Viasat vs. HughesNet Review

If satellite internet is your only option, you might consider Viasat or HughesNet. Here's how these two satellite providers compare.

Best for Top Speeds & Data
Prices
$69.99-$299.99
Download Speeds
12-100 Mbps
Data Cap
Unlimited
Best for Budget Prices
Prices
$49.99-$79.99
Download Speeds
50-100 Mbps
Data Cap
Unlimited
Catherine McNally
Apr 02, 2024
Icon Time To Read7 min read

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 150Mbps, and so do its data caps (up to 850GB of high-speed data a month). On the other hand, Viasat only offers one plan (unless you live in Colorado), 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 100Mbps, and you’ll pay up to $149.99 a month depending on how much data you want (up to 200GB 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.

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See which Viasat and Hughesnet plans are available near you.

Viasat vs. Hughesnet: Prices

Winner: Tie

Viasat’s prices may be higher, but its 150Mbps 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.

Viasat Unleashed
Plan
Price
Download speed
Data cap
Details
Viasat Unleashed$99.99/mo.*Up to 150 MbpsUnlimited
Unlimited Bronze 12
(only available in Colorado)
$69.99/mo. for 3 mo12 MbpsUnlimited
Unlimited Silver 12
(only available in Colorado)
$99.99/mo. for 3 mo.12 MbpsUnlimited
Unlimited Gold 12
(only available in Colorado)
$149.99/mo. for 3 mo.12 MbpsUnlimited
* Prices, speeds and availability vary by location. Prices are subject to change. No annual contract or installation fees are required. Monthly equipment lease fees and taxes may apply.
Offer available to new qualifying customers. One-time standard installation fee may be due at checkout. Minimum 24-month service term required. Equipment lease fee is $14.99/mo. Taxes apply. Speeds are “up to,” will vary and are not guaranteed. Service is not available in all areas. Offer may be changed or withdrawn at any time.

Viasat charges $70 to $150 a month for its satellite internet service, but since Bronze, Silver, and Gold are only available in Colorado, we're going to focus on the $100/month Unleashed plan, which is available for most users.

Where Viasat prices hit three digits, HughesNet offers cheaper satellite internet plans, albeit with slower download speeds.

Hughesnet promotional prices
Plan
Price
Download speed
Data cap
Details
Select$49.99/mo for 12 mo.Up to 50 MbpsUnlimited
Elite$64.99/mo for 12 mo.Up to 100 MbpsUnlimited
Fusion$94.99/mo for 12 mo.Up to 100 MbpsUnlimited
Offer for 12 months. Service plans require a 24-month commitment. Equipment Lease or Purchase fees extra. Service plans require a 24-month commitment. Equipment Lease or Purchase fees extra.

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.

Hughesnet offers only 50–100Mbps speeds and data up to 200GB, while Viasat has speeds up to 150Mbps and an 850Gb high-speed data cap.

Let’s compare Viasat Unleashed with Hughesnet's most expensive plan, Fusion.

If you take the Hughesnet Fusion plan with up to 100Mbps download speeds and 200GB of high-speed data and compare it to the Viasat's Unleashed plan with up to 150Mbps download speed and 850GB of high-speed data, here’s how everything compares at face value.

Viasat Unleashed compared to Hughesnet Fusion
Service
Plan
Promotional price
Download speed
Data cap
Viasat InternetViasat Unleashed$99.99/mo.*Up to 150 Mbps850GB
Hughesnet InternetFusion$94.99/mo for 12 mo.Up to 100 Mbps200GB
* Prices, speeds and availability vary by location. Prices are subject to change. No annual contract or installation fees are required. Monthly equipment lease fees and taxes may apply.
Offer for 12 months. Service plans require a 24-month commitment. Equipment Lease or Purchase fees extra. Service plans require a 24-month commitment. Equipment Lease or Purchase fees extra.

It’s clear that Hughesnet's Fusion plan is the better deal when comparing promotional prices. But after promotional prices, Viasat is the better deal all around. Fusion spikes up by at least $25 a month after 12 months, while Unleashed will remain at $99.99/month. 

Viasat vs. Hughesnet: Equipment

Winner: Viasat

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 $449.98, 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 services take several hours to set up, so either way, you’re looking at some serious lost time.

