There is something mysterious about the southern night sky. Just look up, and you will see the whole galactic center of our Milky Way unfold before you. It is like you are staring into an upside-down sky that is exploding with bright stars, slow-moving celestial objects, and man-made wonders. A breathtakingly beautiful view that leaves you feeling trippy.
To witness the true serenity of the starry night sky, you must head to rural and remote areas of the country. The darkness of your surrounding will breathe life into the beauty above, and you will feel connectedness like never before.
Thousands of Americans are living off-grid or in the countryside to live this magical experience every night. However, to feel truly connected to the Universe, you must not forget its core… Humans. And human connectivity begins sky-high with the satellite internet service.
HughesNet and Starlink are the nation’s most sought-after satellite internet providers. But if it comes down to HughesNet vs. Starlink, how will you decide which is better?
Difficult, right? Let us help you.
- Pros & Cons – HughesNet vs. Starlink
- Internet Service Comparison – HughesNet Internet vs Starlink
- Customer Service – Starlink vs HughesNet
- Coverage Area – Starlink vs HughesNet
- Is Starlink better than HughesNet?
HughesNet is the largest satellite internet provider in the United States. It is currently powering more than a million households in the rural parts of the country with its satellite internet service. HughesNet’s geostationary satellites are positioned above the equator to transmit data into the northern hemisphere. Therefore, HughesNet satellite internet coverage is available in all the states of the USA, including Alaska and Hawaii. Even those living in Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia can access HughesNet satellite internet service. HughesNet Internet service is also offered in some parts of Canada through vendor partnerships.
Based in Germantown, Maryland, HughesNet has over 1.3 million active subscribers. The company was launched in 1996 to provide extraterrestrial internet to remotely located homes and businesses. At the moment, HughesNet is the most affordable satellite internet provider in the USA that promises consistent fees and internet speeds. Subscribers can bundle their internet service with a satellite home phone line to get superior connectivity in the forgotten parts of the USA.
HughesNet Internet’s residential customers can choose between 4 plans starting at $64.99 per month. However, signing a 24-month contract is mandatory for the service to be activated. The users must also be vigilant about the data caps that come with their chosen plans. Although HughesNet does not charge for data overage, once you exceed the data limit on your plan, you will have to bare with speed reductions.
HughesNet provides internet directly to its subscribers’ homes via two geostationary satellites located in geosynchronous orbit. The number and placement of satellites make customers compromise on the speeds, but in a broader sense, it reduces space clutter and light pollution in the night sky.
HughesNet has been widely recognized as the best satellite internet service provider in rural America.
Starlink is the most recent addition to the satellite internet providers cohort. The company was founded in 2015 as a division of SpaceX, to create a network of orbital satellites known as the constellation. In May 2019, Starlink launched its first 60 low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites in space. Today, there are more than 3,600 Starlink satellites in space, positioned just 342 miles above the earth’s surface.
Starlink is offering its superfast internet in over 45 countries. Its global consumer base boasts a total of 1 million subscribers. However, in the USA, Starlink is struggling to break the Viasat-HughesNet hegemony. There are many states where Starlink is yet to receive an operational license. As a result, Starlink’s satellite internet service is available in 33 states.
Starlink can deliver up to 500 Mbps download speeds on its high-tier plans. The satellite internet service is available in 6 tiers that are specially tailored to suit their customers’ needs. Starlink provides satellite internet to residential, business, RV, maritime, and aviation customers. The Starlink service starts at $110 per month, and users pay an upfront $599 fee for the advanced equipment. Starlink offers a no-contract service, and subscribers can enjoy unlimited data on their monthly plans. However, speeds are throttled because of traffic congestion during peak hours.
The sightings of the Starlink satellite trains have become so frequent that astronomers are considering filing a lawsuit against the service provider. They say that Starlink’s ‘constellations’ are creating space clutter, interfering with radio signals, and causing light pollution in the night sky, making it difficult to capture telescopic images. So, far no such action has been pursued, and Starlink continues to launch satellites in low earth orbit.
Pros & Cons – HughesNet vs. Starlink
There is a high chance that you will have access to both Starlink and HughesNet in your zip code. To make an informed decision, you must be well aware of the pros and cons of each service provider. Our HughesNet vs. Starlink pros and cons table will give you a quick overview of the benefits and downsides of your selection.
Internet Service Comparison – HughesNet Internet vs Starlink
HughesNet and Starlink are renowned satellite internet providers that promise instant connectivity in the most neglected areas of the country. However, there are stark differences between the two carriers in terms of internet plans, pricing, coverage areas, and customer service.
