We spent over 30 days researching and testing the two major satellite internet providers available and found that performance, price, and reliable customer service were most important. We looked at these two companies’ business ratings, equipment, plans and more and found that Hughesnet scored high marks in all categories and is our top pick. Hughesnet offered the most data and fastest speeds as well as reliable service.
HughesNet vs Exede
Largest Data Plan
Cost Per GB*
*Based on the highest plans available.
Satellite Internet Reviews
The fastest internet available for consumers nowadays is fiber-optic and cable. It is usually available in urban and metro areas and even in more suburban areas. In rural areas, the choices become much more limited and can lead to having extremely slow internet if you can get it at all.
Over the last several years satellite internet providers have come up with increasingly more powerful high-speed internet that is closer to the quality and speed of fiber-optics and cable internet.
If you live in a rural area and don’t have the ability to get standard fiber optic or cable internet providers, satellite internet may be a good option for you to consider. The best satellite internet companies provide coverage in pretty much all of the lower 48 states and there is some coverage available in Hawaii, Alaska, Canada, and Puerto Rico as well.
The benefit to using satellite internet is that you won’t have to worry about using a slow dial-up connection that will tie up your telephone line. There are several things that you will want to check out before you decide on satellite internet for your home. Below we have reviewed the top two satellite internet providers so you can see the differences and make a good decision on the best company for your internet needs.
Best Satellite Providers
Satellite Internet Buying Guide
Things to Consider Before Purchase
There are several things that you will want to look at when you are comparing satellite internet providers before you purchase. We found that the different pricing and speed plans were based on location more than anything. Make sure you know what kind of devices, how many devices, and what type of activities will be performed with those devices before you start looking around. This will help you reduce the chances of having to use the extended data purchasing options that both companies offer. While it is great that they have these options, buying extra data can add up quickly and prove to be very costly. Look at the following factors when comparing satellite internet companies
- Speed/Performance – Most of the time, regardless of the type of service you have, you can expect download speeds are going to be faster than upload speeds. It can range from .5 mbps to 15 mbps. The speed of the downloads and uploads will affect how long it takes to download music and photos as well as how long it takes a movie to buffer. Many companies offer tools that you can use that will help you determine how much data you use each day so you can choose the plan that will most closely match your needs. Unfortunately, satellite internet doesn’t really offer extensive data plans where you can stream a lot of movies or play online video games because they cause strain on the service itself and bandwidth has to be kept open for other customers as well. This is one of the biggest drawbacks to having satellite internet.
- Bandwidth Levels – When you purchase a plan, that plan will work a lot like a cell phone plan and provide you with a certain amount of data to use each month. It can range anywhere from 5 GB to 50GB per month. Depending on the company, if you go over your monthly data the internet speeds will be restricted until your next monthly cycle begins. This can be a real problem if you use the internet to work. You can purchase additional data plans with both companies we reviewed but those extra data plans are limited and there is a high cost that comes with purchasing extra data. Don’t forget to make sure that the company you are considering offers unlimited, unmetered access for early bird or off-peak hours. This is usually going to be from 2:00 am to around 8:00 am depending on the company you are considering. It is during this time that you can (and should) do any large downloading tasks since it won’t count against your monthly data.
- Understand Your Options – Both satellite internet companies require lengthy contracts, most often a minimum of two years. Both companies we reviewed offered lock in prices that allowed users to have the same price for a 24 or 36 month time period so you don’t have to worry about the prices increasing a few months down the road. If you travel part of the year, ask the company if they offer a hibernation plan that freezes the contract while you are out of town. You may have to pay a small monthly fee to stay “active” but not active, but it is worth it not to have to cancel and start your service every time you are out of town for an extended period of time. If you do cancel your contract there will almost definitely be fees for early termination. These can be very costly penalties but it will vary from company to company.
- What is Included? – Most satellite internet installations take about 3 or 4 hours and have to be handled by a licensed professional with the company that uses the company equipment. Satellite internet does not offer the option of self-installation at this time. Depending on the company, you may have a warranty and some companies offer free installation if you catch them during a promotion. Look for companies that offer good warranties so you have added protection in case something goes wrong. In most cases, you will get a dish included with the installation that will also include mounting it and the hardware needed to mount it. You will have the choice between leasing the equipment and purchasing the equipment. Many companies offer free installation if you choose the lease option. Make certain that all the equipment and your service is checked thoroughly before the technician leaves.
- Customer Support and Tech Support – The quality of a company’s customer and tech support is very important if you want to be able to get help with problems that may arise. Look for 24/7 tech support which will cover you early morning or on weekends if you run into problems. The customer and tech supports should offer several ways to contact them such as email, telephone, live chat, etc. A good company is going to ensure that their customers have many means of contacting someone for help should the need arise.
- Location, Location, Location – Location determines a lot with a satellite company. It can determine the speed you get, the price plans offered, and upgrades available. Most satellite internet companies offer service in all 48 lower states. Some even cover Canada, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Alaska. This is a great thing if you are in an out of the way place where satellite is your only option.
Most satellite internet providers don’t really offer a budget option because the satellite internet market is a very small one over all. You will have plan choices, but due to what it is, you should expect to pay more overall for satellite internet than you would pay with cable internet. Investing in a satellite internet set up is something to be taken seriously since you will be responsible for this purchase and this service for at least 24 months.
Make sure that you know all the options and expectations that you have with whatever satellite company you choose. Even with the higher costs, if you live in a rural area, satellite internet with a high speed connection is a must have in helping you stay connected.
Read the fine print of your contract BEFORE you sign any paperwork. Before you sign is the time to ask questions and understand everything that is going to be done, everything you are going to have to pay, and what you can expect from their service.
It is important to note that whoever installs your satellite internet will more than likely be a third party contractor. If the contractor is saying something that the contract isn’t, it is best to get on the phone or chat with customer service so you can straighten it out before installation begins. Make sure the answers you get to your questions and all prices and services are in writing.
If you take the time to become informed and you are prepared, you’ll be very happy with your satellite internet experience and value having service in an area you wouldn’t normally have anything available to you.