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Viasat vs. HughesNet: Which Internet Provider Is Best for You?

Viasat offers the fastest satellite internet speeds, while HughesNet provides the most affordable plans.

  • Best speeds
    • Customer Rating: 3.1/5*
    • Price: $30.00–$199.99/mo.
    • Speed: 12–100 Mbps
    • Internet type: Satellite
  • Best prices
    • Customer Rating: 3.1/5*
    • Price: $64.99–$159.99/mo.
    • Speed: 25 Mbps
    • Internet type: Satellite

Compare Viasat and HughesNet head to head

For rural internet customers who are frequently online, Viasat is the fastest satellite internet available outside of LEO (low-Earth orbit) projects like Starlink. Viasat offers both faster speeds and higher data caps than HughesNet, but HughesNet offers more affordable plans if you just need an internet connection. HughesNet now also offers Fusion plans, which provides low-latency connections for real-time activities like gaming and video chat.

Pros and cons: Viasat vs. HughesNet

 

Pros:

  • Faster speeds
  • More data
  • More plan options

Cons:

  • Prices go up after intro period
  • Extra data expires at the end of the month

Pros:

  • Low-latency Fusion plans
  • Lower prices
  • Simple pricing scheme
  • Purchased data doesn’t expire

Cons:

  • Lower speeds
  • Lower data caps

 

Want to see what other internet providers are in your area besides Viasat and HughesNet? Enter your zip code below.

Plans and pricing: Viasat vs. HughesNet

Viasat gives you a lot of options for internet plans depending on how much download speed and data you need. HughesNet is much more straightforward, with all plans offering the same download speed but giving you more data for your dollar.

Viasat plans and pricing

PackagePriceSpeedData capDetails
Basic 12$40.00/mo.*Up to 12 Mbps15 GB
Liberty 12$30.00/mo.*Up to 12 Mbps12 GB
Liberty 25$50.00/mo.*Up to 12 Mbps25 GB
Liberty 50$75.00/mo.*Up to 12 Mbps50 GB
Unlimited Bronze 12$64.99/mo.†Up to 12 Mbps80 GB
Unlimited Silver 12$84.99/mo.*Up to 12 Mbps45 GB
Unlimited Gold 12$149.99/mo.*Up to 12 Mbps65 GB
Unlimited Silver 25$84.99/mo.†Up to 25 Mbps120 GB
Unlimited Gold 30$119.99/mo.†Up to 30 Mbps100 GB
Unlimited Gold 50$119.99/mo.†Up to 50 Mbps200 GB
Unlimited Platinum 100$169.99/mo.†Up to 100 Mbps300 GB

There are two things to consider when signing up for Viasat: speed and data. If you’re willing to sign up for one of the more expensive plans, you can get the most of both. But if you want to save some money on your monthly bill, some of the cheaper plans make a trade-off with one or the other.

Pro tip:

Not sure how much speed you need? Take our quiz to find out.

One thing to consider is that while a few hundred gigabytes of data might sound like a lot, you can burn through that amount of data very quickly, especially if multiple people are using the connection at the same time. While many Viasat connections are more than fast enough to stream Netflix, for example, you’ll probably want to avoid that (or at least use it very sparingly) on a satellite connection. A better option that won’t eat through your internet data is to get a separate satellite TV plan.

We also don’t recommend Viasat’s plans with the lowest data caps. A single software update could easily use up half your monthly data on a 12 GB plan, so upgrading to a plan with more data is usually well worth the cost.

HughesNet plans and pricing

PackagePriceSpeedData capDetails
Fusion 50 GB$99.99/mo.25 Mbps50 GB
Fusion 100 GB$174.99/mo.25 Mbps100 GB
15 GB Data Plan$64.99/mo.25 Mbps15 GB
30 GB Data Plan$74.99/mo.25 Mbps30 GB
45 GB Data Plan$109.99/mo.25 Mbps45 GB
75 GB Data Plan$159.99/mo.25 Mbps75 GB

HughesNet offers two types of plans, traditional satellite-only plans and its multitransport HughesNet Fusion plans. HughesNet Fusion combines satellite and terrestrial wireless connections into a single plan. With some additional equipment, it will correctly route your connection over satellite or wireless, giving you low latency when it matters, such as with online games or video chat.

