OneWeb vs. Starlink: Comparing Satellite Internet Providers

OneWeb’s low earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellation could rival Starlink. See what this means for your satellite internet options. 
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    For consumers and businesses
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Ben Gran
Jul 06, 2023
Icon Time To Read9 min read

It is hard to directly compare OneWeb vs. Starlink internet services because they have different coverage areas and business strategies. Starlink has a head start on deploying LEO satellites, with more than 4,000 satellites in orbit, while OneWeb says it only has 634. Starlink sells home internet service directly to consumers, and OneWeb primarily focuses on internet solutions for businesses, industry partners, and government agencies.

So if you’re looking for home internet from these two providers, Starlink internet is probably your best (and perhaps only, if you’re American) option. Need more details to be sure? Let’s compare OneWeb vs. Starlink and see how understanding these LEO satellite options can help you get the right satellite internet service for your needs. 

Other satellite internet providers

If you're looking for more satellite internet options that actually offer service where you live, Starlink and its limited availability isn't your only option. Check out two of the main players in the U.S. satellite internet industry, Hughesnet and Viasat.

Get it
Covers 99% of the U.S.
Viasat$99.99/mo.Unlimited data
Covers 99% of the U.S.

Your home internet experience with Hughesnet or Viasat will depend on which plan you sign up for and how much you’re willing to pay. See more details about these satellite internet providers in our article comparing Viasat vs. Hughesnet.

Enter your ZIP code below to find all the best internet providers in your area.

What is Starlink?

Starlink is a satellite internet provider that has carved out a unique offering in the industry by using low earth orbit (LEO) satellites. Because they orbit closer to Earth than traditional satellites, low earth orbit (LEO) satellites can deliver faster, more responsive “low-latency” satellite internet service than its most direct competition, Hughesnet and Viasat. The only downside is more limited coverage than its GEO-satellite using competitors.

Until recently, Starlink was the only satellite internet service provider to offer LEO satellite capabilities. But now there is a new player in the LEO game: OneWeb.

What is OneWeb?

OneWeb is a satellite technology company based in the United Kingdom and backed by the British government. OneWeb is not typically available directly to consumers; instead, OneWeb partners with businesses and government organizations to deploy satellite internet solutions. But OneWeb has recently made some big moves that could make the company a larger presence in the global market for home internet service.

As of March 2023, OneWeb completed the successful launch of the final 36 satellites in its constellation to achieve global coverage, making it the 2nd largest satellite constellation in the world after Starlink. According to Bloomberg News, OneWeb was on track to offer satellite internet service to U.S. business and government customers in the lower 48 states by May 2023, and could offer global satellite internet service by the end of 2023.  

However, there are still some hurdles and uncertainties before U.S. satellite internet customers can expect to see OneWeb as a new option for internet service. OneWeb is different from Starlink and other providers, but it’s still a big deal for satellite internet, and worth learning about.

OneWeb and the future of satellite internet

Even though OneWeb is not (yet) available for home internet customers in the U.S., the recent growth of OneWeb’s constellation of LEO satellites is good news for global connectivity. The future is likely to see more investment in satellite internet technology and the development of powerful new products and solutions that can help overcome the digital divide to share ideas, do business, and create smarter work processes and safer systems.

Better satellite internet, whether it’s from OneWeb, Starlink, Hughesnet, Viasat, or other services not yet launched like Project Kuiper, is good news for the world. Satellite internet is helping people tap into our collective brainpower and create a connected future, without the traditional barriers of time, distance, and geography.

OneWeb vs. Starlink: What’s the difference?

OneWeb and Starlink are both satellite internet providers using similar technology: low earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellations. They both have expressed a vision and mission of delivering global connectivity and helping people in remote and underserved places get internet access.

But aside from their shared usage of LEO satellites and their common mission, OneWeb and Starlink have big differences. We’ve outlined them below. 

Different owners/investors

OneWeb is backed by the British government and other private investors, mainly from Europe, India, and Japan. Starlink is owned by Elon Musk’s SpaceX aerospace company. Perhaps because of these different investors’ locations and priorities, OneWeb has more of a focus on Europe and Asia, while Starlink started with home internet service in the U.S. market.

Selling to businesses vs. selling to home customers

OneWeb develops satellite internet solutions for telecommunications companies and other government and enterprise partners (much like Telesat). For example, in June 2023, OneWeb announced a new partnership with Hughes Networks to offer satellite internet for in-flight Wi-Fi to airlines. Meanwhile, Starlink sells satellite internet service directly to consumer households (and also to businesses, boat owners, and sometimes to people in RVs).

