Viasat vs. HughesNet Review 2020

If satellite internet is your only option, here’s how your two choices of Viasat and HughesNet compare.
Best for Top Speeds & Data
Monthly price
$30$150
Download speeds
12100 Mbps
Data cap
12150 GB
Best for Budget Prices
Monthly price
$59.99$150
Download speeds
25 Mbps
Data cap
1050 GB

Looking for a way to stay connected while keeping some solitude in the country? Then satellite internet might be your best (or only) option. But heads up, if you’re used to DSL, cable, or fiber internet speeds and prices, you might be in for a rude awakening.

HughesNet’s download speeds max out at 25 Mbps, and you’ll pay up to $149.99 a month depending on how much data you want (up to 50 GB a month).

As for Viasat, its download speeds soar past HughesNet with a max of 100 Mbps, and so do its data caps (up to 150 GB a month). Viasat’s prices also top out at $150 a month, but that price gets you 100 Mbps speeds and 150 GB of data each month.

Thanks to its faster speeds and higher data caps, we recommend Viasat over HughesNet. But if you’re still undecided on which satellite internet provider is best, we’ve compared prices, download speeds, data caps, and more.

Check Viasat and HughesNet availability near you.

Viasat satellite internet pros and cons

Pros

  • Fastest speeds up to 100 Mbps
  • Better prices if you want faster speeds and more data
  • Unlimited plans come with up to 150 GB of data per month

Cons

  • High prices that go up by $15–$50 after three months
  • Download speeds of 1–5 Mbps after you hit your data limit
  • No option to add data to Unlimited plans

HughesNet satellite internet pros and cons

Pros

  • Option to add data to any plan
  • Lower prices that stay the same for two years
  • More affordable plans with low data and slower speeds

Cons

  • Only one 25 Mbps download speed option
  • Download speeds of 1–3 Mbps after data cap exceeded
  • Comparatively higher prices for more data

We recommend Viasat satellite internet

Viasat Internet
Download speeds:
12100 Mbps
Data cap:
12150 GB
Starting at $30 a month

We recommend Viasat if you’re going for the fastest possible speeds and highest data caps—and if you don’t mind spending more per month. But HughesNet could save you some money If you prefer paying less and don’t mind slower speeds and lower data caps.

Viasat vs. HughesNet: Prices

Viasat has more value for faster plans and more data, but go with HughesNet if slower speeds and less data are okay.

If it’s your wallet you’re concerned about and not speed, HughesNet one-ups Viasat with a steady price that starts out cheaper and doesn’t jump up after three months.

That said, Viasat’s prices may be higher, but its 100 Mbps download speeds are the fastest satellite internet can provide. And when you look at the price Viasat charges for those top-end speeds, it ends up cheaper per Mbps than HughesNet.

But before we compare Viasat versus HughesNet prices, let’s get the lay of the land.

Viasat prices

Viasat charges $30 to $150 a month for its satellite internet service, and the price changes based on how much download speed and data you want. The faster your speed and the more data you add, the higher the price.

Viasat promotional prices
PlanPriceDownload speedData capDetails
Liberty 12$30/mo.*12 Mbps12 GBView Plan
Liberty 25$50/mo.*12 Mbps25 GBView Plans
Liberty 50$75/mo.*12 Mbps50 GBView Plans
Unlimited Bronze 12$50/mo.*12 Mbps35 GBView Plan
Unlimited Gold 30$100/mo.*30 Mbps100 GBView Plan
Unlimited Gold 50$100/mo.*50 Mbps100 GBView Plan
Unlimited Silver 25$70/mo.*25 Mbps60 GBView Plan
Unlimited Silver 12$100/mo.*12 Mbps45 GBView Plan
Unlimited Gold 12$150/mo.*12 Mbps65 GBView Plan
Unlimited Platinum 100$150/mo.*100 Mbps150 GBView Plan
Data effective 11/19/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* For the first 3 months.

Viasat’s prices are nowhere near as straightforward as HughesNet’s prices. (Seriously, solving a Rubik’s cube is easier than puzzling out why certain Viasat plans are priced the way they are.) If you ask us, Avril Lavigne secretly wrote the song “Complicated” about Viasat.

And those prices get even more complicated when you throw in Viasat’s three-month price hike.

