Best Satellite Internet Providers: Viasat vs HughesNet vs Frontier

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1st
Viasat Exede logo
2nd
HughesNet logo
3rd
Frontier logo small
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Are you among the millions of Americans who still don’t have access to digital or cable internet where you live? Feel like you’re stuck in the dark ages using a dial-up internet connection?

Luckily you might have another option — satellite internet. And depending on where you live, you could get a speedy internet connection. Learn more about your options in our review of the best satellite internet providers.

Article Overview

Why Consider Satellite Internet Service?

Exeded satellite internet dish on roofMany people who live in rural areas don’t have a lot of options for internet service. If you don’t have access to DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) or cable networks, then a satellite internet service is likely your best bet.

But satellite internet’s data limits, slower speeds (in larger cities) and prices are prohibitive for most people who have better internet access options.

Is there such a thing as unlimited satellite internet? Unfortunately, no. Unlike DSL- and cable-based internet services, satellite internet technology doesn’t allow for unlimited data.

What are your other rural internet options? Dial-up, which is much slower than satellite internet. Another benefit of satellite internet over dial-up (and even cable) is the fact that you don’t have to suffer through connection issues if phone or cable lines are down.

Best Satellite Internet Providers

We based our rankings on a number of factors, including data allowance per month, download and upload speeds, monthly service pricing, additional fees and coverage availability. All of the satellite internet service providers that we’ve reviewed require a minimum two-year contract.

Viasat Review (Formally Exede)

#1

Visit Website | Call: 833-257-8396

Although Exede (aka Viasat) is a bit pricier than our number two pick, HughesNet, they offer the fastest satellite internet speeds and among the largest amounts of anytime bandwidth. Speed and data limits are HUGE factors, in our book.

With Viasat, you also have the option to bundle with DIRECTV — another big plus (HughesNet doesn’t offer a tv bundle package). The downside? Exede may not be available in your area at all, or their fastest speeds may not be available in your area. Be sure to check their website for coverage. If you have access to their top speeds and data, they’re worth it if that’s what you need.

Pros

Cons

  • Fastest download speeds (in some areas)
  • Unlimited bonus data with select plans (speed will be much slower)
  • DIRECTV bundle and voice bundle options
  • Average equipment leasing fees
  • Free standard installation
  • Competitive early termination fees
  • 24/7 customer support via phone, live chat, email
  • A+ BBB accredited
  • Coverage area not as broad as HughesNet

Pricing

 Unlimited Bronze 12Unlimited Silver 25Unlimited Gold 50Unlimited Platinum 100
Price Per Month For First 3 Months$50.00$70.00$100.00$150.00
Price Per Month After 3 Months$70.00$100.00$150.00$200.00
Download SpeedUp to 12 MbpsUp to 25 MbpsUp to 50 MbpsUp to 100 Mbps
Upload Speed3 Mbps3 Mbps3 Mbps3 Mbps

Not all packages are available in all areas.

HughesNet Review

#2

Visit Website

HughesNet comes in a close second in our satellite internet reviews. A well-established satellite internet provider, HughesNet offers service in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, and has a wider coverage area than its competitors. And their pricing is the most competitive for what you get.

Unlike its competitors, you have the option to purchase equipment for $399.98 or lease for $9.99 per month. Why didn’t HughesNet make our top spot? Their overall internet speeds and monthly data allowance doesn’t quite match Viasat.

And their early termination fees are hefty compared to Viasat. But if Viasat isn’t available in your area — or you don’t need top speeds and data usage, HughesNet is an excellent satellite internet option.

Pros

Cons

  • Competitive monthly pricing & more pricing tiers
  • Fast download speeds
  • SmartBrowsing feature allows you to continue emailing and browsing once you’ve exceeded your data limit (not available with lowest plan)
  • Free standard installation
  • 24/7 customer support via phone, live chat, email
  • A+ BBB accredited
  • Above average equipment leasing fees
  • No TV bundle options

Pricing

All pricing plans include 50 GB bandwidth Bonus Bytes per month (restricted to 2am-8am).

 Single User or CoupleSmall FamilyConnected HouseholdWhole Family
Pricing Per Month$59.99$69.99$99.99$149.99
Download Speed25 Mbps25 Mbps25 Mbps25 Mbps
Upload Speed3 Mbps3 Mbps3 Mbps3 Mbps
Anytime Broadband Limit10 GB20 GB30 GB50 GB

Frontier Satellite Internet Review

#3

Visit Website

Frontier is a quickly expanding communications provider, offering satellite and broadband internet service, as well as TV, voice and more. We were able to find some information about their satellite internet service on their website — but not enough to do a thorough review of them.

What did we find? Their lowest pricing tier begins at $27.99 per month, which gives you up to 6 Mbps download speeds. If you sign a two-year contract, you get free installation, but their early termination fee is steep at $400 plus a $9.99 disconnection order processing fee. Frontier has no data caps, but it isn’t available in all 50 states yet.

If you’re still on the fence, we suggest you call them at 1-855-275-2238. They also offer online chat for potential customers.

If you have Frontier, consider sharing key features and your experience with us so we can help other readers out.

Comparison Table

 1st: Viasat2nd: HughesNet3rd: Frontier
Required Contract Length24 months24 months24 months
Lowest Monthly Service Price$50.00 (3 months only)$59.99$27.99
Highest Monthly Service Price$200.00$149.99$44.99
Activation FeeNeed to get a quoteNeed to get a quoteNeed to get a quote
Equipment Leasing Fee$9.99 per month$14.99 per monthUnknown
Installation FeeFree standardFree standardUnknown
Early Termination Fee$15 per month for remaining months$400 within first 90 days; after $15 less per month for months of active service$409.99
Download Speed12-100 Mbps25 Mbps6-45 Mbps
Upload Speed3 Mbps3 MbpsUnknown
Anytime Bandwidth LimitsUnknown10-50 GBUnknown
Late-Night (Off-Peak) BandwidthUnlimited (with select plans)50 GBUnknown
Overage Data AvailableCheckmarkCheckmarkUnknown
Bundled TV OptionCheckmarkCheckmark
Bundled Voice OptionCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Free Email AccountCheckmarkCheckmark
Check Data Usage FeatureCheckmarkCheckmark

How Does Satellite Internet Service Work?

