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.
  • pro
    $120–$500/mo. plus one-time hardware fee of $599 or $2,500
  • pro
  • pro
    Unlimited Standard Data
  • pro
  • pro
  • pro
    Unlimited data
  • pro
    Nationwide availability

Andreas Rivera
May 29, 2024
Icon Time To Read5 min read

Is Starlink better than Hughesnet?

Hughesnet and Starlink are the only options for reliable internet service nearly anywhere in the U.S. These satellite internet service providers are ideal for rural residents, and each has unique features, advantages, and disadvantages. 

Starlink offers the fastest speeds among all satellite internet providers, though your top speed will depend on your location and you’ll need to pay a premium for equipment. Hughesnet is available nationwide and offers a range of monthly plans with different data allotments to suit your needs. 

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

Check to see what satellite internet providers are available in your area.

Starlink internet plans

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

Download Speed

Starlink Standard (Residential)

$120/mo.20–100MbpsUnlimited Standard data

Starlink Priority

$140—$500/mo.40–220MbpsUnlimited Standard data. Offers multiple priority data plans.

Starlink Mobile (formerly Starlink RV)

$150/mo. for Regional, $200/mo. for Global5–50MbpsDesigned for RVs, campers, and nomads to use in remote locations. Must be stationary.

Starlink Mobile Priority

$250—$5,000/mo.40–220MbpsDesigned for boats and mobile businesses. Can be used while in motion.

Starlink Standard offers different pricing based on the speeds available in your area. Starlink plans typically cost $120, although pricing can vary over regions where Starlink sporadically runs deals, and you find out which price you get when you sign up. 

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. 

Read our full Starlink Review here.

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. 

Download Speed

Hughesnet Select

  • Good for basic internet browsing and email
  • Hughesnet Elite

  • Good for social media, streaming music
  • Hughesnet Fusion

  • Combined satellite and wireless technology
  • Good for some video streaming and video games.
  • All of Hughesnet's plans come with a $25 discount for the first year of service. So if you choose the Select plan, your monthly bill for service will be $49.99 for the first year. However, be aware that Hughesnet requires a 24-month contract commitment when signing up for service. After the first year, your price will revert to the regular rate.

    Read our full Hughesnet Review here.

    Starlink internet speed vs. Hughesnet internet speed

    Hughesnet offers download speeds of 50-100Mbps, but the exact speed you experience will depend on the time of day, the network's overall demands, and other factors. You will experience slower speeds significantly after you exceed your priority data allotment.

    Starlink Standard’s download speeds range from 25–100Mbps, but customers we’ve talked to have said they’ve experienced even faster speeds. 

    “The second we turned it on, we went from 20Mbps down to about 150Mbps down,” said Starlink customer Jim Olson. “Latency was the biggest surprise. 40ms, which was enough to stream live TV. That was not an option before.”

    To go even faster, you can sign up for a Priority plan, which gives you Starlink’s max speeds of nearly 220Mbps.

    Starlink beats Hughesnet when it comes to latency. Hughesnet claims its typical latency is an average of 650 milliseconds (ms), which makes certain activities impractical, such as buffer-free streaming or online gaming. However, according to the provider, the Hughesnet Fusion plan uses a hybrid of wireless and satellite, which reduces latency to 100ms.

    However, Starlink’s low-earth orbit satellites can broadcast signals with latency as low as 25ms. Your data moves faster between your home and the Starlink satellite constellation, affecting your internet connection's reliability and speed.

    Starlink data vs. Hughesnet data

    Starlink provides the most high-speed data of any satellite internet provider—unlimited. The Standard plan allows you to use as much data as you want at full download speed. The much faster and more expensive Priority plans come in different data allotments, the highest being 2TB (terabyte) of data per month—recommended for businesses that deal with lots of data. Starlink data is unlimited, but you may sometimes experience reduced data speeds, depending on overall network capacity. 

    Hughesnet’s priority data cap is a big drawback, at 200GB per month. After you use up your data, speeds will be throttled to 1 to 3Mbps for the remainder of your billing period so Hughesnet can control its total bandwidth.

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

    Hughesnet data tokens

    Hughesnet offers data tokens, allowing you to buy additional monthly data. You can purchase them in your account or via the mobile app. Hughesnet Data Tokens do not expire and carry over into the next month. 

    “We live in a rural area so our service can be very slow,” said a Hughesnet customer in a survey. “We use up our data in about two weeks. I don't want to have to pay an arm and a leg to have service throughout the month.”

    Data Token

    Starlink equipment vs. Hughesnet equipment

    Starlink requires customers to pay upfront 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). 

    If unsatisfied 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.

    Hughesnet equipment (the dish and modem) is typically leased for $14.99—$19.99 per month. To qualify for a Hughesnet equipment lease, you must pass 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 purchase it for up to $349.99.

    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 way, you can 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 has received low marks for inconsistent reliability and lack of responsive customer service. 

    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 potential problems 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 unpredictable reliability. Customers have consistently complained about customer service or the lack thereof.   

    “The customer service is subpar for a modern company,” customer Jim Olson said. “If (Starlink) is that good, they shouldn’t be afraid to put up a live chat.”

    If 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.

    Check to see what satellite internet providers are 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. 

    Hughesnet also delivers good value if you’re not looking for high speeds and need basic internet access. The recently launched Hughesnet Fusion plan uses hybrid 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 are considering switching to a new provider, check out Hughesnet Fusion for lower latency and faster speeds without the upfront cost of Starlink.

    Andreas Rivera
    Written by
    Andreas Rivera
    Andreas Rivera is a lifelong writer with a decade-spanning career in journalism and marketing. He comes to with several years of experience writing about business and technology. His passion for researching the latest advancements in tech, especially the now essential need for reliable internet access, fuels his goal of educating others about how these innovations affect and improve our everyday lives. When not researching and writing about, you’ll likely find him buried in a good book or enjoying the great outdoors with a fishing rod.