HughesNet is one of two nationwide satellite Internet providers in the USA, with the other being Exede. HughesNet Internet plans currently offer the best speeds, availability, and service quality. Thanks to their new Gen5 satellite update, most customers can access 25 Mbps download speeds and 3 Mbps upload speeds. This is comparable to wired service from providers like CenturyLink and AT&T.

HughesNet comes with strict data limits and high latency, making it a poor choice for gamers, streamers, and budget shoppers. We really only recommend HughesNet if you can’t get DSL, cable, or fiber Internet service in your area.

HughesNet is great at connecting rural areas where residents don’t have other options for getting online. Considering that you can get service virtually anywhere with a view of the southern sky and space for a reception dish, the quality of service their Gen5 satellite provides is pretty surprising — in a good way.

Pros

  • Download speeds of up to 25 Mbps
  • 50 GB/month bonus data during non-peak times (2am–8am)
  • Excellent rural coverage

Cons

  • Low data caps
  • High equipment costs
  • Two years minimum contract

HughesNet Plans Overview

Is HughesNet good for streaming Netflix?

Yes, but only so long as you aren’t binging every day. HughesNet’s entry-level 10GB plan will really only let you stream a couple movies a month in HD. You can squeeze in closer to six if you stream in SD, which is fine for laptop viewing. If you want to stream regularly on a large-screen TV, consider a sattelite TV service such as DIRECTV or DISH.

In contrast to traditional Cable providers, HughesNet plans all offer the same maximum speed of 25 Mbps. Plans are differentiated in terms of the amount of data allotted each month.

DealsPrice MonthlyInternet SpeedPhone
10 GB Internet Plan $4999 25 Mbps Satellite(888) 604-8295
20 GB Internet Plan $6999 25 Mbps Satellite(888) 604-8295

If you're looking to compare plans, make sure to check out our detailed guide on the latest HughesNet deals and promotions.

While the data caps are a pain for streamers, satellite Internet bandwidth is inherently limited, so caps are necessary to control congestion.

For pricing, HughesNet plans are competitive with their main rival Exede, but are more expensive for what you get than wired providers like Xfinity or Cox Cable.

Pro Tip: Schedule Your Downloads

Schedule your software updates and file downloads/uploads between 2am–8am to take advantage of your 50 GB extra data allowance during off-peak times. If you’re smart about this, you’ll be able to squeeze several times more value out of your service.

Which HughesNet plan is enough for me?

This table breaks down rough estimates on how much streaming and web browsing you can squeeze out of the data limit on each HughesNet plan. HughesNet also provides some more info and advice on this topic through their website.

We’ve also listed more information on the fine print of each plan on our HughesNet Internet deals page.

HughesNet Plans10 GB20 GB30 GB50 GB
Streaming Audio140 Hours280 Hours420 Hours720 Hours
Standard Video Streaming15 Hours30 Hours45 Hours75 Hours
HD Video Streaming5 Hours10 Hours15 Hours25 Hours
Web Browsing5000 Pages10000 Pages15000 Pages25000 Pages
Social Media30 Hours60 Hours90 Hours150 Hours

HughesNet Speeds and Network Performance

We’ve collected thousands of real-world HughesNet speed test results nationwide to create this snapshot of how their national average speeds have been holding up:

HughesNet Download Speeds Over Time

Here’s the breakdown in some of their top service areas. Keep in mind that not every customer will run a speed test, so these results aren’t directly representative of what your experience will be like in a given area.

CityHughesNet Average SpeedHughesNet Top 10% Speeds
Albuquerque, New Mexico7.2 Mbps7.2 Mbps
Birmingham, Alabama8.5 Mbps20 Mbps
Dayton, Ohio7.0 Mbps18 Mbps
Fort Lauderdale, Florida8.7 Mbps20 Mbps
Fresno, California1.1 Mbps1.8 Mbps
Houston, Texas14 Mbps24 Mbps
Las Vegas, Nevada17 Mbps44 Mbps
Los Angeles, California16 Mbps37 Mbps
Louisville, Kentucky8.4 Mbps21 Mbps
Memphis, Tennessee2.7 Mbps3.9 Mbps
Miami, Florida10 Mbps23 Mbps
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma2.5 Mbps3.0 Mbps
Phoenix, Arizona1.5 Mbps1.6 Mbps
Portland, Oregon10 Mbps24 Mbps
Saint Louis, Missouri7.2 Mbps19 Mbps
Salt Lake City, Utah18 Mbps39 Mbps
San Antonio, Texas29 Mbps47 Mbps
San Diego, California6.2 Mbps15 Mbps
Seattle, Washington3.3 Mbps5.9 Mbps
Tucson, Arizona3.0 Mbps5.4 Mbps

