2017 HughesNet Gen4 Review
HughesNet Gen4 Internet Review
HughesNet is one of the top three high-speed satellite internet services in the US and, although speed-wise it can’t compare to cable or DSL, it’s a solid choice to get internet access in even the most remote areas. Satellite internet has a reputation for being maddeningly slow, but HughesNet’s new Gen4 service promises that it’s a vast improvement on previous technology. This is due largely in part to the launch of new satellite called the EchoStar XVII that can better handle the increased intensity of data demands. The Gen4 delivers consistency that rivals DSL and can better handle streaming and downloads than previous HughesNet options.
New to HughesNet? Read our full review.
HUGHESNET GEN4 PRODUCT OFFERINGS
On Gen4, HughesNet claims video clips and music play well and performance of social media networks is solid. No dial-up connection is necessary, and HughesNet handles the installation process.
With HughesNet, you’re allotted a monthly data allowance, which defines how much data (video, audio and downloads) you’re allowed to access each month.
HughesNet has different Gen4 packages available for users based on the amount of data they need. Each package is measured in gigabytes (GB), which determine how many web pages, music tracks, video clips, movies and files a user can access. HughesNet says that each gigabyte of data will let a user stream 1.75 hours of music, 1.5 hours of standard-definition video or half an hour of high-definition video. Or, a user could download 45 minutes of a movie.
HughesNet claims that its Gen4 Smart Technologies provide data compression, caching, monitoring and continuity for all users. One of these Smart Technologies is called Smart Browsing. Smart Browsing lets a user continue to browse the web and email at high speed, even after they reach their monthly data allowance (Smart Browsing is not available with HughesNet’s Choice package).
Pricing is based on location, so enter your address to see exact packages available for your home.
HUGHESNET GEN4 PACKAGES
|Plan||Regular Price||Download Speed||Upload Speed||Data Allowance|
|Choice||$49.99||5 Mbps||1 Mbps||55 GB/month|
|Prime Plus||$59.99||10 Mbps||1 Mbps||60 GB/month|
|Pro Plus||$79.99||10 Mbps||2 Mbps||65 GB/month|
|Max||$129.99||15 Mbps||2 Mbps||70 GB/month|
All of the above packages feature 50 GB of “Bonus Bytes” data allowance, which allows for extra viewing and data downloading between the hours of 2 a.m. and 8 a.m. So, for instance, the effective total data allowance for the Choice package is 55 GB per month if you count this amount.
All HughesNet Gen4 packages come with:
• At least five separate email accounts, each with as much as 2 gigabytes of storage
• Blogging tools
• Protection from spam and viruses
• Online account management
• Customizable web portal with news, information and favorite websites
• 24/7 customer care and technical support
Note that the minimum contract period for HughesNet service is usually 24 months. There may be large cancelation fees for early termination of service; all equipment that is leased must be returned to HughesNet.
HUGHESNET VOICE TELEPHONE SERVICE OPTION
In addition to Internet packages, HughesNet offers Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone service plans that let you make digital telephone calls using your satellite connection. This option is called HughesNet Voice, and it’s available to most HughesNet Gen4 customers. When customers order both services together, setup and activation of HughesNet Voice is free.
HughesNet Voice includes:
• Free equipment
• Unlimited long-distance and local calling in the U.S. and Canada
• Call forwarding
• Call waiting
• Caller ID
• Voicemail with remote access
• The ability to keep your existing phone number or create a new one (where available)
HughesNet Voice is available in three varieties. The Home Voice plan is for calling the U.S. and Canada. The International 200 plan includes 200 minutes of international calling to 60 countries. The International Unlimited plan includes unlimited international calling to 60 countries.
HUGHESNET GEN4 TECHNICAL LIMITATIONS
Because HughesNet is delivered via satellite, there are some limitations and restrictions for service that may be different than those for a cable- or DSL-based Internet provider. Once a user’s Gen4 data allowance is reached, Internet speeds will be restricted or reduced (with the exception of browsing and email if Smart Browsing is in effect; see Product Offerings section above for details). Other limitations include:
Because VPNs require encrypted data, the speed of such connections will be severely reduced because of satellite latency times. However, once VPN networks are disconnected, normal speeds will be in effect. HughesNet does not provide technical support related to VPNs or VPN-related issues.
Users needing to download more than 50 gigabytes of data per month will not be able to do so, even with HughesNet’s highest-end Gen4 package. Try to estimate your approximate data needs before you order service.
Third-Party VoIP Applications
HughesNet provides its own VoIP service, HughesNet Voice, which is optimized to work with a satellite connection and will not impact a user’s monthly data allowance. Other applications for VoIP are not optimized for satellite use and will definitely affect a user’s monthly data allowance.
Real-Time Multiplayer Games
Because of latency issues related to satellite technology, real-time multiplayer games such as Halo, Gears of War and Modern Warfare may function unreliably or not at all. If you have questions about the performance of specific games, it’s best to check with HughesNet before ordering service.
The speed of a user’s connection is determined by their package. HughesNet’s fastest Gen4 package provides download speeds of 15 Mbps. The lowest-end package provides a 5 Mbps download speed. HughesNet can inform prospective customers of the range of speeds they can expect from a HughesNet connection in their local area.
HUGESNET GEN4 REVIEWS
HughesNet Gen4 has not been reviewed favorably by a large number of customers. Numerous users reported discrepancies between HughesNet’s advertised download speeds and the actual speeds they were able to achieve. Many customers reported reaching their data allowance limits before the end of the month, well before they expected to reach them. A few reviewers said that HughesNet offered them discounts or rebates in order to forestall their cancelations until the period when cancellation fees took effect. It’s safe to say that the majority of HughesNet reviewers were very dissatisfied with the Gen4 service.
CUSTOMER SERVICE FEEDBACK
Some HughesNet customers had complaints about the company’s customer service representatives, who they said were outsourced personnel that did not speak English well. Some customers thought that a number of service representatives were not responsive to their needs and had to forward their complaints directly to HughesNet’s headquarters.
When we contacted support via online chat to obtain more information about the service, the support agent ignored our questions and started going through a sales script. When we asked whether we could expect an answer to our questions, the support agent ended the conversation.
However, when we called HughesNet, the support representatives were pleasant, didn’t launch into a sales pitch, answered our questions immediately, and didn’t even end with a scripted corporate farewell. We were connected to a sales and support agent within a minute. Though the instinct for most of us is to rely on support chat, the real key is to speak with a live agent. And, as usual, if you’re not receiving the quality of support you’re entitled to, ask to be transferred to a different agent or hang up and try again.
Fed up with slower-than-advertised connection speeds and lackluster customer service, a few reviewers decided to cancel their service after a trial period. They report that HughesNet offered them rebates as a tool to avoid cancellations.
HughesNet Gen4 is a solid option for those living in remote areas: reliable satellite internet service at tolerable speeds with decent prices.
However, you’ll almost certainly run out of data each month unless you opt for the more expensive Pro Plus or Ultra data plans. We recommend starting with ProPlus and upgrading to Ultra if you find you need faster speeds.