Satellite Internet

satellite internet reviews

We spent over 64 hours researching all aspects of the satellite internet providers available today. This includes their plans, business ratings, customer service and equipment to name a few. After conducting our research HughesNet is our top pick because they offer the fastest speeds and most data. Read on to find out more.

Table of Contents

 


Our Top Pick: HughesNet

  • Download Speeds up to 25 Mbps
  • Data Caps from 10 GB to 50GB
  • Plans Ranging from $49.99 to $99.99

Runner Up: Exede

  • Download Speeds from 12 Mbps to 25 Mbps
  • Data Caps from 10 GB to 30GB
  • Plans Ranging from $49.99 to $149.99

Why Use Satellite Internet?

Many communities do not have access to traditional Cable, Fiber, or DSL internet connections and require an alternate method to obtain an inexpensive stable web connection. Satellite Internet Providers make use of a satellite in space to deliver the internet to a satellite receiver dish located on the roof of your home, making the internet possible where otherwise it wouldn’t be. Therefore, that’s the reason Satellite Internet is popular for homes in rural areas and travelers.

How does Satellite Internet work?

how does satellite internet work

  1. You’re in your house on your laptop or mobile phone and you click on a preferred website. Your request would go to your Internet Providers modem, then via a cable towards the dish located outdoors near or in your house.
  2. The dish outside your home transmits your request to the Satellite Internet Providers satellite in space.
  3. The satellite then transmits this request to a gateway station located at one of the Satellite Internet Providers ground network facilities.
  4. The ground facility relays your request to the website you are trying to access. Like other traditional providers.
  5. The web site offers the information you requested to the station, which transmits the signal back to the satellite in space and then it gets beamed straight to the dish sitting outside or on your home.
  6. Even though signals are traveling from Earth to space and again, this complete process takes only a fraction of a second.

What Satellite Providers Are Available?

Recently, you could choose Satellite Internet from several different Satellite Internet Providers. However, today you will find only two to select Satellite Internet from (HughesNet and Exede Internet). The reason for that is EchoStar now owns HughesNet, Earthlink, and dishNet. Exede Internet purchased and owns WildBlue which was an additional option not long ago.

While you will find just two big names within the satellite internet market, HughesNet sticks out because of its relatively faster speeds which are up to 25 Mbps. In many areas HughesNet is two times faster than its competitor, Exede Internet, whose connection is on average 12 Mbps. HughesNet also has attractive Bonus Zones which complement their monthly data plans. They also offer affordable additional data tokens in case you need a few extra GBs near the end of the month. HughesNet also released a mobile application that is extremely helpful for reviewing plan data, data usage, and connection strength.

satellite internet providers

Buying Satellite Internet Service

As mentioned, there are just two companies that offer Satellite internet today HughesNet and Exede Internet. But understanding what and how they offer their data plans and caveats can nonetheless be a little overwhelming.  Along with data plans, it is also important to understand speed and performance, coverage, installation, support, and terms and conditions. Our goal is to do the research for you and provide a comprehensive understanding into the benefits of Satellite Internet.

We have taken the time to compare both HughesNet and Exede Internet for you personally and ranked them according to the most desired and useful internet provider options in the chart below. If you have any questions regarding these services, we recommend that you contact our support representatives who will be able to answer any questions you might have and help you uncover the service that’s perfect for you.

What We Reviewed and Our Results

how we researched

Data Plans

Internet Service Providers that offer multiple data plans are the best when it comes to Satellite Internet Service Providers (ISP). You always want to make sure that the plan you choose will cover your data usage requirements. If you have a large family and do a lot of streaming or your business mostly does online transactions, then a larger data plan might be required.

Pricing

The best internet is one that provides exceptional coverage and is in your budget. Our two top-ranked companies either have multiple plans you can choose your own which include some nice data saving features. We also take into consideration installment and customer service fees. Call us and we will help choose a plan that works best for your budget.

Bandwidth: Speed & Performance

We consider bandwidth to be one of the more important features especially with so much online content to stream these days. While our top satellite internet providers have comparable speeds, HughesNet has the edge on more consistent download and upload speeds.

Coverage Areas: Be Connected Wherever You Are

Coverage is typically provided in all 50 states but some areas see better download and upload speeds. We take this into consideration when ranking the best provider. However, it is always best to talk to one of our representatives to see if you can get premium coverage for your area.

