Satellite Internet FAQ

Information & Answers About Satellite Internet

Get Answers to Common Satellite Internet Questions

We’ve rounded up some common questions about satellite Internet. Whether it’s a basic question like, "What is satellite Internet?" or a more specific question related to availability, hardware needs, or installation, we have answers.

Most Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is HughesNet?
    • HughesNet is the high-speed Internet solution available to everyone in the contiguous US with a clear view of the southern sky. HughesNet uses satellite technology, not phone lines, to give you a super-fast, always-on Internet connection. HughesNet gets you online instantly, lets you surf faster, open pages faster, and download files in a fraction of the time it takes on a rural DSL modem.
  2. How fast are HughesNet services?
    • FAST, a world apart from your rural DSL connection! HughesNet Gen5 offers four service plans for home users: 10 GB, 20 GB, 30 GB and 50 GB. All plans include 25 Mbps download speeds and 3 Mbps upload speeds, though actual speeds may vary1.
  3. Which HughesNet service is right for my business?
    • HughesNet delivers a wide range of innovative and scalable network solutions to enterprises and small-to-medium businesses, and allows consumers and teleworkers everywhere to enjoy the excitement and convenience of high-speed Internet. To determine if HughesNet (and satellite Internet service overall) is a good fit for your business, call our toll-free number.
  4. How/where can I purchase HughesNet for my home or business?
    • You can order online from this site or you can speak with a HughesNet Satellite Internet Specialist by calling our toll-free number.
  5. What are my computer system requirements for HughesNet?
    • HughesNet lets you connect your computer to the Internet whether you are running a Windows or Macintosh operating system. Here's what your computer will need for you to use HughesNet:

      A compatible operating system:
      –Windows users: Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8
      –Apple users: Mac OS 10.7 (Lion), 10.8 (Mountain Lion), or 10.9 (Mavericks)
  6. Is HughesNet compatible with my Mac?
    • Yes, HughesNet is compatible with Mac OS 10.7 (Lion), 10.8 (Mountain Lion), or 10.9 (Mavericks).
  7. How Internet Satellite Service Operates
    • As long as you have a clear view of the southern sky with no large obstacles such as mountains in the way you can access satellite Internet. The satellites that send Internet transmissions to the earth are "geosynchronous" or "geostationary". These are simply ways of saying the satellites orbit the Earth at the exact rate of the Earth's rotation, keeping them at the same position relative to the surface of the planet at any given point in time. You simply need to have your satellite dish pointed at one of the satellites, all of which are located in the southern section of the sky, and you will receive the signal.*

      *HughesNet is available anywhere in the contiguous U.S. with a clear view of the southern sky, and is limited in Alaska and Hawaii and Puerto Rico.
  8. Can I put this system on a boat or in an RV?
    • HughesNet Home and Professional service is available for non-mobile (fixed) locations. To receive mobile high-speed Internet service, please contact one of the following Value Added Service providers:

