Starlink vs. Viasat: Which Satellite Internet Provider Is Best in 2023?

Is it worth it to get satellite internet from Starlink or HughesNet? We break down both Wi-Fi satellite providers.
  • pro
    $90–$120/mo. plus one-time hardware fee of $599 or $2,500
  • pro
  • pro
    1TB/mo. of priority data
  • con
    Limited availability
  • pro
    Starts at $69.99/mo. for first 3 months, then $99.99
  • pro
  • pro
    60–500GB of high speed data/mo.
  • pro
    Nationwide availability

Ben Gran
Sep 15, 2023
bullet9 min read

Is Starlink better than Viasat?

If you’re trying to choose a satellite internet provider, two names that are likely to be at the top of your search are Starlink and Viasat. These internet service providers (ISPs) offer fast speeds and generous amounts of data, and both could be a good choice for your satellite internet needs. 

Starlink is famous for its low earth orbit (LEO) satellite network, which can offer the fastest speeds and lowest latency among all satellite ISPs. However, Starlink’s internet service is not yet available in all parts of the U.S., and you have to shell out some extra cash up front to buy Starlink hardware. 

Viasat’s internet service is available throughout the contiguous United States, with plans for further expansion. Viasat’s speeds are sometimes faster than Starlink, and its data limits are competitive with Starlink for all but the most heavy internet users. 

Let’s break down the details of Starlink vs. Viasat internet plans so you can choose the best satellite internet service to keep you connected.

Starlink internet plans

Starlink has two options for home satellite internet customers: Starlink Residential and Starlink Roam.


Starlink Residential

$90–120/mo., plus $599 or $2,500 for hardware1TB/mo. of Priority Data


Starlink Roam (formerly Starlink RV)

$150/mo. for Regional plan, $200 per month for Global plan; plus $599 for portable hardware or $2,500 for in-motion hardwareStarlink Roam is designed for RVs, campers, explorers, and use in remote locations where connectivity is limited.

Starlink Residential’s available pricing and speeds will depend on your location. If you live in a low-capacity area, your Starlink plan will cost $90 per month, or $120 per month for high-capacity areas. You’ll find out the exact price and further details when you sign up for Starlink internet service (or later, if your area changes from low-capacity to high-capacity; Starlink will notify you if this is the case). 

Unlike Viasat and other satellite ISPs, Starlink does not require contracts. You’re allowed to cancel Starlink anytime, but this could put you at the bottom of the waitlist in case you decide to restart service in the future. Also, Starlink offers a massive amount of data: 1TB (1,000GB) of Priority Data. Even if you manage to use up all of this Priority Data, you won’t lose connectivity—beyond that data limit, Starlink will just switch you over to unlimited “Basic Data'' which may cause you to experience slower speeds. 

Starlink Roam works slightly differently than Residential. Roam users get Best Effort service, so your speeds may be slower.

Viasat internet plans

Viasat offers a few different satellite internet options with different ranges of data limits and speeds.

Choice 25$69.99/mo.
  • 60GB of high-speed data
  • Good for 1 person with basic web usage
  • Up to 25Mbps
Choice 75$149.99/mo.
  • 150GB of high-speed data
  • Good for 1–3 people; light streaming
  • Up to 75Mbps
Choice 100Mbps/300GB $199.99/mo.
  • 300GB of high-speed data
  • Good for families, work from home, streaming
  • Up to 100Mbps
Choice 100Mbps/500GB$299.99/mo.
  • 500GB of high-speed data
  • Good for families, work from home, streaming
  • Up to 100Mbps

As a new Viasat customer, you may qualify for special discount pricing on the first three months of your internet service. For example, the Choice 50 plan has intro pricing of $69.99 per month for the first three months, then $99.99 thereafter. The bigger the plan, the bigger the discount: Choice 75 and Choice 100Mbps/300GB offer $50 discounts for the first 3 months, and Choice 100Mbps/500GB gives you $100 off per month during the 3-month intro period. 

Viasat satellite internet offers unlimited data beyond the amount of high-speed data listed in your plan. Even if you use the full allotment of high-speed data each month, you will still stay connected via Standard Data—but your speeds could be slower, depending on overall demands on the network.

Viasat’s exact pricing and available data and download speeds will depend on your location. Check out the Viasat website or talk with the Viasat sales team for more details on which plan is right for your internet needs.  

Viasat requires a 24-month minimum service term. There may be a one-time installation fee, waived for qualifying customers. The full cost of your Viasat service will also involve monthly service fees, equipment leasing fees, and taxes. 

Starlink speed vs. Viasat internet speed

Getting the fastest possible internet experience is every satellite internet customer’s goal. Starlink and Viasat offer some of the fastest download speeds in the business.

How fast is Viasat?

