does affect things like online gaming.
Satellite internet signals take time to travel to space and back—that’s called latency. The delay in response time caused by high latency makes activities like bidding during live auctions difficult on satellite internet.
Possible Weather Interference
Heavy storm or thick cloud cover may disrupt satellite transmissions from time to time. That said, satellite internet providers still get high marks for reliability from their customers.
Get the truth about satellite broadband.
You don’t have time to keep up with all this stuff, but we do. We have our finger on the pulse of the satellite internet industry so we can let you know the truth about what most people get wrong.
You can no longer get dishNET satellite internet.
DISH used to offer satellite internet service under the name “dishNET.” DISH stopped offering dishNET satellite internet in 2017, but it still offers dishNET wireline internet in a few areas.
But if you’re looking to get TV with satellite internet, you still can pair your DISH or DIRECTV with satellite internet from Viasat or HughesNet. Viasat will even give you a $10/mo. discount for a year when you subscribe to DIRECTV.
You can’t get satellite internet from DIRECTV or EarthLink either.
DIRECTV doesn’t offer internet service, while EarthLink continues to offer its satellite internet through HughesNet.
Exede and WildBlue are now Viasat.
Both Exede and WildBlue were brand names used by parent company Viasat. In 2017, Viasat stopped using those brand names. Now it offers all its satellite internet services as Viasat Internet.
Is satellite broadband right for you?
Broadband satellite internet is a great choice if you live in a rural or remote area—especially if dial-up is your only other option. It delivers enough speed for most online activities, including streaming video.
Real-time activities, like online gaming, are more difficult because of the lag inherent to satellite internet technology. However, satellite is still a solid choice for your internet service, especially now that it reaches broadband speeds.
Find satellite broadband packages in your area.
Ready to get satellite internet? We’ll track down the best plans in your area and get you set up in no time.
Best High-Speed Internet for Rural Areas in 2019
Put dial-up out to pasture—these high-speed internet options will keep you connected in the country.
September 16, 2019|
How do I get high-speed internet in rural areas?
First, let’s take a step back here and point out that 2.1 million Americans still used AOL’s dial-up service in 2015. Yup, we’re talking about those internet CDs you used to get in the mail in the ’90s.
While surfing the web on a 56 Kbps dial-up connection may cost you only $20 a month or so, it’ll take you about five minutes to load a web page. Streaming videos or gaming online? Don’t even think about it.
Thankfully, the days of having only dial-up when you live out in the country are pretty much gone. Now most Internet Service Providers (ISPs) cover the majority of the US. And if cable or fiber haven’t made it to your neck of the woods, there are other good options.
But which is best—satellite, DSL, fixed wireless, or mobile wireless? The answer depends on what you’re looking for in terms of price and speed—and where you live.
Here are the top high-speed internet options for rural areas.
4 Ways to Surf the Web in Your Neck of the Woods
|Provider||Connection Type||Price*||Speeds||Data Cap||Learn More|
|Viasat||Satellite||$50–$150/mo.||Up to 100 Mbps||Unlimited†||View Plans|
|CenturyLink||DSL||$45–$65/mo.||Up to 100 Mbps||1 TB||View Plans|
|Rise Broadband||Fixed Wireless||$24.95–$59.95/mo.||Up to 50 Mbps||150–250 GB||View Plans|
|Verizon||Mobile Wireless||Starts at $85/mo.||Up to 4G LTE||15–20 GB||View Plans|
*Data current as of 12/10/18. Prices and availability vary by location. †Data may be slowed after 40, 60, or 100 GB, depending on your plan.
Even with fewer options than the big-city folks, it’s still a hassle to compare rural internet options. Since we’ve already compared prices, speeds, data caps, and availability in the table above, we’ve got a few recommendations to help you decide.
Take a look at our choices for rural internet providers to see which ISP will work best for you.
Best Satellite Internet
Speeds: 12 Mbps up to 100 Mbps
Data Cap: 35–100 GB
Speeds: 25 Mbps
Data Cap: 10–50 GB
Actual speeds may vary and are not guaranteed.
Satellite internet chugs along at a minimum of 12 Mbps—that’s 12,000 Kbps compared to AOL’s 56 Kbps dial-up speeds. And while it costs more than the $20 a month for dial-up, prices for satellite internet are well worth loading Google in seconds rather than minutes.
- Wide availability
- Speeds that rival cable
- High latency
- Performance issues with weather
Find out which satellite ISPs are available in your area.
We recommend Viasat because it has higher data caps—HughesNet limits your data usage based on the plan you pay for. After you use up all your data with HughesNet, your speeds slow to 1 to 3 Mbps. (Which is still faster than dial-up, by the way.)
Viasat also slows your speeds after you meet its data caps but only if there’s a lot of other traffic using the network. So, you could still race along at 100 Mbps, as long as it’s not during peak hours.
