HughesNet vs. Viasat (Exede) Review — 2018

For country and rural folks, satellite internet might be the saving grace to stay connected. But who does it better?

Best Overall
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Runner up
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HughesNet vs. Viasat (Exede) Review — 2018

Product Recommended Rating
Viasat logo Best Overall 4 / 5
HughesNet Runner up 3 / 5
Recent Updates: Less than 6 months
Big news: We've updated our rankings to account for major changes with Exede, which is now Viasat. With its improved speeds, data, and plan structure, we've made it our top pick for satellite internet. Read our analysis to learn more.

Overview

Viasat (formerly Exede) vs. HughesNet comparison table

Viasat logoHughesNet
Price$50–$150/mo. $49.99–$99.99/mo.
Download speed12–100* Mbps25 Mbps
Data cap40–100 GB**10–50 GB
DetailsView PlansView Plans

*100 Mbps plan coming soon
**Viasat lists all its plans as unlimited, but there are some data guidelines in the fine print.

Whether you’re in the rural country or just need remote internet access anywhere across the country, satellite internet is your best bet to stay connected. While you don’t have a whole lot of options, we’ll point out the differences between the two major providers: Viasat, which used to be called Exede, and HughesNet.

HughesNet was our top satellite internet provider for quite a while, and the provider still has merit for plenty of people, but Viasat has recently changed the game. As you’ll see, Viasat’s pricing and plans have made a major shift toward higher speeds and “unlimited” data plans, while HughesNet’s plans have one speed only (25 Mbps) and may throttle your speeds if you go over your data cap.

Satellite internet isn’t the fastest, so If you have access to cable or fiber internet, check out our Best Internet Providers page. But if you’re curious about the differences between our top satellite internet picks, read on, folks.

Find the best internet providers in your area.

Plans and pricing

From our perspective, it’s clear that although Viasat may be more expensive, it offers a faster and better experience for anyone out in the country or in rural areas who needs internet access.

HughesNet has been a great option in the past comparatively, But since you don’t get increased speeds for increased prices, it makes you wonder if the data limits are really worth paying more. Viasat’s a better bang for your buck if you need higher speeds, which make it easier to watch your long YouTube playlists of people falling down.

Viasat (formerly Exede)

We definitely favor Viasat’s wide range of plans because of the freedom it gives customers to choose, although Viasat’s plans increase price after the three-month promo ends. We like the ability to get higher speeds so your internet doesn’t trudge through graphic- or video-heavy websites. We all know how frustrating it is to be on someone’s in-home WiFi and still see the loading circle of death instead of mind-blowing pictures of Thailand or someone’s fancy hamburger.

Viasat (formerly Exede) plans*

PlanSpeedPriceAfter 3 monthsData limitDetails
Unlimited Bronze 1212 Mbps$50/mo.$70/mo.40 GBView Plan
Unlimited Silver 1212 Mbps$65/mo.$95/mo.60GBView Plan
Unlimited Silver 2525 Mbps$70/mo.$100/mo.60 GBView Plan
Unlimited Gold 1212 Mbps$95/mo.$145/mo.100 GBView Plan
Unlimited Gold 3030 Mbps$100/mo.$150/mo.100 GBView Plan
Unlimited Gold 5050 Mbps$100/mo.$150/mo.100 GBView Plan

*100 Mbps plan coming soon

Heads up exclamation Heads up exclamation

Know before you buy

Know before you buy

The one thing to notice about Viasat’s pricing is that after the first three months, your price will go up, and it will be more expensive than HughesNet’s. So the promotional pricing saves you a bit up front, but just be mindful that your bill will change.

And Viasat gives you more data, which reduces the possibility of additional costs or speed throttling (which both services can do if you go over your limit). The last thing you want is to get stuck with slow speeds while trying to submit an assignment before the deadline or while pulling up a map before you can leave on a quick getaway.

If you need to ensure full speeds, you can buy more data from Viasat for $10 per GB in the following strange amounts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 10 GB. Or you can save some cash by buying over 5 GB at a time—but it’s not much. At most, you’ll save $5 by buying 10 GB a time for $95. That’s nearly doubling the highest plan’s starting price—eeesh. Still, Viasat’s plans give you more value than HughesNet’s, dollar for dollar.

