Satellite internet speeds depend on which provider you choose. With HughesNet plans, everything is 25 Mbps. The only thing that changes from plan to plan is your data cap. With Viasat, speeds range from 12 Mbps on the basic plans up to 100 Mbps on the top-tier packages.
These speeds are fast enough for most everyday uses and even HD video streaming, but they come with two caveats: latency and data caps.
Satellite internet suffers from higher latency than other types of connections, like cable or fiber, because it has a longer distance to travel (all the way from space). This shows up for you as a slight delay between performing an action and seeing the result.
This usually isn’t super noticeable, but one area that it can be an issue is with online gaming, where the delay between action and result can be the difference between victory and defeat, especially in fast-paced competitive games like Call of Duty and Overwatch.
Data caps with satellite internet plans are a lot lower than with cable plans. And depending on your plan, you could experience serious slowing on your speeds once you hit your cap for the month.
Satellite internet pricing tends to be higher than other types of service for a given speed. For example, it’s possible to get a cable connection with 150 Mbps for $54.99 per month with Xfinity. The closest you’ll get to that with satellite is 100 Mbps with Viasat, but that plan will cost you $150.00 per month and increase to $200.00 per month after the introductory period. Whew. And for a similar price of about $50.00, you’ll get only 12 Mbps with Viasat.
Satellite internet tends to be the best choice in two specific scenarios: you live in a rural area, or you want an internet connection with you while you travel.
In some rural areas, the only options for internet service are slow DSL, slower dial-up (shudder), and satellite. In these cases, satellite is often faster than the DSL options, and it’s definitely faster than dial-up. It might cost more, but if you’ve ever experienced the spinning wheel of death that comes with buffering, you know it’s worth it to get faster speeds.
And for frequent travelers—especially RV owners—using your satellite dish to enjoy a high-speed internet connection anywhere you go is a major perk.