HughesNet Internet Review 2021

HughesNet
  • Price: Starting at $59.99
  • Speeds: 25 Mbps
  • Availability: Nationwide​

Peter Christiansen
Researcher & Writer
Read More
Published on November 29, 2021

HughesNet is one of the two major satellite internet providers in the US, providing coverage to almost anywhere in the country. HughesNet is known for having simple pricing and making it easy to buy more data if you go over your monthly limits. It’s not the best choice in areas with other internet providers, since satellite internet is slower and more expensive than most other options, but HughesNet is an excellent choice for rural customers.

HughesNet internet plans and pricing

10 GB Data Plan
$59.99/mo.
Download speed: up to 25 Mbps
Upload speed: up to 3 Mbps

No Hard Data Limits2

If you exceed 10 GB/mo., stay connected at reduced speeds2

20 GB Data Plan
$69.99/mo.
Download speed: up to 25 Mbps
Upload speed: up to 3 Mbps

No Hard Data Limits2

If you exceed 20 GB/mo., stay connected at reduced speeds.2

30 GB Data Plan
$99.99/mo.
Download speed: up to 25 Mbps
Upload speed: up to 3 Mbps

No Hard Data Limits2

If you exceed 30 GB/mo., stay connected at reduced speeds.2

50 GB Data Plan
$149.99/mo.
Download speed: up to 25 Mbps
Upload speed: up to 3 Mbps

No Hard Data Limits2

If you exceed 50 GB/mo., stay connected at reduced speeds.2

Service plans require a 24-month commitment.

All HughesNet® internet plans come with download speeds up to 25 Mbps and upload speeds up to 3 Mbps.1

Each HughesNet Gen5 plan includes the following features:

  • Download speed: up to 25 Mbps
  • Upload speed: up to 3 Mbps
  • Unlimited satellite internet with no hard data limits2
  • Built-in Wi-Fi service
  • 50 GB of extra (full-speed) data during the Bonus Zone

Every HughesNet satellite internet plan gives you an additional 50 GB of data per month during the Bonus Zone. You can use this data during the non-peak hours of 2:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. (in your local time zone) to schedule updates or downloads so it won’t eat up your daily internet usage.

HughesNet overview

As a satellite internet provider, HughesNet’s main advantage is its wide availability. Even if you live in an area without buried cables, cell towers, or even telephone poles, HughesNet can still give you access to the internet. But HughesNet customers also have to deal with the downsides of satellite internet, which include restrictive data caps, high latency, and high monthly costs compared to other types of connection.

HughesNet delivers internet service with download speeds up to 25 Mbps, which is technically considered broadband internet by the FCC.7 But internet speeds capped at 25 Mbps along with monthly data caps limit the kinds of online activities you can do on a HughesNet connection.

Pros
Pro Bullet Lower prices than Viasat
Pro Bullet No expiration date for purchased data
Pro Bullet Simple pricing structure
Pro Bullet Bonus Zone data
Cons
Con Bullet Throttled speeds after data allowance
Con Bullet Required 2-year contract
Con Bullet Fewer plan options

Pros

Lower prices—HughesNet has some of the lowest prices available for satellite internet. While its plans are still somewhat expensive compared to other types of connections, like DSL, you can’t beat HugheNet’s prices in areas where satellite is the only option.

No expiration date for purchased data—Data is generally very limited in satellite plans, so the ability to purchase extra data is essential. HughesNet makes this process easy. Its Data Tokens don’t expire at the end of the month, so you have some flexibility with your data usage.

Simple pricing—HughesNet offers a handful of plans that differ only in the amount of data each one offers. This not only makes it easier to choose the plan that works best for you, but it also makes it easy to compare the value of different plans. HughesNet also has no price hikes, so the price you sign up for is the price you get for two years.

Bonus Zone data—HughesNet plans come with Bonus Zone Data, which gives you 50 GB per month of additional full-speed data (25 Mbps) from 2:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. This helps you better manage your monthly data allotment by allowing you to download large files like system updates, movies, or music without burning through the monthly data you use for your normal online activities.

Cons

Throttled speeds after data allowance—If you use more data than your plan allots in a given month, HughesNet will severely throttle your speed, down to 1 Mbps, making even the most basic online task difficult.9 Fortunately, it’s easy to purchase additional data, but an unexpected drop in speed can still be very frustrating.

Required 2-year contract—HughesNet plans require a lengthy 2-year contract, which makes it difficult to switch providers without paying hefty early termination fees. This is particularly problematic for people who move around a lot or want the flexibility to pick up and leave at a moment’s notice. Signing a HughesNet internet contract is not a decision that should be taken lightly.

