Viasat vs. HughesNet Review 2019

The satellite internet showdown is on. Viasat has higher speeds, but can they match up to HughesNet’s lower prices?
BEST FOR MOST
Monthly price
$50$150
Download speeds
12100 Mbps
BEST FOR BUDGET
Monthly price
$59.99$129.99
Download speeds
25 Mbps

When you moved out to the country, you were going for small-town vibes and a killer front-porch view. But you might not have expected your options for internet service to shrink like your new leather boots in the rain.

For a lot of people in rural areas, satellite internet is the best (or sometimes only!) option. And there are only two major satellite internet players in the game: Viasat and HughesNet.

Lucky for you (and everyone else who relies on satellite internet service), both of these providers have made some major improvements over the last few years.

We recommend Viasat if you’re going for the fastest possible speeds, but HughesNet might be able to save you some money (depending on where you live).

Viasat vs. HughesNet: plans, prices, and speeds

ProviderViasat InternetHughesNet Internet
Monthly price$50$150*$59.99$129.99
Download speeds12100 Mbps25 Mbps
Data cap35150 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.

Viasat vs. HughesNet internet price comparison

Viasat’s prices are usually higher than HughesNet’s, but if you’re going for speed, you’ll get more for your money from Viasat.

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.

Even Viasat’s best plans probably cost more than what you paid with your old cable or fiber internet provider. No surprises there—satellite internet is basically always more expensive than other types.

Viasat plans and prices comparison

PlanPriceDownload speedView plan
Unlimited Bronze 12$50/mo.*12 MbpsView Plans
Unlimited Bronze 25$50/mo.*25 MbpsView Plans
Unlimited Silver 12$65/mo.*12 MbpsView Plans
Unlimited Silver 25$70/mo.*25 MbpsView Plans
Unlimited Gold 12$95/mo.*12 MbpsView Plans
Unlimited Gold 30$100/mo.*30 MbpsView Plans
Unlimited Gold 50$100/mo.*50 MbpsView Plans
Unlimited Platinum 100$150/mo.*100 MbpsView Plans
Data effective 11/19/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* For the first 3 months.

Viasat also does a tricky little price change on its customers 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. We’ll give this one to HughesNet: it keeps its prices consistent for the length of your contract.

HughesNet plans and prices comparison

PlanPriceDownload speedView plan
10 GB$59.99/mo.25 MbpsView Plans
20 GB$69.99/mo.25 MbpsView Plans
30 GB$99.99/mo.25 MbpsView Plans
50 GB$129.99/mo.25 MbpsView Plans
Data effective 11/19/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
Requires 24 month agreement.

If all you do online is surf Facebook and send work emails, then HughesNet’s across-the-board 25 megabits-per-second (Mbps) speeds should be enough for you. Plus, you skip that pesky three-month price increase you’d get with Viasat.

Don’t feel too set on HughesNet, though—we haven’t talked about Viasat’s speeds yet.

Find the best internet providers in your area.

Viasat vs. HughesNet speeds

Viasat has some speed options that leave HughesNet in the dust. Just make sure you have access to them in your area.

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 speed comparison

ProviderViasat InternetHughesNet Internet
Download speeds12100 Mbps25 Mbps
Learn moreView PlansView Plans

We gotta be honest: 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). And Viasat’s speeds will cost you. Its fastest plan puts you on the hook for $200 per month (after the three-month price hike).

What about HughesNet?

HughesNet keeps things simple—all of its plans offer the same 25 Mbps speeds. If that’s all you need, then great.

But if you want to stream Santa Clarita Diet, torrent some files, and upload iCloud photos—all while your partner watches Avengers in the next room—then you might need something a bit faster.

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Speed note

This is a good time to mention that 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.

What about high-speed data?

Ah yes, good point. 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 vs. Hughesnet data allotments

ProviderHughesNet InternetViasat Internet
Data cap1050 GB35150 GB
Learn moreView PlansView Plans

Because Viasat offers higher high-speed data allotments on some of its plans, you might actually pay less per gigabyte (GB) with a Viasat plan than you would for HughesNet.

Viasat vs. HughesNet customer service

Viasat and HughesNet both have some major room for improvement on the customer experience front.

Both Viasat and HughesNet have quite a few customer complaints floating around the internet.1,2

In our own experience, HughesNet’s website gives much clearer information on how to reach customer support. It lists the phone number at the top of the page and directs you to either call a customer service rep or sign into your customer portal.

Viasat’s website seems more focused on helping you place an order than finding help for your existing service. It takes a little more searching to find the support section. And even then, the actual link with the contact options is tiny at the very bottom of the page.

Source: Viasat

Once you find them, Viasat does give you a few different contact options, including email and live chat.

Recap: Viasat vs. HughesNet

Satellite internet isn’t our first choice, but if it’s your only option, Viasat and HughesNet both have their perks.

Both Viasat and HughesNet have made some major improvements to speed and reliability in the last few years. Satellite internet is still not our favorite type, but it’s not quite the slogfest it used to be.

We recommend Viasat overall for high speeds and the lowest price per Mbps. But if you’re cool with lower speeds (and lower high-speed data allotments), then HughesNet might be able to save you some money every month.

  • Pricing: Viasat’s prices are generally higher (depending on where you live), and we hate its three-month price hike. But Viasat will generally cost you less per Mbps (and GB of high-speed data) per month than HughesNet. Plus, points to HughesNet for consistent pricing across your whole contract.
  • Speed: Viasat offers higher speeds (again, depending on where you live). HughesNet’s speeds are the same for all its plans, and it doesn’t break the 25 Mbps mark.
  • Customer service: Both companies have some serious work to do when it comes to customer service. Viasat has a few more contact options available than HughesNet (email, online chat), but HughesNet’s support phone number is easier to find.

Is satellite internet not gonna cut it for you?

Check out our reviews of other top internet providers.

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. Better Business Bureau, “Hughes Network Systems, LLC
  2. Better Business Bureau, “Viasat Inc.

Additional contributors

Trevor Wheelwright

  • 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.