Viasat vs. Hughesnet: Comparing Satellite Internet Providers for the Best Connectivity

Best for lowest prices
  • pro
    Prices: $74.99–$119.99/mo.
  • pro
    50–100Mbps speeds
  • con
    Max 200GB priority data cap
Best for unlimited data
  • con
    Prices: $99.99—$119.99/mo.
  • pro
    12—150Mbps speeds
  • pro
    Unlimited high-speed data

Andreas Rivera
Mar 05, 2024
Icon Time To Read10 min read

Our Verdict: Is Viasat better than Hughesnet?

Viasat and Hughesnet are two of the only satellite internet providers available to most of North America, but Hughesnet is better for affordable prices and Viasat for its unlimited data and no contracts.

Hughesnet offers the most affordable satellite internet, and it now offers speeds rivaling Viasat and Starlink, thanks to its new satellite that launched in 2023. However, Viasat restructured its plans in early 2024, the biggest change being the elimination of its two-year commitment and unlimited data.

Viasat promises truly unlimited high-speed data over Hughesnet’s hard caps for priority data, so it's better suited to work from home and streaming TV. However, Viasat’s latest satellite launch suffered a malfunction that damaged its full capabilities, leaving Hughesnet in a position to be the more reliable provider.

Viasat vs. Hughesnet prices

Priority Data
Download speed
Learn more
$74.99—$119.99*Up to 200GB50—100Mbps
Data as of 04/05/2023. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* Service plans require a 24-month commitment. Pricing not available in all areas.

Hughesnet prices are overall cheaper than Viasat for the speeds you get, not even including the major discount you'll get for the first year: $25 off per month.

But outside of monthly plans and prices, how do Hughesnet equipment fees and Viasat equipment fees stack up against each other?

Find Hughesnet and Viasat plans in your area by entering your zip code below.

Hughesnet equipment fees

Hughesnet modem/router$14.99-$19.99/mo.
Hughesnet installation feeFree when leasing equipment. $199.99 when purchasing.
Hughesnet early termination feeUp to $400.00
Hughesnet unreturned equipment fee$300 for Satellite-only plans. $500 for Fusion plan.
Hughesnet moving feeLeased equipment: $99.99 activation fee at new location
Purchased: $249.99 hardware fee and $199.99 installation fee at new location

Viasat equipment fees

Viasat modem/router$15.00/mo. or one-time $250.00 to purchase
Viasat installation feeUp to $300 depending on soft credit check and location
Viasat early termination feeNo contract or cancellation fee
Viasat unreturned equipment fee$50.00–$250.00 depending on equipment type and model
Viasat moving feeFree equipment return
Additional high-speed Viasat data incrementsNo data tokens with an unlimited plan

Hughesnet plans and pricing

Priority Data
Learn more
Select$74.99/mo.Up to 50Mbps100GB
Elite$89.99/mo.Up to 100Mbps200GB
Fusion$119.99/mo.Up to 100Mbps200GB

Hughesnet keeps its download speeds a bit more straightforward than Viasat. Hughesnet satellite internet plans offer 50Mbps and 100Mbps of download speed. All three of Hughesnet's plans offer unlimited standard data after your priority data allotment, so you'll never be cut off from service, but your speeds will be much slower than on priority data. More on that below.

Hughesnet Priority Data

As for Hughesnet Priority Data plans, you can get them in tiers of 100GB or 200GB. Since using the internet for web browsing, streaming, and video conferencing uses more and more data, we recommend the 200GB internet plan from Hughesnet. That'll give you two years worth of more wiggle room. And you heard that right—all Hughesnet plans come with two-year contracts, unlike Viasat.

Once you reach your priority data limit, your service will slow down. You can buy additional data if you still need full-speed data after that and unused Hughesnet data you purchase will carry over into the next month. Hughesnet plans also 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.

We’ll discuss more of the differences between how Hughesnet slows your connection speed after you run out of data in our data section.

With Hughesnet’s two-year contract, at least you’ll know your price won’t jump during that duration. Since Viasat is month-to-month, they can’t make that same promise.

Overall, you could end up saving money with Hughesnet because its plans are cheaper overall, but only if you don't end up buying tons of data to compensate. So keep an eye on your data needs and decide what you most need from your satellite internet service: prices that treat you right, or high data caps.

