Starlink vs. Hughesnet: Which Satellite Internet Provider Is Best?

Is it worth it to get satellite internet from Starlink or HughesNet? We break down both Wi-Fi satellite providers.
Starlink
  • pro
    $120–$5000/mo. plus one-time hardware fee of $599 or $2,500
  • pro
    20-220Mbps
  • pro
    Unlimited Standard Data
HughesNet
  • pro
    $49.99–$79.99/mo.
  • pro
    50-100Mbps
  • pro
    Unlimited data
  • pro
    Nationwide availability

Mikayla Rivera
May 03, 2023
bullet7 min read

Is Starlink better than Hughesnet?

Hughesnet and Starlink are two of the biggest names in U.S. satellite internet service, and both of these internet service providers (ISPs) have some unique features and advantages. 

Starlink tends to offer the fastest speeds among all satellite internet providers, but its service is not available in all areas of the U.S. and comes with extra up-front costs. Hughesnet has nationwide availability, and it offers a range of monthly plans with different amounts of data, whether you’re an internet minimalist or a streaming video binge-watcher. 

Let’s take a closer look at Starlink vs. Hughesnet internet plans so you can make the best choice for your satellite internet needs.

Starlink internet plans

Starlink offers two satellite internet plans for home internet customers: Starlink Standard (formerly called Residential) and Starlink Mobile.

Plan
Price
Features

Starlink Standard (Residential)

$120/mo., plus $599 or $2,500 for hardwareUnlimited Standard data

20–220Mbps

Starlink Priority

$140–500/mo., plus $599 or $2,500 for hardwareUnlimited Standard data. Offers multiple priority data plans.

20–220Mbps

Starlink Mobile (formerly Starlink RV)

$150/mo. for Regional plan, $200 per month for Global plan; plus $599 for portable hardware or $2,500 for in-motion hardwareStarlink Mobile is designed for RVs, campers, explorers, and use in remote locations where connectivity is limited. Must be stationary.

Starlink Mobile Priority

$250—$5,000/mo.; $2,500 for hardwareStarlink Mobile Priority Can be used while moving. Offers multiple priority data plans.

Starlink Standard offers different pricing based on the speeds available in your area. Starlink plans either cost $90 if you live in a low-capacity area or $120 if you live in a high-capacity area, and you find out which price you get when you sign up (or if Starlink contacts you after your area changes to high-capacity status). 

Unlike Hughesnet and other satellite internet providers, Starlink does not require contracts. You can cancel your Starlink internet service at any time–but if you ever want to restart your Starlink service after canceling, you might end up at the bottom of the waitlist. Also, Starlink offers unlimited Standard Data, so you will never lose connectivity, but you may experience slower speeds. 

Starlink Mobile users get Best Effort service, so speeds may be lower than typical Standard speeds.

Hughesnet internet plans

Hughesnet offers two satellite-only plans and a Fusion plan, which is a hybrid connection that makes use of terrestrial wireless networks internet plans. 

Plan
Price
Data
Features
Get it

Hughesnet Select

$49.99/mo.Unlimited
  • Good for basic internet browsing and email
  • 50Mbps
  • Hughesnet Elite

    $64.99/mo.Unlimited
  • Good for social media, streaming music
  • 100Mbps
  • Hughesnet Fusion

    $79.99/mo.Unlimited
  • Combined satellite and wireless technology
  • Good for some video streaming and video games.
  • 100Mbps
  • There are no hard data caps for HughesNet satellite internet. Even if you use up your plan’s monthly amount of high-speed data, you will stay connected—but you might experience reduced speeds thereafter, depending on network demands. 

    Be aware that Hughesnet satellite internet service, even the higher-speed, higher-data Fusion plan, is not recommended as a full-time replacement for your TV service or for real-time multiplayer online video games. 

    Hughesnet requires a 24-month contract commitment when signing up for service.

    Starlink vs. Hughesnet internet speed

    When choosing satellite internet service, it’s important to understand how fast your internet experience will be. Starlink and Hughesnet offer different levels of download speeds.

    How fast is Hughesnet?

    HughesNet offers download speeds of 50-100Mbps, but the exact speed you experience will depend on time of day, overall demands on the network, and other factors. You might experience slower speeds, especially if you have exceeded your

    Why is Starlink faster than Hughesnet?

