HughesNet offers good value for its lower-GB plans, but if you want download speeds faster than 25 Mbps, look elsewhere
HughesNet Satellite Internet Review 2023
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.
HughesNet prices and plans
HughesNet internet plans range from $49.99 a month for 15 GB of data to $179.99 a month for 200 GB of data. You can also find two plans between those: a 50 GB plan for $74.99 a month and a 100 GB plan for $99.99 a month. All HughesNet plans come with 25 Mbps download speeds aside from the cheapest plan and the most expensive plan. The cheapest plan, 15 Gb, offers 15 Mbps speeds, while the most expensive plan, Fusion 200 GB, offers 50 Mbps 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.
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.
|15 GB||$49.99/mo.*||15 Mbps||15 Mbps||View Plans|
|50GB||$49.99/mo.*||25 Mbps||50 Mbps||View Plans|
|100 GB||$74.99/mo.*||25 Mbps||100 Mbps||View Plans|
|200 GB||$149.99/mo.*||25 Mbps||200 Mbps||View Plans|
To take the edge off a bit, you can save an extra $5 each month on HughesNet's plans with its new ACH program. If you swap your payment method from a credit card to an ACH bank account withdrawal. If you order the service online with a credit card, HughesNet will grant a one-time $5 savings to your first bill until you enroll in ACH billing before the next billing cycle. It might feel like a bit of a hassle to swap your payment method, but we think it's worth saving $60 a year.
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:
- Log in to your HughesNet account, download the HughesNet app (iOS | Android), or download the Usage Meter.
- 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.
- 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:
|3 GB|| |
|5 GB|| |
|10 GB|| |
|25 GB|| |
HughesNet data tokens don't expire
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.
The highest-level HughesNet plan gets you 200 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 $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.
|One email with attachments||0.4 MB||0.0004 GB|
|Playing an online game||34 MB/hr.||0.034 GB/hr.|
|Music streaming||55 MB/hr.||0.055 GB/hr.|
|Social media||94 MB/hr.||0.94 GB/hr.|
|Browsing the web||184 MB/hr.||0.184 GB/hr.|
|Streaming standard-definition (SD) video||700 MB/hr.||0.7 GB/hr.|
|Streaming HD video||2,500 MB/hr.||2.5 GB/hr.|
|Streaming 4K video||8,000 MB/hr.||8 GB/hr.|
|Video conferencing||540–2,400 MB/hr.||0.7–2.4 GB/hr.|
How does HughesNet compare to Viasat?
|100 GB||$74.99/mo.*||25 Mbps||100 Mbps||View Plans|
|Choice 25 Mbps/100 GB||$99.99/mo.†||Up to 25 Mbps||Unlimited||View plans|
HughesNet is the better deal compared to Viasat, at least if you need less data.
The HughesNet 100 GB plan comes with 25 Mbps download speeds and (you guessed it)100 GB of data for $74.99 a month with a 24-month commitment.
The closest comparable Viasat plans, Choice 25 Mbps comes with up to 25 Mbps download speeds and unlimited data (with 100 GB of high-speed data). For this potentially slower service, you’ll pay $99.99 a month—but at least you get that rad unlimited data.
The trade-off between the two satellite internet providers basically boils down to this: HughesNet will give you a better price, and Viasat will give you a higher data cap.
HughesNet internet speed
For some, that may not be a good thing. But 15–25 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.
But we will admit that HughesNet is unusually slow, even for a satellite provider.
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:
Contracts, equipment, and fees
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 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.
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.
Leased or purchased
Cost over 2 yrs
|Leased antenna and modem||$14.99/mo. (for 24 mos)||$99.00||$359.76|
|Purchased antenna and modem||$499.98 (equipment and installation)||Free||$499.98|
Data effective 06/21/2023. 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 $499.98 purchase fee.
But that total doesn’t take into account the $99 setup fee, which is waived if you purchase your equipment. If you choose to lease your equipment, 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.
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.
Make sure to 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!
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.
- Leasing 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.
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 competitors. But the launch of its next satellite 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 than with other satellite providers.
- Speed: We wish HughesNet offered more than 25 Mbps download speeds for its more affordable plans. 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.
- Customer service: HughesNet uses third-party providers for equipment, so your customer service experience can vary.
When looking at how to rate HughesNet, we considered the following:
- The service value (speed and data versus monthly cost)
- Equipment cost
There aren’t many satellite internet providers, which makes comparing services … interesting. We really only make comparisons between three providers right now, HughesNet, Viasat, and Starlink. Compared to the other two, HughesNet has an okay value—it gets to lower speeds but doesn’t cost too much. It’s also currently the cheapest service and is available everywhere.