Starlink vs HughesNet: Which Satellite Internet Service is Better?

Satellite internet has become popular for those living in rural or remote areas where traditional broadband connections are unavailable. With the recent launch of SpaceX’s Starlink and the established presence of HughesNet, choosing between the two can be a difficult task.

In this article, we’ll dive into the key differences between Starlink and HughesNet, addressing questions such as: What are the speeds and reliability like? How do they compare in terms of cost and accessibility? What makes each service unique? By the end of this post, readers will clearly understand which option is best for their needs.

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What is HughesNet?

HughesNet is a satellite internet service provider operating in the market for over two decades. It has established itself as a leader in the industry, providing high-speed broadband services to remote and rural areas across the United States. The company has made significant technological advancements, constantly upgrading its systems to ensure customers receive reliable and fast internet services.

One of HughesNet’s key strengths is its ability to provide broadband services to customers in areas other traditional internet service providers cannot reach. With its wide coverage and cutting-edge technology, HughesNet has connected millions of people in rural areas to the internet, bridging the digital divide and providing equal opportunities for all.

HughesNet is a well-established satellite internet service provider with a proven track record of providing high-quality and fast internet services to customers in remote and rural areas. With its technological advancements and commitment to its customers, HughesNet has solidified its position as a market leader in the satellite internet industry.

Starlink is a satellite internet service provided by SpaceX, the private aerospace company founded by Elon Musk. Unlike traditional satellite internet services which use geostationary satellites that orbit at a high altitude, Starlink utilizes a network of low earth orbit (LEO) satellites to deliver high-speed internet to its customers. This system allows more satellites to be in the sky at once, leading to a more expansive network and greater coverage, especially in remote and rural areas where access to high-speed internet can be limited.

One of the main advantages of LEO satellites is their proximity to the earth. Since they are much closer to the surface than geostationary satellites, they can provide lower latency and faster speeds. The LEO network of satellites is also designed to be self-sufficient, so it does not rely on terrestrial infrastructure or repeaters to deliver internet service.

Starlink is still expanding its network, but it is already available in many countries and remote locations where traditional internet service may not be feasible. The company plans to expand to serve even more people in the coming years.

Overall, Starlink offers a new and innovative solution to the problem of limited internet access in rural and remote areas. With its LEO satellite network and rapidly expanding coverage, it is poised to become a major player in the satellite internet market.

Speed

HughesNet Speed

According to the Ookla.com report, the median download speed of HughesNet is 22.62 Mbps, while the median upload speed is 2.52 Mbps. These speeds are reflective of HughesNet’s technology and the areas in which it is available. HughesNet is a well-established company providing broadband internet to rural areas for many years, and it has improved its technology over time.

starlink internet speed in comparison of hughesnet
Credit: Discord Channel Named-Starlink

Starlink, owned by SpaceX, has been making waves in the satellite internet industry. According to the Ookla.com report, the median download speed of Starlink is 62.53 Mbps, while the median upload speed is 7.24 Mbps. This is significantly faster than HughesNet, largely due to Starlink’s low earth orbit satellites and its expanding network that is now available in remote locations.

Regarding speed, it’s clear that Starlink wins out over HughesNet. With median download speeds of 62.53 Mbps and median upload speeds of 7.24 Mbps, Starlink is faster and offers a more reliable connection. This makes it a great option for those who need fast, reliable internet in remote locations.

Latency

Importance of Latency

Latency is an important factor in determining the quality of an internet connection. It refers to the time it takes for data to travel from the source to the destination. In the case of online gaming or video calls, low latency is crucial for a smooth experience. High latency can result in delays or even lags, making the experience frustrating and unpleasant.

Latency Comparison

starlink latency
Credit: Discord Channel Named-Starlink

According to Ookla.com’s report, the median latency of HughesNet is 716ms, while that of Starlink is 48ms. This means that Starlink has a significantly lower latency compared to HughesNet. This makes Starlink a better option for online gaming or video calls where low latency is important.

Winner – Starlink

Based on the latency comparison, it’s evident that Starlink is the winner in this category. With a lower latency than HughesNet, Starlink provides a better and smoother experience for activities requiring low latency, such as online gaming and video calls.

