Viasat vs. HughesNet 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$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 option. And right now, there are only two major satellite internet providers in the game: Viasat (formerly Exede) and HughesNet.

But while we’re eagerly waiting for Starlink, OneWeb, and other new satellite internet providers to get their satellites in orbit, it’s nice to know that both HughesNet and Viasat have improved 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 if you’re okay with HughesNet’s slower speeds and lower data caps, it could 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$150
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’s prices start at $30 a month for its Liberty 12 plan, which comes with 12 Mbps speeds and 12 GB of data, and go all the way up to $150 a month for its Unlimited Platinum 100 plan, which comes with 100 Mbps speeds and 150 GB of data. Here’s a quick look at some of the Viasat internet plans—we’ve got a full list in our Viasat review.

Viasat prices and plans overview
PlanPriceDownload speedData capDetails
Liberty 12$30/mo.*12 Mbps12 GBView Plans
Unlimited Bronze 25$50*25 Mbps35 GBView Plan
Unlimited Silver 25$70/mo.*25 Mbps60 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.

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 go up after three months.

And though it offers only four satellite internet plans, HughesNet keeps you connected with steady 25 Mbps download speeds no matter which plan you choose. We think 25 Mbps is more than enough for most folks, and you can double check our math by reading our guide to find out how much speed you need.

HughesNet prices and plans
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.
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. (P.S. We get into how much speed HughesNet actually delivers to your door versus the speed it advertises in our HughesNet review.)

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.

Which is cheaper? HughesNet vs. Viasat (Exede) prices.

Deciding whether HughesNet or Viasat offers the best value for you really depends on what you need. If you’re looking for more data or speeds faster than 25 Mbps, Viasat will likely be the better deal. But if you’re a-okay with 25 Mbps download speeds and less data, HughesNet might be your best match.

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.

If you take the HughesNet 50 GB plan and compare it to the Viasat Unlimited Silver 25 plan, here’s how everything compares at face value.

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

These two plans both offer 25 Mbps download speeds and similar amounts of data (50 GB from HughesNet and 60 GB from Viasat). But things start to get hazy when you factor in that Viasat’s $70 a month price jumps to $100 a month after three months.

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: $150 x 24 months = $3,600
  • Viasat Unlimited Silver 25: ($70 x 3 months) + ($100 x 21 months) = $2,310

So Viasat’s plan is far cheaper than HughesNet’s over the long haul, even with the three-month price hike factored in. Plus, you get 10 more GB of data per month with Viasat. Not bad.

Now, if you compare the price of HughesNet’s 20 GB plan to the Viasat Liberty 25 plan, here’s how things shake out.

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

And here’s a look at how those prices add up 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.

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: Actual download speeds

Of course, advertised speeds are all well and good. But do these two satellite internet companies deliver the download speeds they promise?

Maybe.

The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) latest report showed that HughesNet delivered download speeds that were above and beyond what it advertised—but Viasat delivered satellite internet speeds that were slower than what was advertised.1

HughesNet vs. Viasat: Actual/advertised download speeds comparison1
ProviderActual/advertised speed
Viasat89.6%
HughesNet177%

Customer reviews of both HughesNet and Viasat tell the same story, though: 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 Debi from Canyon Lake, Texas, said she hasn’t been able to use her Roku device to stream without her show buffering “at least 50 times” while using HughesNet internet. “A forty minute show will take more than two hours,” she said.3

If the buffering wheel is crashing your binge-watching party, there are a few tricks you can try to speed up your satellite internet before you call customer service.

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 cap
Liberty 12$30/mo.*12 Mbps12 GB
Liberty 25$50/mo.*12 Mbps25 GB
Liberty 50$75/mo.*12 Mbps75 GB
Unlimited Bronze 12$50/mo.*12 Mbps35 GB
Unlimited Bronze 25$50*25 Mbps35 GB
Unlimited Silver 12$100/mo.*12 Mbps45 GB
Unlimited Silver 25$70/mo.*25 Mbps60 GB
Unlimited Gold 12$150/mo.*12 Mbps65 GB
Unlimited Gold 30$100/mo.*30 Mbps100 GB
Unlimited Gold 50$100/mo.*50 Mbps100 GB
Unlimited Platinum 100$150/mo.*100 Mbps150 GB
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 12 GB to a rather hefty 150 GB. (At least it’s hefty for satellite internet.) 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 cap
10 GB$59.9925 Mbps10 GB
20 GB$69.9925 Mbps20 GB
30 GB$99.9925 Mbps30 GB
50 GB$15025 Mbps50 GB
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? Chances are you do.

At the end of 2018, the average US household used 268.7 GB of data—that’s about 22 GB of data per month.4 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,5 you only need to turn to the internet to find dozens of customer complaints for Viasat and HughesNet.

Viasat vs. HughesNet customer service ratings comparison5
RatingViasat and HughesNet (“All Others”)
ACSI 2018–201964 out of 100

Unfortunately, customer reviews scattered across the web support the ACSI’s rating.

Brian from Pilot Point, Texas, described his HughesNet customer service rep as incredibly rude and unhelpful. “I get about 1 Mbps and when I tried to fix it by contacting (HughesNet), they told me that the speeds were not guaranteed and to deal with it. They hung up the conversation twice when I was trying to explain the problem.”3

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).”6

Heads Up icon
No Viasat service for more than two days? Ask for a bill adjustment!
Mary from Eugene also 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.7

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. Yes, these reps work for Viasat and HughesNet too—we’re crossing our fingers you speak to one of them if you have to call.

When she called Viasat to ask for a bill adjustment due to lost service, Mary from Eugene, Oregon, had no trouble getting the customer service rep to reimburse her for the five and a half days she had no internet.7

And Donna from Newton, Texas, had nothing but praise for her HughesNet service representative: “The technician assisted me with my payment information, and made sure that I knew the amount of my next bill and the due date.”3

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 and don’t mind slower speeds and not much data, 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.

Sources

  1. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), “2018 Fixed Broadband Report
  2. Consumer Affairs, “Exede Satellite Internet”
  3. Consumer Affairs, “HughesNet
  4. OpenVault, “OpenVault: Broad-Based Broadband Usage Acceleration Across Europe and US In 2018; 1TB ‘Power Users’ Double
  5. American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), “ACSI Telecommunications Report 2018–2019
  6. HighSpeedInternet.com, “Viasat Customer Reviews
  7. Yelp, “Exede Internet

Additional contributors

Trevor Wheelwright
Mindy Woodall

  • 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.