But look out for Viasat’s price hikes after three months. If you prefer a steady, lower price, check out HughesNet’s two-year price guarantee.
Sure, satellite internet isn’t perfect. It has high latency, which means you’ll probably experience lag if you game. And weather can affect its performance. But new satellite launches and technology continue to make satellite a more-than-viable option for anyone who prefers wide-open spaces.
Best DSL Internet
Speeds: 20–100 Mbps
Data Cap: 1 TB
Availability: 36 states
Speeds: 5–100 Mbps
Data Cap: 1 TB
Availability: 21 States
While there are only two satellite ISPs, you’ve got a handful of choices when it comes to a Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) connection. Two standouts in this area are CenturyLink and AT&T Internet, though Frontier, Verizon, and Windstream also offer DSL.
We chose CenturyLink as your best bet, mostly due to its Price for Life plans. Once you sign up, you pay that same price for as long as you keep your CenturyLink service. Compared to other ISPs that tie you into contracts and then jack up the price, CenturyLink’s approach is a breath of fresh air.
- Faster-than-dial-up speeds
- Lower quality service if you’re far from ISP
With either CenturyLink or AT&T Internet, you will have a data cap. But it’s huge—it’ll take you some serious streaming, downloading, and uploading to hit that 1 TB limit.
If you don’t want that data cap hanging over your head, both Frontier and Windstream don’t have one. Free at last!
Heads Up: Some DSL providers offer up to 1,000 Mbps speeds.
If you’re browsing CenturyLink’s site and stumble upon its 1,000 Mbps plan, don’t be shocked. By augmenting the DSL line with a fiber connection, many ISPs—CenturyLink included—can offer gigabit speeds. Don’t get your hopes up just yet though. If you live in a rural area, it’s quite likely you won’t get these speeds. Bummer, we know. Still, it’s always worth checking.
Best Fixed Wireless
Speeds: Up to 50 Mbps
Data Cap: 150–500 GB
Availability: 19 states
Speeds: 10 Mbps or faster
Data Cap: 170 GB
Availability: 18 States
Fixed wireless is slowly replacing DSL in rural America, and we can’t wait to see its coverage expand more. If this is the first time you’re hearing about fixed wireless, you should know right now that it’s not Wi-Fi nor is it satellite or mobile internet.
In a nutshell, fixed wireless providers beam your internet connection from a fixed location to an antenna installed on your roof, which then goes to your router. That’s why weather and even trees, hills, or mountains can have such an impact on your fixed-wireless connection.
- Moderate availability
- Lower latency
- Performance issues related to weather and terrain
- Low data caps
But if you’ve got a clear view from your roof, fixed wireless can be a huge step up from DSL. Rise Broadband, our top fixed wireless internet pick, offers speeds up to 50 Mbps. That’s not bad, considering we’ve seen DSL speeds of about 2 Mbps while visiting family in rural Wisconsin.
One downside to fixed wireless is that some providers seem to offer low data caps. Currently, Rise Broadband gives you a pretty hefty max of 500 GB of data each month, but AT&T Fixed Wireless gives you only 170 GB each month. If you’ve got kids who love to stream every single Disney movie, they’ll eat that AT&T data up fast.
But keep an eye on AT&T’s fixed wireless, because the company has big plans to reach 1.1 million locations in 18 different states by 2020. And as it develops its 5G technology, the future of its fixed wireless plans can only get brighter.
Best Mobile Wireless
Plans: Beyond Unlimited, Above Unlimited
Prices: Starts at $85/mo.
Hotspot Speeds: 4G LTE, then 600 Kbps
Hotspot 4G LTE Data: 15–20 GB
Coverage: Ranked 1st in two tests
Plans: ONE Plus
Prices: Starts at $85/mo.
Hotspot Speeds: 4G LTE, then 256 Kbps
Hotspot 4G LTE Data: 20 GB
Coverage: Ranked 1st and 4th in two tests
You’re likely already familiar with the four big contenders for mobile wireless: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. Along with providing you cellphone service, these companies often let you turn your smartphone into a mobile hotspot.
That means your laptop, tablet, or any other Wi-Fi enabled device can hop onto the internet thanks to your cellphone. But be wary—your wireless data will be used by each of those devices, so you could hit your cellphone data limit much more quickly.
- Wi-Fi almost anywhere
- 4G LTE speeds that can reach 15+ Mbps
- Very low data caps
- Patchy coverage
We chose Verizon as our top pick for mobile wireless, mainly due to its high marks for coverage from OpenSignal and RootMetrics. In fact, you won’t find better coverage from any other wireless provider. It also ranks well for speed, though that could dip in rural areas, according to Speedtest’s data.
The Verizon Beyond Unlimited plan gives you 15 GB of 4G LTE data, while its Above Unlimited plan boosts that to 20 GB of 4G LTE data. Both Verizon plans slow your mobile hotspot speeds to 600 Kbps once you’ve hit that data cap—but we found Verizon’s slowed hotspot speeds were faster than most competitors’ slowed speeds.
