The lack of speedy internet in rural and underserved areas in the country is leaving many people with lesser opportunities than those with access to fast internet connections, such as cable and fiber internet. Fortunately, these people are left with an excellent option—satellite internet. Satellite internet is not the fastest, cheapest, and overall better than most internet types. However, it’s the most accessible, making this type of internet connection reach even the remote areas in the US.
It can also deliver sufficient speeds for your daily online activities, such as browsing the web, occasional gaming and streaming, sending emails, and communicating with your friends and loved ones.
So, if you’re living in an area where satellite internet is your only option, your decision will always boil down to either HughesNet or Viasat. These two major satellite internet providers have been going head-to-head to be the best satellite internet provider. (As much as we love to include Starlink’s SpaceX, aka Elon Musk’s masterpiece, it’s still only limited to specific areas at the moment.) Even though they both offer the same service on the market, they still have their own unique advantages that set them apart from one another.
So, let’s dive deep into the HughesNet vs. Viasat battle and discover which one is the best for your needs.
HughesNet is known to offer reliable, consistent speeds and more affordable internet plans than Viasat. The current internet plans HughesNet offers are very simple and straightforward—they all have the same upload and download speeds. So, what’s the catch?
The plans vary by the amount of data you will receive every month. It’s not new for satellite internet to impose data limitations, but HughesNet will not charge you with an overage fee. However, you will have to deal with slower internet speed as they throttle your internet speed once you go over your monthly data allowance.
HughesNet’s internet plans start at $45 to $140 per month for the starting price and $65 to $160 per month after the promotional price. Its download speeds stay at 25Mbps while its upload speeds are at 3Mbps. However, the data allowance per month ranges from 15GB to 75GB. This major satellite internet provider also allows its users to purchase more data as needed, especially if they have already exceeded their monthly allowance.
Viasat’s satellite internet plans are more versatile than HughesNet. It offers a wider range when it comes to speeds and data allowances, but it’s also pricier. Its plans can also be faster depending on the location. Viasat’s speed options range from 12Mbps to 100Mbps, priced at $70 to $200 per month for the starting price, while the regular cost after three months ranges from $100 to $300. With its introductory prices, Viasat is easily the more expensive option than HughesNet.
It’s also important to note that even though Viasat offers more flexible internet speeds, the speeds you will get will highly vary on your location. So, even if they offer a 100Mbps plan, if this plan does not cover your area, you won’t be able to get it. Viasat also advertises “unlimited plans” like HughesNet, which are not really unlimited. After consuming your data allowance for the month, expect to deal with slower internet speeds.
HughesNet vs. Viasat: Comparing Plans and Pricing
When you take a quick look, you will notice that HughesNet is certainly more affordable than Viasat, as they offer both four plan tiers that significantly vary in speeds, prices, and data allowances. Let’s see how they compare.
|Max Download and Upload Speeds||Starting monthly fee||Monthly fee after 6 months||Data allowance||Equipment costs||Contract terms|
|Gen 5||25Mbps download, 3Mbps upload||$45||$65||15GB||$15/month or $450 one-time purchase||24 Months|
|Gen 5||25Mbps download, 3Mbps upload||$55||$75||30GB||$15/month or $450 one-time purchase||24 Months|
|Gen 5||25Mbps download, 3Mbps upload||$90||$110||45GB||$15/month or $450 one-time purchase||24 Months|
|Gen 5||25Mbps download, 3Mbps upload||$140||$160||75GB||$15/month or $450 one-time purchase||24 Months|
|Max Download and Upload Speeds||Starting monthly fee||Monthly fee after 3 months||Data allowance||Equipment costs||Contract terms|
|Unlimited Bronze 12||12Mbps download, 3Mbps upload||$70||$100||40GB||$13/month or $299 one-time purchase||24 Months|
|Unlimited Silver 25||25Mbps download, 3Mbps upload||$100||$150||60GB||$13/month or $299 one-time purchase||24 Months|
|Unlimited Gold 50||50Mbps download, 3Mbps upload||$150||$200||100GB||$13/month or $299 one-time purchase||24 Months|
|Unlimited Platinum 100||100Mbps download, 3Mbps upload||$200||$300||150GB||$13/month or $299 one-time purchase||24 Months|
One of the most distinct differences is the length of the promo period. HughesNet offers a 6-month promo period, while Viasat cut theirs short by three months. Both offer significantly shorter promo periods than other cable and fiber internet providers’ 12-month promotional periods. Unfortunately, with Viasat, you’ll have to deal with a massive price increase of up to $100 per month after three months.