HughesNet

HughesNet Plans

PlanSpeedPriceDetails
10 GB25 Mbps$49.99/mo.View Plan
20 GB25 Mbps$59.99/mo.View Plan
30 GB25 Mbps$79.99/mo.View Plan
50 GB25 Mbps$99.99/mo.View Plan

HughesNet plans are simple: the more you pay, the higher your data cap is. Unfortunately, even the highest plan at 50 GB is only half of what Viasat offers in terms of data. You will get Bonus Data, but it’s usable only between odd hours, which we’ll talk more about later.

HughesNet does offer data tokens ranging from 3 GB for $9 up to $25 GB for $75—so even if you must break your caps, you can still access full speeds for additional costs. This is good if you have to work from home or if you can’t get enough cat GIFs throughout the day.

Download and upload speeds

ViasatHughesNet
Download speeds12–50* Mbps25 Mbps
Upload speeds3 Mbps3 Mbps
DetailsView PlansView Plans

With speeds of 25 Mbps across the board, HughesNet doesn’t offer variety in speeds, which means even those who are willing to pay for more speed won’t be able to get it. Viasat, on the other hand, makes a lot more sense to us because when we pay more, we get both more data AND more speed. Viasat’s speeds go up to 50 Mbps currently, which is double what HughesNet offers.

Both companies have 3 Mbps upload speeds, which won’t be the fastest when you upload photos to Facebook or attach large files in emails, but it’ll work.

Data

Everything you do on the internet requires data use, and with satellite internet, you may exceed your data caps quickly by watching videos, downloading content from the web, or checking emails. There are workarounds and ways of checking the status of your data, but be warned that you’ll either lose speed or pay more if you go over your data limits.

Viasat data

PlanPriceDetails
40 GB$50–$70/mo. View Plan
60 GB$65–$100/mo. View Plan
100 GB$95–$150/mo. View Plan

Viasat doesn’t technically have data caps, even though its advertised range is 40–100 GB, which basically means the company doesn’t actively limit speeds. Viasat won’t throttle your speed if you go over the proposed guidelines, but the provider will prioritize other users (it’s kinda the same thing, but more lenient based on bandwidth available, it seems).

HughesNet data

PlanPriceDetails
10 GB$49.99/mo. View Plan
20 GB$59.99/mo. View Plan
30 GB$79.99/mo. View Plan
50 GB$99.99/mo.View Plan

HughesNet doesn’t charge extra or stop service if you go over your data limit, but it will throttle your speeds as low as 1–3 Mbps until your next billing cycle.

However, one benefit to HughesNet is that it throws in is 50 GB of bonus data per month. It’s available from 2 a.m. to 8 a.m., which may seem weird, but you can use things like Night Shift, a program that preloads movies and shows to plan ahead and beat your data cap usage.

Info box icon Info box icon

Good to know

Good to know

Viasat and HughesNet both have mobile apps for iOS and Android that will help you keep track of your data use. That way, you know whether it’s really worth checking your horoscope app for the sixth time today.

Contracts

Both Viasat and HughesNet have 24-month contracts. The difference lies mostly in their early termination fees.

Viasat’s fees are a lot cheaper: $15 per month for every month remaining on your contract, which can be up to $345. With HughesNet, you’ll pay up to $400 in cancellation fees, but after 90 days that cost goes down by $15 per month. The risk is a bit lower with Viasat.

ViasatHughesNet
Contract length24 mos. 24 mos.
Cancellation riskUp to $345Up to $400

Customer service

Exede and HughesNet both have lackluster customer support.

In our full reviews, we’ve mentioned that HughesNet and Exede could both improve their customer support, and we still stand by that. Satellite internet providers seem to realize you have no other options for internet, so customer support doesn’t get the attention it deserves. For example, both HughesNet and Exede have offshore call centers handling incoming support calls.

Info box icon Info box icon

Tip: Where to find help

Tip: Where to find help

Both Exede and HughesNet have online chat, email, and telephone support. Each also has an online help center (though it’s probably not helpful if you can’t get online) and a surprisingly active online community.

