PROS / Its premium plan offers a bandwidth of 60 GB each month.
CONS / Its basic plan has limited anytime bandwidth compared to other providers.
VERDICT / With packages that fit every budget and lifestyle, HughesNet is a great option for satellite internet in a rural area.
HughesNet is a well-known provider of satellite internet. With its Gen4 service, it offers some of the highest speeds in satellite broadband. Its performance, coupled with its useful service features, earns HughesNet our Top Ten Reviews Gold Award.
Speed & Performance
The service's advertised downstream speed for its base package reaches up to 5 Mbps, while its maximum upstream speed is 1 Mbps, which is standard for most satellite internet providers. Its premium plan gives you a little more to work with – up to 15 Mbps for downstreaming and 1 Mbps for upstreaming.
Fast downstreaming speeds let you do things like browse your favorite websites, download files and even stream media on a regular basis without making you worry about slow load times. However, 1 Mbps is a slow upstream rate, especially considering that other providers offer 2 or 3 Mbps. Slow upstream speeds can limit your ability to upload media, send emails or send other large files.
With satellite internet, you do not have unlimited downloading and uploading privileges. Like all satellite internet services, HughesNet imposes a monthly data allowance, which depends on the package you select. The basic service plan only offers 5 GB of anytime bandwidth, which is a little less than what other providers offer. However, one of the things that makes HughesNet the best satellite internet provider is that their premium users are given more anytime bandwidth than what other providers offer – up to 60 GB per month. Both of these quantities are further bolstered by the 50 GB of off-peak bandwidth HughesNet provides. Off-peak hours vary by company but are generally from 2 a.m. to 8 a.m.
Like most satellite internet services, HughesNet offers a download manager to help you optimize your bandwidth consumption. You can automatically schedule large downloads to take place during the middle of the night or any other time you don't often use bandwidth. The built-in usage meter also makes it easy to track your bandwidth usage online to ensure that you don’t go over the allotted amount and experience the dreaded bandwidth throttle.
If you are worried that you might exceed your data allowance one month, HughesNet allows you to purchase additional data in specified increments. The average rate is $10 for 1 GB. This option gives you the flexibility to exceed your bandwidth without incurring a penalty. The service also makes it easy to track your usage online to ensure you don't exceed your designated amount.
Account & Contract
The average contract length is two years. Should you need to cancel service before your contract term is up, you will have to pay an early termination fee, which depends on a few factors, including how much time is left in your contract. One of the things we like best about HughesNet is how many plans they offer new customers, which, depending on the area you live in, could be up to four. This lets you pick the plan that's ideal for you and your family depending on your usage habits and how many devices you want to connect.
If you travel a lot or have two homes you split your time between, HughesNet offers a vacation plan. With this plan, you pay a lower subscription rate when you are not home for two months or more. This lets you keep the equipment and service while not paying the full rate or violating your contract.
Plans, pricing and fees vary by location, so you'll need to call HughesNet to see if they service your area and what plans are available in your area. You can also check availability on their website and order their service online.
Existing customers can have access to a few bonus features to enjoy, such as a customizable home page and spam and virus protection so that you don’t have to deal with spam, phishing and other malicious viruses. In case you’re interested in creating a blog, the service also provides integrated browser tools.
Support & Resources
A crucial component of any satellite internet provider is the customer service and technical support it provides. HughesNet delivers in every aspect of this category, with 24/7 technical support, a customer service website and convenient online account management. The customer portal has a customizable homepage with news, local weather and bookmarks for your favorite websites. You can directly contact representatives via email or telephone.
If you live in an area without access to cable or DSL internet, HughesNet is a great option. This satellite internet provider delivers excellent performance, features and customer support. HughesNet has the highest download speed among satellite broadband providers we reviewed, and its variety of plans make it especially attractive. No matter which package you opt for, HughesNet gives you a solid satellite internet connection.