With HughesNet satellite only plans, the only difference between plans is the data cap. All plans come in at 25 Mbps, which is the minimum speed at which a connection can be considered broadband. More expensive plans will definitely get you more data for your dollar. But, as with Viasat, these are relatively small amounts of data compared to fiber and cable plans, so you’re going to have to use them sparingly regardless.

All HughesNet plans also come with 50 GB of Bonus Zone data, which you can use between the hours of 2:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. This isn’t ideal for most people’s daily schedules, but it does give you a time to schedule things like system updates, which could otherwise eat up your entire data cap for the month in one go. You can also use this time to download media like games or video, which you can then play back during daylight hours.

As with Viasat, we don’t recommend going with a low-data plan. For context, if you had a 15 GB plan and decided to stream Star Wars in 4K, you would run out of data for the entire month before R2-D2 is able to shut down the garbage masher. Even those who use their internet sparingly would have a hard time stretching 15 GB out for a whole month.

Additionally, since data is the only difference between plans, it makes it really easy to compare plans to determine their value. With cheaper plans, you end up paying over twice as much per gigabyte of data, so although you don’t want to pay for more data than you’re going to use, you also get a better deal with higher-data plans.

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Deals and promotions: Viasat vs. HughesNet


Get a $300 VISA prepaid card and up to $300 off on a qualifying satellite internet plan.
Get free standard installation when you sign up for a qualifying satellite internet plan.

Compare the best Viasat and HughesNet plans in your area. Take a look by typing in your zip code below.

Extra fees: Viasat vs. HughesNet

Equipment FeeInstallation FeeOther Fees
Viasat$5.00/mo.FreeExtra data starting at $10.00/GB
HughesNet$14.99/mo.$99.00Data Tokens starting at $9.00/ 3 GB

Viasat offers free installation and has lower monthly equipment fees. You can also purchase additional data from both providers, though they differ in subtle but important ways.

Both Viasat and HughesNet offer unlimited data, so you’ll always have an internet connection even if you hit your data cap. But the catch is your connection will be throttled to an incredibly low speed. If this happens, you can purchase additional data to bring your speeds back up to normal.

Buying additional data with Viasat essentially adds it to your normal data limit, which means that any data you don’t use by the end of the month is lost. HughesNet’s data tokens, on the other hand, don’t expire at the end of the month, so there’s no rush to spend them. HughesNet data tokens also come in as the cheaper option, starting at $9 for 3 GB as compared to Viasat’s $10 for 1 GB.

Customer ratings: Google Fiber vs. AT&T

Overall SpeedPriceReliabilityCustomer Service
Viasat3.13.02.53.03.2
HughesNet3.13.12.83.13.2
Viasat
Overall 3.1
Speed3.0
Price2.5
Reliability3.0
Customer Service3.2
HughesNet
Overall 3.1
Speed3.1
Price2.8
Reliability3.1
Customer Service3.2

Viasat and HughesNet came in neck-and-neck in our annual customer satisfaction survey, both earning a 3.1 rating overall from customers. Although customers overall rated the two satellite providers the same, HughesNet had more favorable responses in certain specific areas.

The biggest difference in score between Viasat and HughesNet was about price. While these were the lowest scores for both providers, HughesNet customers were more satisfied than Viasat customers when asked about their internet bill.

Pros and cons of satellite internet

Both Viasat and HughesNet provide internet access to their customers using satellite connections. Traditional satellite internet has a lot of inherent limitations to speed, latency, and data usage (low-Earth orbit satellite constellations like Starlink reduce some of these problems). But it’s the only kind of internet connection that’s available almost anywhere in the United States, making it an essential option in rural areas.

