HughesNet vs. DSL Internet Review 2021

HughesNet
HughesNet Internet
HughesNet Internet
Starting from
$59.99
/mo
Download speeds
25 Mbps
Connection Type
Satellite
CenturyLink
CenturyLink Internet
CenturyLink Internet
Starting from
$50
/mo
Download speeds
100940 Mbps
Connection Type
DSL/Fiber
AT&T Internet
AT&T Internet
AT&T Internet
Starting from
$45
/mo
Download speeds
75100 Mbps
Connection Type
DSL
Windstream
Windstream Internet
Windstream Internet
Starting from
$27
/mo
Download speeds
251000 Mbps
Connection Type
DSL/Fiber
Frontier
Frontier High Speed Internet
Frontier High Speed Internet
Starting from
$32.99
/mo
Download speeds
6 Mbps
Connection Type
DSL
Catherine McNally
Editorial Lead, Internet & Gaming
Read More
Published on August 05, 2021
5 min read

When it comes to bringing high-speed internet into your home, you can go through your ancient phone lines or possibly step it up a notch and reach out to outer space.

Satellite internet from companies like HughesNet provide a high-tech alternative to DSL. But it could be costly and you could end up with slower speeds and less data than you had with DSL.

So is it worth it to swap from your local DSL internet provider to HughesNet? Let's dig into the details and compare your options to find out.

HughesNet pros and cons

Pros
  • Available almost everywhere
  • Somewhat budget-friendly plans with low speeds and data
Cons
  • Pricey plans if you need fast speeds and more data
  • Potentially expensive equipment installation

DSL internet pros and cons

Pros
  • Availability wherever there's a phone line
  • Low-cost plans with lots of data
  • Modern-day speeds that go up to 100 Mbps
Cons
  • Smaller coverage areas
  • Aging DSL infrastructure
Find your cheapest option for satellite or DSL internet in your area.

What are the differences between satellite and DSL internet?

Before we get into the specifics, it helps to know a little bit about how DSL and satellite internet work.

DSL internet features

DSL (or digital subscriber line) internet brings high-bandwidth internet into your home through the phone line. Improving on dial-up, DSL vastly improves connection speeds and allows users to keep their telephone lines open to calls while simultaneously connecting to the internet.

DSL modems use a signal splitter that sends voice signals to the lower frequencies of your phone line while establishing your internet connection on the higher frequencies. That means your partner can still chat on the phone while you browse the internet.

AT&T, Verizon, and Frontier are just a few of the numerous companies that provide DSL internet to customers. But you may notice a big difference in the DSL speeds they offer. That's because there are a few different types of DSL internet:

  • ADSL: Or asymmetrical DSL is an older technology with fast download speeds and slow upload speeds.
  • Symmetrical DSL: This type of DSL internet has download and upload speeds that are the same.
  • VDSL and VDSL2: Or very high-bit-rate DSL are the fastest DSL technologies currently available. They usually offer speeds that reach 100 Mbps or faster.

If you want to learn more about DSL, check out our guide to how DSL internet works.

Satellite internet features

Satellite internet relies on—you guessed it—satellites that revolve around Earth. Just like satellite TV companies like DISH and DIRECTV, satellite internet providers like HughesNet use dishes mounted to your home's roof or exterior to beam your information to and from those satellites.

Because those satellites sit so far above the Earth (about 22,000 miles), this means your satellite internet connection will likely lag, or get high latency. You probably won't notice this much until you try to stream Netflix or hop on a video game, though.

Satellite internet tends to be pricey compared to DSL, but that all makes sense when you consider how costly it is to build and launch satellites into space. Of the two satellite internet companies that are fully available right now, Viasat currently has the most modern satellites—and therefore the fastest speeds—available. But HughesNet has plans to launch new satellites in the near future and hopefully bump its speeds up from 25 Mbps to 100 Mbps or better.

If you want to learn more about satellite internet, check out our guide on how it all works.

HughesNet vs. DSL: Prices

HughesNet satellite internet prices range anywhere from $59.99–$149.99 a month, while DSL internet prices range anywhere from $27–$50 a month, depending on which service and speed you choose.

One of the biggest issues with HughesNet prices is that your satellite internet service comes with itty bitty data caps compared to DSL internet. HughesNet offers 10–20 GB of data each month, and your bill might get out of control if you need to buy more.

On the other hand, many DSL internet providers now offer unlimited data. So if you work from home or regularly download large files, DSL might be a better choice for you.

Here's a quick look at the HughesNet internet plans and how they stack up against plans from various DSL internet providers.

