Best Satellite Internet Providers for 2023
Our experts have studied satellite internet service providers for years—here’s everything you need to know.
Download speed: Up to 100 Mbps
Data allowance: 60 GB–Unlimited
Download speed: 25 Mbps
Data allowances: 15–75 GB
Download speed: 50–250 Mbps
Data allowance: Unlimited
Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
If you live in a rural area, you may be considering satellite internet service as a way to stay connected to the world. Although satellite internet isn’t as fast or affordable as landline internet connections, it’s better than no internet at all.
The best satellite internet provider is Viasat because it’s widely available and gives you the best bang for your buck. But if you’re interested in long-time competitor HughesNet or the up-and-coming Starlink internet, we can help you determine if they’re the best services for you.
Best satellite internet providers
If you want fast download speeds at relatively affordable rates, Viasat will take care of you. Its plans come with more significant data allowances than HughesNet, and it’s more readily available than Starlink, which tells new customers they might not receive service until 2023.
But if you want the internet only for emergencies, HughesNet can get you connected for less money. And if you live in an area where Starlink currently offers service, you might be able to snag satellite internet with no data throttling.
Compare the best satellite internet providers plans and pricing
|Package||Price||Download speeds||Data allowance||Details|
|Viasat||$69.99–$299.99/mo.||Up to 100 Mbps||60 GB–Unlimited||View plans|
|HughesNet||$64.99–$174.99/mo.||25 Mbps||15–75 GB||View plans|
|Starlink||$110.00/mo.||50–250 Mbps||Unlimited||View Plans for Starlink|
*Data effective as of post date. Not all offers available in all areas. See full disclaimer regarding pricing and features for more information.
While satellite technology can readily provide internet service to rural areas, it comes with higher prices, slower internet speeds, and stricter data allowances than you’ll see with most land-based services.
Every Viasat and HughesNet plan comes with a data allowance. Once you reach that cap, you may notice your internet speeds drop as your provider prioritizes other customers’ internet usage over yours.
However, Starlink doesn’t throttle data (for now—this writer would be surprised if it stays that way forever). If you can snatch up Starlink service in your area, you won’t have to worry about your internet slowing down even if you use it a bunch. But you will have to worry about your internet service dropping as Starlink sorts out the bugs in its service.
Best overall: Viasat
- High speeds
- High data allowances
- Good bang-for-your-buck
- Price hikes
- Data throttling
In 2018, Viasat (formerly known as Exede) made news by establishing a satellite internet download speed of 100 Mbps. It doesn’t sound like much, but that’s more than double what had been previously available from any satellite internet provider.
Viasat is in the process of raising the bar again with three ultra-high-capacity satellites that will provide internet service across most of the planet. We’re excited to see if this move can help it compete against the upstart Starlink in the long run.
As you’re looking into getting a Viasat plan, keep in mind that they cost more than double a comparably speed-rated cable or DSL plan. Plus, the satellite’s signal strength to your home will determine whether you actually get that full 100 Mbps.
And while Viasat’s satellite tech is nothing to sneeze at, data transfer remains satellite internet’s biggest frustration—and Viasat’s not immune. Since data travels out of the stratosphere and back, there’s latency, or lag. Streaming HD movies or gaming over satellite internet can make you feel like you’re in the dial-up ’90s (ask your parents—or go watch Captain Marvel again).
Viasat employs data caps, so you need to watch your data usage. When your consumption hits a certain amount, your data will be “prioritized” behind that of other subscribers—meaning the subscribers who bought the more expensive plans—to alleviate network congestion. Viasat won’t charge you for overages, but know that “unlimited” still has its limits.
Also, even though you have to lock in the price with a two-year service contract, Viasat will bump up your monthly fee after three months. The Choice 100/500 GB plan, already pricey at $199.99 a month initially, will go up to $299.99 a month after 90 days, for example.
Still, we’ve selected Viasat for best overall because it beats out HughesNet for speed and bang-for-your buck. And unlike Starlink, Viasat is a well-established, fully-functional satellite internet provider, and you can get it almost anywhere in the US.
- Simple pricing structure
- Transparent plans
- Low download speed
- Data overage throttling
If you’re looking to spend the least amount of money on just a smidge of internet capability, HughesNet is the way to go. They won’t get you as much speed or data as most of Viasat’s plans, but HughesNet’s cheapest plan is less than Viasat’s.
HughesNet has another advantage over Viasat: transparent pricing. HughesNet’s satellite internet plans aren’t fantastic, but they at least spell out what you’re getting more clearly.
HughesNet’s plans are titled and priced according to data allowance, not speed. As mentioned earlier, allotted GBs of data will affect your internet speed at least as much as Mbps. Also, the only download speed HughesNet offers across its plans is 25 Mbps—there’s no way to slap a “Gold” or “Platinum” moniker on that.
Unlike Viasat, HughesNet states plainly in its basic 15 GB data plan that if you go over 15 GB within the billing month, it will throttle down your internet speed from 25 Mbps to 1–3 Mbps.
For perspective, you can run through 15 GB in about five hours of streaming HD videos. Then you’re stuck with 1–3 Mbps, which . . . is . . . too . . . slow . . . to . . . comprehend . . . in . . . 2023.