Fewer plan options—While HughesNet’s pricing is simple, it doesn’t give you a lot of plan options. If you need speeds faster than 25 Mbps, for example, you’re out of luck. HughesNet’s prices are hard to beat if they offer just what your household needs, but for many people, the savings aren’t worth trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

HughesNet features

Reliable speeds with every plan

Unlike most internet providers, HughesNet doesn’t charge you more for high-speed internet. All HughesNet plans come with 25 Mbps download speeds.1

Stay connected wirelessly with built-in Wi-Fi

With the HughesNet Gen5 Wi-Fi modem, you can keep all the wireless devices in your home connected.

Secure and reliable high-speed internet connection

HughesNet has reliable connections, fast internet speeds, and prices that fit your budget. With a stable, regularly updated infrastructure, HughesNet gives you the service you deserve.

hughesnet screen shot

Unlimited data with no hard data limits

If you exceed your plan’s data threshold, HughesNet won’t cut you off or charge you more. You’ll stay connected at reduced speeds (typically 1–3 Mbps) through the end of the month. And since HughesNet Internet is available nationwide, you can stay connected to unlimited internet no matter where you live.

Video data saver

When you stream all your favorite TV shows and movies, HughesNet Gen5 automatically adjusts your speeds and delivers DVD video quality while using less data so you can watch up to three times as much footage.

Extra 50 GB of data with HughesNet Bonus Zone

All HughesNet Internet plans come with Bonus Zone Data, which offers you an extra 50 GB of full-speed data (25 Mbps) from 2:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. Your Bonus Zone data renews each month. It’s a great time to download your favorite movies, music, and games.

Finding the right HughesNet data plan 

With HughesNet high-speed satellite internet service, you don’t need to be connected to city infrastructure to get high-speed internet. This gives people in rural areas the option to work or go to school remotely, access telehealth services, and keep in touch with friends and family.

HughesNet plans

Plan
Price
Disclaimer
10 GB Data Plan
$59.99
/mo
If you exceed 10 GB/mo., stay connected at reduced speeds.2
20 GB Data Plan
$69.99
/mo
If you exceed 20 GB/mo., stay connected at reduced speeds.2
30 GB Data Plan
$99.99
/mo
If you exceed 30 GB/mo., stay connected at reduced speeds.2
50 GB Data Plan
$149.99
/mo
If you exceed 50 GB/mo., stay connected at reduced speeds.2

Service plans require a 24-month commitment.

Why do rural Americans choose HughesNet?

HughesNet is a good choice for people living in rural and hard-to-reach areas. With speeds of 25 Mbps, HughesNet gives you enough speed to work remotely, shop online, read the news, stream podcasts and music, have telehealth appointments from home, manage a business, and make video calls with friends and family. As long as you’re careful with data usage, you can even stream a movie and play a few online games over the weekend.

What's a GB (gigabyte)?
Info

Internet data usage is measured in gigabytes, which is often shortened to GB. Most satellite internet plans give you a limited amount of full-speed data each month, which is measured in GB.

How much video can I stream with HughesNet?

HughesNet recommends always streaming in standard definition (SD), which uses less data than HD, Ultra HD, or DVD quality. Watching Netflix in SD uses a little more than half a gigabyte per hour of streaming, while splurging on Ultra HD uses a walloping 15.98 GB of data per hour.

If you stream in SD (low definition), here’s how much video you can stream each month with your HughesNet satellite internet package.

  • 10 GB: 15 hrs. per month
  • 20 GB: 30 hrs. per month
  • 30 GB: 45 hrs. per month
  • 50 GB: 72 hrs. per month
Streaming tip
Info

You get 50 GB of Bonus Zone Data each month from 2:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. Many people forget to use this bonus data. Be smart and use this free data to download movies and episodes so you can watch them offline later

You can download a few episodes of your favorite show before you go to bed every night, or while you’re getting ready in the morning.

You can find instructions on how to download content on the Help Center pages for NetflixHuluDisney+, and other streaming services that allow you to download content instead of stream it live.

Is HughesNet unlimited?

HughesNet doesn't have hard data limits, so it's technically unlimited. However, HughesNet does throttle your internet speeds down to as low as 1 Mbps if you go over you high-speed data allotment (unless you buy more data).9

For more tips on minimizing data usage, check out How Much Data Does Netflix Use? and How to Reduce Zoom Data Usage.

HughesNet vs. other internet providers

HughesNet is a good option if you need internet service in a rural area. Most of its plans are cheaper than its direct competitor, Viasat, and it offers 25 Mbps speeds on every plan. Your price will also stay locked for the duration of your 2-year contract. Like any service, the more you know about it going in, the more likely you are to be satisfied with your experience.

