HughesNet is one of the two main satellite internet providers in North America. HughesNet specializes in delivering reliable internet to rural and remote locations without access to cable. The service can be a great option for households that don’t need a high amount of data. The unique thing about HughesNet is that all their plans provide the same download speed. This means that even their most affordable option has the same speed as their top-tier plan.

HughesNet Satellite Internet Deals

HughesNet has four standard plans that they offer. In contrast to cable internet plans, all HughesNet plans have the same download speed of 25 Mbps. They are differentiated by the amount of data that you can download in a month. This is different from HughesNet’s main competitor Viasat, which provides plans with varying rates of download speed. Their highest speeds are only available to certain markets, and the average reported download speed is about 15 Mbps. The most affordable plan on Viasat provides download speeds of 12 Mbps.

HughesNet’s most basic plan comes with 10 gigs per month. The second plan is for 20 GB, the third plan provides 30 GB, and the fourth plan is for 50 GB. The pricing is $59.99, $69,99, $99.99, and $149.99 respectively. It seems with these prices the second plan gives you the best data-for-price ratio. It’s double the data of the first plan for only $10 more.

Depending on the area that you are in, you might qualify for other deals like a mail-in-rebate.

Do HughesNet Plans Offer Enough Data For Your Needs?

As stated above, you can choose between 10, 20, 30, or 50 GB per month. That’s called a data cap. It’s a soft cap because you can still access the internet after you hit the limit. There won’t be any fees either. But your speed will be reduced by about 90%, to 3 Mbps. That’s not much, but it’s enough to check your email and surf the web with some patience.

So how many gigs do you need? We’ll talk about a few examples here. Keep in mind, your data cap applies to the total used by all devices in your house. Phones, printers, tablets, computers, and laptops will all use the internet in the background unless you disconnect them.

If your household uses the internet mainly for research, social media, and the occasional funny cat video online, you should be fine with 10 GB per month. Be careful to go light on HD video, since 5 hours can use up the 10 GB. Another thing you can do to save data is to turn off “push notifications” on apps. This keeps them from running in the background and periodically checking the internet.

Maybe you like to watch a show or two online each week. Or you have kids who like to download games. At this level, 20 GB could be enough. You get twice as much data as the last plan and can stream about 10 hours of HD video. One tip for getting the most out of your data is to set your video services to stream in a slightly lower quality than HD. The picture will be similar, but it will make better use of the data.

If you have a large household that is active on social media, the 30 GB plan might be a good choice. You can stream 15 hours of HD video or spend 90 hours on social media.

The last plan provides 50 GB of data. This is the one to choose if you want to keep up with a few different shows during the week, or if you want to download more than just a few movies to watch each month.

Remember that all of these plans come with the same 25Mbps download speed. HD content usually requires at least a 15Mbps connection. You probably won’t be able to stream more than one HD show or movie at a time. Streaming can also be interrupted by a device downloading a large file. But if you make use of the Bonus Zone (explained below), you can maximize the use of your data each month.

One last thing to note about data is what they call the Video Data Saver. This is a setting that automatically streams video and movies in DVD 480p quality. You can toggle this setting off with the HughesNet app for those times when you want to watch content in HD. Otherwise, you can leave it on to enjoy up to three times more video for the same data use.

The HughesNet “Bonus Zone” Explained

You might have heard of the Bonus Zone before but maybe don’t know exactly what it is. The HughesNet Bonus Zone can be thought of like a happy hour for your internet. Restaurants have happy hours during the least-busy times of the day and sell customers food at a cheaper price. Since HughesNet plans are based on the amount of data you can download, data is precious. Because of this, they’ve set up a happy hour that lasts from 2 a.m. to 8 a.m. (in your time zone).

When you conduct your downloads during this time, you won’t use the standard monthly data allowance. Instead, you’ll be using an extra 50 GB that is set aside for this time, available to you each month. So, if you have a 50 GB plan, and use all of your Bonus Zone data as well, you can use a total of 100 GB in that month.

Night owls aren’t the only ones who can use this time. You can take advantage of the Bonus Zone by scheduling your downloads. System update files are often quite large, and these ones are easy to schedule. You can also use a file manager to schedule downloads of other large items like movies or games. To see how much of your Bonus Zone data is left, just sign into your HughesNet account online or in the app.