Pro Tip: Save money by signing up for paperless billing and Autopay.
All four wireless providers offer you monthly discounts if you sign up for paperless billing and Autopay. Usually it’s to the tune of $5 per month per line, which adds up fast.
But if Verizon’s not your jam, T-Mobile may be a better fit. Its ONE Plus plan gets you 20 GB of 4G LTE data, and you’ll meander along at 256 Kbps after that.
T-Mobile is ranked first and fourth for coverage by OpenSignal and RootMetric, respectively, and Speedtest ranks it first for speed. We picked T-Mobile over AT&T since you get more gigs of hotspot data (20 GB versus 15 GB), but if you’re looking for a more budget-friendly pick, AT&T fits that bill.
Sprint, on the other hand, can seem like a perfect budget pick. But we don’t recommend it since it lags quite a ways behind the others for coverage in OpenSignal’s and RootMetrics’ tests. The idea is to get you a stable internet connection, not one that drops every few minutes!
What to Look For When Buying Rural Internet
Now that you know more options are out there than just dial-up and satellite, it’s time to start shopping.
Along with your personal needs, what should you keep in mind when shopping for rural internet? Here’s our take.
Price is a huge factor for most of us, and sadly, many of your rural internet options don’t come cheap. But there are a few ways you can keep the cost under control:
- Don’t buy more data than you need. Those unlimited data plans are super tempting, but if you use only 5 GB of data each month, you’ll pay more than you should. Monitor your data usage for a month with your current plan and look for a plan with a data cap to match.
- Watch out for price hikes. Read the fine print. Companies like Viasat start with competitive rates, but you’ll end up paying more each month after the first few months. For a price that won’t change, try HughesNet—or grab a CenturyLink Price for Life plan.
- Compare equipment costs. How much does it cost to rent or buy the equipment you’ll need? And what about installation? Keep these fees in mind when you compare options, and don’t be afraid to ask for a discount or waiver.
Speed can be another tempting reason to throw all your money at your internet connection, But you may need less than you think. Here’s what the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recommends:
- Social media, email, and browsing the internet: 1 Mbps
- Streaming video in standard definition (480p): 3–4 Mbps
- Streaming video in high definition (720p): 5–8 Mbps
- Streaming video in 4K: 25 Mbps
- Gaming: 3–4 Mbps
Keep in mind that you’ll want more speed if you have multiple people or devices using your internet connection at the same time.
Data caps can be a real killjoy. But if you’re mainly using the internet to check stock prices, email your mom, and chat with friends on Facebook, you probably won’t hit a data cap.
For those of us who love to stream shows on Netflix, game, or upload lots of files, data usage is something we should keep an eye on. Or you can play it safe by grabbing a plan with a high or unlimited data cap, like HughesNet’s 50 GB plan or Rise Broadband’s 500 GB plans.
The lack of internet provider choices in rural areas is a sad reality in our country. In 2016, the FCC reported that 36% of rural Americans had no access to broadband internet.
Chances are if you live in a rural area, you know all too well about the lack of affordable internet options. That’s why availability is such a key factor in deciding which ISP to use.
Satellite and DSL are perhaps some of your best options in terms of availability. Satellites can beam down an internet connection to pretty much anywhere, and DSL hooks up to your existing phone lines.
But with the expansion of fixed wireless and mobile wireless networks, you may not have to give up a zippy internet connection just to enjoy some peace and quiet out in the country.
Looking for rural internet? Now you’ve got choices behind doors one, two, three, and four.
Between satellite internet, DSL, fixed wireless, and mobile wireless, you should be able to hop on Reddit, swipe on Tinder, or log into Battle.net from the comfort of your farmhouse, cabin, or ranch home—whatever you’re into.
And hopefully we’ll see even more internet options make their way to the country in the future. But for now, we’re just thankful the days of dial-up are (mostly) over.
What is the best internet service for rural areas?
We’d have to say the best internet service for rural areas is satellite internet, based on price, availability, speeds, and data.
You just can’t beat that availability and variety of options. And as Viasat and HughesNet continue to upgrade and launch new satellites, it’s only going to get better.
Of course, you shouldn’t overlook your other options.
Best Internet Service for Rural Areas:
Should I get fixed wireless internet service?
If you can get fixed wireless, go for it. Often the prices are quite affordable, and as long as you don’t need more than 50 Mbps, you’re good to go on speed too.
Of course, that data cap could be a huge downer. If you need to use more data than 150 to 500 GB, check out DSL or satellite internet instead.
Is there any unlimited satellite internet?
Technically there are no unlimited satellite internet plans, but Viasat comes the closest. It slows your speed once you’ve met your data cap (up to 100 GB), but only if there are a lot of other people using the network.