How HughesNet Gen 5 compares to Gen 4

HughesNet Gen 5 service requires a hardware installation for both new and existing customers. Image Source: Paul Houle/Flickr

With the launch of the company’s new EchoStar XIX Satellite, HughesNet has transitioned to offering their Gen 5 Internet service everywhere in the contiguous United States and Alaska. So, what’s the main difference between this new service and HughesNet’s old Gen 4 technology?

In short, the company claims that the new satellite is able to provide a 50% increase to capacity for all users. Unfortunately, this hasn’t really translated to any significant increase in allotted data caps just yet. What it has done, however, is noticeably increase the base speed of all of the company’s various plans. Options now start at 25 Mbps, up from 15 Mbps on the now-defunct older service. Hopefully, as the service continues to mature, HughesNet will revisit their relatively restrictive data limits. For now, though, what you see is what you get.

Is HughesNet faster than DSL?

DSL provides higher data caps and lower latency than satellite Internet connections. Image Source: High Speed Experts

In some cases, yes, HughesNet can be faster than DSL service from companies like AT&T. The catch here, again, is the latency and data caps. Because the price is high relative to the amount of data you can use, we only recommend HughesNet (or competitor Exede) for customers who don’t have a wired option at their address. In almost all cases DSL is better for streamers and gamers since it has higher data caps and less “lag,” even if the download speeds might be slower.

Satellite Internet providers like HughesNet get a bad rap sometimes thanks to the data caps, but in reality they provide a critical lifeline for rural areas that might not even have 3G reception.
Nick Reese, Co-Founder of BroadbandNow

Is Satellite Internet good for gaming?

Gaming with FarmVille.
Can HughesNet handle FarmVille? Yes. Can it handle a complex FPS?
Probably not. Image Source: See-ming Lee/Flickr

Unfortunately, satellite Internet is not a good choice for gaming due to the high latency of around 600–800ms. This “lag” is caused by the long distance your data has to cross wirelessly — around 44,000 miles round trip between your home, their Gen5 satellite, and the source of your data!

Essentially, unless you’re talking about low-key “Facebook games” like Farmville or Words With Friends, you’ll be stuck behind the curve even if the image quality looks fine. First-person shooters or massively multiplayer games are likely to be either very challenging or unplayable, although users we spoke to have had mixed results with some titles on Steam.

Download sizes are another point of concern, as many modern games require downloads ranging from 15GB to 100GB or more in size. This is obviously not possible with current HughesNet data plans. Needless to say, real-time upload-intensive applications like Twitch aren’t really compatible with satellite Internet, either.

Where is HughesNet Available?

One of the unique advantages of satellite internet technology is the wide service area. According to HughesNet, as long as your home has a clear view of the southern sky, you should be able to enjoy service from anywhere in the mainland United States.

Limited options are also available in Alaska, Puerto Rico, Brazil, and Colombia.

HughesNet Coverage & Availability Map

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COVERAGE CENSUS TRACTS

HughesNet Installation Options and Installation Fees

Because HughesNet relies on a satellite dish to deliver internet, installation is a little more involved than it is with Cable companies. While you may be able to set things up on your own with traditional ISPs, HughesNet installation requires a professional. (That said, it’s usually free assuming you rent the equipment.)

When signing up for a plan, you’re given the option to either rent or buy your equipment. Buying the equipment outright will run you around $450. That seems expensive, but keep in mind that contracts with HughesNet are two years minimum. When you factor in the monthly fee and the lease activation, renting is only around $10 more expensive over two years.

Since the price difference is minimal and leased equipment includes maintenance and upgrades, we recommend that most customers rent.

