Best Satellite Internet Providers

#1 - HughesNet

HughesNet logo
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#1. The Best Satellite Internet Provider is HughesNet.

HughesNet provides Satellite and Phone in the United States.

  •  National satellite Internet service provider with A+ BBB Rating
  •  Free standard Installation included
  •  Unlimited Data - No Hard Data Limits

#2 - Viasat

Viasat logo
Coverage Area:
Starting at:

Viasat provides Satellite and Phone in the United States.

  •  New unlimited data plans available in select areas
  •  Speeds up to 30mbps available
  •  WiFi modem included in most plans

The Winner: HughesNet

HughesNet is continually recognized by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for being the top satellite provider in the nation. The FCC named HughesNet the #1 provider for delivering advertised speeds in their 2016 Measuring Broadband America report. This is the second year HughesNet has won this award. The 2016 report showed that download speeds were 150% faster on average and upload speeds were almost 200% better. In our report, BroadbandSearch dives deeper into what makes HughesNet the best satellite provider by comparing it to Viasat. HughesNet took the top position for two main reason: consistently faster speeds with the new Gen5 plans and better promotions.

What you need to know about satellite internet

In this review, we are only comparing satellite internet providers because cable technology is typically superior. Satellite internet has to make a 45,000 mile journey to the satellite in space and back to your dish so it experiences a pause in the connection. This pause is called latency and is something that cable and DSL providers do not have to worry about as much. When you have higher latency it makes it more difficult to establish a reliable connection for things like real-time gaming or connecting to a VPN.

Comparing HughesNet and Viasat

Below, we have created a table to show you an overview of the main areas we are comparing.

HughesNet Gen5 LogoViasat Logo
$49.99 - $129.99Monthly Price$50 - $100
25 MbpsDownload speeds12 Mbps - 100 Mbps
3 MbpsUpload Speeds3 Mbps
10GB - 50GBData cap12GB - 50GB
24-monthContract requirements24-month with a 2 Year Price Lock
Free Standard InstallationInstallation FeeFree Standard Installation
$14.99/monthMonthly Equipment Fee$10/month
YesEquipment Purchase OptionYes
Yes- $15/every remaining contract monthEarly Termination FeeYes- $15/every remaining contract month
FCC Rating

Best Overall

HughesNet Gen5 LogoHughesNet Rating
  •  25 Mbp Download
  •  10GB - 50GB
  •  Free Standard Installation

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HughesNet Gen5 LogoViasat Logo
$49.99 - $129.99Monthly Price$50 - $100
$49.99 - $99.99 for the first yearPromotional Price$10/month for 6 month with Internet and Voice Bundle

HughesNet offers the Next Plan Up Promotion where you can save up to $30 on the first 12 months of your internet service. For example, the 10GB plan starts at $49.99 but if you upgrade to the 20GB plan, you can get that plan for $49.99 for 12 months and then $69.99 after the promotional period. Viasat offers a $10/month discount when you choose to bundle internet and voice together. However, the discount only lasts for 6 months.

HughesNet total discount comes to $360 ($30 x 12) in savings for the first year whereas Viasat's is only $60 ($10 x 6) for the first 6 months.

When comparing plans, both HughesNet's and Viasat's basic plan start at $49.99. Viasat's basic plan gives customers 12GB of data per month compared to 10GB of data with HughesNet. You get 2GB extra for the same price when you choose basic Viasat plan but overall, HughesNet has better long term promotions and prices.

Consumer Tip: Understand your contract terms

HughesNet and Viasat have early termination fees (ETF) if customers decide to end their service before the two year contract is up. If you think you could be moving in 6-months to a year make sure you watch out for these ETFs. You might be getting a good promotion now, but could end paying as much as $360 to get out of your service.


HughesNet Gen5 LogoViasat Logo
25 MbpsDownload speeds12 Mbps - 100 Mbps
3 MbpsUpload speeds3 Mbps

HughesNet advertises nationwide speeds starting at 25 Mbps. ViaSat's website states that they are able to deliver up to 12 Mbps nationwide with select areas having access up to 100 Mbps. If you are looking for reliability, HughesNet is the best pick. They have been recognized for two consecutive years by the FCC for delivering advertised speeds to customer. HughesNet was able to deliver over 150% of their advertised to customers whereas ViaSat only delivers 71% of their advertised speeds.

