Starlink is one of the three national satellite home internet providers and competes mostly in rural areas, where customers may also have a choice of fixed wireless internet or wired DSL connections but probably can't get cable or fiber internet.
Starlink competes by offering speeds up to 250 Mbps and not requiring contracts, but it has a very poor record on customer service and its average speeds were only about 50 Mbps for download in the third quarter of 2022 with an average latency of 67 ms, which is far too slow for any live gaming or working remotely. (1) The more customers on the network, the slower it gets.
Read about satellite internet vs DSL connections
Starlink vs. Viasat: Viasat and Starlink have virtually identical coverage areas, each available to more than 96% of addresses in the US. (2) We give Starlink a slightly better score on value overall, but you can get plans from Viasat that are much cheaper every month. With Viasat, however, you’ll have tighter limits on how much high speed data you can use, plus slower speeds and higher latency. You will also be stuck in a contract, and the price will increase after three months.
Starlink vs. HughesNet: HughesNet is also available to virtually every home in the US, and it may be much easier to get an internet connection up and running than it would be with Starlink. However, prices on some of HughesNet's plans are lower, and you don’t have to buy your own equipment upfront. Downsides are much slower speeds and higher latency, plus strict caps on data.
Starlink vs. T-Mobile: While Starlink is technically available to virtually every address in the US (not accounting for the wait list), T-Mobile offers home internet on its 2G, 4G LTE, and 5G networks to about 89% of addresses. If you're on the 4G LTE network (most common for rural areas), typical download speeds are 37–119 Mbps and typical latency is 24–40 ms. That’s a little more bandwidth than you would get with Starlink, but still too slow for a lot of gaming. If you have a T-Mobile cell phone plan, you could pay as little as $25 per month for home internet service, or $50 per month if you don’t have mobile service.
While the two companies compete in the home internet arena, they also work together. In August of 2022, T-Mobile announced it would partner with Starlink to provide connectivity “even in many of the most remote locations previously unreachable by traditional cell signals.” (3)
Home internet from Starlink is technically available throughout the US, but most of the eastern half of the country is on waitlist status (and there's no way to tell how long the waitlist is). Starlink also offers mobile service, which is available everywhere. However, home connections are prioritized over mobile ones, so your speeds and latency won’t be as good unless you cough up at least $250 per month for a Priority plan.
(1) “New Speedtest Data Shows Starlink Users Love Their Provider,” Ookla. Accessed 12 May 2023.
(2) "FCC National Broadband Map," FCC. Accessed 14 April 2023.
(3) “T‑Mobile Takes Coverage Above and Beyond With SpaceX,” T-Mobile. Accessed 14 March 2023.
The HughesNet Gen5 service plans are designed to deliver download speeds of 25 Mbps and upload speeds of 3 Mbps, but individual customers may experience different speeds at different times of the day. Speeds and uninterrupted use are not guaranteed and may vary based on a variety of factors including: the configuration of your computer, the number of concurrent users, network or Internet congestion, the capabilities and content of the websites you are accessing, network management practices as deemed necessary, and other factors. When you connect to the HughesNet service using Wi-Fi, your experience will vary based on your proximity to the Wi-Fi source and the strength of the signal.
Disclaimer: Availability and pricing are subject to location. Conditions apply. For offer details, visit the provider's website.