Viasat prices after three months
PlanPromotional pricePrice after 3 monthsDownload speedData cap
Liberty 12$30.00/mo.*$50.00/mo.12 Mbps12 GB
Liberty 25$50.00/mo.*$75.00/mo.12 Mbps25 GB
Liberty 50$75.00/mo.*$100.00/mo.12 Mbps50 GB
Unlimited Bronze 12$50.00/mo.*$70.00/mo.12 Mbps35 GB
Unlimited Silver 25$70.00/mo.*$100.00/mo.25 Mbps60 GB
Unlimited Gold 30$100.00/mo.*$150.00/mo.30 Mbps100 GB
Unlimited Gold 50$100.00/mo.*$150.00/mo.50 Mbps100 GB
Unlimited Silver 12$100.00/mo.*$150.00/mo.12 Mbps45 GB
Unlimited Gold 12$150.00/mo.*$200.00/mo.12 Mbps65 GB
Unlimited Platinum 100$150.00/mo.*$200.00/mo.100 Mbps150 GB

Data effective 10/1/2020. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
*For the first 3 months.

HughesNet prices

Where Viasat’s prices were treating your brain to a logic puzzle, HughesNet prices are refreshingly straightforward. What you see is what you get—even the HughesNet plan names refer to how much data comes with them.

HughesNet promotional prices
PlanPriceDownload speedData capDetails
10 GB$59.9925 Mbps10 GBView Plan
20 GB$69.9925 Mbps20 GBView Plan
30 GB$99.9925 Mbps30 GBView Plan
50 GB$15025 Mbps50 GBView Plan
Data effective 11/19/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
Service plans require a 24-month commitment.

Yup, that’s it for HughesNet prices.

Viasat vs. HughesNet prices compared

Deciding whether HughesNet or Viasat offers the best value for you really depends on what you can make do with or what you need.

  • More data or faster download speeds: Viasat offers more value.
  • Lower prices, slower speeds, and less data: HughesNet offers more value.

Because HughesNet offers only 25 Mbps speeds and data up to 50 GB, it can be tricky to compare it to Viasat, which has speeds and data caps all over the place. So let’s compare two similar HughesNet and Viasat plans to see which one is the better deal.

Let’s look at HughesNet’s most expensive plan, 50 GB, and compare it to a similar Viasat plan first.

If you take the HughesNet 50 GB plan with 25 Mbps download speeds and 50 GB of data and compare it to the Viasat Unlimited Silver 25 plan with 25 Mbps and 60 GB of data, here’s how everything compares at face value.

Viasat Unlimited Silver 25 compared to HughesNet 50 GB
ServicePlanPriceDownload speedData cap
Viasat InternetUnlimited Silver 25$70/mo.*25 Mbps60 GB
HughesNet Internet50 GB$15025 Mbps50 GB
Data effective 11/19/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* For the first 3 months.
Service plans require a 24-month commitment.

At first glance, it’s clear that Viasat’s Unlimited Silver 25 plan is the better deal. But does that hold up when the price balloons to $100 a month after the promotional period ends?

A quick look at the math tells us that, over two years, we’d pay the following amounts for the HughesNet 50 GB plan and the Viasat Unlimited Silver 25 plan:

  • HughesNet 50 GB: $149.99 x 24 months = $3,599.76
  • Viasat Unlimited Silver 25: ($70 x 3 months) + ($100 x 21 months) = $2,310

So Viasat’s Unlimited Silver 25 plan is almost $1,300 cheaper than HughesNet’s 50 GB plan over the two-year contract, even with the three-month price hike factored in. Plus, you get 10 more GB of data per month with Viasat. Not bad.

Now let’s compare a cheaper HughesNet plan to a similar Viasat plan. How about the HughesNet 20 GB plan versus the Visast Liberty 25 plan?

Viasat Liberty 25 compared to HughesNet 20 GB
ServicePlanPriceDownload speedData cap
Viasat InternetLiberty 25$50/mo.*12 Mbps25 GB
HughesNet Internet20 GB$69.9925 Mbps20 GB
Data effective 11/19/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* For the first 3 months.
Service plans require a 24-month commitment.

Here’s how those prices add up over your two-year contract when you take the Viasat price hike into account:

  • HughesNet 20 GB: $69.99 x 24 months = $1,679.76
  • Viasat Liberty 25: ($50 x 3 months) + ($75 x 21 months) = $1,725

It’s a close race, and it may not seem like much, but the HughesNet 20 GB plan will save you about $45 over two years compared to the Viasat Liberty 25 plan.

