The advent of satellite internet has revolutionized how we navigate the digital age, reaching people in far-flung areas where wired broadband or fiber-optic connections are distant dreams. But, as rise of technology often brings multiple options, this article aims to dissect the offerings of the top two satellite internet providers, HughesNet and Viasat.
Hughes Network Systems pioneered satellite Internet service and remains a giant in the market today, with its product, HughesNet, boasting millions of customers worldwide.
The core strength of HughesNet lies in its consistent coverage and pricing. Regardless of location, the company offers every customer the same four basic plans, with speeds up to 25 Mbps. Hence, consumer location, whether in the city or rural, doesn’t affect the price. At the same time, its Gen5 technology provides state-of-the-art satellite capacity to any corner of the U.S, offering stable internet connections at any location.
Despite the stable internet speed provision, customers often express concerns about HughesNet’s data caps. The highest plan offers only 50GB of data, anything beyond this leads the users to encounter reduced speed until the next billing cycle. However, they do offer a ‘Bonus Zone,’ which gives customers additional 50GB of data per month to use during off-peak hours, 2 a.m. to 8 a.m.
While the data cap downside might prove a hurdle to some, one cannot fault HughesNet’s transparent pricing model and the decision to do away with hard contracts. This means if a customer decides to cancel the service, there are no harsh penalties. They will only have to return the leased equipment.
Viasat is another significant player in the world of satellite internet, which basks in nationwide availability, including all 50 U.S states. The main advantage that Viasat holds over HughesNet is speed. It offers a wide range of plans with varying speeds, from as low as 12 Mbps to as high as 100 Mbps, with one caveat — the available plans differ by location.
This leads to an inherently unstable pricing model. Different areas might pay differently for the same level of service, complicating direct comparison shopping. However, the diversity in speed allows users, especially those involved in high-data activities such as streaming, an option to bypass the relatively frustrating speeds of HughesNet.
Viasat’s data allowances also generally outpace HughesNet. The ranges being from 40GB to 150GB, dependent on the plan. That’s a lot more flexibility, yet it promotes data-chewing activities. Once users exceed their data limit, they will experience reduced speed but will still have access to the internet.
The primary criticism levelled against Viasat is its contract policy. The rigid two-year contracts often come with a hefty penalty if not seen through the end. The company also reserves the right to increase prices after the first three months, bringing a certain level of unpredictability to the cost.
Both HughesNet and Viasat have strengths and weaknesses. HughesNet offers consistent pricing, speeds, and broad availability, but might let users down with its data caps. Viasat, on the other hand, offers wonderful speed potential and larger data allowances but can be a bit unpredictable in the pricing department and might tie users down with long contracts. The final call should base on the user’s specific internet requirements and geographical location.