10 Fastest and Slowest Cities for Rural Internet
About 97% of the US is classified as “rural” by the US Census Bureau. But according to the FCC’s 2019 Broadband Deployment Report, more than one in four rural Americans don’t have access to internet speeds of at least 25 Mbps (the minimum requirement for broadband internet). That’s 21.3 million people.
Some rural Americans have it better than others. About 29% can reach internet speeds up to 250 Mbps. But 12% of the same demographic can’t even get 10 Mbps internet speeds.
Fastest and slowest rural cities in the US
So which cities have the best rural internet? And which cities have the worst?
We combed through data from more than one million internet speed tests and found the rural cities and small towns in the US with the fastest and slowest 😱internet. Now you can know where to go if you’re looking to live the simple life—but with Netflix.
- Rural city with the slowest average internet speed in the US: Newcastle, CA (3.7 Mbps)
- Rural city with the fastest average internet speed in the US: Hampton, GA (113.6 Mbps)
- National average from all speed tests completed: 43.8 Mbps
- National average for all rural speed tests completed: 39.01 Mbps
- Number of rural US cities ranked: 592
Rural cities with the slowest rural internet
- Newcastle, CA (3.7 Mbps)
- Qulin, MO (4.3 Mbps)
- Spring Hill, KS (4.8 Mbps)
- Erin, TN (5 Mbps)
- Westphalia, MI (5.3 Mbps)
- Sylva, NC (5.4 Mbps)
- Stevensville, MT (5.6 Mbps)
- Hawaiian Ocean View, HI (6.2 Mbps)
- Trenton, FL (6.3 Mbps)
- Nevada City, CA (6.7 Mbps)
America’s slowest rural cities are all over the map, but there are a few trends. For example, four of the cities (Newcastle, Sylva, Stevensville, and Nevada City) are either very close to or surrounded by National Forests, which could pose infrastructure difficulties for all types of internet.
But the most common reason for slow rural internet is that it’s expensive for internet providers to expand and update infrastructure, so it’s less financially motivating to expand to rural areas with fewer people. The government is trying to incentivize wider broadband rollouts to underserved areas through programs like the Connect America Fund, but there are still millions of people in rural America without access to internet fast enough to keep up with the rest of the world.
Rural cities with the fastest rural internet
- Hampton, GA (113.6 Mbps)
- Haymarket, VA (93.1 Mbps)
- New Market, MD (89.4 Mbps)
- Aliquippa, PA (82 Mbps)
- Warrenton, VA (79.6 Mbps)
- Downingtown, PA (78.7 Mbps)
- Roanoke, TX (77 Mbps)
- Harleysville, PA (76.9 Mbps)
- Red Lion, PA (74.6 Mbps)
- Woodbridge, VA (72.4 Mbps)
East Coast states, on average, have faster internet speeds than anywhere else in the country. Maryland has the fastest statewide average speed with 65 Mbps, and Virginia comes in third with an average of 59.3 Mbps. So it makes sense that these states would be among the fastest for rural internet as well.
Judging by this list, you might think that rural Pennsylvania has it made with fast internet speeds. But according to The Center for Rural Pennsylvania, a huge amount of the state is still struggling with access to broadband internet speeds. That just goes to show that even states with the fastest rural internet still have spotty coverage that leaves a lot of Americans in the dust.
How we got our results
Our data comes from speed tests taken on HighSpeedInternet.com. We examined results from more than one million US speed tests to find the fastest and slowest average rural internet speeds.
We defined a “rural” city as a community with a population of less than 10,000 people that is geographically removed from an urban city. We also filtered out locations with fewer than 50 speed test results to ensure accurate representation of the city’s average speed. In all, we ranked and researched nearly 600 rural cities in the US.
Because the rural cities are ranked by average speed, it is entirely possible to find much faster- or slower-than-average internet speeds in any given area. These numbers do not represent actual internet speeds but are a reflection of the tested internet connections in an area.
Your Guide to Gaming on Satellite Internet
Can you game on satellite internet? Short answer: yes. Long answer: it’s complicated.
January 4, 2019|
Moving to the country and worried you’ll have to say goodbye to League of Legends forever? You might not have to.
Sure, Viasat and HughesNet aren’t the best options for gaming. There’s no getting around that. But when satellite internet is your only option, rest assured you can still game.
Here’s a quick guide to setting yourself up for the best gaming experience with a satellite connection.
Can you game with satellite internet?
Short answer: yes. Long answer: it depends on the game and your internet speed.
We figure you live in a rural area if satellite internet is your best bet, which likely means fiber or even cable aren’t available for you. Luckily, satellite internet has evolved enough to provide speeds that rival cable. Satellite connections can chug along at 25 Mbps or even a brisk 100 Mbps.
The issues you’ll face while gaming on satellite internet are latency and packet loss. While these won’t make or break your gameplay in most turn-based or roleplay games (RPGs), they could give you grief in first-person shooters (FPS) like Overwatch.
