Should you need satellite internet, HughesNet is a good option for a low-cost package that doesn't include much data or speeds higher than 25 Mbps. However, as soon as you need more details, HughesNet's prices soar beyond Earth's orbit.
We looked at HughesNet's four internet plans to see which one is the best deal—and whether or not this satellite internet provider is really worth the money. Let's get started.
No mid-contract price hikes
Clear and transparent plans and pricing
Option to add more data
Only one 25 Mbps speed option
Low data caps
High prices for slow speeds and low data
HughesNet's lower-data plans are affordable, but if you need more data, be prepared to pay a lot of money.
Satellite internet is almost always more expensive than other types of internet access, such as DSL or cable. What are we to say? Satellites are high-priced devices. Even so, you may experience sticker shock.
If you've recently relocated to the country from a city, don't be shocked to see a higher monthly bill, even if you think your service is slower now than it was before.
HughesNet's internet plans are clear and simple to comprehend, as we previously said. Each plan is named for the amount of data it includes. Isn't that simple?
For others, it may be too easy. The only difference between plans is the data caps—you won't notice a speed increase if you pay more.
Plan: 10 GB
Download speed: 25 Mbps
Data cap :10 GB
Plan: 20 GB
Download speed: 25 Mbps
Data cap : 20 GB
Plan: 30 GB
Download speed: 25 Mbps
Data cap : 30 GB
Plan: 50 GB
Download speed: 25 Mbps
Data cap :50 GB
HughesNet internet packages come at $59.99 per month for 10 GB of data and go up to $149.99 per month for 50 GB. Among these two, you'll find two plans: a 20 GB plan for $69.99 per month and a 30 GB plan for $99.99 per month. Download speeds of 25 Mbps are included in all HughesNet plans.
HughesNet's 20 GB data plan was the most cost-effective for us. For $69.99 a month, HughesNet offers a 20 GB data plan with 25 Mbps download speeds. For $50.00 a month, Viasat's closest comparable plan, Liberty 25, offers 12 Mbps download speeds and 25 GB of data.
That makes it sound like we made a mistake when we said the HughesNet 20 GB plan was the better deal, at least before you consider Viasat's price increase after three months.
So, after three months of paying $50.00 a month for Liberty 25, the monthly rate will increase to $75.00 for the remainder of your two-year contract. So, for the remaining 21 months of your contract, the HughesNet 20 GB plan will save you $5.00 a month.
If you choose HughesNet over Viasa, you can save a total of $105.00.
Nonetheless, if you'd like more data and quicker download speeds, Viasat's plans are a better deal, even with the price increase.
Since HughesNet's download speeds are restricted to 25 megabits per second, we compared Viasat's Unlimited Silver 25 plan, which offers 25 megabits per second download speeds and 120 gigabytes of data. The Viasat Unlimited Silver 25 plan costs $70.00 per month (and increases to $100.00 after three months), while HughesNet's 50 GB plan costs $149.99 per month and includes 25 Mbps download speeds and 50 GB of data.
Unlimited Silver 25
Here’s how the total cost of those plans compares after 24 months:
HughesNet 50 GB plan: $3,599.76 total
Viasat Unlimited Silver 25 plan: $2,310.00 total
So the Viasat Unlimited Silver 25 plan not only gives you more info, but it also saves you nearly $1,300.00 over the course of two years.
This is why, for low-speed, low-data plans, we recommend HughesNet, and for higher speeds and more data, we recommend Viasat.
HughesNet's download speeds of 25 Mbps aren't fast enough to cope with Viasat's top speed of 100 Mbps.
Satellite internet providers sometimes change their packages depending on your venue. Viasat, for example, adjusts its rates and speeds based on where you live.
With HughesNet, though, you won't have to worry about that. Regardless of your place, HughesNet provides the same 25 Mbps speed.
Viasat and HughesNet download speeds comparison
HughesNet 25 Mbps
Viasat 12–100 Mbps
That might not be a good thing for some. However, 25 Mbps is more than adequate for checking email and scrolling through Facebook without having to wait for pages to load.
Certain types of operations, such as streaming videos or playing online games, can also experience some lag. Unfortunately, that is the essence of satellite internet.
Satellite internet, on the other hand, has a higher latency than other internet link types. That means it takes your machine longer to send data to the satellite orbiting the Earth about 22,000 miles away, then to the website you're visiting, and then back.
HughesNet Internet is much, much slower than DSL, cable, and fiber alternatives, according to our new look at the fastest ISPs in the US—but it is marginally faster than its satellite internet rival, Viasat.
HughesNet was ranked 36th out of 38 ISPs in terms of altitude, one spot ahead of Viasat, which was ranked 37th.
To put this in perspective, satellite internet has a natural performance limitation due to its slower download and upload rates, as well as its high latency.
