Viasat vs HughesNet - Which One Is Better?


Although satellite internet is slower, more expensive than cable and fiber internet, and has latency issues, it is the only option for Americans residing in rural areas. It bridges the digital divide between the urban and rural populace and fulfills their internet connectivity requirements.

Choosing a reliable internet provider can be challenging with limited options. There are only two major satellite internet providers in the US, but even with such limited choices, new users should thoroughly read up and understand their service offering before making a final commitment.

Both HughesNet and Viasat are available nationwide. So, how do you get to decide which is the right choice for you? You might try to balance one ISP over the other based on price, speed, and other relevant factors. In this article, we will try to highlight all the major differences between them to help you make a calculated decision.

Viasat Satellite Internet

Viasat is high-speed satellite internet. It is known for its extensive coverage in about 50 states, making it available anywhere you go. Its unique “Viasat Flex” service does whatever is plausible to mitigate the latency and improve the overall user experience.

Pros:

  • Extensive coverage for rural areas
  • Faster speeds compared to other internet providers in rural areas
  • Higher data plans
  • Built-in WiFi

Cons:

  • Slower than cable and fiber internet
  • Fewer plans compared to others
  • A binding contract
  • Price hike after three months

HughesNet Satellite Internet

Another accredited Satellite internet service provider in the US is HughesNet; also available across all 50 states. This internet provider is known for its consistent speeds and affordability, making it easier to buy additional data after exceeding your monthly data limit. It is an excellent choice for rural customers.

Pros:

  • Consistent speeds
  • Lower price
  • Reliable service
  • No hard data caps

Cons:

  • Slower speed
  • Expensive equipment
  • There is a 2-year contract

Viasat vs HughesNet – Major Differences & Similarities

Availability

As HughesNet and Viasat are both satellite internet providers, their services are not constrained due to wires or cellular towers. They are available across all 50 states, and you can avail of their services anywhere you want. All you need is a dish antenna installed by the ISP. However, the packages and speed may vary depending on the satellite's location.

Pricing & Plans

Both Viasat and HughesNet have their benefits and drawbacks. If you are on a budget, then go for HughesNet plans but if you want a fast internet connection, then Viasat is a suitable option.

Viasat is known for providing up to 100 Mbps speeds. But bear in mind that Viasat plans’ prices go up by 33% after the initial three months. Its speed also drops down by 1-3 Mbps after reaching the data limit but you can buy additional data tokens, even though they don’t carry over to the next month. It has several plans with varying data caps and speeds.

Packages Price Internet Speed Data Cap
Basic 12 $50 per month Internet speed up to 12 Mbps 15 GB
Liberty 12 $50 per month Internet speed up to 12 Mbps 12 GB
Liberty 25 $75 per month Internet speed up to 12 Mbps 25 GB
Liberty 50 $100 per month Internet speed up to 12 Mbps 50 GB
Unlimited Bronze 12 $70 per month Internet speed up to 12 Mbps 80 GB
Unlimited Silver 12 $150 per month Internet speed up to 12 Mbps 45 GB
Unlimited Gold 12 $200 per month Internet speed up to 12 Mbps 65 GB
Unlimited Silver 25 $100 per month Internet speed up to 25 Mbps 120 GB
Unlimited Gold 30 $150 per month Internet speed up to 30 Mbps 100 GB
Unlimited Gold 50 $150 per month Internet speed up to 50 Mbps 200 GB
Unlimited Platinum 100 $200 per month Internet speed up to 100 Mbps 300 GB

HughesNet plans are much simpler than Viasat, offering the same download speeds. The notable difference is the amount of data they provide to you each month.
Packages Price Internet Speed Data Cap
10 GB Data Plan $60 per month Internet speed up to 25 Mbps 10 GB + 50 GB bonus zone
20 GB Data Plan $70 per month Internet speed up to 25 Mbps 20 GB + 50 GB bonus zone
30 GB Data Plan $100 per month Internet speed up to 25 Mbps 30 GB + 50 GB bonus zone
50 GB Data Plan $150 per month Internet speed up to 25 Mbps 50 GB + 50 GB bonus zone

Speed

Viasat offers a range of speeds starting from 12 Mbps all the way up to 100 Mbps, but don’t make any hasty decisions thinking that every area will have a speed of 100 Mbps. The speeds depend on your location.

On the other hand, HughesNet offers the same 25 Mbps in every plan and is known for its consistent speed. You should contact both the ISPs to compare the speeds and the data caps before settling for any one of the two.

Data Caps

Data caps make satellite internet different from other available options. Despite their claims of relaxed data limits, HughesNet and Viasat both have data caps, and both of them are known to cut down your speeds after you exceed your initial data limit.

HughesNet provides relief to its customers by granting an additional 50 GB of data to every customer regardless of their subscribed internet plan. You can use this Bonus Zone plan between 2:00 am to 8:00 am. The provider also offers various ‘Data Tokens’ to add additional data after hitting your data limit.

You can also purchase additional data with Viasat, but it doesn’t consolidate over to the next month, and you end up losing unused data at the end of each month.

Equipment & Installation

Neither provider offers a self-installation option. You will have to avail professional installation services that can cost you up to $100.

Viasat has better satellite-backed technology that provides a better, stronger service. But you will have to get customized equipment from Viasat that can support this technology. Viasat offers you two leasing options. You can either pay $10 every month, or you can pay a one-time fee of $300 for a lifetime lease. Select your leasing option depending on your usage. If you want to use Viasat’s internet for a reasonably long period of time, go for the lifetime lease. Otherwise, the monthly lease is more affordable.

HughesNet offers a buyout option with its lease plans. You can either purchase the equipment for $350 or pay the monthly lease for $15. Depending on your area, you might get a $5 discount on your monthly lease. It also offers free installation for new customers.

Contracts & ETF

Both HughesNet and Viasat bind you in a 2-year contract, where you will have to pay an early termination fee if you want to cancel it. With Viasat, the early termination fee is up to $15 per remaining month on your contract. However, you do have the option of avoiding the contract with Viasat by paying an upfront $300 fee.

On the other hand, if you cancel your HughesNet contract in the first 90 days, it can charge up to $400 as an Early Termination Fee.

Technology

Viasat has an edge over HughesNet in this aspect, as it possesses the latest technology compared to HughesNet. Although this might change in the near future as HughesNet has partnered with OneWeb to invest in low-Earth orbit satellites.

Conclusion

We hope our efforts have made your choice easier. HughesNet and Viasat are two viable options for the rural population. Where HughesNet is known for its consistent speeds and affordable plans, Viasat offers higher speeds and greater data allowances. Make sure to explore both ISPs and see which one fits your requirements best before making your final decision.

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