Latency is how much time it takes for the game server to recognize an action you take and react accordingly.
For example, let’s say you’re racking up the kills as Diablo in Heroes of the Storm. An enemy Raynor comes to farm your lane, so you hit your Shadow Charge ability. Latency is the amount of time it takes for the game server to realize you’ve hit Shadow Charge, then have your Diablo charge Raynor and knock him back.
In this case, low latency means you’ll land that charge no problem. But if you have high latency, you may lag out and miss because Raynor retreated before the game realized you mashed your Shadow Charge button.
What’s ping? When gamers mention ping, they’re referring to latency. Ping is the measurement of a gamer’s latency in milliseconds (ms). Lower ping means lower latency and less lag.
What’s packet loss?
While latency measures the amount of time it takes data to travel from your computer to the game server, packet loss is what happens when that data never reaches the game server.
Sounds like a nightmare, right? If you’ve gamed a lot, likely you’ve experienced packet loss or heard others complain about “drifting” or “rubberbanding.”
Nothing says “wave goodbye to your chicken dinner” than rubberbanding during a PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) game while the enemy takes potshots at you with the shotgun.
How to Reduce Latency on Satellite Internet
Satellite internet works by bouncing your data to satellites orbiting 22,300 miles above Earth, then to the game server and back. (Whew, what a mouthful.) Because your data has to travel such a great distance, you’re going to experience latency. There’s just no way around it.
But there are a few things you can do to reduce latency and avoid the lag hammer.
Here’s how to reduce latency and fix lag:
- Use a wired connection, not Wi-Fi. Plug in that Ethernet cable, friend!
- Pause any background downloads.
- Close any programs that use an internet connection, like Netflix.
- Restart your router—unplug the power cable, wait a minute or two, then plug it back in again.
- Connect to game servers closest to your local area. For example, if you live in the Midwest, look for a server located in Chicago.
Which video games can I play with satellite internet?
Some games will run like a charm on satellite internet, while others will make you want to pull your hair out. (Seriously, there’s nothing worse than lagging out and getting steamrolled by an aggro mob.)
Because your data has to travel so far, offline games, turn-based games, and certain RPGs will run best. But we’re not saying you can’t hop on your Norn Mesmer to blast some world bosses in Guild Wars 2.
That said, here are some games we recommend playing on satellite internet and a few you might want to avoid.
Best Games for Satellite Internet
- Civilization V, PC
- League of Legends, PC
- Star Trek Online, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
- World of Warcraft, PC
- Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Worst Games for Satellite Internet
- Counter Strike: Global Offensive, PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
- PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, mobile
- Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
- Fortnite, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, mobile
Keep in mind your gameplay experience will depend on what you do. For example, you might be fine questing in the Barrens on World of Warcraft, but things might get laggy if you hop into a twenty-man raid.
You’ll also want to consider how important split-second actions are. In a fast-paced game like Overwatch, dodging enemy players’ ultimates and shooting back has to happen quickly for you to earn that play-of-the-game recognition. There’s no room for high latency here.
Pro Tip: Buy a physical copy. Digital game downloads are all the rage now, but downloading 50 gigs of game content will take at least a few hours on satellite internet. That’s time you could be gaming. Instead, buy a physical copy of your game so you’re ready to go. (Except for those patches we know are coming.)
Which satellite internet provider is best for gaming?
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recommends speeds of at least 4 Mbps for gaming, but as with all things, more is better.
Luckily, both satellite internet providers in the US offer faster speeds than that. HughesNet connects you at 25 Mbps, no matter what plan you choose. Viasat (formerly Exede) goes up to 100 Mbps—a speed that rivals cable internet.
Data effective 12/10/18. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
* For the first three months.
† Requires a 24-month agreement.
‡ Actual speeds may vary and are not guaranteed.
HughesNet vs. Viasat: Data Caps
When it comes to data caps, both Viasat and HughesNet advertise “unlimited” data. But the reality is that both ISPs will slow your speed after you use a certain amount of data each month.
Viasat will slow your speed during times of high network traffic once you hit 40 to 100 GB of data. The amount of data you get before your internet starts crawling along depends on the plan you purchase—the more expensive the plan, the more unthrottled data you get.
HughesNet, on the other hand, caps your data at 10 GB to 50 GB each month. Again, how much data you get depends on which plan you pay for. If you go over that data cap, your speeds will slow to about 1 to 3 Mbps until the billing cycle ends. No thanks.
You can buy extra data from both Viasat and HughesNet, so don’t throw either option completely out the window.
We should also mention HughesNet’s two-year price lock guarantee is great if you’re looking to save money, especially compared to Viasat, which jacks up your price after three months. That might be enough to turn the tide in HughesNet’s favor.
Viasat vs. HughesNet: Speed
If you have multiple gamers in your household (or even if some housemates stream while you game), Viasat’s speeds may be a better deal. With its new Viasat-2 satellite system, it ramps up to 100 Mbps, while HughesNet tops out at 25 Mbps.
