Starlink Vs. HughesNet Vs. Viasat: A Comprehensive Comparison

Usually, satellite internet is the only option in rural and remote areas. However, such internet solutions are more costly than other services. Also, because of its relatively high latency connection, it can prove problematic for online gamers. Fortunately, the sector is steadily beginning to change with the introduction of Elon Musk’s Starlink. This article looks at Starlink vs. HughesNet vs. Viasat, the three major satellite internet players.

Table of Contents

Satellite Positioning

Undoubtedly, Starlink has the world’s most extensive network of high-performing and sophisticated satellites operating in low earth orbit about 500 km above the earth’s surface.

In contrast, other satellite services, including HughesNet and Viasat, position their satellites approximately 35,400 km above the earth’s surface in a fixed, geosynchronous orbit.


The proximity of Starlink’s satellites means signals take a shorter time to travel. Thus, Starlink internet offers a lower latency of about 45ms. On the other hand, because HughesNet and Viasat satellites are much farther, the latency is much higher. Consequently, HughesNet has a latency of 728ms, and Viasat’s is  600ms. 


Because the satellites are more, plus closer to earth, Starlink is more reliable than all satellite internet services, including HughesNet and Viasat. That’s because it offers higher speeds and lower latency. 


Here, the proximity of Starlink satellites offers a drawback. See, each satellite covers a much smaller area than HughesNet and Viasat satellites. For example, with Jupiter 2 satellite launching about 35,400 km (22,000 miles) away, HughesNet would cover North America, including Alaska and the District of Columbia.

(Caption: Image of one satellite covering a wide area)

For this reason, Starlink has to launch many satellites. As of October 2022, Starlink has 3,500 satellites and aims to launch many more. So to help make up for the high cost of launching several satellites, Starlink uses the Falcon 9 reusable rocket, which is cheaper to deploy. 

(Caption: Image of many satellites)


While Starlink offers speeds of up to 250 Mbps, which can go up to 500 Mbps, HughesNet 25 Mbps, and Viasat up to 150+ Mbps in select regions, however, Starlink speeds can also be low. Thankfully, you can use the Starlink speed app to test your speed to help diagnose the cause of sluggish speeds. Then, depending on the issue, you can update software, mount your dish differently, or purchase accessories to extend coverage.


Here’s how Starlink, HughesNet, and Viasat differ in cost. 

EquipmentMonthly Fee
Starlink$599 one-time cost$110
HughesNet$349 or $14.99 per month$64.99 (for the lowest data cap)
Viasat$299.99 or $12.99 per month$49.99 and above

Data Caps

Amazingly, Starlink service has no data caps and offers up to 1 TB of data. On the other hand, HughesNet and Viasat have data limits, and once reached, the speed gets reduced. 

The following are HughesNet data packages, all offering 25 Mbps download speeds.

Data LimitMonthly Fee
15 GB$64.99
30 GB$74.99
50 GB$89.99
100 GB$149.99

And below are Viasat data packages, all offering 12 Mbps download speeds.

Data LimitMonthly Fee
12 GB$29.99
25 GB$49.99
50 GB$74.99


With Starlink, users sign no contract. But HughesNet and Viasat users must sign a 24-month contract. You cannot terminate the contract before the 24 months expire. If you do, you owe. 

For example, if you cancel your contract with HughesNet, you’ll pay $400 for equipment and installation and another $400 service termination fee.

Starlink– Fast speeds, especially in remote areas- Available almost everywhere- Easy installation process- Offers faster disaster recovery- Has superior portability– Sluggish speeds in cities- Hardware installation can sometimes present challenges- Not portable
HughesNet– Tends to be more affordable- Has built-in Wi-Fi- Has video data saving capabilities- Any additional data purchases have no limit– You must sign a two-year contract – Throttled speeds after data allowance- Maximum speed of only 25 Mbps 
Viasat– Free installation- Built-in Wi-Fi- Higher data caps than Viasat– Users must sign a two-year contract- Any additional data you purchase expires after a month- Significant price hikes after three months

Unsurprisingly, Starlink is often considered the better option than HughesNet and Viasat. For starters, it’s the only satellite internet provider in the U.S. that offers fixed broadband-like latency numbers. And with median downloading speeds of 97.23 Mbps, it’s fast enough to keep up with the needs of most modern online practices. Then, HughesNet comes in a distant second place with 19.73 Mbps, and Viasat third with 18.13 Mbps.

Also, in terms of latency, Starlink outshines HughesNet and Viasat.


No. While Starlink speeds and latency stump those of HughesNet and Viasat, the coverage is way more limited. Thus, HughesNet has the biggest customer base covering North America. 

Technically yes. And the reason for this is that Starlink offers the highest speeds, lowest latency, and easy installation out of all these major players.

Is Viasat The Same As Hughesnet?

No. While they may be similar and have been in the market for a fairly long time, they still have differences in price plans, speeds, and data limits.


Without a doubt, satellite internet is necessary for remote areas without access to other internet services. And now you understand better how Starlink, HughesNet, and Viasat, the primary players in the satellite internet, compare. So now, depending on availability and cost and your internet needs, you’re better placed to make an informed choice. 

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