Watch the video below for a quick demo to understand how satellite internet works.

What’s Your Best Bet With Satellite Internet?

If you have access to DSL or cable-based internet, we recommend choosing one of them over satellite internet. However, if you live in a remote area where you don’t have these options, then satellite internet is far superior to a dial-up connection.

Satellite internet will allow you to stream television content from services like Netflix and Hulu, so you can stay up to date on your favorite shows. You can completely cut the cord and drop your cable or satellite TV subscription and save money.

If you are getting fast internet, but the speed seems to be slow you might consider getting a router extender to help the wireless connection reach throughout your home (or if you plan to use outdoors).

Why are you considering a satellite internet service provider?

About The Author:

While attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s graduate school for journalism and public relations, Sally began a long career researching and writing about hard-to-understand topics, such as insurance and finance.

Her additional experience in marketing, fundraising, public relations and financial planning at various foundations and nonprofit organizations over the years has given her the practical tools to inform consumers about making the smartest business and personal financial decisions.

Speaking of smart living — growing up in the (at-the-time) per-capita murder capital of the U.S. (Richmond, VA) taught her a thing or two about the need for personal and home safety. Sally stays on top of all the latest gadgets and services to protect her and her teenage daughters from potential predators and thieves. And she brings this knowledge to every article she writes.

Disclaimer: This website contains reviews, opinions and information regarding products and services manufactured or provided by third parties. We are not responsible in any way for such products and services, and nothing contained here should be construed as a guarantee of the functionality, utility, safety or reliability of any product or services reviewed or discussed. Please follow the directions provided by the manufacturer or service provider when using any product or service reviewed or discussed on this website.

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Jenny R
May 23, 2019 10:50 am

We recently purchased a house in the mountains and lo and behold to our surprise, despite being off a main road, there’s no broadband internet available! After researching our options, we decided on satellite internet from Hughes net. I thought I’d check with the community here and see if anyone has any Hughes net promotions they might be willing to share? The plans are not cheap! Thanks in advance

(Admin)
Alex Schenker
May 23, 2019 2:51 pm
Reply to  Jenny R

We have a promo code for HughesNet that will get you $50 off. Simply click here to auto-activate this discount for Safe Smart Living Readers.

Gabe
January 17, 2019 4:55 pm

HughesNet info needs to be updated. Gen5 now. Lease fee is $14.99, not $9.99. ETF is $400 for first 90 days, then $15 less per month for each month thereafter, not $15 per month for number of remaining months. In other words, if you have 20 months left, the ETF would be $385 ($400 – $15), not $300 ($15 x 20 months). Lowest plan pricing includes 10GB of Service Plan Data, not 5GB.

“No pricing on website for data overage cost.” HughesNet’s service is unlimited. There is no overage cost. When one exceeds their high speed data allotment, they’re throttled to 1Mbps – 3Mbps, but there is no data limit, nor overage cost. One can buy high speed Data “Tokens” if they wish, in order to go back to their normal high speed if they’ve exceeded their monthly high speed data allotment.

(Admin)
Kimberly Alt
January 17, 2019 6:25 pm
Reply to  Gabe

Thanks for the information, Gabe. We will look into this and make the appropriate updates to our content!

Guest
June 21, 2018 9:40 am

Viasat is OK when everything works, but a service call takes weeks to get someone to show up (dish remounting after new roof installed; bad modem). Still not offering 100 Mbps plans, which was what was advertised for the new Viasat II satellite. DirecTV ‘bundle’ is a misnomer; it is really just a $10/month discount for 12 months, and 2 satellite dishes are required. (Also, the article has the logos for Hughes and Exede swapped in the main body).

(Admin)
Kimberly Alt
June 21, 2018 3:13 pm
Reply to  Guest

Thanks! We’ll be sure to get those logos fixed!

Jill B.
May 15, 2018 12:50 pm

25 Mbps sounds fast but our experience with Hughes is the signal has to travel so far, resulting in response times that are so lagging you might as well be on DSL. If you are using applications that can buffer, like video – you’re better off than DSL. But for “quick ping” tasks like loading and browsing websites, online documents, etc. the response times are horrendous.

Joshua
March 22, 2018 5:04 pm

HughesNet has had plans up to 25 Mbps for some time now.

(Admin)
Alex Schenker
May 15, 2018 12:52 pm
Reply to  Joshua

Thanks Joshua I’ve confirmed the speed and have updated the article.

Welton Spratley
March 21, 2018 1:15 pm

I work with FEMA and was installing Hughes Net terminals all over Puerto Rico for over 4 months during their recovery and we were pulling up to 50Mbps down and 10Mbps up. The number is what they advertise, but don’t let that fool you.

Guest
November 1, 2017 9:52 am

Since March 2017, HughesNet has new HughesNet Gen5 service plans. Speeds now start at 25 Mbps and up to 50 Gb per month with an additional 50 GB available from 2am-8am for free on all plans .

Guest
February 14, 2017 4:45 pm

We can’t get landline internet in our new house in the mountains and Excede isn’t available in our area either so we went with HughesNet. It’s on the slower side compared to what we’re used to, but hey it’s better than nothing and no other complaints thus far.