HughesNet is a satellite internet provider that has been offering service to both residential and business interests that live beyond the reach of cable lines since the 1990s,
but the launch of the Spaceway 3 satellite in 2007, with 10 Gbps of overall capacity, designed and developed by Hughes and built by Boeing, established Hughes as a satellite internet provider and ushered in the beginning of satellite internet technology as a viable competitor in the broadband internet market. In 2011, Hughes was acquired by the EchoStar Corporation, and the EchoStar XVII satellite, more commonly known as Jupiter 1, was launched in mid-2012.
The launch of Jupiter 1, with over ten times the capacity of Spaceway 3, enabled HughesNet to upgrade its commercial and residential offerings to a much faster fourth generation of satellite internet service called HughesNet Gen4. Customers in the Gen4 network receive speeds of up to 15 Mbps, compared to speeds of up to 5 Mbps on the older network, and can expect to enjoy significantly larger data allowances, as well as some other perks.
In 2015, HughesNet developed a set of proprietary innovations it calls “SmartTechnologies” to maximize bandwidth, maintain high speed across the network and boost overall performance. These technologies were developed to maximize the capacity remaining on Jupiter 1, but their ingenuity and resourcefulness will continue to serve Hughes well when it launches Jupiter 2 later this year. In 2015, these technologies went a long way toward earning HughesNet the number one spot, among 16 satellite and terrestrial broadband internet providers tested by the FCC, for living up to its advertised speeds.
HughesNet Smart Technologies work together to create a more seamless, user-friendly and satisfying experience for the user. Satellite technology, unlike the technology of terrestrial providers, grew up in the public spotlight, and its adolescent shortcomings haunt their development like urban myths. The main obstacle for terrestrial technology to overcome is geographical. It is time-consuming and expensive to establish and maintain cable and wireline infrastructures in the more remote regions of the country. In this sense, terrestrial internet’s greatest weakness is a satellite internet provider’s greatest strength. It can go nearly anywhere, but it has its own set of limitations to overcome.
Satellite internet technology is attempting to cover a greater amount of space with a smaller amount of network capacity, which means the first thing that it needs to do is make what capacity it does have go farther and faster than it should go. Hughes’s SmartFetch and SmartCompression technologies work together to accomplish just this. SmartFetch works to reduce the amount of places a browser needs to go in order to get everything that it needs to display the web content properly, while SmartCompress decreases the amount of data used during web-browsing by up to 30 percent by doing a better job of remembering where you have gone before, and thus minimizing the browser’s downloading something that it has downloaded before. In other words, SmartFetch and SmartCompress work together to get what your browser needs faster with less data, making your data allowance last longer and do more.
HughesNet’s other two Smart Technologies are more readily apparent to the user, and together, they work to overcome another shortcoming: throttled speeds. Slowing down user speeds to maintain enough bandwidth to accommodate all users has long been a strategy employed by satellite internet providers and its cable counterparts as well.
The difference is that satellite internet providers must throttle speeds sooner, more drastically, and above all, they have to advertise that they are doing it. The FCC mandates that satellite internet providers have established and clearly defined data allowances for its customers. SmartBrowsing is a feature that enables Gen4 customers to continue to engage in activities like web-browsing, email and other activities that do not consume large amounts of data at full speed after they have exceeded their data allowance. SmartResources allows a customer to purchase more data or upgrade (or downgrade) their plan at no cost to them from the convenience of his or her computer. These two technologies work together to overcome the limitations of data allowances as much as possible.
HughesNet offers a range of plans that will depend upon the area in which a customer lives but will also accommodate a wide range of customer needs. Internet usage can vary greatly from user to user, depending upon what kinds of online activities they most enjoy. Internet speeds range from 5 Mbps up to 15 Mbps, with upload speeds anywhere between 1 and 2 Mbps. Data allowances range from 5 gigabytes of data all the way up to 50 gigabytes, and all plans come with a generous allowance of bonus bytes that can be used during off-peak hours for the unusually large download, scheduled software update or late-night video streaming. SmartBrowsing, which enables the customer to continue to browse the web, send and receive emails and pay their bills online after they have exceeded their monthly data allowance, is available to all customers who live in the Gen4 network. Service plans range in price upward from a promotional $39.99/month. All plans require a $9.99 equipment lease fee and a 24-month commitment.
HughesNet plans to launch its next satellite, Jupiter 2/EchoStar XIX, later this year, and it will be the world’s highest broadband satellite to date with 50 percent more capacity than Jupiter 1. What does that mean for you? More speed and more data, coming soon!