California has only two satellite internet service providers (HughesNet and Viasat) Starlink (SpaceX) started their beta in 2021. Until Starlink starts offering its satellite internet service to the general public, it can’t be considered a genuine contender for satellite internet service. As of now, the cheapest satellite internet service in California is HughesNet $59.99 per month. Viasat offers the most bandwidth out of all satellite internet options in California, which is up to 100 MBPS with a 150 GB monthly data limit.
|Provider||Speeds||Price per month||Data per month||Contact Number|
|HughesNet||25 MBPS (all plans)||$59.99-$150/mo||+1(855) 320-9419|
|Viasat||12-100 MBPS||$50-$200/mo||+1(855) 320-9419|
|Starlink (Pending Launch)||100+ MBPS (No information available)||No information available||No information available||No information available|
California has a lot of rural areas just outside of the metro cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco. There are chances that you won’t get DSL, Cable, or Fiber internet service in your area, so you’ll have to rely on satellite internet service.
Until Starlink plans are available widely throughout the country, you’re stuck with HughesNet and Viasat satellite internet options in California.
Recommended Satellite Internet Plans in California
Before you choose a plan, keep in mind that satellite internet options are only good when you can’t find fiber, cable, and DSL internet options. Since the prices are higher, and data allowances aren’t good, satellite internet plans aren’t for everyone.
You can check for fixed wireless providers by plugging your address into the FCC broadband coverage map.
1. HughesNet 10 GB: Best Budget Plan
If you’re low on budget, then the HughesNet 25 MBPS plan is the cheapest option that you’ll be able to find. The plan costs $59.99 per month a one-time activation fee of $99 and a $14.99 per month equipment lease.
As you’ll need to sign up for 2 years, the total amount averages $79 per month. If you want, you can reduce the cost significantly by buying the dish and router upfront from HughesNet whenever you sign up.
The only downside of this plan is the low data cap (10 GB), which is only enough for an average of 20 hours of SD video streaming, or 120 hours of basic web browsing. If you have limited internet usage, you can get this plan and if you need more data per month, you can switch plans without having to pay a penalty.
2. Viasat Unlimited Silver 25: Best Performance Plan
Viasat’s Unlimited Silver 25 plan costs as low as $100-120 per month in some parts of California. You can get a $30 discount for the first 3 months when you sign up for the plan. You’ll have to pay $106.25 based on a 2-year average. Some zip codes have higher pricing for this plan up to $150 per month.
While the plan name does have unlimited in it, you aren’t actually getting unlimited data. Similar to all satellite internet plans, it has a “soft limit” on data usage. For this plan, you can use 60 GB in any 1-month period, once you go through this data, your speed will be throttled.
60 GB should be enough for most homes with basic internet usage such as SD video streaming. Viasat’s unlimited plans have much better terms than HughesNet currently, and your speed won’t drop even when you’re in a heavily subscribed area.
If you don’t want an entry-level satellite internet plan, then this plan from Viasat is the middle road.
HughesNet vs Viasat: Feature Comparison
Out of the two satellite internet options in California, Viasat is the premium option while HughesNet is a run-of-the-mill provider.
The only thing that HughesNet has going for them is that they have very simple prices. Their prices don’t change from month to month basis. Viasat, on the other hand, has promotional prices to gather new customers.
You may sign up for $70 per month, but you can end up paying $100 per month once the promotional period is over. Customers don’t read the fine print and end up being tricked, this is why Viasat has low reviews on platforms like Yelp or ACSI.
Still, Viasat has more advanced satellites which they use to provide internet service, positioned in the upper atmosphere which can provide up to 1 terabyte of speed. What’s even more amazing is that there are only 1 or 2 satellites powering the entire American subscriber base.
Rural California Internet Options Apart from Satellite Internet
If you don’t want satellite internet powering your home, and you want other options. You can choose from Fixed wireless, Mobile hotspots, and DSL over telephone lines.
- Fixed Wireless:
Fixed Wireless in California is offered by providers such as Mojave WiFi in the Joshua Tree Area, or Google Webpass in San Francisco. It works by beaming internet service from a tower to a fixed reception device.
Fixed wireless requires line-of-site with a company offering the service, so it’s spotty and it’s not available everywhere. It’s more common in areas like Joshua Tree or Pioneertown where there’s a huge population over a wide area.
- DSL Internet
The speeds you’ll get from DSL internet will depend on the distance from your provider. If AT&T or Frontier offers telephone service in your town or country, it’s worth giving them a call to check if they can provide service at your address.
Just make sure that you check the internet speed once the service is installed. Most of the time DSL internet speed is slower than advertised in rural areas due to signal dropping.
- Mobile Hotspots
Mobile hotspots operate similar to satellites, in which they have limited data cap. Verizon offers a “jetpack” service that’s perfect for rural areas. Some wireless resellers like Nomad wireless also offer to specialize in mobile hotspot service.