HughesNet Internet Service for Seniors

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Speeds up to 25 Mbps
$59.99 per month starting prices
Overall Rating:
3.5 of 5
50 GB bonus data per month
2-year contract
Questions? Speak with a HughesNet Specialist: 844-902-3107

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The internet is everywhere today. And yet, almost 25 percent of U.S. households live outside the reach of high-speed cable internet connections.1 Many of those rural Americans are older folks who depend on the web to stay connected, happy, and healthy. The good news is that anyone living out of reach can still stay in touch with a little help from a premium satellite internet provider like HughesNet.

It's true that satellite internet sometimes gets a bad rap for its speed. But HughesNet is no slowpoke, with speeds up to 25 Mbps that sometimes outperform their DSL counterparts, AT&T and CenturyLink.2 If you're a light internet user, that's more than enough speed for you to shop online, stream your favorite podcasts, chat with friends and family, or stay on top of your telehealth (or work) appointments. Even better for budget-minded seniors: unlike its closest competitor, Viasat, HughesNet's prices are locked in for two years, so you won't wake up in three months wondering why your $59.99-per-month service now costs $129.99.

That's the big picture. Now for the nitty-gritty, with a full breakdown of HughesNet's satellite packages for seniors, including prices, special deals and features, and overall value.

FYI: Internet providers measure speed in megabits per second, or Mbps. Satellite connections usually fall in the range of 10 to 100 Mbps. To put those numbers in perspective, video chatting requires 8 Mbps, and basic emailing requires 2 Mbps.

What We Like About HughesNet

  • Reliable 25 Mbps connections for all plans
  • 50 GB of bonus data per month during off-peak hours
  • Household Wi-Fi service included
  • No price hikes after you sign contract
  • Data and video compression for faster, lighter connections

Things to Keep in Mind About HughesNet

  • Basic data allowances are lower than those of competitors.
  • Speeds are consistent but not very fast.
  • Customer support can be spotty.

HughesNet Satellite Internet Plans and Speeds at a Glance

Plan Price per month* Download speeds up to Data cap
10 GB $59.99 25 Mbps Unlimited, but your speeds will drop once you exceed your data allowance.
20 GB $69.99 25 Mbps Unlimited, but your speeds will drop once you exceed your data allowance.
30 GB $99.99 25 Mbps Unlimited, but your speeds will drop once you exceed your data allowance.
50 GB $149.99 25 Mbps Unlimited, but your speeds will drop once you exceed your data allowance.

*Prices and plans may be different where you live. These prices do not include HughesNet's $14.99 monthly equipment rental fee.

There are one or two things to note here. You probably noticed that HughesNet plans are pretty straightforward. They don't have any fancy names, and you get the same speed across the board: a sturdy but hardly light-speed 25 Mbps. When it comes to pricing options, “simple” is much better than convoluted, so I'm all for this approach.

Understanding HughesNet's Data Allowances

The only thing that does change with HughesNet internet packages (besides price) is your data allowance, or how much data you get to use per month. HughesNet data allowances vary from 10 GB to 50 GB. I'll explain what those numbers mean, practically speaking, in a sec. First, though, you may be wondering what happens when you exceed your HughesNet data limit. Don't worry — you won't ever get locked out of your service or put on a list of “HughesNet's 10 Most Wanted.” Here's what will happen.

Let's say you subscribe to HughesNet's 20 GB plan. Once you use up your 20 GB of data, you can still use the internet; you'll just have much slower (1 to 3 Mbps) downloads until the next billing cycle. But there's a light at the end of this data cap, so read on!

The HughesNet Bonus Zone for Off-Peak Internet Users

HughesNet has a special period of the day called the Bonus Zone (2 a.m. to 8 a.m. daily) when you can connect at top speed even if you've used up your monthly data allowance. More good news — you get up to 50 GB of extra data per month during those off-peak hours! HughesNet's Bonus Zone is available with all four plans I'm about to unpack.

Finally, it's important to note that all of the plans we're going to look at have two-year contracts. During that time, your monthly fee is locked.

The Breakdown: HughesNet Internet Plans for Seniors

If you've already had a gander at HughesNet's top satellite competitor, Viasat, you know that Viasat's top-tier plans have higher download speeds and up to 100 GB of data per month. But do you really need the extra speed and data? It boils down to what you need the internet for.

10 GB for Basic Internet Users

While the $59.99 monthly price tag is attractive, HughesNet's 10 GB plan is going to be a squeeze for many of us, considering that the average American household burns through at least 350 GB of data per month. “Household” is actually a key term here, because if you live with a spouse or partner, you'll be splitting that monthly data allowance between the two of you.

Pop quiz: I mentioned up top that internet providers measure connection speed in megabits (and sometimes gigabits). As for data, they measure it in megabytes and gigabytes. There are 8 megabits in every megabyte. Question of the day — how fast would you be able to download a 15 MB attachment with a 25 Mbps HughesNet connection? Find the answer in the next tip box.

What will 10 GB of monthly data give you in practical terms? Seven hours of combined standard-definition (SD) video streaming and 20 hours of video chatting, for one. That breaks down to roughly seven minutes of video streaming and 22 minutes of video chatting per day per person, if you're a family of two.
If your daily routine includes surfing, checking your news feed, and shopping online, you'll need to carve out some data for those as well. While emailing doesn't eat up much data, downloading summer camp pics of the grandkids does.

Answer: So, how long would it take to download 15 MB on a 25 Mbps connection? If you said 4.8 seconds, you're a math whiz. Now you can impress the whole yoga class with your internet savvy.