If it’s just you gaming, HughesNet’s 25 Mbps speeds are more than enough. And don’t forget about its two-year price guarantee that blows Viasat’s prices out of the water.
One thing to note is that your internet speed won’t affect your lag since latency is based on distance and not speed.
Even so, data caps and speed are still worth considering while you decide on a satellite internet plan.
Here’s why: Imagine you ordered a chocolate shake, but there were no big straws, and you had to suck all that chocolatey goodness through a normal-sized soda straw. Talk about frustrating.
That’s what internet is like with a lower speed—you’re trying to download information through a narrow straw. But if you up your speed, you’ve upgraded to the jumbo-sized milkshake straw that allows you to download more information at the same time.
Big or small, your straw is always the same length, so your milkshake (or internet data) always travels the same distance to get to you. That’s why latency is an inescapable factor with satellite internet, no matter how fast your connection is. But getting more data at once with a higher speed will help downloads go faster and graphics look better. That’s why speed still matters.
Which gaming consoles work best with satellite internet?
They do fall prey to the same issues you’ll experience playing PC games, so we still recommend games that don’t rely on split-second decisions. (We’re looking at you, PUBG.)
Here’s a quick list of some console games we recommend for satellite internet.
Best Console Games for Satellite Internet
- Smite: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
- Battlefield V: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
- Star Trek Online: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
- Elder Scrolls Online: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Satellite internet is like looting a rare item: it’s not the best, but it’s still an upgrade.
We don’t recommend satellite internet for gaming if you have other options. But we understand some gamers don’t have a choice.
The good news is you can still rack up those kills, grind those levels, and earn those in-game achievements even with satellite internet. You just have to jump through a few hoops to do it. GG.
Comparing Internet Service Types
Satellite Internet vs.: DSL, Cable, Mobile Broadband, Fiber, and Dial-Up.
- Does not require a telephone line
- Available anywhere, including remote locations
- Uses satellite internet dish equipment
- Does not require the use of a telephone line
- Uses the same cable network as cable television service
- Is usually faster than DSL unless there is an especially high volume of traffic
- Is not available everywhere
- Number of users on a single connection affects speed
- Comcast, Road Runner, and Cox are a few examples of cable internet providers
- Uses cell phone towers to provide wireless internet signal
- Allows you to stay connected from many wireless devices
- Communicates at the speed of light
- Usually limited data usage, data overages can occur
- Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T are examples of mobile
- Available where cell towers are
- Uses a telephone line but can run simultaneously with inbound/outbound calls
- Typically doesn’t require phone rewiring
- Connection speeds vary based on location to the hub
- Download speeds typically exceed upload speeds
- Is not available everywhere
- Phone companies such as AT&T, Verizon offer DSL service
- Uses cable constructed of thin glass strands
- Communicates at the speed of light
- Fastest internet connections available
- Is not available everywhere
- Verizon, AT&T;, and CenturyLink are all providers who have fiber-optic networks
- Uses phone lines to get internet
- Cannot use phone and internet at the same time
- Available everywhere
- Very slow connection speeds
- NetZero and AOL are examples of dial-up providers
Are you tired of dial-up service?
Dial-up service is fine for those who are budget-minded and very light internet users. However, dial-up service can often become tedious, as users have to wait up to several minutes at a time to logon for simple tasks like checking email, weather, directions and so on, not to mention dropped connections and tied up phone lines.
How much are you willing to spend?
For very bare-bones and basic internet use, dial-up represents the lowest part of the expense spectrum. However, for those that are willing to spend a little more per month, High-speed Satellite internet offers a faster, more reliable experience.directions and so on, not to mention dropped connections and tied up phone lines.
Does internet speed matter to you?
For many going from dial-up service to high-speed satellite service can be a revelation. There is a noticeable time difference in everyday activities like checking your favorite websites, sending emails, and loading photos.
Are you in a rural location?
For those who live in rural regions, the local infrastructure may not support broadband options like cable, DSL, or fiber-optic services. Major satellite internet providers offer services anywhere coast-to-coast, giving many people the opportunity to experience high-speed internet at a reasonable price.
Are you looking for a mobile high-speed internet solution?
For those who are looking for mobile high-speed internet solutions, satellite internet might be the best way to go. Though satellite internet services are more readily available for those in fixed locations, most major providers will consult with customers on arranging the best plan for a mobile set-up.
Viasat vs. HughesNet
Viasat (formerly Exede) and HughesNet are the two biggest residential satellite internet providers. They’re both widely available and use satellite technology to deliver broadband internet service. Though these two Internet Service Providers (ISP)s might look the same on the surface, their differences could significantly impact your internet experience.
We broke down those differences to help you make the best choice for your internet needs.