Learn more about satellite internet

Data caps: Viasat vs. HughesNet

Data CapDetails
Viasat12–300 GB
HughesNet15–75 GB

Both Viasat and HughesNet offer a wide range of data caps with their plans, though Viasat offers much larger options than HughesNet. It’s important to remember that even the largest of these plans is relatively small and could easily burn through its monthly allotment in a few days with heavy streaming, software downloads, or video chat.

Neither provider has a hard limit on its data, so you’ll never have your internet shut off completely, even if you pass your data cap for the month. That said, it’s pretty hard to do anything with a throttled download speed, so you’ll probably want to buy additional data if you think you’ll hit your cap before the end of the month.

Contracts: Viasat vs. HughesNet

Contract lengthDetails
Viasat2 yrs.
HughesNet2 yrs.

Both providers require a two-year contract agreement to provide service. This is a fairly long contract when compared with most other ISPs, so it’s not a decision that should be treated lightly. Viasat prices also go up after the promotional period, which can be an unpleasant surprise if you didn’t budget for the extra monthly cost. HughesNet, on the other hand, doesn’t have a price hike, so you can count on your bill staying the same every month.

Installation: Viasat vs. HughesNet

Installation optionsLifetime Lease Price / Purchase PriceDetails
ViasatFree installation$299.99
HughesNet$99.00$449.98

Both Viasat and HughesNet provide free professional installation, which makes sense because not just anybody can install a satellite on your roof. HughesNet does charge a $99 installation fee. Since the cost of the equipment and the installation is so high, buying won’t usually save you any money, so we suggest always leasing your equipment from HughesNet.

Availability: Viasat vs. HughesNet

Since Viasat and HughesNet provide their internet connection via satellite, they’re both available almost anywhere in the US, though some plans are not available in some areas. As long as your view of the southern sky isn’t obstructed by something like a mountain, you should be able to get service from either provider, though the available plans might be limited in some areas.

Final call: Viasat vs. HughesNet

For rural internet customers with higher demands on their internet connection or more specific needs, Viasat is generally the superior choice. It offers faster speeds, higher data caps, and more plan options than HughesNet.

If you need an internet connection to do only the basics, HughesNet gives you more straightforward pricing and might save you some money compared to Viasat.

The biggest wildcard right now is HughesNet Fusion. For online gaming, Fusion is an easy choice, but for other low-latency activities like livestreaming, telehealth, or distance education, you can get the low-latency of HughesNet fusion or the high download speeds of Viasat, but neither offers everything you need. For now, that seems to be a niche that only low-Earth satellite constellations like Starlink can fill.

 

View HughesNet Plans

View Viasat Plans

Methodology

Our HighSpeedInternet.com editorial team bases our analyses on customer input from our annual customer satisfaction survey, results from our speed test tool, and proprietary internet provider data on speeds and pricing. To strengthen our research, we look closely at provider contracts to get hard-to-find information on price hikes, data caps, and extra fees, and we keep tabs on the latest news reports and online reviews. When applicable, we also rely on our personal experiences testing these services.

Author -

Peter Christiansen writes about satellite internet, rural connectivity, livestreaming, and parental controls for HighSpeedInternet.com. Peter holds a PhD in communication from the University of Utah and has been working in tech for over 15 years as a computer programmer, game developer, filmmaker, and writer. His writing has been praised by outlets like Wired, Digital Humanities Now, and the New Statesman.

Editor - Cara Haynes

Cara Haynes has been editing and writing in the digital space for seven years, and she's edited all things internet for HighSpeedInternet.com for five years. She graduated with a BA in English and a minor in editing from Brigham Young University. When she's not editing, she makes tech accessible through her freelance writing for brands like Pluralsight. She believes no one should feel lost in internet land and that a good internet connection significantly extends your life span.