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Are you in a rural area and struggling to pick the best internet provider for your home? While options are limited, there are a few satellite internet providers worth checking out. You’ve probably heard of Viasat, an established ISP available virtually anywhere in the US. However, Starlink, a new competitor, is also making waves in the satellite internet arena.
In this comparison, we look at Viasat and Starlink internet plans and perks to help you decide which one is right for you.
$49.99 – $149.99/mo.
Max Download Speed
12 – 100 Mbps
Max Download Speed
Pricing, speeds, offers, and availability vary by service address and are subject to change at any time. Additional fees, taxes, and terms may apply. As of 8/1/22.
Viasat Internet Plans
We’ve done the research on everything Viasat satellite internet has to offer, so you can quickly assess if it meets your needs. Viasat currently offers four different internet plans with speeds ranging from 25 Mbps to 100 Mbps. There are no hard data caps or overage fees to worry about, so you can enjoy the full benefit of your service without your speeds getting throttled.
Starlink Internet Plans
Starlink is a newer satellite internet provider, powered by Elon Musk’s SpaceX venture. While availability is limited to select parts of the US and Canada right now, the ISP announced that customers can expect worldwide Starlink coverage by the end of 2023. For now, users are limited to just a single plan where speeds vary between 50 Mbps – 200 Mbps depending on where you live.
Viasat offers lower introductory prices ideal for budget shoppers, while Starlink offers higher download speeds. Check out how else these two rural internet providers differ below.
No Hard Data Caps
Viasat internet plans come with a data allowance. When exceeded, you still have unlimited access to standard data, though speeds may be slower.
Viasat requires a 24-month service agreement for all internet plans. If you wish to cancel service before your term is up, you may incur 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. On its own Viasat charges $8.99/mo., but is free with all internet plans.
No Hard Data Caps
Starlink does not impose data caps at this time, meaning you can stream, game, and browse online without worrying about a slowdown.
No Contract Required
Starlink does not require contracts, so you can cancel service at any time. They even offer a full refund of your hardware payment if you return your Starlink kit within 30 days of receiving it.
Starlink is only available in select regions of the US and Canada at the moment. 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.
It’s important to know what features your provider charges for before signing up for service, so you’re not caught by surprise or left unsatisfied. We break down the most common internet fees to inspect while shopping around.
Viasat charges a one-time fee of $99 for a professional home installation
If you wish to cancel your Viasat service before your contract is up, you’ll automatically be charged $15 for each remaining month of your term.
Viasat equipment rentals cost $10 per month, which is on par with most providers.
Viasat increases the introductory monthly price of its internet plans once by $50.00 after the first three months of service. After that, the price remains fixed for the duration of your service agreement.
Self-installation is the only option you get, and there are no technicians available to help you in person. It’s free of course but offset by a $499 Starlink Kit charge, which is a pretty steep ask.
Starlink does not charge ETFs. However, if you cancel your service outside their 30-day grace period, you are stuck with the expensive equipment you purchased upfront.
Aside from the one-time charge for the Starlink Kit, there are no equipment fees. Starlink allows its customers to use their own WiFi router.
As of now, Starlink offers one flat rate for satellite internet. Since they are so new, we haven’t seen any information on its website hinting at future pricing structures.
Picking a Provider
All in all, it’s pretty clear who the winner is in this lineup. While Starlink internet offers faster speeds, its service is very limited. Viasat internet service, on the other hand, is a well-established satellite provider that offers better plan variety, pricing, and availability. See below what user best fits each ISP.
Viasat: Budget Shopper
Budget shoppers can appreciate the low cost of Viasat internet as you get more plan options and special rates for the first three months of service. You’ll also avoid the massive upfront costs associated with Starlink when you go the Viasat route. $499 for equipment is steep no matter what type of service you offer.
Starlink: Data-Heavy User
Starlink internet takes the lead in this category simply for its higher bandwidth. Users have raved about its surprisingly low latency and unlimited data that can support streaming TV and online gaming. If you’re a data-heavy user who lives in a remote area, you may want to consider Starlink.
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