Availability for home internet

OneWeb has recently, as of April 2023, started to offer home internet service for a few rural and remote areas of the United Kingdom, as part of the UK government’s Very Hard to Reach Premises connectivity program. Starlink’s home internet service, according to the company’s coverage map as of June 2023, is available in most of North America, Europe, Japan, Australia, and parts of South America.

Number of LEO satellites

OneWeb has a total of 634 satellites in orbit, making it the 2nd largest satellite constellation. But Starlink’s network is bigger, with a total of 4,217 satellites  launched.

Bottom line

If you’re an American who wants high-speed internet, OneWeb isn’t your best option for satellite internet. Go with Starlink instead (or Hughesnet or Viasat, since they’re available in more places). But OneWeb might partner with another telco company, ISP, or government agency that will help improve internet service for your community.

In fact, the growth of OneWeb could be good news for Americans in the future, particularly those in rural communities and American Indian lands that are underserved by traditional internet options. For example, OneWeb announced in June 2023 that they are joining the Connecting Alaska Consortium, to help develop better internet service for Alaska’s tribal lands and rural villages.

OneWeb vs. Starlink: Coverage and availability

With its March 2023 satellite launch, OneWeb achieved global coverage capacity. However, OneWeb is not yet offering a global coverage map that compares to Starlink’s, or advertising any official home internet service that would be a direct competitor to Starlink. Instead, OneWeb is developing smaller scale, specialized internet services and industry partnerships.

For example, OneWeb recently announced new partnerships and projects with businesses and government agencies, including the government of Iceland, the Kazakhstan postal service, and companies that make maritime communications equipment.  

Starlink is mostly focused on delivering high-speed internet service directly to consumer households and businesses, and while it is growing its coverage map, it’s still struggling to offer availability to the eastern parts of the US. 

OneWeb vs. Starlink: Performance and Speed

OneWeb is kind of like Amazon’s Project Kuiper or the Chinese government’s Belt and Road Initiative plans for satellite internet: it’s not yet available for everyday home use. So OneWeb has not yet publicly offered specific data limits or download speeds. OneWeb also does not have an official monthly subscription price or many other publicly available details in the same way that Starlink shares on its website.

However, based on what we know about low earth orbit (LEO) satellite internet, the performance of OneWeb satellite internet would likely be similar to Starlink in terms of low latency and fast speeds. It's estimated that OneWeb’s satellite internet service could reach download speeds of 200 Mbps. But we still don’t know for sure since it doesn’t have home internet service to directly compare to Starlink, Hughesnet, and Viasat.

Unlike OneWeb, Starlink already offers home internet plans in the U.S. and other markets. Starlink got started by selling satellite internet service directly to households and small businesses, and the Starlink coverage map includes most of the United States (although your exact speeds and experience will vary depending on location and demands of the network). Starlink speeds range from 20–100Mbps, but it can go faster under optimal network conditions.

Starlink, when performing at its best, is the best satellite internet provider for low latency and unlimited high-speed data, even ideal for streaming video and online gaming. But keep in mind that Starlink is not yet available in all areas, and can have inconsistent speeds compared to other satellite internet providers like Viasat or Hughesnet. 

Choosing the Right Satellite Internet Service

Starlink’s highest level of service promises fast speeds and vast amounts of data, and OneWeb’s LEO satellite technology has big potential for the future. But for many customers in the U.S., especially in rural areas, other satellite internet providers could offer the best solution for your home internet needs today.

Satellite provider
Who it’s best for
Get it
OneWeb LogoOneWeb
Europe, UK, AsiaUndisclosedGovernments, enterprises, IoT industry partners
USA (partial) Unlimited for $90–$120/mo.Home internet and small businesses, heavy-duty streaming and gaming
99% of USAUnlimited data for $49.99–$79.99/mo. Budget-conscious, light users of home internet
99% of USA60–500GB for $69.99–$299.99/mo.Working from home and families that want more data

If you need home internet service in the U.S. now, OneWeb is not the right choice—because despite its growing network of LEO satellites, OneWeb does not yet have a consumer-facing satellite internet service available to American customers.

If you want the lowest latency, the fastest speeds, and unlimited data, Starlink could be the best option. However, Starlink’s availability is limited in the U.S.; depending on which state you live in, you might not get coverage or the fastest Starlink experience.

