How Much Does Satellite Internet Cost?

HughesNet
Hughesnet
3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5
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    Price: $49.99–$94.99/mo.
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    Speed: 15–25Mbps
Starlink
Starlink
3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8
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    Price: $120.00/mo. + $599 one-time equipment fee
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    Speed: 100–200Mbps
Viasat
Viasat
3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7
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    Price: $69.99–$149.99/mo.
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    Speed: 12–300Mbps

Dave Schafer
Apr 29, 2024
Icon Time To Read4 min read
Icon CheckWe used AI to enhance this article’s content

The average cost of a satellite internet plan in the U.S. is about $121 per month. While cable and fiber internet options may be cheaper, satellite internet offers wider availability. Finding the right satellite internet service provider depends on your needs, so let's break down the costs to help you find the best fit.

Understanding satellite internet costs:

  • Plans: Satellite internet plans cost between $49.99 to $149.99 per month, depending on the provider, download speed, and data allowance.
  • Equipment: Buying your own equipment upfront can cost up to $2,500 for Starlink, but many satellite providers lease out equipment for about $15 a month. Besides Starlink, leasing or renting is the preferred option for most providers since the one-time costs can be prohibitively expensive.
  • Installation: Some providers offer free installation under certain conditions, while others may have additional charges. Installation may require specialized equipment that providers will charge for.

Typical costs for the top satellite internet providers:

Provider
Price
Download speed (Mbps)
Data
Equipment Fee
Learn more
HughesNet$49.99–$94.99/mo.50–100 Mbps100—200GB$14.99—$19.99/mo
Starlink$120.00/mo. 40–220 Mbps40GB-2TB$599.00–$2500.00 one-time
Viasat$69.99–$149.99/mo.25–150 MbpsUnlimited$15.00/mo. (or a one-time $250.00 fee)
See what satellite internet provider is available near you.

What affects satellite internet costs?

Expect costs to rise with better features. Faster download speeds and larger data caps generally mean a higher monthly fee. You might also incur additional charges for exceeding data limits or equipment rental fees. Installation isn't always free - some providers offer it included, while others require self-installation. Please see the table below for a breakdown of installation costs.

Considering alternatives

While satellite internet offers valuable connectivity in remote areas, it has some crucial limitations. Here are some alternative options to consider.

Fiber internet

For those fortunate enough to have access, fiber internet offers the fastest and most reliable internet connection available, often at a lower cost than satellite internet. It transmits data using pulses of light through fiber cables, resulting in high speeds and low latency.

5G internet

This emerging option promises faster speeds and lower latency than traditional satellite internet, particularly in urban and suburban areas. 5G internet providers use cellular networks to deliver internet access, offering a potential alternative for those who may not have access to fiber.

Fixed wireless internet

This option utilizes point-to-point wireless towers to deliver internet access. While not as widely available as satellite internet, fixed wireless internet can offer a more affordable and potentially faster alternative in certain areas.

Real-world customer use cases

This guide explores real-world examples of satellite internet provider costs and plans for users who are in rural areas and on the go.

Rural dwellers:

  • Scenario: John lives on a farm and needs rural internet for basic tasks like email, browsing news, and occasional video calls (around five video calls per month, 30 minutes each).
  • Estimated cost: John could choose the Select Hughesnet plan with up to 50Mbps speeds and a 100GB data cap for $49.99 per month (including equipment rental fee). This data allowance provides a buffer for occasional video calls (around 15GB per month for video calls based on estimates).

RV travelers:

  • Scenario: Sarah and Mike need internet in their RV and for their work (10GB per month on average), streaming entertainment (50GB per month), and social media (20GB per month).
  • Estimated cost: Starlink's portability and unlimited data (with prioritization) could be a good fit. The base price is $150 per month, with a one-time equipment fee of $599. Be aware that speeds typically range from 20–100Mbps, and during peak usage times, customers might see slightly slower speeds.

Remote workers:

  • Scenario: Mary works from home full-time as a graphic designer and needs the internet for tasks like video conferencing with clients (daily one-hour calls), downloading large design files (20GB per month), and using cloud-based design software.
  • Estimated cost: Mary likely needs a plan with a good balance of speed and data allowance. The Viasat Unleashed plan with up to 150Mbps download speed and unlimited data could be an option for $99.99 per month (one-time equipment fee applies).

Choosing the right satellite internet provider:

Finding the right satellite internet provider requires a two-step approach: Understanding your needs and critically evaluating provider plans.

First, assess your internet habits. High speeds are crucial for activities like online gaming or video streaming, while basic browsing and email require less bandwidth. Analyze your typical data usage to avoid exceeding caps and incurring extra charges. 

Next, look at the plan options. And don’t forget to think beyond the initial price tag. Introductory offers are common, but investigate potential price hikes after the promotion ends. Hughesnet, for example, will raise your rate after the first year. Viasat also joins Starlink in ditching a mandatory contract, allowing you to pay month-to-month and end the service whenever you want. Focus on the total cost of ownership, including monthly rental charges and upfront installation costs. A seemingly affordable monthly plan can be deceptive with additional upfront and ongoing expenses. Also don't be lured by the fastest speeds if your online activity is more casual—it's like buying a racing car for city commutes.

By understanding satellite internet pricing and prioritizing your budget, you can find the most cost-effective satellite Wi-Fi for your internet needs.

Thinking about satellite internet in your area? Search the zip code near you.

Methodology

We compile our articles using trusted sources and real customer feedback. We perform first-hand testing on the services we review and compile proprietary data to give you the information you need to make the best decision for your internet needs.

At SatelliteInternet.com, we research, test, and create content that is rigorously edited and fact-checked by our editorial team for accuracy and reliability. We sometimes harness the capabilities of AI tools to assist in drafting content that is both clear and informative, ensuring high-quality information. You can learn more about our AI practices by referring to our AI policy.

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).