For more specifics on Hughesnet internet service, check out our Hughesnet Review.

Viasat internet plans and pricing

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.

Internet plan
Regular price
Download speed
Get it
Viasat Unleashed$99.99—$119.99/mo.25Mbps—150Mbps60GB/mo.

*Customers that are on pace to exceed more than 850GB of data per month may be slowed down.

Viasat plans start as low as $99.99 a month and offer unlimited data with speeds between 25Mbps to 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.

Meanwhile, Hughesnet's discount prices are locked for 12 months, despite a 24-month commitment, from the very beginning.

Could that be Viasat’s advantage? Despite being more expensive than Hughesnet’s two main plans (especially in the first year), Viasat’s unlimited data and lack of contract or big upfront costs may make the extra charge worth it. Remember, Hughesnet caps their data at 200GB, and after you hit that you’ll see your speed drop significantly, especially during peak hours.

For more specifics on Viasat internet service, check out our entire Viasat Internet Review.

Pro tip

Some Viasat services were formerly known as Exede Internet. In 2018, Viasat dropped the name Exede and now calls all of its internet services Viasat Internet, all owned by Viasat Inc.

While all Viasat packages technically come with unlimited data, you will experience slowing after you reach your plan’s data threshold. Once you reach your data threshold (between 60 and 500 GB, depending on your plan), your speeds will slow down to 1–3 Mbps.

You can also buy additional data tokens to get more full speed data, but they don’t carry over into the next month. Viasat allows you to easily increase your threshold instantly through its web portal. We’ll explain this in more detail in the data section below. To save data, each package tier limits your video streaming quality.

Unfortunately, the only way to change your video streaming on a Viasat unlimited plan is to upgrade to a better package.

Can you stream 4K with Viasat?

You can stream 4K with Viasat Unleashed (we don't recommend trying to stream 4K with less than 50Mbps), and with an unlimited data plan, it makes it ideal for streaming since you don’t have to worry about it gobbling up your data. However, we still recommend streaming in standard or HD, since 4K requires plenty of bandwidth and you still run the risk of hitting the 850GB threshold if you stream a lot.

For more advice, check out our what speed you need guide to get the most out of your internet.

Recommended: Hughesnet or Viasat?


pro More affordable
pro Built-in Wi-Fi
pro Video Data Saver
con 2-year contract required
con Throttled speeds after data allowance
con Max 200GB priority data cap


pro Faster max speed
pro Unlimited high-speed data
pro No contract
con High speeds unavailable everywhere
con Potentially high startup costs

If you're living in a rural part of the country, need the internet for the most simple applications, and looking to save as much money as possible, then we recommend Hughesnet.

Hughesnet offers the best price for just the right amount of speed for your everyday needs, perfect for living out-of-the-way and still having the internet access you need.

If you’re someone who uses it for more data-intensive tasks like working from home and streaming, Viasat might be more your speed. Especially if you're not a fan of being locked into a multi-year contract.

To see how the service stacks up against Hughesnet and Viasat, read our Starlink review.

Viasat vs. Hughesnet speeds

Viasat claims a faster max speed of 150Mbps, 50Mbps more than than Hughesnet's top speed of 100Mbps. However, Viasat's top speed is not available in all locations. In fact, depending on your location, you may not be able to get 100Mbps. So, if you’re judging on speed alone, you’ll need to check with both providers to find out which residential satellite internet provider offers the fastest service in your area.

How fast are Viasat plans in your are? Enter your zip code below to find out.

Also, don’t forget the impact that data allowances have on your internet speed. Once you hit your monthly data threshold, your speed may be slowed to 3 Mbps or less. When it comes down to it, having a plan with a higher data allowance may have a bigger impact on your internet speed than bumping up to a faster speed plan.

Viasat vs. Hughesnet satellite technology

Both providers launched new satellites with improved technology in 2023—Hughesnet succeded, but Viasat had a major setback. The successful launch of Hughesnet's Jupiter-3 put the provider on equal footing with Viasat, and the malfunction of the ViaSat-3 forced the company to rethink its long-term plans.

Furthermore—Hughesnet is investing in low-Earth orbit satellite bandwidth through a partnership with OneWeb. Hughes Network Systems, which is also contracted to provide ground stations for OneWeb, plans to use LEO technology to improve service to rural customers.

