How Much Does Satellite Internet Cost?


Dave Schafer
Researcher & Writer
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September 21, 2022

Average monthly cost of satellite internet

The average cost of a satellite internet plan in the US is about $110 per month. This is more than the average cost of a cable or fiber plan, which is about $50 per month.

But unlike cable or fiber internet, satellite internet plans are available everywhere in the country, and their prices are usually consistent from region to region (meanwhile cable and fiber plans vary from one town to the next).

Provider
Introductory price
Download speed
Availability
Get it
HughesNet$64.99–$159.99/mo.†25 MbpsNationwide
Viasat$69.99–$299.9912–300 MbpsNationwide
Starlink$99.00/mo. + $499.00 one-time equipment fee100–200 MbpsLimited

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

There are three residential satellite internet providers in the US: Viasat, HughesNet, and Starlink. Viasat internet, on average, is about $27.00 more per month than HughesNet internet and has a worse customer service reception, but Viasat does have faster speeds and larger data caps a higher.

The average price of a Viasat plan after the promo period is $129.08, while the average price for HughesNet internet is $102.49. Starlink currently offers only one plan with limited availability for $99.00 per month.

Average speed of satellite internet

The average download speed of a satellite internet service plan is 31 Mbps. This may not seem that fast, but it’s actually pretty good (25 Mbps is considered broadband by the FCC). Unless you live with a lot of people who all stream at the same time, it should be plenty of speed for everyday tasks.

Also, keep in mind that this average speed is a little skewed by the fact that HughesNet’s plans max out at 25 Mbps. For context, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) considers a broadband connection to be 25 Mbps or higher, so you’ll be right on the line but still hanging with the broadband crew.

If you want more speed than that, Viasat offers plans up to 100 Mbps. You’ll just have to check speed availability in your area (and pay a little more) to get it.

What makes a satellite internet plan more expensive?

Satellite internet plans usually cost more than their land-based counterparts, mostly because of the restrictions that naturally accompanies satellite technology. These include speed, data, and equipment like home satellite dishes and geostationary or low-earth orbit satellite infrastructure.

Satellite internet: Speed

Internet packages are usually priced based on how much speed they offer. Faster packages cost more, especially with satellite internet providers. For example, Viasat internet prices its plans this way, and it makes choosing a package relatively easy. Need more speed? Just bump your plan up a tier, the max of which provides 300 Mbps.

Unlike Viasat, HughesNet's plan all offer the same download speeds: 25 Mbps for every plan. That's technically high-speed internet (according to the Federal Communications Commission), and should serve the average couple's needs. So HughesNet internet doesn't price its plans based on speed; instead, they're divvied up based on data cap size, which we’ll discuss more below.

How much internet speed do you actually need?

How much internet speed you need really depends on two things:

  • What are you using the internet for? Streaming HD video requires a lot more download speed than just browsing the web.
  • How many people will be using the internet at the same time? If two people are streaming at once, you’ll need twice the bandwidth to avoid any performance issues.
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Not sure how much speed you need?

To get a more exact estimate of how much speed you need, take our quiz: How Much Internet Speed Do I Need?

Satellite internet: Data and data caps

HughesNet bases its satellite internet prices on data cap sizes rather than speed. As we mentioned, all HughesNet packages offer the same speed: 25 Mbps. Each package tier then offers 15–100 GB of data, growing more expensive the higher the data cap you want. We recommend the 30 GB plan for low-internet users and 100 GB plan for Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ binge-watchers.

Viasat plans also have increasing data limits as the speed (and price) increases, but that’s not the main way the packages are advertised.

Does satellite internet offer no data caps?

Both satellite internet providers technically offer unlimited data, but it's not truly unlimited as it sounds. The data caps both internet services determine how much high-speed data you can use. After that, you may have unlimited data, but it's standard data instead of premium data. That just means you'll get super slow speeds after you exceed your plan's data limit.  

The average data cap for satellite internet plans is 60 GB. The highest data cap available is 300 GB on Viasat’s Unlimited Platinum 100 plan. Keep in mind that these limits are more like thresholds. When you reach them, you can still use your service, but your speed will be slowed to 1–3 Mbps (virtually unusable). But at least there are no overage fees.

Starlink offers plans with truly unlimited data, which is one reason why it's so exciting. The only problem is Starlink availability is highly limited as it continues to roll out its network.

How much data is enough?

The data amount you need largely depends on what you’re doing with your internet connection. If you only browse the web and check email occasionally, you can probably get by with a basic 30 to 35 GB plan.

But if you’re gaming or streaming music and (especially) video at higher resolution, you’ll eat through that very quickly. Watching an hour of Netflix in HD can use up to 3 GB of data, so more data is always better—especially if you stream a lot.

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Not sure how much speed you need?

To learn how to manage your internet usage with data caps in mind, check out our Guide to Internet Data Caps.

Other costs to consider

Installation

Both Viasat and HughesNet offer free installation if you meet certain requirements. For Viasat internet, you can get free installation if you’re a new customer. Just ask about the installation fee rebate program. Otherwise it’ll cost you $99.95 to install Viasat.

If you’re getting HughesNet internet, you’ll have to buy your equipment outright ($449.99) to get the installation fee waived. Leasing your equipment ($14.99/mo.) from HughesNet will require a $99 activation fee.

Starlink requires a hefty one-time $499.00 equipment fee. But the equipment is user-friendly enough that you can just install it yourself rather than wait on a professional.

Equipment

Viasat charges $9.99 per month for equipment rentals, with the option to pay a lifetime equipment lease for $299.99. HughesNet charges $14.99 per month with a $449.99 purchase price. Starlink charges a mandatory $499.00 equipment fee—leasing it monthly isn't an option.

Paying upfront for equipment can save you money in the long run if you plan to stick with one service provider, but we recommend just sticking with the monthly lease if you’re not sure.

Price hikes

One major thing to keep in mind is that all Viasat packages go up in price after a three-month introductory period. The exact amount of the increase depends on which plan you select, but it can be anywhere from $20–$80 more per month.

HughesNet plans don’t have price increases: what you sign up for is what you’ll pay for the length of your two-year term. We can appreciate stability like that.

Methodology

We rounded up the details on all the packages offered by HughesNet, Viasat, and Starlink. Pooling this data allowed us to determine the average available price, speed, and data cap for satellite internet. Since these plans are all offered nationwide, this gives us a fairly accurate picture of the actual averages.

Dave Schafer
Written by
Dave Schafer
Dave has written professionally for tech companies and consumer technology sites for nearly five years, with a special focus on TV and internet. He uses his industry expertise to help readers at HighSpeedInternet.com get the most out of their services. No matter the project, he prefers his coffee black (the stronger, the better).