The Bottom Line
Get Viasat for the fastest satellite internet available. Viasat’s top speed is four times faster than HughesNet’s. If that particular package isn’t available in your area, you can choose between three other Viasat packages that are as fast or faster than HughesNet’s top speed.
Choose HughesNet to get the lowest satellite internet prices. HughesNet and Viasat both offer internet packages between $50 and $60 per month, but with HughesNet, you’ll get more than twice as much speed for that price. You’ll also keep that price for two years instead of just three months.
Packages & Pricing
Viasat offers a variety of speed and data options to fit your needs. HughesNet keeps things a bit simpler with just one speed, but it still offers several data options.
|Package||Intro. Price||Speed||Price Increases to|
|Unlimited Bronze 12||$50/mo.||Up to 12 Mbps||$70/mo. after 3 months|
|Unlimited Silver 12||$65/mo.||Up to 12 Mbps||$95/mo. after 3 months|
|Unlimited Gold 12||$95/mo.||Up to 12 Mbps||$145/mo. after 3 months|
|Silver 25||$70/mo.||Up to 25 Mbps||$100/mo. after 3 months|
|Gold 30||$100/mo.||Up to 30 Mbps||$150/mo. after 3 months|
|Gold 50||$100/mo.||Up to 50 Mbps||$150/mo. after 3 months|
|Platinum 100||$150/mo.||Up to 100 Mbps||$200/mo. after 3 months|
Data effective 8/1/2018. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
With Viasat, you can choose a package with the speed and data threshold that suits your needs. Remember, no matter which Viasat package you order, the price will go up after three months.
Viasat plans have a 2-year contract agreement.
Some Viasat services were formerly known as Exede Internet. In 2018, ViaSat dropped the name Exede and now calls all of its internet services Viasat Internet.
While all Viasat package technically come with unlimited data, you may experience slowing after you reach your plan’s data threshold. We’ll explain this in more detail in the data section below. To save data, each package tier limits your video streaming quality.
Viasat Video Streaming Quality by Package
Unfortunately, the only way to change your video streaming on a Viasat unlimited plan is to upgrade to a better package.
|Introductory Price||Speed||Data Limit|
|$59.99/mo.||25 Mbps||10 GB|
|$69.99/mo.||25 Mbps||20 GB|
|$99.99/mo.||25 Mbps||30 GB|
|$149.99/mo.||25 Mbps||50 GB|
Data effective 9/27/2018. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. Actual speeds may vary and are not guaranteed.
HughesNet internet plans don’t have names, but they all offer the same speeds, which happen to coincide with the threshold for what the FCC defines as broadband (25 Mbps download speeds and 3 Mbps upload speed).
Each HughesNet package tier has a different data limit. Once you reach that limit, your service will slow down. We’ll discuss the differences between HughesNet’s slowing and Viasat’s slowing in the data section.
With HughesNet, you could end up saving money in the long haul. HughesNet plans come with a 2-year contract agreement.
- Faster speeds
- Unlimited data
- Free installation
- Built-in Wi-Fi
- Newer equipment
- No throttling
- 2-year contract required
- Restricted streaming quality
- More affordable
- Unlimited data
- Built-in Wi-Fi
- Video Data Saver
- Additional data doesn't expire
- Throttled speeds after data allowance
- 2-year contract required
While both these ISPs offer broadband speeds, Viasat uses newer satellites with more advanced technology than HughesNet, so you can get faster speeds in select areas. You can also count on those speeds to remain faster than what HughesNet can provide because Viasat plans to launch another satellite before Hughesnet launches its next one.
Satellite internet can be susceptible to lag (also known as latency) that can make your connection feel slow.
Data restrictions are one of the main differences between satellite internet and other types of internet. While any type of connection could come with a data limit, satellite internet limits are usually much smaller and thus have a more significant effect on the overall service.
Viasat allows you to buy extra data. However, while HughesNet’s Data Tokens don’t expire, the extra data you buy from Viasat doesn’t roll over into the next billing cycle, so you lose any unused data.
Instead of having data limits, Viasat packages have “data thresholds.” When you reach your data threshold, Viasat doesn’t reduce your speed, but it does de-prioritize your internet usage. Traffic from other subscribers on the network (that haven’t hit their thresholds yet) will have the “right of way,” so to speak. Essentially, meeting your data threshold won’t slow down your top speed, but you’ll be in the back of the line every time you use the internet until the next billing cycle.
HughesNet internet packages vary in price based on their data limits. If you hit your data limit, your internet will still work, but HughesNet will slow your connection to just 1 to 3 Mbps and keep it that slow until the end of the billing cycle.
HughesNet provides several ways to help accommodate for the data limits. You can buy “Data Tokens” to add incremental amounts of data to your plan. The data from the tokens doesn’t expire, and you can use it whenever you want.