HughesNet vs. DSL internet prices
Service
Plan
Price
Download speed
Details
HughesNet Internet10 GB$59.99*25 Mbps
HughesNet Internet20 GB$69.99*25 Mbps
HughesNet Internet30 GB$99.99*25 Mbps
HughesNet Internet50 GB$149.99*25 Mbps
CenturyLink InternetSimply Unlimited Internet$50Up to 100 Mbps
AT&T InternetAT&T Internet up to 75 Mbps$45/mo.75 Mbps
Windstream InternetHigh Speed Internet 25 Mbps$2725 Mbps
Windstream InternetHigh Speed Internet 50-100 Mbps$37100 Mbps
Frontier Internet - HSIFrontier Basic Internet$32.99^Up to 6 Mbps
Data effective 11/19/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* Service plans require a 24-month commitment.
Paperless billing or prepay required. Additional taxes, fees, and surcharges apply. Get the fastest internet speed available at your location (max speed is up to 100 Mbps).
For the first 12 months. Price includes $18.00 promotional credit.
^ per month. One-time charges apply. Maximum speeds are wired speeds. Wi-Fi, actual and average speeds vary. Service performance details at frontier.com/internetdisclosures.
Quickly compare prices for satellite and DSL internet plans in your area.

HughesNet vs. DSL: Availability

One of the biggest advantages that HughesNet offers is its coverage area. HughesNet's satellites allow it to provide internet service in all 50 states. That's a huge plus for anyone living in truly rural areas like Alaska, farmland in the midwest, or a cabin tucked into the Blue Ridge mountains.

And while HughesNet can be found in all 50 US states, your DSL internet options depend on which providers have infrastructure in your area. Not to mention that most providers aren't building out or modernizing their DSL infrastructure either. So DSL internet is kind of a "what you see is what you get" deal.

Here are some coverage areas for HughesNet and DSL internet providers to give you an idea:

  • HughesNet: All 50 states
  • CenturyLink: 36 states, primarily Washington, Oregon, and Colorado
  • AT&T Internet: 21 states, primarily Mississippi, Michigan, and Tennessee
  • Verizon: 10 states, primarily New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island
  • Windstream: 18 states, primarily Iowa, Nebraska, and Georgia
  • Frontier: 29 states, primarily West Virginia, Connecticut, and Illinois

HughesNet vs. DSL: Internet speed and reliability

HughesNet advertises download speeds of up to 25 Mbps, while DSL internet provider speeds range anywhere from 0.5 Mbps to 100 Mbps download speeds.

What speeds you get with DSL mainly depend on where you live. That includes not only what internet providers serve your area, but also how built out and updated the infrastructure is in your neighborhood.

Here's a quick look at HughesNet download speeds compared to a few well-known DSL internet providers' speeds. Note that some of the providers, like CenturyLink, also offer fiber-optic internet plans, which accounts for faster speeds like 940 Mbps. You likely won't find a fully DSL internet plan with speeds faster than 100 Mbps.

Find out what DSL and satellite internet speeds are available in your area.

Reliability

Both satellite internet and DSL internet may suffer from connection issues due to bad weather, though DSL internet may have it worse than satellite.

If you've ever lost power during a storm, you know how easy it is for high winds and heavy rain or snow to disrupt everything. And since DSL internet uses your phone lines, chances are that if you lose phone service, you've lost your internet too.

And while it's rumored that satellite services like HughesNet also suffer from bad service due to weather conditions, the truth is that improvements with satellite dish technology have greatly improved reliability. Though bad weather can still impact your satellite internet service, it's far more reliable than it was in the past.

Recap: Which is better, HughesNet satellite internet or DSL?

We recommend HughesNet if …

  • You live in a rural area without cable or DSL internet options
  • You have an area where your satellite dish can get a clear view of the southern sky
  • You don't need a lot of internet speed or data
HughesNet Internet
HughesNet Internet
HughesNet: Best for Rural Areas
Download speeds
25 Mbps
Data cap
1050 GB
Connection Type
Satellite
Starting from
$59.99
/mo
Data effective 11/10/2021. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

We recommend DSL internet if …

  • You're able to get DSL internet service in your area
  • You need faster speeds and more internet data for streaming, gaming, or working from home
  • You can't get a cable or fiber internet connection in your area
CenturyLink Internet
CenturyLink Internet
CenturyLink: Best DSL Internet With Price Lock
Download speeds
100940 Mbps
Data cap
Unlimited
Connection Type
DSL/Fiber
Starting from
$50
/mo
Data effective 11/10/2021. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
AT&T Internet
AT&T Internet
AT&T Internet: DSL Internet With Unlimited Data
Download speeds
75100 Mbps
Data cap
1 TBUnlimited
Connection Type
DSL
Starting from
$45
/mo
Data effective 11/10/2021. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
Easily find out what internet options are near you, just enter your zip code below:
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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  • anitadenise

