Viasat vs. Starlink? We live in exciting times where high-speed, low-latency satellite internet exists.
While it will never reach the speeds and reliability of cable-based internet, the technology has much potential.
Now, the biggest challenge for consumers is selecting the right internet service provider (ISP).
Viasat and Starlink are currently two of the more popular options.
Starlink is slightly more well-known because of its ties to billionaire and cultural icon Elon Musk.
It is, after all, operated and controlled by SpaceX, a company that he found and runs to this day.
Nevertheless, this does not necessarily mean it’s the best.
The ideal satellite ISP should be reliable and capable of balancing speed and price.
So how do these two contenders compare?
Table of Contents
- Viasat vs. Starlink Comparison Table
- Viasat vs. Starlink: An Overview
Viasat vs. Starlink Comparison Table
|Year Company Was Founded||1986||2002 (SpaceX)|
|Date First Satellites Were Launched||2004 (Anik-F2 Communications Satellite)2006 (Wild-Blue Internet Satellite)||2019|
|Download Speeds||12 to 300 Mbps+||50-500 Mbps (depending on the plan)|
|Upload Speeds||3 Mbps+||2 – 20 Mbps|
|Hardware Costs||$299.00||Equipment cost: $599 (Standard Starlink)and $2500 (Business and RV Plans)|
|Monthly subscription||$69.99 to $299.99||$120 to $500|
|Portability||No Portable plans||Portable services through RV Plan|
|Waitlist||None||A long waist for some of its plans and subscriptions|
|Data cap||Up to 500GB (Plan Dependant)||A maximum of 1TB for the Standard Starlink plan|
A maximum of 6TB priority access data limits during peak hours for the Fixed Business Plan
|Installation||While self-installable, this is not advised. Installation is completely free.||The Business and RV Starlink Plans both require installation by a professional, which can cost as much as $99|
Standard Starlink can be self-installed
Viasat vs. Starlink: An Overview
While both companies offer broadband satellite internet, they are different in their approaches and services.
This is good news for consumers as it supplies them with more options.
Starlink is an industry hot topic, while Viasat has been around longer.
Viasat has existed since 1986, chiefly focusing on communications technology.
Its history is far more storied than Starlinks’.
It only launched its first commercial satellite, Anik-F2, in 2006.
The company would mostly use it for testing – not broadband internet.
Furthermore, while Viasat operated it, it was owned by Telesat.
As such, it was mostly used commercially to transmit and distribute television content.
Next, Visat would launch WildBlue-1, its first dedicated internet satellite.
The satellite would offer download speeds of 3.0 Mbps.
Of course, this isn’t much by today’s standards. Viasat then launched the ViaSat-1 in 2011.
It offered improved bandwidth and capacity over its predecessor.
ViaSat-1 and ViaSat-2 represent Viasat’s current broadband internet capabilities.
When writing this article, the launch of ViaSat-3 was delayed to the 26th of April, 2023.
It’s safe to assume that it will not be fully operational soon.
Thus, the likelihood of customers experiencing performance boosts or being introduced to new packages is minimal.
Although Starlink may outperform Viasat, this may not happen in a year or two.
Viasat is available across large portions of North America.
It’s also available in Australia, China, limited parts of South America, Europe, and very small parts of North Africa.
It hopes to expand its coverage with Viasat-3.
You can view a detailed current and future coverage map on Viasat’s official KA-band coverage map.
Regardless, Because speed and capacity vary from area to area, some of Viasat’s packages are location specific.
Even if ViaSat covers your area, you must ensure that your area’s day-to-day weather is conducive to it.
If you live in a neighborhood or town prone to cloudy weather, satellite internet (not just Viasat) may not fit you.
For Viasats satellite to work in your house, you must have an unimpeded view to the south.
Skylink’s availability and coverage are far more expansive than Viasats.
It’s available in over 52 countries.
This helpful interactive map lets you view the extent of Starlink’s coverage.
