How to Troubleshoot Satellite Internet: Tips for Viasat and HughesNet

Kristin Cooke
Researcher & Writer
Read More
June 08, 2020

If your satellite internet is slow, spotty, or just not working at all right now, try these troubleshooting tips before you call customer service. Most of the time, simple at-home fixes will get your internet working again without scheduling an appointment with your internet provider. 

Occasionally, there will be a time when there’s a HughesNet or Viasat outage or your equipment has just broken, but most of the time internet issues are caused by something on your end. By running through these tips, you’ll save time, money, and hassle, and get back online quicker.

12 tips for troubleshooting satellite internet problems

  1. Try using a different device
  2. Power cycle your modem/router
  3. Reset your modem (you’ll need to re-enter passwords)
  4. Reconnect all cords
  5. Check your satellite dish (outside) for damage
  6. Check to see if there’s an outage
  7. Pare down the number of devices connected to the internet
  8. Monitor data usage
  9. Switch to DVD or low-quality video
  10. Optimize your home network
  11. Turn off your VPN
  12. Update your modem firmware

Troubleshooting no-signal internet issues

If your internet suddenly stops working and you have no signal at all, the first thing you might think of is an outage. But while outages do sometimes occur with satellite internet (particularly during bad weather), they are uncommon. Your problems most likely lie closer to home. Run through these internet fixes first before calling your internet service provider.

Try using a different device

Before you give up on your internet provider or call in a complaint, try connecting to the internet using a different device. A lot of people skip this step and miss the chance to easily fix an internet connection problem.

If you can’t connect to the internet on your smart TV but your laptop internet is working just fine—or vice versa—then you just have a networking problem on one of your devices. That’s a lot easier than fixing your home internet. 

To fix a networking problem on a single device, just go to the settings or preferences in your device (on your TV, laptop, gaming console, or other device) and select Wi-Fi settings. Select the name of your home network and re-enter your Wi-Fi password if needed.

Power cycle your equipment

It sounds too simple to be true, but unplugging your modem and router for a few minutes will clear up most satellite internet issues. Of course, this can be frustrating if you’re in the middle of watching a movie or answering an email, but it’s worth it if it helps. 

You’ll need to leave the modem and router unplugged for a few minutes before you plug them back in. Once they’re plugged in again, it’ll take a few more minutes for them to reset and reconnect.

Reset your modem and router

If power cycling your modem and router doesn’t work, you can try resetting your modem. Use a paperclip and push the reset button on the back or underside of the device. Again, you’ll need to wait a few minutes while it reconnects. This often clears up connection issues and gets you back online.

Before you reset your modem, make sure you have your network passwords handy. When you reset, it will clear out saved passwords.

Connect and reconnect all cords

Double-check all power and connection cords running to your modem, router, and computer. Cords can easily become loose or disconnected, and it’s a common cause of internet problems. Pets sometimes nibble on cords, so check to make sure cords are in good working order. 

If all your cords are all in good working order and they’re all firmly plugged in, it’s time to go outside and check your satellite dish.

Check your satellite dish

If your dish is on the top of your house or in another area where you can’t safely access it, do not attempt to check it yourself. Call your internet service provider (ISP), and it will send a technician to make any repairs.

If your dish is mounted on the side of your house and it’s low enough that you can safely access it, carefully inspect it for damage. Tree branches, snow and ice, or storm debris can interfere with your signal. Make sure your satellite dish is still mounted properly and the cords are in working order. Sometimes animals or rodents chew on the coaxial cables or they can get pulled out by woodpeckers or dislodged during a storm. 

Now check your dish for alignment. Does it look like it’s floppy or loose, listing to one side, or pointing in the wrong direction? Heavy hail storms can nudge the dish out of the proper alignment. Don’t try to fix the alignment yourself—call your ISP to have someone realign your satellite dish. 

Check to see if there's an outage

Troubleshooting slow satellite internet

If none of these common issues are causing your internet signal loss, it’s time to contact your satellite provider to see if there’s an outage in your area. You’ll need to have your account number or a phone number associated with your account ready to report an outage or request repairs. Here are the customer service numbers to call for US satellite internet providers in the US:

If there is a HughesNet or Viasat outage in your area, you can request a follow-up call or updates from your provider. Unfortunately, Starlink doesn't have a customer service phone number for you to contact, so use the address above if you need to get in contact with them. That's, of course, a lot harder to do if you don't have internet in the first place.

If you have a mobile phone with working internet, you can also check out Downdetector and report an outage.

If your satellite internet signal is often slow or spotty or gives you a buffering symbol when you try to watch with Netflix or YouTube, resolving your issues will take a bit of detective work. 

Satellite internet service can’t deliver the lightning fast connection speeds of fiber or cable internet, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to put up with a sluggish connection. If your internet package is fast enough to support moderate video streaming (with a download speed of 15 Mbps or faster), then you should be able to watch Netflix or YouTube every once in a while without buffering.

Unusually slow satellite internet is caused by several issues. Try these troubleshooting tips to get a better Wi-Fi connection and faster streaming.

Pare down the number of devices

The most common cause for a slow satellite internet connection is having too many devices connected to the internet. Satellite internet connections are not robust enough to support use on multiple devices, especially if video streaming is involved. And anytime your connection starts slowing, the best way to speed it up is to turn off other devices.

If you’re checking social media on your phone while watching the news on Roku TV, and your partner is watching Psych reruns in the kitchen at the same time, then your internet connection will slow down—especially if you have 25 Mbps speeds or slower. You’ll see the buffering symbol a lot and the stops and starts can get bad enough that dialogue will be impossible to understand. When using satellite internet, try to use one screen at a time. Getting cable or satellite TV might be a good option also.

