If you live in a remote area, you don’t have many choices when it comes to internet service. If you’re not lucky enough to have a cable or fiber connection available, there’s an extremely good chance you can still get internet access via satellite, as long as you can get a clear view of the sky from your home. HughesNet, Viasat, and Starlink are the three main satellite internet providers in the US.
Viasat and HughesNet are the two more established providers with the widest availability. Viasat offers the higher speeds of the two, up to 150 Mbps compared to just 25 Mbps with HughesNet. Starlink can provide 100 Mbps download speeds and lower latency because its satellites are closer to the earth. Starlink is a newcomer, so it isn’t yet available in many areas, which leaves many households with just Viasat and HughesNet to choose between.
HughesNet vs. Viasat: HughesNet and Viasat are both available anywhere in the US. Viasat offers cheaper plans than HughesNet, but they’ll be even slower—around 12 Mbps max. You also have faster options with more data, but they’ll cost you. Viasat has a slightly better reputation for reliability, though HughesNet’s Fusion plans—which combine satellite and fixed wireless signals—might change that. Viasat will probably be the better option for most people, but consider a HughesNet Fusion plan if they’re available in your area.
HughesNet vs. Starlink: Starlink is much faster than HughesNet and has lower latency, but better performance comes with some catches. Starlink is actively available in nearly all of the western half of the US, New England, and the southern half of Florida, but it’s waitlisted in most of the east. You’ll have to spend money on expensive equipment upfront, install it yourself, and deal with lackluster customer service, but it could be worth the $90–$120 monthly rates if HughesNet and Viasat aren’t powerful enough for you.
HughesNet vs. T-Mobile Home Internet: T-Mobile fixed wireless internet is available through most of the US and could be a better option than satellite providers like HughesNet. You can get average speeds around 183 Mbps for $50 per month ($25 if you have a T-mobile cell phone plan), which is a way better deal. However, you’ll still deal with reliability issues, especially in poor weather. Also, whether you get a good signal varies considerably, so plan to test out T-Mobile for a month. That should be easy, since there’s no contract to sign. If T-Mobile doesn’t work for you, consider another fixed wireless provider like Verizon or Rise Broadband instead.
Options for internet service tend to be very limited in rural areas. Even if you can’t get a fiber or cable connection, HughesNet likely has you covered. It is available in the contiguous United States, Puerto Rico, and Alaska. All you need is a clear view of the southern sky to get a connection. HughesNet offers up to 25 Mbps download speeds nearly everywhere, though speeds in Alaska are slower.
Disclaimer: Availability and pricing are subject to location. Conditions apply. For offer details, visit the provider's website.