Best rural satellite internet: Viasat
The good news: satellite internet doesn’t rely on land-wired infrastructures and is readily available to anyone with a clear view of the sky.
The bad news: while great for TV service, satellite dish-delivered internet is capable of only sub-DSL speed and stability. Also, factors like distance from the satellite or inclement weather can knock that speed down or knock it out completely.
Surprisingly, the same type of satellite dish that can beam pristine, HD-quality TV into your home is capable of conveying only a fraction of that signal in internet service. Cable TV and internet are equal in performance; satellite TV and internet couldn’t be further apart.
Of the two satellite internet providers available (Viasat and HughesNet), we recommend Viasat. It has a wide variety of plans and—at least theoretical—high download speeds. Viasat advertises download speeds up to 100 Mbps (megabytes per second), which is near the fastest rate of DSL and means you can stream shows and movies on multiple devices and surf the internet at the same time.
At times, satellite internet may be unreliable and slow, but at least it’s wincingly expensive—just keeping it real here. Besides monthly base rates that can run as high as $150, Viasat’s required equipment isn’t cheap, and you’re contracted for two years. There’s also the issue of data overages (Viasat says its plans are “unlimited,” but going over certain data numbers can cost you in throttled speed and actual dollars).
In other words, satellite internet should be your last resort—and Viasat is the better choice of that last resort by a narrow margin.
Viasat satellite internet plans
Data as of 12/9/2019. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.