HughesNet Data Token Prices
|3GB for $9||5GB for $15||10GB for $30||25GB for $75|
Save Your Data
You can save your data by using the internet during the Bonus Zone with HughesNet or the Free Zone with Viasat.
HughesNet Bonus Zone
The Bonus Zone occurs between 2 a.m. and 8 a.m. local time. When you use your internet during the Bonus Zone, the data you use won’t count against your monthly allowance. Instead, HughesNet gives you 50 GB of data for the Bonus Zone.
Plan ahead and use the Bonus Zone to download games and videos you can play offline during regular hours.
Viasat Free Zone
Older Viasat plans (marketed under the brand name Exede®) had a nightly free use zone where you could use the internet without it counting against your data allowance. The new unlimited internet packages from Viasat don’t have a free zone.
HughesNet Video Data Saver
HughesNet comes with Video Data Saver. This feature automatically adjusts your video streaming to save your data. However, this also limits the quality of video to 480p. That’s still DVD quality, but not HD quality.
If you do a lot of streaming, this feature will help prevent reaching your data limit. When you want to watch something in HD, you can turn off the Video Data Saver by changing the settings when you log into your account.
Viasat Video Data Extender
As with the Free Zone, the video data extender was available on old excede® plans, but the Viasat unlimited plans don’t offer this feature. Instead, it varies video streaming quality by package. The intent of limiting streaming quality on lower tier packages is to save data.
As mentioned before, satellite internet is more susceptible to lag than other types of internet service. The lag occurs because a signal transmitted via satellite has to travel much farther than it would with other internet types. That extra distance also leaves the signal more vulnerable to interference.
Viasat and HughesNet are both satellite internet providers, so they face the same limitations. If you’re concerned about reliability, go with Viasat. Its newer satellites will have more advanced equipment that isn’t likely to wear out anytime soon.
Because both these ISP’s operate by satellite, they’re both available almost anywhere in America. However, the packages available will vary by area because the beam from the orbiting satellite will hit different locations at different angles. A more direct beam can deliver a stronger signal and a better service.
Equipment and Installation
Viasat has the better satellites, but HughesNet gives you the option to buy your equipment. Viasat and HughesNet both include built-in WiFi capabilities with their gateways (modem/router combos).
|Monthly Lease Price||Lifetime Lease Price / Purchase Price||Installation Fee|
|Viasat||$9.99||$299.99||Free Standard Installation|
|HughesNet||$14.99||$349.98*||Free Standard Installation†|
*Plus a $100 installation fee.
†Applies only to lease option. Offer ends 11/28/18.
Viasat’s newer satellite technology means it can deliver a stronger service, but the equipment you get in your home has to be compatible with the latest technology—which means you have to get it from Viasat. Viasat doesn’t offer any option for purchasing your internet equipment, so leasing is your only option.
You have two leasing options. You can lease your Viasat equipment for $9.99 per month, or you can opt for the lifetime lease for a one-time fee of $299.99. The lifetime lease is good for as long as you keep the same model of equipment.
If you’re confident that you’ll be using Viasat as your ISP for more than thirty months, the lifetime lease could save you money. But, if you’re just signing up for the standard 2-year agreement, go with the monthly lease. The total cost of the leasing fees for two years is less than the lifetime lease price.
HughesNet gives you multiple equipment leasing options, plus an option to buy. The monthly leasing option costs $14.99, though some areas may get a $5/mo. discount, and the purchase option costs $349.98.
Unless you plan to be with HughesNet for a long time (55 months or more), leasing is the more cost-effective option. Also, new customers may get free installation, so you could save even more.
Add satellite TV to your internet service.
Neither HughesNet nor Viasat bundle with television, but you can get DISH or DIRECTV alongside either service.
|TV Provider||Intro. Price Range||Channel Count||Features||Order Now|
|DIRECTV||$35–$110/mo.*||155+–330+||NFL SUNDAY TICKET||View Plans|
|DISH||$59.99/mo.–$89.99/mo.†||190–290+||HD FREE for Life®||View Plans|
Data effective 8/1/2018. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.*For 12 months with a 2-yr contract, paperless bill, & autopay. Price increases for months 13-24. †For 24 months with a 2-year contract and eAutoPay.
DISH offers high-quality satellite television on all its packages. In addition to delivering the entertainment you want, DISH also features the Hopper 3 DVR. With 2TB of space and 4K HD picture quality, you can record hours of your favorite shows with the Hopper 3, and you’ll know they’ll look great.
DIRECTV satellite TV service also delivers great entertainment, especially for sports fans. The DIRECTV Genie® DVR support 4K HD for a stunningly clear picture and has a huge storage capacity for virtually endless entertainment.
Go with Viasat for the fastest satellite internet service. It uses newer satellites that can deliver stronger connections than HughesNet can.
To get the most speed on a small budget, go with HughesNet. While its top speed comes nowhere close to what Viasat can offer, the most affordable HughesNet package delivers twice the speed as Viasat for the same price.