Recommended Viasat and HughesNet plans

Viasat Unlimited Silver 25

Who it’s for: Small families who do a little bit of streaming or solo home office workers who deal with a few large files.

Why we picked it: The Unlimited Silver 25 plan won’t cost you more than $100, even after three months. It comes with 25 Mbps download speeds, which are likely enough if you and your small household keep the streaming to a minimum.

But 25 Mbps should handle SD streaming fairly well—just watch out for the 60 GB data cap. It’s not the most generous data limit, but it’s still more cost-effective than HughesNet’s largest data package, 50 GB.

Unlimited Silver 25
Viasat Internet
Download speed:
25 Mbps
Data cap:
60 GB
$70 a month

Data effective 10/1/2020. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
*For the first 3 months.

HughesNet 20 GB

Who it’s for: Solo casual web surfers and small families who don’t spend a lot of time online.

Why we picked it: This HughesNet plan likely won’t get you streaming The Mandalorian on Disney+, but it will let you browse Facebook and send emails. You wouldn’t want to do much more than that, anyway, since the data cap is 20 GB a month.

But the next plan up, 30 GB, jumps in price by about $30 more per month. We figure 10 more GB of data isn’t worth a $100 monthly internet bill. (If you need that much data, you might want to check out Viasat, but don’t forget about its three-month price hike.)

20 GB
HughesNet Internet
Download speed:
25 Mbps
Data cap:
20 GB
$69.99 a month

Data effective 10/1/2020. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
*Requires 24-month agreement.

Find out which Viasat and HughesNet plans are available in your area.

Viasat vs. HughesNet: Internet speed

Satellite doesn’t come with much data to begin with, but Viasat’s Unlimited plans are the best data deal in our books.

When it comes to internet speed, Viasat pairs you with speeds anywhere from 12 to 100 Mbps, while all of HughesNet’s plans come with a steady 25 Mbps.

Compared to any other type of internet, those max download speeds are slow.

Viasat vs. HughesNet download speed comparison
ProviderDownload speeds
Viasat Internet12100 Mbps
HughesNet Internet25 Mbps

Data effective 10/1/2020. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

But if satellite internet is one of your best options, our choice is Viasat for those top-end, 100 Mbps download speeds.

Sure, 25 Mbps is all right if it’s just you doing a little emailing and a little Facebook browsing. But share your internet with even just one more person, try to do a little video streaming with your Roku, or get some work done from home, and 25 Mbps (or speeds below that) just won’t cut it.

Not to mention that, thanks to its high latency, satellite internet just isn’t cut out for the following:

That’s not to say that you can’t do these things with satellite internet. But you’ll likely lag or gobble up your monthly data allowance.

We’ve got more info on how to stream with satellite internet as well as some tips to optimize your satellite internet speeds and how to deal with data caps that should help you avoid some of those heartaches and headaches. Hopefully.

Light Bulb icon
Not sure how much speed you need?
Check out our guide to download speeds and get to know your speed needs.

Viasat vs. HughesNet: Actual download speeds

Yes, there’s a “but” coming. And it’s a big one.

But, those download speeds you see for Viasat (12–100 Mbps) and HughesNet (25 Mbps) are what’s advertised. That means you won’t necessarily get those download speeds when you use the internet. (Likely, you’ll get speeds that are slower.)

We found that HughesNet outperformed Viasat in the internet speed department by a small margin in our latest report on the fastest internet providers in the US. But both Viasat and HughesNet scored at the bottom of our list in terms of the download speeds they delivered in 2019.

HughesNet vs. Viasat: speed scores1
ProviderReviews.org weighted score
Viasat5 out of 100 (37th out of 38)
HughesNet6.6 out of 100 (36th out of 38)

Don’t let those scores get you down just yet, though.

Based on how we scored the fastest ISPs, satellite internet starts at a huge disadvantage. That’s because we looked at average download speeds, upload speeds, and latency—and satellite offers some of the slowest download and upload speeds along with the highest latency compared to DSL, cable, and fiber internet.

So to get the bigger picture of how HughesNet and Viasat internet performs, we turned to customer reviews. Sadly, reviews of both ISPs tell the same story: satellite internet customers aren’t getting the download speeds they were promised.