Even so, when it comes to satellite internet speeds, it's best to prepare for the worst, particularly if you're used to city internet that uses DSL, cable, or fiber connections. While satellite internet is slower, it is still preferable to having no internet connection at all, in our opinion.
How do HughesNet data guidelines work?
Data limits are listed on HughesNet internet plans, but they aren't set in stone. You won't be cut off from the internet or charged overages if you use more than your allotted info.
However, if you exceed the data limit on your contract, your speeds will slow. These are referred to as "data guidelines" or "soft caps." They're not physical limitations, but if you use more than what's on your schedule, you'll feel as if they are.
If your kids go on a Disney+ binge and use all of your data allowances, HughesNet will reduce your speeds to molasses level. (1–3 Mbps, to be precise.)
There are a few things you can do to avoid using up all of your high-speed data and sluggishly scrolling through your social media feed. In our HughesNet data guide, we go through these in detail, but here's a short rundown:
Track your data usage on the HughesNet app. (iOS | Android)
Take advantage of the Bonus Zone, which gives you 50 GB of extra data each month between 2 a.m. and 8 a.m.
Stream your videos in standard definition (SD).
Buy a HughesNet data token.
HughesNet is also bound by its two-year lease, and its equipment fees can be prohibitively expensive.
HughesNet, like Viasat, binds you to a two-year service contract. Your price does not change over the course of the 24 months, which is convenient.
However, we continue to hate contracts and wish HughesNet (and Viasat) will stop using them or restrict them to a year.
Satellite internet, on the other hand, is a hassle to set up and return, so you won't want to change it out too much. And if you don't want to relocate too soon, two years isn't a particularly long time to maintain your internet service.
A satellite antenna and a modem are needed for HughesNet's broadband internet service. You may either purchase or lease this equipment from HughesNet. In any case, it will be costly.
How much does HughesNet equipment cost?
Leased antenna and modem
$14.99/mo. (for 24 mos)
Purchased antenna and modem
The leased equipment option will save you money if you only plan to stay with HughesNet for two years.
The $14.99 monthly fee adds up to $359.76 after two years, which is a bargain as compared to the $449.99 purchase price.
The $99 activation fee, which is forgiven if you buy your equipment, is not included in those figures. If you lease, the activation fee will be added to the two-year rental fee, taking the total to $458.76. So, at that point, you might as well just buy it outright.
Purchasing the equipment outright is beginning to sound like a good idea. And, if you intend to retain your HughesNet satellite internet service for at least 31 months, you'll save money over renting—not counting the activation fee.
You should be able to schedule installation once you've decided whether to rent or lease your equipment. And, no matter how handy you are, this is work you can leave to the professionals.
Your satellite antenna and modem are built by third-party contractors for HughesNet. Since the contractors aren't directly employed by HughesNet, the quality of the customer service is uncertain. Your installer, on the other hand, will be able to locate the best location, angle, and height for your dish to receive the best signal.
If you lease your equipment from HughesNet, there is a $99 activation fee. Another reason to purchase your equipment outright is if you intend to keep your service for a long time.
There is a $99 activation charge if you rent your devices. Installation is included and the activation fee is waived if you purchase the equipment.
If you end your HughesNet contract brief, expect to pay a lot of money in early termination fees.
Early termination fee:
If you cancel your service early, you'll be charged a minimum of $85 and up to $400, depending on when you cancel.
The charge for canceling your service early reduces the longer you hold it. However, the most you'll have to pay to cancel is $85, which is still a significant sum of money.
HughesNet claims that if you terminate before your system is installed, it will refund the amount you paid when you put your order. However, if your equipment has already been installed and you wish to cancel your internet service 90 days or less into your two-year contract, you will be charged a whopping $400 termination fee.
One of the reasons we despise contracts is because of this. Who knows if they won't have to cut their service short? Life is unpredictable.
And if you cancel after the first 90 days, you'll owe a significant sum: $400 minus $15 for each month you held your service. Argh.
If you're not using a lot of speed and want to stop price increases, HughesNet is a good option.
HughesNet provides reliable speeds around the world, which is rare for satellite internet. It also won't surprise you with price increases in the middle of the deal.
HughesNet is a great alternative if you live in an area where satellite internet is your only option and price is more important to you than download speed. Otherwise, we believe Viasat is the better choice due to its faster speeds.
Prices and plans:
HughesNet gets a thumbs up from us for its clear plans and pricing. For more data, you'll pay a higher price, and you can still buy more data tokens.
We hope HughesNet had more than one 25 Mbps download speed option. Even so, this is sufficient speed to conduct online business and even stream a little video.
Contracts, equipment, and fees:
HughesNet offers a two-year deal, which is fairly common. And, depending on how long you expect to keep your HughesNet service, purchasing HughesNet equipment will be worthwhile.
For customer support, no internet provider receives a gold star. We'd like to see HughesNet and other Internet providers better.
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