The table below highlights this HughesNet vs. Starlink comparison.
|Type of Internet||Satellite||Satellite|
|Price Range||$110.00 to $149.99 per month||$64.99 to $149.99 per month|
|Internet Speed||Up to 500 Mbps download speed (Up to 20 Mbps upload speed)||Up to 25 Mbps download speed (Up to 3 Mbps upload speed)|
|Coverage Area||33 states of the USA||50 states of the USA|
|Bundle Deals||Not Available||Available|
|Equipment Fee||A one-time charge of $599.00||A one-time charge of $499.98|
|Customer Service||3.1 stars||4.0 stars|
|Contact Provider||Call 877-395-5851 Now!||Call 877-209-2459 Now!|
All the residential subscribers of HughesNet internet can choose between 4 affordable monthly plans to get reliable service at their addresses. Currently, HughesNet is offering promotions on its Internet 30, 50, and 100 plans. First-time customers can save up to $25 per month for the first 6 months of service.
Subscribe to HughesNet Satellite Internet Plans
Plans Start as low as $64.99/mo.
All four HughesNet internet plans deliver 25 Mbps download speeds and up to 3 Mbps upload speeds which are sufficient for glitch-free browsing and streaming.
|HughesNet Internet Plans for Residential Customers|
|Internet 15||$64.99/mo||25 Mbps||15 GB||
|Internet 30||$74.99/mo||25 Mbps||30 GB||
|Internet 50||$89.99/mo||25 Mbps||50 GB||
|Internet 100||$149.99/mo||25 Mbps||100 GB||
In contrast, Starlink has a single, standard plan for all its residential customers. For a flat rate of $110 per month, subscribers receive between 50 Mbps and 150 Mbps of download speeds. The upload speeds can be as fast as 20 Mbps.
|Starlink Internet Plans|
|Starlink Tier||Price||Speed Range||Data Caps||Hardware|
|Residential||$110.00/mo||50- 250 Mbps||Unlimited||$599.00|
|Business||$550.00/mo||150- 500 Mbps||Unlimited||$2,500.00|
|Recreational Vehicle (RV)||$135.00/mo||50- 250 Mbps||Unlimited||$599.00|
|Maritime||$5,000/mo||100- 350 Mbps||Unlimited||$10,000.00|
|Aviation||–||100- 350 Mbps||Unlimited||$150,000.00|
Starlink’s aviation internet service will start sometime in mid-2023. Airlines are required to reserve their spots by depositing $5,000. The residential, business and RV customers have to pay an additional $50 for the handling and shipping of the self-installation kit.
Starlink’s latency is comparable to those offered by fixed broadband service providers. The low latency of around 20 ms to 40 ms ensures smooth browsing and streaming. Starlink has managed to lower its latency rate by positioning its satellites in low earth orbit. The distance between Starlink satellites and earth is just 342 miles (550 kilometers). It automatically reduces the time it takes for the data signals to be sent to your devices and back into space.
Whereas, HughesNet satellites are located in geosynchronous orbit. The distance between HughesNet satellites and the earth’s surface is around 22,000 miles. Therefore it takes a long time for the signals to reach your device and be sent back into outer space. On average, the latency rate for HughesNet internet is 600 ms. A downside of such high latency is that your webpages will take longer to load and your videos may buffer during streaming.
In general, satellite internet providers have better reliability as compared to terrestrial internet services. But in the case of inclement weather conditions such as heavy rain and snow, service is affected. It is rare for satellite internet customers to face internet outages, but in the case of network reliability, Starlink fares better than HughesNet. Firstly, Starlink has deployed new technology that safeguards the equipment from extreme temperatures and heavy rain. Secondly, Starlink has less than 20,000 active subscribers in the USA, so the network is not as congested as HughesNet’s.
Both, HughesNet and Starlink internet require hi-tech equipment in the likes of a satellite dish, an internet modem with built-in Wi-Fi, and advanced wiring.
Starlink has improvised its hardware to contain just a rectangular dish, base, Wi-Fi router, Starlink cable (22.9 meters long), and AC cable (1.8 meters long). The dish is mounted on the base and connected via cables to the router. Starlink satellites send radio signals to earth. The rectangular dish intercepts these signals and converts them into electrical signals. The analog signals are transmitted via the cables to the Wi-Fi router and the router in turn connects your devices to the Starlink internet.
HughesNet equipment comprises a satellite dish, an integrated Wi-Fi modem, and sheathed cords. Much like Starlink, HughesNet internet signals are intercepted by the dish, passed through the cords, and delivered to the Wi-Fi Gateway (modem + Wi-Fi router) to give you instant connectivity at home.
Equipment and Installation Fees
HughesNet allows its customers to lease the equipment for $14.99 per month. Or you could buy the equipment for an upfront fee of $499.98. Unlike Starlink internet, HughesNet does not provide self-installation kits. You will have to call customer service and send in a request for professional installation at your address. The professional installation costs $99 but in case you decide to lease the equipment every month, the technicians will come to your house and install the equipment for free.
When you subscribe to the Starlink residential internet, your order receipt mentions the hardware and shipping charges. The equipment costs $599, and you have to pay an additional $50 for shipping. Once your payment is confirmed, Starlink will send the equipment to your address with instructions for a quick DIY installation. At the moment, Starlink does not allow equipment renting. So if you decide to cancel the service after a few months, the hardware is yours to keep.