HughesNet Equipment & FeesLeaseBuy
Satellite Dish and Modem$14.99 / month$249.99
Installation FeeFree$199.99
Lease Activation$99.00N/A
Early Termination Fee (ETF)Up to $400Up to $400

HughesNet Modem and Router “Gateway”

The gateway included with HughesNet Gen 5 service is the HT2000W Wifi Modem. In general, this gateway is powerful but pretty standard in terms of features. There are, however, options for parental controls, allowing you to adjust internet access on certain devices and block URLs.

Like most newer Wi-Fi routers, it creates separate 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. This is useful for putting newer devices on the faster 5 GHz network to take advantage of the latest and greatest home network speeds. [1]

You do have the option to use your own modem, but the monthly rental fee from leasing the satellite will not be reduced. Still, it’s a nice option to have if you already have your own equipment or you’ve decided to buy the satellite dish outright.

Top Takeaways for HughesNet shoppers

The Good: Rural Availability

On a positive note, rural availability with a HughesNet satellite connection is as good as it gets. Because the only requirement for service is a “clear view of the southern sky”, you’ll be able to get service in pretty much any location in the U.S.

While satellite service like HughesNet can’t compete with traditional providers in terms of service and value, it provides high-speed access to homeowners who otherwise would be left high and dry.

The Bad: Early Termination Fees

As mentioned above, contracts with HughesNet are a minimum of two years. Unfortunately, if you cancel your contract early, you’ll be stuck with quite a hefty charge (up to $400). While early termination fees are generally pretty expensive, they’re exceptionally high with HughesNet.

It’s important to consider whether you’re willing to make the commitment to stick with the provider for that period of time. Canceling early can cost you a fee that’s almost as expensive as an entire contract worth of service.

Conclusion: HughesNet is a lifeline for rural customers and delivers above-average satellite speeds

HughesNet dish pointed south.
HughesNet’s Gen5 is currently the best option for many rural customers. Image Source: Alan Levine/Flickr

While there are a few notable downsides to a satellite provider like HughesNet, it definitely offers a valuable service to customers in remote areas.

With the launch of their new Gen5 satellite, HughesNet is offering speeds that are faster than ever before, and you’ll get the same high-speed internet regardless of which data plan you choose. If you try the plan out and are unsatisfied, you can return your equipment within 30 days for a refund minus a $100 installation fee.

While satellite providers are commonly trend-resistant, HughesNet has been the exception that proves the rule. In fact, they recently announced plans to launch a 100 Mbps satellite service in the near future.[2]

Overall, HughesNet provides a valuable service and is one of the better satellite providers out there. If your options for internet service are limited, they’re definitely a provider worth considering.

HughesNet at a Glance

StatisticHughesNet
Price Range$49.99 - $69.99/mo+
Connection Type(s) Satellite
Customer Recommendation Rating on BroadbandNow.com24.8%
ACSI Customer Service Rating 
Netflix Ranking57th
Population Served308,745,538

Experts

James Webb

James Webb

James Webb is a tech and gadgets expert with a focus on educational content development. He draws on his background in the startup world to make complicated technologies and topics easy to understand for normal folks.

Tyler Cooper

Tyler Cooper

Tyler Cooper is a former networking consultant and current technical writer in the IT industry. He enjoys sharing his expertise through articles about topics like PC gaming, cord cutting, and technology trends.

Questions & Answers

2 ANSWERED QUESTIONS

Is satellite internet enough for a VPN connection?

VPNs need a solid, reliable internet connection with low latency and fast speeds for downloads and uploads. Satellite connections usually have high latency and are slower than other connections such as cable and fiber. That makes satellite internet unsuitable for VPN use, especially if you need to use it frequently.

I currently use a Verizon Jetpack with "unlimited" data that slows once you hit 15 GB in a month. Do you think the Gen 5 would perform better (i.e, would have faster speeds)?

HughesNet should provide faster speed, although keep in mind both the Jetpack and Satellite come with a minimum 2-year contract in most cases, which means you’ll have to pay a cancellation fee if you switch. Either way, the con with HughesNet is that it may have slightly higher ping than the Jetpack, which could matter if you do a lot of gaming or video chat. Overall, the performance difference between the two is pretty slight.

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