If you live in an area with no cable or cellular internet, then satellite internet is your only option.
There are three major satellite internet providers. Viasat, HughesNet, and Starlink.
Viasat and HughesNet have been in the market for a long time. However, Starlink started its service in 2020, and currently, they provide service in more than 20 countries.
This article is a comparison between Starlink and Viasat internet.
If you are in the market for satellite internet, this article will help you make the correct decision and save money.
Starlink vs. Viasat Comparison Table
The following table gives a brief comparison summary between Starlink and Viasat.
|Monthly Data Limitation||None.||Yes. 40GB / 60GB / 100GB / 150GB / 300GB|
|Monthly Price||$109 per month||$50 to $300 with promotions. After 3 months, it’s $100 to $400.|
|Contract Period||None.||24 Months.|
|Early Cancellation Fee||$0||Up to $400.|
|Equipment Policy||User owned||Must return after cancellation|
|Penalty for equipment non-return||$0||Up to $500|
|Latency||Typically 20 ms to 50 ms.||Minimum 600 ms, Up to 1200 ms.|
|Download Speed||50 Mbps to 150 Mbps. Typically more than 100 Mbps. For business up to 500 Mbps||Maximum 35 Mbps. Realworld result is terrible. For business 150Mbps|
|Upload Speed||10 Mbps to 20 Mbps.||Maximum 3 Mbps.|
|Installation||Easy. Takes less than 5 minutes.||Professional installation is required. Takes up to 5 business days to get an appointment. 2-3 hours for installation.|
|Installation Fee||$0||Required if you lease equipment. $75 to $99. Depending on location, it costs more.|
|Suitable for RV, Campers||Yes||No|
|TV Service||No||Yes via DishTV|
Viasat has two ordering options for their satellite internet. You can either lease or purchase the equipment.
The equipment includes the modem, power supply, and satellite antenna.
If you decide to purchase Viasat, they will charge you a $300 one-time fee. This price also includes professional installation costs. However, if a situation arises when typical installation isn’t possible, for example, you may need a long pole to install the antenna, they may charge an additional $75 for installation.
For the lease option, there is a one-time $99 setup fee and a $12.99 monthly equipment fee on top of your monthly internet bill.
In contrast, SpaceX does not lease its equipment. You have to purchase it. SpaceX charges a one-time $599 for their Starlink equipment. It includes a phased array antenna dish, a router with built-in WiFi and modem, antenna mounts, and ethernet cables.
When a user purchases the Starlink kit, SpaceX transfers the titles of the dish and router to the user forever. You can keep the equipment forever even if you cancel the service.
On the contrary, Viasat doesn’t transfer the title of the antenna, modem, and router they provide to a user. After service cancellation, you must return the equipment. Otherwise, they will charge you up to $500.
Starlink has no contract. You can cancel your service anytime you like without any penalty from SpaceX. The only problem is that you won’t be able to restart the service once you cancel because tens of thousands of people are waiting in line to get Starlink internet.
In contrast, Viasat has a 24-month contract. There’s a $400 penalty for early cancellation.
Equipment Setup Process
Viasat uses two geostationary satellites to provide the internet.
Therefore, their user antenna must point towards those satellites for optimal internet speed. You need a professional technician to install a Viasat dish.
You also have to pay an installation fee if you lease Viasat’s equipment. Depending on your location, installing this equipment may take up to 5 business days. It takes 2-3 hours to install the Viasat antenna.
Starlink does not require any professional installation. SpaceX designed its equipment in such a way that anyone could install it.
You only need to point the Starlink phased array antenna towards an open sky, connect the ethernet cable with the router, and power up the router.
You can put your satellite dish anywhere you like as long as it has a clear sky view. The dish will orient itself to get an optimum satellite view with the built-in motors. Within a few minutes, you will get fast internet access.
However, Starlink installation could be problematic for those who need a professional installer.
There are situations when the Starlink antenna must be set up on a house rooftop to get a clear sky view. SpaceX doesn’t provide installation help, so you have to hire professionals at your own cost.
Typically, the cost to install a Starlink dish in this scenario will be higher than Viasat.
Viasat has several internet packages. All these packages come with data cap limitations.
The monthly subscription price for Viasat varies depending on location. If you live in an area with no other option than Viasat, they will charge you an excessive amount.
Viasat charges $100 to $400 per month, depending on the package. Each package has a data limit. Here’s the price breakdown:
- Speed 12 Mbps – $100 / month (40 GB)
- Speed 25 Mbps – $150 / month (60 GB)
- Speed 30 Mbps – $200 / month (100 GB)
- Speed 30 Mbps – $300 / month (150 GB)
- Speed 30 Mbps – $400 / month (300 GB)
For Netflix, Youtube, Hulu, Disney+, or on-demand video services, Viasat is a terrible choice.
On the other hand, Starlink has one internet package priced at $109/month for unlimited data. There’s no data cap.
Viasat isn’t portable, and it needs professional installation. You can’t take it during your RV or camping trips. It won’t work.
On the contrary, Starlink is portable and can work anywhere. The residential package has a $25 add-on that lets users take their antennae on camping trips.
Starlink also sells an RV package that costs $135 per month for RVers and campers.
