HughesNet vs. Traditional Cable Internet: Which is Right for You?

HughesNet vs. Traditional Cable Internet: Which is Right for You? February 20, 2024

HughesNet (Satellite internet) and cable internet take very different approaches to providing high-speed internet access. Satellite internet connects to a network of satellites in space to deliver broadband, while cable internet sends data through underground fiber optic and coaxial cables.  Both options have their pros and cons. Satellites can provide ...

HughesNet (Satellite internet) and cable internet take very different approaches to providing high-speed internet access. Satellite internet connects to a network of satellites in space to deliver broadband, while cable internet sends data through underground fiber optic and coaxial cables. 

Both options have their pros and cons. Satellites can provide internet access in rural areas where cable infrastructure doesn’t exist. However, it is subject to weather disruptions and data caps. Cable offers faster speeds and unlimited data, but requires cables throughout your area.

When choosing between satellite and cable, here are some key factors to consider:

Availability – Satellite is available nationwide, while cable depends on infrastructure.

Speed – Cable generally provides faster speeds, especially for uploading data.

Data caps – Most satellite plans have data caps, while cable is usually unlimited.

Reliability – Satellite can suffer outages during storms, while cable is extremely dependable.

Cost – Satellite plans are generally comparable in cost to cable.

Equipment – Satellite requires a satellite dish, while cable needs a modem.

By weighing these factors, you can determine if satellite or cable is the best type of high-speed internet for your household.



Satellite internet like HughesNet is available in areas where cable internet typically doesn’t reach – mainly rural and remote locations. While cable internet relies on physical cable connections, satellite internet only requires a clear view of the southern sky. This makes satellite a good option for people living far from cities and cable infrastructure.

However, satellite internet availability does have some limitations. Satellite signals can be blocked by trees, hills, tall buildings, and severe weather. So even if you live rurally, certain environmental factors may impede your ability to get satellite internet. HughesNet availability maps let you enter your address to check for coverage, so you can see if satellite internet is an option at your location.

In contrast, cable internet is only available where cable lines exist. So it’s generally limited to cities, suburbs, and towns with coaxial or fiber cable connections. Rural areas that are beyond the reach of cable lines won’t have access to cable internet.


When it comes to speed, there are some key differences between HughesNet and traditional cable internet. 

– HughesNet download speeds range from 25 Mbps to 50 Mbps, while upload speeds range from 3 Mbps to 10 Mbps. However, during peak usage times from 5pm to 2am, speeds can be throttled significantly. 

– Cable internet speeds vary by provider, but download speeds commonly range from 50 Mbps to 500+ Mbps, with upload speeds around 10-20 Mbps. Speeds are generally consistent throughout the day.

– Several factors impact internet speeds for both HughesNet and cable:

– Distance from local broadcast tower or node – the farther away, the slower the speeds.

– Network congestion – more users online at once leads to reduced speeds. HughesNet is especially prone to congestion during peak evening hours.

– Connection type – cable speeds are faster when hardwired vs WiFi. HughesNet requires a clear view of the southern sky for best performance.

– Equipment – modem, router, cables and computer hardware impact overall speed capability.

– Provider oversubscription – selling more bandwidth than the network can handle degrades performance during peak times.

So in summary, cable internet generally provides faster and more consistent speeds compared to satellite internet from HughesNet. But HughesNet can still be a reasonable option for rural users without access to cable. Just expect slower speeds that vary more throughout the day.



Reliability refers to how consistently an internet connection provides service without interruption or downtime. This is an important factor when choosing between HughesNet satellite internet and traditional cable internet.

Satellite internet is more prone to reliability issues and outages than cable for a few key reasons:

Weather effects – Rain, snow, and cloud cover can temporarily interrupt satellite signals, leading to slower speeds or dropped connections. This is especially true during severe weather like thunderstorms or blizzards. Cable internet does not face this issue, with its wired connections underground being largely unaffected by weather.

Outages – Satellite outages may occur if the satellite malfunctions or needs routine maintenance. These are usually infrequent but can last hours or longer. Cable internet rarely has full outages, beyond occasional localized issues if cables are damaged or a network node goes down.

Backups – Cable networks have extensive backups to reroute traffic around problem areas and minimize downtime. Satellite internet lacks this redundancy, so if a satellite goes down service is disrupted until it’s restored.

While satellite internet is still very reliable for most users, cable definitely has an edge in terms of uptime and availability. Those who need extremely dependable internet, like businesses or remote workers, may want to consider traditional cable over satellite due to its greater resilience and redundancy. But for typical residential usage, HughesNet or other satellite services can still provide solid connectivity despite occasional brief outages.


Data Caps

Satellite internet plans like HughesNet have strict data caps that limit how much data you can use each month before your speeds are throttled or you’re charged overage fees. HughesNet’s base plans come with 20-50GB of data, while their premium plans offer 50-100GB. Going over your data allowance slows your speeds to 1-3Mbps.

