Starlink vs. HughesNet: Which is Better for Home and Business?

Starlink Vs. HughesNet is shaping up to be a big rivalry after HughesNet reportedly lost 234k customers to Starlink in 2022. 

Starlink is one of HughesNet’s major competitors in satellite internet provision. Both share almost 1.5 million subscribers and geological coverage.

However, Starlink beats HughesNet in physical satellite numbers (5000+ vs. 3), speed, and latency period. Conversely, HughesNet tops Starlink in one-off costs.

Should you consider Starlink or HughesNet for home use and business? Let’s find out. 

How Many Satellites Does HughesNet Have?

After months of delay, HughesNet finally launched Jupiter 3. The satellite internet provider had planned to launch the satellite in 2022. However, numerous delays in the last quarter of the year pushed the launch to the first half of 2023. 

On July 29th, 2023, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy carried Jupiter 3 from The Kennedy Space Center into space. 

Jupiter 3’s successful launch increased HughesNet’s satellite count to three. For a long time, it depended on its satellites, EchoStar 17(Jupiter 1) and Echostar 19(Jupiter 2), to provide its 1.4 million US subscribers with satellite internet. 

The two satellites also catered to the global expansion into Brazil, Columbia, Peru, Ecuador, Mexico, and Chile between 2016 and 2019. 

HughesNet expects to boost download speeds to about 100 Mbps. Hughes also expected Jupiter 3 to increase capacity to over 500 Gbps. 

Is Starlink Better Than HughesNet?

A typical Starlink dish and router

A typical Starlink dish and router

Starlink, by most metrics, is better than HughesNet. It may come as a surprise since HughesNet has been around since 1971. However, Starlink had the advantage of entering the foray of satellite internet provision when the demand for high-speed, low-latency internet was high. 

Here are practical areas where Starlink serves you better than HughesNet. 

You Stream 4K Content

High-definition streaming needs high download speed and low latency. HughesNet and Starlink use satellites to provide the internet. However, satellite placement makes a huge difference in the latency period. 

While HughesNet’s satellites orbit 22000 miles above Earth, Starlink’s satellites are 341 miles above Earth. The vast difference in distance means signals from Starlink get to receiver devices on Earth much faster. 

Whereas you get about 600-1200ms latency from HughesNet, Starlink promises only 20-40ms latency. For an avid streamer, 20-40 ms latency with download speeds between 50-200 Mbps is excellent. 

Your Online Activities Are Data-heavy

There’s always a constant worry if you use a lot of data online. Your ISP might throttle your data or place caps on your subscription plan. 

Starlink previously had a data cap on its Residential plan. However, they scrapped it and offered unlimited data. 

On the other hand, HughesNet still places data caps on its plans. Its data caps range from 15GB to 100GB, depending on the subscription plan. Furthermore, your speed goes down to between 1 and 3 Mbps. 

A heavy internet user will opt for Starlink over HughesNet because of HughesNet data caps and throttling. 

You Upload Huge Files

Internet speed isn’t only about downloads. Upload speeds are vital to users to put content online or communicate in real-time with other users online. 

Since they need fast upload speeds, they would find Starlink to be a better pick over HughesNet.
Starlink offers 20-50 Mbps upload speed. Comparatively, HughesNet provides 3 Mbps. However, real user experiences report Starlink upload speeds falling as low as 2-20 Mbps. 

To be fair, some uncontrollable factors might lead to a drop in download and upload speed. 

You Are An Online Gamer

A young person plays the high-resolution game online 

A young person plays a high-resolution game online 

Online gaming needs high download and upload speeds and low latency. Interestingly, Starlink outperforms HughesNet in all three areas in most speed tests. 

While you may have to tweak a few things, such as bypassing the router if you use Starlink for online gaming, it is still a better ISP than HughesNet.

Most online gaming platforms will work fine with 5-10 Mbps speeds. However, gaming is evolving into higher resolutions. 

Some games’ heavy graphics require more speed to ensure a no-lag experience. That’s where Starlink comes into play. 100 Mbps and 20 latency will ensure seamless gameplay even with demanding graphics. 

You live In A Rural Area.

Starlink has come out clearly to state its intention is to provide reliable internet to the underserved. In this context, the underserved live in areas other internet companies aren’t covering. 

If you are in an area with functional fiber internet infrastructure, you are better off using fiber internet. However, residents in rural settings regularly complain of abysmal speeds and constant outages.

Yet, with Starlink’s residential plan, you need minimal obstruction and reliable uptime to work remotely in a rural area. 

Is Starlink Better For Business Than HughesNet?

A business call online using high-speed internet

A business call online using high-speed internet

Businesses move immense amounts of data in a single business day. Therefore, some metrics rank higher to make an ISP desirable to a business. 

If low-cost internet is your biggest concern, HughesNet for Business only costs about $79.99. 

However, if speed, latency, and unlimited data are high priorities for you, Starlink is better than HughesNet. 

Starlink For Business costs about $250 monthly. Still, you get up to 220 Mbps speeds. 

With remote work and hybrid work environments reshaping work dynamics globally, there is an incredible demand for reliable high-speed internet. 

HughesNet’s higher speed plans cost about $159.99 for about 100 GB of data. The plan is meant to serve about 10 users. Therefore, Starlink would be a better option for businesses with ten or more users. 

We wouldn’t recommend running a business with a capped data subscription. Additionally, you are still getting 25 Mbps even with a premium business package. 

Is Starlink Easier to Install than HughesNet?

A subscriber checks the Starlink signal on an app

A subscriber checks the Starlink signal on an app.

The Starlink kit has a router, receiver dish, cables, and a small mount. Starlink doesn’t offer professional installation services when you receive your package.

Therefore, a successful installation depends on your DIY skills and the instruction manual. Fortunately, it is easy to install. 

HughesNet, on the other hand, requires professional installation. Professional installation is safer if you don’t have the technical ability or don’t want to risk injury.
Still, if you wanted to install HughesNet alone, it would be more challenging than installing Starlink. 

Starlink vs. HughesNet: Reported Outages and Follow-Up Service

Both services have periodic outages due to the nature of satellite internet. However, Starlink’s outages resolve themselves faster because of the service’s over 4000 LEO satellites. Most of its outages are switches in satellites covering an area. 

However, users report that HughesNet customer services respond to outages faster than Starlink. 

On this front, HughesNet marginally outperforms Starlink. 

Does HughesNet Offer Portability?

Starlink has a bunch of options if you want to travel. Starlink RV and Starlink ROAM enable you to move to different locations with the Starlink kit or a custom plan.

Additionally, you can get Starlink Maritime or Starlink Aviation for sea and air travel, respectively. 

HughesNet does not offer portable plans. 

Starlink bests HughesNet in diverse plans yet again.

HughesNet Vs. Starlink Customer Support

HughesNet has been in business longer than Starlink. They have established a reputation for being available to address customer complaints through their customer support channels.

They list their customer support as reachable from 8 AM to 1 AM EST on weekdays and 9 AM to 11 PM on weekends. 

Starlink has a customer support ticketing system that can take up to 72 hours to resolve or get a response.

They haven’t improved their customer support service, which may influence potential customers away.