Best Satellite Internet Providers of 2022

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Satellite internet is a completely wireless internet connection that is available virtually everywhere in the country. While it is relatively slow in comparison to cable or fiber optic connections, satellite internet access is faster than dial-up and some DSL options. This makes it a good choice for the one in five Americans who the U.S. Census Bureau reports live in rural areas, which are not always well-served by other internet service providers.

Satellite internet does require more equipment, however, including a satellite dish that connects to a geostationary communication satellite in space. As long as you have a clear view of the southern sky, you can get online.

The biggest downside to satellite internet is that its slow and has major latency issues because the signal has to travel all the way to space and back. Keeping reading to learn more about HughesNet, Viasat, and our rating of the Best Satellite Internet Service Providers of 2022.

(pixelfit)

Best Satellite Internet Providers of 2022

Best Satellite Internet Providers of 2022 1

Best Satellite ISP

Hughesnet is best for:

  • Those in rural areas with no other options

  • Light internet users with 5 devices or less

  • Customers who dont need a lot of speed

Hughesnet is not recommended for:

  • Online gamers or people who stream a lot of video

  • People who work from home and use video conferencing

Connection Type
Satellite

Download Speed
25 Mbps

Bundles
Internet, Voice Bundle (VOIP)

HughesNet: HughesNet takes the top spot in our Best Satellite Internet Service Providers of 2022 ratings with a score of 3.7 out of 5. It also places seventh in our Best Internet Service Providers of 2022 ratings and second in our Best Internet Service Providers for Rural Areas list. Its five plans start at $60 a month and go up to $150 per month, and all include speeds of up to 25 megabits per second (Mbps).

The plans have escalating data caps, beginning with 10 gigabytes (GB) and going up to 150 GB. There are no hard data caps, so you wont lose your connection, but your speeds will be throttled when you reach your allotted amount. A two-year contract is required.

See Full Review

Viasat is best for:

  • People without access to DSL, fiber, or cable internet

  • People who mostly use the internet to surf the web and check email

  • Those looking to bundle services

Viasat is not recommended for:

  • People who enjoy streaming videos

Connection Type
Satellite

Download Speed
12 Mbps – 100 Mbps

Bundles
Internet, TV, or Phone

Viasat: Viasat ranks second in our Best Satellite Internet Service Providers of 2022 with a score of 3.6 out of 5. This satellite internet provider also makes our overall Best Internet Service Provider ratings, placing 11th, and is No. 5 in our Best ISPs for Rural Areas ratings.

Viasat has five plans that cost between $40 and $150 per month, with download speeds starting at 12 Mbps and topping out at 100 Mbps. There are no hard data caps but your speeds are throttled after you use a pre-set amount of data based on your plan. This starts at 15 GB and goes up to 300 GB. A two-year contract is required.

See Full Review

Available in:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District Of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming
  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District Of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

See all

Satellite internet service is available nationwide, even in rural areas, as you can see on our map. You can also enter your home address on the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Fixed Broadband Deployment locator to see which internet providers are available to you. According to the FCC, 98.4% of Americans have access to at least two satellite broadband service providers.

Satellite internet is one of the few options for people living in rural areas and in regions that are hard to reach with fixed-line services like cable, fiber, or DSL internet. As you go further and further into rural America where theres lower density it is not economically justifiable for companies to wire those areas and thats why we see a limited availability in those areas, says Bruce Leichtman, a broadband industry expert.

Viasat says it provides satellite internet service in all 50 states, covering 98% of the U.S. population, and HughesNet is available to all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Internet Speed of Fiber vs. DSL vs. Cable vs. Satellite

Features Fiber DSL Cable Satellite
Download Speed 0.2 Mbps – 2,000 Mbps 0.20 Mbps – 940 Mbps 10 Mbps – 2,000 Mbps 12 Mbps – 100 Mbps
Upload Speed 0.128 Mbps – 1,000 Mbps 0.128 Mbps – 940 Mbps 1 Mbps – 1,000 Mbps 3 Mbps
Latency 12 ms – 33 ms 19.5 ms – 51 ms 22 ms – 28 ms 610 ms
Packet Loss 0% – 1% 0% – 1% 0% – 1% >1%

*Speed usage data from FCC website.