Viasat’s internet plans offer download speeds of up to 100Mbps—with the exact speed depending on where you live, which plan you sign up for, overall capacity on the satellite network, and other factors. Viasat is one of the fastest satellite internet service providers, but if you use more than your allotted amount of monthly high-speed data, you will likely experience reduced speeds. This kind of “data throttling” is also done by other internet service providers like Viasat and Starlink.

Is Starlink faster than Viasat?

During “Basic Access,” Starlink’s download speeds are in the range of 20–100Mbps. This is faster than some satellite internet providers, like HughesNet. But not everyone gets the fastest possible Starlink speeds all the time. Your Starlink satellite internet experience will depend on where you live, the time of day, and overall demands on the Starlink network. 

Depending on which plan you choose, Viasat can offer faster speeds than Starlink. For example, the higher-end Viasat plans offer 300–500GB of high-speed data (with unlimited connectivity beyond that point), which is competitive with Starlink, and 100 Mbps, which is faster than the typical Starlink experience.

Starlink latency vs. Viasat latency

Most satellite internet providers promise “low-latency” internet service. But some latency is lower than others. Typical satellite internet services, like Viasat or HughesNet, deliver latency in the range of 594–624 milliseconds, which is not the best for online gaming

Latency is affected by satellites’ distance from the Earth. Most satellite internet services use a constellation of geostationary orbit (GEO) satellites, which are located 23,000 miles away from our planet. However, Starlink uses low earth orbit (LEO) satellites which are closer to the Earth. Since Starlink’s satellites are closer to the Earth than other satellite ISPs, Starlink’s latency is only 25 milliseconds

When data moves faster (across a shorter distance) between your home and the Starlink satellites, this gives you a speedier experience and lower latency. That’s why Starlink wins against Viasat (and most satellite ISPs) in the low-latency battle.

Starlink data vs. Viasat data

Starlink and Viasat, just like most other ISPs, do not have hard data caps. Even if you use up the full amount of high-speed data that you paid for in your monthly plan, you will continue to stay connected with lower-speed data. Starlink provides 1TB (terabyte) of high-speed data per month. This is equivalent to 1,000GB of data, and it’s the largest amount of high-speed data of any satellite ISP. 

However, Viasat’s highest-level plans offer 300GB–500GB of high-speed data. This is highly competitive with Starlink, unless you’re one of the most heavy-duty internet power users who needs to stream video and play online games all day long from multiple devices. 

Bottom line: if you want the absolute highest amount of data, get Starlink. But if Starlink’s high-capacity service is not available in your area, or if you can get by with 300GB–500GB of data per month, Viasat is a great choice.

Is Starlink Wi-Fi unlimited data?

Starlink offers an industry-leading amount of high-speed data (1TB per month) that most people are unlikely to use up. However, beyond that point, you will continue to stay connected with reduced data speeds, depending on overall demands on the network.

Starlink is not alone in offering this kind of “unlimited” data at slower speeds. Most internet service providers do this as a general practice. 

Viasat Data Saver and high-speed data usage

Until recently, Viasat had a feature called Video Data Extender or “Data Saver” to help people reduce the amount of high-speed data used by streaming videos. But that Data Saver feature has recently been removed because it started causing issues for many customers. 

If you want to make sure your streaming experience isn’t gobbling up your high-speed data, be sure to monitor and adjust your video settings. Viasat offers instructions on how to manually adjust your video quality for various streaming services

Starlink cost vs. Viasat cost

Starlink and Viasat are not the lowest-priced options for satellite internet, but their speed and data capacity make them attractive compared to slower-paced competitors. Keep in mind that with Starlink, you have to pay up front for the hardware: $599 for Standard Starlink or $2,500 for High Performance equipment. With Viasat, your equipment is priced monthly, as part of a long-term equipment lease.

Viasat prices, for the fastest, highest-limit data plans, are more expensive than Starlink. For example, the Viasat 500GB with up to 150 Mbps costs $299 per month. But this higher price could be worth it, especially if Starlink is not available where you live. It could be worth it too if you live on a rural property that is hard to reach or has not received a high-quality experience with other ISPs. 

Exact pricing for Starlink vs. Viasat depends on where you live and which service options are available. If you’re in a low-capacity area for Starlink service but Viasat is offering faster speeds and high data limits, it might be worth paying more money to get a faster plan from Viasat. Check with both ISPs to see what options are available for your home.

Starlink technology vs. Viasat equipment

As a Starlink customer, you are required to buy your Starlink satellite equipment. This is different from most satellite internet providers, which usually let customers lease their equipment on a per-month basis.

Starlink equipment cost

Starlink customers have to pay $599 as a one-time fee to purchase the Standard equipment and $2,500 for High Performance. This is in addition to the $90–$120 per month cost of Starlink internet service.

Do you get to keep Starlink equipment?

