Hughesnet vs. AT&T Internet Air Review

We compared prices, internet speeds, data caps, and customer satisfaction reports. We found that Hughesnet has the best value, while AT&T Internet Air is a good 5G home internet option.

Hughesnet Satellite Internet
HughesNet
HughesNet
3 out of 5 stars
3
Starting from
$49.99
/mo
  • pro
    Monthly price: $49.99–$79.99/mo.
  • pro
    Download speeds: 50–100Mbps
AT&T Internet Air
ATT
AT&T
4.3 out of 5 stars
4.25
Starting from
$55
/mo
  • pro
    Monthly price: $55/mo. + taxes
  • pro
    Download speeds: Up to 140Mbps
Catherine McNally
Feb 09, 2024
Icon Time To Read6 min read

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If your internet service is a toss-up between AT&T and Hughesnet, we say go with Hughesnet. Otherwise, AT&T's 5G home internet service, AT&T Internet Air, comes with a load of pros and cons that might make your decision harder.

AT&T Internet Air is cheaper than Hughesnet and comes with more data each month (at least 100GB more data). But AT&T’s wireless service may require you to use a VPN if you need to log into secure sites, and its speeds can slow when the network is busy.

Hughesnet, on the other hand, is available nationwide. And it offers 50GB 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 and AT&T Internet Air to find out.

Service
Price
Download speeds
Details
HughesNet$49.99-$79.99*50–100 Mbps
ATT$59.99140 Mbps
Data as of 04/05/2023. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* Service plans require a 24-month commitment. Pricing not available in all areas.
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Hughesnet vs. AT&T: Prices

Looking at prices, Hughesnet offers the lowest price, but that price will jump by $20–$30 after 12 months. So with price hikes in mind, AT&T’s wireless internet is your cheapest option. It rings up at $55 a month for 140Mbps download speeds, while Hughesnet's prices charge more for only 50–100Mbps. (There’s also AT&T Fiber, but since it’s far from comparable to Hughesnet offerings, we won’t talk about it much in this review. Just know that AT&T Fiber is faster than Hughesnet and other AT&T services—but it’s also pretty expensive.)

That said, Hughesnet satellite internet is more likely to service your area. Since satellite internet doesn’t need cables run underground or use cell phone towers, it can more easily serve even the most remote locations. And as far as satellite internet goes, Hughesnet is likely to be more budget-friendly than other options. You can even get $5 off your monthly price with Hughesnet when you enroll in their ACH payment program, swapping your credit card as payment for a bank account withdrawal.

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

Hughesnet satellite internet prices
Plan
Price
Download speed
Data cap
Details
Select$49.99/mo.Up to 50 MbpsUnlimited
Elite$64.99/mo.Up to 100 MbpsUnlimited
Fusion$79.99/mo.Up to 100 MbpsUnlimited

Hughesnet plans aren't super expensive, and they offer decent speeds. The downside is that they require a two-year contract and will increase prices by $20–$30 after the first 12 months. 

If you need to work from home or have a child enrolled in distance learning, those 50–100Mbps speeds should be enough, plus unlimited data and 100–200GB of high-speed data (depending on your plan). You can add data to your Hughesnet plan, but it’ll cost you more. (Or you can stay up late and use its Bonus Zone data.)

So you can see why AT&T Internet Air is our first choice. Its price is much easier to swallow, it comes with unlimited data, and your speeds can go up to 140 Mbps. 

AT&T DSL internet promotional prices
Plan
Price
Download speed
Data cap
Details
AT&T Internet Air$55/mo.140 MbpsUnlimited
AutoPay and paperless billing required. Monthly State Cost Recovery Charge in TX, OH, NV applies. . Service subj. to Internet Terms of Service at att.com/internet-terms. Offers may be modified, or discontinued, at any time without notice. Other conditions may apply to all offers.

Data effective 11/06/2023. 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 internet speeds might not get close to that 140 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. 

AT&T Internet Air promotional prices
Plan
Price
Download speed
Data cap
Details
AT&T Internet Air$55/mo.140 MbpsUnlimited
AutoPay and paperless billing required. Monthly State Cost Recovery Charge in TX, OH, NV applies. . Service subj. to Internet Terms of Service at att.com/internet-terms. Offers may be modified, or discontinued, at any time without notice. Other conditions may apply to all offers.

Data effective 11/06/2023. 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.