Satellite internet is one of the slowest high-speed internet services available. While it can get to fixed broadband speeds (classified by the FCC as 25 Mbps or higher), it cant reach the speeds cable and fiber- optic can. Most satellite providers provide speeds between 25 and 150 Mbps, whereas cable and fiber can reach over 1,000 Mbps (1 gigabit per second). All the satellite providers in our ratings have upload speeds of 3 Mbps regardless of which plan you are on.

If your only other options are DSL and dial-up, satellite could be a better choice. It is often faster than DSL in rural areas (as DSL slows down the further it is from a central station) and is definitely faster than dial-up internet. Essentially, satellite internet is for users who dont have another high-speed option. Even if you are in an area where satellite internet can offer speeds up to 50 or 100 Mbps, the latency inherent in a signal that has to go into space and back makes common activities like online gaming and video conferencing essentially unusable. Moreover, low data caps at higher speeds mean you wont be able to stream Netflix for hours.

Satellite internet is the most expensive form of internet, costing up to $150 a month for just 100 Mbps of speed. In comparison, 100 Mbps with cable internet is usually around $35 a month. The high cost is mainly due to the expensive and difficult-to-maintain infrastructure (you can’t send a truck to fix a broken satellite in space in the same way your cable company can repair a damaged connection).

With satellite internet, there is also significantly more equipment needed to get you online, all of which needs to be professionally installed. These high costs are why satellite providers require two-year contracts and have hefty early termination fees.

Unlike with most other internet options, the price of satellite internet is based on the amount of data you use. While you may pay more for higher speeds, most of the cost is in how much internet you consume. Every satellite internet plan from HughesNet has top speeds of 25 Mbps, but you can choose to pay $60, $70, $100, or $150 a month based on how much data you will use, with 100 GB being the highest allowance.

Viasat has a slightly different cost structure. You can pay as little as $39 a month for 12 Mbps of speed and 15 GB of data, all the way up to $150 monthly for 100 Mbps speeds and 150 GB to 300 GB of data. None of the satellite internet providers will turn off internet access when you reach your cap. Instead, they have soft data caps that limit your speeds.

  1. Select an ISP: Because some satellite internet providers merged in recent years, your choices are fewer. See our Which Satellite Internet Service is Near Me? section above for more information.
  2. Choose a Plan: Pick a plan that meets your need for speed and budget. Explore bundled services, which can reduce your monthly bill.
  3. Schedule Installation: The FCC requires professional installation. Learn more in our How Do I Install Equipment for Satellite Internet Service? section below.
  4. Connect Devices: After the technician gets your internet service and Wi-Fi up and running, you can connect your wired and wireless devices.

What Do I Need for Satellite Internet Service?

  • Satellite Dish Antenna: The dish sends and receives internet data to a geostationary satellite in space. Its about the same size as a satellite TV dish. The service provider supplies the dish, which works only with that service.
  • Southern Exposure: Geostationary satellites orbit above the earths equator, which is south of the continental U.S. For the dish antenna to communicate with the satellite, it needs an unobstructed view of the southern sky.
  • Cable: A RG6 coaxial cable connects the dish to the modem.
  • Modem: The modem communicates with the internet. It may come equipped with a built-in Wi-Fi router. A gateway device combines both modem and router.
  • Wi-Fi Router: This device uses radio frequency to create a wireless home network so you can connect devices like smartphones and tablets.
  • Amplifier (Optional): An amplifier can help boost the satellite signal between the dish and modem and reduce latency.
  • Web Browser: To surf the internet, you need a web browser. All major web browsers work with satellite internet, but some browsers are designed specifically for satellite internet, and load pages faster and save data.

Should I Buy or Rent Equipment for Satellite Internet Service?

Buying Equipment – Satellite Internet Service

Renting Equipment – Satellite Internet Service

  • You can choose a more powerful Wi-Fi router

  • You can create a more powerful wireless network

  • You can switch internet providers easier

  • Renting the modem is required

  • Youre guaranteed compatibility

  • You get technical support

  • What you can buy is limited

  • Youre on your own if it breaks or becomes outdated

  • It adds to your monthly bill

  • Rental fees could increase

  • Youll be charged a fee for not returning equipment

Buying Equipment – Satellite Internet Service

  • You can choose a more powerful Wi-Fi router

  • You can create a more powerful wireless network

  • You can switch internet providers easier

  • What you can buy is limited

  • Youre on your own if it breaks or becomes outdated


Renting Equipment – Satellite Internet Service

  • Renting the modem is required

  • Youre guaranteed compatibility

  • You get technical support

  • It adds to your monthly bill

  • Rental fees could increase

  • Youll be charged a fee for not returning equipment

You should rent or purchase your equipment for satellite internet service from the ISP. The dish antenna and modem are configured specifically to work with your internet provider’s system. You cannot buy a modem off the shelf and make it work; nor can you buy and install your own dish antenna. Because the dish antenna both sends and receives data, the FCC requires that it be installed by a certified technician.

