Posted by: Scott Teran Updated: 1/17/2017
The Bottom Line
HughesNet’s satellite internet service is worth checking out. Its plans are offered at a discount (while it lasts), and HughesNet has been recognized for delivering internet speeds as advertised. Though its customer service is just average and can use improvement, it’s something all internet service providers could improve.
- Speeds are as advertised
- Variety of service plans
- Great discounts & deals
- Below average customer service
- Equipment can be expensive
HughesNet prices are competitive, and its discounts more so.
What’s the real price?
HughesNet’s advertised price depends on the plan, and some plans are not available everywhere. In the first location we checked, we could only get the Connect or Connect Pro plan, and neither had special pricing. In the second location we checked, we could choose from the Choice, Prime Plus, Pro Plus, or Ultra plan. The Choice and Prime Plus plan had a $20 a month discount, and the Pro Plus and Ultra plan had a $10 a month a discount. Both discounts are only temporary, so it’s worth checking which plans and special pricing are available in your area.
Deal Update: Save up to $100 before 6/30/16
HughesNet is offering free installation ($99 discount) when you lease a select plan. It’s also offering a $100 discount if you purchase a select plan. You should be aware that the specials are temporary and are not available for every plan or area.
HughesNet is upfront with its fees and pricing; there are little to no surprises. However, there is an early termination fee if you end your contract before 24 months. The fee is $400 if you cancel during the first 90 days of the contract, then it decreases by $15 per month for each month of active service. Also, if you leased the equipment, you have 45 days from cancellation to return the equipment in good condition or be charged a $300 fee (yikes!). Regardless, at the end of the contract you have to return the equipment.
HughesNet equipment includes a satellite dish and modem. If you plan on using Wi-Fi in your home, be aware that HughesNet service does not include a wireless router. You’ll have to find a router yourself (prices at Amazon); HughesNet does not recommend a specific model to use with its service.
You have two ways to pay for equipment: purchase or lease. If you purchase, it will cost $400 for equipment (installation included). If you lease, there is a one-time installation fee of $99 and a $9.99 per month fee for the equipment.
Plenty to choose from…if you live in the right place.
HughesNet has more plans than its competitors dishNET and Exede but all plans are not available to everyone. Depending on where you live, you may be able to choose only two plans, whereas some areas have four plans. We’ve included all HughesNet plans below, but you’ll have to enter your zipcode to see what’s available to you.
See availability and plans by your zipcode.
|Plan||Advertised price/mo||Regular price/mo||Download speed (Mbps)**||Upload speed (Mbps)**||Anytime data allowance (GB)||Bonus data allowance (GB)*|
*Twilight Data: Data available between the hours of 2am and 8am **Speeds are not guaranteed
Which plan is right for me?
To help you decide if a plan is right for you, we’ve included the FCC’s Broadband Speed Guide below. The guide provides minimum download speeds (emphasis on minimum) for various internet activities, but be aware that “internet speeds are not guaranteed.” So if you need 5 Mbps speed at bare minimum, we recommend erring on the side of caution and going with a 10 Mbps plan or higher.
|Activity (single user)||Minimum Download Speed|
|Web browsing||1 Mbps|
|Video conferencing||4 Mbps|
|Online gaming||5 Mbps|
The only data limit that matters is anytime data.
How much data do I get?
There’s a big difference between anytime data and bonus data. Anytime data can be used, well, any time; however, bonus data is only available between the hours of 2:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. So though HughesNet advertises a total data allowance of 60 GB with its Prime Plus plan, for example, 50 GB is bonus data, and only 10 GB is anytime data. Other satellite internet providers offer twilight data as well, but we think it isn’t much of a benefit because of the time restriction.
What if I hit the limit?
With HughesNet, your internet speed will be throttled when you exceed your data limit. There’s no overage fee, which is nice, but your speed will be so slow you probably won’t want to use the internet.
HughesNet does include a feature called Smart Browsing that lets you continue to email and browse the internet after you’ve exceeded your anytime data. You won’t be able to download or upload any large files or stream media (movies, music, etc.), but you can still get to your email. Smart Browsing is only available with the Prime Plus, Pro Plus, and Ultra plan.
Delivering speed as advertised.
What internet speed do I get?
HughesNet’s plans have 5–15 Mbps download speeds, and though speeds are not guaranteed, HughesNet is ranked #1 by the FCC for meeting advertised performance. Exede is the only competitor to offer plans with higher advertised speeds (25 Mbps).
There are numerous factors that can affect your internet speed, and many have nothing to do with the service itself (e.g., multiple users on the same network). Consider a plan with higher speeds if you’re a serious internet user or if you have others in your household.
If you use a virtual private network (VPN), your internet speed can be reduced by 50–70% according to HughesNet.
The 1TB Genie DVR is pretty great, and some “cool” features make it even better.
Customer service could use improvement.
More complaints, better grade
Like most internet service providers, HughesNet can improve on its customer service. It does maintain an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), which means it responds to complaints, which is good… but it still gets complaints. It has 2727 complaints in the past three years (at the time of this writing), compared to 1461 for Exede (Exede has a B+ rating).
We didn’t experience any issues with customer service, but that doesn’t mean you won’t.
HughesNet delivers solid satellite internet.
Worth a look with high potential savings
If you’re looking for satellite internet, Hughesnet is worth considering. We’re not fans of the bonus data—something competitors do better—but HughesNet’s discounts are hard to beat and its speeds aren’t bad.
The Prime Plus plan is a good deal (while it lasts)
Considering the $20 a month discount, the Prime Plus plan gets our recommendation. For $39.99 a month, you get download speeds of 10 Mbps and 10 GB of anytime data, which should be enough to watch a movie or two, stream music, and browse the internet without interruption. And if you did go over the 10 GB data limit, you’d still have Smart Browsing, which would let you continue to use email and do some casual web browsing.
Disclaimer: The information featured in this article is based on our best estimates of pricing, package details, contract stipulations, and service available at the time of writing. All information is subject to change. Pricing will vary based on various factors, including, but not limited to, the customer’s location, package chosen, added features and equipment, the purchaser’s credit score, etc. For the most accurate information, please ask your customer service representative. Clarify all fees and contract details before signing a contract or finalizing your purchase.
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