Thursday, August 27, 2009

Actual Speeds on HughesNet Satellite Internet Service

This is just a short post for anyone who is curious about how well HughesNet Satellite Internet service works. I pay $80 a month for HughesNet ProPlus service which is described on the company's web site as follows:HughesNet Actual Speeds

"With the ProPlus plan, connect to the Internet with maximum download speeds of up to 1.6 Mbps, with typical speeds about 800 Kbps to 1000 Kbps during peak times. Upload speeds, which are capable of reaching 250 Kbps, are typically 130 Kbps to 150 Kbps during peak hours."
As you can see from the chart on the left, I do not get anything like that. The highest burst of speed was 679 Kbps up and 68 Kbps down. But that speed is for a fraction of a second, transferring only part of a file. The best average speed over the course of a single file transfer in these tests is 275/67 which is a far cry from the low end of the 800/130 cited by HughesNet. BTW, that chart is a screen shot from a widely tested and trusted speed test program on my iPhone. I have checked it against other tests in other locations. The chart is all the results from my random tests in the last month or so. I have not edited out anything. As you can see, I have never clocked the promised low end of 800/130 let alone the fabled 1600/250. As for the average, what I typically get from this 1600/250 service is 174/52.

These results match those my wife has recorded using Hughes own speed test application. In other words, according to Hughes themselves, we get way worse service than we pay for. One of these days I will make yet another attempt to get Hughes to address this problem. My wife has made numerous calls to them in the past but things have not improved. They have a very cavalier attitude to problem tickets and consistently close them out without actually resolving the problem.

Like many other HughesNet users we hesitate to get too angry with them because they are currently our only option for "high speed" Internet (given that, in our case, fate has us living on a hill in upstate New York, one of the millions of places in this country that phone and cable companies refuse to service adequately). So it's not like we can switch to anything else.

There are many other problems with satellite Internet service, like lack of support for VPN and VoIP, latency times that are worse than dialup, and a daily bandwidth cap of 435 megabytes. We have learned to live with these, but we have not received anything in return. We are not even getting one sixth of the speed we pay for. Hopefully, this information will be helpful for anyone who is thinking about chosing to live beyond the reach of cable or DSL. My advice? Don't do it, not unless your goal is to disconnect from the Internet. Believe me when I say, if the housing market were not so depressed, we'd be looking to move to a place that has cable or DSL and ditch this over-priced dish.