The ISP-supplied modem may have a built-in Wi-Fi router (this combo device is called a gateway). Youre not obligated to use the router. You can turn it off and purchase a better one to create a more powerful wireless home network. You wont save money, however, because you still have to pay the monthly rental fee for the other equipment.

Renting equipment gets you technical support and a router that is guaranteed to be compatible. If you terminate service and dont return the equipment, you’ll be charged a fee. Monthly rental fees could increase, as well.

You can buy your equipment from some satellite ISPs if you prefer. You’ll pay more upfront, but over time you can recoup that money and save on future bills. Contact the satellite internet provider to learn if this is available and who is responsible should equipment break or need upgrading.

How Do I Install Equipment for Satellite Internet Service?

Self-installing satellite internet equipment:

  • Is possible only with your own Wi-Fi router

Hiring a professional to install satellite internet equipment:

  • Keeps the equipment warranty intact

  • Ensures the satellite dish is aligned and operating properly

The FCC requires that a certified technician install your satellite internet system. The dish antenna typically is installed on the side of your house, the roof, or a pole near the house where it has a clear line of sight to the southern sky. Youll have input on where it is placed.

The technician then routes cable from the dish to the gateway device (a combination modem-router) inside the home, configures your primary computer, and enables home Wi-Fi. Connecting your mobile devices to the Wi-Fi network may cost extra, though this step is generally easy enough for most people to manage on their own. Installation typically takes a few hours and is free, although non-standard or complex installations may incur fees.

The technician may be employed by a third-party contractor. If you perform any part of the installation, the equipment warranty will be voided.

The exception is with the Wi-Fi router. You can install your own Wi-Fi router instead of using the one built into the gateway device to have a stronger Wi-Fi signal on your property. Turn off the built-in router and follow installation instructions provided by the router manufacturer.

Satellite internet is good for:

  • People who dont have access to cable

  • Connecting five or fewer devices

  • Moderate internet activities (streaming lower definition video, checking email, web browsing)

Cable internet is good for:

  • Heavy-data internet activities (online gaming, high-definition video streaming, uploading large files)

  • Households with six or more connected devices

  • Getting affordable high-speed internet in select areas

Satellite is the best choice when the only broadband option is a slower DSL or mobile (cellular) connection. It supports moderate internet use: streaming video and performing basic online activities. Data limits make it unsuitable for binge-watching high-definition video, and its high latency (delays) impedes fast-paced multiplayer gameplay.

Cable is faster and has lower latency. Its best for households with multiple people who use the internet simultaneously for online gaming, video streaming, and sharing large files. Its also best if you have lots of devices connected to the internet at once. In many areas, starting prices for cable internet plans are less than what youll pay for satellite internet. Cable, however, is not available everywhere. Just over half of rural areas have the option to choose cable broadband, according to the FCC.

Satellite internet is good for:

  • People who dont have access to DSL

  • When available DSL internet plans are slow

DSL internet is good for:

  • Households that cant get a strong enough satellite signal

  • Gamers who want less lag during gameplay

  • Faster uploads for cloud backups and sharing videos

Satellite internet is available nearly everywhere, including places where DSL isnt a choice or for households far from the central hub that experience super slow DSL service. It lets you get internet now, instead of waiting for an internet provider to run wires or cables to your neighborhood.

In general, however, DSL is faster than satellite. Its speed is more consistent, and the latency is significantly lower. For gamers, this means less lag time for real-time first-person gameplay. Because DSL transmits data through a homes telephone line, you dont need a satellite dish installed. You also can buy equipment to run DSL, whereas you must rent equipment from a satellite ISP.

Other Internet Service Providers

Other Guides from 360 Reviews

Other Products to Consider

In addition to the companies in our rating of the Best Internet Service Providers, here are some others to consider:

The following describes our 360 approach to researching and analyzing internet service providers to guide prospective consumers.

