HughesNet Satellite Internet Review 2020

HughesNet offers good value for its lower-GB plans, but if you want download speeds faster than 25 Mbps, look to Viasat.
HughesNet Plans
PlanPriceDownload speedData capDetails
10 GB$59.9925 Mbps10 GBView Plan
20 GB$69.9925 Mbps20 GBView Plan
30 GB$99.9925 Mbps30 GBView Plan
50 GB$15025 Mbps50 GBView Plan
PriceDownload speedData capDetails
$59.9925 Mbps10 GBView Plan
$69.9925 Mbps20 GBView Plan
$99.9925 Mbps30 GBView Plan
$15025 Mbps50 GBView Plan

Picking a satellite internet provider may seem like choosing between the lesser of two evils, but truth be told, satellite internet has improved a lot in recent years. While you still have only HughesNet and Viasat to choose from (for now), each has its own perks for rural internet users.

We think HughesNet is a great pick if you need a budget-friendly plan but not a lot of data or speeds faster than 25 Mbps.

Let’s take a look at the prices, download speeds, and data caps that make HughesNet our budget satellite pick.

HughesNet satellite internet overview
Monthly priceDownload speedsData capLearn more
$59.99$150*25 Mbps1050 GBView Plans
Data effective 11/19/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* Requires 24 month agreement.

Pros

  • No mid-contract price hikes
  • Clear and transparent plans and pricing

Cons

  • Only one 25 Mbps speed option
  • Low data caps

Check HughesNet internet prices in your area.

HughesNet prices and plans

HughesNet packs value into its lower-data plans, but watch out for higher costs if you need more data.

Satellite internet almost always costs more than other kinds of connections, like DSL or fiber. What can we say? Satellites are expensive machines. Still, you might feel some sticker shock.

If you just moved to the country from a city, don’t be surprised to see a higher monthly bill, even if you feel like you’re getting slower service now than you did at your old place.

HughesNet high-speed satellite internet pricing
PlanPriceDownload speedData capDetails
10 GB$59.9925 Mbps10 GBView Plan
20 GB$69.9925 Mbps20 GBView Plan
30 GB$99.9925 Mbps30 GBView Plan
50 GB$15025 Mbps50 GBView Plan
Data effective 11/19/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
Service plans require a 24-month commitment.

We mentioned that HughesNet’s internet plans are transparent and easy to understand. Each plan is named for the data cap it comes with. How simple is that?

Maybe too simple for some. Those data caps are all that changes from plan to plan—you won’t see a boost in speed if you pay more.

How much does HughesNet cost?

HughesNet internet plans range from $59.99 a month for 10 GB of data to $150.00 a month for 50 GB of data. You can also find two plans between those: a 20 GB plan for $69.99 a month and a 30 GB plan for $99.99 a month. All HughesNet plans come with 25 Mbps download speeds.

We found HughesNet’s price for 20 GB of data most reasonable. The HughesNet 20 GB plan comes with 25 Mbps download speeds and 20 GB of data for $69.99 a month. The closest comparable Viasat plan, Liberty 25, comes with 25 Mbps download speeds and 25 GB of data for $50 a month.

That sounds like we flubbed when we said the HughesNet 20 GB plan was the better deal, at least until you factor in Viasat’s price bump after three months.

So after three months of paying $50 a month for Liberty 25, your price jumps to $75 a month for the rest of your two-year contract. So the HughesNet 20 GB plan would save you $5 a month for the remaining 21 months of your contract.

That’s a total of $105 saved compared to the $30 you’d save for the first three months if you went with Viasat.

HughesNet 10 GB plan vs. Viasat Liberty 25 plan
ServicePlanPriceDownload speedData cap
HughesNet Internet10 GB$59.9925 Mbps10 GB
Viasat InternetLiberty 25$50/mo.12 Mbps25 GB
Data effective 11/19/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
Service plans require a 24-month commitment.
For the first 3 months.

That said, even with the price hike, Viasat’s plans are a better deal if you want more data and faster download speeds.

HughesNet’s speeds top out at 25 Mbps, so we compared Viasat’s Unlimited Silver 25 plan with 25 Mbps download speeds and 60 GB of data. The Viasat Unlimited Silver 25 plan costs $70 a month (and jumps to $100 a month after three months), and HughesNet’s 50 GB plan costs $150 a month for 25 Mbps download speeds and, you guessed it, 50 GB of data.

HughesNet 50 GB plan vs. Viasat Unlimited Silver 25 plan
ServicePlanPriceDownload speedData cap
HughesNet Internet50 GB$15025 Mbps50 GB
Viasat InternetUnlimited Silver 25$70/mo.25 Mbps60 GB
Data effective 11/19/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
Service plans require a 24-month commitment.
For the first 3 months.

Wanna know more about the price and value differences between HughesNet and Viasat? We compare price, data, and download speeds in our Viasat vs. HughesNet review and give you the full view of what Viasat costs after three months in our Viasat review.