Cable TV isn’t available in rural areas, but it’s the most affordable TV choice. If your home isn’t connected to a cable network, opt for satellite TV. To save a lot of data usage, you can get satellite TV service with DISH or DIRECTV. Satellite TV plans start at around $40 per month. 

Monitor your data usage

Another common cause for slow satellite internet speeds is reaching your data cap before the end of the month. Most satellite internet plans offer a limited amount of full-speed data each month. Once you reach your monthly data cap, your internet provider will slow down your internet connection. 

If you max out your data allotment before the end of the month and you are stuck with slow internet speeds, you can fix this issue by paying for additional data. Alternately, you can just wait until the first of the month, when the data allotment will reset. 

If you frequently run out of data, consider upgrading your plan to more data or carefully budgeting your data each month. You can also consider switching to a different provider. You might have other providers available in your area that don’t have data caps. Fixed-wireless, cable, and DSL internet companies offer plans with more data than satellite internet. Cable and DSL often offers unlimited data—which can save a lot of hassle. It pays to get to know the best rural internet options in your area. You can find out which providers cover your area.

Switch video to DVD or low-quality video

If you have slow internet every time you try watching videos, check your video quality. You can save a lot of bandwidth by switching to DVD video quality (480p) and skipping HD. Watching video in DVD quality will also save you a lot of data. For more tips, see our streaming on satellite internet article.

Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu, and many other streaming services may default to streaming in HD or Ultra HD if it is available, unless you indicate otherwise in your settings. This will slow down your internet and burn through your data cap more quickly. 

Viasat has a Video Data Extender feature you can turn on that automatically switches all video streaming to DVD quality. To turn it on, log in to your Viasat account and follow these steps

HughesNet automatically streams in DVD quality. This works well for most video content, but has drawbacks if you’re watching sports or movies with fast action. You can temporarily change video quality to HD by using the HughesNet app to manage your video settings.

You can also adjust your streaming quality by logging into your streaming service and going to “My account” or “Settings.” To minimize buffering problems, select the lowest-quality video. It might not give you as many details, but it will stream more smoothly and save data.

Optimize your home network

If your home Wi-Fi network is overstretched, your internet connection problems will keep coming back. Most routers can broadcast a Wi-Fi signal about 150 feet through open space. Depending on where you live, that might not be far enough. And when you add in the disruptions caused by walls, flooring, and furniture, it’s clear to see why most houses have a few Wi-Fi dead zones. 

Putting your router in a central location can help alleviate network problems, but if you have a large home, your best option might be getting a Wi-Fi extender, repeater, or booster. With the right extender, you can stretch your Wi-Fi signal into the guest bedroom or even out to your backyard patio.

Turn off your VPN

A VPN will slow down your internet connection. If you must use a VPN for work or for security reasons, turn it off whenever possible (such as in the evening when you’re trying to watch Netflix or YouTube). Using a VPN with satellite internet service simply doesn’t work with some satellite internet plans because it slows down the connection speed too significantly. 

If you must use a VPN, get the fastest internet package you can get in your area, and expect periodic slowing.

Update your modem firmware

Your modem needs updates just like your phone, laptop, or any other device. Firmware is the software that runs your modem. 

If you use a modem/router provided by Viasat or HughesNet, you do not need to worry about updating it because it will update automatically. 

If you have your own (third-party) modem or router you use with your satellite internet service, make sure you stay on top of firmware updates. Using a modem that has out-of-date firmware can slow down your connection. 

How to check for firmware updates

To check for modem firmware updates, go into the modem’s online user interface. Sounds complicated? It’s not bad.

  1. Using any internet-connected device at your home, type this address into the web address field:
  2. Enter the admin password (usually it’s on a sticker on the side or bottom of the modem).
  3. Click “Utilities.”
  4. In the left-hand menu, select “Upgrade firmware.”
  5. Look for an “Upgrade status” area to appear.
    • If the status says “Upgrade firmware,” then your firmware isn’t up to date. Click the “Install firmware” button and proceed.
    • If the status says “N/A” or “Firmware is up to date,” then you have the most current firmware.

FAQ about satellite internet troubleshooting

How do I align my satellite internet dish?

If you have HughesNet or Viasat internet service and your satellite dish has tipped over or otherwise become misaligned, you won't want to touch it. Instead, go to either HughesNet customer service or Viasat customer service and call to set up an appointment with a technician. They're trained to realign your satellite dish for you, and the equipment is such that you won't want to do it yourself.

On the other hand, if you have a Starlink satellite dish and it's misaligned, check the instruction booklet that came with it. Starlink is designed for do-it-yourself installation, and the booklet should walk you through the realigning process.

How do I know if my home Viasat network is causing connectivity problems?

To find out if you have a network problem, use an Ethernet cable to connect your laptop to your router. After running a speed test while connected with an Ethernet cable, disconnect the cable and reconnect to Wi-Fi. Now run an internet speed test again. If your internet is a lot faster when your laptop is connected to the Ethernet cable, then you have a problem with your home Wi-Fi network. 

How do I know if my Viasat router needs to be replaced?

Some internet connection problems are caused by modems that need to be replaced. If you see a red light on your modem, this is usually an indication that something is wrong with your equipment. For more detailed instructions on identifying equipment issues, contact your equipment manufacturer (if you have a third-party modem) or your satellite internet provider.

Kristin Cooke
Written by
Kristin Cooke
After graduating with a degree in English from the University of Utah, Kristin learned to geek speak while working as a technical recruiter, interviewing software developers and tech companies. For over 20 years, she has created award-winning content for technology, health, and finance companies. Kristin is an advocate for affordable internet for all and writes about rural internet solutions, satellite internet news, and tech products at Her work has been featured in New York Post, PCMag, Forbes, Business Insider, Telecompetitor,, and The Benton Institute for Broadband & Society.