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HughesNet vs. DSL Internet Review 2021
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
- Available almost everywhere
- Somewhat budget-friendly plans with low speeds and data
- Pricey plans if you need fast speeds and more data
- Potentially expensive equipment installation
DSL internet pros and cons
- Availability wherever there's a phone line
- Low-cost plans with lots of data
- Modern-day speeds that go up to 100 Mbps
- Smaller coverage areas
- Aging DSL infrastructure
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 Internet||10 GB||$59.99*||25 Mbps||View Plan|
|HughesNet Internet||20 GB||$69.99*||25 Mbps||View Plan|
|HughesNet Internet||30 GB||$99.99*||25 Mbps||View Plan|
|HughesNet Internet||50 GB||$149.99*||25 Mbps||View Plan|
|CenturyLink Internet||Simply Unlimited Internet||$50†||Up to 100 Mbps||View Plans|
|AT&T Internet||AT&T Internet up to 75 Mbps||$45/mo.||75 Mbps||View Plans|
|Windstream Internet||High Speed Internet 25 Mbps||$27‡||25 Mbps||View Plan|
|Windstream Internet||High Speed Internet 50-100 Mbps||$37‡||100 Mbps||View Plan|
|Frontier Internet - HSI||Frontier Basic Internet||$32.99^||Up to 6 Mbps||View Plans|
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.
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
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