HughesNet Gen5 Internet Review 2020
If you live far from a city center in a more rural/remote location, HughesNet will be a common name that pops up when researching internet services. By delivering service via satellite, and not through a phone, cable, or fiber line, HughesNet can reach the entire US, including the areas the large companies don’t.
HughesNet offers a respectable speed of 25 Mbps across all packages, with the only variance between them being the amount of priority data you will receive (10GB, 20GB, 30GB, and 50GB). Pricing starts at $59.99/month plus a monthly lease fee of the equipment (if you don’t choose the purchase option).
We’ll cover all aspects of HughesNet’s Gen5 service below, but all-in-all, it’s a reliable service at a reasonable price. Depending on how rural you live, HughesNet and its competitor, Viasat, may be the only internet options available to you.
- Available anywhere in the US
- All plans have 25 Mbps download speeds
- No hard data limits
- 2 Year contract
- Early termination fees are very high
Packages and Pricing
|Packages||Promo Pricing||Download Speed||Upload Speed||Details|
|10 GB||$59.99/mo.||25 Mbps||3 Mbps||VIEW PLAN|
|20 GB||$69.99/mo.||25 Mbps||3 Mbps||VIEW PLAN|
|30 GB||$99.99/mo.||25 Mbps||3 Mbps||VIEW PLAN|
|50 GB||$149.99/mo.||25 Mbps||3 Mbps||VIEW PLAN|
*Prices vary based on location. The majority will have the above plans available to them.
HughesNet’s newest technology, Gen5, offers download speeds of 25 Mbps and upload speeds of 3 Mbps. This is true no matter which plan you choose or where you live, which makes HughesNet a better choice than competing satellite provider Viasat (formerly Exede) in most areas.
There are two plans you can choose from, 10, 20, 30 and 50 GB, and the features remain the same across all plans. A two-year price guarantee that gives you piece-of-mind from price hikes, a modem with built in Wi-Fi that HughesNet supports, and no hard monthly data limits are what get people most excited about HughesNet.
HughesNet plans range from $59.99 to $149.99 per month for the first 24 months, and depending on your location you may qualify for an additional savings. Most commonly the savings is a reduction in plan price by $10 or $20 a month. HughesNet will also periodically offer a $100 prepaid card with a new purchase so if you are looking for service, try and find out if this is offered.
Like its counterpart Viasat, HughesNet has the same downsides that any satellite Internet company will have. The largest complaints come from the inability to play real-time online games and face to face chat because of latency. HughesNet can also not handle most VPNs. You should always turn to a cable or fiber provider first before going with HughesNet, but if your options are limited, HughesNets a good choice.
HughesNet’s Data Limits
HughesNet currently advertises “unlimited” satellite internet. What this means is that for the first 10 to 50 GB of your plan (this is determined by whichever plan you choose), you’ll enjoy download speeds of 25 Mbps. After hitting your data limit, your service will be available at reduced speeds, which HughesNet says will be between 1 and 3 Mbps.
While 1 to 3 Mbps is much slower than the normal speed and you will need to temper your expectations, your service will remain on and usable for most online activities. You can expect some buffering if trying to stream, but unlike in the past where your service would essentially be shut down until your cycle reset, you’ll remain up and running.
If you’re familiar with Verizon Wireless’s Safety Mode, this is a very similar concept. Like Verizon and other wireless providers, you can also pay for additional high speed data to restore your speed to 25 Mbps in the form of Data Tokens. You can purchase Data Tokens in 3, 5, 10 and 25 GB allotments for $3 per GB.
Your Modem and Router
HT2000W Wi-Fi Modem Router
HughesNet offers the HT2000W Wi-Fi Modem Router with all of its plans for $14.99 per month. This includes both your modem and router functionality, which is how HughesNet claims “built in WiFi” with its internet packages. The $14.99 also covers all of the equipment you will need for service like the satellite receiver, cables. etc.
The HughesNet HT2000W Wi-Fi Modem Router offers industry-standard performance, with 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz networks, and 802.11ac WiFi. You can track data usage by individual device and set up a separate WiFi point for your guests.
You can also choose to buy all of your equipment outright when you start your HughesNet service. Instead of paying $14.99 per month ($359.76 over the life of your 2-year contract), you’ll have to fork over $249.99 for the purchase option plus an installation fee of $199.99.
Below you will find the total price in leasing vs. purchasing your equipment. If your plan is to just keep your service for the 2-year contract then we would recommend going with the leasing option and saving $90.
If you plan on keeping service for 3+ years then we recommend the purchase option. This would save you $90 in year 3, and save you $180 each additional year.
Lease year 1: $179.88
Lease year 2: $179.88
Lease year 3: $179.88
2-year lease total: $359.76
3-year lease total: $539.64
Purchase Option: $249.99
Installation cost: $199.99
2-year lease total: $449.98
3-year lease total: $449.98
Depending on your address, HughesNet will sometimes offer a $100 savings on your equipment if you choose the purchase option. This would bring your total 2-year price down to $350. Be sure to ask and see if you qualify if you can afford the purchase option!
