HughesNet Reviews



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27 HughesNet Review

HughesNet is a satellite based Internet service supporting the North American market, and has over 40 years experience in this field. Its service typically appeals most to those in rural areas who do not have access to DSL and Cable Internet service.

The satellites themselves are in geosynchronous orbit, approximately 22,000 miles above sea level. HughesNet has invested over one billion dollars in its technology. The current technology used is referred to as HughesNet Gen4 which is the fourth generation version of its Internet service, promising higher speeds and better overall performance.

For additional background information on satellite service we recommend you read our article on VoIP over satellite service.

The Good

A recent study indicated that as few as 24% of Americans in rural areas have Internet access at home. The main reason for this is because DSL and Cable companies typically do not service areas outside the cities and suburbs. For those residents, satellite Internet may be the perfect choice and indeed the only choice for access to the Web. HughesNet is one of the top companies in this space.

Pricing is structured based on a fair access policy for data allowance, which creates multiple tiers of service. This means the customer can pick the plan most suited to its households needs for Internet data. The actual pricing tiers start as low as $49.99 per month, which is high compared to DSL and Cable, but actually fairly reasonable for this smaller market segment. For this lower end plan, speeds are actually reasonable, at 5 Mb/s downlink and 1 Mb/s uplink, certainly enough to stream movies. Just keep an eye on data allowance, which is 5GB for this plan per month. What is 5GB of data allowance? Well this is five GigaBytes of data which is equivalent to sending 1500 photos or downloading 1200 songs or streaming 7 hours of movies (standard definition) with Netflix or the likes, in a given month. One thing we like about this is that no charge is made when you hit your data allowance, instead your speeds drop significantly (to 150Kb/s) so at least there are no surprises at the end of a month with your bills.

It also provides bonus data for each plan. This is essentially bonus data you get each month for off-peak times. Off-peak times for residential customers are between 2am and 8am. The key element to note from the discussions on data allowances is to check your status meter so you know where you are at any given time, regarding your data usage.

HughesNet also offers some really good special deals on its website for new customers, ranging from $100 off to free installation and price cuts for the first 3 months of service.

The Bad

Installation involves placing a satellite dish on your roof and two 100ft coaxial cables to the modem inside your home. The actual equipment must be purchased, or leased each month. You also must have a clear view of the Southern skies for the system to work properly.

There tends to be a minimum contract length for service, which at this time of writing is a 24 month term.

The data allowance is a major factor to consider for this service. This was discussed above and it is good that no additional charges occur should you go over your allowance, but it is unfortunate that any unused data does not rollover at the end of each month. At the end of each month the data allowance simply resets.

If you need to use VPN, for example to access files at your place of work, you may end up being frustrated. VPN is an encrypted connection and this could really scale back the speeds you see from your Internet service. In fact you may see up to a 70% reduction in effective speeds. Also, do not expect any support from HughesNet when troubleshooting VPN connections.

No static IPs are available for residential service. This is usually not a big concern but can be if you rely on remotely controlling home security systems, lights, thermostats and the likes. Often such systems require static IP addresses rather than dynamic.

Finally, a note regarding VoIP phone service. VoIP does not work very well over satellite Internet service. For a more complete discussion read the article highlighted at the top of this review. Essentially, the latency due to the distance to the satellite, causes problems with the quality of the VoIP calls. HughesNet has an optimized service for VoIP that apparently can work quite well but third party VoIP service will be problematic. The issue here is that the HughesNet voice service is very expensive compared to the VoIP companies you will find on this website.

The Bottom Line

  • Connect Plan: $49.99/month. 5Mb/s downlink, 1Mb/s uplink. 5GB data, 5GB bonus data (2am through 8am). Special for $39.99 for first 3 months.
  • Power Plan: $59.99/month. 10Mb/s downlink, 1Mb/s uplink. 10GB data, 10GB bonus data.
  • Power Pro Plan: $79.99/month. 10Mb/s downlink, 2Mb/s uplink. 15GB data, 15GB bonus data.
  • Power Max Plan: $129.99/month. 15Mb/s downlink, 2Mb/s uplink. 20GB data, 20GB bonus data.
  • HughesNet Voice: $29.99/month (additional packages for International minute bundles).
  • Equipment Lease: $9.99/month typically.
  • Business plans with similar tiers. No pricing available, contact for quotes.

Overall Thoughts

HughesNet is a great option for those living in rural areas, where there are no DSL or Cable companies providing Internet service.

Pricing is reasonable for the lower level tiers but just be aware of the data allowances for each plan, and try to keep inside it or speeds will drop significantly.

A VoIP phone plan is available but read our article on VoIP over satellite referenced at the top of this review before jumping in.

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