Viasat vs. HughesNet Review 2020

The satellite internet showdown is on. Viasat has faster speeds, but can they match up to HughesNet’s lower prices?
Best for Speed
Monthly price
$30$150
Download speeds
12100 Mbps
Data cap
12150 GB
Best for Budget Prices
Monthly price
$59.99$149.99
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 option. And right now, there are only two major satellite internet providers in the game: Viasat (formerly Exede) and HughesNet.

Luckily, we don’t have to wait for SpaceX, OneWeb, or any other new satellite internet providers to get their satellites in orbit—both HughesNet and Viasat have made some major improvements over the last few years. But which one is best for you?

Well, we recommend Viasat if you’re going for the fastest possible speeds, but HughesNet will likely save you some money. Let’s dig into the details to find out why.

Viasat (formerly Exede) vs. HughesNet satellite internet comparison
ViasatHughesNet
Monthly price$30$150*$59.99$149.99
Download speeds12100 Mbps25 Mbps
Data cap12150 GB1050 GB
Learn moreView PlansView Plans
Data effective 11/19/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* For the first 3 months.
Requires 24 month agreement.

Compare Viasat and HughesNet plans near you.

Viasat vs. HughesNet: Prices

Viasat’s prices are higher than HughesNet’s, but you get more speed for your money.

First things first: the price you’ll pay with either Viasat or HughesNet totally depends on where you live. You might find fast plans in one area for a reasonable price and slow plans in another for the same amount of money.

And even Viasat’s cheapest plans probably cost more than what you’d pay for the same speeds from a cable or fiber internet provider. Yup, unfortunately, satellite internet is basically always more expensive than other types of internet.

Viasat prices and plans
PlanPriceDownload speedDetails
Unlimited Bronze 12$50/mo.*12 MbpsView Plan
Unlimited Bronze 25$50/mo.*25 MbpsView Plan
Unlimited Silver 12$100/mo.*12 MbpsView Plan
Unlimited Silver 25$70/mo.*25 MbpsView Plan
Unlimited Gold 12$150/mo.*12 MbpsView Plan
Unlimited Gold 30$100/mo.*30 MbpsView Plan
Unlimited Gold 50$100/mo.*50 MbpsView Plan
Unlimited Platinum 100$150/mo.*100 MbpsView Plan
Data effective 11/19/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* For the first 3 months.

You should also be aware that Viasat does a tricky little price bump after the first three months of service. It locks you in with that sweet, sweet intro price, and then three months later, you’ll see a pretty dramatic increase on your bill.

We don’t appreciate the billing bait and switch, Viasat. That’s why we prefer HughesNet when it comes to price—it keeps prices consistent for your entire two-year contract.

Unlimited Gold 50
Viasat Internet
Download speed:
50 Mbps
Data cap:
100 GB
$100 a month

That said, if you’re looking for the fastest speeds satellite internet can provide, Viasat’s (formerly Exede) plans have you covered. We think the Unlimited Gold 50 plan is perfect for streaming some episodes of The Expanse over the weekend without completely breaking your bank.

But if it’s the state of your wallet you’re concerned about and not speed, HughesNet one-ups Viasat with a steady price that doesn’t balloon out of control after three months. And even though HughesNet offers only 25 Mbps speeds, that’s more than enough for most folks.

HughesNet prices and plans
PlanPriceDownload speedDetails
10 GB$59.99/mo.25 MbpsView Plan
20 GB$69.99/mo.25 MbpsView Plan
30 GB$99.99/mo.25 MbpsView Plan
50 GB$149.99/mo.25 MbpsView Plan
Data effective 11/19/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
Requires 24 month agreement.

HughesNet’s across-the-board 25 Mbps speeds let you do a little internet surfing, gaming, and even video streaming.

Yup, the only difference between HughesNet’s four internet plans is how much data you get. If you’re streaming and gaming but not downloading large files for work (or pleasure), the 20 gigabyte (GB) data plan is a good fit.

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

It’s also worth it to note that there’s a pretty big difference between the price of HughesNet’s 20 GB data plan and its 30 GB data plan. So unless you really need that extra 10 GB of data, we say 20 GB is more than enough.

Plus, if you end up needing more data one month so you can download Frozen 2 or Jason Aldean’s latest album, you can buy HughesNet data tokens.

Pin icon
Not sure if 25 Mbps is enough speed?
Figuring out how much internet speed you need can be tricky. So we put together an easy internet speed guide to help you out.

Viasat vs. HughesNet: Speed

Viasat’s speeds leave HughesNet in the dust—but they’re not available everywhere.

If this were a speed race, Viasat would be on its second lap before HughesNet had even rounded the bend. Viasat offers more plans at higher speeds than HughesNet, reaching an impressive 100 Mbps.

Viasat vs. HughesNet download speed comparison
ProviderViasat InternetHughesNet Internet
Download speeds12100 Mbps25 Mbps
Learn moreView PlansView Plans

We gotta be honest, though: satellite internet is the only place where 100 Mbps is impressive. For comparison, some fiber and cable providers offer internet speeds up to ten times that (1,000 Mbps).

