HughesNet Satellite Internet Review

HughesNet connects you to satellite internet without contract gotchas.

Just because you’ve moved out to the country doesn’t mean you want to go completely off the grid. But getting an internet connection outside city limits can be like searching for a needle in a haystack—unless you get satellite internet.

HughesNet is one of two satellite internet providers that beams down that holy grail we call internet to most of the US. And while its speeds struggle to match those of competitor Viasat, its lack of contract gimmicks is refreshing.

HughesNet Prices and Plans

Plan
Price
Speed
Data Cap
HughesNet10 GB Data Plan
$59.99
/mo
25 Mbps10 GB + 50 GB Bonus Zone*
HughesNet20 GB Data Plan
$69.99
/mo
25 Mbps20 GB + 50 GB Bonus Zone*
HughesNet30 GB Data Plan
$99.99
/mo
25 Mbps30 GB + 50 GB Bonus Zone*
HughesNet50 GB Data Plan
$149.99
/mo
25 Mbps50 GB + 50 GB Bonus Zone*

*Data effective 1/14/2021. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. Actual speeds may vary and are not guaranteed.

HughesNet prices start strong with its lower data plans, but once you need 30 or 50 GB of data, Viasat starts to look better.

At least until you consider the contract. Viasat jacks up your price after three months—but you can grab a two-year price guarantee if you’re willing to stick with a three-year Viasat contract.

HughesNet plans are also a bit more straightforward. You’ve got only one speed to choose from, and the plan name is how much data you get each month before your speeds are slowed (or throttled). Still, some of us like to have choices, and HughesNet offers only a few.

Contract

Your HughesNet contract lasts for twenty-four months.

Early Termination Fees (ETF)

HughesNet Speeds

One saving grace for HughesNet is how well it delivers on speed. Sure, 25 Mbps doesn’t look like much compared to Viasat’s maximum of 100 Mbps, but chances are your HughesNet connection is faster than what you paid for.

How do we know? The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) published an internet speed report of each internet service provider’s (ISP’s) actual speeds compared to advertised speeds. Here’s how HughesNet scored.

HughesNet Speed Scores for 2018

Actual speeds may vary and are not guaranteed.

Data Caps

What you see is what you get with HughesNet. Your plan name explicitly outlines how much data you get each month. But if you go over that data cap, be prepared to suffer through speeds of 1 to 3 Mbps. Yuck.

HughesNet Data Caps

*Data current as of 1/17/19. Pricing and availability vary by location. Actual speeds may vary and are not guaranteed.

How much data do Netflix and other activities use?

*Data current as of 1/17/19. Pricing and availability vary by location.

Latency

Here’s where we give it to you straight: the reason we often don’t recommend satellite internet is because of latency.

Latency is the time it takes your data to travel to the HughesNet satellite, then on to the host server, and back to you. It’s often measured in milliseconds (ms), and you might hear it referred to as “ping.”

Compared to other internet connections, satellite internet has a lot of latency. That’s because your data has to travel 22,300 miles to a satellite in orbit above Earth, then back again.

HughesNet Satellite Internet Equipment

If you sign up for satellite internet, you’re going to need some equipment. Shocker, we know.

For HughesNet, this includes a satellite dish and a modem. Be prepared to have your satellite dish professionally installed, by the way. There is no DIY option here—and for a good reason. Not many of us want to scramble up a twenty-five-foot ladder and install a heavy dish on our roofs. That’s a hospital trip waiting to happen.

What to Expect in the Installation Process

HughesNet Equipment Prices

HughesNet Customer Service

Just like any other ISP, HughesNet is no stranger to customer complaints. So it’s probably no surprise that HughesNet (and most other ISPs) earned a poor grade in the 2018 American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI).

Our Final Thoughts

HughesNet may not be up to par with Viasat for prices and speeds, but it does offer a shenanigan-free contract and straightforward data caps. And with its new satellite launching in 2021, we expect HughesNet to pick up the pace with speeds up to 100 Mbps.

HughesNet
Prices:
$59.99–$149.99/mo.
Speeds:
25 Mbps
Data Cap:
10–50 GB

Actual speeds may vary and are not guaranteed.