      Mobil Satellite Technologies www.mobilsat.com 1-757-312-8300
      Ground Control www.groundcontrol.com 1-800-773-7168
  9. Will HughesNet work in the mountains?
    • The only requirement for HughesNet is that you live in the continental United States and have a clear view of the Southern sky. In some cases, where there are obstructions of the dish's line of sight, the dish is attached to a pole mount and raised up. The best way to determine if your home can receive HughesNet Internet service is to order a system and have a Certified Installer come out to your property. The Installer will assess the situation and determine if you are able to receive satellite Internet. If for some reason installation is not possible, your upfront payment will be fully refunded.
  10. Satellite Dish Line of Sight
    • The satellite dish line of sight is the path of communication for wireless data to be transmitted between your satellite dish and the satellite. There are two ways that the line of sight can be disrupted and thereby cause problems with your service. First, assuming that your provider uses a GEO satellite (and many Internet and television providers do), the satellite dish must be installed in the direction of the satellite. For example, if the satellite is orbiting the earth in the southern sky or near the equator, the dish must face south. Second, the satellite dish must be placed in a location that minimizes natural and man-made obstructions to the line of sight.
  11. What is a satellite modem?
    • A satellite modem is a device that interprets the signals sent from a low earth orbit (LEO) or a geosynchronous (GEO) satellite and translates them into something that your computer can understand. Additionally, the modem converts data from your computer into a radio signal that is sent back to the satellite (assuming you subscribe to a two-way satellite Internet service). There are some modems that are designed to only receive incoming signals; these are appropriate for one-way satellite Internet service.
  12. What's the difference between one-way and two-way satellite Internet?
    • As you might expect, one-way satellite Internet only transmits data in one direction; if you consider how satellite TV works, you only need to receive the television signals and you don't need to communicate anything back to the provider. By contrast, two-way satellite Internet allows users to download and upload data by enabling the user's satellite modem to send signals back to the satellite. Because there are few Internet users who would be satisfied only downloading files and checking email without ever sending a reply, one-way satellite Internet often works around the issue by combining it with a service for uploads. Clearly, one-way satellite Internet is an undesirable type of Internet connection for people who live in rural areas and who do not have access to telephone lines (and, by extension, even DSL connections) in the first place.
  13. What's the difference between upload time and download time?
    • Download speed refers to the speed at which you access data on or through the Internet. Activities like loading web pages, listening to online music through Pandora or iTunes, streaming movies through Netflix or Hulu, or loading new email messages sent to you are typical download activities, in which data is transferring to your computer or device.
    • Upload speed refers to the speed at which you transfer data from your computer or device to another person, site, or service via the Internet. Examples of uploading activities include sending email messages, broadcasting your own videos on sites like YouTube, or posting to personal blogs.
  14. What is wireless Internet?
    • Wireless Internet simply refers to any type of Internet connection that is possible without wires. Wired connections include fiber optic Internet, DSL, and cable Internet. Wireless Internet includes satellite Internet, EVDO, LTE, WiMax, and WiFi. Although wireless Internet is certainly an option in major cities, it has become a crucial solution for those who need rural Internet access for their homes or businesses.
  15. I'm a home user of HughesNet service. How can I contact Customer Support when I have a question or problem?
    • For HughesNet Technical Support or Customer Service, please log on to MyHughesNet.com where you can chat with HughesNet technical support staff, check your usage, test your satellite speed, or browse our online help files. This site will also enable you to view your account status, online invoices, and activity history. Customer Service and technical support are also available toll-free.
  16. What should I consider when selecting a high-speed Internet service?
    • There are three main factors to consider when deciding which type of high-speed Internet service is right for you: availability, speed, and price. Once you narrow down your choices, there are also a few other things you may consider researching. You want to ensure that you won't be faced with any hidden fees or price increases, and find out if you'll have equipment or installation costs.
  1. Can I use HughesNet to run a small network?
    • Yes, you can connect multiple computers and laptops to a single HughesNet Internet connection. Additional networking equipment, not included in your HughesNet system, may be required. For network setup, support, and configuration contact your network hardware manufacturer and/or operating system software developer. Please understand that all computers on this network will be sharing a single connection. Simultaneous use of high-bandwidth applications by multiple users may result in degradation of speed and is subject to the HughesNet Fair Access Policy.
  2. Can the HughesNet-certified installer set up my home network?
    • If you'd like, you can inquire if this option is available through your installer when you set your installation appointment. However, home networks are not included or supported by Hughes technical support. Multiple simultaneous users may degrade service. Uninterrupted service and stated speeds not guaranteed.
  3. Do I still need a dial-up modem and telephone line?
    • No. HughesNet delivers high-speed Internet access via satellite, so you have instant access to the Internet without dialing-in. You do not need a phone line or dial-up data modem to access the Internet when you use your HughesNet service.