Support & Resources: Get Information & Answers

You want to select a company that provides support when you need it the most. Your ISP (Internet Service Provider) should be accommodating and offer adequate support to help you through those difficult setups and troubleshooting times.

best satellite internet

Satellite Internet Providers

Available Data Plans Pricing Bandwidth Coverage Support and Services
HughesNet 10 10 10 10 10
Exede 9 10 9 9 10
EarthLink
DishNet
WildBlue

 

Best Satellite Internet

HughesNet

hughesnet

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We found HughesNet could be the most appropriate choice for almost anyone interested in purchasing Satellite Internet. HughesNet has been around more than 40 years, plus in 2017 HughesNet released its fifth-generation (Gen5) service which provided serious enhancements for personal convenience and download speeds. Currently, all HughesNet’s (Gen5) service plans include the 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload speeds. The best part is that HughesNet implemented this speed update without raising prices. That’s a huge bonus and excites us for more great things to come.

With HughesNet, your connection is substantial enough to stream music, upload photos, social networking, turn-based online gaming, and internet browsing. You can also stream video and download. HughesNet offers unique data-saving and tracking features for their customers and reviewing these features is simple in their all-in-one mobile app.

They offer several data plan tiers for you to choose from 10GB, 20GB, 30GB, and 50GB, and the costs only range from $49 to $99 monthly. This is comparative even to standard cable, DSL, or mobile phone plans. Brand-new customers usually get a discount for the first 24 months and Free standard installation.

If you’re only going to be doing light internet browsing and email then the 20GB plan should be good enough. If you have a large family or you want to stream media-rich content then we advise purchasing one of the larger data plans.

To help alleviate data limitations, HughesNet provides off-peak Bonus Zones so you can make use of downloading large files or media without using your data plan between 2 AM and 8 AM. We recommend scheduling maintenance activities such as windows updates, Netflix downloads, music and application downloads during these times.

HughesNet has Data Tokens available for purchase if you’ve consumed your monthly data allowance. Otherwise, your speed will be reduced for the remainder of the billing period and could potentially make for a poor experience. However, if you did use your monthly allowance then you can buy however much data you think you’ll need, in increments of 3GB to 25GB different and it only costs $9 to $75. If you’re familiar with mobile data plans this should sound very familiar to you.

Another huge feature is that HughesNet offers a mobile application which allows you to track important data usage, purchase more data, pay your bill, and several other helpful things. They also offer a video saver feature that will set a lower resolution to the video essentially saving on bandwidth and data. This allows you to stream good video while using less data. With a click of a switch, you can disable the video saving feature and stream high-quality HD content again.

HughesNet also provides you affordable options when it comes to either buying or leasing your satellite dish and Wireless-enabled modem. Whichever option you prefer is completely up to you. To lease the equipment, you will be spending $14.99 per month. This reduces your upfront costs and with Free Standard installation is a very attractive option.  If you’re planning on keeping your service and equipment for longer than the 24-month contract term, then we recommend doing the purchase option. You will own your equipment for life, have no monthly leasing fee, and the one-time upfront cost covers both equipment and installation.

hughesnet satellite plans

Who is HughesNet for?

  • Individuals in rural communities or on the edge of urban areas where other internet options are not available or just too costly.
  • Those who want a faster internet plan and cheaper costs within the first 24 months.
  • Individuals who want extra off-peak hours and cheaper extended data packages in case of overages.

Why should I get HughesNet?

  • Their download speeds are the best at 25 In most cases, that’s quicker than typical DSL or 4G/LTE mobile service and will most likely be more cost effective.
  • Free standard installation and equipment purchase options.
  • Quick Professional Installation and a Mobile app to help make payments and monitor important stats.

Summary 

HughesNet is our #1 plan of choice. It has the fastest speeds out of the two major Satellite Internet Service Providers and it comes bundled with some great add-ons to keep your monthly bill low. Just make sure you get the Data Plan that’s right for you and understand the caveats when it comes to overages, etc.. Your support representative can help you with any questions you might have regarding their service offerings.

  • A+ BBB Accredited Business
  • Faster Speeds (Gen5)
  • Built-In Wi-Fi
  • Free Bonus Data from (2am – 8am)
  • Free Standard Installation

Great Alternative

Exede

exede

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Over the long-term, Exede Internet offers a slightly cheaper plan. Exede Internet’s data plans and equipment leasing have lower rates than HughesNet’s post published-promotion prices, however, in some areas, Exede Internet could have a slower connection and there is a shorter off-peak bonus data window every day. Also, options to purchase additional data are more expensive than HughesNet.