Viasat and Hughesnet are different from Starlink and OneWeb in one important way: they use geostationary (GEO) satellites instead of LEO satellites like Starlink and OneWeb. These GEO satellites allow providers like Viasat and Hughesnet to deliver 99% coverage of the U.S., unlike Starlink which is still building out its coverage map. But GEO satellites also mean that Hughesnet and Viasat just can’t deliver the same speeds and low latency, since GEO satellites are farther away from Earth.

You’ll have to decide what matters most to you when selecting satellite home internet service.

What to consider when choosing a satellite internet service provider

  1. Which satellite internet service is available in your area?

Starlink promises unlimited data and the fastest speeds, and at its best, it truly can be an impressive, powerful home internet experience. However, not every customer is located in an area that gets the best Starlink experience (or can get it at all). Some Starlink customers have complained about spotty service, ever-changing plans and speeds, and hard-to-reach customer support.

If you live in a region where Starlink does not yet reach, or where Starlink has inconsistent or lower-capacity service, you will probably get a better home internet experience from a different satellite internet provider. Hughesnet and Viasat, for example, reach all 50 states. 

  1. How much data do you really need, and how much do you want to spend per month?

People often think they need more speed than they do, but your internet activities do dictate how much internet data you need, so you’ll want to pay attention to each provider’s data rules.

The three big satellite providers (Hughesnet, Viasat, and Starlink) all advertise unlimited satellite internet, but what they really mean is that they give you a certain amount of high-speed data, and after you run out of that, you’re downgraded to low-speed internet when there’s network congestion. You’re not caught off, so it is technically unlimited satellite internet, but only technically. Still, some of these providers have roomier data caps than others.

If you’re not a heavy duty online user, Hughesnet’s lower-priced plans could be a good choice, especially if you pair it with satellite TV to take the pressure off your monthly data limit. But don’t assume that you’re limited to the lowest-priced, lower-data plans. Hughesnet lets you buy extra high-speed data with “Hughesnet Data Tokens” that never expire. Also, the recently launched Hughesnet Fusion plan offers higher amounts of data and deliver a faster, more reliable and responsive home internet experience than Hughesnet customers have had before.

Viasat internet gives you plans up to 500GB per month—a very comfortable data cap for a satellite internet provider—but the cost is fairly hefty to match. Starlink, on the other hand, doesn’t disclose its data cap anymore, but it does exist. Still, some Starlink customers have attested that they’ve used about 1TB of data in a month without being throttled, so Starlink’s data cap is the closest to unlimited you’ll get in this space as of now.

  1. Would you pay a premium price for a premium internet service?

If you’re willing to pay a bit extra for the best possible satellite internet experience, Viasat could be a great choice. Viasat has recently expanded its plans to offer high-speed data limits of up to 300 or 500GB per month, with fast 100 Mbps download speeds. The overall experience of Viasat home internet is getting closer to the fastest speeds promised by Starlink, and might even be faster than Starlink’s service, depending on your location.

OneWeb vs. Starlink FAQ

How much is OneWeb per month?

OneWeb’s monthly pricing is not yet available because it has not yet announced or offered a home internet service. However, OneWeb is expanding its LEO satellite capacity and might soon be ready to announce new partnerships with internet service providers. 

Is OneWeb a competitor to Starlink?

While OneWeb is technically a competitor to Starlink, they are both trying to grow the market for satellite internet service as part of the same global mission of expanding satellite internet connectivity. In fact, OneWeb has even partnered with SpaceX to launch some of its satellites.

Is Starlink better than OneWeb?

Starlink currently offers satellite internet service to homes and businesses in the U.S., while OneWeb is still developing partnerships with enterprise and government customers to offer internet service and other connectivity solutions. It’s hard to say one is better than the other, but Starlink is definitely better for those who want home internet. Starlink has the world’s largest LEO satellite constellation, with OneWeb ranking 2nd largest. 

How fast is OneWeb compared to Starlink?

OneWeb’s satellite internet speeds are expected to reach up to 200Mbps, which would be faster than Starlink’s typical home internet speeds of 20–100Mbps. However, we don’t know yet just how fast OneWeb will be for home internet because it hasn't launched an official home internet service on a scale that compares to Starlink.

Where can I sign up for OneWeb satellite internet service?

In the U.S. market, OneWeb is not yet available to home internet customers. And even if or when OneWeb is ready to sell home internet, it would likely be offered through a different company or government agency that partners with OneWeb, not OneWeb itself. OneWeb tends to work behind the scenes, instead of selling directly to customers.

For example, OneWeb is working with Connecting Alaska Consortium to develop better internet service for rural communities and tribal lands, but there is not yet an official OneWeb service ready for people to purchase. 

Ben Gran
Written by
Ben Gran