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

  • pro
  • pro
  • pro
    Unlimited high-speed data
  • pro
    No contract
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    $120–$500/mo. plus one-time hardware fee of $599 or $2,500
  • pro
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    1TB/mo. of priority data
  • pro
    No contract

Andreas Rivera
Mar 05, 2024
Icon Time To Read11 min read

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 promises of unlimited high-speed 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 has suffered from fluctuations in its speeds, and you have to shell out some extra cash upfront to buy Starlink hardware.

Viasat’s internet service is available throughout the contiguous United States, with plans for further expansion. In early 2024 Viasat completely revamped its internet plans, consolidating into a single offering called Viasat Unleashed that is available to 93% of Viasat’s coverage area. With this update, Viasat’s data limits are now competitive with Starlink for all but the most heavy internet users. Viasat Unleashed also does away with Viasat’s previous two-year contract requirement. That gives Viasat a clear edge over Starlink in terms of commitment and flexibility, with no contract and much up front charges.

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 four options for satellite internet customers: Starlink Standard, Starlink Priority, Starlink Mobile, and Starlink Mobile Priority.

Service Plan
Starlink Packages
Starlink Standard ● Starlink Standard (residential)● $120.00/mo.
● $599.00 for hardware
● Unlimited data
● 20–100Mbps
Starlink Priority● Starlink Business Fixed Site● $140.00–$500.00/mo.
● $2,500.00 for hardware
● Unlimited standard data
● 40GB, 1TB, or 2TB of priority data
● 40–220+Mbps
Starlink Mobile ● Starlink Roam (formerly Starlink RV)● $150.00/mo. for Regional plan
● $200.00 for Global plan
● $599.00 for hardware
● Regional or global data plans plus portable hardware let you take your service on the road
● Unlimited data
● 20–100Mbps for most plans
● 40–220Mbps for Mobile Priority plan
Starlink Mobile Priority ● Starlink for Boats
● Starlink Land Mobility
● Starlink Maritime
● $250.00–$5,000.00/mo.
● $2,500.00 for hardware
● Unlimited data inland, plus 50GB, 1TB, or 5TB of mobile priority data
● Hardware is designed for in-motion use
● 40–220Mbps

Starlink offers several plans tailored for where and how you want to use your satellite internet connection. While the underlying service plan structure is pretty straightforward, the way the company brands and presents these plans on the website is astonishingly confusing. 

Essentially, there are four service plans:

  • Standard, which covers basic residential coverage, is designed for home use.
  • Priority, which covers the basic Business Fixed Site package, is designed for businesses and high-demand users (basically, users that want faster speeds).
  • Mobile, which covers the Starlink Roam package, is designed for RVs, campers, and other mobile users.
  • Mobile Priority, which covers Maritime, Land Mobility, and Starlink for Boats, is designed for in-motion use, such as on boats, rescue vehicles, and other similar applications.

What’s confusing is that on certain parts of the site, the basic home internet plan is called Starlink Residential, while on others it’s called Starlink Standard. The website also makes distinctions for personal or business use, but the actual service plans don’t. We sincerely hope that Starlink will one day decide on a naming convention and commit to it, but the track record so far isn’t great.

Starlink satellite outside on a lawn

On a more positive note—unlike Viasat and other satellite ISPs, Starlink doesn’t require contracts. You’re allowed to cancel Starlink anytime, although this could put you at the bottom of any waitlists in case you decide to restart service in the future.

Starlink also now offers unlimited data (within reasonable limits) on all of its plans—no more data caps. Some plans do come with additional Priority Data that gets you faster speeds, but once that’s gone, the standard data has no cap.  

Viasat internet plans

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

Viasat Unleashed$99.99—$119.99/mo.● Unlimited high-speed data
● 25—150Mbps

*Exact speeds on these plans can vary based on location.

Viasat revamped its internet offering in 2024 with its Unleashed plan. It offers new customers unlimited high-speed data (with no priority data cap) and features no contract. However, your speeds and final pricing are determined by your address since they’re unable to guarantee their top speeds everywhere. 

Viasat plans start as low as $99.99 a month and offer unlimited data with speeds between 25Mbps and 150Mbps, depending on your location. There’s no introductory discount and is paid month to month. Since there’s no contract, you can cancel at any time, but there’s no price lock guarantee.

