Cable Internet Versus HughesNet and Viasat Satellite internet: Which Option Is Best for You?

Cable Internet Versus HughesNet and Viasat Satellite internet: Which Option Is Best for You?

Two of the most popular internet options are satellite internet like HughesNet and Viasat or cable internet like Comcast Xfinity, Wow, Frontier, Spectrum and CenturyLink. We dig deep to find out which Internet Service Provider is best

Updated: February 11, 2020


We still get this question often and we wanted to update this article with the questions, myths and facts people still have or hear about cable vs satellite internet service.  For the purposes of this article we will be discussing the two major providers of satellite internet, HughesNet and Viasat as well as various cable providers which include but are not limited to companies like Spectrum, Comcast, Frontier, WOW cable, Time Warner Cable, CenturyLink and WIndstream.  There are over 2700 internet service providers across the US all offering various speed, packages, prices, bundles and incentives.  We will try to help you determine which service is right for you.  

Two of the most popular internet options are satellite and cable internet. Both satellite and cable bring the internet into your home, but they complete this function in vastly different ways. Here's a look at the basics to help you decide which option is right for your needs.  

Cable Internet Versus Satellite: The Basics

Cable internet comes to your home through the same cables that you use to watch cable TV. In most cases, you can use the same provider for both cable TV and cable internet like Comcast, CenturyLink, spectrum, Wow cable, frontier and many others.  , You typically receive a discount for bundling both your new cable and tv services. Satellite internet providers like HughesNet and Viasat, in contrast, starts with a land-based internet connection. That sends signals to a satellite orbiting Earth, which in turn sends signals to your personal satellite dish. Finally, your personal satellite dish is connected to your home modem.  Satellite internet like the service HughesNet and Viasat provide give you the exact same product as far as internet is concerned.  The differences really boil down to speed price and availability.  If you are moving to a new home and looking for a new internet provider, the availability of a cable service like Spectrum, Comcast or CenturyLink really depends if they have put the high speed broadband internet infrastructure in your area to be able to offer you service.  

The Installation Process

Both satellite and cable internet require professional installation and a modem. The cable internet installer simply splices your existing cable and routes it to your modem.  Many times providers like Comcast ( their high speed broadband internet service is actually called Xfinity) and Spectrum (formerly known as Charter) offer self install in which there companies just send the modem to your home and you plug it in.  For the self install feature Comcast and Spectrum need to have been installed in the home previously.  The satellite internet installer has to put in a satellite dish, just as they do with satellite TV.  With both satellite and cable internet, you pay a monthly fee, and if you bundle the service with your TV service, you can often receive a discount.  With Satellite internet service like Viasat and HughesNet, they do not have a standalone TV service but partner with DirecTV and often offer incentives like $10 off of your HughesNet or Viasat bill for signing up for both services.   In both cases, you may be required to buy or rent a modem. However, with satellite internet, you may also have to foot the cost of buying or leasing the satellite dish.  Much of this depends on the offer at the time and your credit worthiness.  Many providers offer free standard installation when you qualify for their offer.  Typically standard instillation of TV, Phone and Internet Service can run as high as $99.  To check and see the current offers or to see if you qualify you can always call or call Call 888-376-0753


Cable internet runs along cables and tends to be relatively reliable. However, if you live in an area where the cable TV goes in and out, you can expect similar performance issues with your internet. Additionally, if your neighbors receive their internet through the same cable, speed and reliability may be reduced when multiple people are on the internet at the same time. With satellite internet, in contrast, you don't share the signal with your neighbors. That keeps the signal strong during peak usage times. However, storms and sunspots can disrupt the transmission signal and lead to downtime.


Cable internet is only available in areas with cable TV. Satellite internet is available almost anywhere. In many areas, you can choose between these two options, but in rural areas, without cable, satellite may be the only option.  The best way to find out which internet service providers are available in your area as well as offers and speeds, use our handy zip look up tool on our home page and type in your zip code to see the latest offers.  


Speeds can vary depending on the type of cables in your area. However, cable internet typically offers speeds ranging from 20 Mbps to over 1000 Mbps. Satellite internet is a bit slower with speeds ranging from 5 to 100 Mbps(. If both options are available in your area, your decision boils down to speed and cost. Check out a few companies in your area to see which options and packages are available. Don't forget however that in addition to these options, you should also check out DSL. This modern take on dial-up will be covered in an upcoming blog.