If satellite internet is your only option, you might consider Viasat or HughesNet. Here's how these two satellite providers compare.
When comparing Viasat versus HughesNet, we recommend Viasat thanks to its faster speeds and higher data caps.
Viasat's download speeds soar past HughesNet with a max of 100 Mbps, and so do its data caps (up to 500 GB of high-speed data a month and unlimited standard data). On the other hand, Viasat’s prices also top out at $200 a month after your three-month promotional price ends, but that price gets you some of the fastest download speeds and largest data caps available to satellite internet.
As for HughesNet, its download speeds max out at 50 Mbps, and you’ll pay up to $174.99 a month depending on how much data you want (up to 200 GB a month).
If you’re still undecided on whether Viasat or HughesNet is best, we’ve compared prices, download speeds, data caps, and more for these two satellite internet providers.
Viasat vs. HughesNet: Prices
If it’s your wallet you’re concerned about and not speed, HughesNet one-ups Viasat with a steady price that starts out cheaper and doesn’t jump up after three months.
That said, Viasat’s prices may be higher, but its 100 Mbps download speeds are the fastest satellite internet can provide. And when you look at the price Viasat charges for those top-end speeds, it ends up cheaper per Mbps than HughesNet.
But before we compare Viasat versus HughesNet prices, let’s get the lay of the land.
Price after three months
|Choice 12 Mbps/60 GB||$49.99/mo.|| |
|Choice 25 Mbps/100 GB||$69.99/mo.|| |
|Up to 25 Mbps||Unlimited|
|Choice 30 Mbps/150 GB||$99.99/mo.|| |
|Up to 30 Mbps||Up to Unlimited|
|Choice 30 Mbps/300 GB||$69.99/mo.|| |
|Up to 30 Mbps||Up to Unlimited|
|Choice 30 Mbps/500 GB||$199.99/mo.|| |
|Up to 30 Mbps||Up to Unlimited|
|Choice 25 Mbps/60 GB||$49.99/mo.|| |
|Up to 25 Mbps||Up to Unlimited|
|Choice 50 Mbps/100 GB||$69.99/mo.|| |
|Up to 50 Mbps||Up to Unlimited|
|Choice 75 Mbps/150 GB||$99.99/mo.|| |
|Up to 75 Mbps||Unlimited|
|Choice 100 Mbps/300 GB||$149.99/mo.|| |
|Up to 100 Mbps||Unlimited|
|Choice 100 Mbps/500 GB||$199.99/mo.|| |
|Up to 100 Mbps||Unlimited|
Viasat charges $50 to $200 a month for its satellite internet service, and the price changes based on how much download speed and data you want. The faster your speed and the more data you add, the higher the price.
Also, Viasat’s prices are nowhere near as straightforward as HughesNet’s prices. (Seriously, solving a Rubik’s cube is easier than puzzling out why certain Viasat plans are priced the way they are.) If you ask us, Avril Lavigne secretly wrote the song “Complicated” about Viasat.
And those prices get even more complicated when you throw in Viasat’s three-month price hike.
Where Viasat’s prices were treating your brain to a logic puzzle, HughesNet prices are refreshingly straightforward. What you see is what you get—even the HughesNet plan names refer to how much data comes with them.
|15 GB||$49.99/mo.**||15 Mbps||15 Mbps||View Plans|
|50GB||$49.99/mo.**||25 Mbps||50 Mbps||View Plans|
|100 GB||$74.99/mo.**||25 Mbps||100 Mbps||View Plans|
|Fusion 100 GB||$74.99/mo.**||25 Mbps||100 Mbps||View Plans|
|Fusion 200 GB||$149.99/mo.**||50 Mbps||200 Mbps||View Plans|
Yep, that's it for HughesNet prices. They keep plans pretty simple, and they even offer additional savings when you pay through your bank account. You can get $5 off monthly with HughesNet if you swap your payment method from a credit card to an ACH bank account withdrawal. If you want to enroll, you can order the service online with a credit card, and HughesNet will grant a one-time $5 savings to your first bill until you enroll in ACH billing before the next billing cycle.
Viasat vs. HughesNet prices compared
Deciding whether HughesNet or Viasat offers the best value for you really depends on what you can make do with or what you need.
- More data or faster download speeds: Viasat offers more value.
- Lower prices, slower speeds, and less data: HughesNet offers more value.
Because HughesNet offers only 15–50 Mbps speeds and data up to 200 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.
Let’s look at HughesNet’s most expensive plan, Fusion 200 GB, and compare it to a similar Viasat plan first.
