Internet

Best Rural and Satellite Internet Providers of 2021

Paula Novo
Paula Novo October 20, 2021

What is Satellite Internet?

Satellite internet is a wireless connection that uses space technology to send and receive data. Internet signal is transmitted between 3 different satellite dishes. One is set up at an internet provider’s main hub, one is set up on a residential property, and one is in space. Satellites have the unique advantage of being available virtually anywhere in the U.S., but it is subject to unreliability at times due to bad weather or equipment. Satellite providers can offer high-speed internet ranging from 25-100 Mbps, which is best suited for suburban and rural areas.

Top Satellite Providers

HughesNet

HughesNet

  • Speeds up to 25 Mbps
  • Best rural internet provider
Viasat

Viasat

  • Speeds up to 100 Mbps
  • Unlimited data options

How Satellite Providers Stack Up

ProviderDownload Speeds Up ToStarting PriceContract Required
HughesNet25 Mbps$39.99/moYes
Viasat12-100 Mbps$49.99-$149.99/moYes
ProviderHughesNet
Download Speeds Up To25 Mbps
Starting Price$39.99/mo
Contract RequiredYes
ProviderViasat
Download Speeds Up To12-100 Mbps
Starting Price$49.99-$149.99/mo
Contract RequiredYes

Not all internet speeds available in all areas. Availability based on service address. Pricing varies by location and availability. All prices subject to change at any time. Additional fees and terms may apply. As of 8/1/21.

Is Satellite Internet Right for Me?

Currently, there are three satellite internet providers available: HughesNet, Viasat, and Starlink. The first two are traditional satellite companies, while Starlink is a new low-earth-orbit provider running beta tests on its network right now. Each offers different plans for households with various budgets, speeds, locations, and data needs. Yet, this internet isn’t for everyone. Because it lacks the speeds needed to support heavy internet usage, Satellite is the best option for internet in rural areas where cable internet or fiber internet is not available. 

Overall, satellite isn’t known as a cheap option nor a connection with large data allowances. With speeds ranging from 25-150 Mbps, you can use a satellite connection for low to moderate internet usage. This includes activities like web browsing, streaming, and 1-3 connected devices. It’s best for smaller households with two or fewer people or families that don’t rely on the internet for work.

thumb_upPros

  • check_circleAvailable in the contiguous U.S.
  • check_circleCan overcome physical barriers

thumb_downCons

  • cancelProne to weather and equipment-related disruptions
  • cancelSlow speeds compared to other connection types

Fast Satellite Internet Providers for Rural Homes

rural home with a yard

Satellite is available virtually anywhere in the world, making it the most common type of internet in rural areas. Remote locations and tough terrain are difficult to overbuild wired connections. Thanks to its technology, satellite providers can reach homes where cable, DSL, and fiber can’t always go.

The best satellite internet for rural homes include HughesNet, Viasat, and Starlink. You may be able to find fast download speeds of up to 150 Mbps and extra perks like unlimited data or no contracts. Start your search for fast satellite internet today.

How Satellite Compares to Other Connection Types

Just like other types of internet, satellite requires a modem and a router for WiFi service. However, satellite speeds and bandwidth are still slower than that of cable and fiber connections. The main advantage of satellite internet is availability. Using geostationary (fixed position) equipment, it can deliver service in areas wired connections like DSL, cable, and fiber cannot. Able to overcome physical barriers, satellite is usually the only option for remote or underserved areas of the U.S.

spectrum of internet connection types and speed

Satellite Internet FAQs

Is DSL internet or satellite internet faster?

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DSL internet and satellite internet deliver comparable speeds. Both can offer speeds up to 100 Mbps, however, DSL is usually more reliable than satellite for its grounded wire technology. Satellite internet is susceptible to service interruptions due to bad weather or faulty equipment, while DSL runs along grounded telephone lines that are protected from the elements.

Is satellite internet fast enough for me?

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If you decide to go with satellite internet, you may be able to get speeds from 25 Mbps to 150 Mbps in speeds. These speeds can support low to moderate internet usage like web browsing and occasional streaming. However, everyone’s needs are unique. The speeds your need will depend on your lifestyle.

What satellite provider offers the fastest speeds?

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Where available, Viasat offers the fastest satellite internet speeds with download speeds up to 100 Mbps and upload speeds up to 3 Mbps. However, in some areas, Viasat only offers speeds up to 12 Mbps.

How is Starlink different than HughesNet and Viasat?

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Elon Musk’s SpaceX venture recently launched the Beta Program for its LEO satellite company, Starlink. It’s a new satellite technology that uses low-Earth-orbit satellites to deliver faster internet speeds to residential customers than traditional satellite technology can.

Right now, customers are able to receive anywhere from 50-150 Mbps depending on how far they are from satellites in the sky. However, once fully deployed, Starlink is anticipated to offer equal download and upload speeds of up to 1,000 Mbps. That’s unheard of for satellite internet like HughesNet and Viasat.