Compared with DSL and cable internet providers, HughesNet is generally more expensive and slower. The main advantage of satellite providers like HughesNet and Viasat is their wide availability. You can connect to HughesNet nearly anywhere in the United States, whether there is wired infrastructure nearby or not. If you do have access to a wired internet service like cable or DSL, that would probably be the more affordable option.

Some areas have access to other kinds of wireless internet in addition to satellite. Providers like T-Mobile and Verizon offer 4G LTE home internet plans that provide internet access over cellular networks. These plans aren’t quite as widely available as satellite, but if you get good cell reception in your home, many of these plans offer a good alternative to satellite internet like HughesNet.

How does HughesNet work?

Because HughesNet is a satellite internet provider, it works by sending requests from your laptop, computer, smartphone, and more to a HughesNet satellite in space (22,000 miles from Earth!). The satellite informs the Hughes Network Operations Center (NOC) of your request and sends it back to your device through the same satellite, which then sends it to the HughesNet equipment at your home (the satellite dish and modem). It’s pretty amazing when you think about the distance your request travels, but it’s also the reason satellite internet has higher-than-average latency.

HughesNet internet speeds

All HughesNet Internet speeds the same speeds: 25 Mbps download speed and up to 3 Mbps upload. This is fast enough for streaming, video conferencing, online schooling, browsing, social media, online shopping, and most other activities with the exception of fast-paced gaming. 

But, if you reach your monthly data allotment (10 GB to 50 GB per month, depending on your plan), your download speeds will slow significantly to about 1–3 Mbps. Your speeds can also vary depending on the time of day.

Even if you hit your monthly data allotment, you can still get 50 GB of full-speed data (25 Mbps) during the Bonus Zone, which is from 2:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. daily.

HughesNet equipment

In general, we recommend leasing a HughesNet modem. Buying the modem up front costs $449.98, while leasing it is $14.99 per month. Leasing reduces the upfront cost and won’t leave you stuck with outdated equipment in a few years. Also, contracts with HughesNet end after two years, so leasing will save you from getting stuck with equipment that can’t be used with another internet service provider if you decide to switch.

There is also a $99.00 installation fee for setting up your internet connection. HughesNet does not offer a self-installation option, so make sure to account for the cost of the professional installation when switching to HughesNet.

Fee
Price
Monthly lease fee$149.99/mo.
Professional installation$99.00
Equipment purchase$449.98
Data TokensStarting at $9.00/3 GB

Data effective as of post date. Pricing and speeds are subject to change. Not all offers available in all areas.

HughesNet Voice plans

Base plan
Minutes
Price
Get it
Home VoiceUnlimited calls to US and Canada
$29.95
mo.
Add-on plans
Minutes
Price
Get it
International 200200 min. to 60 countries
$9.95
mo.
International UnlimitedUnlimited calls to 60 countries
$22.95
mo.

HughesNet offers home phone service via Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). Although it uses your HughesNet satellite internet connection to make calls, it won’t count toward your monthly data cap, which sets it apart from other VoIP phone options that will happily devour your data. In fact, even if you hit your HughesNet Internet data cap, you can still make VoIP calls.

You can easily add HughesNet Voice to your existing HughesNet Internet plan for an additional $29.95 per month. With that plan, you’ll get unlimited calls to the US and Canada. If you need to make international calls, HughesNet offers the International 200 add-on plan for $9.95 per month or the International Unlimited add-on plan for $22.95 per month. 

Every HughesNet Voice plan allows you to keep your same phone number or get a new one. The plan also comes with free features such as call waiting, caller ID, call forwarding, voicemail, and more

HughesNet TV plans

Satellite TV plans
Price
Channels
Get it
DISH America's Top 120Plans start at $69.99/mo. w/ 2-yr. contract190+
DIRECTV ENTERTAINMENT All-IncludedPlans start at $64.99/mo. w/ 2-yr. contract160+

for 24. months. Everyday Price $94.99/mo. New customers only. All offers require 2-year commitment with early termination fee and eAutopay. Price includes Hopper Duo for qualifying customers. Prices subject to change at any time. DIRECTV STREAM Device avail. for $5/mo. on 24-month installment agmt for well-qualified customers. Others pay $120 upfront for device. Taxes due at sale. See details.

HughesNet offers only satellite internet plans, so you can’t bundle your HughesNet internet with TV to get discounts. But if you still need a TV plan to go with your HughesNet plan, satellite TV is your best option. It’s available everywhere, just like HughesNet.

Just like in the satellite internet world, you have only two choices when it comes to satellite TV: DISH or DIRECTV. Both providers require a 2-year contract that comes with hefty early termination fees, so make sure you’re in it for the long haul before you sign the dotted line.