    Starlink’s download speeds range from 20–100Mbps during times of “Basic Access.” The exact download speeds that you get from Starlink satellite internet will depend on your location, the time of day, and overall capacity of the Starlink network.

    Starlink offers faster internet speeds because the company uses a different type of satellite network that is located much closer to the Earth. Most satellite internet providers use geostationary orbit (GEO) satellites, with the satellites orbiting 23,000 miles from Earth. But Starlink uses low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites, which are only 111–1,242 miles above the Earth’s surface. Being closer to our planet helps the Starlink satellite signals travel to the Earth’s surface more quickly—delivering faster internet speeds and lower latency.

    Starlink latency vs. Hughesnet latency

    Both Starlink and Hughesnet claim to offer “low-latency” internet service. But what does low latency really mean, and how is it measured? Typical satellite internet latency (such as HughesNet) is in the range of 594–624 milliseconds, which tends to make satellite internet not ideal for online gaming.

    However, because Starlink’s satellites are closer to the Earth than other satellite internet providers, Starlink’s lists latency as only 25 milliseconds. Your data moves faster between your home and the Starlink satellite constellation, and that has an effect on the reliability and speed of your internet connection.

    Starlink wins against Hughesnet (and other typical satellite ISPs) in the latency race.

    Starlink vs. Hughesnet data

    Both Starlink and Hughesnet technically offer “unlimited” data: There are no hard data caps for either service. But Starlink offers the largest amount of high-speed data of any satellite internet provider: 1TB (terabyte) of data per month. This equals 1,000GB of data, or five times the amount of the 200GB Hughesnet Fusion internet plan. 

    Starlink Standard data keeps you connected with the fastest data speeds possible, accounting for its priority tier. This is how Hughesnet and most other ISPs’ data caps work: Customers get the full amount of the fastest-possible internet that they paid for, then a slower experience with standard data. 

    Bottom line: if you want satellite internet with the most data, get Starlink.

    Is Starlink Wi-Fi unlimited data?

    Starlink data is unlimited, but you may experience reduced data speeds at times, depending on overall network capacity.

    Hughesnet data tokens

    In case you use up all of your Hughesnet data, you will still stay connected to the internet. But you will experience reduced internet speeds until your next monthly billing period begins. Want to get more data to speed up your internet experience? Hughesnet offers Data Tokens, which let you buy additional data. 

    Hughesnet Data Tokens are available in your myHughesnet.com account or via the mobile app, and can be purchased in increments of 3GB ($9), 5GB ($15), 10GB ($30), or 25GB ($75). Hughesnet Data Tokens do not expire. This can be a convenient option to get more data without waiting for your next month’s billing cycle to start.

    Starlink internet cost vs. Hughesnet cost

    When comparing the costs of Starlink vs. Hughesnet, it’s important to keep in mind that Starlink offers unlimited data and faster download speeds. And Starlink’s monthly cost is only $120 compared to $174.99 for Hughesnet Fusion 200GB. 

    However, Starlink also has some extra up-front costs compared to Hughesnet. You have to pay for Starlink hardware: either $599 for the Standard Starlink, or $2,500 for the High Performance version.

    Starlink technology vs. Hughesnet equipment

    Starlink requires customers to pay up front for their Starlink hardware, which costs $599 for the Standard Starlink, and $2,500 for the High Performance option (for power users, home-based business owners, and others who want a higher level of internet speed and reliability). 

    Hughesnet equipment is typically leased for $14.99-$19.99 per month. To qualify for a Hughesnet equipment lease, you need to go through a soft credit check while signing up for service. If you want internet with no credit check or prefer to own your Hughesnet equipment, you can choose the Hughesnet Purchase option and pay $449.98 up front for your Hughesnet equipment.

    Starlink equipment cost

    In case you are not satisfied with your Starlink service, you can return the equipment within 30 days for a full refund. After that, the equipment is yours to keep. If you eventually cancel your Starlink service (after the 30-day return period), you can sell the equipment to another Starlink customer.

    Do you get to keep Starlink equipment?

    Starlink charges $599 for Standard equipment and $2,500 for High Performance. These costs are in addition to the monthly $120 fee for Starlink internet service.

    Hughesnet equipment cost

    Hughesnet equipment (satellite dish, Wi-Fi router, and other accessories) costs $14.99-$19.99 per month to lease. This cost is in addition to your monthly Hughesnet satellite internet service fee. 