Erik from Ocala, Florida, said this about his Viasat service: “I have the 50 Mbps package and rarely get 20 Mbps. And when you reach your usage cap, they slow you down even more during peak hours. I understood this coming into (the) contract, but I didn’t know that I was going to be slowed down to less than 1 Mbps, which makes all my devices unusable.2

And Glenda from Justin, Texas, said she only got HughesNet internet so her grandkids could watch movies when they visited. But “for almost two years, every time we got ready to watch a movie, we couldn’t. I would have to call and (get) someone to work on the network to get it to work, and that took hours. (By) then, my grandkids had to go to bed.”3

Data caps

When it comes to data caps, Viasat offers anywhere from 12–150 GB of data a month, while HughesNet offers 10–50 GB of data per month.

Compared to the terabyte (1,000 GB) or even unlimited data caps you get with most DSL, cable, and fiber internet plans, both satellite ISP’s data caps are a huge letdown.

You may be wondering if this data cap business is a mistake, at least where Viasat is concerned. Unfortunately, even though it advertises many of its internet plans as “unlimited,” Viasat still has data caps on every single one of its plans.

If you go over that Viasat unlimited plan data cap, it slows your internet speeds to anywhere between 1 to 5 Mbps during times when lots of people are using the internet. That’s a slow crawl at best.

Here’s a quick look at the major differences between HughesNet and Viasat data caps:

Viasat vs. HughesNet data caps
Provider and planData capWhen you use up your data…Can you buy more data?
Viasat Liberty plans12–50 GB/mo.Speeds slow to 1–5 Mbps at all timesYes
Viasat Unlimited plans35–150 GB/mo.Speeds slow to 1–5 Mbps during high-traffic timesNo
All HughesNet plans10–50 GB/mo.Speeds slow to 1–3 Mbps at all timesYes

Data effective 10/1/2020. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

Notice that Viasat lets you add data only to its Liberty plans, while the Unlimited plans are stuck with potentially slow speeds until the data resets at the start of the next month.

Things get a little complicated when it comes to satellite internet data caps, so we recommend diving into our Viasat data guide and HughesNet data guide if you want all the juicy details.

Viasat vs. HughesNet: Customer service

Both Viasat and HughesNet have room for major improvements on the customer experience front.

It’s no secret that internet providers have a lot to work on when it comes to customer service. And, sadly, Viasat and HughesNet are no exception.

While both ISPs were lumped into the “All Others” category of the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) report,5 you only need to turn to the internet to find dozens of customer complaints about Viasat and HughesNet.

Viasat vs. HughesNet customer service ratings comparison5
ProviderACSI 2019–2020 score
Viasat64 out of 100 (“All Others”)
HughesNet64 out of 100 (“All Others”)

Customer reviews scattered across the web get a little more specific, showing why both of these satellite ISPs earned what’s essentially a D grade:

Gerald from Florissant, Colorado, described his confusing and unhelpful experience with HughesNet customer service: “I had an (appointment) to install HughesNet in my new home this afternoon, and when I called to confirm, they said my account was canceled and was sent a refund, and I had to start over. No one told me why, just that it was canceled.”6

And a user on HighSpeedInternet.com didn’t have anything better to say about their experience with Viasat’s customer service: “We have had four to five scheduled visits to repair a box issue (we aren’t getting internet service). (Viasat has) never shown up, and they don’t call until after they miss the appointment (each time).”7

Heads Up icon
No Viasat service for more than two days? Ask for a bill adjustment!
Mary from Eugene, Oregon, left a pro tip we had to share here. She said that you can always ask Viasat for a bill adjustment if your service is interrupted for more than two days.8

But you have to ask for it, so get on the phone with Viasat if bad weather or other issues leave you without internet for more than a couple days.

But sometimes we all get lucky and land that one customer service rep who’s amazing.