But what about streaming? It’s possible to stream on satellite internet, but we don’t recommend it. Streaming uses a lot of data, and satellite internet comes with small data caps that can go quickly if you’re used to streaming a couple hours of TV per night. If you don’t want to spoil your TV time by budgeting your data cap usage, we recommend going with a satellite TV plan where you can watch as much TV as you want.

HughesNet Internet for business

Plan
Data
Plan Descriptions
Business 3525 GB Daytime Data + 10 GB Anytime Data 2–3 users with multiple devices and basic internet needs.
Business 5025 GB Daytime Data + 25 GB Anytime Data Up to 5 users with light to moderate business internet usage.
Business 75 25 GB Daytime Data + 50 GB Anytime Data Up to 5 users with more intensive business connectivity needs.
Business 150 50 GB Daytime Data + 100 GB Anytime Data Up to 10 users with heavy-duty business data needs.
Business 250 50 GB Daytime Data + 200 GB Anytime Data10+ users who need a robust data plan to keep business running.

HughesNet FAQ

How much does HughesNet cost?

HughesNet plans start at $59.99 per month and go up to $149.99 per month, not including modem lease ($14.99 per month). All HughesNet plans offer the same 25 Mbps speeds but different amounts of full-speed monthly data. 

Is HughesNet unlimited internet?

HughesNet Internet is technically unlimited internet, but each plan has a limited amount of full-speed (25 Mbps) data. Once you reach your data allotment (which ranges from 10 GB to 50 GB per month), you can continue to access data without incurring overage fees, but it will be at much slower speeds (1–3 Mbps).

What is Bonus Zone data?

Bonus Zone data is 50 GB of full-speed (25 Mbps) data that’s available with all HughesNet plans, which you can use between 2:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. Bonus Zone data is extra data you get in addition to your plan’s monthly data allotment.

What’s the best plan from HughesNet?

HughesNet’s best plan is the 50 GB Data Plan, which gives you the most monthly data. In addition to 50 GB of data that you can use anytime, you also get 50 GB of Bonus Zone data that you can use from 2:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m., so this plan gives you a combined 100 GB of full-speed data each month.

Should I lease or buy a HughesNet modem?

We recommend leasing a HughesNet modem. Buying the HughesNet modem upfront costs $449.98, while leasing it is just $14.99 per month. Additionally, leasing the modem rather than buying it won't leave you stuck with outdated equipment in a few years. 

Sources and notes:

  1. The HughesNet Gen5 service plans are designed to deliver download speeds of 25 Mbps and upload speeds of 3 Mbps, but individual customers may experience different speeds at different times of the day. Speeds and uninterrupted use are not guaranteed and may vary based on a variety of factors including: the configuration of your computer, the number of concurrent users, network or Internet congestion, the capabilities and content of the Websites you are accessing, network management practices as deemed necessary, and other factors. When you connect to the HughesNet service using Wi-Fi, your experience will vary based on your proximity to the Wi-Fi source and the strength of the signal.
  2. If you exceed your monthly plan data, you will experience reduced data speeds until the start of your next billing period. Reduced speeds will typically be in the range of 1 – 3 Mbps and may cause Web sites to load more slowly or affect the performance of certain activities, such as video streaming or large downloads/uploads.
  3. Streaming is optimized with video streams at DVD quality (up to 480p). For best performance, leave any video streaming applications at their default automatic resolution setting. Most video services are supported. Not all video sources are identifiable. 3 times is based on average HD bit rate of 3.6 Mbps vs. DVD quality at 1.1 Mbps.
  4. Service is subject to HughesNet Voice Subscription Agreement and Reasonable Use Policy. Service (including 911/ emergency services) will not function during periods of Internet service outage. Additional Voice adapter equipment required. Applicable countries for International calling plans can be found on legal.HughesNet. com. Transfers of existing telephone number not always available, and your new telephone number may not be a local number.
  5. Applicable countries can be found on legal.HughesNet.com.
  6. Transfers of existing telephone number not always available.
  7. Federal Communications Commission, “2015 Broadband Report,” February 4, 2015. Accessed August 23, 2021.
  8. Hughes. “EchoStar XIX Satellite with JUPITER High-Throughput Technology Successfully Positioned in Orbital Slot,” January 10, 2016. Accessed August 25, 2021.
  9. HughesNet. “HughesNet Gen5 Fair Access Policy,” Accessed September 9, 2021.
Peter Christiansen
Written by
Peter Christiansen
Peter Christiansen is a writer at HighSpeedInternet.com, where he writes about satellite internet, rural connectivity, livestreaming, and parental controls. Peter holds a PhD in communication from the University of Utah and has worked as a computer programmer, game developer, filmmaker, and writer. His writing has been praised by outlets like Wired, Digital Humanities Now, and the New Statesman.