Unlimited Satellite Internet Plans – HughesNet vs. Viasat

Living rural has its perks; less stress, fresh air, and open roads just to name a few, but across the US, there has always been constant pain – internet service.

We crawled our way through the dial-up days (if you’re reading this and are still on dial-up its time to switch), put up with the headaches from the initial days of satellite Internet, and until recently, your service offerings remained steadily frustrating.

But, in late 2017, HughesNet shook up the industry with the launch of its Echostar 19 satellite. Promising to deliver 25 Mbps download speeds (previously the max in the industry was 15 Mbps) and more data on every one of its plans, HughesNet reached all rural homes and made satellite Internet relevant again.

Fast forward to today, a few companies have fizzled out. WildBlue was purchased by Exede, DishNet was discontinued, and Exede recently changed its name to Viasat, leaving only 2 options for satellite Internet – HughesNet and ViaSat (Exede). But most importantly, Viasat introduced “unlimited satellite Internet” plans allowing you to do so more more online, and this has since been adopted by HughesNet.

Below we’ll dive into both providers, what unlimited satellite Internet really means, and help you determine which plan and provider will be best for you!

HughesNet vs. Viasat – Plans and Pricing:

No matter where you live, you most likely have plans from both HughesNet and Viasat available to you. But, how good those plans will be is determined by how many people in your area are using the service and your proximity to the companies satellites.

As you’ll read below, we highly recommend seeing what plans are returned after entering your address on both websites. What might be a good location for HughesNet, could return poor plans from Viasat and vice versa. This could help you immediately determine which company is right for you.

What is “Unlimited Satellite Internet”?

Consumers have been waiting a long time to have unlimited data plans similar to what many of the DSL, cable, and fiber internet companies offer, and they may need to wait a little longer.

When HughesNet and Viasat use the term “unlimited internet with no hard data caps”, what they mean is that after you reach your plans data limit, your service won’t get cut off and you will be able to continue using the internet at a reduced speed. This speed is generally around 1-3 Mbps and should be fast enough to watch Netflix in lower quality, browse social media, and shop online.

This is a huge leap forward from plans in the past. On those, when you met your data limit, service would be immediately shut down until the start of your next billing cycle, or until you bought “tokens” to restore your data. With these new plans theirs no need to worry about that, but you will still need to monitor your data usage so you know when your service will be slowing down.


HughesNet Package & Pricing:

HughesNet offers four, straightforward packages that are available from coast to coast. The plans shown below are for HughesNet’s base pricing, and this is the highest rate you will pay depending on your location. After entering your address for lookup, it’s possible you will have a $10/month or $20/month discount across the board (ex. 30 GB plan is $20 off/month, making it $79.99).

If available to you, the monthly discount is for 12 months and then the standard price would become your everyday price. This model makes it easy to estimate your monthly bill and will leave you without any huge price jumps you see with most of the Viasat plans.

Every HughesNet plan has a different amount of anytime data (10 GB – 50 GB), offers 50 GB on bonus zone data (free data you can use between 2am and 8am), and deliverers 25 Mbps download speeds.

Most importantly, every plan also has unlimited data with no hard data limits. If you use more data than you paid for, your service gets slowed down to around 3 Mbps until it resets, but you will still be able to do most of the things you do online.

PackagesStandard PriceDownload SpeedDetails
10 GB$59.99/mo.25 MbpsVIEW PLAN
20 GB$69.99/mo.25 MbpsVIEW PLAN
30 GB$99.99/mo.25 MbpsVIEW PLAN
50 GB$149.99/mo.25 MbpsVIEW PLAN

Viasat Package & Pricing:

Viasat’s plans are not as straight forward as HughesNets. Where HughesNet has 4 options available nationwide, based on your address, Viasat will return you 3 plans out of a possibility of 13.

All plans are advertised as being “unlimited”, but just like HughesNet, Viasat customers that surpass the cycles data limit will experience a slow down in service.

Viasat promises a two-year price-lock guarantee on service, but it does dramatically raise prices after the first 3 months. With that being such a small portion of your overall contract, we recommend you ignore the misleading introductory pricing and just look at the everyday price when comparing packages to HughesNets.

Packages3 Month PriceEveryday PriceDownload SpeedData Limit
Liberty 12$50/mo.$50/mo.12 Mbps12 GB
Liberty 25$75/mo.$75/mo.12 Mbps25 GB
Liberty 50$100/mo.$100/mo.12 Mbps50 GB
Unlimited Bronze 12$70/mo.$100/mo.12 Mbps35 GB
Unlimited Silver 12$100/mo.$150/mo.12 Mbps45 GB
Unlimited Gold 12$150/mo.$200/mo.12 Mbps65 GB
Unlimited Bronze 12$50/mo.$70/mo.12 Mbps40 GB
Unlimited Silver 25$70/mo.$100/mo.25 Mbps60 GB
Unlimited Gold 30$100/mo.$150/mo.30 Mbps100 GB

Viasat leads it advertising with the following 4 plans. They are expensive but have a good amount of data and speeds. We separated these from the 9 packages above because after conducting research and taking a sample size of 500 rural zip codes (1000 or less population), we found that these plans are available in less than 5% of markets. With them not being widely available, and unlikely their available to you, we felt they deserved their own category.

If they are available, and the price point is in range for you, these packages will be a good choice compared to HughesNet.

Packages3 Month PriceEveryday PriceDownload SpeedData Limit
Unlimited Bronze 25$50/mo.$70/mo.25 Mbps35 GB
Unlimited Silver 25$70/mo.$100/mo.25 Mbps60 GB
Unlimited Gold 50$100/mo.$150/mo.50 Mbps100 GB
Unlimited Platinum 100$150/mo.$200/mo.100 Mbps35 GB

Who Wins On Packages & Price:

 


HughesNet vs Viasat – Equipment:

HughesNet vs Viasat – Customer Service:

Ways to Save Money on Satellite Internet Service

Summary