    I had Hughes Net, and it sucked rocks! During severe cloud cover/storms/thick snow we would have no service at all. Once for three days straight. It is generally great for the first 50Mbs, but slow as molasses after that. So we were paying almost $90 for about 2-3 hours of high speed. Then it was super slow and impossible to watch anything, even low quality seminars or classes. I am looking for another internet option. We don’t have cable up our road, live in the mountains of PA, and apparently our phone lines can’t do DSL. When we first moved here 5 years ago, we had AT&T for our laptop. We used a flash drive, but the rates were reasonable, and it worked. Is there anything like that available now?

  • MrTbone

    I have had Hughesnet for 2 years now. Having had cable internet in the city before moving to a rural location, there are a number of things I wasn’t used to with satellite internet. The cap of 10 GB Anytime Data per month is ridiculously low and costs $100 with phone. There’s a 50 GB bonus between the hours of 2 am and 8 am, but that’s when I’m fast asleep! The internet speed varies on Anytime Data and watching a video (YouTube/Netflix) consumes too much data and buffers constantly. The biggest complaint on the Hughesnet forum is the quick consumption of data. After consuming your Anytime Data, you have the above 50 GB bonus and/or throttled speeds sufficient enough for only checking email or browsing the internet, but forget videos and streaming. Overall, Hughesnet is good if you have NO other options available. In my case, Frontier has made DSL available in my area, and I am making the switch! No more caps, limited video watching or staying up in the wee hours after 2 am to use my bonus data. I will update this thread with a comparison in a few months.

  • Mike Fisher

    I’ve used Hughesnet for just over a year. I cancelled my service today and they were more than happy to hit me with a $250 cancellation fee. As MrTbone states below, the quick consumption of data and the throttling of internet speed was so excessive we could not watch netflix at home. Videoconferencing was not a good option either. AT&T DSL has improved their infrasture speeds over the last few years and we’ve happily gone back to DSL. Good bye Hughes, they talk a good game but they did not deliver for me.

    AS MrTbone states, “There’s a 50 GB bonus between the hours of 2 am and 8
    am, but that’s when I’m fast asleep!”

    go DSL

  • Joshua Hanson

    Well I finally made the switch to DSL. In my neck of the woods, Frontier DSL High Speed is available, and for about the same price tag as Hughesnet Satellite’s 10 GB package, it’s 100x’s better, actually more. No more data caps and no more bonus hours between 2 and 8 AM. I can logon at any time of the day (or night), watch videos, upload to YouTube, well you get the picture. I’m not a fan of online games, but I’m sure my new DSL speeds will handle that as well. Now I’m back to how it was in the big city when I had high speed internet. As soon as my Hughesnet 2-year contract expired, I made the switch. Perfect timing because Frontier DSL arrived only a few months ago at my location. To those who prefer satellite, go for it. But in my personal experience between the two of them, DSL is definitely superior in all aspects.

  • Ric Harvey

    I had Hughesnet for 3 years, and it was absolutely miserable. As MrTbone mentions below, the data cap is just stupid! 10 Gigs for a whole month, plus 50 “Anytime” Gigs you can only use between 2 a.m. and 8 a.m. Forget gaming and/or streaming. You’ll use your entire monthly data ration within 48 hours, or less. I was extremely happy when my contract finally ran out and I could get rid of it. I replaced it with an unlimited, unthrottled AT&T hotspot, which I’m still using presently – for the same cost as what I was paying for Hughesnet. I believe, as MrTbone noted, that Frontier has been offering DSL in my area now, and I’ll be making the switch pretty soon myself.

  • https://home.cern/ Magic_Physicist

    Well here we are it’s 2020 and everything these other former Hughes Net customers are still 100% right about this……..Gen5 would be great if they didn’t have that *Throttle Down* EVER and actually gave you NO LIMITS………you probably saw their current commercial saying how great they are and that there is “No Limit”……problem is that just means you will always be able to check your email if you have a few minutes to wait for the page to load at 350Kbps……..no matter how much you pay them you will use ALL of that total they give you in 1 week for the highest priced and if you get the 10GB version that will be gone in one or two days and you will be pissed for the next 28+ days……..but hey once your contract is over you can dump them and make the Dish into a bird bath.

  • https://home.cern/ Magic_Physicist

    They didn’t post my comment here so just like Hughes satellite…….you can’t trust or believe them.
    Thanks for wasting my time.