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HughesNet vs. Spectrum Internet plan comparison


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Researched by
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Reviewed by
Bri FieldAssigning Editor
Updated 6/18/24

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HughesNet brand
Staff rating
2.1
Customer rating
3.1
(13)

  • Plans starting at $49.99
  • Download speeds up to 25 Mbps
Charter Spectrum brand logo
Staff rating
3.5
Customer rating
4.0
(513)

  • Plans starting at $29.99
  • Download speeds up to 1 Gbps
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HughesNet brand
Staff rating
2.1

Slow speeds, but more affordable satellite plans for casual users

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.

What we like

  • Affordable plans for satellite
  • Wide availability
  • Bonus data during off-peak hours
What we dislike

  • Slow speed
  • Price hike after six months
  • Two-year contract required
Savings tip: HughesNet often has sign-up promotions for first-time customers. Call to ask a rep about current deals and discounts.
Check deals
Charter Spectrum brand logo
Staff rating
3.5

Fast internet at reasonable prices

Spectrum offers speedy, reasonably priced cable internet service, and a strong budget plan. We wish there were fewer fees attached, though.

What we like

  • Simple plan selection
  • No contracts
  • No data cap
What we dislike

  • Pricey gig plan
  • Lots of small fees
  • Price increase after 12 months
Savings tip: Spectrum often has sign-up promotions for first-time customers. Call to ask a rep about current deals and discounts.
Check deals
HughesNet brand
Value
1.5
The most affordable broadband satellite internet plans out there, but limited speed

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 faster download speeds or more than 100 GB of data, compare your options with Viasat and Starlink.

Pricing details vary by location. Visit
HughesNet's website
or call 1-833-804-4974 to speak with a rep.
See pricing
Charter Spectrum brand logo
Value
3.0
Straightforward internet plans with budget-friendly pricing

Spectrum service offers a solid value—particularly at the lowest tier. There are only three plans to choose from, which could either be a plus or minus depending on your perspective. In this case, we feel it’s a good thing: the plans are straightforward and easy to understand.

The lowest-tier plan offers speeds up to 300 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary) at a decent price, according to government benchmarks (1). That's just $0.17 per megabit per second, with speeds that blow any DSL plan out of the water. The other two internet plans are less exciting, but still reasonably priced for the first year. After 12 months, your price could be up by $20 or more.

Pricing details vary by location. Visit
Spectrum's website
or call 1-844-733-6483 to speak with a rep.
See pricing
HughesNet brand
Performance
1.5
HughesNet’s 25 Mbps of speed does the basics, but don’t expect much more

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).

Available speeds vary by location. Call 1-833-804-4974 to speak with a HughesNet rep or
go to its website.
Charter Spectrum brand logo
Performance
4.0
Reliable internet with speeds up to 1 Gbps

Spectrum offers speedy performance overall, with packages up to 1,000 Mbps available (wireless speeds may vary). The lower tiers are more exciting—almost every provider has a gig plan these days, but Spectrum’s lowest plan has speeds up to 300 Mbps, which is still excellent for all but the heaviest users. Additionally, there are no data caps on any of the plans, so you can use as much bandwidth as you like.

Speed is only half the equation, though—even the fastest connection is useless if it doesn’t work when you need it. Luckily, Spectrum is on par with its closest cable competitors here. It offers faster-than-advertised speeds most of the time, according to the US Federal Communications Commission (2), and earned the top spot for median speeds from Speedtest.net (3). Spectrum’s latency scores were a little higher than competitors Xfinity and Cox, but at just 25 ms, you’re still within the playability range for most online games.

Available speeds vary by location. Call 1-844-733-6483 to speak with a Spectrum rep or
go to its website.
HughesNet brand
Equipment and installation
2.5
Easy professional installation and reasonable equipment prices

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.

Equipment and installation options can vary widely depending on
HughesNet plans
available in your area.
View plans
Charter Spectrum brand logo
Equipment and Installation
4.5
You can rent a router or use your own, and there’s a fee for self-installation

Spectrum’s equipment setup is a bit different than most—at least when it comes to fees. There is no charge for the modem, but there is a $5 monthly fee for the wireless router (waived on the gig plan). What this means is that Spectrum gives you a separate modem and router, instead of a combined gateway. It also means you can opt to bring your own wireless router if you prefer. Customers can also add Wi-Fi extenders, called Pods, for $3 each per month. If you use the Spectrum router, you can use the company's highly rated smartphone app to manage settings and parental controls.

