HughesNet has the cheapest broadband satellite internet plans, with speeds up to 25 Mbps and data limits up to 100 GB. You'll pay a lot of money for not a lot of speed and not much data, but it's a workable way to connect for folks in rural areas. Where available, consider other connection types or satellite internet providers if you don’t want to be held back.
Verizon Fios offers fast, reliable fiber internet, along with one of the best overall customer experiences in the business. Verizon Fios is highly recommended, and it's one of the best home internet providers we reviewed.
With any HughesNet plan, you get the same 25 Mbps download speed, and you'll pay around double the national benchmark for similar non-satellite internet plans (1). This meets the minimum definition of broadband, but it’s still relatively slow, even for satellite internet. You’ll be able to check email and do basic web browsing, but it’s not ideal for more intensive use. HughesNet simply can’t compete in areas where cable or fiber connections are available.
HughesNet’s plans differ based on how much high-speed data you get and range from 15 GB to 100 GB. Like with Viasat, you won’t get any overage charges for going over your plan’s high-speed data limit with Hughesnet, but your speeds will get throttled to a nearly unusable 1–3 Mbps. There are a couple of unique ways to get extra data with HughesNet. During the off-peak Bonus Zone hours of 2:00 am to 8:00 am, you get 50 GB of extra data. If you run out of high-speed data during a billing cycle, you can also get back up to speed by purchasing Data Tokens, which start at $9 for 3 GB and don’t expire.
The best HughesNet plan is the Fusion 100 GB plan, which improves latency by tapping into wireless networks for some online activities.
You’ll want to steer clear of lower data cap plans, as you’re likely to blow through a 15 to 30 GB high-speed data allowance within days, especially if you do any streaming.
HughesNet plans start out at about $20 less than Viasat plans, but jump up after six months. They're still slightly more affordable when standard pricing kicks in, considering that Viasat has its own price hike after three months. But if you want a satellite internet plan with higher download speeds or more than 100 GB of data, compare your options with Viasat and Starlink.
Verizon Fios is an excellent value overall. The provider offers three fiber-to-the-home plans, starting at about $50 per month for 300 Mbps, which is more for the money than you’ll get with many competitors. The mid-tier plan is also a solid value.
The highest-tier gigabit option is less competitively priced, at closer to $90 per month. However, that's still about 25% lower than the national benchmark for similar plans. (1) And you do get the benefit of symmetrical speeds with this fiber internet plan, which you won’t find with every provider. This helps offset the cost somewhat. For an additional $10 each month at the highest tier, you get 2 TB of cloud storage, a subscription to Disney+, and a MoCA adapter for internet gaming.
It's worth noting that Verizon also offers DSL internet in some areas, with speeds as high as 15 Mbps and bundled prices in the range of $75 per month, but are phasing it out in 2023. That's awfully slow compared to fiber internet, and quite expensive, but it's better than nothing. The good news is Verizon is rapidly building out its fiber-to-the-home network, so many households that have been stuck with DSL may soon be eligible for Fios. Get more info and sign up for updates from Verizon.
With any satellite internet provider, performance will depend on individual factors, including your location and how well your dish is positioned. There are also factors beyond your control, such as bad weather and occasional outages. Cable or fiber connections tend to be faster and more dependable, while satellite connections have slower speeds and higher latency due to the long distance between your home and the satellite overhead.
According to data from Ookla, HughesNet’s median download speed in Q4 of 2021 was 20.92 Mbps (2). That’s not too far off from its advertised top speed of 25 Mbps. According to this data, its upload speed and latency are just a bit lower than Viasat’s. And, although Starlink seems to outperform both HughesNet and Viasat on each of those points, Starlink seems to have more issues with reliability and isn’t as widely available. Common complaints about HughesNet’s service on Downdetector include slow speeds and some outages, sometimes for days in a row (3).
Performance is where Verizon Fios really shines. PCMag named it the fastest Major Internet Service Provider in 2022—and the 9 years before that. (2) The fiber optic connections are rock solid, and the speeds offered are excellent. Additionally, all plans have symmetrical speeds, which is ideal for anyone who uploads a lot of content. Our only complaint is that we’d like to see an even faster plan from Verizon—some competitors have started offering 2,000 Mbps (or faster).
If you can only get DSL with Verizon, you'll only be able to upload at speeds up to 15 Mbps and will pay a lot for the privilege. If you have any other option, we'd usually recommend it.
When you sign up for HughesNet, you can decide to either lease or purchase equipment from the company. Usually, the cost for leasing equipment is around $20 per month and purchasing is around $450. Purchasing equipment is a good deal if you think you’ll continue your service beyond the two-year contract term, and it doesn't require a credit check.
Depending on current promotions, you can sometimes get discounts for leasing or purchasing and have the $99 installation fee waived. You may also be able to score a $100 prepaid gift card, even if you're using your ACP benefit.
Ordering online can sometimes save you up to $50, but the address system on the site is clunky. If you enter yours and Hughesnet says it can't find your address, you may need to call in.
HughesNet’s equipment costs and installation process are about the same as Viasat. Starlink, on the other hand, requires you to purchase the equipment up front for a higher cost and install it yourself.
HughesNet will send a technician to professionally install your equipment, which includes a satellite dish, Wi-Fi modem, router, and everything else you need. Installation typically happens within five days of signup, and service windows are about 3 hours long.
The technician will put the dish on your house, or on a pole mount in the ground for $25 extra, and ensure a clear line of sight to the satellite. A hole will be drilled into your home for the cable to connect to the modem inside. Once the system is active and tested, the technician will also connect up to two devices to the network for you.
Verizon Fios offers a pretty standard equipment setup for fiber: an optical network terminal (ONT) and a wireless router. Routers are included at no extra cost on each plan, and the fastest plan comes with an included mesh network called Whole-Home Wi-Fi.
Installation costs $99, and there’s no self-install option. However, if you order online, Verizon will waive the fee. This can be an easy way to save some money on your first internet bill. That said, while the fee is expensive, it’s not unheard of among internet service providers.
Customer experience with HughesNet is comparable to its primary satellite internet competitor, Viasat. For billing and tech support questions, the company gives you several ways to contact customer support: by phone, live chat, or email. HughesNet also has an online forum for customers to ask and answer each other’s questions, as well as FAQs and help articles. You can easily manage your account through the website or mobile app.
HughesNet also offers Voice, a VoIP phone service that uses your satellite internet connection, plus an internet security package. Both are free for the first month, but you'll be charged starting in your second month, so set yourself a reminder to call and cancel the extras if you're not sure you need them.
If there’s a leader in internet customer experience, it’s probably Verizon Fios. The service is absolutely rock solid, with hardly a hiccup. This, combined with the excellent speeds, makes for a seamless internet experience—it just works.
Verizon also consistently scores well in customer satisfaction. In fact, it took the top spot this year in the ACSI benchmarks (3), tied with AT&T. Meanwhile, PCMag's readers rank Verizon Fios third in overall satisfaction (4).
Connecting away from home is the only place Verizon falls short. With services such as AT&T and Xfinity, subscribers get access to a nationwide network of free hotspots. Verizon doesn't have this offering (but also doesn't trick you into using your home router to let strangers connect).