Viasat can get you a faster internet connection compared to HughesNet, but its speeds will cost you. Viasat’s 100 Mbps plan puts you on the hook for $150 per month to start, while HughesNet tops out at $149.99 a month for 25 Mbps.

Yup, HughesNet keeps things simple—all of its plans offer the same 25 Mbps speeds. It’s the extra data that costs you more per month. So if that’s all you need, then great.

But if you want to stream the next season of The Great British Baking Show, torrent some files, and upload iCloud photos—all while your partner watches Avengers in the next room—then you might want a faster Viasat plan instead.

Now’s probably a good time for us to point out a few of satellite internet’s downsides too.

Video chats, VPNs, and online gaming do not play well with satellite internet connections. Even with faster speeds, satellite internet has latency issues that make these activities glitchy and annoying at best.

Viasat vs. HughesNet: Data caps

Both HughesNet and Viasat have unlimited data plans, but that doesn’t mean high-speed data. Both these guys also have soft data caps (sometimes called high-speed data allotments or data guidelines).

Whatever you want to call it, it basically means that if you go over a certain amount of data per month, then your speeds will be reduced for the rest of your billing cycle.

Viasat (formerly Exede) internet plan data caps
PlanPriceDownload speedData capDetails
Unlimited Bronze 12$50/mo.*12 Mbps35 GBView Plan
Unlimited Bronze 25$50/mo.*25 Mbps35 GBView Plan
Unlimited Silver 12$100/mo.*12 Mbps45 GBView Plan
Unlimited Silver 25$70/mo.*25 Mbps60 GBView Plan
Unlimited Gold 12$150/mo.*12 Mbps65 GBView Plan
Unlimited Gold 30$100/mo.*30 Mbps100 GBView Plan
Unlimited Gold 50$100/mo.*50 Mbps100 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 data allotments rise from a small 35 GB to a rather hefty 150 GB. And because Viasat offers higher high-speed data allotments on some of its plans, you might actually pay less per GB with a Viasat plan than you would for HughesNet.

HughesNet’s data caps are a little more straightforward, but like we mentioned before, there’s a pretty big gap between the price of its 20 GB plan and its 30 GB plan. And another big gap between the price of its 30 GB plan and its 50 GB plan. (Though you do get a whopping 20 GB more data with the 50 GB plan.)

HughesNet internet plan data caps
PlanPriceDownload speedData capDetails
10 GB$59.99/mo.25 Mbps10 GBView Plan
20 GB$69.99/mo.25 Mbps20 GBView Plan
30 GB$99.99/mo.25 Mbps30 GBView Plan
50 GB$149.99/mo.25 Mbps50 GBView Plan
Data effective 11/19/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
Requires 24 month agreement.

How much data do you need?

That’s a lot of GB. But do you really need 50 GB of data?

At the end of 2018, the average US household used 268.7 GB of data—that’s about 22 GB of data per month.1 That can give you a starting idea of how much data you need, but remember certain devices and activities can make your data usage spike.

Things like connected home security devices, downloading large files like movies or PDFs, streaming videos, and even video chats can gobble up your data. If you know you don’t usually use connected devices or download large files, you’ll probably be fine with 10–20 GB.

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 both 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,2 you only need to turn to the internet to find dozens of customer complaints for Viasat and HughesNet.

Viasat vs. HughesNet customer service ratings comparison2
RatingViasat and HughesNet (“All Others”)
ACSI 2018–201964 out of 100

Recap: Viasat vs. HughesNet

If satellite is your only option, choose Viasat for faster speeds and HughesNet for lower prices.

Both Viasat and HughesNet have made some major improvements to speed and reliability in the last few years. That means satellite internet isn’t the slogfest it used to be, but it still doesn’t quite match cable or fiber internet.

That said, we think Viasat is a great pick if you need lots of speed and data. But if you want to go (a tad) easier on your wallet, check out HughesNet.

  • Pricing: HughesNet. Major points to HughesNet for consistent pricing across your whole contract. Viasat’s prices are generally higher (depending on where you live), and we hate its three-month price hike.
  • Speed: Viasat. Viasat offers faster speeds (again, depending on where you live) up to 100 Mbps. HughesNet’s speeds are the same 25 Mbps for all its plans. Womp womp.
  • Customer service: Tie. Both companies have some serious work to do when it comes to customer service, just like every other ISP.

Now that you've compared HughesNet vs. Viasat, here are your next steps:

Need fast speeds? Read our Viasat review.

GO TO THE VIASAT REVIEW

Need low prices? Read our HughesNet review.

GO TO THE HUGHESNET REVIEW

Or find out which Viasat or HughesNet plans are in your area.

Do you have satellite internet now? Have you had it in the past? Did you go with Viasat or HughesNet? Let us know about your experience in the comments.

Additional contributors

Trevor Wheelwright
Catherine McNally