Megaphone icon
Need more speed?
If 25 Mbps won’t cut it, check out HughesNet’s satellite internet competitor Viasat. Though its prices are higher (and it bumps up the price for your second year), you get faster speeds for your dollar. We’re talking up to 100 Mbps.

HughesNet internet speed

HughesNet’s 25 Mbps download speeds can’t compete with Viasat’s max speed of 100 Mbps.

Satellite internet providers often change their offerings based on your location. For example, Viasat changes its prices and speeds depending on where you live.

But you don’t have to deal with that with HughesNet. HughesNet gives you the same 25 Mbps speed regardless of your address.

Viasat and HughesNet download speeds comparison
Download speedsLearn more
HughesNet25 MbpsView Plans
Viasat12100 MbpsView Plans

For some, that may not be a good thing. But 25 Mbps is more than enough to comfortably check your email and scroll through Facebook without waiting forever for pages to load.

Of course, you might still face some slowness with certain types of activities, like streaming videos or playing online games. Sadly, that’s just the nature of the satellite internet beast.

You see, satellite internet has higher latency than other internet connection types. That means it takes longer for your computer to send information to that satellite orbiting the Earth about 22,000 miles away, then to the website you’re visiting, and back.

How fast is HughesNet really?

According to our latest look at the fastest ISPs in the US, HughesNet internet is much, much slower than DSL, cable, and fiber alternatives—but it’s slightly faster than its satellite internet competitor, Viasat.

HughesNet ranked 36th out of 38 ISPs for speed, putting it one rank above Viasat at 37th.3

HughesNet internet speed score3
ProviderReviews.org weighted score
HughesNet6.6 out of 100

To put this in context, satellite internet is at a natural disadvantage when it comes to speed because of its comparatively slower download and upload speeds, plus its high latency.

Even so, it’s best to sort of expect the worst when it comes to satellite internet speeds, especially if you’re used to city internet that uses DSL, cable, or fiber connections. Satellite will be slower, but it’s still better than no internet connection at all, in our opinion.

How do HughesNet data guidelines work?

Even though HughesNet internet plans list data caps, those aren’t set in stone. You don’t have to worry about your data being cut off or paying overages if you use more than your set amount.

That said, your speeds will slow down if you go over the data amount on your plan. We call these soft caps, or “data guidelines.” They’re not hard-and-fast limits, but you’ll feel like they are if you use more than what’s on your plan.

If your kids go on a Disney+ spree and gobble up your data allowance, HughesNet will slow down your speeds to a rate that makes molasses look fast. (1 to 3 Mbps, to be exact.)

There are some ways to make sure you don’t use up all your high-speed data and crawl through your social media feed at a snail’s pace. We cover these in-depth in our HughesNet data guide, but here’s a quick look:

  • 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.

Contracts, equipment, and fees

HughesNet’s still stuck on that two-year contract, and its equipment fees can be pricey.

Just like Viasat, HughesNet locks you into a two-year service contract. Your price does stay the same for all 24 months, with no surprise price hikes—which is nice.

But we still dislike contracts and wish HughesNet (and Viasat) would either stop using them or limit them to just one year.

That said, satellite internet is a pain to set up and a pain to return, so you probably won’t want to switch it out too often anyway. And if you don’t plan on moving anytime soon, then two years isn’t a terribly long time to keep your internet service.

Equipment

HughesNet’s broadband internet service requires a satellite antenna and a modem. You can buy this equipment from HughesNet, or you can just lease it. Either way, it’s going to be pricey.

How much does HughesNet equipment cost?
Leased antenna and modemPurchased antenna and modem
$14.99/mo. (for 24 mos)$449.99

Data effective 10/14/2019. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

If you’re sticking with HughesNet for only two years, the leased equipment option will save you some money.

At the end of two years, the $14.99 monthly fee adds up to $359.76, which is delightful compared to the $449.99 purchase fee.

However, those totals don’t take into account the $99 activation fee, which is waived if you purchase your equipment. If you lease, you’ll end up paying that activation fee, bringing your two-year rental fee total to $458.76. So at that point . . . maybe just purchase it outright.

Buying your equipment outright is starting to sound like a smart move by now. And if you plan to keep your HughesNet satellite internet service for at least 31 months, you’ll end up spending less than if you rented—not counting the activation fee.

Heads Up icon
Return your rental equipment on time!
If you cancel your contract early, make sure you return your equipment by mail within 45 days. If you delay or don’t return your equipment, HughesNet will charge you $300. Yikes!

Once you’ve decided between renting and leasing your equipment, you should get the option to schedule installation. And this is definitely a job you want the pros to take care of, no matter how handy you are.

HughesNet uses third-party contractors to install your satellite antenna and modem. That means the contractors don’t work directly for HughesNet, so the quality of your customer service is a bit of an unknown. But your installer will be able to find the right spot, angle, and height for your dish to catch the best signal.

Remember: Installation can take around four hours, so block out at least half your day.

Service fees

HughesNet charges a $99 activation fee if you lease your equipment. Depending on how long you plan to keep your service, that could be another reason to buy your equipment outright.