Another thing to know is that you don’t have to do anything special to use the Bonus Zone. You’ll automatically use the extra 50 GB between 2 a.m. and 8 a.m. Once it runs out, you’ll use your regular data during that time until the month is over.

HughesNet Installation & Equipment Costs

As with any service that provides expensive equipment, there will be installation costs. The fees discussed here are part of their standard plans, and but it might be possible to find a sale or discount based on other factors. You should know that you still have to lease or purchase a satellite dish even if you have one for DirectTV or Dish.

The main decision to make is whether you want to rent the equipment or buy the equipment. The first expense to look at is the installation fee. If you lease the equipment, there is no installation fee. But if you purchase the satellite dish and modem, HughesNet will charge a $199.99 fee.

It might seem like a steep price upfront, but if you’re planning on living in the same area and having HughesNet for a long time, this is the most economical choice over time. Up next is the lease activation fee. As the name implies, this only applies to an equipment lease. This fee is $99.

So how about the cost of the actual equipment? If you purchase the dish and modem, you’re looking at a cost of $249.99. And if you lease, you’ll be paying $14.99 per month. But if you consider that a contract is 24 months long, that makes the cost of the lease $359.76 in total. If we add the lease activation fee, the cost is $459.75. Now let’s add the fees if you decide to purchase the equipment. This route adds up to be $449.98. There isn’t a huge difference in the total cost for two years. However, if you purchased the equipment, you own it. If you leased it, your payments will continue. The upside of a lease is that it includes upgrades to the equipment over time.

The last cost to consider is the early termination fee. This fee depends on how long you have left on your contract, but it wouldn’t cost any more than $400 or any less than $85.

Type of equipment or fee: If you buy: If you lease:
Installation Fee $199.99 $0
Lease Activation $0 $99.00
Satellite Dish and Modem $249.99 $14.99/month
Early Termination Fee $85 to $400 $85 to $400

Is HughesNet Satellite Internet Good For Gaming?

The short answer to this question is yes and no. It depends on the kind of gaming you want to do. If you want to download a game over the internet and play it locally on your device, all you have to worry about is the size of the game in relation to your monthly data cap. Also, if you play games like Farmville or other social media based games, you should be just fine. But it’s going to be hard to play competitive multiplayer games online.

It’s a similar story with any satellite internet service. Gaming takes data comparable to HD video and will use up your data cap quickly. The latency and download speed might allow you to sign into a game and load it, but you’ll have trouble keeping up with players on wired networks. Unfortunately, multiplayer games are created for the internet speeds available in cities.

HughesNet’s Gen5 Technology: An Overview

Gen5 is HughesNet’s fifth iteration of its technology. The satellite they used for Gen4 was called EchoStar XVII, and this new one is EchoStar XIX. The latest satellite improves functionality for a variety of applications. It more than doubled the capacity of their satellite system, and it improved download speeds from 15Mbps to 25Mbps (a 66% improvement). This makes it possible to stream 4K video without interruption (but just on one device).

Gen5 also reduced latency by about 200 milliseconds. Latency is the gap in time from when you give a command online to when it’s executed. An example would be clicking on the back button of a browser and noticing a short delay. Gen4’s latency was about 900 milliseconds, and Gen5’s is 700 milliseconds. Latency doesn’t make a huge difference for browsing the web, but it does affect video calling and online gaming.

Since Viasat also released a new satellite last year, we can expect HughesNet’s next offering to improve functionality for users even further to stay competitive.

Our Conclusion

If you are looking for a satellite internet provider which supports very high download speeds (50Mbps and above), HughesNet wouldn’t be your first choice. But if you just need reliable internet with good download speeds, one of HughesNet’s plans may be a great deal for you. HughesNet is made to fit the needs of people living in rural areas and is available from coast to coast.

It would be hard to find a spot across the fifty states where you can’t get HughesNet. All you need is a view of the southern sky and a roof to mount the satellite. It can’t be installed on a boat or an RV, so that is something to consider. Overall, HughesNet can be a great solution for rural households looking to stay connected with high-speed internet.