Viasat vs. Hughesnet: Internet speed

Winner: Viasat

When it comes to internet speed, Viasat pairs you with speeds anywhere from 12 up to to 150Mbps, while Hughesnet's plans offer 50–100Mbps.

Compared to any other type of internet, those max download speeds are slow.

Viasat vs. Hughesnet download speeds and upload speeds
Provider
Download speeds
Upload speeds
Viasat Internet12-150Mbps3-3 Mbps
Hughesnet Internet50–100 Mbps5–5 Mbps
Data as of 04/05/2023. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

But if satellite internet is one of your best options, our choice is Viasat for those top-end, 150Mbps download speeds and lower prices (after price hikes).

Sure, 50–100Mbps 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 anything below 100Mbps just won’t cut it.

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.

Data caps

When it comes to data caps, Viasat offers 850GB of high-speed data and unlimited standard data a month, while Hughesnet offers 100–200GB of data per month.

Unlike the terabyte (1,000 GB) or unlimited data caps offered by most DSL, cable, and fiber internet plans, Hughesnet's and Viasat's data caps set them apart from other satellite providers.

You may wonder if this data cap business is a mistake. Unfortunately, even though these satellite providers advertise many of their internet plans as “unlimited,” both Hughesnet and Viasat still have data caps on every single one of their 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. Luckily, it'll be pretty hard for users to use more than 850GB in one month.

Here’s a quick look at the major differences between Hughesnet and Viasat data caps:

Viasat vs. Hughesnet data caps
Provider and plan
Data cap
When you use up your data...
Can you buy more data?

Viasat unlimited data plans

850GB/mo.

Speeds slow to 1–5 Mbps during high-traffic times

No (Unless you live in Colorado and have a Bronze, Silver, or Gold plan)

All Hughesnet plans

100–200GB/mo.

Speeds slow to 1–3 Mbps at all times

Yes

Data as of 04/05/2023. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

Viasat vs. Hughesnet: Availability

Winner: Tie

Both Viasat and Hughesnet are available across the US, so you don’t need to consider location when picking between the two.

Viasat vs. Hughesnet: Customer service

Winner: Viasat
Viasat vs. Hughesnet customer service ratings comparison

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.

Provider
ACSI 2022–2023 score
Viasat 66 out of 100 (“All Others”)
HughesNet

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).”

No Viasat service for more than two days? Ask for a bill adjustment!
Heads Up

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?

Best for fast speeds & most data
Viasat
Viasat Unleashed
Our Rating
4 out of 5 stars
4
Starting from
$99.99/mo.
pro No price hikes
pro 850GB of high-speed data
pro No contract

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. With HughesNet, you'll find cheaper prices than Viasat, but with slower speeds, less data, and 12-month price hikes, we think Viasat is the better buy.
  • Speed and data: Viasat. Viasat offers slightly faster speeds of up to 150Mbps with bigger data caps of up to 850GB of high-speed data. Hughesnet's speeds range in speed from 50 to 100Mbps for all its plans, and it comes with a max of only 200GB of priority 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

HughesNet
HughesNet Internet
3 out of 5 stars
3
Download Speeds
50-100 Mbps
Data Cap
Unlimited
Technology Type Name
Satellite
Starting from
$49.99
/mo
Data as of 04/05/2023. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
Still comparing Viasat and Hughesnet? Check this out next:
Viasat
4 out of 5 stars
4

Need the fastest speeds satellite has?

HughesNet
3 out of 5 stars
3

Rather pay the lowest price for satellite internet?

Methodology

Satellite internet isn’t the best or fastest internet out there, and we only recommend a few providers that use the technology.

We mainly consider value, equipment, and availability when comparing satellite internet services.

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.

FAQ

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 (850GB vs. 100–200GB) than HughesNet.

But if you're more concerned about your bill and don't use your internet often, HughesNet's lower prices for its Select and Elite 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 most data (up to 500 GB of high-speed data) of the two satellite internet providers that are most widely available, Hughesnet does offer cheaper plans with slower speeds and comparable 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. 

Catherine McNally
Written by
Catherine McNally
Catherine has a degree in journalism and an MBA, and has spent the last 10+ years writing everything from Okinawa travel guides to stories on Medium. She’s been online since AOL CDs were a thing and is an unapologetic PC gamer. She believes the internet is a necessity, not a luxury, and writes reviews and guides to help everyone stay connected. You can also find her on Twitter: @CMReviewsIt.

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