This could both increase Hughesnet speeds and offer more generous data caps, so keep an eye on this one.

Pro tip

Satellite internet has high lag (also known as latency or ping) that can make your connection feel even slower than it is. Satellite internet latency averages 594–624 milliseconds (ms). Compare this with cable internet’s average latency of 15–35 ms, and you’ll understand why gaming can be difficult on satellite internet.

Viasat vs. Hughesnet data

How do I buy more data on Viasat?

Both Viasat and Hughesnet advertise that they offer unlimited data--but only one has true high-speed unlimited data.

Hughesnet (the latest Hughesnet technology) offers between 100GB and 200GB of data with its satellite plans, and Viasat Unleashed provides unlimited data (albeit with the exception of 850GB in a month). After you exceed your monthly data cap, you won't be cut off from your internet connection entirely. Instead, your internet speeds will be throttled, so you'll experience slower speeds. Whatever your plan is you'll go from that speed down to probably average around 1 Mbps to 3 Mbps instead of your usual download speed, and let's not even look at the upload speed.

This throttled data is called standard data, whereas the faster data you'll experience within your data cap is high-speed data. Fixed wireless providers and cellphone providers also tend to use this model and these terms. That all said, Viasat's lack of a hard data cap is the lead here. However on the off chance you do exceed 850GB and your data is slowed down, you’re unable to buy additional data.

Hughesnet’s Data Tokens don’t expire, so you can keep carrying them into the next month until you finally need to use them. Learn how to manage your data.

Can you buy more data on Hughesnet?

Data as of 10/14/2021. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Hughesnet internet packages vary in price based on their data limits. If you hit your data limit, your internet will still work, but Hughesnet will slow your connection to just 1 to 3 Mbps and keep it that slow until the end of the billing cycle.

If you don’t like slowing down, you can buy “Data Tokens” to add incremental amounts of data to your plan. Plus, Hughesnet rolls over any unused Data Tokens into the next month, so you can hang onto that extra data as long as you want. With Viasat, your extra purchased data just disappears with the next billing cycle.

Hughesnet Data Token prices

  • 2GB for $3.00
  • 6GB for $9.00
  • 15GB for $15.00
  • 25GB for $25.00
  • 50GB for $50.00

Hughesnet Data Tokens also sometimes go on sale, so you can always jump on the lowers prices and hoard them for later if you want.

Viasat vs. Hughesnet equipment and installation

Viasat has the better satellites, but Hughesnet gives you the option to buy your equipment. Viasat and Hughesnet both include built-in WiFi capabilities with their gateways (modem/router combos).

Monthly Lease Price
Installation Fee
Lifetime Lease Price / Purchase Price
$15.00Up to $300 depending on location and soft credit check$250.00
$14.99—$19.99Free Installation w/ lease. $199.99 w/ purchase $299.99—$449.99

Viasat equipment

Viasat's newer satellite technology means it can deliver a stronger service, but the equipment you get in your home has to be compatible with the latest technology—which means you have to get it from Viasat.

You can lease your Viasat equipment for $15 per month, or you can opt for the lifetime lease for a one-time fee of $250. The lifetime lease is good for as long as you keep the same model of equipment.

Installation with Viasat is an expense that’s most in flux and could even be a deal breaker. Your final price will depend entirely on your location and the result of a soft credit check. There’s the potential of the installation being free, but circumstances can result in charges—the worst-case scenario being a $300 installation.

Hughesnet equipment

Hughesnet gives you multiple equipment leasing options, plus an option to buy. The monthly leasing option costs $14.99 for satellite plans and $19.99 for the Fusion plan, though some areas may get a $5 per month discount, and the purchase options cost $299.99 or $449.99.

Unless you plan to be with Hughesnet for a long time (55 months or more), leasing is the more cost-effective option. Also, new customers may get free installation, so you could save even more.

Save your data

You can save your data by using the internet during the Bonus Zone with Hughesnet. The Bonus Zone occurs between 2 a.m. and 8 a.m. local time. When you use your internet during the Bonus Zone, the data you use won't count against your monthly allowance. Instead, Hughesnet gives you 50GB of data for the Bonus Zone.