Installation is straightforward and affordable. If you need a pro to come out, you can opt for a professional installation for $59.99. If you can handle the installation yourself, the self-install kit is about $25. We’d prefer free self-installation, but it isn’t the highest self-install fee we’ve seen, so we’ll take what we can get.

Equipment and installation options can vary widely depending on
Spectrum plans
available in your area.
View plans
HughesNet brand
Customer experience
3.0
Plenty of support resources, and you can get actual human help

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.

Visit HughesNet's website
or call 1-833-804-4974 for more information on contracts and money-back guarantees.
Go to provider
Charter Spectrum brand logo
Customer Experience
2.5
Watch out for hefty fees and price hikes down the road

We’ll just come right out and say it: Spectrum has a lot of fees. While you may never see most of them, it’s worth noting that they’re there. Here’s a sample:

  • $5 to pay over the phone(?!)
  • $5 reconnection fee
  • $19.99 to upgrade equipment when switching to the Internet Gig plan

These aren’t going to be on every bill, and you may never see most of them. However, when you do, it makes for a poor experience.

When you add second-year price hikes in the range of $20+, things aren't looking good for Spectrum customers. However, Spectrum customers seem to be about as satisfied with customer service as customers with competitors Cox and CenturyLink, and it's only slightly worse than average. (4)

If Spectrum is the only cable provider in your area and your home isn't wired for fiber internet, we recommend the service. Just set a calendar reminder to contact customer service in a year and see if you can negotiate the price down!

Visit Spectrum's website
or call 1-844-733-6483 for more information on contracts and money-back guarantees.
Go to provider
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Made up your mind?
Find out what providers are available near you.
HughesNet
3.0
(13)
5 Star
7%
4 Star
31%
3 Star
31%
2 Star
23%
1 Star
8%
C
Carlos from Mojave, CA
HughesNet Customer for Less than a year
Reviewed on: 6-24-2022
It’s slow and sometimes nothing will even load when we supposedly have 30 gb a day
A
Amberly from Canisteo , NY
HughesNet Customer for 4+ years
Reviewed on: 6-22-2022
I think this company provides very good service for the price I like that the price does not change it's a set set price every month their customer support team is great the response time is amazing and I like most everything about this company I do wish that their speeds would be a little faster but they aren't that bad.
M
Mauleenfrom Hemphill, TX
HughesNet Customer for 1+ years
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
The internet service is not worth what’s being charged. If there were more options for internet in this area, I would definitely switch to a better service. No competition in this rural area.
D
Debfrom West Jefferson, OH
HughesNet Customer for 1+ years
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
We live in a rural area and Hughes Net is the only option for us
Spectrum
4.0
(513)
5 Star
34%
4 Star
41%
3 Star
20%
2 Star
4%
1 Star
1%
A
Andrewfrom Newark, NY
Spectrum Customer for 1+ years
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
My internet goes out all the time whenever I first go to use it when returning home from anywhere.
T
Theresafrom Merriam, KS
Spectrum Customer for Less than a year
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
My choice was limited due to my location. Not very pleased that I got my first bill less than a week after activation. And due in less than three after activation.
N
Nathaliafrom Sherman Oaks, CA
Spectrum Customer for 1+ years
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
The connection is good and fast overall. It disconnects sometimes out of nowhere, so I wish it was more stable.
J
Jpfrom Evansville, IN
Spectrum Customer for 8+ years
Reviewed on: 6-17-2022
Thank you all right we have a limited opportunities in this
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Endnotes and sources
1. “2022 Urban Rate Survey – Fixed Broadband Service,” FCC. Accessed 17 June 2022.2. “Starlink Hits 100+ Mbps Download Speed in 15 Countries During Q4 2021,” Ookla. Accessed 6 June 2022.3. “HughesNet outage or service down,” Downdetector. Accessed 6 June 2022.
Endnotes and sources
  1. 2022 Urban Rate Survey – Fixed Broadband Service,” FCC. Accessed 17 June 2022.
  2. "Measuring Broadband America," FCC. Retreieved Dec. 7, 2022.
  3. "Fastests ISPs of 2022," Speetest.net. Retrieved Dec. 7, 2022.
  4. "Satisfaction Benchmarks by Company, Internet Service Providers," ACSI. Retrieved Dec. 7, 2022.
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