How is Starlink Different from HughesNet: 9 Differences Between Starlink and HughesNet

Let’s all gather here and shed light on the question; how is Starlink different from HughesNet?

Both companies are market leaders in the provision of Satellite internet services. But the big question is, who is better than the other? 

For example, HughesNet is more popular, having been in the market longer than Starlink.

But does that make it a better option? Hold your nerves, and let us bring it all to you. 

Table of Contents

A Starlink Satellite in Space. 

It is a Satellite internet service owned by Elon Musk via the SpaceX company.

This company also has an interest in space exploration. 

Starlink is arguably the latest entrant into satellite internet services, and although new, it has started big as the company is launching new satellites very frequently. 

The unique factor about Starlink is that the ISP has satellites in low earth orbit.

This positioning has been a real game changer in the strength and speed of satellite internet, as Starlink delivers immensely on the two parameters. 

Moreover, like any other Satellite internet, you can access Starlink even in remote locations.

However, its coverage is not comprehensive as the company still needs sufficient satellites to shoulder that need. 

What is HughesNet?

A 3D model of an artificial satellite of the Earth. 

A 3D model of an artificial satellite of the Earth. 

It has been the oldest satellite internet provider in the market for over two decades. 

However, HughesNet features satellites in the Earth’s geosynchronous orbit, unlike Starlink’s, which are in the low earth orbit.

Then, these HughesNet’s satellites connect to ground-based signal towers from which consumers can access the internet. 

This arrangement results in a relatively lower speed and higher latency than Starlink.

However, HughesNet has continually improved its services to meet the growing need for fast internet. 

But the company’s core competency is providing internet service to rural areas. 

Hence, HughesNet has a far larger outreach than Starlink. 

Internet connection speed test gauges. 

Internet connection speed test gauges. 

Internet speed determines the duration you’d take to perform a particular function using it.

For instance, low-speed internet will take longer to download a video or send an email than high-speed internet. 

On average, HughesNet has a lower speed than Starlink.

Its average download and upload speed is approximately 22.62 Mbps and 2.52 Mbps, respectively.

While this speed is not too slow, especially if you compare it with other options available in rural areas, Starlink internet still dwarfs it. 

Starlink has the best speeds of any satellite internet service, with average download and upload speeds of 62.53 Mbps and 7.24 Mbps, respectively.

Moreover, Starlink claims that their download speeds can rise to 250Mbps which is true, especially in urban areas. 

Winner: Starlink topples HughesNet as its internet is thrice as fast. 

A Vector Illustrating network latency. 

A Vector Illustrating network latency. 

Network Latency is the duration it takes for data transmission from one server to the other.

For instance, your network has high latency if you’re experiencing a long wait time when making a video call. 

The units for latency are milliseconds, and the lower the value, the better. 

Starlink has relatively lower latency (lesser delay time) than HughesNet, which boils down to positioning the providers’ satellites.

For instance, Starlink satellites are in the low earth orbit while HughesNet satellites are at a higher altitude. 

Thus, HughesNet has a relatively higher latency at an average value of 716ms, while Starlink’s stands at a median value of 48ms

Winner: Starlink trounces Hughes on this parameter.

Thus, you’ll experience better clarity and lower delay in online games and video calls on Starlink internet than Hughes. 

A Vector Illustrating Internet Transmission. 

A Vector Illustrating Internet Transmission. 

We’ll have a tie on this aspect as both are satellite internet options. Thus, they are prone to storms, heavy rains, snowfall, and ice, as these turbulent weather conditions significantly curtail satellite communication

Also, HughesNet and Starlink internet reliability becomes a problem if buildings or trees nearby hinder clear signal reception from the satellites.

Nonetheless, you can minimize this problem by ensuring proper satellite dish setup. 

Winner: There’s no winner, as both ISPs are prone to weather-induced outages

Unlimited Internet Concept. 

Unlimited Internet Concept. 

Some ISPs have upper data limits to control the volume that a subscriber uses.

Thus, whenever one reaches this limit, the ISP cuts access to the internet service or lowers the access speed. 

HughesNet has a limitation on the maximum data that you can use.

However, it doesn’t impose a hard data cap or complete shutdown of your internet use. Instead, the ISP slows your access speed. 

On the other hand, Starlink allows you to use the internet indefinitely as it doesn’t have data caps.

It doesn’t limit the internet speed either, even for those who use voluminous data. 

Winner: Starlink is the better option as it doesn’t have a data cap, nor does it limit your internet speed. 

A happy family browses the internet. 

A happy family browses the internet. 

Starlink has an extensive global outreach with availability in 45 world countries. It makes it more reliable than most other internet service options. 