    If you prefer to buy your Hughesnet equipment, the cost is $449.98.

    Returning Hughesnet equipment

    If you lease your Hughesnet equipment and are canceling your service, you must make arrangements with Hughesnet to return your equipment within 45 days of cancellation. This will help you avoid fees for unreturned equipment. Call Hughesnet Customer Care to start the equipment return process

    Starlink issues vs. Hughesnet problems

    Every satellite internet provider has its pros and cons. Starlink is not yet available in the entire contiguous United States, while Hughesnet has nationwide availability. Starlink has also received low marks for inconsistent reliability. 

    Hughesnet has slower data speeds than Starlink, and the most high-speed data you can get with Hughesnet is 200GB per month, while Starlink offers unlimited data at a lower cost. Every internet service provider will have a few issues and possible downsides, especially if you live in a rural area that is hard to reach with cable or fiber internet. Being aware of possible issues and complaints from other customers will help you choose the best option for your home internet needs.

    Starlink reliability

    Starlink has sometimes received complaints for having unpredictable reliability; however, as more Starlink satellites get deployed and as more of the U.S. becomes part of the Starlink coverage map, the reliability issues are likely to improve. 

    In case Starlink does not deliver reliable internet service to your home, you can cancel for free within 30 days—and get a full refund of your equipment purchase.

    Hughesnet reliability

    Some Hughesnet customers have complained about reliability issues that are likely caused by not having enough data. If you’re experiencing slow speeds or having a frustrating experience online, you might need to buy Hughesnet Data Tokens or upgrade your plan. 

    If you want better reliability from Hughesnet satellite internet, consider getting the Hughesnet Fusion plan. Hughesnet Fusion offers “multipath” technology for better reliability—with satellite and wireless components working together to give you a more responsive, steady internet connection.

    Starlink availability vs. Hughesnet availability

    Hughesnet satellite internet service is available in the contiguous United States, Alaska, and Puerto Rico. 

    As of April 2023, Starlink’s availability map includes much of the Western United States, but many areas in Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, and other states East of the Mississippi are not yet receiving Starlink service. 

    Check to see if Starlink is available in your zip code.

    Starlink vs. Hughesnet: Which satellite internet service should you get?

    If Starlink is available in your area, and you’re comfortable paying $599 (or more) for Starlink hardware, then Starlink is probably the best choice for satellite internet. Don’t assume that Starlink is too expensive. If you break down the equipment cost over 24 months, Starlink delivers good value. 

    But if you’re not in an area with Starlink service, or if you don’t want to shell out $599 up front for satellite equipment, Hughesnet also delivers good value. The recently launched Hughesnet Fusion plan offers unlimited data, with multipath (wireless and satellite) technology to help create a more consistent, high-speed internet experience. If you haven’t shopped for satellite internet service recently, or if you’re considering switching to a new provider, check out these new Hughesnet Fusion plan for lower latency and faster speeds.

    Starlink vs. Hughesnet FAQ

    What are the disadvantages of Starlink?

    Starlink is not yet available in all areas of the United States. Also, like other satellite internet providers, the speeds can be inconsistent depending on network capacity and time of day.

    Does Starlink suffer from rain fade?

    Some Starlink customers have mentioned that the service quality suffers during heavy rain and thunderstorms. But this is also true of other satellite internet providers. To learn more about that, check out our How Does Weather Affect Satellite Internet guide.  

    Is Hughesnet better than Starlink?

    If Starlink is not yet available in your location, then Hughesnet is better. But by most measures of data limits, download speeds, and monthly cost, Starlink is probably the best choice for satellite internet.

    Does Hughesnet work in bad weather?

    Stormy weather, such as heavy rain, snow, or ice storms, can cause interruptions in your Hughesnet service. This is a common challenge for satellite internet providers


    Mikayla Rivera
    Written by
    Mikayla Rivera
    Mikayla Rivera has worked as an editor for nine years on websites like Reviews.org, HowtoWatch.com, and CableTV.com. As someone who grew up with little to no internet access, she knows how vital it is for education, work, and even play. She’s now determined to help readers get reliable internet speeds, wherever they live. Her passion for internet accessibility, memes, and ethical marketing is rivaled only by her dedication to The Chicago Manual of Style. When Mikayla isn’t managing SatelliteInternet.com, she’s writing novels of her own.