Reliability

Satellite internet is not known for its reliability; both Starlink and HughesNet are not immune to the limitations of this technology. Rain, snow, ice, and other obstructions can disrupt service for both providers. The inability to maintain a constant, stable connection is a major drawback of satellite internet and is considered less reliable than fixed broadband. In this sense, both Starlink and HughesNet are tied regarding reliability.

Despite satellite internet limitations, Starlink and HughesNet are working to improve the reliability of their services. For example, Starlink has deployed low Earth orbit satellites designed to reduce latency and improve connectivity. Meanwhile, HughesNet has made advancements in its technology to provide more consistent speeds and lower latency. Despite these efforts, satellite internet still lags behind fixed broadband in terms of reliability, making it a less attractive option for those who need a constant, high-speed connection.

Data Caps/Limits

data cap - hughesnet vs starlink

Regarding data usage limits, both Starlink and HughesNet have their approaches. HughesNet does not have a hard data cap, but it has a soft cap where speeds are reduced after a certain amount of data usage has been reached. On the other hand, Starlink has no data caps, meaning that users can use as much data as they need without limitations.

When considering the data cap, it is clear that Starlink is the winner, as it does not impose any restrictions on its users, unlike HughesNet. Starlink users can continue to use the internet at full speed, even if they use a large amount of data. This is particularly important for those needing a lot of online activity data, such as gaming or downloading large files.

Winner – Starlink

Both HughesNet and Starlink have their strengths and weaknesses regarding data caps and limits, but when considering the impact on internet speeds, Starlink is the clear winner.

Cost

Equipment Cost

Regarding satellite internet, two main costs to consider are equipment and service. HughesNet provides options for leasing or purchasing equipment, with a one-time cost of $449.98 or an annual payment of $180. On the other hand, the Starlink hardware kit must be purchased for $599 (The price varies depending on the plan).

Monthly Service Cost

HughesNet offers different service tiers, ranging from $64.99 to $159.99 monthly. On the other hand, Starlink’s monthly service cost has not been officially announced, but it is expected to be competitive with other satellite internet providers.

Winner- Draw

Regarding costs, it’s hard to declare a clear winner between Starlink and HughesNet as it largely depends on individual needs and budgets. HughesNet offers more flexible equipment options, while Starlink offers no data caps and faster speeds. Ultimately, it’s up to the consumer to weigh the pros and cons and determine which provider best fits their specific needs.

Overall Summary

Here’s a table comparing Starlink and HughesNet in terms of download speed, upload speed, latency, reliability, data caps, cost, and installation:

FeatureStarlinStarlin
Download Speed62.53 Mbps22.62 Mbps
Upload Speed7.24 Mbps2.52 Mbps
Latency48ms716ms
ReliabilityLess reliable than fixed broadbandLess reliable than fixed broadband
Data Caps/LimitsNo data caps, no slowing down of speedsNo hard data cap; speeds slowed after the cap has been reached
CostHardware kit: $599 to purchaseEquipment cost: $449.98 or $180/year to purchase or lease. Monthly service cost: Prices range from $64.99-$159.99 per month
InstallationSelf-installation with a provided hardware kitProfessional installation or self-installation with provided equipment

Based on the comparison of various factors such as speed, latency, reliability, data caps, and cost, it can be concluded that Starlink is the overall winner compared to HughesNet. Starlink provides faster download and upload speeds, lower latency, no data caps or slowing down speeds, and a reasonable cost for the service and hardware. 

Conclusion

When comparing satellite internet providers, it’s important to consider factors such as speed, latency, reliability, data caps, and cost. In the case of Starlink vs HughesNet, both services have their strengths and weaknesses.

Starlink boasts higher median download and upload speeds, lower median latency, and no data caps or slowing down speeds for large data usage. On the other hand, HughesNet has lower equipment costs but more limited monthly service plans.

Regarding reliability, both services are limited by satellite technology and can be disrupted by weather and other obstructions. Starlink has no data caps but is only available in several locations.

In conclusion, the best choice between Starlink and HughesNet will depend on the customer’s needs and priorities. For those in need of high-speed and low-latency internet in remote areas, Starlink may be the best option. However, HughesNet may be a better fit for those who prioritize cost-effectiveness.

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