HughesNet vs. AT&T Internet Review 2021

We compared prices, internet speeds, data caps, and customer satisfaction reports. We found that AT&T DSL internet has the best value, while HughesNet and AT&T Fixed Wireless are a mixed bag.
HughesNet Satellite Internet
Monthly price: $59.99–$149.99/mo.
Download speeds: 25 Mbps
AT&T DSL Internet
Monthly price: $45/mo.
Download speeds: 75–100 Mbps

If your internet service is a toss-up between AT&T and HughesNet, we say go with AT&T if you can get its DSL internet at speeds of 25 Mbps or faster. Otherwise, HughesNet and AT&T Fixed Wireless both come with a load of pros and cons that might make your decision harder.

AT&T Fixed Wireless is cheaper than HughesNet and comes with more data each month (at least 300 GB more data). But AT&T’s fixed wireless service may require you to use a VPN if you need to log into secure sites, and it’s not available everywhere.

HughesNet, on the other hand, is available nationwide. And it offers 50 GB of “free” data each month if you don’t mind getting up in the wee hours of the morning.

So which internet service provider (ISP) is right for you? Let’s dig into the differences between HughesNet, AT&T DSL internet, and AT&T Fixed Wireless to find out.

HughesNet satellite internet pros and cons

Pros

  • No price hike after so many months
  • Free 50 GB of Bonus Zone data
  • Availability in every state

Cons

  • High price for the speed you get
  • Small data caps and slow 25 Mbps speed
  • 2-year contract

AT&T Internet pros and cons

Pros

  • No contract
  • 1 TB data cap on DSL plans
  • No equipment rental fee for Fixed Wireless plan

Cons

  • Fixed wireless has potentially slower speeds than HughesNet
  • Low data cap on fixed wireless plan

Compare HughesNet and AT&T internet prices in your area.

HughesNet vs. AT&T: Prices

AT&T’s DSL internet offers the best value while HughesNet prices might devour your budget

If you just look at prices, it’s pretty clear that AT&T’s DSL internet service is your cheapest option. It rings up at under $50 a month, while HughesNet and AT&T Fixed Wireless prices start closer to $60 and $70 a month, respectively.

That said, HughesNet satellite internet is more likely to service your area. Since satellite internet doesn’t need cables run underground or along your phone line, it can more easily serve even the most remote locations. And as far as satellite internet goes, HughesNet is more likely to be budget-friendly than other options.

Let’s take a quick peek at how HughesNet prices and plans pan out:

HughesNet satellite internet prices
PlanPriceDownload speedData capDetails
10 GB$59.99*25 Mbps10 GBView Plan
20 GB$69.99*25 Mbps20 GBView Plan
30 GB$99.99*25 Mbps30 GBView Plan
50 GB$149.99*25 Mbps50 GBView Plan
Data effective 10/26/20. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* Service plans require a 24-month commitment.

Our biggest issue with HughesNet is its low data caps—not to mention that one speed choice of 25 Mbps. Sure, 25 Mbps can support a single person or small family that doesn’t use the internet much.

But if you need to work from home or have a child enrolled in distance learning, those 25 Mbps speeds are going to be painful. As is that data cap. You can add data to your HughesNet plan, but it’ll cost you more on top of HughesNet’s already high prices. (Or you can stay up late and use its Bonus Zone data.)

So you can see why AT&T DSL internet is our first choice. Its price is much easier to swallow, it comes with 1 TB of data, and your speeds can go up to 75 or even 100 Mbps. (Though the AT&T Internet 100 plan is a DSL-fiber internet hybrid, and we don’t expect it to be available in truly rural areas.)

AT&T DSL internet promotional prices
PlanPriceDownload speedData capDetails
AT&T Internet up to 75 Mbps$45/mo.75 Mbps1 TBView Plan
AT&T Internet 100$45/mo.100 MbpsUnlimitedView Plan

Data effective 5/10/2021. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
*for 12 mos, plus taxes & equip. fee. $10/mo equip. fee applies. Incl 1TB data/mo. overage chrgs apply
**for 12 mos, plus taxes & equip. fee. Autopay & Paperless Bill req’d. $10/mo equip. fee applies

The one caveat is that your AT&T DSL internet speeds might not get close to that 75 Mbps sweet spot. We’ve seen AT&T Internet plans advertising speeds of 6 Mbps. Now that speed makes for some painful web browsing.

If AT&T offers only speeds less than 25 Mbps in your area, it’s worth your time to give HughesNet a seriously hard look. Or you can check if AT&T Fixed Wireless serves your area.