Sherry from Lake Butler, Florida, had nothing but praise for her HughesNet service representative: “Was having trouble with my internet, when I called to figure it out the rep did (an) excellent job trying to get it figured out! He went through everything on his end that he could and helped me check everything on my end. It took a little while but had my internet back up and running. Thank You.”9

Our advice? If you have to call Viasat or HughesNet customer service, we recommend doing the following:

  • Take dated notes or keep a copy of the email or chat.
  • If you have an outage, log the time and date when it started as well as the time and date it ended. Be sure to call Viasat about it, too, in order to get your outage on their logs.
  • Be patient. Sometimes this is easier said than done, but if your current representative doesn’t understand what you’re asking, don’t get riled up. Calmly explain the situation or your question again. If they still don’t get it, ask to speak to someone else.
  • You can always ask to speak to a manager. If your current representative is rude or unhelpful, it’s fully within your rights to ask for a manager. Or, you can try calling back at a different time in hopes that you’ll talk to someone else. Either way, it’s okay to advocate for yourself.

Viasat vs. HughesNet: Which is better?

In general, we recommend Viasat for faster satellite internet speeds up to 100 Mbps and higher data caps up to 150 GB. But HughesNet is worth considering if you need to save some money on your internet bill and are okay with slower download speeds of 25 Mbps and smaller data caps up to 50 GB.

  • Price: HughesNet. Major points to HughesNet for consistent pricing across your whole contract and lower prices in general. Of course, HughesNet’s low prices come with slow speeds and less data than Viasat, so if you’re after faster download speeds and higher data caps, Viasat is the better buy.
  • Speed and data: Viasat. Viasat offers faster speeds up to 100 Mbps and bigger data caps of up to 150 GB. HughesNet’s speeds are the same 25 Mbps for all its plans, and it comes with a max of only 50 GB of data.
  • Customer service: Neither. Both Viasat and HughesNet have some serious work to do when it comes to customer service, just like every other ISP.

It also bears repeating: if you’re swapping to satellite internet from DSL, cable, or fiber internet, then satellite’s high prices, slower speeds, and small data caps might be a nasty surprise.

That said, it’s always a good idea to check for other rural internet options in your area. An easy way to do this is to enter your zip code in our tool below. We’ll show you all the internet providers in your area, including their prices, download speeds, and more.

Check which Viasat and HughesNet plans are available near you.

Still comparing Viasat and HughesNet? Check this out next:

Need the fastest speeds satellite has?

READ OUR VIASAT REVIEW

Rather pay the lowest price for satellite internet?

READ OUR HUGHESNET REVIEW

Sources

  1. Catherine McNally, Reviews.org, “Fastest Internet Providers 2020,” August 2020. Accessed August 26, 2020.
  2. Erik, Consumer Affairs, “Exede Satellite Internet,” August 2019. Accessed October 6, 2020.
  3. Glenda, Consumer Affairs, “HughesNet,” September 2020. Accessed October 6, 2020.
  4. OpenVault, “OpenVault: Broad-Based Broadband Usage Acceleration Across Europe and US In 2018; 1TB ‘Power Users’ Double, ” January 2019. Accessed August 26, 2020.
  5. American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), “ACSI Telecommunications Report 2019–2020,” June 2020. Accessed October 5, 2020.
  6. Gerald, Consumer Affairs, “HughesNet,” September 2020. Accessed October 6, 2020.
  7. HighSpeedInternet.com, “Viasat Customer Reviews,” December 2018. Accessed August 26, 2020.
  8. Mary V., Yelp, “Exede Internet,” April 2018. Accessed August 26, 2020.
  9. Sherry, Consumer Affairs, “HughesNet,” September 2020. Accessed October 6, 2020.
  • gary

    Honestly the ONLY reason to get either of these services(I’ve had both) is if there is absolutely no other choice. both companies have horrible customer service and the whole “up to” so many MB per second is a game they like to play where you don’t really know what speed you will get at any given moment. Even 100gb a month is really low for any real internet usage as you can easily burn through 2-4 gb to watch one movie. Both these services count on you being a “hostage” because you live in a rural area with no other choices and are willing to abuse you as a customer with high prices, terrible customer service, major limitations on your internet usage AND a 24 month contract. I would suggest taking whatever steps necessary to avoid either of these companies and only use them as the absolute last resort once ALL other possible options have been explored.

  • Commenter

    I had the worst experience with Hughes Net while cancelling my service. The agent talked over me constantly, argued with me about my amount of data, then got snarky when I asked him why we had to pay for additional data when he told me we had “unlimited.” I don’t consider data during the wee hours of the night “unlimited.” But I also had a bad experience with the Via Sat agent when I signed up. She talked so fast, I’m amazed I caught her trying to sell me services I didn’t want. Customer Service is truly lacking with both companies. And don’t get me started on Directv.