Contracts and Early Termination Fees
All HughesNet internet customers must sign a 24-month contract. So, you have to be extremely sure that you want the service for 2 years because failing to abide by the terms and conditions of the contract will result in the imposition of an early termination fee. Let’s say that you decide to move and cancel the service before the contract expiry date. In such a case, you will have to pay $250 as a service termination fee. HughesNet charges $400 for early termination if you cancel the service within the first 90 days. Moreover, you will be required to return the equipment in good condition if you were renting it from the company.
In that regard, Starlink makes things easy. You can test drive the service for 30 days and even if you decide to become a permanent customer, you don’t have to worry about signing an annual contract.
Starlink is a relatively new satellite internet provider. To stay on top of the competition, Starlink is offering unlimited data on all its plans.
HughesNet is the dominant leader in the satellite internet market. All its plans come with soft data caps of either 15 GB, 30 GB, 50 GB, or 100 GB. Once you surpass the data limit in a single billing cycle, your internet speed is reduced to 3 Mbps. The speed will automatically be upgraded to 25 Mbps in the next billing cycle. HughesNet also gives its customers extra 50 GB of data during off-peak hours (2 am to 8 am).
Starlink is a standalone satellite internet service. It does not offer any bundle deals to its internet-only customers.
HughesNet provides satellite internet as well as satellite home phone service. Users can combine these two services and enjoy unlimited calling for as low as $9.95 per month. The HughesNet Voice (satellite home phone service) includes unlimited calling to over 60 countries and premium features like caller ID, call waiting, voicemail, and call porting. Moreover, you can purchase a satellite pay-TV subscription through HughesNet and get 24hrs on-screen entertainment on your DISH TV package.
Save up to $20 per month by combining satellite internet and phone service under one cost-effective bundle plan.
|HughesNet Internet and Voice Bundles|
|Bundle Deals||Price||Internet||Phone Type|
|Internet and Voice 15||$84.94/mo||– 15 GB data- 25 Mbps download speed||Digital VoIP|
|Internet and Voice 30||$94.94/mo||– 30 GB data- 25 Mbps download speed||Digital VoIP|
|Internet and Voice 50||$129.94/mo||– 50 GB data- 25 Mbps download speed||Digital VoIP|
|Internet and Voice 100||$179.94/mo||– 100 GB data- 25 Mbps download speed||Digital VoIP|
Customer Service – Starlink vs HughesNet
Starlink may be the most technologically advanced satellite internet provider out there, but when it comes to building and strengthening human connections, it is the worst.
Starlink doesn’t have an official customer service helpline or a physical center. Everything is done online, from order placements to bill payments, and it can take days for you to get a reply. In the Fobes Home magazine, Starlink was given an overall rating of 3.4 stars out of 5.
The online customer reviews for Starlink suggest that users have waited for weeks even after paying to hear back from the company. Some users expressed their exasperation as they were worried that they will neither get the equipment they ordered nor will they get the refunds. To make matters worse, Starlink doesn’t even have a chat option on its website to offer instant tech support.
Thankfully this is not the case for HughesNet internet. The company has been in business for years and it is the high level of confidence that customers have in HughesNet that makes it the best satellite internet provider for rural areas. The Forbes Home magazine has given HughesNet 4 out of 5 stars. Customers have praised the service for timely tech support, transparent pricing, and professionalism.
Coverage Area – Starlink vs HughesNet
HughesNet’s large coverage area includes all 50 states of the USA. HughesNet is so widely available that those living in Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Southern Canada can also access the service.
Starlink’s service is limited to 33 states in the USA. But in contrast, Starlink caters to a global consumer base and currently, its service is available in over 45 countries (including Australia, Germany, Ukraine, South Africa, and Pakistan.
It must be noted that in every state of the USA, Starlink’s service is limited to a selected few areas. Therefore, you must check the availability before ordering.
In the USA, Starlink has the operational license to offer satellite services in the following 33 states:
|States with Starlink Internet Coverage|
|Arizona||Kansas||New Hampshire||Rhode Island|
|California||Maine||New Jersey||South Dakota|
Is Starlink better than HughesNet?
The answer is not as straightforward as one might consider it to be. Yes, for quite a few people, Starlink may seem like a better option because of its revolutionary technology, faster internet speeds, no-contract service, and unlimited data for every tier. But what about the limited availability? Or the fact that Starlink offers such poor customer service that customers have paid hundreds of dollars in advance and are still waiting to hear back from the provider? The one lesson that we have learned from life is that newer is not always better. And that is why our recommendation will still be in favor of HughesNet satellite internet.
Firstly, HughesNet values its customers, and several accolades are a testament to that dedication. Secondly, HughesNet plans are $45 cheaper than Starlink’s and offer sufficient download and upload speeds for basic online activities. The third and most important reason to go with HughesNet is that the service is available in more than 96 percent of the country. It is the most viable option for connectivity in rural and remote areas.
So, if you ask us HughesNet vs. Starlink- which one is better? We will say HughesNet because we know its true worth.