Viasat (formerly Exede) vs HughesNet recap:

If you need a full breakdown of the differences between Viasat and HughesNet, you should check out our Best Satellite Internet Service Providers page, which includes FAQs about satellite internet too.

Viasat logo

Beyond that, we’ll remind you of these facts:

  • Viasat has lower prices than HughesNet, but remember those prices go up after three months—in which case, you’re still getting a better deal with Viasat.
  • Viasat has higher speeds and a wider range of speeds than HughesNet—12 Mbps to 50 Mbps compared to a flat 25 Mbps.
  • Viasat has higher data plans than HughesNet.
  • HughesNet does offer 50 Mbps of bonus data between 2 a.m. and 8 a.m., and you can buy data tokens from $7–$25 per month to keep full speeds.
  • Both companies require a 24-month contract and have early termination fees, but Viasat’s cancellation fee is less risky—up to $345, compared to HughesNet’s max $400.
  • Both companies are available in the contiguous 48 United States, but pricing and coverage may vary—particularly for HughesNet’s new satellite, which met its user quota quickly and left a few spots in the US uncovered.

Like we said, we definitely recommend Viasat over HughesNet for just about everything. That’s not to say HughesNet isn’t still a viable service for some country or rural areas—it’s just that Viasat’s new satellite really changed the game.

Anything else you’d like to know about these two providers? Let us know in the comments.

Find the best internet providers in your area.

  • http://www.facebook.com/CheatingCannotBeTolerated moda

    Thanks for the info – appreciate your review. It looks as though both Exede and Hughesnet have changed their plans in the short time since this piece was written.
    For example – as far as I can see, the Freedom package is no longer available on Exede.
    And it appears that Hughes has replaced Max with Ultra, at 50GB for $89.99.
    As a personal note, when I changed my Exede account a while back from 12 Mbps to 25, I did not appreciate any noticeable difference at all. None.

    • http://dev-reviewsorg.pantheon.io Scott T.

      You’re right! This was written last year. We’re working on updating this article. The information on the Best Satellite Internet for 2016 and Exede vs. HughesNe vs. dishNET is up to date. Be sure to check them out.

      Also, thanks for telling us about your experience with upgrading your speed with Exede. We’d be interested to hear more, and if you’ve contacted their support team for help.

      • http://www.facebook.com/CheatingCannotBeTolerated moda

        Thanks for taking the time to reply. Please know that my comment was not a criticism. I saw that this piece was written last year and understand completely that you can’t possibly know of all changes.
        I opted to change my service last night from the Essential 10 + Boost to the Liberty 12. I don’t notice any drop in speed, though I didn’t test before or after.
        I’m still tempted to switch to the Hughes Ultra, and should be able to easily as I’m almost 4 years into Exede, but the switch seems like such a hassle and I’m not up for such a thing right now.
        I have contacted them in the past and their customer service leaves a LOT to be desired. For example – After I switched to the Essential 10 plan, they sent me their WiFi Router. That should have been simple. It wasn’t. Their support people tried to tell me it was my computer. I told them I had tried it with 3 different laptops to no avail. It took much arguing and demanding on my part to get them to send me a new device. Tada! It worked fine.
        Thanks again.

        • http://dev-reviewsorg.pantheon.io Scott T.

          If it’s any consolation, Consumer Reports says Exede has better customer service than HughesNet. So maybe you’re saving yourself from future headaches by staying with Exede.

          From what we’ve researched (and experienced), we think all satellite internet providers would be wise to improve their customer support.

          • http://www.facebook.com/CheatingCannotBeTolerated moda

            That is some consolation. Thanks

          • Hughes Rep

            Hughesnet has uptained and maintained an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau for delivering its promised prices AND speeds.

          • http://dev-reviewsorg.pantheon.io Scott T.

            Actually, according to BBB’s website, the “factors that raised the rating” for HughesNet include:

            – Length of time business has been operating
            – Complaint volume filed with BBB for business of this size
            – Response to 2731 complaint(s) filed against business
            – Resolution of complaint(s) filed against business

            You can read more details on how ratings work with BBB here.