1. We researched the companies and products people care most about.

U.S. News analyzed and compared a variety of publicly available data, including internet search data, to determine which internet service providers consumers are most interested in. We found 25 companies that stood out for further evaluation using the volume of searches and consumer research. After conducting a thorough analysis, we were able to condense the initial list to the 12 overall Best Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Taking a step further, out of the top 12 ISPs, we determined which is best by connection type, the best for gaming using latency (provided by the Federal Communications Commission) as a parameter, the best for rural areas, the best prepaid plans, and the cheapest in terms of the lowest regular rate. Fastest ISPs was also another sub-category to consider, but without the proper speed testing platform, this could not be captured appropriately. 360 Reviews instead offered consumers the fastest publicized ISP plans provided by our overall Best Internet Service Providers. With the companies determined, we researched their most important features to create a general layout of what consumers should know to assist with their purchasing decisions.

We compared the various plans, along with the monthly costs and associated fees that each company provided relative to its customers needs. The plans highlighted features such as connection type, download/upload speed, and data caps. We also considered the latency, consistency, and packet loss data provided by the Federal Communications Commission in regards to connection type and ISPs for gaming. With these factors in mind, we created a thorough set of guides that provides a 360 overview of what consumers should consider.

2. We created objective 360 Overall Ratings based on an analysis of third-party reviews.

Our scoring methodology is based on a composite analysis of the ratings and reviews published by credible third-party professional and consumer review sources. The ratings are not based on the personal opinions, tests, or experiences of U.S. News. To calculate the ratings:

(a) We compiled two types of third-party ratings and reviews:

Professional Ratings and Reviews: Many independent evaluating sources have published their assessments of internet service providers and products online. We consider several of these third-party reviews to be reputable and well-researched. However, professional reviewers often make recommendations that contradict one another. Rather than relying on a single source, U.S. News believes consumers benefit most when these opinions and recommendations are considered and analyzed collectively with an objective, consensus-based methodology.

Consumer Ratings and Reviews: U.S. News also reviewed published consumer ratings and reviews of internet service providers. Sources with a sufficient number of quality consumer ratings and reviews were included in our scoring model.

Please note that not all professional and consumer rating sources met our criteria for objectivity. Therefore, some sources were excluded from our model.

(b) We standardized the inputs to create a common scale.

The third-party review source data were collected in a variety of forms, including ratings, recommendations, and accolades. Before including each third-party data point in our scoring equation, we standardized it so that it could be compared accurately with data points from other review sources. We used the scoring methodology described below to convert these systems to a comparable scale.

The 360 scoring process first converted each third-party rating into a common 0 to 5 scale. To balance the distribution of scores within each sources scale, we used a standard deviation (or Z-Score) calculation to determine how each company that a source rated was scored in comparison to the sources mean score. We then used the Z-Score to create a standardized U.S. News score using the method outlined below:

Calculating the Z-Score: The Z-Score represents a data point’s relation to the mean measurement of the data set. The Z-Score is negative when the data point is below the mean and positive when it’s above the mean; a Z-Score of 0 means it’s equal to the mean. To determine the Z-Score for each third-party rating of a company, we calculated the mean of the ratings across all companies evaluated by that third-party source. We then subtracted the mean from the companys rating and divided it by the standard deviation to produce the Z-Score.

Calculating the T-Score: We used a T-Score calculation to convert the Z-Score to a 0-100 scale by multiplying the Z-Score by 10. To ensure that the mean was equal across all data points, we added our desired scoring mean (between 0 and 10) to the T-Score to create an adjusted T-Score.

Calculating the common-scale rating: We divided the adjusted T-Score, which is on a 100-point scale, by 20 to convert the third-party rating to a common 0-5 point system.

(c) We calculated the 360 Overall Score based on a weighted average model.

We assigned source weights to each source used in the consensus scoring model based on our assessment of how much the source is trusted and recognized by consumers and how much its published review process indicates that it is both comprehensive and editorially independent. The source weights are assigned on a 1-5 scale. Any source with an assigned weight less than 2 was excluded from the consensus scoring model.

Finally, we combined the converted third-party data points using a weighted average formula based on source weight. This formula calculated the consensus score for each product, which we call the 360 Overall Rating.

U.S. News 360 Reviews takes an unbiased approach to our recommendations. When you use our links to buy products, we may earn a commission but that in no way affects our editorial independence.

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