Best Satellite Internet

satellite internet

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

Download Speeds

25 Mbps
25 Mbps

Largest Data Plan

50 GB
30 GB

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 Internet Providers

Unlimited Satellite Internet



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HughesNet Review

If you are interested in purchasing satellite internet, HughesNet is the best choice you could make.  In addition to being around for over 40 years, HughesNet is keeping up with the advancing technology by releasing its 5th generation service, called Gen5 that provided customers with significant enhancements for download speeds and personal convenience that set it apart from the competition.  All of the Gen5 service plans that are offered include the 25mbps download speed and 3 mbps upload speed.  One of the surprising yet great things about these advancements and changes is that HughesNet did not increase the prices on their customers for these upgrades.

The connection that HughesNet provides is strong enough to upload photos, internet browsing, stream music, engage in social media networking like Twitter and Facebook, and participate in certain types of online gaming.  Video streaming and downloading can also be done. There are several data plans available for you to choose from including 10GB, 20GB, 30GB, and 50GB.  The plans range in price from $49 per month to $99 per month.  These prices are competitive with regular cable/fiber optic plans.  Most customers that are brand new to HughesNet will receive a discount for the first 24 months of service as well as receiving free standard installation.

Another feature that HughesNet offers its customers is called off-peak Bonus Zones between 2:00 am and 8:00 am.  This is a good time to download media or large files and not use up your data plan.  This is a good time to schedule OS updates, music and app downloads, and Netflix downloads. Customers can purchase Data Tokens that you can use if you’ve used up all of your monthly data plan allowance.  If you don’t purchase data tokens the speed will be reduced for the rest of the billing cycle that is left which could be very frustrating.  Additional data plans are available in increments of 3GB to 25GB and run from $9 to $75 dollars.  This set up is very similar to a pay as you go phone plan.

HughesNet customers will be able to lease or purchase their satellite dish and wireless modem. Users can choose whichever option appeals to them the most.  If you decide to lease you can expect to spend $14.99 each month to lease the equipment.  Those that choose the lease option will have free installation and reduced upfront costs which make it a good choice for more budget conscious customers. If you plan on having your service and equipment longer than two years, it is recommended that you purchase the equipment.  This will eliminate the monthly charge and you will own the equipment for life.  There is a one-time upfront fee for purchasing the equipment that also covers installation.

HughesNet offers customers a mobile app that allows you to pay your bill, track data usage, purchase more data if you need it and other helpful things as well.  The video saver feature sets a lower resolution to videos which saves you data and bandwidth.  You’ll be able to stream data that is good even if it isn’t high-quality HD.

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Exede Review

Exede is the second satellite internet provider we are reviewing.  In the long run, Exede offers a plan that is a little cheaper. The company’s equipment leasing and internet data plans have lower rates that are less than Hughesnet promotion prices but you may sacrifice speed and there is not as much off-peak bonus data time each day.  The additional data purchase options are also more expensive than HughesNet.

Customers can choose from data plans that start at $50 for 12GB up to $100 per month for 50GB which is their top tier plan.  All of the Exede plan prices have a three year cost guarantee so they will be the same price with no increases during that three year period.  The Free Zone during late night hours is unmetered data and runs from 3:00 am to 6:00 am.  This is the time that updates and large data consumption activities such as downloads can be performed without eating up the data plan data.

Exede also offers a buy more data option if you have drained your monthly allowance but the costs for this are higher than Hughesnet and should be looked at as a last resort.  The leasing prices for Exede are similar to HughesNet.  You can lease equipment for $9.99 per month or choose to pay $199.99 upfront when the service is installed and that will cover the first 24 months of service.  They offer free installation depending on where you are located and also offer an additional service, Easy Care, that covers dish relocation, priority customer support, and all service calls that costs $5.99 each month

Depending on where you live, Exede offers customers a speed boosting modem that will boost the 12 mbps to 25 mbps.  This is only available in certain areas.  The dish itself is the same size as a regular satellite television dish and the installation specialist will help you choose the right place for the dish that will give you the best possible access. The new wireless modems have an adapter for the Exede Voice service and it has a built-in router too.  This is good for those who may want to expand their services later on to include telephone service for an additional fee.


Both HughesNet and Exede are good companies and have benefits and drawbacks to their services.  It is important that you understand what is being offered from each company and how much those plans and services will cost you each month.  While Exede can cost less overall for a 24 month service, some people prefer the faster speeds and longer free data time periods that HughesNet offers.

Satellite internet is definitely not the same as regular cable internet and the costs will be more for higher speeds and more data but they provide an excellent option for those who can’t get regular internet service due to being located outside of the service area of the regular internet companies.

By researching you own data needs, you will be able to compare these two companies and choose the one that provides you with the internet connection and speed you want at the price you want as well.  Just make sure that you ask any questions you have upfront BEFORE you purchase one or the other so you are completely aware of what you can expect from your purchase.

Satellite Internet Buying Guide

how does satellite internet work

The Fastest Satellite Internet Service

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.


how we researched

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.


Alisha Land

Alisha is a freelance writer and mom of 8 children. She owns a child safety education company, Kids Home Safe, is a contributing writer for Power Automedia, has had a regular column on Women’s Voices Digital Magazine. She has written for numerous sites across the web since she began writing, nearly 18 years ago. When she isn't writing she's spending time with her children at the pool swimming or watching their favorite show, Shark Tank.

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