Hughes Communications is a provider of satellite-based Internet services. The company is known through its subsidiary Hughes Network Systems, LLC, or HughesNet. The company was bought out by Echo Star in 2011 for over $1 billion. The company has almost 2000 employees, primarily in Maryland, but also in Nevada, Germany, and India.
- Flexible plans depending on your needs
- Data allowance and faster download speeds
- SmartTechnologies featuring SmartFetch, SmartCompression, SmartResources, and SmartBrowsing
- Excellent FAQ section
The company provides several different packages, depending upon your area, and recently released their Gen4 line of service which is claimed to greatly improve the performance of this type of internet connection. We found that HughesNet offers one of the fastest satellite Internet speeds in the industry.
HughesNet offers several different plans and you will see different prices, speeds, and data allowances depending on where you live. However, you can expect the price to be $49.99 - $129.99 per month. HughesNet has some flexibility when it comes to paying for the equipment where you can either purchase it for $399.98 or lease it for $99 + $99 per month. Keep in mind that there is also a $99 installation fee.
Hughesnet fastest upload speed available is 2 Mbps and their fastest download speed is 15 Mbps. 15 Mbps is one of the fastest download speeds available in the industry. Their monthly data allowance ranges from 5 to 20 GB per month depending on what plan you choose. Each plan features a "bonus bytes" time of 50 GB from 2 am to 8 am. With your monthly data allowance and bonus bytes of 50 GB, you will be looking at a max data cap of 70 GB. With these bonus bytes, HughesNet offers plans that have higher data caps that some other competing companies they only allow a max of 30 GB for the month.
HughesNet is making an effort to upgrade its satellite internet service to residential consumers by creating SmartTechnologies. SmartTechnologies features four different features, SmartFetch, SmartCompression, SmartResources, and SmartBrowsing and they are available with almost every plan. SmartFetch helps Web pages load faster. SmartCompression condenses data that you see on the web allowing you to do more on the web before going over your data limit. SmartResources allows you to monitor that amount of data you've used as well as add Tokens to receive more data when needed. Even if you have gone over your data allowance, SmartBrowsing will let you continue to email and browse the internet. SmartBrowsing is only available for their Max plan.
The FAQ section of the website answered many of our questions. One of the concerns we had was whether or not our service would be installed quickly. We found that HughesNet quickly dispatches an installer to complete your installation the next day. This was one of the faster turnaround times in the industry.
- Data plans
- Installation fee
- Slower upload speeds
- Cancellation fee
- No "free unmeasured" period
- No price for additional GBs
HughesNet plans and pricing page may be a little misleading saying that your total data allowance is 55 - 70 GB depending on what plan you choose. Pay attention that you are only given 5 - 20 GB of data that can be used during any time of the day depending on your plan and 50 GB between the hours of 2 am and 8 am regardless of what plan you choose. If you plan on being up very early in the morning to do everything you want with the internet then those bonus bytes will be great but be careful of using up all of your normal data quickly.
HughesNet charges a $99 installation fee. There are competing satellite internet providers that offer free installation when the customer qualifies which makes us wonder why they charge that and other companies don't. HughesNet charges $99 + $9.99 per month if you decide to lease the equipment which is very expensive compared to other companies that only require you to pay $9 per month.
While it might not seem like much of a difference, HugheNet's max upload speed is only 2 Mbps whereas some competing companies in the industry offer upload speeds up to 3 Mbps. If you know that you're going to be uploading a lot of data online then you will want to find a satellite internet provider that has a faster upload speed.
We did have some concerns with the early-cancellation fee. If you decide that your HughesNet connection is not a good fit, you are charged $400 within the first 90 days. If you return your leased equipment or have paid for your equipment, this fee is less. After 90 days, there is a $15 reduction on the cancellation fee, a type of prorated credit for canceling before your contract is up.
A lot of the satellite providers that we reviewed who had low monthly data allowance offered a free "bonus" period, often between 12 am and 6 am. Unfortunately, HughesNet does not offer this. During their bonus period, you get access to additional gigabytes of data per your service plan but the speed of your Internet will decrease significantly. We would like to see a totally unmetered bonus period, which seems to be pretty standard in the industry.
VPN (Virtual Private Network) functionality with HughesNet is not very good. We learned that time-sensitive applications, such as online e-trading, might not work very well with HughesNet. Overall, we would suggest a different carrier if you want VPN functionality.
We couldn't find any information regarding how much an additional GB of data would cost. Competing companies in the industry made it very clear by stating that an additional GB of data would only cost $10. It would be helpful to know how much additional data will cost in case you use too much or run out during the month.
The Bottom Line
Overall, we recommend HughesNet and their NextGen4 services if they are available in your area. You can take advantage of their SmartTechnologies which will overall increase the experience you have using the internet through satellites. They offer some of the fastest download speeds available and have one of the higher data caps throughout the industry. HughesNet gives you the choice to either rent or own the satellite equipment which may be appealing to you.
On the other hand, if you know that you will need a faster upload speed then you may want to look into other satellite internet providers. Beware of the additional fees that you may encounter such as an installation fee and cancellation fee if you decide to end your contract early. If you need VPN for personal or business use then HughesNet may not be the best option for you.
We do recommend HughesNet if satellite is your only broadband option. They offer a wide variety of service levels that are pretty reasonable in comparison to some of the other providers in the industry.