AT&T fixed wireless promotional prices
PlanPriceDownload speedData capDetails
AT&T Fixed Wireless$69.9910-25 Mbps350 GBView Plan

Data effective 5/10/2021. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
*Pricing for residential customers only. Equipment non-return fees apply. Up to $99 install fee applies. Limited availability/areas. Credit restrictions apply.

AT&T says its Fixed Wireless plan gets you at least 10 Mbps speeds, and the average speed is about 25 Mbps. So again, you’re at the mercy of Lady Luck when it comes to your download speed. (But honestly, you need some luck to get any internet provider’s advertised download speed.)

While AT&T Fixed Wireless doesn’t have very impressive download speeds, it does offer 350 GB of data each month. That’s miles beyond your initial data handout from HughesNet, and you can also add more data to your AT&T Fixed Wireless plan.

Not to mention that AT&T Fixed Wireless prices get you more for your money than pretty much all of HughesNet’s plans when it comes to data. And your equipment price is included in that monthly bill—HughesNet charges $14.99 a month to rent its satellite dish receiver.

Also, both AT&T DSL and Fixed Wireless come with no contract, while HughesNet requires you to lock-in on a 2-year contract. Talk about a ball-and-chain commitment.

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How does AT&T Fixed Wireless internet work?
AT&T Fixed Wireless uses an antenna attached to your home or another building on your property to send your internet signal back and forth from a fixed wireless hub located on a nearby tower.

You do need a clear line of sight from your antenna to the tower to maintain a fixed wireless signal, but since the tower is a lot closer to your home than a satellite hovering in Earth’s orbit, you’ll experience a lot less lag. Learn more in our fixed wireless internet guide.

Where are HughesNet and AT&T Internet available?

Technically, HughesNet satellite internet is available anywhere in the US. You just need a clear view of the southern sky. Of course, sometimes the satellites fill up and can’t take on any new subscribers, so your best bet is to give a HughesNet sales rep a call to be sure there’s an open spot for you.

AT&T Internet is available in 21 different states, mostly in the Midwest and Southern US.

A map of the US showing the 21 states where AT&T internet is available.

AT&T Fixed Wireless is available in 18 of those states as well:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Wisconsin

View HughesNet Plans | Read the HughesNet Internet Review

View AT&T DSL Plans | View AT&T Fixed Wireless Plans | Read the AT&T Internet Review

HughesNet vs. AT&T: Internet speed and data caps

If you’re lucky enough to get max speeds, AT&T DSL internet is faster than HughesNet

If you can get close to the max speed of 75 Mbps, AT&T DSL internet gets you the fastest download speeds. But like we mentioned before, you might see only max speeds of 6 Mbps, 25 Mbps, or somewhere in between with AT&T DSL internet. It really depends on your location.

All of HughesNet’s satellite internet plans come with 25 Mbps speeds, which is enough to let you browse Facebook, stream a few shows in SD (or maybe HD), and … that’s about it. The same story goes for AT&T Fixed Wireless internet, which says you’ll get anywhere from 10 to 25 Mbps download speeds.

HughesNet vs. AT&T Internet download speed comparison
ProviderDownload speedsUpload speedsDetails
HughesNet25 Mbps3 MbpsView Plans
AT&T InternetUp to 75–100 Mbps8–100 MbpsView Plans
AT&T Fixed Wireless10–25 Mbps1 MbpsView Plans

Data effective 5/10/2021. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

But like we always point out, those are advertised speeds. And even if AT&T says your address can get 75 Mbps download speeds, you may not see those speeds on a daily basis. That’s because a lot of different factors can slow down your internet speed—including your router.

Sometimes, though, internet speed is out of your control. So to get an idea of how well (or not so well) these ISPs actually deliver on internet speed, we took a look at several hundred thousand speed test results in our fastest ISPs report. Here’s how HughesNet and AT&T internet speeds fared.

HughesNet vs. AT&T Internet speed scores
ProviderOverall rankRank by connection typeWeighted score
HughesNet36th out of 38 ISPs4th out of 6 satellite ISPs6.6 out of 100
AT&T15th out of 38 ISPs3rd out of 10 DSL ISPs33.8 out of 100

These speed scores don’t take into account AT&T’s fixed wireless internet, but they do include AT&T Fiber. And AT&T’s fiber internet plans likely boosted its score, since fiber internet tends to be faster than DSL and satellite.

Still, the results are telling. HughesNet speeds aren’t all that zippy. (Though it did score better than the alternative satellite internet provider, Viasat.) And AT&T speeds will probably keep your appetite for the latest internet memes and Netflix originals satiated.