          • Marcia

            I just moved to a rural location and work from home…Exede is a joke to say the least. i am up to 175.00 a month and still my service goes out at least three times a day… Their tech support leave much to be desired, plan on spending at least one hour on the phone, most of which is hold time. I called to ask if i have a VOIP phone can i move it from my computer to their plan and the answer is always not sure or give it a try.. but you are locked into a contract whether it works or not.. Guess i was really spoiled with cable. the kids are mad as they can’t use the internet at all anymore..

  • mrtechguy

    Regarding Exede’s “Freedom Plan” they told me it’s not offered for me because of the “congested” area I’m in- northern Illinois. So 30GB/mo, that’s it! Satellite option is definitely NOT an option (for a family of 6 with teenagers!). I’d blow thru that in under a week easy.

    • http://dev-reviewsorg.pantheon.io Scott T.

      Yeah, that doesn’t sound good. Is there any other type of internet available in your area (cable, DSL, etc.)?

  • Gabe1972

    Though this article says it was published/updated on 5/15/2017, some of the Hughesnet info is based on the previously available plans, which were changed mid March. The smallest plan available starts with 10GB Anytime Data, and the speeds are now advertised at 25Mbps down for all Gen5 plans.

    • http://dev-reviewsorg.pantheon.io Scott T.

      You’ll notice we added an “important update” box at the top of the article on 5/5/17. We’re no longer updating this specific article, but the links in the update box should be current.

  • Vicky

    I’ve had Exede for 3 years. It was the best option at the time, started with the liberty 10 (if my memory serves me right). Then last year I decided to upgrade from 12 mbps to 25 mbps and 12 gb of data. It worked good I checked my speeds every so often. But, I checked them today with cleared browsers, 9 mbps on the ipad, 12 on the laptop. I called exede, they said, there sateliite is cluttered so they are not offering the 25 mbps package anymore, and they had just launched a new satellite in April, 2017. They also said it won’t be up and running until january 2018 to help with congestion. They offered me 10.00 a month discount for 6 months. I’m seriously considering Hughesnet, but it sounds like they aren’t much better. deep sigh.

  • jcarraboltjc

    After changing from Gen4 to Gen5 Hughesnet service I was getting a big jump in download speed. The past 6 months my speed has slowed down to 1Mbps to 5 Mbps. If you pay attention to the commercial for Gen5 they promise up to 25 Mbps service speeds but if you read the small print at the bottom there is a caveat indicating the speeds could be lower. They really cover themselves on that point. I heard Exede is launching a new sat this month 2018. I’m seriously considering trying Exede.

  • flushtoilet

    ive had hughesnet for about 5 months now and ive been getting speeds of 4-30kbps average and sometimes 100kbps or 700-1mbps.

  • kachatk

    I hade exade was sold the 25mbps package and could download between 2 and 11mbps, was told over and over again that that fall under their UP TO 25 MBS speed called them every month, no resolution, terrible customer service. Just got hughesnet was told I would get 25MBPS downloading at 48MBPS!
    same cost for both, Hughes is by far the better service

  • Debi Christie

    Upgraded on Exede internet and received a “new modem”. It is a piece of crap! Have to sign into my own internet every 30 minutes and not impressed. Speeds are better but the modem is a piece of crap

  • Paul Hanson

    are there any webcams that can work with viastat

  • Jeff Meyers

    DO NOT buy ViaSat. I work from home a lot in an area with few internet options. I purchased the gold package. The agreement says you will slow after 65GB ONLY when high traffic. Turns out, I’m in Day 3 of overage and every day, every min is high traffic. Also, customer service is horrible. They couldn’t install voice and it took 5 calls to cancel (I tried a day after installation of satellite). Each time they tried to force me into the cancellation fee. I haven’t had it quite a month yet and willing to pay the $345 cancellation fee. I was transferred to customer retention who were polite but admitted to a large number of people with the issue. Its just a very poor business.

  • Johnny Wishbone

    I have the Viasat Freedom 150 MB Plan and it sucks. Customer service is of no help! Their satellite is overloaded and their speeds have dried up. I work from home and now that school is out I can rarely get the 12 mb/sec. the plan is supposed to have. After 6 pm it drops under 1 mb/sec. or disconnects altogether. I asked about switching to the new Satellite and I have to resign a 24 month agreement and pay more money for less data. That isn’t going to happen!!!!! So my advice is to stay away from Viasat.