Getting phone service over the internet offers many benefits. With Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), you can often get unlimited long-distance and international calling and complete portability, which is useful for small businesses, entrepreneurs, and remote workers.
Best VoIP Plans for Satellite Internet
Viasat Voice is our top pick for VoIP since it doesn’t use up any of your internet data.
HughesNet Voice works similarly and comes in at a solid second place, but it has a longer contract (two years versus just six months for Viasat Voice).
Skype is okay for occasional use but it will use up a lot of internet data, which is really bad news for people with satellite internet who have restrictive data caps.
Unless you’re just using it for an occasional call to a friend overseas, we recommend satellite internet users steer clear of Skype and similar VoIP services that rely on home internet with fast, cheap data. If you’ll be using VoIP for work or frequent calls, you’ll save money (and data) by going with either Viasat Voice or HughesNet Voice.
What is VoIP?
VoIP is a technology that allows you to make and receive phone calls using your internet connection instead of a cellular or landline phone connection. Of course, all VoIP phone services require some type of internet connection, which you’ll need to purchase separately.
Who should use VoIP?
Millions of Americans use VoIP to work from home for a call center since phone calls can be forwarded from a main number. VoIP is also an economical way to make long-distance and international calls, so people with friends in faraway places also benefit from VoIP services.
Can you use VoIP with satellite internet?
Yes, you can use most VoIP plans with satellite internet, but some VoIP plans will eat up your internet data. Most satellite internet customers in the US can get VoIP service with their Viasat or HughesNet plan, which is what we recommend.
Popular internet phone providers like Skype and Ooma use a lot of internet data with each call. Making a phone call with Skype typically uses 700 MB to 4 GB an hour, depending on the number of people on the call and whether it’s video or voice only. For satellite internet customers with low data caps, this can lead to data overage fees and throttling. Using Skype for just two hours per week could use up 32 GB of data in a month.
Why should you use VoIP from Viasat or HughesNet?
VoIP internet phone plans from Viasat and HughesNet don’t count calls against your monthly data allotment. These plans offer a separate, unlimited data allotment for VoIP service that’s not tied to your monthly internet data usage plan. That’s why we always recommend Viasat or HughesNet over any other VoIP provider if you have satellite internet.
There’s one caveat to using VoIP over satellite internet: folks with really slow internet won’t have a good experience with VoIP. We recommend skipping VoIP if you have internet download speeds of less than 12 Mbps. But as long as your connection speed is high enough, VoIP can let you make and receive clear phone calls using internet data. You can check your connection speed with our 1-minute speed test.
Benefits of using VoIP over satellite broadband
- Saves money when compared to cellular or landline phone plans
- Delivers reliable phone service in areas without cellular coverage
- Offers unlimited local and long-distance service
- Connects remote workers to offices, call centers, and other workplaces seamlessly
You can’t tell that a call is on a VoIP line because it sounds about the same as a landline or cell phone call. Fifteen years ago, when the technology was new, VoIP calls sounded pretty choppy, but they sound as good or better than other voice communications nowadays.
A 2020 survey by Nextiva indicated that 69% of US employees use some type of VoIP service.4 So, you probably talk to people on a VoIP connection more than you think.
Best VoIP services for satellite internet
Satellite internet providers Viasat and HughesNet both offer proprietary VoIP service as an add-on with internet plans. These providers allow you to make unlimited calls in the US without using any of your internet plan data. Starlink doesn’t offer its own VoIP service yet, but it has plans to do so.1
HughesNet and Viasat are certainly not the only VoIP providers—there are hundreds of other companies that deliver internet phone service to residential and business customers. Not all of them work with satellite service, though, and most use up a lot of internet data. If you’re going to use satellite internet and VoIP, it usually makes sense to get the service with your satellite internet provider.
No, if you want to get VoIP phone service from Viasat or HughesNet, you must also have satellite internet service from the same provider. And if you cancel your internet service, you can’t keep your VoIP from the satellite provider.
How about Skype?
Plans may vary based on location.
*Requires 24-mo. contract.
Viasat Voice and HughesNet Voice specs and features
With Viasat Voice or HughesNet Voice, you’ll get the standard array of features. That includes unlimited local and long-distance service within the US and Canada, voicemail, call waiting, 911 emergency service, caller ID, and call forwarding. Here are more specifics on using VoIP with satellite internet.
Service coverage area
VoIP over satellite is offered in almost all areas that have internet service. HughesNet and Viasat don’t offer VoIP service in Hawaii or Alaska, however.
Internet speed requirements
In order to use VoIP services, you need to have an internet plan that delivers download speeds of at least 12 Mbps. Speeds that are consistently slower than 12 Mbps won’t support the transfer of voice data over the internet. Virtually all satellite internet plans deliver speeds fast enough for VoIP, with the exception of a few older legacy plans.
Internet data usage
If you’re a Viasat or HughesNet internet customer and occasionally run out of data, it’s worth pointing out that service with one of these satellite VoIP providers won’t use any of your internet plan data. So, even if you run out of data and get throttled speeds for part of the month, you can still use your VoIP phone service without any changes.
On the other hand, Skype service plans do use your internet data. Data usage by call varies based on how many people are on the call and whether the video feature is being used. Video uses up a lot more data. Data usage for Skype calls ranges from 700 MB per hour to 4 GB per hour.3
Porting an existing phone number
VoIP service plans from Viasat and HughesNet allow you to keep your current phone number and transfer it into a new VoIP plan. You can’t do this with Skype and many other VoIP providers.
Hardware and headsets
You can use almost any type of landline telephone (wired, cordless, etc.) with VoIP service. For the best call clarity, we recommend plugging your landline phone directly into the voice adapter or modem provided by Viasat or HughesNet.
If you want several phones around the house, get a cordless base station and plug the main base into the voice adapter or modem. A headset plugged in to your computer or modem can also be used to make calls.
You can also use the copper lines in your house to create a wired home network, although this can create background noise and result in lower call quality. If you want to try this, plug the modem or voice adapter into a phone jack and then use any phone jack in your house to connect phones.
FAQ about VoIP over satellite broadband
Can you use VoIP with satellite internet?
Yes, you can use some types of VoIP over satellite broadband internet service, but be careful about data usage since each call may count against your monthly data allotment. HughesNet Voice and Viasat Voice don’t use any of your internet data allotment, but other VoIP providers like Skype do. Not all VoIP providers work with satellite internet service.
Will Vonage work with satellite internet?
No, Vonage VoIP service doesn’t work with satellite internet. Vonage recommends wired internet services such as cable or DSL.
Can I use a regular landline phone with a VoIP satellite phone system?
Yes, most VoIP phone service can be used with regular landline phones, cordless phones, or headsets. You’ll just need to plug the phone in to the router or voice adapter.
1. Brodkin, Jon, Ars Technica, “SpaceX Plans Starlink Phone Service, Emergency Backup, and Low-Income Access,” February 2021. Accessed April 12, 2021.
2. Viasat website, “Viasat Voice FAQ,” [undated]. Accessed April 12, 2021.
3. WindowsTechIt, “How Much Internet Does Skype Use – Bandwidth and Data Usage,” [undated]. Accessed April 13, 2021.
4. Anthony, James, “75 Key VoIP Statistics: 2020/2021 Data Analysis & Market Share,” [undated]. Accessed April 13, 2021.