- 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.
- 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.
- 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.