One of the oldest internet connection types dating back almost 20 years ago, satellite internet was originally designed for rural areas where terrestrial infrastructure was either nonexistent or too expensive to deploy and maintain.
Now, with the introduction of other broadband internet types, such as fiber, cable and DSL, many believe that satellite internet will go extinct. But that is not the case!
Satellite internet is still widely available across the US, reaching rural and remote areas where other types of internet have not yet reached, making it a great alternative to the others.
HomeLinkd takes a look at the best satellite internet providers in 2023. We look at what they have to offer, the nitty gritty of satellite service, and how you can find the best satellite internet options in your area.
Satellite internet providers are typically two companies: the service provider you pay for your monthly internet service, and the satellite operator who owns and maintains the physical infrastructure in space that brings the internet to your home.
The best-known satellite providers in the US are HughesNet, Viasat (formerly Exede) and Dish Network. There are other regional providers as well, such as WildBlue, which was acquired by HughesNet in 2009.
Satellite internet works by beaming radio signals from space to a small dish in your home. The dish is connected to a modem, which in turn is connected to your computer or router.
The signal from the satellite is received by the dish and sent to the modem, where it is converted into an internet connection that can be used by your devices.
The drawback of satellite internet is that there is a slight delay, or latency, in the signal because it has to travel more than 22,000 miles round-trip from space. This can make gaming and other real-time applications difficult to use.
Unlike fiber or cable internet, weather can affect the satellite signal, causing outages during severe storms. And because the dish must have a clear view of the sky to communicate with the satellite dish in space, trees and other obstacles can block the signal.
Satellite internet plans typically have data caps, which means you are limited in the amount of data you can use each month. If you go over your data limit, your speeds will be reduced, or you may have to pay additional fees.
When choosing a satellite internet provider, there are several factors to consider:
Satellite speeds have come a long way in recent years but are still not as fast as cable or fiber internet.
Internet speeds from a satellite connection are typically expressed in megabits per second (Mbps). The higher the number, the faster the connection.
Satellite speeds have increased dramatically in recent years. In 2017, HughesNet launched its Gen5 service with speeds up to 25 Mbps. Viasat followed suit in 2018 with its Exede2 service, offering speeds up to 100 Mbps.
Dish Network offers a home internet access service called dishNET, with download speeds of up to 10 Mbps.
However, because of the latency issue, satellite is not the best choice for gaming or other real-time applications.
Fiber optic internet is the newest, fastest and one of best internet connections available. It uses a network of glass or plastic fibers to transmit data at speeds up to 1,000 Mbps, whereas satellites can only reach a maximum speed of 100 Mbps.
The main advantage of fiber over satellite is speed. Fiber internet plans offer speeds much faster than even the fastest satellite plans - meaning you have more speed for video streaming in 4K, competitive online gaming or running a small business from home.
Another advantage of fiber is that it is not affected by weather like satellite can be. And because fiber uses a physical connection, there is no latency, which means it is ideal for gaming and other real-time applications.
Although satellite internet is not as fast as fiber, it is more widely available as fiber is not yet available in most remote areas in the US.
Cable internet uses the same cables as your TV service to deliver high-speed internet to your home. It is widely available and typically faster than satellite, with speeds up to 500 Mbps.
The downside of cable is that it can be more expensive than other connection types. In addition, if you live in a rural area, you may not have access to cable service.
DSL, or digital subscriber line, is an internet type that uses your home’s existing phone lines to deliver high-speed internet. It is widely available and typically cheaper than others, with speeds up to 100 Mbps, similar to satellite.
The downside of DSL is that it can be slower than other connections, such as cable and fiber. In addition, the speed can vary depending on how far you are from the nearest DSL provider, whereas satellite internet does not have this issue as it transmits signals from a satellite in space.
Now that you know a little more about satellite internet access, let’s take a look at the best satellite internet providers of 2023:
If you’re looking for the best overall satellite internet provider, HughesNet should be #1 on your list. It offers a variety of plans with download speeds up to 25 Mbps, which is fast enough for most households. In addition, it does come with data caps - but you can always upgrade your plan to a higher data cap if you're a heavy internet user.
One downside of HughesNet is that it requires a two-year contract, so be sure to read the fine print before you sign up. In addition, installation can be done by a professional or, in some cases, by yourself. Be sure to ask about installation fees and whether or not a professional is required.
If you’re a gamer, Viasat is the satellite internet provider for you. Viasat offers the fastest speeds of any provider, with plans up to 100 Mbps. And because Viasat plans come with no data caps, you can game to your heart’s content without worrying about exceeding your data limit.
One of the downsides of Viasat is that it can be more expensive than other providers. In addition, installation can be done by a professional or, in some cases, by yourself.
If you’re looking for the fastest satellite speeds, Starlink Satellite is the provider for you. It offers the fastest satellite internet compared to the other two providers, with speeds up to 100 Mbps - and in some cases, even higher going up to 500 Mbps.
One of the downsides of Starlink is that it is not yet available in all areas. And it is on the more expensive side compared to Viasat and HughesNet. Starlink also has one home internet plan available.
Now that we’ve looked at the best satellite internet providers let’s compare their plans and prices:
Max Speed: 25 Mbps download speed, and 3 Mbps upload speed
The HughesNet Gen5 30 GB Plan is the second-most basic plan offered by HughesNet. It offers speeds up to 25 Mbps and 30 GB of data per month. If you go over your data limit, your speeds will be throttled for the remainder of the billing cycle.
Max Speed: 12 Mbps download speed, and 3 Mbps upload speed
The Viasat Unlimited Bronze 12 Plan is the most basic plan offered by Viasat. It offers speeds up to 12 Mbps and unlimited data per month. And because it’s an unlimited data plan, you won’t have to worry about your speeds being throttled if you go over your data limit.
Max Speed: 50 Mbps download speed, and 5 Mbps upload speed
The Starlink Home Internet Plan is the only home internet plan offered by Starlink. It offers speeds up to 50 Mbps and unlimited data per month. And because it’s an unlimited data plan, you won’t have to worry about your speeds being throttled if you go over your data limit.
A satellite internet connection is a great option for those in rural or remote areas where other types of internet are not yet available - it's available nearly everywhere. It is also a good choice for those who need high speeds and unlimited data.
However, because of the latency issue, it is not the best choice for gaming or other real-time applications. And most plans have data caps, so be sure to find out how much data you get with your plan and what the overage charges are if you go over your limit.
Getting rural internet access is so much easier, thanks to the number of satellite internet providers available.
Browse our list of options for satellite internet from major satellite internet providers today.