While AT&T Internet Air doesn’t have very impressive download speeds, it does offer 350GB of high-speed data each month. That’s miles beyond your initial data handout from Hughesnet (100–200GB), and you can also add more data to your AT&T Internet Air plan.

Not to mention that AT&T internet prices get you more for your money than pretty much all of Hughesnet’s plans when it comes to speed. And your equipment price is included in that monthly bill—Hughesnet charges $14.99–$19.99 a month to rent its satellite dish receiver.

Also, AT&T Internet Air comes with no contract, while Hughesnet requires you to lock-in on a 2-year contract.

How does AT&T Internet Air work?

AT&T Internet Air is AT&T's newest internet home internet service that uses AT&T's 5G wireless network.

 

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.

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

AT&T Internet Air is limited to AT&T's wireless network. You can get AT&T 5G home internet if you live in these 18 states:

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

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

If you’re lucky enough to get max speeds, Hughesnet is faster and more reliable than AT&T Internet Air. 

If you can get close to the max speed of 140Mbps, AT&T DSL internet gets you the fastest download speeds. But like we mentioned before, you might see only max speeds of 6 Mbps, 25Mbps, or somewhere in between with AT&T DSL internet. It really depends on your location.

Hughesnet’s satellite internet plans come with 50–100Mbps speeds, which is enough to let you browse Facebook, stream shows in HD on a couple of devices, and make a few video calls. 

You'll also get 100–200GB of high-speed data with Hughsnet, while AT&T's unlimited data will be slowed every time the network is busy.

Hughesnet vs. AT&T Internet download speed comparison
Provider
Download speeds
Upload speeds
Details

Hughesnet

50–100Mbps

5 Mbps

AT&T

Up to 140Mbps

20 Mbps

But like we always point out, those are advertised speeds. And even if AT&T says your address can get 140Mbps 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.

AT&T Internet Air doesn’t play nice with video games, web hosting, or secure logins

AT&T notes that its 5G 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 Internet customers recommended if you need a dedicated IP address.

Hughesnet vs. AT&T: Data caps

We think Hughesnet offers faster and more reliable data options. Both providers offer unlimited data, but that doesn't mean you'll always have fast data. Hughesnet's speeds will slow after 100–200GB, while AT&T's speeds start to crawl when the network becomes busy.

You can add more data to your HughesNet or AT&T Internet 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 2 to 50GB of extra data that costs $3 to $50 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 5G Internet 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 delivering the speeds it promises.

AT&T was ranked the fourth-best among all ISPs in 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.

In the ratings, Hughesnet was compared to Viasat, its only satellite internet competitor. Customers gave higher praise to Hughesnet for its straightforward pricing, more consistent speeds, and fewer outages.

Hughesnet vs. AT&T Internet customer service ratings
Rating
HughesNet rating
AT&T Internet rating

HighSpeedInternet.com customer satisfaction score

2.8 out of 5

3.7 out of 5

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?

Hughesnet's sattelite internet service is clearly your best bet here, thanks to its affordable costs, larger data cap, and higher availability.

  • Price: AT&T Internet. AT&T’s 5G home internet comes at the cheapest monthly price, but it doesn't offer the best speeds or data.
  • Internet speed: AT&T Internet. If you can get AT&T DSL internet with speeds of up to 140 Mbps, you’re sitting pretty. Unfortunately, most customers won't get those speeds.
  • Data caps: Hughesnet. While both AT&T and Hughesnet technically offer unlimited data, Hughesnet's plans include 100–200GB of high-speed data and AT&T slows speeds whenever the network is busy.
  • Customer service: Both AT&T and HughesNet score in the middle of the pack for customer satisfaction.

Our pick: Hughesnet Internet

HughesNet
HughesNet Internet
Hughesnet Select Internet
3 out of 5 stars
3
Download Speed Range
Up to 140 Mbps
Data Cap Range
Unlimited
Starting from
$55
/mo
Data as of 04/05/2023. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

It’s almost not fair to compare Hughesnet and AT&T internet since they’re wildly different. Hughesnet internet is satellite only, while AT&T Internet Air is a 5G home internet service that connects through cell phone towers.

Still, we compared price, speed, availability, and customer service the best we can, just in case you’re for some reason stuck between the two options. Not-so-spoiler: we recommend Hughesnet.

Now that you know about AT&T vs. Hughesnet, try this next.
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Compare Hughesnet vs. AT&T prices and plans in your neighborhood.
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See if another rural internet option might work for you.

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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