Exede Internet Data Plans range from $50 for 12GB and $100 for the top tier 50GB. After HughesNet’s 24-month introductory promotion, Exede Internet ends up being $30 less expensive than HughesNet for the top tier 50GB plan. All Exede prices come with a three-year cost-lock guarantee. The late-night Free Zone is a completely unmetered data usage window between 3 AM and 6 AM daily that can be used for updates, downloads, and other large data consumption activities. We loved that there isn’t any limit on what you can download, but when compared with HughesNet, Exede Internet’s free zone has a shorter time limit which could potentially increase your data costs if you depend on off-peak zones. Exede Internet comes with a “Buy More Data” option where one can purchase more data if you are near or drained your monthly data allowance. This should always be a last resort so make sure you choose a plan that’s right for you and your family to avoid using Buy More data options.

Exede Internet leasing equipment charges are somewhat comparable to HughesNet. With Exede Internet, you the leased equipment costs $9.99 per month, or you can pay $199.99 upfront and it will cover the first twenty-four months. Standard installation is free of charge based on where your location and they offer an additional service called easy care for $5.99 per month that covers all service calls, annual dish relocation, and gets you priority customer support.

During our research, we discovered that Exede Internet provides a speed-boosting modem to customers in select locations, and it includes Wi-Fi connectivity. This modern accelerates your connection from 12 Mbps to 25 Mbps. However, the faster 25 Mbps service is only available in some select locations.  While Exede Internet can be $10-$30 less expensive than HughesNet’s, it’s additional Buy More data costs can be 3x as much as HughesNet. Your bill can get costly if you are not tracking your data usage and need to purchase more near the end of the billing cycle.

The Exede Internet dish is one of the same size as a satellite television dish. An Exede Internet specialist can help you select the right place to place your dish, for example on the top or side of your house. You’ll need the official Exede dish to make use of Exede Satellite Internet. You will not be able to use a satellite television dish. Exede Internet modems are the typical size, roughly as large as a book. The new Exede Wireless Modem features both a built-in router as well as an adapter for the Exede Voice service if you ever want to expand on your services.

Who is Exede for?

  • Individuals in rural communities or even urban areas where other internet options are not available or just too costly.
  • Those who have trouble getting a good internet connection and speed simply because they reside in rural or remote
  • Individuals who want internet and phone services bundled together in a single affordable

Why should I get Exede?

  • In some select areas you can get a fast connection. Their 12 Mbps download speeds are quicker than typical DSL or 4G/LTE mobile service and will most likely be more cost effective. In select areas, you will get as much as 25 Mbps speeds which is obtainable to many during off-peak
  • Your monthly charge will not change or increase for at least three years and that’s guaranteed.
  • Professional Installation often takes just 2-3 hrs. Once you’re connected, managing your Exede Internet account is simple with their online portal.

Summary 

Exede is a superb choice for satellite internet, particularly if you don’t mind spending a bit more in advance. High data allowances and potentially fast speeds across their selection of plans, it’s difficult to find a significant fault with this service. We recommend getting a bigger tiered data plan as costs can be cheaper than HughesNet after 24 months and you will avoid having to purchase blocks of Buy Now Data.

  • 3yr Price Lock Guarantee
  • Premium Support Offered with the ‘Easy Care’ plan
  • Bundle in a Voice plan for only $39/mo.

We feel that it is crucial that the consumer knows exactly what’s being offered and how much that offering costs.  Our goal is to help you understand the intricacies of Satellite Internet and to compare the two largest providers side by side for an in-depth analysis and review so you can make the most educated decision when it comes time to purchase your Internet Plan.

HughesNet vs Exede

HughesNet
$49.99
per month
  • 25 Mbps Download
  • Up to 50 GB Data
Exede
$49.99
per month
  • 12 – 25 Mbps Download
  • Up to 30 GB Data

Each service offers several different residential plans. The cost of these plans is based on the data your allowed to consume within the billing cycle. The lower amount of data consumption required, the cheaper the plan. Like most mobile phone plans.

Don’t forget that each provider offers free ‘off-peak’ hours which allows you to use data without using any data within your allowance. This is a great time to take advantage of downloading, streaming, and general tasks that require a lot of bandwidth. In most cases standard installation is free, you have access to customer support, and the option to lease equipment. All service plans come with a 24-month commitment.

  • HughesNet: $49–$99 per month (for the first 24 months)
  • Exede: $50–$100 per month

HughesNet provides the option to buy your equipment, satellite dish, and Wireless-enabled modem, or you can lease the gear for $14.99 monthly. For those who have long term plans and keeping their satellite provider, or just want a cheaper monthly bill, purchasing the equipment makes the most sense.

