Are you comparing satellite internet in the US? Your choice will probably include a comparison of Viasat vs. HughesNet. Starlink satellite service has limited availability thus far, but that will be an additional option later this year.
Both Viasat and HughesNet are available in almost all rural parts of the 48 states, plus some limited availability in Hawaii and Alaska. So, when it comes to availability, Viasat and HughesNet are neck and neck.
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 secret: Viasat’s 100 Mbps speeds aren’t available in many areas, and only four of Viasat’s 11 internet plans offer speeds faster than HughesNet.
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.
So, what’s good about Viasat? We like Viasat’s more generous data allowance. Viasat plans offer more data than its HughesNet counterparts. 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.
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.