Speeds and Data Allowances
If you’re looking for a faster internet speed, Viasat is your best option. Viasat’s Unlimited Gold plan features 50Mbps download speeds, while the Unlimited Platinum plan boasts 100Mbps download speeds. With HughesNet, all the internet plans are set at 25Mbps download speeds with increasing data allowances.
Unfortunately, Viasat’s fastest plan is not available in all of its service areas, so you will have to check with your local Viasat provider. Meanwhile, HughesNet’s 25Mbps internet plans are currently available in all serviceable areas, making them more consistent than Viasat.
HughesNet vs. Viasat: Do They Really Offer Unlimited Data?
Both providers have been advertising their “unlimited data plans,” with Viasat even including the word “unlimited” in its internet plans. But, the unlimited service they offer might not be what you’re expecting.
HughesNet does not impose hard data limits, meaning you won’t have to face overage fees and be cut off from the internet even if you exceed your monthly data allowance. But unfortunately, you will have to face extremely slow internet speeds unless you purchase extra data.
So if you have reached your monthly data cap, you can expect your 25Mbps speed to go down to 1Mbps to 3Mbps until the remaining days of the month. It’s also the same with Viasat. Once you reach your monthly data cap, you will not be charged extra fees or be cut off, but you have to endure slower speeds.
The good thing about HughesNet is that it offers a “Bonus Zone” from 2 AM to 8 AM when users can enjoy an additional 50GB per month of data. It’s a close and tough call when you’re considering data allowances on your internet plans; we have to give the nod to HughesNet as it presents more consistent plans and opportunities to buy more data as needed.
Additional Costs: Installation, Equipment, and Early Termination Fees
When having satellite internet for your home, you must be ready to face hefty fees for the equipment fee, compared to DSL, cable, or fiber. Most cable internet providers, for example, allow you to use your own equipment to lower your monthly costs. But unfortunately, Viasat and HughesNet don’t give you that option.
Monthly Equipment Fees
Renting equipment is not new to satellite internet users. With HughesNet and Viasat, you are left with no choice but to rent or purchase their equipment. With HughesNet, you can pay $15 per month for the equipment or pay them $450 upfront for a one-time purchase, including the installation cost. On the other hand, Viasat only charges their customers $13 a month for the equipment fee or lets them pay a one-time fee of $299. As you can see, Viasat is a better option when it comes to equipment fees.
Self-installation is not really an option with both Viasat and HughesNet. You have to pay $100 for a professional installation for both providers, allowing their technicians to visit your home and set up all the equipment, including the satellite dish.
Early Termination Fees and Service Terms
The two major satellite internet providers require a 24-month contract. With HughesNet, you can face a hefty early termination fee of up to $400 if you cancel your subscription within the first three months of service. With Viasat, you’ll have to pay around $15 for the remaining months of your contract. However, you have the option to forgo the 24-month contract by paying them $300 upfront at the beginning of the service. Unfortunately, doing this will only save you around $45 if you wish to cancel your service after the first month of your service.
HughesNet’s consistency makes a decent pitch, but Viasat’s flexible plans are also game changers. If you cannot still decide on what to pick after reading this detailed comparison, it’s best to get in touch with both satellite internet providers and see what they can offer you. Keep in mind that the services offered vary between locations, so it’s better to know what works best in your area.