Global Satellite Internet

GSI

Best Satellite Internet 2021

by WILLEM LAUSSEN

Updated March 08, 2021

Satellite internet can be a good option for people who live in rural areas or small towns that might not have the best broadband connection. Using a stable satellite internet service is also one of the most reliable ways to stay connected anywhere.

New high-speed satellite internet constellations provide a simple setup, low latency connection suitable for streaming, even gaming, and video calls.

However, not all satellite internet providers are equal. Some have simple, easy-to-understand plans or are more reliable than others. At globalsatelliteinternet.org, we decided to investigate the most popular satellite internet services on the market in 2021.

But first, we suggest you read this:

Satellite Internet vs. DSL, cable, fiber, wireless broadband?

The monthly price for home internet in the US starts from around $25, but an average household pays about $60. Satellite internet packages can be more expensive, especially considering the data allowances. Also, the physical connections can be more stable and guarantee internet in any weather.

Yet, by installing a satellite internet antenna, you can connect to the web anywhere. Not to mention, you can get a competitive solution in an underserved area, where you might otherwise have a poor network or pay much more than the average.

Best Satellite Internet Providers 2021

Here’s a comparison table of the main characteristics of a $100/mo. satellite internet featured in the roundup review:

ProviderSpeedLatencyDataEquipment cost
Starlink (Beta)up to 150 Mbpsaround 40...50 msUnlimited during Beta499
Viasatup to 25 Mbpsaround 600 ms60 GB499.98
Hughesnetup to 25 Mbpsaround 600 ms100 GB300

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Now let’s dig into a more detailed review of each satellite internet provider.

2. VIASAT satellite internet review

Recommended pick – cheapest plan for emails and web browsing on a small screen device.

PROS:

  • Many plans for different needs
  • Up to 100 MB/s download speed
  • Good coverage

CONS:

  • Currently at the beta testing phase
  • Only one plan available
  • Not possible to rent the equipment

Viasat is one of the leading players in the satellite internet space – delivering their services to most rural areas in the U.S. They also offer satellite broadband for businesses.

Key Facts

  • The cheapest satellite internet plan is $49.99/month.
  • The fastest plan offers up to 100 MB/s download speed.
  • The most generous package offers 300 GB of data per month.

Pricing

The best thing about Viasat is that you can get satellite internet for $39.99/month ( $49.99/month after three months ). 

For FCC benchmark download speed 25 MB/s, the monthly cost is $99.99 for 60GB data.

But it would be best to keep in mind that the full download speed will decrease drastically after exceeding the monthly data limit.

3. HUGHESNET satellite internet review

Recommended pick – if you want good enough speed, and total data allowance is not so critical.

Telesat Lightspeed Satellite Internet

PROS:

  • Extra 50GB of data from 2 am to 8 am for nocturnal creatures.
  • Several plans for different data needs
  • Nationwide coverage

CONS:

  • Max plan is 50GB, which is not too much nowadays
  • High latency
  • Minimum 24-month contract
  • Low 3 MB/s upload speed
  • Download speed drops to 1-3 MB/s after reaching the data threshold.

Hughesnet has been one of the main satellite internet providers for a long time. The service is available all across the U.S.

Both Hughesnet and Viasat use a similar, geostationary type of satellites, which means that the latency is much higher than with traditional broadband internet service. Hughesnet offers the same download speed across all plans, only the data volumes are different.

Key Facts

  • All plans offer up to 25 MB/s download speed.
  • The most generous package offers 50 GB ( + 50 GB night time ) of data per month.

Pricing

The cheapest satellite internet plan is $59.99/month and for that, you get FCC benchmark download speed1) 25 MB/s, but only 10GB of data.

And as with Viasat, the full download speed will decrease to only about 1-3 MB/s after exceeding the monthly data limit.

Best Rural Satellite Internet Providers Recap:

As you can see, there are several viable options for satellite internet service.

However, not all satellite internet providers will be a good fit for everyone. Here’s a short summary of the satellite broadband providers and what we like about them:

  • SpaceX Starlink.  They bring a new era to satellite internet service. Low earth orbit constellation provides very low latency and high speeds. No matter if it’s streaming, online gaming, or a video call. We like Starlink the most.
  • Viasat, HughesNet. Both run their broadband service through traditional geostationary satellites. Viasat has the cheapest plan, but the speed and data volume is somewhat limited in this case. Hughesnet gives you good download speed across all plans, but it is pricier if you also consider data caps.

Upcoming satellite internet providers

Several companies are working on their low earth orbit satellite internet constellations.

AMAZON PROJECT KUIPER satellite internet

Telesat Lightspeed Satellite Internet

In spring 2019, Amazon announced Project Kuiper, an initiative to build a low earth orbit satellite network able to provide stable and fast internet service to unserved and underserved regions worldwide at a sensible price.
Amazon Project Kuiper will serve individuals, public organizations, businesses, provide backhaul solutions and support LTE and 5G systems.

 

Key Facts

  • In July 2020 Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted Amazon approval to deploy and operate a constellation of 3,236 satellites at altitudes 367 mi ( 590km ), 379 mi ( 610km ), 391 mi ( 630km ).
  • Half of the satellites must be in orbit until mid-2026, and the full constellation until mid-2029 to maintain the FCC authorization.
    Only 578 in orbit spacecraft are required to start initial service.

ONEWEB satellite internet

Telesat Lightspeed Satellite Internet

Satellite broadband company OneWeb is building its own global communications network of low earth orbit satellites. The latest launch in December 2020 with 36 satellites brought the in-orbit spacecraft to 110 and keeps OneWeb on schedule with their plan to start with regional commercial service in 2021 and global service in 2022.
After receiving a new round of investments from SoftBank and Hughes Network Systems, the initial fleet of 648 satellites is now fully funded.

 

Key facts

  • Tests show satellite constellation can deliver high-speed, low-latency broadband services.
  • During the trial, the system delivered live video streaming with Full HD quality at less than 40 milliseconds and with download speeds of over 400 MB/s.
  • All satellites launched in February 2019 are working well.

TELESAT LIGHTSPEED satellite internet

Telesat Lightspeed Satellite Internet

Telesat launched its first LEO ( Low Earth Orbit ) satellite in January 2018. Lightspeed commercial services are expected to be launched in the second half of 2023. The primary focus at the moment is on the telecom, government, maritime and aeronautical customers.

 

Key facts

  • Lightspeed latency 30-50 ms is about 20-times better than with traditional GEO satellite internet.
  • Up to 7.5 Gbps to a single user terminal.
  • The global network will use 298 LEO satellites at altitudes 631 mi ( 1015 km ) and 823 mi ( 1325 km ).

Other references:

2018 Broadband Deployment Report” FCC, retrieved 2021-02-26

FCC Authorizes Kuiper Satellite Constellation” FCC, retrieved 2021-03-06