Is Satellite Internet Good for Streaming?

While you can stream TV on satellite internet, it will quickly eat through your data cap.

You don’t need high-speed internet to stream TV—watching Netflix in standard definition uses only 3 Mbps of bandwidth—so your satellite internet is technically capable of streaming. But streaming TV uses a lot of data, and since your satellite internet provider probably has small data caps, a few hours of streaming can throttle your internet speeds for the rest of the month.

If you live in a rural area and want to watch TV, we recommend satellite TV services like DISH and DIRECTV since they won’t use your internet data. But if you’ve got your heart set on streaming TV with satellite internet, keep reading. We’ve got plenty of answers to your questions.

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Is satellite internet fast enough for streaming?

Satellite internet plans run from 12 Mbps (Viasat Unlimited Bronze 12) to 150 Mbps (Starlink), which is enough bandwidth to easily stream in high definition.

And though satellite internet tends to have high latency that makes online gaming and video calls drag, latency won’t factor in much to your streaming experience once your show starts playing. You probably won’t notice any problems unless you try skipping to another part of the video.

How can I reduce my satellite internet latency?

Unfortunately, latency comes baked into the structure of satellite internet. Because your internet data has to travel over 20,000 miles between Earth and space twice every time you so much as click on a link, there’s nothing you can personally do to speed the process up.

Starlink tries to improve satellite internet latency with low-Earth orbit satellites, about a hundred times closer to Earth than Viasat and HughesNet’s geosynchronous satellites. However, Starlink’s service is still in beta testing, so you’ll face other reliability issues if you switch to Starlink right now.

Is satellite internet bad for streaming?

You can stream with satellite internet even though it doesn’t come with as much bandwidth as fiber internet and faces a lot of latency problems. But streaming will use up your data cap fast, and then your satellite internet provider will probably slow down your internet speeds.

You can try to skirt this issue by streaming for only a few hours a month, but that’s hardly worth the cost of paying for a streaming TV service.

Is Starlink beta good for streaming?

Starlink currently offers unlimited data, which makes it much more streaming-friendly than Viasat and HughesNet. Unfortunately, Starlink doesn’t have the wide availability of the other two satellite internet providers, and it faces reliability issues during its beta testing stage.

Plus, there’s no word on how long Starlink plans to offer unlimited data—it could install data caps after the service goes entirely live.

But for now, if you can get in on Starlink’s beta testing, its fast satellite internet speeds and unlimited data make it the best choice for streaming TV on satellite internet.

Is Viasat good for streaming?

Viasat is a more reliable choice than Starlink, though its limited data allowances aren’t ideal for streaming a lot of TV. After you reach the data allowance on your plan, Viasat prioritizes your internet after other customers, which means you’ll notice your internet speeds slowing down.

In the chart below, we’ve shown how quickly streaming standard definition video eats through the data cap for popular Viasat plans. Streaming in SD uses about 0.7 GB per hour, and streaming in HD or 4K would use data even more quickly.

Keep in mind that everything you do on the internet uses data, so it’s not just your streaming hours that matter. Make sure you consider if you’ll have enough data to do other necessary online activities too.

Viasat plans and pricing

Package Intro price* Data cap SD streaming Details
Unlimited Bronze 12 $49.99/mo. 40 GB 57 hrs. View plan
Unlimited Silver 25 $69.99/mo. 60 GB 86 hrs. View plan
Unlimited Gold 50 $99.99/mo. 100 GB 143 hrs. View plan
Unlimited Platinum 100 $149.99/mo. 150 GB 214 hrs. View plan

Data effective as of post date. Not all offers available in all areas. See full disclaimer regarding pricing and features for more information.

Is HughesNet good for streaming?

All of HughesNet’s plans come with a 25 GB data cap, which can get you around 36 hours of SD-quality streaming. But since you probably need the internet for more things than just streaming, HughesNet isn’t a usable option for watching TV online.

Keep in mind that everything you do on the internet uses data, so it’s not just your streaming hours that matter. Make sure you consider if you’ll have enough data to do other necessary online activities too.

Can I watch Netflix with satellite internet?

While you can watch Netflix on satellite internet’s download speeds, it uses a lot of data, which is at a premium with satellite internet. After you meet your data cap, your satellite internet provider will slow your internet speeds.

Can you get Netflix with satellite TV?

DISH Network has built-in streaming apps on its DISH Hopper 3, including Netflix, Prime Video, and YouTube. But using these apps requires an internet connection and additional subscriptions to each service.

For our friends who use satellite internet, be aware that streaming on the Hopper 3 will still use your internet data. To avoid using your data on TV, don’t connect your Hopper 3 to the internet, and stick with traditional TV stations.

Final take: Streaming TV on satellite internet isn’t worth it

Streaming uses a lot of data, and it will take you only a few binge-watching sessions to hit your data cap. Then your internet speeds will drop for the rest of the month. Slogging through the internet with throttled speeds is a real bummer.

We recommend you avoid these problems by sticking with traditional satellite TV providers like DISH and DIRECTV. Satellite TV is available nearly everywhere, so it’s a great option for catching your favorite shows in rural areas without robbing you of precious internet data.

Disclaimers:

*The Viasat prices listed above are for Viasat’s unlimited plans. We’ve included ongoing pricing rather than promotional pricing for a more straightforward comparison between the satellite internet providers. Viasat’s promotional pricing on unlimited plans ranges from $49.99 to $149.99 per month for the first three months. Viasat requires a minimum 24-month service term agreement.

HughesNet requires a 24-month agreement.

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