Though Viasat advertises 25 Mbps download speed and 3 Mbps upload speed, we hardly see that speed in reality.
Download speed never exceeds 8-10 Mbps in our area.
We have met Viasat customers who said their internet speed never crosses 3-4 Mbps. It’s because Viasat only has two geostationary satellites that provide the internet worldwide. Furthermore, they have oversold their internet bandwidth.
On the contrary, when SpaceX promises to provide a download speed of 50 Mbps to 150 Mbps. However, Starlink’s internet speed exceeds 100 Mbps consistently.
Moreover, SpaceX routinely adds more satellites to its constellation. Therefore, their service is improving every day.
Upload speed is very crucial. For example, a YouTuber can’t upload videos without a high upload speed. You can’t do video calls without a good internet connection.
Viasat offers an upload speed of 3 Mbps. However, we never got a 1 Mbps upload speed. It’s entirely useless for uploading large files to google drive or YouTube.
On the other hand, Starlink consistently achieves 10 Mbps to 20 Mbps upload speed. Sometimes, it exceeds that.
Whenever we request something from a webpage, our request goes to the webpage server, and the response comes back to us. Due to the physical distance between us and the server, there’s a delay. It’s called latency.
Without low latency, video call is impossible, and online gaming is unplayable.
Viasat uses geosynchronous satellites to provide the internet. These satellites are 35,786km (22,236 miles) above the earth. As a result, Viasat has a minimum of 600ms latency. Sometimes it goes up to 1200ms.
On the other hand, Starlink uses low earth orbit satellites. These satellites are placed in 550km (340 miles) orbit above the earth.
Starlink regularly achieves a latency of less than 50ms. Reports show that the latency between 20ms to 40ms is typical and mind-blowing for satellite internet.
A Viasat customer has to sign a 24-month contract to get their internet service. It has up to a $400 early cancellation fee.
Furthermore, if you leased Viasat internet equipment, you have 30 days to return those to Viasat. Otherwise, they will charge you $500.
Moreover, you incur all the equipment de-installation and shipping costs. If your satellite receiver is on top of your roof, it means you have to spend another $100 to $150 to de-install your equipment.
SpaceX does not ask customers to sign a contract to get Starlink internet. You can cancel your Starlink internet anytime you like without a cancellation fee. Moreover, when you are ready, you can restart your service again. It is huge.
Viasat binds you for 24 months, whereas Starlink gives you complete freedom.
Viasat does not have a real unlimited internet package. Viasat has 5 data packages — 40GB, 60GB, 100GB, 150GB and 300GB.
After you consume all your data, Viasat will throttle your download speed at 1-3 Mbps. In a real-world scenario, this speed is unusable. Moreover, Viasat doesn’t even provide this download speed.
On the contrary, Starlink has no data caps on its internet. You can stream Netflix or Hulu and download gigabytes of games without the fear of data throttling.
Inclement Weather Interference
On a cloudy day, Viasat’s internet service deteriorates a lot. On a rainy or snowy day, their service drops altogether.
However, Starlink uses a phased array antenna, and its satellite uses Ku and Ka bands. Therefore, the weather affects its satellite transceiver less than Viasat’s dish. Tests have shown that even on a massive snowy and rainy day, Starlink does not lose internet connectivity.
Phone and TV Service
Starlink doesn’t have any phone service. They also don’t provide TV service. However, WiFi calling does work on the network. For TVs, you can use YouTube TV or Hulu Live.
In contrast, Viasat provides home phone service. It’s beneficial in rural areas where phone networks aren’t reliably available.
Viasat doesn’t have a TV service itself. It works with Dish network to provide TV service for its customers.
Starlink has only text-based customer care. They don’t have any phone numbers. Therefore you can’t call them.
Over the years, Starlink’s customer care has gotten worse. Nowadays, it takes more than two weeks to get a reply from their customer support team.
On the contrary, Viasat has a phone number, and you can call them at 1-833-703-0624.
There’s no way you can game on Viasat. Though Viasat claims that users can play Xbox Live games on their network, it’s not entirely true. The 600ms to 1200ms latency prevents online gaming on their network.
Starlink regularly achieves latency below 50ms. We often got 20ms latency. As we know, a latency of less than 100ms is enough for online gaming. That’s why anyone can play online games on the Starlink internet without any issues.
According to SpaceX, they are targeting to lower the latency below 20ms. So, their service will improve as days go by.
We can’t use a VPN service with Viasat internet.
Starlink has no restriction on the VPN. The internet works perfectly over a VPN.
Why is Starlink’s internet cheaper and better than Viasat?
Starlink is a SpaceX company. SpaceX designs, builds and launches its satellite for the Starlink constellation.
Moreover, SpaceX is reusing their rocket’s first stage and nose cones. Besides, Starlink satellites are in low earth orbit.
On the other hand, Viasat neither develops nor launches its satellites. They entirely depend on others. They are only satellite operators. Moreover, Viasat puts its satellites in Geosynchronous orbit.
It’s why Starlink internet is cheaper and better than Viasat internet.
SpaceX is rapidly increasing its service coverage. In your area, if Starlink is available, by all means, purchase it. Otherwise, please wait. Viasat’s internet service is terrible and expensive. We don’t recommend Viasat.