Rise Broadband offers competitive fixed wireless speeds at reasonable prices for rural customers. While it won’t compete with your typical fiber or cable internet service, it offers a compelling alternative to satellite.
Viasat (formerly also Exede internet) can’t keep up with cable or fiber, but it’s a relatively fast and widely available choice for satellite internet. Viasat offers more speed and data than HughesNet, but you should also consider Starlink if it's available in your area.
Rise Broadband is a tough service to rate because it’s not your typical ISP. Rise Broadband provides what’s known as “fixed wireless” service, which means the signal is beamed from a tower wirelessly to your home (rather than running through cable or fiber lines). It’s also generally aimed more at rural areas where cable lines don’t exist. This means it primarily competes with satellite internet and DSL. All this has to be taken into account when considering value.
So, where does Rise stand? Compared to DSL and satellite, it’s an outstanding value. It offers better performance and higher data allowances (with an unlimited data add-on available) than satellite and DSL, and at significantly lower prices. That said, if you’re in an area that has a cable or fiber option, you may find that those providers offer more for your money.
In remote areas where cable and fiber aren’t available, satellite internet may be your only option. Viasat offers a wide range of satellite internet plans, but only some of them offer good performance and value for your money compared to other satellite internet providers.
The best plans are Viasat’s Unlimited plans. Those with at least 25 Mbps of speed and 100 GB of high-speed data will give you the ability to do basic web browsing. Viasat’s most expensive plan, with 150 Mbps of download speed and 300 GB of data, is the best plan for larger households or those who want to enjoy more video streaming. It also gives you the most data for your dollar.
We wouldn’t recommend Viasat’s Liberty plans because the internet speed and data limits are far too restrictive. If you don’t mind sacrificing a bit of speed or data usage to save money, HughesNet’s 25 Mbps plans are less costly than Viasat’s equivalent plans. For a similar price, Starlink can achieve higher speeds (up to 250 Mbps) and has lower latency than Viasat, though Starlink is available only in limited locations and has customer service issues.
It's also important to think about price hikes. With Viasat, all plan prices go up after three months, in the range of $20–$100 depending on your plan. You can't get out of these increases because you'll have to sign a contract. It's a bummer, but we like that prices are guaranteed for two years starting in month four.
Performance-wise, Rise Broadband offers solid speeds—with the caveat that we’re comparing internet options in rural areas here. Most coverage areas have a choice of 25 Mbps and 50 Mbps plans, and some select areas have up to 100 Mbps available. These speeds would be pretty bad in areas with more options. However, if you’re considering fixed wireless, you probably don’t have many more options.
Compared to a satellite provider like Viasat, these speeds are about average—maybe even a little slow. However, fixed wireless like Rise won’t suffer from the huge latency of satellite internet, which makes it much more usable for gaming and other real-time tasks. Rise should handle HD streaming in a small household without too much trouble. You can optionally add unlimited data for an extra $10 per month, which makes a big difference without making the price unreasonable.
Of the two main satellite internet providers in the US, Viasat offers higher speeds (up to 150 Mbps). Viasat delivers good enough performance for basic web browsing and some light video streaming, but even its most expensive plans limit the amount of high-speed data you can use before speeds are throttled.
Additionally, both HughesNet and Viasat have very high latency. This latency, the delay that happens when data is traveling from the satellite to your home, makes even a 150 Mbps connection feel slow. Starlink, a new satellite internet provider, uses satellites closer to the earth, so it is able to offer even faster speeds (up to 250 Mbps) and much lower latency than Viasat. For now, Starlink isn’t available in as many locations and performance isn’t as consistent, but it has similar pricing to Viasat and could be a strong alternative for some.
In terms of real-world performance, Viasat slightly outperforms HughesNet in terms of upload speed and latency, according to data from Ookla. (1) Nevertheless, Viasat won’t ever be a better choice than a cable or fiber connection due to the inherent limitations of satellite internet. Viasat also suffers from outages, which can sometimes last days even when the sky is clear, according to user reports from Downdetector. (2)
Rise Broadband offers surprisingly competitive equipment. The provider offers the TP-Link Deco M4 mesh system, which can easily cover an entire large home. Customers can choose to rent up to three of the devices for $5 more per month each, so you can save a little money if you don’t need the full range of all three routers.
Rise Broadband’s installation fee is a whopping $150. That’s one of the highest of any providers we’ve seen. However, many promotions waive this fee. If you can’t find one in your area, it’s also worth asking the sales rep about it—you never know.
Getting a satellite internet connection up and running is more involved than a traditional wired connection. Viasat requires you to lease its equipment for $14.99 per month and have it installed professionally. The leasing and installation fees are about the same as HughesNet, and Viasat sometimes waives the $99 cost of installation for qualifying new customers. This is in contrast to Starlink, which requires you to pay several hundred dollars for its equipment upfront and install it yourself.
When you sign up for Viasat, you’ll usually get an appointment for installation within three to five days, and the process itself takes two to three hours. A technician will mount the dish where it can get the clearest view of the southern sky, either on your house or on a pole mount for $75 extra. Since the equipment is leased, when you cancel your service, you’ll be responsible for removing and returning the dish, transceiver, modem, cables, and any other hardware to Viasat.
The customer experience with Rise Broadband is good overall. It offers solid speeds at a great price—if you’re coming from satellite, it’ll be a whole new world. Our one major gripe isn’t so much with Rise as it is with fixed wireless in general: it’s more susceptible to weather interference than most other types of internet. If you’re in an area with frequent heavy rain or snow, you might have some reliability issues (although satellite would likely have the same issues, too).
Viasat customer service has a dedicated phone number, responsive online chat, and troubleshooting FAQs on its website for all its customers. This is similar to HughesNet’s customer support, and it surpasses Starlink’s lackluster customer service.
Viasat’s best customer service is reserved for those who pay an additional $8.99 per month for EasyCare. EasyCare gives you access to a priority support phone number, free service calls to your address, and discounted annual dish location adjustment. Viasat has additional offerings, including Viasat Voice (VoIP phone service), Viasat Shield (security software), and DISH (satellite TV)–but you won’t save much by bundling.