It’s important to note that the exact speeds available may vary wildly from place to place. For example, in Southeast Georgia, the fastest available plan is only 30Mbps, although the price remains the same—$99.99 per month for unlimited data.

Viasat satellite on house roof

Viasat’s exact pricing and download speeds will depend on your location. Check out the Viasat website or talk with the Viasat sales team for more details on what’s available to you.

Like Starlink, Viasat does not require a contract, allowing you to cancel service at any time. There may be a one-time installation fee, pending a soft credit check and your location. The full cost of your Viasat service will also involve a monthly equipment lease for $15 per month, or a one-time lifetime lease of $250.

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.

Viasat’s internet plans offer download speeds of up to 150Mbps, but the exact speed depends on where you live, the overall capacity of the satellite network, and other factors. The most common top speed we found when entering dozens of zipcodes into Viasat’s website is 100Mbps, which is on par with Starlink Standard’s top speed. However, you may live in an area that can only get 25Mbps.

Starlink Standard’s residential download speeds are in the range of 25–100Mbps. This is faster than other satellite internet providers, like Hughesnet. But not everyone gets the fastest Starlink speeds—the average is about 48Mbps, according to data we’ve aggregated from over 7 million speed tests.

Keep in mind that advertised download speeds are not guaranteed, and the speeds you’ll actually experience depend on a variety of factors like network traffic, weather, and signal strength.

Honestly, your Starlink satellite internet experience will depend on where you live, the time of day, and overall demands on the Starlink network. Just check out our speed test below.

Depending on the circumstances, Viasat’s speeds can be faster than Starlink's. However, Viasat can’t compete with Starlink when it comes to latency.

Starlink latency vs. Viasat latency

Most satellite internet providers promise “low-latency” internet service. But some latency is lower than others. Satellite internet services, like Viasat or Hughesnet, pretty much always deliver higher latency than other types of connections, 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—at least in theory.

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 now, do not have hard data caps. Even if you use up the full amount of priority data that you paid for in your monthly plan, you will continue to stay connected with lower-speed data. In fact, both Starlink and Viasat have actually done away with this “soft cap” entirely on their standard plans, so you get truly unlimited data (provided you don’t go too overboard).

For the fastest Starlink speeds, you’ll have to sign up for one of its Priority plans which does have a limit on how much data you can download at its highest speeds, and those plans can get pricy. Once the priority data is used up for the month, speeds drop down to the standard level (up to 100Mbps).

Bottom line: if you want the absolute highest amount of data, get Starlink, but be ready to pay a premium. It’s why the Priority plans are typically recommended for businesses.

Viasat Data 

While Viasat Unleased’s data is virtually unlimited, the exception is when you’re on pace to exceed more than 850GB of data in a month. If you reach this threshold, then your bandwidth will be deprioritized and your speed will slow. Although, we don’t know exactly how much you’ll be slowed. However, this should be a rare occurrence since the average household uses about 641GB of data, according to a 2023 study by OpenVault.

Starlink cost vs. Viasat cost

Monthly cost
Equipment fees
Starlink$120.00–$5,000.00/mo.$599.00 or $2,500.00 (one-time fee)
Viasat$99.99–$119.99/mo.$15.00/mo. or $250.00 (one-time fee)

Starlink and Viasat are not the lowest-priced options for satellite internet, but their speed and lack of data caps make them attractive compared to slower-paced competitors. Keep in mind that with Starlink, you have to pay upfront for the hardware: $599.00 for Standard Starlink or $2,500.00 for High-Performance equipment. With Viasat, your equipment is priced monthly, as part of a long-term equipment lease.

Viasat’s Unleashed can be cheaper or just as much as Starlink Standard. Plus even if you have to end up paying the full price for installation $300, it’s still cheaper than purchasing Starlink’s Standard kit for $599.

Exact pricing for Starlink vs. Viasat depends on where you live and which service options are available. 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 like Viasat, which usually lets 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 $120.00 per month cost of Starlink internet service.

graphic of Starlink Kit box contents

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. Besides that, you don’t have too many options.

Viasat equipment cost

Viasat’s leased equipment costs $15.00 per month with an option to pay a one-time lifetime lease of $250.

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 $299.99 upfront.