Consumer Tip: Understand what advertised speed means

When you are reading about a provider plans, it is important to notice that they say up to a certain download speed. The speeds HughesNet and ViaSat are able to deliver vary based on your individual location.

Data Caps

HughesNet Gen5 LogoViasat Logo
10GB - 50GBData cap12GB - 50GB
50GB/month to use between 2am and 8amsBonus DataUnmetered data between 3am and 6am
Reduced speeds between 1 Mbps and 5 MbpsOverage PenaltyReduced speeds between 1 Mbps and 5 Mbps

Viasat's lowest level data plan offers more data than HughesNet for the same price. This is anytime data that you can use to browse, stream and download. If you reach your monthly limit, HughesNet and Viasat both reduce your speeds to between 1 Mbps and 5 Mbps. These speeds only allow for basic web use like browsing and emailing. HughesNet gives customers 50GB of data each month to use during off-peak hours between 2am and 8am. Viasat's free zone is unmetered data use between 3am and 6am.

Because Viasat has slightly more data with their basic plan and offers completely unmetered data during the free zone, it barely beats HughesNet in the data cap category.

Consumer Tip: Use your free data zone

Free data zones are not at the most convenient time, but they are great for large downloads and computer updates. Find a download scheduler so that these data hogging activities can be done during these off peak hours.

Customer Service

HughesNet Gen5 LogoViasat Logo
Basic Express Repair- $7.95/monthAdditional SupportEasyCare- $5.99/month
Premium Express Repair- $11.95/month

Both Viasat and HughesNet have subpar customer support. We seem to believe it is because they know most satellite internet customers do not have any other option for internet so customer service falls to the bottom of the list. They do give customers the option to purchase premium customer support for a monthly fee. HughesNet has two options: basic for $7.95/month and premium for $11.95/month. Customers get faster response times for service issues and 24/7 technical support. Viasat's EasyCare is $5.99/month and gives customers a priority service number, complimentary service calls, and annual dish relocation.

Consumer Tip: The best places to look for help

HughesNet and Viasat have extensive FAQs that can answer your question without having to wait on hold. You can also call on of our representatives to answer your satellite internet questions.


After putting in the research for both HughesNet and Viasat, the clear winner is HughesNet. Viasat falls just behind but in the end could not beat HughesNets promotions and internet speeds. The new HughesNet Gen5 plans have speeds up to 25 Mbps starting at just $49.99/month.

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Satellite Broadband Providers

Whether for work or for staying connected with family and friends, there's value in having a reliable high-speed internet connection no matter where you are. People in highly populated towns and cities often have many choices when it comes to broadband internet providers. But if you live or work in a rural area, getting broadband internet can be a challenge. Satellite broadband is one answer - and possibly the most widely available type of internet delivery in the US.

While it has its pros and cons, satellite broadband is one way to get internet delivery just about anywhere in the world where there's a clear view of the sky. The two primary satellite ISPs in the US are currently HughesNet and Viasat, but they aren't the only options. The list below highlights the benefits of most of the satellite providers currently operating in the nation.

What Is Satellite Broadband?

Satellite internet makes use of satellites in orbit to send internet service to satellite dishes on homes and businesses of customers in areas where options like DSL, cable, and fiber aren't available or where the existing broadband service is unreliable. For many people around the country, satellite broadband may be the only option outside of dial-up, and it's a reliable option for people who travel full-time in RVs or on boats.

How Does it Work?

When your satellite broadband system is set up, your ISP will beam the internet signal to a satellite dish in space that will then relay the data to you via a dish installed on your home, business, or vehicle. Whenever you do something online - load a web page, download a file, make a transaction, send an email - the request first travels to the orbiting satellite before it goes to the ISP, and then the completed request is transmitted back to the satellite and to your device via your dish.

How Fast Is Satellite Broadband?

Satellite internet can vary greatly in speed depending on the provider and plan that you select. Typically you can expect to receive download speeds up to 25 Mbps and upload speeds up to 3 Mbps.

One of the biggest drawbacks of satellite broadband is the lag experienced when data is transmitted between you and your provider's satellite. But for most online activities, a tiny lag won't even be noticeable. The two most common activities where this lag becomes obvious are online gaming and VPN usage. When playing fast-paced online games, you may experience a small delay that makes these games hard to play online.

If you don't use your internet for fast-paced gaming or VPN usage, satellite can actually be a faster option than DSL for everyday activities like browsing, shopping, and emailing.

Ready to compare internet providers near you? Review the ISPs in your area.