If you take the HughesNet 200 GB plan with 50 Mbps download speeds and 200 GB of data and compare it to the Viasat Choice 75 Mbps/150 GB plan with up to 75 Mbps download speed and 150 GB of high-speed data, here’s how everything compares at face value.
|Viasat Internet||Choice 75 Mbps/150 GB||$99.99/mo.‡||Up to 75 Mbps||Unlimited|
|HughesNet Internet||Fusion 200 GB||$149.99/mo.**||50 Mbps||200 Mbps|
It’s clear that Viasat’s Choice 75 Mbps/150 GB plan is the better deal when comparing promotional prices. But even after promotional prices, Viasat is the better deal. Choice 75/150 GB spikes up to $149.99 a month after three months, making it the same price as HughesNet's plan.
With Viasat, you'll get not only cheaper or the same prices as Hughesnet but more download speed and a higher data cap.
Now let’s compare a cheaper HughesNet plan to a similar Viasat plan. How about the HughesNet 15 GB plan versus the Visast Choice 25 Mbps/60 GB plan?
|Viasat Internet||Choice 25 Mbps/60 GB||$69.99/mo.†||Up to 25 Mbps||Unlimited|
|HughesNet Internet||15 GB||$49.99/mo.**||15 Mbps||15 Mbps|
Here’s how those prices add up over your two-year contract when you take the Viasat price hike into account:
- HughesNet 15 GB: $49.99 x 24 months = $1,199.76
- Viasat Discovery 25: ($49.99 x 3 months) + ($69.99 x 21 months) = $1,619.76
It’s a close race, and it may not seem like much, but the HughesNet 15 GB plan will save you about $420 over two years compared to the Viasat's Choice 25 Mbps/60 GB plan, (or even more if you enrol in its ACH program).
Viasat vs. HughesNet: Equipment
Viasat’s equipment is more affordable than HughesNet’s by far
The cost for a Viasat dish and modem costs $12.99 a month (for equipment rental) or $299.99 (for a one-time lifetime lease fee, which basically means you’re just buying it). We only recommend the lifetime lease if you plan to keep your service for two years or more, but either way, none of that is prohibitively expensive.
By the way, it would take almost 24 months for the cost of the lifetime lease to make the one-time payment worth it. But either way you go, you might be able to get a discount if you provide your own router.
Rented HughesNet equipment, on the other hand, costs $14.99 a month (plus a $99 setup fee). And if you just want to buy the equipment, that’s $499.98, although at least the service will waive the setup fee.
To make buying the equipment worth it, you’ll need to stick with HughesNet for about three years—so take that into account.
Both service take several hours to set up, so either way, you’re looking at some serious lost time.
Viasat vs. HughesNet: Internet speed
When it comes to internet speed, Viasat pairs you with speeds anywhere from 12 up to to 100 Mbps, while HughesNet’s plans offer 15–50 Mbps.
Compared to any other type of internet, those max download speeds are slow.
|Viasat Internet||12-100 Mbps||3-3 Mbps|
|HughesNet Internet||15-50 Mbps||3-3 Mbps|
But if satellite internet is one of your best options, our choice is Viasat for those top-end, 100 Mbps download speeds.
Sure, 15–25 Mbps is all right if it’s just you doing a little emailing and a little Facebook browsing. But share your internet with even just one more person, try to do a little video streaming with your Roku, or get some work done from home, and 15–25 Mbps (or speeds below that) just won’t cut it. (Unless you're ready to spend close to $200 to get 50 Mbps of download speed with HughesNet's Fusion plan.)
Not to mention that, thanks to its high latency, satellite internet just isn’t cut out for the following:
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 satellite internet speeds and how to deal with data caps that should help you avoid some of those heartaches and headaches. Hopefully.
When it comes to data caps, Viasat offers anywhere from 60 GB to 500 GB of high-speed data and unlimited standard data a month, while HughesNet offers 15–200 GB of data per month.
Compared to the terabyte (1,000 GB) or even unlimited data caps you get with most DSL, cable, and fiber internet plans, Viasat's data caps really set it apart from other satellite providers.
You may be wondering if this data cap business is a mistake, at least where Viasat is concerned. Unfortunately, even though it advertises many of its internet plans as “unlimited,” Viasat still has data caps on every single one of its plans.
If you go over that Viasat unlimited plan data cap, it slows your internet speeds to anywhere between 1 to 5 Mbps during times when lots of people are using the internet. That’s a slow crawl at best.
Here’s a quick look at the major differences between HughesNet and Viasat data caps:
Provider and plan
When you use up your data...
Can you buy more data?