Like Viasat, HughesNet’s satellite internet service comes with a two-year contract—but at least HughesNet’s plans have no surprise price bumps after three months. That’s one more small but positive check in the HughesNet column.
So if you don’t need fast internet—or even a lot of data—HughesNet’s 15 GB plan is an affordable way to get internet service in rural areas. It might be nice to have some connection for your cabin in the woods, huh?
Best data allowance: Starlink
- No data caps or throttling
- Low latency for satellite internet
- Expensive equipment
- Limited availability
Just look at Starlink’s specs! Flat rate pricing? Fast download speeds? No data caps—ergo, no speed throttling? It’s a thing of beauty.
The problem here is Starlink isn’t a fully up-and-running internet service. It’s not yet available across the US—some areas aren’t planned to go live until 2023.
Plus, Starlink is prone to outages. It’s always crummy when your internet drops out from under you, so Starlink isn’t ideal if you’re looking for a reliable internet connection.
But Starlink’s speeds are impressive, even if they vary a bit from area to area. Plus, it has much lower latency than most satellite internet providers (although it still drags compared to land-based internet services).
But if you’re interested in Starlink’s coverage map, just search the Starlink website to find out whether it’s available near you. Even if you can’t get service right now, you can prepay $99 to get on Starlink’s waitlist, and that amount will go towards the purchase of your Starlink equipment.
Starlink’s satellite dish costs $599, plus shipping and tax. That’s a big chunk of cash compared to Viasat’s ($299.99 one-time or $12.99 per month) and HughesNet’s equipment ($449.99 one-time or $14.99 per month).
Overall, Starlink is a good option, and we’re excited about its potential. You just might want to wait a bit longer for things to really get off the ground. (It’s a space joke. Get it?)
What to look for in satellite internet packages and deals
Satellite internet costs an average of about $85 per month—more expensive than most land-based internet services, which usually run about $50 per month.
In the case of satellite internet, your costs will often go up based on both the internet speeds and the data allowance you select. So when considering satellite internet coverage, factor in your budget along with what type of tasks (answering emails, watching movies) you’ll need internet access for.
Download speeds, or bandwidth, affect how quickly you can download online content. The listed download speed for an internet package gets split among every user in your home, so make sure to invest in a bigger package if multiple people use your internet. A 25 Mbps connection will be fast for one person but slow for a five-person house.
No matter how much bandwidth you pay for, satellite internet is usually slower than land-based internet services because of latency. Bandwidth is how much information your internet transfers at once, while latency is how long that info takes to travel from a server to your computer. Check out our latency vs. bandwidth article to learn more.
Since data sent over satellite information has to go to space and back, satellite internet always comes with a lot of latency. High latency is why satellite internet isn’t an ideal choice for online gaming—the data packets just can’t travel fast enough to stay competitive in real-time.
Data allowances are how much data you can use per month before the carrier slows down your internet. While regular internet browsing requires little data, you can quickly hit a low cap with activities like regularly streaming movies.
You might be able to get away with a small data package if you use your internet only to check your email. But even scrolling through Instagram takes a bunch of data, so with satellite internet, you browse at your own risk.
Satellite internet FAQ
Is satellite internet any good?
Because data takes so long to transfer with satellite internet (it has to go to space and back, after all), it isn’t a good option for video calls or online gaming.
But satellite internet works fine for streaming TV and browsing the internet—though it may still require some patience. You’ll also have to keep track of your usage to ensure you don’t go over your monthly data allowance.
Overall, satellite internet is better than no internet, but it’s not in the same league as fiber internet or other land-based services.
How much does Starlink cost per month?
Starlink internet costs $110 per month. You’ll also have to pay $599 for your Starlink satellite dish—plus shipping and tax—when you sign up. Estimated shipping and handling came out to $50 and tax was $66.85 for this writer, but I’ve got that high Washington state sales tax, so it might be different for you.
Can I watch Netflix with satellite internet?
Your satellite internet will handle Netflix’s 3 Mbps requirement for standard definition video—no problem. But streaming will gobble up your data caps, so we don’t recommend streaming on satellite internet. For more information, check out our full guide “Is Satellite Internet Good for Streaming?”
Our experts ranked Viasat, HughesNet, and Starlink based on bang for your buck, reliability, features, and customer satisfaction. Then we matched up your satellite internet options head to head for a clearer picture of their strengths and weaknesses.
For more information on our methodology, check out our How We Rank page.
*Viasat: Prices and availability vary by location. Installation fees, monthly equipment lease fees, and taxes may apply. After 100 GB of High-Speed Data usage, you still have unlimited access to Standard Data, which may result in slower speed.
HughesNet requires a 24-month agreement.
HughesNet promo pricing: $10 off for 6 months. 24 mo. commitment required. Pricing not available in all areas. Offer valid 6/30/22-8/31/22. HughesNet equipment rental: $5 off equipment lease for 6 months. Offer valid 6/30/22 – 8/31/22. HughesNet equipment purchase: $100 off equipment purchase. Offer valid 6/30/22 – 8/31/22