Viasat vs. Hughesnet reliability

Pro tip

Plan ahead and use the Bonus Zone to download games and videos you can play offline during regular hours.

As mentioned before, satellite internet is more susceptible to lag (also known as latency or ping) than other types of internet service. The lag occurs because a signal transmitted via satellite has to travel much farther than it would with other internet types. That extra distance also leaves the signal more vulnerable to interference.

Viasat and Hughesnet are both satellite internet providers, so they face similar limitations. If you’re concerned about going over your data limit, go with Viasat. Viasat delivers more data than Hughesnet plans do. If cost is the biggest factor, go with Hughesnet because their prices are slightly lower and don’t increase after three months.

And if superior speeds and performance are top priority, and you don’t mind the high sign-up cost, check into Starlink, which offers the most data and fastest speeds of any satellite internet provider.

Viasat vs. Hughesnet availability

Because both these ISPs operate by satellite, they’re both available almost anywhere in America. However, the packages available will vary by area because the beam from the orbiting satellite will hit different locations at different angles. A more direct beam can deliver a stronger signal and a better service.

Add satellite TV to Viasat or Hughesnet

Neither Hughesnet nor Viasat bundle with television, but you can get DISH or DIRECTV alongside either service. The perks of satellite TV? You won’t use up data when you’re watching live TV. (Using your DVR will use up data, though.)

TV provider
Intro. price range
Channel count
Order now
$69.99-$159.9990-185More sports channels
$84.99-$114.99190-290HD FREE for Life®
Data as of 04/05/2023. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
Plus taxes. Req's purchase of Device. New customers only.
All offers require credit qualification, 2-year commitment with early termination fee and eAutoPay.


DISH offers high-quality satellite television on all its packages. In addition to delivering the entertainment you want, DISH also features the Hopper 3 DVR. With 2TB of space and 4K HD picture quality, you can record hours of your favorite shows with the Hopper 3, and you’ll know they’ll look great.


DIRECTV satellite TV service also delivers great entertainment, especially for sports fans. The DIRECTV Genie® DVR supports 4K HD for a stunningly clear picture and has a huge storage capacity for virtually endless entertainment.

Which is better Viasat or Hughesnet?

Your choice between Viasat and Hughesnet will come down to several factors. First, you need to determine what's available to you at your location. Both Viasat's 150Mbps plans and Hughesnet's reliable Fusion plan aren't available to everyone.

Once you're aware of what you're working with (likely 100Mbps from both providers), you need to determine how much of a data user you are. We typically recommend Hughesnet for its affordable pricing. However, if you anticipate using lots of data—for instance, you have a big family that likes to stay connected—Viasat's significantly larger priority data caps may be a selling point for you.

Viasat vs. Hughesnet Affordable Connectivity Program

Viasat Internet and Hughesnet Internet both participated in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). Qualified households could get $30 off any Hughesnet plan or Viasat plan. However, as of February 7, 2024, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will stop accepting enrollments due to a lack of funding from Congress. Without additional funds, the program will stop entirely by the end of April 2024.  The FCC has signaled that it wants to program to continue, but its future is uncertain. Current households that are part of the ACP should receive written notice from their internet provider when their bill will increase.


Our editorial team bases our analyses on research, results from our speed test tool, and proprietary internet provider data on speeds and pricing. We dig deep to get hard-to-find information on internet plans, fees, and upcoming brand developments. We make this information easy for you to find in one place via our in-depth reviews, and we use our satellite internet industry expertise to analyze the options to help you make the most informed decision for your household.

To learn more about our process, check out our Methodology page.

Viasat vs. Hughesnet FAQ

Is Starlink and Viasat the same company?

Starlink and Viasat are not owned by the same company. SpaceX, Elon Musk's company, owns Starlink internet services. Viasat Inc., on the other hand, is a public company, so it has majority shareholders and investors.

Is Viasat and Hughesnet the same?

Viasat and Hughesnet are both some of the best satellite internet providers, but they are not the same company or service. Hughesnet offers 50-100Mbps satellite internet plans for affordable prices, while Viasat offers up to 150Mbps for higher prices.  

Is Hughesnet better than Viasat?

If you want cheaper satellite internet costs, Hughesnet is better than Viasat. But if you plan to use your internet service often, especially to stream or game online, Viasat is a better satellite provider.
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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.