ViaSat has no portable plans, whereas Starlink does.
This could potentially change with the release of ViaSat 3.
However, this is still just speculation at this point.
Starlink’s Roam plan is your best option if you want satellite internet for your large mobile or recreational vehicle (RV).
Satellite Constellation Orbiting Earth
ViaSat’s equipment consists of external (outside of your house) and internal (inside of your house) hardware.
You’ll need a southward-pointing satellite dish and an internal WIFi modem/Gateway to access Viasat’s internet services.
You can purchase all the hardware for $299.99 or lease it for a $5 monthly fee.
While you can install the equipment yourself, this isn’t recommended if you have the expertise. Viasat offers free installation.
Thus, there are no real benefits to installing the hardware yourself.
Starlink’s equipment fees are higher than Viasat’s.
Upfront hardware costs can be as much as $2500.
However, the upside is that Starlink’s equipment is easy to install – at least for the standard plan.
However, if you opt for its Roam or Business plan, it would be best to hire the services of a professional.
Unfortunately, Starlink doesn’t offer free installation.
You’ll have to hire a technician who can cost you at least $99.
Not only is Starlink available in more areas, but it also performs better.
You can get up to speeds of 500 Mbps.
ViaSat advertises speeds of up to 300 Mbps.
However, it’s unlikely that you will ever be able to reach these speeds – regardless of what plan you’re using.
You might only be able to reach speeds of 85 Mbps on a clear day.
Customers must also consider latency, another area that Starlink bests Viasat in.
Because the Starlink satellite constellation is low orbiting, it has lower latency than most satellite ISPs.
It has an average ping of 25 ms, whereas Viasat has an average of 600 ms.
However, Viasat’s ping has been seen to go as low as 70 ms in some geographical locations. Nevertheless, this is extremely rare.
One of Viasat’s greatest advantages is its diverse list of subscriptions and plans.
|Choices||Monthly data||Download speeds of up to|
|Choice 25 ($69.99)||60GB||25 Mbps|
|Choice 50 ($99.99)||100GB||50 Mbps|
|Choice 75 ($149.99)||150GB||75 Mbps|
|Choice 300GB ($199.99)||300GB||100 Mbps|
|Choice 500GB ($299.99)||500GB||100 Mbps|
Again, the launch of ViaSat-3 will likely influence the above plans. Starlink is limited to three core plans:
- Starlink Internet ($110): A standard plan offering speeds of up to 250 Mbps
- Starlink Roam ($150 for regional – $200 for global): Starlink’s portable plan with speeds of up to 50 Mbps
- Starlink Business ($500): A subscription plan for businesses that offers speeds of up to 500 Mbps
All plans are paid monthly and are subject to Starlink’s Fair Use Policy.
Engineer analyzing Satellites on Computer
How many Starlink satellites are there?
Starlink’s satellite constellation contains just over 3660 satellites.
This number is sure to grow.
How many satellites are in space right now?
There are currently over 7000 active satellites orbiting the Earth.
More than half of these satellites belong to or are operated by SpaceX, the company that owns Starlink.
Is Viasat the biggest competitor to Starlink?
Starlink is a low-earth orbiting (LEO) satellite system.
Thus, Viasat isn’t a direct competitor.
While many consumers may see it as an alternative, Starlink’s true competitors are other LEO-interlinked systems such as OneWeb.
The above article compares Viast vs. Starlink. It’s easy to see why many consumers consider Starlink their first go-to.
However, Starlink has a very hefty waiting list because of its popularity.
Thus, it’s good to have backup options.
Viasat is a more than worthy alternative. It beats Starlink in some areas.
But of course, your choice should be based on coverage, price, and how well the ISP meets your requirement.
For instance, Starlink is ideal for gaming and other low-latency applications.
Viasat isn’t reliable enough for these use cases.
However, you can use it for day-to-day applications and streaming basic compressed HD content.