Exede Internet includes a satellite dish and modem for the lease or rental fee of just $9.99 per month. Exede Internet provides you the option to prepay at $199.99 for twenty-four months. The upfront pay option will save you around $40 over a two-year period and the rent option will break even around 2.5 yrs. That’s not a bad deal if you have the money to spend up front.

Tip: If your planning on keeping your internet for more than two years it’s a good option to purchase or pay more upfront to reduce costs over time.

Download and Upload Speeds

satellite internet bandwidth

Download & Upload speeds mean so much when accessing the web these days. Most web and social media pages are media rich and require a decent speed to make a satisfactory experience. So, making sure that your provider can provide the download and upload speeds you require is essential. In rural areas, options are limited and choices are either DSL, 3G/4G, or Satellite Internet. Satellite Internet is typically faster than DSL and often more accessible and you will find that it’s much cheaper and convenient than using your 4G phone plan.

With HughesNet most customers will receive 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload speeds or better. Exede Internet also offers 25 Mbps download but it’s only available in certain areas. Exede Internet’s standard and most common service are 12 Mbps Down & 3 Mbps Up. Again, how fast your internet is having a direct impact on accessing your favorite websites, streaming video, music, and even games.

If your options are to use satellite internet, your television provider is most likely a satellite based service so you’re probably familiar with where the dish needs to be located and removing any obstructions from its path. You should also be aware of how often outages might occur due to inclement weather etc. which is usually a rare occurrence. Of course, these couple things can affect your signal strength and ultimately your overall speed. Unfortunately, using the same satellite dish for both TV and the Internet is not possible. TV dishes are only capable of receiving television broadcast signals, and internet connections require both receiving and forwarding or rather upload and download information.

Tip: Use an ad blocker in your internet web browser to prevent banner ads and unnecessary videos from slowing you down and eating up bandwidth.

Data Caps & Bonus Data

satellite internet data caps

Data caps are something that the Satellite Internet Service Provider puts in place to limit the amount of data you can consume during your billing cycle. Both providers have Data Caps in place and either throttle a slower connection when reached or give you the option to buy more data in blocks.

The Data cap limits vary depending on the plan you choose. HughesNet and Exede Internet offers many different data plans to accommodate the way you browse. So, make sure you choose the plan that’s right for you and your family so you don’t have to purchase any “Buy Now” or Data Packages after your plan’s allowance has been used up.

Always remember to take advantage of their free Bonus Data plans typically offered during off-peak times. HughesNet calls this the Bonus Zone, and provides you free data between 2 a.m. to 8 a.m. That’s an extra 50 GB of data a month. Schedule your large downloads and updates during these times.

Tip: Use bonus or free zone data to your advantage. Setup your computers to update the operating system or other applications during these times. Also, this is a great time to schedule music, movie, or game downloads.

Customer Support

Each provider has its own customer service and support program. Exede Internet offers an ‘Easy Care’ premium support plan for $5.99 per month. It’s just an extra level of care but if you can swing it we highly recommend it. HughesNet and Exede Internet offer customer support via chat, phone, email, and online FAQ and resources. Installation services are typically provided through third-party installers but you can still reach out to the main provider for questions and support.

Get the Best Deal

Special offers may be available for first-time customers, buying bundled services like phone and the internet, or providing new referrals. HughesNet and Exede Internet offer discounts and special deals regularly so please ask your representative on the phone if there are any specials.

Satellite Internet Technology is Improving

Satellite technology is sensible for worldwide coverage and speeds are consistently improving year after year. OneWeb and SpaceX are working on producing satellites for the very first time. On their website, they will be building and launching upwards of 900 satellites into low-Earth orbit to provide affordable global access to the internet. These new satellites could achieve internet speeds of 100 Mbps.

Final Thoughts

We’ve recommended HughesNet. If you’re informed and prepared, you’ll likely be satisfied with your satellite internet.

HughesNet the best as they have made significant strides over the past year to become the best internet satellite provider. Their move to include the same speeds and bonus features across all their Data Plans was brilliant. In most cases, the 20GB plan should be sufficient but if you have a large family you might want to go bigger.

  • Faster than Exede Internet
  • Good for Rural Areas
  • Pricing is Clear and Affordable
  • No Hard Data Limits
  • Bonus Zone
  • Wi-Fi Modem
  • Free Standard Installation and Easy Setup

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Author: Ryan M.

Ryan is the Founder of ReadPlease. When he's not working on reviews you will find him riding his electric skateboard or hanging out with his family poolside.

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