Viasat satellite dish on the back of a pickup truck

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 reliability

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

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 percent 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 November 2023, Starlink’s availability map covers most of the United States. At one time there were large waitlists in the Eastern half of the country, but these seem to have largely disappeared (at least for now).

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

Starlink vs. Viasat vs. Hughesnet

Hughesnet$74.99–$109.99/mo.99% availability50–100MbpsUnlimited

Up to this point, we’ve mostly discussed Starlink and Viasat. However, there’s another major player in satellite internet in the U.S.—Hughesnet. How does it compare?

Overall, Hughesnet is a slightly more affordable option than Viasat or Starlink. It offers plans starting at just $74.99, which is lower than Viasat’s cheapest plan and far cheaper than Starlink. That could make Hughesnet a very compelling option for users who just need a cheap plan (say, as a backup internet option or at a secondary residence). 

Unfortunately, Hughesnet does tend to be slower than either Starlink or Viasat. Hughesnet tops out at 100Mbps. This makes it hard to recommend for heavy streamers or anyone who needs to download large files on a regular basis. Hughesnet also doesn’t offer the same amount of priority data as its competitors, meaning you’re more likely to have your speeds reduced.

Ultimately, we recommend Hughesnet for the more budget-conscious buyers out there who just want satellite internet that works at an affordable price and are less concerned with speed.

How does satellite internet work?

Satellite internet, despite its shortcomings, is one of the coolest internet technologies on the market. Your internet gets beamed from space—it doesn’t get much more futuristic than that.

Here’s how it works:

  • Orbiting satellites beam a signal down towards the Earth.
  • A satellite dish at your home picks up this signal and sends it to your modem.
  • The modem translates the signal into something your devices can understand and then broadcasts it as a Wi-Fi network for you to connect to.

What are the disadvantages of satellite internet?

As cool as satellite internet is, there are some downsides. Satellite tends to be slower than other internet types, particularly cable and fiber. It also suffers from higher latency, since the signal has to travel such a long distance through the air.

Another downside is that satellite internet tends to be more expensive than many competing options, especially cable and fiber. You often end up paying more money for slower speeds.

Finally, there's the whole satellite dish thing. You’ll need to either mount the dish to your home or find a spot in your yard where it can get a clear view of the sky. While this won’t be a huge deal for many, it’s something to consider.

What are the advantages of satellite internet?

For all its negatives, satellite internet does have some major advantages—the primary one being availability. Since the signal comes from orbiting satellites, you can typically get satellite internet anywhere in the country—even the world, in some cases. This means that users in remote spots can get satellite internet, even when they may have no other options.

Satellite internet is also one of the few internet types that can work while you’re on the go. With the right plan and hardware (mostly available from Starlink), you can have portable or even in-motion internet access, even in remote areas, which makes it ideal for camping, RVing, boating, and similar activities.

LEO vs. GEO satellites

Occasionally in satellite internet advertising you’ll see mention of LEO or GEO satellites. These can be confusing terms, so let’s break them down:

  • LEO stands for low-Earth orbit. As the name suggests, these satellites orbit the Earth at a relatively low altitude. This enables providers to offer faster speeds and lower latency since the signal doesn’t have to travel as far.
  • GEO stands for geostationary equatorial orbit. These satellites sit at a stationary point around the equator. This lets one satellite cover a much larger area, at the cost of needing to be further away from the Earth (usually resulting in higher latency).

Broadly speaking, LEO is better for the customer, since it usually results in better performance. However, the provider will likely need to maintain more satellites to ensure constant coverage, since LEO satellites actually move around the Earth.

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 $599.00 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.


At, we base our analyses on thorough research, including customer interviews, first-hand testing, results from our speed test tool, and proprietary internet provider data on speeds and pricing. We also dive deep to get all the details on plans, fees, and future developments. We then bring this info together in one place so you can find it easily. Finally, we use our satellite internet industry expertise to help you make the best decisions you can for your household. As always, thanks for reading!

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.

Andreas Rivera
Written by
Andreas Rivera
Andreas Rivera is a lifelong writer with a decade-spanning career in journalism and marketing. He comes to with several years of experience writing about business and technology. His passion for researching the latest advancements in tech, especially the now essential need for reliable internet access, fuels his goal of educating others about how these innovations affect and improve our everyday lives. When not researching and writing about, you’ll likely find him buried in a good book or enjoying the great outdoors with a fishing rod.