Are you comparing satellite internet in the US? Your choice will probably include a comparison of Viasat vs. HughesNet.
Both Viasat and HughesNet are available in almost all rural parts of the 48 states, plus some limited availability in Hawaii and Alaska. HughesNet has more availability in Alaska, so if you’re living in the last frontier, HughesNet may be your only choice.
At first glance, it might look like Viasat offers faster download speeds. Viasat advertises speeds up to 100 Mbps, and HughesNet internet plans all have the same speed: 25 Mbps download. But here’s the Viasat’s fastest speeds are only available in a handful of areas. So, don’t sign up for Viasat expecting 100 Mbps speeds. Make sure you know first which Viasat speeds are available in your area.
As far as price goes, Viasat plans start as low as $30.00 a month for 12 Mbps, which looks really good at first because it’s half the price of HughesNet’s cheapest plan that’s $59.99 (although HughesNet’s cheapest plan does deliver faster speeds up to 25 Mbps).
But—Viasat prices increase after the first three months, while HughesNet prices are locked for 24 months. After Viasat’s three-month promotional period ends, plan prices increase by $20 to $50 per month, depending on your plan.
Viasat at a glance
- Up to six times more data than HughesNet
- Faster speeds than HughesNet in some areas
- Price hike after 3 months
HughesNet at a glance
- Wider coverage area than Viasat
- No price hikes
- All plans deliver speeds up to 25 Mbps
- Lower data caps than Viasat
So, what’s good about Viasat? We like that Viasat plans give you much more data than similarly-priced HughesNet plans. And with satellite internet, data really matters. Running out of data is the most common cause of slow speeds with a satellite connection. HughesNet plans try to make up for their lower data allowances with “Bonus Zone” data that you can access between 2:00 a.m.–8:00 a.m. and lower prices for buying extra data. But all that is a hassle, and extra data anytime of the day is worth more to most customers than extra data in the middle of the night.
The advantages of HughesNet are mostly tied to pricing. With HughesNet, you get a 24-month price lock, which is much more desirable than Viasat’s system of raising monthly prices by $30–$50 after the third month of your contract. Another benefit HughesNet offers is the streamlined plans and pricing. All HughesNet plans offer true broadband speeds of 25 Mbps download, while Viasat’s lower-tier plans deliver slow speeds of 12 Mbps that aren’t fast enough to be considered broadband. Finally, HughesNet offers wider availability than Viasat in a few states like Alaska and Hawaii, which could be part of the reason that HughesNet has more than twice as many subscribers as Viasat does.
If you’re lucky enough to get one of Viasat’s faster plans in your area (50 Mbps or 100 Mbps), go with Viasat. Just make sure you check plan availability first. The 50 Mbps and 100 Mbps Viasat plans offer more data and speed for your dollar. But if Viasat’s slower plans are all it offers in your area and if you don’t plan to use much data, go with HughesNet.