I think you get the picture: 10 GB isn't much. So even if you do consider yourself a light internet user, it might be better to start with one of HughesNet's 20 GB or 30 GB packages and then downgrade if you're swimming in extra data at the end of the month.

20-30 GB for Light to Moderate Internet Users

Once you break into HughesNet's middle-tier plans, you start to have more freedom — more video chatting (up to 45 minutes per person per day, if you need it) and more wiggle room for surfing, podcasting, and emailing. A 30-minute podcast, by the way, only uses about 22 MB of data, as long as you're listening at normal sound quality.
Speaking of podcasting, you can stretch your middle-of-the-road 20-30 GB HughesNet package into a souped-up 70-80 GB power plan by waking up early and downloading your podcasts during the Bonus Zone. Remember, that's 50 GB of extra data at full speed from 2 a.m. to 8 a.m.

One thing I wouldn't recommend doing, even with your 30 GB HughesNet plan, is burning through all your data streaming movies. That would put you in the HughesNet “Danger Zone” pretty fast, even if you're watching in SD. Instead, download those Netflix series in the early morning for viewing later in the day (just like in the old days when we taped TV shows to watch at night). Either that, or consider a satellite TV plan like DISH or DirecTV to complement your satellite internet service.

FYI: When we say we're streaming a video in SD, we're talking about 240p to 480p. That means you get up to 480 vertical lines of pixels on your screen, which is why watching 480p video on your laptop looks better than stretching it across a much wider TV screen. For TV screens, HD (720p to 2160p) gives you a crisper viewing experience.

Bottom line? Data-wise, you can make do with either of these plans, but you've still got to keep an eye on how much data you use.

50 GB for Moderate (to Heavy) Internet Users

At 50 GB, this is HughesNet's package that offers the most data, but it's not a ton of data compared to what other providers offer. On the other hand, if you take advantage of the HughesNet Bonus Zone's early bird special, you can boost your data allowance to 100 GB per month, which is as much data as you get with Viasat's top-tier plan, the Platinum 100. Also, your HughesNet package costs $149.99 per month, while the Viasat package would weigh in at $199.99 after the first three months. That's a savings of $50 per month!

Does HughesNet Offer a Senior Internet Discount?

At the moment, HughesNet isn't offering any discounts on their monthly internet plans — in contrast to offers like CenturyLink's Lifeline Plan, which shaves about 20 percent off qualifying customers' monthly fee. But HughesNet does offer free installation from time to time. For reference, standard installation usually costs $99.

Consumer tip: Satellite internet is only one kind of internet service out there. Check out our complete internet buyer's guide for seniors to see if there are more options for your household.

Just keep in mind that HughesNet's promotional discount applies only to their one-off installation fee, not to your equipment lease, which is still $14.99 per month.

Is HughesNet Available in My Area?

HughesNet covers the entire continental U.S. (48 states) with partial coverage of Hawaii and Alaska, so the answer is almost definitely yes. If you don't live in an igloo or a tiki hut, you can most likely get HughesNet.

The only caveat here is you need a house that doesn't move, with a south-facing view. The first is because homes on wheels can't catch a stable signal. The second is so that HughesNet's EchoStar XIX satellite, which is 22,000 miles up in the sky hovering over the equator, can find you.

Does HughesNet Have Any Useful Features for Older Americans?

As I mentioned above, with all of HughesNet's satellite packages, data might be an issue. But HughesNet has been steadily improving their technology in ways that can be especially useful for rural seniors who depend on satellite internet's typically slower connections and lower data allowances. Here are some perks that could make a difference to you.

HughesNet® Gen5 Technology for Lighter, Faster Internet

HughesNet compresses data by up to 30 percent, including video, and preloads your webpages for faster, lighter surfing. This can potentially help you email, chat, and shop more with less data.

Data Usage Meter App to Keep Track of Your Data Use

HughesNet's Data Usage Meter is a mobile app that lets you check your data use in real time and over time (i.e., month by month). How could this help? Easy. Say you burn through 2 GB of data on a Saturday evening. You'll see that spike on the app (and hopefully remember to download your next Windows system update during off-peak hours). If you have a 20 GB plan, you just stretched your data 10 percent further.

Quick tip: Visit our guide to the best internet plans for seniors in 2022 to compare HughesNet to other top providers.

Built-in Premium Wi-Fi for Everyone in the House

After your HughesNet internet makes its 22,000-mile journey from space to your living room, it still needs to make it from your router to your devices. HughesNet internet plans come with a satellite modem and a top-of-the-line Wi-Fi router, so everyone in the house can connect fast and securely.

How Does HughesNet Compare to Other Internet Providers?

HughesNet's closest competitor is Viasat. At first glance, Viasat looks like the stronger choice. You have more plans to choose from, more data, and higher speeds.

And yet, according to the studies we've already quoted, it's HughesNet's steady 25 Mbps connections that get higher marks for reliability. We've also seen how, with a little foresight and the help of HughesNet's Bonus Zone, you can supercharge your 50 GB HughesNet package into a 100 GB plan. That's as much data as you get with Viasat's most expensive plan, but for $50 less a month.

The Bottom Line

Even in Silicon Valley, things can go sideways with internet service.3 Living 10 miles away from your nearest neighbor poses its own set of challenges for staying connected.

HughesNet may be a good internet solution for many older Americans living far enough off the grid to be out of reach of faster cable or DSL connections. It's a workhorse with consistent 25 Mbps speeds, flexible data allowances maxing out at 100 GB (when you account for the Bonus Zone), and competitively priced packages ranging from $59.99 to $149.99 per month.

All of this may not put HughesNet in the same league as other providers like Cox’s internet packages, but with a little trial and error and some planning, it will get the job done and then some.

HughesNet FAQs

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