In contrast, traditional cable internet plans offer unlimited data with no throttling or overage fees. This allows you to use as much data as you want without penalties. For light internet users, data caps may not pose an issue, but heavy streamers and downloaders will quickly run into limits with satellite.

Cable internet’s unlimited data provides more flexibility and value for high data usage households. But satellite can work for those with lighter needs if you actively monitor usage and stay under caps. Think about your monthly data needs when deciding between capped satellite plans or unlimited cable.



Satellite internet plans from HughesNet typically range from $60 to $150 per month, while traditional cable internet generally costs around $50 to $100 a month. The exact price can vary significantly depending on the provider, package, and promotional offers available.

Some key factors impacting internet pricing include:

Download speeds – Faster download speeds come at a higher monthly cost for both satellite and cable. HughesNet’s 10 Mbps plan starts at $60/month, while their 25 Mbps plan is $100/month. For cable, plans with 100+ Mbps tend to cost over $80/month.

Data caps – Satellite plans have restrictive data caps that incur overage fees if exceeded. Some cable plans add on unlimited data for an extra $30+ per month.

Introductory discounts – It’s common to get discounts for the first 3-12 months with both cable and satellite. HughesNet offers up to $100 off the hardware and 50% off monthly fees for 6 months.

Bundles – Bundling internet with TV and phone services can lead to discounts with some cable providers. Most satellite internet plans do not offer bundling.

Contract lengths – Cable internet may offer the best rates with 1-2 year contracts, while satellite promotions are often around 6 months.

When comparing pricing, be sure to read the fine print on any advertised rates, as the true monthly costs can be higher once promotional periods end. While satellite internet plans may seem more affordable upfront, the data overage fees can drive up long-term costs.



When it comes to equipment, HughesNet and cable internet differ quite a bit. 

With HughesNet, you need a satellite dish installed outside your home along with a special modem/receiver inside. The satellite dish connects to the HughesNet satellite in space to receive the internet signal. The receiver then converts that signal into WiFi inside your home. HughesNet provides the dish, receiver, modem, cables, and router you need. The equipment is considered “leased” and remains property of HughesNet even after installation.

For cable internet, you’ll need a coaxial cable running from the street into your home. Inside, you’ll need a cable modem to connect to the cable line and convert the signal into ethernet and WiFi. You can buy your own modem or rent one from your cable provider for a monthly fee. If you want WiFi, you’ll also need a wireless router. Cable companies typically charge an installation fee to set up or activate the internet service at your home.

The key differences:

HughesNet provides all equipment you need like the satellite dish and special modem/receiver. 

With cable, you may have to purchase your own modem and router or rent the modem from your provider.



When it comes to setting up your new internet service, installation is another important difference between HughesNet and traditional cable internet providers. 

With HughesNet, a professional installation is typically required. A technician will need to come to your home to properly set up the satellite dish and make all of the necessary connections. This installation fee averages $99, but can vary depending on your location and provider. The benefit of professional installation is that you can be assured that everything is set up correctly for the best speeds and performance. However, it does mean waiting for an appointment and taking time off work.

In contrast, traditional cable internet is usually a self-installation process. The cable company will send you the cable modem and you simply have to plug it into your cable outlet and setup the WiFi connection. There is no need for a technician to visit your home. While self-installation means you can get online faster, the downside is having to handle the setup yourself. If you run into any issues getting connected, you’ll have to take the time to troubleshoot or contact customer support.

So when choosing between HughesNet and cable internet, keep the installation process in mind. Satellite requires a professional install while cable is typically self-installed. This is an important logistical consideration in determining which type of internet access will fit your needs and schedule best.


Customer Service


When it comes to customer service, HughesNet and cable providers can vary widely in ratings and support options. 

HughesNet customer service receives mixed reviews, with some customers reporting long wait times and tedious processes for technical assistance. However, HughesNet offers 24/7 customer support via phone, online chat, and through their community forums. They also have an online knowledge base with DIY troubleshooting tips.

Cable customer service reputation tends to depend on the specific provider. Top providers like Xfinity score well on customer satisfaction, while budget providers often get poor marks. Most cable companies offer customer service by phone 24/7, but with some providers wait times can be long. Chat and email options are also common. Some cable providers also offer online knowledge bases and community forums.

If top-notch customer service is a priority, you may want to read customer reviews of the specific HughesNet and cable providers available in your area. However, those needing more hand-holding may find cable providers offer more options for technical troubleshooting and support via phone, chat, and in-person assistance.

Overall, cable internet is faster and more reliable, but more limited in availability. HughesNet works well for light use in rural areas. Evaluate your usage needs and location to determine the best fit. Both can provide home internet access reasonably well for the right type of user.

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