  4. If I already have DIRECTV service, do I need to get a new dish for HughesNet?
    • Yes. The HughesNet system requires a unique dish and transmitter antenna in order to send and receive information via satellite. DIRECTV receivers and dishes can only receive Satellite Television transmissions and cannot send or receive a Satellite Internet transmission.
    • HughesNet and DIRECTV have a partnership through their marketing efforts but provide different types of satellite service to their customers.
  5. I have DIRECTV already. Will this be on the same bill? Any special deals?
    • No, you will not be able to receive both services on the same bill. There are no discounts for selecting both services. If you choose to receive both services, you will be billed separately for each.
  6. How does dish size affect satellite service?
    • Size does matter. As a rule of physics, the larger the diameter, the better the signal will be. The size of the dish directly affects the quality of a signal, which in turn, determines things like the number of channels received, the quality of the picture, and the speed of downloads and uploads.
  7. What are LEO and GEO satellites?
    • "LEO" stands for "low earth orbit" and includes any satellite within about a 1,000-mile (500 to 2,000 kilometer) distance from the earth. LEO satellites travel very quickly, often making a complete orbit around the earth in roughly 90 minutes. By contrast, "GEO" is short for "geosynchronous satellites;" these stationary (at least from an earthly perspective) satellites move with the earth's movements (i.e., at the same speed and in the same direction) and remain at a distance of about 22,000 miles (35,000 kilometers) from the earth. Like the earth, GEO satellites require a full 24 hours to follow the earth around its axis. A third, less common type of satellite, the medium earth orbit or "MEO" satellite, is primarily used in the polar regions and follows an oval orbit usually about 8,000 to 20,000 kilometers from earth's surface.
  8. What is microwave Internet?
    • Using microwave frequencies, data are transmitted between the user's device(s) and the WiMax tower. Unlike, for example, satellite signals, WiMax signals are not as easily blocked by obstructions like buildings and trees although a clear line of sight is preferable. Still, the average distance for best functionality is about five miles (the maximum distance that WiMax service could be transmitted between the tower and user is thirty miles but likely requires a strong antenna, other special devices, and an obstruction-free line of sight).
  9. Am I required to have a phone line or dial-up modem to use Satellite Internet?
    • Satellite Internet does not require a phone line or a dial-up Internet connection. One of the great things about satellite Internet is that you can surf online while you are on the phone.
  10. What is transmission latency?
    • Latency refers to the amount of time it takes a packet of data to travel across a network. With satellite service, that data must travel up to the satellite and back (about 45,000 miles). This round trip adds about a half-second delay to the total time your computer takes to communicate with a Website or host server. Therefore, time-sensitive applications that require fractions-of-a-second user inputs (such as multi-player "twitch" games or real-time equities trading) are not recommended with HughesNet.
  11. Can I run a VPN over HughesNet?
    • Yes, but running a VPN client over satellite is not an ideal configuration. If you choose to run VPN over satellite, your data speeds may be reduced by as much as 50-75%. You can restore your connection to full speed by simply disabling your VPN client when your session is over. SSL-based VPN products have proven to work more efficiently over satellite than IPSEC-Based VPN products. For questions or recommendations on a VPN product that will work more effectively with your HughesNet system, please contact one of our Satellite Internet Specialists by calling our toll-free number.
    • Note: HughesNet Technical Support does not provide help with configuring or troubleshooting problems associated with VPN clients. For questions about your VPN product, please contact the manufacturer's tech support.
  12. Why does the service slow down when used in conjunction with a VPN?
    • HughesNet uses sophisticated acceleration techniques to enable high-speed performance over satellite. These acceleration techniques require access to data packet header information, which is blocked when IPSec-based VPNs are used. These VPNs encrypt the data and create a secure tunnel through the HughesNet network. The encrypted data cannot be processed by HughesNet's acceleration techniques, therefore resulting in slower performance.
  13. What is signal latency?
    • In the field of communications, latency is the delay or lag time as a signal is transmitted over an extensive distance. For example, you may notice that there can be a slight delay when communicating with someone over a Voice-over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP) service, like Skype. Likewise, satellite signal latency is the lag that occurs while a signal is transmitted from your computer to the satellite and back to earth.
  14. How long is the lag created by satellite signal latency?
    • The speed of the signal depends on the distance it must travel; therefore, signal latency depends on whether the signal is being sent to a low earth orbit (LEO) satellite or a geosynchronous (GEO) satellite. In the case of GEO satellites, which are usually positioned about 22,000 miles above earth, the satellite signal latency is roughly a few hundred milliseconds (round trip). LEO satellites are in a much closer orbit and, therefore, have lower signal latency.
  15. How does satellite latency affect my Internet, television, phone, or other service?
    • Signal latency is only a measure of the time it takes for the signal to travel to and from the satellite. It does not include the time it takes for the satellite to process the data it receives nor does it consider the time it takes for other devices along the communication path to do the same. Even so, the delay does not usually present a problem with basic Internet usage like accessing websites or sending text emails. Among the applications that might result in a negative user experience from satellite signal latency are VoIP conversations, video streaming, and online gaming, so a satellite Internet connection is generally not recommended for these situations.