  • Installation fee: If you lease your equipment, there’s a $99 activation fee. If you buy your equipment, installation is included and the activation fee is waived.

As for early termination fees, if you cut your HughesNet contract short, expect to pay out the wazoo for it.

  • Early termination fee: You’ll pay $85 minimum if you cancel your service early, and depending on when you cancel, you could pay up to $400.

The early termination fee decreases the longer you keep your service. But the lowest you’ll possibly pay to cancel is $85, which is still a decent chunk of change.

If you cancel before your equipment is installed, HughesNet says it’ll refund what you paid when you placed your order. But if your equipment is already installed and you decide to cancel your internet service only 90 days or less into your two-year contract, there’ll be a big honkin’ $400 cancellation fee heading your way.

This is one of the reasons we dislike contracts so much. Who can know for sure they won’t need to end their service early? Life happens.

And even if you cancel after those first 90 days, you’ll still owe a hefty amount: $400 minus $15 for each month you’ve kept your service. Ugh.

Customer service

We’re giving HughesNet’s customer service our best look of disapproval.

Read a HughesNet review or two and you’ll find some unhappy campers.

Sadly, the same is true for pretty much every internet service provider (ISP). In the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) report, the industry average was 62 out of 100.2

That’s a D grade.

HughesNet itself didn’t receive a rating, but instead was rated in the category of “All Others” by the ACSI. Take that as you will—we think there’s a good chance HughesNet has work to do on the customer service front.

If you need to contact HughesNet customer support, you’ve got a few options:

HughesNet customer service rating
ACSI 2019 rating
64 out of 100

If you’re stuck with no other solution but to call HughesNet, here are three tips that might make the situation a little more bearable:

  1. Get it all in writing—and we mean everything. If you’re told you’ll receive a refund, ask if the representative can email the details to you. Even if they can’t, write down their name, the date the promise was made, and the amount you were told would be refunded.
  2. Hop on live chat or use email. These make it easier to get everything in writing, and you won’t end up glued to the phone while you wait on hold.
  3. Advocate for yourself. If your current customer service rep isn’t helpful, ask if you can speak to their manager. We don’t advise getting mad, though. Instead, remember the old adage that you “catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”
Pin icon
Need to cut your internet expenses?
If your HughesNet bill is getting out of hand, check out these eight tips on how to lower your internet bill.

Our picks: The best HughesNet internet service plans

Best for casual web surfers: 20 GB

Who it’s best for: Casual video streamers or anyone who downloads a few files a month

Why we picked it: The 20 GB plan gives you just enough data to do a little video streaming along with your web browsing. We recommend watching your videos in SD (480p), which uses about 1 GB of data per hour. HD videos (up to 1080p), on the other hand, gobble up 3 GB of data an hour.

20 GB
HughesNet Internet
Download speed:
25 Mbps
Data cap:
20 GB
$69.99 a month

Data effective 10/14/2019. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

Best for families who stream together: 50 GB

Who it’s best for: Kiddos who love to stream Disney movies—and their parents too

Why we picked it: While this is HughesNet’s most expensive plan, it comes with 50 GB of data. That’s enough to keep some of the most demanding kids entertained with hours of family-friendly flicks and TV shows. (Plus there should be enough data left over for mom and dad to watch their shows after the kids have gone to bed.)

50 GB
HughesNet Internet
Download speed:
25 Mbps
Data cap:
50 GB
$150 a month

Data effective 10/14/2019. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

Recap: Is HughesNet high-speed satellite internet good?

HughesNet is a good pick if you don’t need lots of speed and want to avoid price hikes.

Satellite internet is never mind-blowing, but HughesNet offers consistent speeds across the country. Plus, it won’t throw any mid-contract price gotchas your way.

If you live in an area where satellite internet is your only option and price is more important to you than download speed, HughesNet is a great choice. Otherwise, we think Viasat’s speeds make it the better pick.

  • Prices and plans: HughesNet scores points in our books for transparent plans and pricing. You’ll pay a higher price for more data, and can always pay for extra data tokens too.
  • Speed: We wish HughesNet offered more than one download speed of 25 Mbps. Still, this is enough speed to take care of business online, and even stream a little too.
  • Contracts, equipment, and fees: HughesNet plans come with a two-year contract, which is pretty standard. And depending on how long you plan to keep your service, it may be worth forking over the money to buy your HughesNet equipment.
  • Customer service: No internet provider earns a gold medal for customer service. We’d love to see HughesNet and others improve.
HughesNet satellite internet overview
Monthly priceDownload speedsData capLearn more
$59.99$150*25 Mbps1050 GBView Plans
Data effective 11/19/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* Requires 24 month agreement.

Compare satellite internet providers in your area.

Sources

  1. HughesNet Community, “Token Prices . . . ?
  2. American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), “Telecommunications Report 2018–2019
  3. Catherine McNally, Reviews.org, “Fastest Internet Providers 2020,” August 2020. Accessed August 26, 2020.