If you’re not satisfied with the Starlink experience, you’re allowed to cancel within 30 days and return your equipment for a full refund. Beyond that 30-day period, you get to keep the Starlink equipment. What happens if you miss the 30-day deadline but still want to cancel? You could consider selling your equipment to another Starlink customer.

Viasat equipment cost

Viasat’s leased equipment costs $12.99 per month for 24 months, with an option to pre-pay and buy the equipment for $299. 

If you want to lease your Viasat equipment, you need to do a soft credit check during the signup process. This will not affect your credit score. But if you prefer to get internet with no credit check, you can buy the Viasat satellite gear for $299 upfront.

Returning Viasat equipment

You need to return your leased equipment to Viasat within 30 calendar days of disconnecting service. Call Viasat to start the process of returning your equipment. They’ll help you get an Equipment Recovery Kit. This Viasat-provided box and shipping label is the only approved way to ship your equipment back to the company.

Starlink issues vs. Viasat problems

Every satellite internet provider has potential issues, upsides and downsides. Starlink offers the most data, but it’s not yet available nationwide in the U.S. and has received customer complaints for inconsistent reliability. Viasat is available nationwide, but its fastest plans cost more per month than Starlink—even after factoring in the up-front cost of buying Starlink equipment. 

Viasat offers faster speeds than Starlink, but the most data you can get with Viasat is half the amount of Starlink’s—and Viasat costs more per month. However, Viasat could be more reliable than Starlink, depending on where you live. Especially if you’re in a rural area with few internet options, paying a bit extra per month for a faster, higher-data-limit Viasat plan could be the best

Starlink reliability

Starlink has sometimes received low marks from customers for inconsistent reliability; however, Starlink is still deploying satellites and building up their coverage map. As Starlink service reaches more places within the U.S. and the network capacity expands, the reliability is likely to improve. 

Keep in mind that you are allowed to cancel your Starlink service within 30 days for free. So in case your internet service is not performing as well as you’d hoped, within that 30-day trial period, you can send back your Starlink equipment for a full refund.

Viasat reliability

Some Viasat customers have experienced issues with connectivity and reliability. With satellite internet, it’s often a matter of getting technical support to solve specific issues at your home. But some customers might need to adjust their video settings (to save high-speed data) or consider upgrading to a plan with a higher data limit. 

To improve the reliability of your Viasat internet service, consider asking for help from the tech support team, or check out the Viasat Support Forum to see if other people have already encountered and solved your issue.

Starlink availability vs. Viasat availability

Viasat satellite internet service is available in all 50 states and covers 99% of the United States.  Plans are underway to expand the Viasat satellite network to other parts of the world. Contact Viasat to see if they have coverage where you live. 

As of May 2023, Starlink’s availability map covers most of the Western United States, and Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico, but many areas of the Southeastern U.S. and states east of the Mississippi are not yet receiving Starlink service. 

Check to see satellite internet providers available in your zip code.

Starlink vs. Viasat: Which satellite internet service should you get?

Starlink is one of the most high-profile satellite internet services, and lots of people are excited to have it available in their area. If you’re ready to shell out $599 or more for the Starlink equipment, and you’re in a “high-capacity” area where the fastest, most reliable Starlink service can be received, then Starlink could be the best choice. 

However, not every area has Starlink coverage. And not everyone wants to spend $599 up front. If Viasat’s fastest plans are available in your location, you could get an even better home internet experience from Viasat—as long as you’re happy with “only” 300GB–500GB of data. Viasat’s data speeds, at the highest levels, can be even faster than Starlink.

Starlink vs. Viasat FAQ

What are the disadvantages of Starlink?

Starlink service is not available in some parts of the contiguous U.S., and the speeds can be inconsistent depending on location, network demands, and time of day. These issues can also be found with other satellite internet providers.

Does Starlink suffer from rain fade?

Satellite internet providers in general, not just Starlink, tend to experience lower quality connectivity and performance during severe weather like thunderstorms or heavy rain. For more details on how this happens, check out our How Does Weather Affect Satellite Internet guide.  

Is Viasat better than Starlink?

If Starlink is not yet available where you live, then Viasat is better. But if you live in an area with access to both Starlink and Viasat, do your research and see if the highest-speed plans from Viasat are available for your home. 

At the highest levels of performance, Viasat is competitive with Starlink—offering faster speeds (up to 150Mbps compared to Starlink’s typical 100Mbps). Viasat’s higher-priced plans also offer generous amounts of high-speed data: up to 500GB per month, which is more than most families can use, even if it is less than Starlink’s 1TB. 

Does Viasat work in bad weather?

Severe weather, such as thunderstorms, ice storms, snow, or heavy rain, can cause connectivity issues for your Viasat service. This problem is not unique to Viasat or Starlink. All satellite internet providers are affected by bad weather

Ben Gran
Written by
Ben Gran