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Looking for quality internet in rural areas? When searching for satellite internet providers, there are three options that stand out amongst the competition – Viasat, HugheNet, and Starlink. Each of these providers offers an exceptional service that is ideal for a variety of individuals. So, join us as we delve into the details and compare the best satellite internet providers available in the nation.
Pricing, speeds, offers, and availability vary by service address and are subject to change at any time. Additional fees, taxes, and terms may apply. *Pricing for first 3 months in select areas as of 04/27/23.
Viasat Internet Plans
Viasat internet plans that can provide up to 100 Mbps download speed, depending on your location. With Viasat internet, you can browse the web, game online, and stream video with ease. Even better, it reaches underserved rural communities where fiber and cable internet aren’t available, thanks to its satellite network.
HughesNet Gen5 Internet Plans
HughesNet Gen5 offers more for your online needs: fast speeds, unlimited data, and built-in WiFi. Not quite as speedy as Viasat, but HughesNet has affordable introductory pricing and professional installations that are available within five days of your order.
Starlink Internet Plans
Starlink is a newer satellite internet provider, powered by SpaceX. While availability is somewhat limited, worldwide access may be available in the next 1-2 years. Starlink only offers one plans with speeds varying between 50 Mbps – 200 Mbps, depending on where you live.
HughesNet offers lower introductory prices that are ideal for budget shoppers, while Viasat and Starlink offer higher speeds in select areas. Check out how else these two rural internet providers differ below.
No Hard Data Caps
Viasat internet plans come with a data allowance on high-speed data. When exceeded, you still have unlimited access to standard data, though speeds may be slower.
Viasat requires a 24-month service agreement. If you cancel before the end of the term, you may have to pay an early termination fee.
Viasat has been in business for decades, growing its satellite network to be available virtually everywhere in the world.
Viasat offers Viasat Shield Premium in partnership with Bitdefender, which offers customers cybersecurity and antivirus protection.
No Hard Data Caps
HughesNet requires a 24-month service agreement for all internet plans, and may bill an early termination fee.
Similar to Viasat, HughesNet is available in nearly 99% of the continental United States, making it one of the best solutions for those in remote areas.
HughesNet does not offer internet security, so we recommend a VPN service for basic internet security precautions.
No Hard Data Caps
Starlink offers unlimited data, meaning you can stream videos, game online, and browse online without worrying about a slowdown.
No Contract Required
Starlink does not require contracts, so you can cancel service at any time. If you cancel within 30 days, you may be eligible for a refund on hardware costs.
Starlink is currently only available in select regions of the US and Canada. However, availability should open up significantly by the end of 2023.
While Starlink doesn’t offer internet security features, its router does support WPA2 and WPA3 security.
Most internet services come with additional fees not included in the advertised price. It’s always important to ask the provider about fees, but for your awareness, here are the most common fees you may see on your monthly bill.
Viasat and HughesNet offer comparable rates: HughesNet charges $14.99 per month, and Viasat offers $12.99 per month. You will need to purchase Starlink hardware for $599.
Viasat and HughesNet both charge a one-time $99 installation fee. Be sure to ask an agent if this fee can be waived. Starlink does not offer installation services, so you will be required to install and connect your equipment.
Early Termination Fees
If you cancel service before your 2-year service agreement expires, you may be charged for early termination. Viasat and HughesNet charge $15 for each remaining month left on your term. Starlink does not charge for early termination, but if it’s outside the initial 30 days, you will not be eligible for a hardware refund.
First-time customers can enjoy a discounted rate for the first few months of service with either provider. Viasat increases its monthly internet price after the first three months while HughesNet offers lower prices for the first six months of service. Starlink has steadily increased its monthly rate, however in very small increments.
Picking a Provider
Viasat, HughesNet, and Starlink have their own strengths that appeal to various needs. Keep the following in mind as you choose which satellite internet provider is best for you.
HughesNet: Budget Shopper
Of the providers, HughesNet internet is the most affordable option. Its equipment fee is a bit less than Viasat and it offers a lower introductory rate for a longer period (3 months vs 6 months). Viasat and HugheNet are more budget-friendly than Starlink, considering the cost of the equipment and the monthly service fee.
Viasat: High-Speed User
HughesNet might be a bit less expensive, but Viasat offers faster speeds in select areas. With download speeds over 100 Mbps, you can enjoy an internet connection on more devices at once. Starlink has the potential to best Viasat in speed, but for now, Starlink’s top speeds are location dependent.
Starlink: Data-Heavy User
Starlink internet takes the lead in this category due to its faster potential speeds and unlimited data. Boasting lower latency than Viasat and HughesNet, due to low-Earth orbit satellites, Starlink internet is better suited to support high-demand activities like streaming HD video and online gaming.
Viasat, HughesNet, and Starlink all offer satellite internet services with varying features, internet speeds, and fees. Viasat provides fast and dependable internet speeds with no hard data caps and wide availability, but it requires a 24-month contract. HughesNet is affordable with unlimited data, but its speeds are slower and it lacks internet security features. Starlink is a newer provider that has unlimited data and the potential for high speeds, but it is currently limited in availability. The best provider ultimately depends on your internet needs and budget.
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