HughesNet Satellite Internet Review 2022

HughesNet offers good value for its lower-GB plans, but if you want download speeds faster than 25 Mbps, look to Viasat.

Catherine McNally
Editorial Lead, Internet & Gaming
Read More
November 22, 2022
8 min read

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HughesNet Plans
HughesNet
HughesNet
3 out of 5 stars
3
  • pro
    No price hikes for two years
  • pro
    Clear and transparent plans and pricing
  • con
    Only one 25 Mbps download speed option
Plan
Price
Download speed
Data cap
Details
15 GB$64.99/mo.*25 Mbps15 GB
30 GB$49.99/mo.*25 Mbps30 GB
Fusion 50 GB$74.99/mo.*25 Mbps50 GB
Fusion 50 GB$74.99/mo.*25 Mbps50 GB
Data effective 12/07/22. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* Pricing for the first 6 months. Service plans require a 24-month commitment. Pricing not available in all areas.

If you need satellite internet, HughesNet is a great pick for a budget-friendly plan that doesn’t come with a lot of data or speeds faster than 25 Mbps. But as soon as you need more data, HughesNet’s prices quickly rocket past Earth’s orbit.

We dug into HughesNet’s four internet plans to figure out which one is the best deal—and whether this satellite internet provider is worth the price at all. Let’s dig in.

See all the rural internet options available in your area.
pro
Pros
pro No price hikes for two years
pro Clear and transparent plans and pricing
pro Option to add more data plus free Bonus Zone data
con
Cons
con Only one 25 Mbps download speed option
con Low data caps
con High prices for 45 GB and 75 GB plans

HughesNet prices and plans

HughesNet packs value into its lower-data plans, but gets way too expensive with the higher-tier 100 GB plan.

HughesNet internet plans range from $64.99 a month for 15 GB of data to $149.99 a month for 100 GB of data. You can also find two plans between those: a 30 GB plan for $74.99 a month and a 50 GB plan for $89.99 a month. All HughesNet plans come with 25 Mbps download speeds.

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 satellite internet promotional prices

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.

Plan
Price
Download speed
Data cap
Details
15 GB$64.99/mo.*25 Mbps15 GB
30 GB$49.99/mo.*25 Mbps30 GB
Fusion 50 GB$74.99/mo.*25 Mbps50 GB
Fusion 100 GB$124.99/mo.*25 Mbps100 GB
Data effective 12/07/22. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* Pricing for the first 6 months. Service plans require a 24-month commitment. Pricing not available in all areas.

Where is HughesNet available?

You can get HughesNet satellite internet anywhere in the US. All you need is a clear view of the Southern sky.

That does make it more difficult for homes in the mountains or those surrounded by trees or tall buildings to get a signal. This is another reason getting your HughesNet dish professionally installed is a good idea. Your installer should be able to find a spot with the clearest view of the sky.

How to add data to your HughesNet satellite internet plan

HughesNet says its plans come with unlimited data, but is that true? Not quite. You won’t get your internet turned off if you use more than your data limit with HughesNet, but your speeds will limp along at about 1 to 3 Mbps. With data speeds that slow, you’ll struggle streaming or gaming online (and we can’t have that).

You have a few options for getting more high-speed HughesNet data: you can buy a data token, you can wait for the Bonus Zone, or you can upgrade your HughesNet plan to get more high-speed data each month.

How to buy a HughesNet data token

If you don’t regularly need more data, then a HughesNet data token will likely be the most cost-effective way to keep your data speeds high.

Here’s how to get your paws on some of those data tokens:

  1. Log in to your HughesNet account, download the HughesNet app (iOS | Android), or download the Usage Meter.
  2. You’ll be able to purchase a 3, 5, 10, or 25 GB data token through your account, the HughesNet app, or the Usage Meter.
  3. Once you’ve finished buying the data token, your speeds should automatically jump back up to 25 Mbps.

Here’s what you can expect to pay for additional data from HughesNet:

HughesNet satellite internet data prices
Additional data
Price
3 GB
$9
5 GB
$15
10 GB
$30
25 GB
$75
HughesNet data tokens don't expire
Megaphone

Any unused data from your data tokens rolls over to the next month, rather than magically disappearing at the end of the month. Now you don’t have to worry about overpaying for extra data you don’t need.

What's the HughesNet Bonus Zone?

If you don’t mind staying up ‘til the wee hours of the morning, HughesNet offers an extra 50 GB of high-speed data (at 25 Mbps) each month from 2 a.m. to 8 a.m. local time.