  16. What is VSAT?
    • VSAT stands for "very small aperture terminal." It commonly refers to a satellite dish (on the ground) with a diameter smaller than 3 meters. Most satellite dishes for personal satellite Internet or satellite television use would be considered to fall into the VSAT category. VSAT connections are two-way connections; this means that Internet users can both receive data from the GEO satellite (download) and send data to the satellite (upload).
  1. When is HughesNet Gen5 available?
    • HughesNet Gen5 has been available since mid-March 2017, and is available everywhere in the continental USA.
  2. Where is HughesNet Gen5 available?
    • HughesNet is available anywhere in the contiguous U.S. with a clear view of the southern sky, and is limited in Alaska and Hawaii and Puerto Rico.
  3. Why should I choose HughesNet Gen5?
    • Hughes® invented satellite Internet, and with over 40 years of proven experience, continues to innovate. HughesNet Gen5 is its latest innovation. By utilizing its JUPITER System technology and the EchoStar XIX, the world’s highest-capacity broadband satellite, HughesNet continues to make its service even better.
  4. What is Included with HughesNet Gen5?
    • With HughesNet Gen5 you get an antenna and satellite modem; Generous Service Plan Data for use anytime–plus 50 GB of Bonus Zone data for use during off-peak hours (2 a.m.-8 a.m.) to assist with downloading large files such as software updates. HughesNet also offers 24/7 live technical support for any issue.
  5. Is there a limit to the number of computers I can connect?
    • The HughesNet Gen5 10 GB3 plan is perfect for one to two computers, but the HughesNet Gen5 50 GB3 plan can handle multiple computers and is ideal for families.
  6. What is service plan data and how does it work?
    • Service plan data is a set amount of data that can be downloaded or uploaded within a given period of time. The amount is determined by the type of plan you choose and is monitored on a monthly basis. A cap is set on the amount of data that any individual user can upload or download to ensure that all users have fair access. It is a practice used by all satellite Internet services. Regardless of your chosen plan, HughesNet Gen5 gives you generous amount of service plan data to ensure you'll be able to do all the things you love to do online.
  7. For service plan data, does usage start from billing activation date and reset monthly?
    • Your Service plan data resets on the first day of your monthly billing cycle. If you have upgraded your data plan your data reset will coincide with your upgrade date, not your billing date.
  8. Can I use HughesNet Gen5 service for VoIP, Skype, Netflix, and VPN? And if not, when will it be available?
    • Yes, Netflix and Skype can be used with the HughesNet Gen5 service (just be sure to monitor your monthly service plan data). VPN may be used, but speeds will likely be reduced as much as 50-75%. Your connection can be restored to full speed simply by disabling your VPN client at the end of your session.
  9. What about online gaming?
  10. How long is the commitment on HughesNet Gen5?
    • HughesNet Gen5 requires a 24-month commitment.
  11. What makes HughesNet the right choice? I'm an existing HughesNet customer. Why should I stay?
    • You'll be able to experience Internet connectivity at its fullest. HughesNet service plans provide greater download capacity than ever before and also has all the tools to properly manage your service plan data.
  12. Why choose HughesNet Gen5 over other satellite Internet providers?
    • The generous service plan data from HughesNet Gen5 ensures that you'll be able to do all the things you love to do online regardless of which plan you choose.
  1. Why is there a requirement that the HughesNet system be professionally installed?
    • The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires that trained professionals install any satellite system that both sends and receives signals.
  2. How quickly will I be up and running?
    • On average, most customers are installed within 2 weeks of their order. When you place your order today, your name will be provided to a certified HughesNet installer, who will contact you within 5 days. You and the installer will then work out a mutually agreeable date and time for your installation.
  3. Can I put this system on a boat or in an RV?
    • HughesNet Home and Professional service is available for non-mobile (fixed) locations. To receive mobile high-speed Internet service, please contact one of the following Value Added Service providers:

      Mobil Satellite Technologies www.mobilsat.com 1-757-312-8300
      Ground Control www.groundcontrol.com 1-800-773-7168
  4. How can you check your real-time connection speed?
    • Speedtest.net offers a free speed diagnostic, in addition to some extra features for those that wish to go deeper. Simply navigate to Speedtest.net and click the large "Begin Test" button. Speedtest.net takes a moment to measure your download and upload speeds. Once completed, it will display your speeds. Additionally, you have the option to compare your results with that of others in your state, country, and even other customers from the same ISP. Another feature enables you to share your results with friends on Facebook and Twitter.
  5. How fast are HughesNet Business services compared to other high-speed services?
    • HughesNet provides download speed performance similar to other broadband services. The user experience is excellent when downloading Web pages, emails, or large data files. At the same time, satellite "upload" speeds (for sending data) are more appropriate for general Internet use, such as browsing the Internet, email, online ordering, etc. and not appropriate for higher speed demands of Website hosting, for example.
  6. What packages are available with HughesNet?

See packages available in your area.

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