But, while there’s no doubt as to Starlink’s high speed and low latency, its availability is a big issue in the U.S., as it’s available only in 33 states.

Also, the internet speed can vary within a state hence it’s imperative to check out of you’re in a high-speed area before subscribing to Starlink. 

Conversely, HughesNet is a big hit in the U.S. since it’s available in 50 states. In addition, you’ll find it in Canada and other US-affiliated islands such as the U.S. Virgin Islands, Alaska, and Puerto Rico. 

But HughesNet is just available in the U.S., thus making Starlink a better option, especially for those outside the U.S. 

Winner: Starlink is the winner here. Although it doesn’t cover all U.S. States like HughesNet, Starlink has global availability

Fiber optical network cables patch panel and switch.

Fiber optical network cables patch panel and switch.

You can access HughesNet equipment at a fee of $499.98. But if you cannot raise this amount immediately, you can opt for the leasing option at a monthly rate of $14.99. 

Nonetheless, unlike Starlink, HughesNet equipment doesn’t feature a self-installation option. Thus, you must engage the company’s technicians for installation at a $99 fee.

But you can bypass this fee by going for the renting option, whereby the installation is free of charge. 

On the flip side, Starlink charges $599 for its equipment fee, which is refundable if you opt out of the service.

In addition, unlike HughesNet, Starlink delivers a self-installation package meaning you’ll do everything all by yourself. It saves you on installation costs. 

However, Starlink also charges a $50 shipping fee, so the total amount you’ll pay for the package is $659. 

Winner: It’s a tie here, as while the HughesNet package is cheaper, it lacks the self-installation option. 

An Internet Bill Example. 

An Internet Bill Example. 

Hughes has accommodative monthly packages ranging from $64.99 to $159.99. On the other hand, you’ll pay a $110 monthly service fee to access Starlink internet on the residential package. 

Thus, HughesNet offers more flexibility as it allows you to choose between the different packages, each with a different price. 

Winner: Once more, we’ve got no outright winner here.

Although HughesNet has cheaper packages, it ties you down for two years. Also, if you quit, you’ll need to pay a huge termination fee.

Internet service cancellation sign. 

Internet service cancellation sign. 

HughesNet will tie you down to a two-year contract when you opt-in to their internet services.

This condition means that you’ll be stuck with the service provider for a 24-month duration, making it a pretty uncomfortable deal, especially if you aren’t content with the services. 

Also, should you decide to terminate the contract before your contract lapses, HughesNet requires you to pay $250.

The cost is higher if you cancel your subscription within the first three months after subscribing, as you’ll need to pay $400.

Starlink is quite flexible as the company offers you a no-contract deal with a 30-day free trial.

If still satisfied, you can begin paying for the next monthly package, and if not, you return the equipment for a full refund. 

Also, remember that Starlink charges you nothing when you cancel their service

Winner: Starlink no contract terms are the best. They don’t compel you to do with the service for two years. 

A smiling customer service representative. 

A smiling customer service representative. 

Hughes is arguably the best ISP on this parameter as the company has committed and responsive customer service. 

The company’s agents are active, and they are also quick to solve issues raised by customers.

HughesNet has a 4 Star rating on Forbes, a testament to the company’s excellent customer service. 

Starlink, for all its excellence in top internet speeds, is relatively poor in customer service. The company lacks a physical office where customers can visit to pitch their queries.

They also don’t have a customer service helpline, and thus you have to communicate on the online portal

Also, Starlink agents take ages to respond to queries. 

Winner: Hughes here wins the battle thanks to its excellent customer service

A young man plays video games online. 

A young man plays video games online. 

Starlink is better regarding upload and download speeds and latency than HughesNet. But, this is not always the case as you may find better HughesNet internet in some areas than Starlink. 

Therefore, the critical factor when choosing between the two for gaming is the network strength in a particular area.

Also, the expense of the internet service is an essential consideration. 

Gaming is a data-intensive activity. Thus it would be best if you settled for a provider that guarantees good speed and coverage at a low cost. 



Either of the options will do you good if you intend to use a VPN.

But beware that HughesNet has a limitation on the maximum data volume you can use.

Once you reach this limit, the speed will wane, significantly hampering the working of the VPN. 

Starlink, therefore, remains the best option for a VPN thanks to the unlimited data use feature.

But this depends on whether there’s great Starlink coverage in your location. 


Say that you have Starlink and HughesNet at your disposal in your area.

Which of the two will you choose? Our analysis shows Starlink wins this duel on multiple fronts, so it should be the top choice.

Nonetheless, we don’t rule out HughesNet, especially if it has excellent coverage in your area and you don’t mind the 24-month subscription deal.