Best Satellite Internet Providers: Viasat vs HughesNet vs DishNet vs Frontier

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1st
Viasat Exede logo
2nd
HughesNet logo
3rd
Dish logo
Compare All Companies

Are you among the millions of Americans who still don’t have access to DSL or cable where you live? Feel like you’re stuck in the dark ages using a dial-up internet connection?

You likely have another option — satellite internet. And depending on where you live, you could get a speedy internet connection. Read our best satellite internet providers review to see how the top services compare!

Article Overview

Why Consider Satellite Internet Service?

Many people who live in rural areas don’t have a lot of options for internet service. If you don’t have access to DSL or cable networks, then a satellite internet service is likely your best bet.

But the data limits, slower speeds (in larger cities) and satellite internet 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

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NOTE: As of December 2017, Exede has changed its name to its parent company Viasat however nothing in terms of service or products is being affected other than the logo.

Viasat wins our top spot as the best satellite internet service. 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)
  • Best upload speed at 3 Mbps for all pricing tiers
  • Unlimited bonus data (speeds 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
  • Higher monthly service fees compared to other providers
  • Coverage area not as broad as HughesNet
  • Not BBB accredited

Pricing

 Unlimited Bronze 25Unlimited Silver 25Unlimited Gold 50Unlimited Platinum 100
Price Per Month$70.00$100.00$150.00$200.00
Download SpeedUp to 25 MbpsUp to 25 MbpsUp to 50 MbpsUp to 100 Mbps
Upload Speed3 Mbps3 Mbps3 Mbps3 Mbps

HughesNet Review

#2

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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 $449.98 or lease for a one-time fee of $99 and $9.99 per month. Why didn’t HughesNet make our top spot? Their overall internet speeds and monthly data allowance doesn’t quite match Exede.

And their early termination fees are hefty compared to Exede. But if Exede 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
  • Good anytime data caps with higher pricing levels (up to 20 GB)
  • SmartBrowsing feature allows you to continue emailing and browsing once you’ve exceeded your data limit (not available with lowest plan)
  • Free standard installation
  • Competitive early termination fees (after 90 days)
  • 24/7 customer support via phone, live chat, email
  • A+ BBB accredited
  • Above average equipment leasing fees
  • Slower upload speeds than Exede
  • Basic pricing plan only has a 5 GB anytime data cap
  • No TV bundle options

Pricing

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

 LightAverageFamiliesHeavy
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
Streaming Hours/Week3-4 hrs7 hrs10-11 hrs18-19 hrs

DishNet Review

#3

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DishNet comes in third in our best satellite internet service reviews. Although DishNet has some of the most competitive pricing in the market, the service is not as prevalent in rural areas as our top two winners. And while they offer more generous anytime data with their premium plan, the customer reviews we found regarding their speed are overall pretty negative.

DishNet offers some excellent pricing deals, especially when it come to bundling with their tv service. However, if you’re more focused on internet service, DishNet still has some work to do on their delivery of fast internet speeds for the majority of their customers.

Pros

Cons

  • Most competitive monthly service pricing & big discounts to bundle with TV
  • Fast download speeds (in some areas)
  • Excellent anytime data caps with higher pricing levels (up to 50 GB)
  • Average equipment leasing fees
  • Free standard installation
  • 24/7 customer support via phone, live chat, email
  • Slow upload speeds
  • Up to $300 activation fee
  • Satellite internet coverage not as widespread as HughesNet or Exede
  • Bonus data limited to off-peak hours (2am-8am)
  • High early termination fees
  • Large number of customer complaints about speed being worse than dial-up
  • Not BBB accredited

Pricing

All of DishNet’s pricing plans include a 50 GB bandwidth “bonus” per month for use between 2am-8am.

 Basic PlanPlus PlanPremium Plan
Price Per Month$49.99$59.99$79.99
Download Speeds10 Mbps10 Mbps15 Mbps
Upload Speeds1 Mbps1 Mbps1 Mbps
Anytime Bandwidth Limit10 GB10 GB50 GB

Frontier Satellite Internet Review

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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 $64.48 per month, which gives you 5 Mbps download speeds and 1 Mbps upload speed. If you sign a two-year contract, you get free installation, but their early termination fee is steep at $400 plus a $9.99 satellite fee. We couldn’t find any information about data caps (which is a biggie!) or their satellite internet coverage area.

If you’re still on the fence, we suggest you call them at 1-844-687-0543. They also offer online chat for potential customers.

Comparison Table

Often it’s easier to compare products and services side-by-side. Here’s a handy comparison table to help you with your decision.

 1st: Viasat2nd: HughesNet3rd: DishNet
1st: Viasat2nd: HughesNet3rd: DishNet
Read ReviewRead ReviewRead ReviewRead Review
Visit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit Website
Required Contract Length24 months24 months24 months
Lowest Monthly Service Price$70.00$59.99$49.99
Highest Monthly Service Price$200.00$149.99$79.99
Activation FeeNeed to get a quoteNeed to get a quoteUp to $300
Equipment Leasing Fee$9.99 per month$99 one-time plus $14.99 per month$9.99 per month (free with bundled TV)
Installation FeeFree standardFree standardUnlisted
Early Termination Fee$15 per month for remaining months$400 within first 90 days; after $15 less per month for months of active service$17.50 per month for remaining months
Download Speed12 or 25 Mbps5-25 Mbps10-15 Mbps
Upload Speed3 Mbps3 Mbps1 Mbps
Anytime Bandwidth Limits10-30 GB10-50 GB10-50 GB
Late-Night (Off-Peak) BandwidthUnlimited50 GB50 GB
Overage Data AvailableCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Bundled TV OptionCheckmarkCheckmark
Bundled Voice OptionCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Free Email AccountCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Check Data Usage FeatureCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Visit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit Website
Read ReviewRead ReviewRead ReviewRead Review

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?

Read Our Ultimate Cord Cutting Guide

As we said earlier in our article, satellite internet isn’t the best choice if you live in an area where you have access to DSL- or cable-based internet options. But for those of you who live in remote areas where you don’t have those options, satellite internet is FAR superior to a dial-up internet connection.

The best satellite internet provider for your individual situation is a tough call. If you have access to all of the providers we’ve reviewed, we suggest you consider them by our recommendations. We hope we’ve given you the information you need to make the best choice for your situation!

Why are you considering a satellite internet service provider?

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.

Sally is a passionate writer but her interests do not stop there. She spends a lot of time daydreaming about the beach, however, she spends most of her time taking advantage of all the activities her town has to offer in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

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Gabe
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.

Kimberly Alt (Admin)
Thanks for the information, Gabe. We will look into this and make the appropriate updates to our content!
Guest
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).
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
Thanks! We’ll be sure to get those logos fixed!
Jill B.
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
HughesNet has had plans up to 25 Mbps for some time now.
Alex Schenker (Admin)
Thanks Joshua I’ve confirmed the speed and have updated the article.
Welton Spratley
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
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
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.