Viasat unlimited data plans
Speeds slow to 1–5 Mbps during high-traffic times
All HughesNet plans
Speeds slow to 1–3 Mbps at all times
Viasat vs. HughesNet: Customer service
It’s no secret that internet providers have a lot to work on when it comes to customer service. However, sadly, Viasat and HughesNet are no exception. But with only slightly higher prices (even after price-hikes) and significantly larger high-speed data caps, we think Viasat pulls ahead a tiny bit. It's certainly close.
While both ISPs were lumped into the “All Others” category of the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) report, you only need to turn to the internet to find dozens of customer complaints about Viasat and HughesNet.
ACSI 2022–2023 score
|Viasat||66 out of 100 (“All Others”)|
66 out of 100 (“All Others”)
Customer reviews scattered across the web get a little more specific, showing why both of these satellite ISPs earned what’s essentially a D grade:
Gerald from Florissant, Colorado, described his confusing and unhelpful experience with HughesNet customer service: “I had an (appointment) to install HughesNet in my new home this afternoon, and when I called to confirm, they said my account was canceled and was sent a refund, and I had to start over. No one told me why, just that it was canceled.”
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).”
Mary from Eugene, Oregon, 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.
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.
Sherry from Lake Butler, Florida, had nothing but praise for her HughesNet service representative: “Was having trouble with my internet, when I called to figure it out the rep did (an) excellent job trying to get it figured out! He went through everything on his end that he could and helped me check everything on my end. It took a little while but had my internet back up and running. Thank You.”9
Our advice? If you have to call Viasat or HughesNet customer service, we recommend checking our customer service guide for tips before you pick up the phone.
Viasat vs. HughesNet: Which is better?
We recommend Viasat if you’re going for the fastest possible speeds and highest data caps—and if you don’t mind spending more per month. But HughesNet could save you some money If you prefer paying less and don’t mind slower speeds and lower data caps.
- Price: Tie. Major points to HughesNet for consistent pricing across your whole contract and lower prices in general. Of course, HughesNet’s low prices come with slow speeds and less data than Viasat, so if you’re after faster download speeds and higher data caps, Viasat is the better buy.
- Speed and data: Viasat. Viasat offers faster speeds up to 100 Mbps and bigger data caps of up to 500 GB of high-speed data and unlimited standard data. HughesNet’s speeds range in speed from 15 to 50 Mbps for all its plans, and it comes with a max of only 200 GB of data.
- Customer service: Neither. Both Viasat and HughesNet have some serious work to do when it comes to customer service, just like every other ISP.
It also bears repeating: if you’re swapping to satellite internet from DSL, cable, or fiber internet, then satellite’s high prices, slower speeds, and small data caps might be a nasty surprise.
That said, it’s always a good idea to check for other best rural wired and wireless internet options in your area. An easy way to do this is to enter your zip code in our tool below. We’ll show you all the internet providers in your area, including their prices, download speeds, and more.
Runner-up for slower, budget-friendly plans: HughesNet
Need the fastest speeds satellite has?
Rather pay the lowest price for satellite internet?
Satellite internet isn’t the best or fastest internet out there, and we only recommend a few providers that use the technology.
When comparing satellite internet services, we mainly consider value, equipment, and availability.
Viasat has better value than HughesNet (faster speeds, usually for lower prices) and better-priced equipment. The two services are tied when it comes to availability.
Still have questions that need answering? Let's see if we can help.
Generally, we say yes, Viasat is better than HughesNet. That's because it offers more data (unlimited data vs. 200 GB) and faster max speeds (100 Mbps vs. 15–50 Mbps) than HughesNet.
But if you're more concerned about your bill and don't use your internet often, HughesNet's lower prices for its 15 GB and 50 GB plans are cheaper than Viasat.
Right now, our money's still on Viasat as the best satellite internet provider. But you shouldn't automatically discount HughesNet or even up-and-comer Starlink.
While Viasat offers the fastest max speeds (100 Mbps) and most data (up to 500 GB of high-speed data and unlimited standard data) of the two satellite internet providers that are most widely available, HughesNet does offer cheaper plans with slower speeds and less data that may appeal to you if you prefer to be offline more than online.
And Starlink is still building out its satellite service, meaning we have yet to see its full potential.
Honestly, the best rural wireless and wired internet services mainly come down to what you have available. Satellite internet, like Viasat and HughesNet, is available pretty much nationwide, so chances are you can grab a satellite internet plan.
In that case, we'd recommend Viasat if you share your internet with others, like family, or consider yourself a digital nomad. And HughesNet is an okay choice if you don't use the internet a lot and would rather save some money.
But if you have DSL internet, fixed wireless, or even a hotspot device, these may be better internet options for your rural location.