So even if you’ve used up all your high-speed data for the month, you can still stay up late (or get up early) during the Bonus Zone hours and catch up on some favorite shows or get in some competitive gaming. That’s a pretty cool feature, and if you ever needed an excuse to stay up late streaming TV, this is it.

How do you upgrade your HughesNet plan?

If you’re consistently gobbling up your monthly data allowance, it might be time to look into a new HughesNet plan—or check out the other satellite internet provider, Viasat.

The highest-level HughesNet plan gets you 100 GB of data each month. That’s no small potatoes if you’re streaming videos, gaming, or working from home on your satellite internet connection, but it’ll cost you upwards of $149.99/month. 

We recommend giving HughesNet a call to see if they can offer you any deals for upgrading your plan. But first, check out what HughesNet prices are available in your area so you can negotiate your bill like a boss.

How much data do you need?

Your data needs depend on what you like to do online, and how much data you use each month could change.

We put together some data usage estimates to help you get an idea of how much data you might need if you enjoy video streaming, online gaming, and more.

Activity
MB used
GB used
One email with attachments0.4 MB0.0004 GB
Playing an online game34 MB/hr.0.034 GB/hr.
Music streaming55 MB/hr.0.055 GB/hr.
Social media94 MB/hr.0.94 GB/hr.
Browsing the web184 MB/hr.0.184 GB/hr.
Streaming standard-definition (SD) video700 MB/hr.0.7 GB/hr.
Streaming HD video2,500 MB/hr.2.5 GB/hr.
Streaming 4K video8,000 MB/hr.8 GB/hr.
Video conferencing540–2,400 MB/hr.0.7–2.4 GB/hr.

How does HughesNet compare to Viasat?

HughesNet used to be the better deal compared to Viasat, at least if you needed less data. But how does it stack up now?

The HughesNet 50 GB plan comes with 25 Mbps download speeds and (you guessed it) 50 GB of data for $89.99 a month with a 24-month commitment.

The closest comparable Viasat plans, Unlimited Bronze 12 come with 12 Mbps download speeds and 80 GB of data. Viasat goes with the low-key sneaky pricing structure of only charging $49.99 a month for the first three months of service, but ups the price to $69.99 a month after that.

The trade-off between the two satellite internet providers basically boils down to this: HughesNet will give you faster data speeds, and Viasat will give you a higher data cap.

HughesNet 50 GB plan vs. Viasat 80 GB plan
Service
Plan
Price
Download speed
Data Cap
Details
Fusion 50 GB$74.99/mo.*25 Mbps50 GB
Unlimited Bronze 12$49.99-$69.99/mo.12 Mbps35 GB
Data effective 12/07/22. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* Pricing for the first 6 months. Service plans require a 24-month commitment. Pricing not available in all areas.
Offer available to new qualifying customers. One-time standard installation fee may be due at checkout. Minimum 24-month service term required. Equipment lease fee is $12.99/mo. Taxes apply. Service is not available in all areas. Offer may be changed or withdrawn at any time.
Bullhorn
Want more HughesNet versus Viasat comparisons?

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.

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 speeds
Learn more
HughesNet25 Mbps
Viasat12100 Mbps

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 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 or purchased
Cost
Setup fee
Cost over 2 yrs
Leased antenna and modem$14.99/mo. (for 24 mos) $99.00$458.76
Purchased antenna and modem$449.98 (equipment and installation)None$449.98

Data effective 11/22/2022. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

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

But that total doesn’t take into account the $99 setup 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.

Make sure to return your rental equipment on time
Megaphone

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.

Recap

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.

For now, HughesNet's prices, speeds, and data caps pale in comparison to Viasat. But the launch of its next satellite (hopefully in late 2022) should see improvements across the board.

  • Prices and plans: HughesNet scores points in our books for transparent plans and pricing. But you’ll pay a higher price compared to Viasat.
  • Speed: We wish HughesNet offered more than one download speed of 25 Mbps. Still, this is enough speed to check emails 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.
3 out of 5 stars
3
Upload speeds
3 Mbps
Data cap
15100 GB
Starting from
$49.99
/mo
Data effective 12/07/2022. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
See all rural internet options near you.

Sources

  1. HughesNet Community, “Token Prices . . . ?
  2. American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), “ACSI Telecommunications Report 2020–2021,” June 2021. Accessed December 13, 2021.
Catherine McNally
Written by
Catherine McNally
Catherine has a degree in journalism and an MBA, and has spent the last 10+ years writing everything from Okinawa travel guides to stories on Medium. She’s been online since AOL CDs were a thing and is an unapologetic PC gamer. She believes the internet is a necessity, not a luxury, and writes reviews and guides to help everyone stay connected. You can also find her on Twitter: @CMReviewsIt.

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