Satellite internet means a satellite dish, which is also part of your HughesNet package. Your dish is included in your lease or purchase cost along with your modem router. In order to use HughesNet the dish needs to have an unobstructed view of the southern sky. An installer also needs to be able to reach the point on your roof (or another point 4+ feet off the ground) where you’d like the dish installed.
Features and Benefits
HughesNet is not very upfront about the added features of their internet plans. Many are not clearly explained, even in the disclaimers section of their website (which is plenty long). There are definitely some added benefits that we think HughesNet could talk more about.
If you choose to lease your modem router and other equipment, you can qualify for free installation which is a $199.99 savings. If you choose the purchase option you will have to pay for installation, but depending on your address you may qualify for a $100 savings.
Okay, so data isn’t really “unlimited,” even if HughesNet says it is. What this really means is that once you hit your data limit, your service is slowed down instead of stopped completely. You will be slowed down to 1 to 3 Mbps so plan accordingly. This may effect some of your more demanding online activity.
Bonus Zone Data
All of HughesNet’s plans include 50 GB of 25 Mbps high speed “Bonus Zone Data.” This is additional data, above and beyond your monthly data allowance, that can be used from 2 am to 8 am every day. This is slightly different from Viasat’s “Free Zone,” which allows unlimited data usage at your normal speeds from 3 am to 6 am. With Bonus Zone Data, you can schedule downloads (like large documents and videos), software updates and data backups.
Like most internet providers, you can set up emails accounts through HughesNet. You’re allowed up to 10 accounts with 10 GB of storage each with the ability to send and receive attachments up to 25 MB.
HughesNet plans include data limits, so conserving data is important. One way HughesNet helps you do this is enabling Data Saving Mode. This reduces the quality that your video streams at from HD to DVD quality. Most people won’t notice a difference in the image and you’ll save a lot of data over the course of each month.
When you subscribe to HughesNet you can choose to add Express Repair service to your plan. There are two levels of service: Basic (which guarantees a technician will service your system within 2 business days of you reporting an issue) and Premium (which offers next-day technical service). Express Repair covers most issues with your HughesNet equipment and the cost of parts required to restore service.
There are also a number of items that aren’t covered under Express Repair, like damaged equipment (including from natural disasters), antenna relocation, changing mounting hardware, software upgrades and a few other situations.
When you subscribe to Express Repair, you pay $99 for onsite visits your first 30 days of service and $29.95 for service after 30 days. This is in addition to the monthly fee of $7.95/mo. for Basic and $11.95/mo. for Premium. Your first month of service is free, so it doesn’t hurt to add it when you buy and then drop it from your plan.
HughesNet’s customer service seems to be hit-or-miss. Some customers report helpful customer service agents and timely technicians. Others, however, report a poor experience. One theme among customer complaints is ignored emails. A call may yield better results if you have an issue yourself with HughesNet and there is also chat support available. We experienced average service with HughesNet’s 24/7 customer support; no TV or internet company can claim a great customer experience though.
One factor that can potentially affect your customer service is the installers and technicians in your area. HughesNet contracts out its service to third-party companies, which means quality can vary widely depending on where you live.
HughesNet offers a couple of tools to change your plan settings without speaking to a customer service agent. The myHughesNet website is available to pay your bill, see usage notifications and change your plan. You can also use their app or the Usage Meter to make changes to your account settings.
Ways to Save on HughesNet
Don’t Cancel Your Plan
HughesNet’s 2 year price guarantee also means a 2 year contract. Cancelling your plan before the end of your contract will mean early termination fees to the tune of up to $400. HughesNet states that “the Service Termination Fee will be $400 for the first ninety (90) days after activation of the HughesNet Service. Thereafter, the amount will decrease by $15 per month for each month of active Service.”
Choose Between Leasing and Purchasing
There is no one way to save money on equipment. If you plan to only stay with HughesNet for 2 years, leasing the modem router and other equipment will be more cost-effective. For homes planning on keeping HughesNet for 33+ months, buying equipment outright is less expensive over time.
Change Your Plan
HughesNet offers the ability to change your internet plan during your contract. If you signed up for the smallest package and constantly find yourself spending more than $10 a month on Data Tokens, it’s worth upgrading to the 20 GB plan. If you never hit your data cap, consider downgrading to save!
Return your Equipment
While this is not strictly a way to save money on your HughesNet plan, make sure to return your HughesNet equipment if you do end your internet service. Failing to return your radio transmitter and modem within 45 days of cancelling will cost you $300.
HughesNet Gen5 offers reliable high speed plans with well thought-out features, making it a good option for moderate internet users in rural areas. No plan has a hard data limit, which is a welcome feature for long-time satellite users used to paying an arm and a leg any time they use just a little bit too much data.
Overall, we think even past HughesNet customers who didn’t enjoy previous HughesNet service should give Gen5 a chance! With plans that start at $59.99 a month and 25 Mbps download speeds, as well as other reasonable plans, it’s worth choosing HughesNet for internet service.