After we conducted a thorough analysis of satellite internet companies, two clear winners ranked best for 2017 -- HughesNet and Exede, with HughesNet coming in first place. However, our work was not complete. We really wanted to investigate these two satellite internet providers and see how they compared in the areas of speed, pricing, anytime data and fulfilling customer expectations. Our conclusion is that HughesNet was the best based on download speeds and more favorable discounts. So, if you're only way to access the internet is via satellite connection, choose HughesNet -- their packages offer much more value than other providers.
The facts about utilizing satellite internet…
If you've already got access to DSL or cable internet services in your area, you'll want to use one of those. Satellite internet is the last resort if you've got no other options. Now, while satellite internet service can't compare to DSL or cable, it does get you hooked up and surfing the web. Just keep in mind, the speeds that you are going to get will be slower than those that can be achieved through a copper or fiber line. Satellite internet should only be compared to other satellite internet companies or dial-up services. If you're interested in hooking up to a cable or DSL service, you'll want to check out "The Fastest internet Providers of 2017."
Actions always speak louder than words. The same is true for satellite internet download speeds. Exede advertises their download speed as being faster than it really is. According to data from the FCC, the actual download speed for Exede is only 71.1 percent of the figure that the advertise to customers. In comparison, HughesNet has a download speed that's 152.1 percent higher than advertised speeds. The clear choice in the speed category is HughesNet. It seems that Exede needs to work on achieving higher speeds if they're going to compete.
Pro Tip: Real data beats advertised speeds when you are researching internet speeds, you have to be aware that companies will often advertise the highest speed that can be achieved in peak conditions. When you actually use the service, you will receive "up to" their advertised speed, but it's highly unlikely that you will ever see consistent downloads that stay in that advertised range.
For the basic starter plan, both HughesNet and Exede start at $49.99 per month. However, if you live in certain areas, you can get a discount to HughesNet that starts you out at $29.99 per month. That's almost a 50 percent discount! This is a first come first serve option that is unfortunately not available in all areas. We wish it was but that's just not the case.
Exede also has a discount, but it's only good for a drop of $10 per month. It's also only available on a limited basis and its length does not even come close to HughesNet.
The discount for HughesNet lasts for a time period of two years. That beats out Exede discount, which only lasts for the initial three months after signing up. When you look at the figures, HughesNet has the ability to save you $480. Compare that to Exede's $30 savings and the choice is quite clear.
If you are interested in premium plans, HughesNet has Exede beat in that category as well -- it's just $129.99 per month to enjoy the premium plan through HughesNet and $149 per month through Exede. We really couldn't pinpoint down the company that's cheaper as prices differ between zip codes. However, when we did our analysis, it seemed that HughesNet would typically have a lower price.
Be aware that both services require you to follow a two-year contract. This means that if your job suddenly decides to relocate you within the first three months of your service contract, you'll be stuck paying for equipment fees and early termination.
Another area that we investigated was Anytime data. This refers to the time of day that you use the internet. Anytime data for Exede is listed at 10 GB. HughesNet allows 5 GB for this category. This means that if you sign up for HughesNet, you can enjoy streaming your favorite movie through Netflix at any time of the day for the first 5 GB of data that you use. After that, you move into bonus data usage. When you surf the net in bonus data mode, the speed significantly slows down. You'll be able to view simple webpages and use your email account but that's about it. Also, the times of day for bonus data are 2 AM to 8 AM for HughesNet and 12 midnight to 5 AM for Exede. The earlier off-peak hours bonus data for Exede benefits night owls but that's not really a big enough reason to make a difference.
Unfortunately, both HughesNet and Exede could do better in the area of customer support. We touched on this in our full review, and it seems that satellite internet providers understand that you are using their service due to the fact that there are no cable or DSL providers in your area. They know that you're stuck and send your calls off to support staff that is located in some offshore call center.
HughesNet will allow you to download at much greater speeds than they advertise, and the discounts that they offer are definitely difficult to pass up. Both companies definitely need to provide better customer support for their subscribers. Exede is a good company, but it falls just a little behind HughesNet.
Based on download speeds and the price that you pay, we have to declare HughesNet as the winner. We recommend you going with the Prime 10 MB per second plan as it provides just about the right amount of usage for most web surfers.
Tell us what you think. We appreciate your input and feedback and welcome you to leave your thoughts and comments. We will respond to your questions and provide answers wherever we can. We love to hear your input!
HughesNet has various plans for download speeds and data caps. You can choose from 10 GB, 20 GB, 30 GB or 50 GB monthly data plans. The download speed for each of these plans is set at 25 MB per second. Depending on the data that you choose, Anytime data and Bonus Bytes make up the total daily allowance that you are allowed. Bonus Bytes can only be used from the hours of 2 AM to 8 AM, but you always get 50 GB of Bonus Bytes to use. If you take advantage of NightShift, HughesNet preloads Netflix with your Bonus Bytes, which doesn't affect your Anytime data. HughesNet is a good choice if you like to utilize most of your data during peak daylight hours.
If you have the SmartBrowsing option with your HughesNet plan, it allows you to visit your favorite website or check your email account after you have used up your Anytime data hours. However, keep in mind that if you are planning on downloading or uploading files, this will reduce the internet speed that you have. Exede has a similar plan called the Liberty Pass with a little faster speed. The main thing to take away is that this alternative is available if you decide to go with HughesNet as your satellite internet provider.
All three plans come with different data caps. However, they do share one option known as the Free Zone. During this time of day, you have the ability to download as much data as you'd like. The times range from 12 AM to 5 AM or 3 AM to 8 AM. We like this concept, but it's highly likely that you will be snoozing away during this period of time. However, if you utilize NightShift, you'll have preloaded content that's available for you to watch at that time. This allows you to watch your favorite series on Netflix during the day or participate in a viewing marathon without utilizing all of your data. Just keep in mind that you won't be able to download any videos or images. If your main viewing is going to come from Netflix, any three of the plans will work for you. If you choose to use NightShift, you can take advantage of streaming unlimited Netflix shows, and you won't have to compromise the daily data usage that you need for everything else that you do on the web.
If you choose to use the Liberty Plan, you'll be rewarded with a plan that does not have a data cap. With this plan, Exede gives you a high speed connection and Priority Bytes to use for a specific amount of data. Once you utilize your Priority Bytes, your subscription moves to a Liberty Plan. This means that you can browse the internet, monitor your email account, post on your favorite social media pages or download video that's telecast in standard definition. This is done during morning and afternoon hours at a speed that's been reduced. Between the hours of 5 PM and 2 AM, the speed that you are given to utilize the internet is reduced a little more. This means that if you're a fan of watching movies and TV in high definition, the option will not be available if you are subscribed to the Liberty Pass. If you take advantage of NightShift, your movies will be preloaded while you are on the Liberty Pass option. This means that you can continue to browse the web just as you normally would during the month as NightShift doesn't cut into your Priority Bytes. The switch is seamless if you are a Netflix user who just uses that service for content. We recommend choosing the Liberty Plan if you're the type of person that doesn't want to keep track of the time you spend on the web.