HughesNet has the cheapest broadband satellite internet plans, with speeds up to 25 Mbps and data limits up to 100 GB. You'll pay a lot of money for not a lot of speed and not much data, but it's a workable way to connect for folks in rural areas. Where available, consider other connection types or satellite internet providers if you don’t want to be held back.
Metronet is a growing regional provider that offers value-packed internet service to customers. Its all-fiber network is fast and reasonably priced. Overall, we think Metronet is a solid pick for your next internet provider—if you happen to live in one of its coverage areas.
With any HughesNet plan, you get the same 25 Mbps download speed, and you'll pay around double the national benchmark for similar non-satellite internet plans (1). This meets the minimum definition of broadband, but it’s still relatively slow, even for satellite internet. You’ll be able to check email and do basic web browsing, but it’s not ideal for more intensive use. HughesNet simply can’t compete in areas where cable or fiber connections are available.
HughesNet’s plans differ based on how much high-speed data you get and range from 15 GB to 100 GB. Like with Viasat, you won’t get any overage charges for going over your plan’s high-speed data limit with Hughesnet, but your speeds will get throttled to a nearly unusable 1–3 Mbps. There are a couple of unique ways to get extra data with HughesNet. During the off-peak Bonus Zone hours of 2:00 am to 8:00 am, you get 50 GB of extra data. If you run out of high-speed data during a billing cycle, you can also get back up to speed by purchasing Data Tokens, which start at $9 for 3 GB and don’t expire.
The best HughesNet plan is the Fusion 100 GB plan, which improves latency by tapping into wireless networks for some online activities.
You’ll want to steer clear of lower data cap plans, as you’re likely to blow through a 15 to 30 GB high-speed data allowance within days, especially if you do any streaming.
HughesNet plans start out at about $20 less than Viasat plans, but jump up after six months. They're still slightly more affordable when standard pricing kicks in, considering that Viasat has its own price hike after three months. But if you want a satellite internet plan with higher download speeds or more than 100 GB of data, compare your options with Viasat and Starlink.
Smaller, regional internet providers sometimes suffer a little in the value department. Either the pricing is good but the speeds offered aren’t up to snuff, or the speeds are fast but the price is outrageous. Metronet bucks this trend. In fact, the 1 gig plan actually starts out at a lower price than most competitors and less than half the national benchmark for similar plans (1).
You do have the standard rate hikes after the first 6-24 months, but the lack of equipment fees helps offset this. Competing internet providers sometimes offer small perks that make them more attractive, but Metronet definitely holds its own.
With any satellite internet provider, performance will depend on individual factors, including your location and how well your dish is positioned. There are also factors beyond your control, such as bad weather and occasional outages. Cable or fiber connections tend to be faster and more dependable, while satellite connections have slower speeds and higher latency due to the long distance between your home and the satellite overhead.
According to data from Ookla, HughesNet’s median download speed in Q4 of 2021 was 20.92 Mbps (2). That’s not too far off from its advertised top speed of 25 Mbps. According to this data, its upload speed and latency are just a bit lower than Viasat’s. And, although Starlink seems to outperform both HughesNet and Viasat on each of those points, Starlink seems to have more issues with reliability and isn’t as widely available. Common complaints about HughesNet’s service on Downdetector include slow speeds and some outages, sometimes for days in a row (3).
Performance with Metronet is great. There are plans ranging from 100 Mbps to 1 Gbps, all of which offer symmetrical upload speeds. This means upload speeds are equal to download speeds—excellent for content creators, streamers, online gamers, and anyone else who shares a lot of large files. Best of all, there are no data caps.
Although some fiber providers have started offering 2 gig and even 5 gig plans, we don't think anyone needs to pay for that much speed (and if you're one of the few who does, you probably already know who you are). Metronet’s 1 gig option will be plenty for most needs, but extremely heavy users who require faster speeds will have to look elsewhere. Find out how much internet speed you need.
When you sign up for HughesNet, you can decide to either lease or purchase equipment from the company. Usually, the cost for leasing equipment is around $20 per month and purchasing is around $450. Purchasing equipment is a good deal if you think you’ll continue your service beyond the two-year contract term, and it doesn't require a credit check.
Depending on current promotions, you can sometimes get discounts for leasing or purchasing and have the $99 installation fee waived. You may also be able to score a $100 prepaid gift card, even if you're using your ACP benefit.
Ordering online can sometimes save you up to $50, but the address system on the site is clunky. If you enter yours and Hughesnet says it can't find your address, you may need to call in.
HughesNet’s equipment costs and installation process are about the same as Viasat. Starlink, on the other hand, requires you to purchase the equipment up front for a higher cost and install it yourself.
HughesNet will send a technician to professionally install your equipment, which includes a satellite dish, Wi-Fi modem, router, and everything else you need. Installation typically happens within five days of signup, and service windows are about 3 hours long.
The technician will put the dish on your house, or on a pole mount in the ground for $25 extra, and ensure a clear line of sight to the satellite. A hole will be drilled into your home for the cable to connect to the modem inside. Once the system is active and tested, the technician will also connect up to two devices to the network for you.
Metronet provides all the equipment you need to get started free of charge, including an eero wireless router so you can get online quickly. This is a nice change of pace in an industry that often charges $10–$15 per month for mediocre gear. You do have the option of adding a wireless extender for $10 per month (called WholeHome Wi-Fi), but it isn’t strictly necessary.
More good news concerning installation—while most providers charge between $50 and $100 (or more) for installation, Metronet will bill you only $25. That’s not bad at all. Of course, when installation is a mandatory part of the service, we’d prefer it to be free, but we’ll take what we can get. Plus, all you have to do to receive a $25 installation credit (effectively making it free) is to sign up for automatic billing.
Our only complaint is the lack of any type of self-installation option, so you'll have to set aside a good two to four hours for a technician to come to your house.
Customer experience with HughesNet is comparable to its primary satellite internet competitor, Viasat. For billing and tech support questions, the company gives you several ways to contact customer support: by phone, live chat, or email. HughesNet also has an online forum for customers to ask and answer each other’s questions, as well as FAQs and help articles. You can easily manage your account through the website or mobile app.
HughesNet also offers Voice, a VoIP phone service that uses your satellite internet connection, plus an internet security package. Both are free for the first month, but you'll be charged starting in your second month, so set yourself a reminder to call and cancel the extras if you're not sure you need them.
Decent value, fast performance, and reasonable equipment and installation costs make for a great experience overall. Metronet also claims to have 24-hour local support, and customers generally seem satisfied with their service.
There is one glaring issue, though: the provider charges a mandatory “technology service fee” of around $10 per month.
Metronet claims this is to cover the cost of service calls, tech visits, and equipment maintenance. However, we don’t see this type of charge from any other provider, and it effectively nullifies the free equipment, so we have mixed feelings.
We've also seen a few complaints from customers who feel like they were being charged more than advertised, but we thought that the price increases and fees were pretty fairly laid out on the website, so just make sure to read the fine print (2).