Heads Up icon
AT&T Fixed Wireless doesn’t play nice with video games, web hosting, or secure logins
AT&T notes that its Fixed Wireless internet doesn’t support services like Zoom, gaming, or peer-to-peer because your IP address isn’t static. Users even reported issues logging into secure sites, like website admin panels and even bank accounts.

One potential workaround for this issue is to use a VPN—Windscribe is a free VPN that other AT&T Fixed Wireless customers recommended if you need a dedicated IP address.

HughesNet vs. AT&T: Data caps

Yet again, AT&T DSL internet is the best choice—it offers a 1 TB data cap on its Up to 75 Mbps plan. HughesNet offers 10 to 50 GB, and AT&T Fixed Wireless offers 350 GB.

You can add more data to your HughesNet or AT&T Fixed Wireless plan. But it’ll cost you. Here’s a quick look at data token costs for these two services:

  • HughesNet data tokens: You can buy 3 to 25 GB of extra data that costs $9 to $75 extra. Data tokens don’t expire—hooray!
  • HughesNet Bonus Zone data: You get 50 GB of extra data to use each month between 2 a.m. and 8 a.m. your time.
  • AT&T Fixed Wireless data add ons: You’ll pay $10 per 50 GB of extra data, up to a maximum of $200 (or 1 TB) of data each month. Sadly, this data expires each month.

HughesNet vs. AT&T: Customer service

AT&T earned high marks for speed and reliability, while HughesNet customers are satisfied with its tech support, app, and billing

AT&T and HughesNet both received a mixed bag of customer satisfaction scores in HighSpeedInternet.com’s latest ratings. Customers were more satisfied with AT&T Internet when it came to speed, reliability, and customer service, while HughesNet customers praised its tech support, app, and were mostly satisfied with their monthly bill.

But overall, customers rated AT&T slightly higher than HughesNet in terms of satisfaction.

HughesNet vs. AT&T Internet customer service ratings
RatingHughesNet ratingAT&T Internet rating
HighSpeedInternet.com customer satisfaction score3.75 out of 53.83 out of 5

We checked DownDetector.com to see how often users reported AT&T or HughesNet outages. By far the worst offender was AT&T: it had 19 reported outages or connection issues in January 2021, while HughesNet had none.

If you do experience an outage or other issue with either ISP, keep in mind these tips for dealing with customer service. (Seriously, they’ve saved our butts a few times.)

HughesNet vs. AT&T: Which is better?

AT&T DSL internet is clearly your best bet here. But if your choices come down to AT&T Fixed Wireless or HughesNet, we’re leaning toward AT&T Fixed Wireless thanks to its baked-in equipment costs, larger data cap, and lower price.

  • Price: AT&T Internet. AT&T’s DSL internet comes at the cheapest monthly price, and it offers the best speeds and data. There’s never been a clearer winner. AT&T Fixed Wireless is our second choice thanks to no equipment fees and lower prices than HughesNet.
  • Internet speed: AT&T Internet. If you can get AT&T DSL internet with speeds of at least 25 Mbps, you’re sitting pretty. HughesNet and AT&T Fixed Wireless cap out at around 25 Mbps each, which isn’t enough speed for any serious internet users or families.
  • Data caps: AT&T Internet. AT&T DSL internet comes with 1 TB of data—and you don’t pay extra to get it. AT&T Fixed Wireless is the runner-up here with 350 GB of data each month and a chance to pay for more in $10 increments. HughesNet offers data tokens that cost up to $75 extra, which is a bummer since its plans don’t come with much data to begin with.
  • Customer service: Both AT&T and HughesNet score in the middle of the pack for customer satisfaction.

Our pick: AT&T DSL Internet

AT&T Internet up to 75 Mbps
AT&T Internet
Download speed:
75 Mbps
Data cap:
1 TB
$45 a month

Data effective 5/10/2021. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
*for 12 mos, plus taxes & equip. fee. $10/mo equip. fee applies. Incl 1TB data/mo. overage chrgs apply

Runners-up: HughesNet and AT&T Fixed Wireless

HughesNet Internet
Download speeds:
25 Mbps
Data cap:
1050 GB
Starting at $59.99 a month

Data effective 5/10/2021. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
*Service plans require a 24-month commitment.

AT&T Fixed Wireless
AT&T Internet
Download speed:
10-25 Mbps
Data cap:
350 GB
$69.99 a month

Data effective 5/10/2021. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
*Pricing for residential customers only. Equipment non-return fees apply. Up to $99 install fee applies. Limited availability/areas. Credit restrictions apply.

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