Hughesnet vs. DSL | Review

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

Satellite internet from companies like HughesNet provides a high-tech alternative to DSL. Here’s how HughesNet’s satellite internet stacks up against popular DSL options on the market.

 What is DSL internet?

The technology that brings the internet to homes and businesses has evolved considerably since the days of dial-up. 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. AT&T, Verizon, and Frontier are just a few of the numerous companies that provide DSL internet to customers.

What is HughesNet satellite internet?

Unlike broadband systems, which are available through telephone and cable, HughesNet relies on satellites that revolve around Earth on a continuous basis. Just like satellite TV companies like DISH and DIRECTV, HughesNet uses dishes mounted to users’ homes to provide satellite internet access to the user.

HughesNet vs. DSL

Speed

When it comes to comparing internet service providers, speed is a key factor. HughesNet advertises download speeds of up to 25 Mbps and uploads of 3 Mbps. Additionally, the FCC ranked HughesNet number one in the nation “among all internet providers for providing the speeds that they advertise.” Obviously, speeds will vary based on numerous conditions. In the overall race, however, HughesNet actually leads the DSL competition, with only Verizon matching download speed.  

The most notable downside in performance between HughesNet’s Gen4 service and most DSL internet services is the latency issue, also referred to as “high ping times.” With satellite services, data must travel approximately 45,000 miles—going from the dish to the satellite and back again. This delay creates game latency, or a high ping rate, which can slow down online gaming or video conferencing considerably. The Gen4 ping times last on average 600 ms to 800 ms (milliseconds). In contrast, DSL services ping at a much lower rate of 10 ms to 80 ms.

Availability

One of the biggest advantages that HughesNet offers is its coverage area. Because HughesNet satellite has a far-reaching coverage area that services all 50 states, it provides a much faster alternative to those living in rural areas where only dial-up connections are available. This is a huge plus to citizens of places with limited access like Alaska or rural areas in the midwest.  

One more major advantage that HughesNet has over DSL services is portability. Consumers who change their location frequently can easily continue their online services wherever their travels take them.

Reliability

In the past, satellite services like HughesNet were plagued with rumors of unreliable service due to weather conditions, though it would appear that these disruptions are not as common as they once were. The claims were that bad weather such as thunder, snowstorms, or even cloudy skies could diminish satellite connectivity. The truth is, however, that while extreme weather can affect HughesNet satellite dishes, these occurrences are relatively rare, and just as many disturbances can occur with DSL.

Pricing

HughesNet is more expensive than traditional DSL providers like AT&T and Verizon. This is due to the inherently higher price of satellite technology. Satellites contain expensive pieces of hardware that cost millions of dollars to build, then millions more to launch into orbit. Phone lines require less maintenance and are much cheaper and more accessible to repair. Other satellite internet providers such as DISH are able to offer discounts on their plans with the bundling of satellite TV or home phone packages. Because HughesNet does not offer any additional services beyond satellite internet, their prices remain high, and deals are less available.  

Our recommendation

DSL is right for you if…

If you live in an area that provides typical DSL coverage like that provided by Verizon, AT&T, or CenturyLink, then you are much better off selecting one of their DSL packages for far less money than the cost of HughesNet. Keep in mind you might be sacrificing speed, though latency issues for video conferencing and gamers will be far less common.

HughesNet is right for you if…

If you are an internet customer who happens to live in a more rural area without a broadband or DSL connection available, we highly recommend HughesNet’s Gen5 satellite internet coverage.

Sound good? Take a look at available plans from HughesNet.

Find the best internet providers in your area.

  • 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.