Viasat vs. HughesNet 2020

Stuck with satellite internet? It may not be that bad. Our Viasat vs HughesNet internet review compares prices, speeds, and data to find the best satellite provider for you.
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. We recommend Viasat if you’re going for the fastest possible speeds. But if you’re okay with slower speeds and lower data caps, HughesNet could save you some money.

Yup, right now, there are only two major satellite internet service providers in the game: Viasat (formerly Exede) and HughesNet. Let’s dig into the details to find out why Viasat internet service is our number one pick.

Viasat satellite internet pros and cons
Viasat prosViasat cons
Fastest speeds up to 100 MbpsPrice goes up after three months
Unlimited data plans come with up to 150 GB per monthSlower speeds on on Liberty plans after data limit exceeded
Better price for faster speeds and more priority data
HughesNet satellite internet pros and cons
HughesNet prosHughesNet cons
One price for your contract termSpeeds of 1 to 3 Mbps on all plans after data cap exceeded
More affordable depending on data and speed needsOnly one 25 Mbps download speed option
Clearly labeled plans

Compare Viasat and HughesNet plans near you.

Viasat vs. HughesNet: Prices

HughesNet prices don’t jump up after three months, but Viasat internet gives you more speed for your money.

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. That said, Viasat’s prices may be higher, but it offers the fastest speeds satellite internet can provide—and at a price per Mbps that’s cheaper than HughesNet.

Heads Up icon
Satellite internet prices change based on where you live
The price you’ll pay either satellite internet provider depends on where you live. You might find the same internet plan for two different prices in two different towns.

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.

But those prices last only for your first three months of Viasat service. After that, you’ll see your monthly bill go up—sometimes even by $20 more per month.

Still, if you’re after the fastest speed you can get with satellite internet, Viasat is your best (and only) option. And it’s price for the data and download speeds you get is better than HughesNet’s prices—even after the three-month price hike.

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 Plan
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.

In terms of pricing, speed, and data, we recommend the Viasat Unlimited Gold 50 plan. It comes with enough speed for streaming episodes of Space Force on Netflix while gaming on your phone without completely breaking your bank.

Unlimited Gold 50
Viasat Internet
Download speed:
50 Mbps
Data cap:
100 GB
$100 a month
“The Viasat Unlimited Gold 50 plan is speedy enough for streaming Netflix without breaking your bank.”

But for anyone who just needs the internet to check emails and Facebook, HughesNet’s lower-speed plans will save you some moolah.

One thing to note about HughesNet satellite internet plans, though, is that when you pay more, you get more data. The download speed always stays the same at 25 Mbps. And 25 Mbps is enough speed for a couple who casually uses the internet for Google, emails, and some social media.

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Find out if HughesNet’s 25 Mbps speeds are enough
Get a peg on how much internet speed you need in our guide to Mbps.

Here’s how much data you get in each HughesNet plan.

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.

If you’re rewatching The Simpsons on Disney+ but not downloading large files for work (or pleasure), the 20 gigabyte (GB) data plan is a good fit.

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.

20 GB
HughesNet Internet
Download speed:
25 Mbps
Data cap:
20 GB
$69.99 a month
“The HughesNet 20 GB plan is a budget-friendly compromise between price and just enough data for streaming.”

Plus, if you end up needing more data one month so you can watch Trolls World Tour or listen to Kenny Chesney’s latest album, you can buy HughesNet data tokens.

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: Internet speed

Viasat’s speeds and Unlimited plans outpace HughesNet’s offerings.

When it comes to internet speed, Viasat’s max of 100 Mbps leaves HughesNet’s 25 Mbps in the dust. We’ve got to be honest, though: satellite internet is the only place where 100 Mbps download speeds are impressive.

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

Data effective 5/20/2020. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

But if satellite internet is what you’re stuck with, Viasat (formerly Exede) can get you a faster internet connection that’s primed for larger families who like to stream Hulu or Netflix. Sure, you can still stream video with HughesNet, but the more people and devices you have hopping online, the more speed you’ll need.

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

Now for the bad news: 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.

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 connection and data usage.

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 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

We mentioned satellite internet data caps before, and here’s the thing: while they may advertise “unlimited” data, both HughesNet and Viasat technically have data caps. That means that both HughesNet and Viasat could reduce your download speeds to a sluggishly slow 1 to 5 Mbps. That’s not pretty.

But how each of these satellite internet providers handles their data differs. We recommend diving into our Viasat data guide and HughesNet data guide if you want the juicy details, but in a nutshell, here’s how satellite internet data works.

How Viasat data works

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 more high-speed data with some of its plans, you might actually pay less per GB with a Viasat plan than you would for HughesNet.

Viasat’s Liberty plans come with the smallest amount of data, but you can buy more data if you run out in the middle of the month. (The unlimited plans don’t let you buy more data.)

Viasat Liberty 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 Mbps50 GB
Data effective 11/19/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* For the first 3 months.

If you choose not to buy more Liberty plan data after you run out, your speeds will slow to 1 to 5 Mbps. That’s too slow to do much more than send an email or browse the internet (you might not be able to load social media sites), so keep that in mind.

As for its Unlimited plans, Viasat still has a data cap listed, but that cap is for high-speed data. And high-speed data lets you surf the web at the download speeds advertised with your plan (or thereabouts).

Viasat Unlimited plan data caps
PlanPriceDownload speedData cap
Unlimited Bronze 12$50/mo.*12 Mbps35 GB
Unlimited Silver 12$100/mo.*12 Mbps45 GB
Unlimited Gold 12$150/mo.*12 Mbps65 GB
Unlimited Silver 25$70/mo.*25 Mbps60 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.

If you use up all your high-speed data for the month, Viasat says it can slow your download speeds to that teeth-grinding speed of 1 to 5 Mbps during times when there’s a lot of internet traffic. Otherwise, you’ll continue to surf along at your plan’s advertised speed.

Sounds risky, but considering how much data you can get with Viasat Unlimited plans, it’s a better deal than HughesNet offers.

How HughesNet data works

HughesNet’s data caps are a little more straightforward than Viasat’s, but like we mentioned before, you can get more data with Viasat. And Viasat’s Unlimited plans don’t necessarily require you to buy more data if you run out during the month.

HughesNet satellite internet 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.

So, yes, while you can buy more data with HughesNet, we don’t like that it comes with already low data caps to begin with. And we aren’t particularly fond of the fact that HughesNet automatically slows your download speeds to 1 to 3 Mbps if you use up your data and don’t buy more. That’s far too slow to do much of anything online.

Also, there’s a pretty big gap between the price of HughesNet’s 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 20 GB more data with the 50 GB plan.)

That said, if you own a lot of connected devices, like a home security system, smart TVs, tablets, and computers, you’ll likely need the most data HughesNet can offer. And that’s another reason we recommend Viasat.

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 202064 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 2019-2020
  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.

  • 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.