Review by suceress
Good "It works sometimes; can be used when there are literally no other options"
- Location: Oakdale,Allen,LA
- Cost Contract price not specified.
Bad "Unreliable, overpriced, high latency, poor customer service, software problems, bandwidth restrictions, (much more)"
Overall "This is a last resort if you can't even get dialup. Dialup is more reliable and sometimes faster."
|Pre Sales information:|
Value for money:
(ratings match consensus)
I live in a rural area in the woods with unpaved roads where cable, mail delivery, and other such conveniences are not available. Since I am so far out and my phone company refused to do maintenance on my lines, I soon found myself unable to even get dial-up to work.
I initially signed up for the base plan with Direcway in 2002. The installation did not go smoothly, but since it seems DW and HughesNet are different companies (or at least under different management) I will not go into detail. Suffice to say that my satellite was never installed properly.
I will cite some of my experiences with DW in order to compare/contrast it with HN. My speeds were initially ok-- better than the 2.6k dialup I had before the dial-up was unable to connect at all but I lost connection during rain, wind, cloudy days, etc. I was not told of the bandwidth restriction ahead of time but the FAP was tolerable-- bringing my speeds to about what they had been on dial-up so my internet was still usable. It never lasted more than 2 to 4 hours. I was allowed approximately 480Mb per day for use without being throttled.
In I believe March 2006, Hughesnet took over and there were changes-- not for the better. My monthly fee went up (without prior notice) and my bandwidth was cut down to 200Mb per day (also without prior notice). The FAP period lasted 26 hours (Hughesnet claims it is a minimum of 24 hours, but it never lasted any less than 26 hours every time) and during those times my internet was rendered completely useless. I was unable to load any webpages or use any online application whatsoever.
After a storm I noticed that my satellite was somewhat wobbly. I contacted HN to try to get them to send a technician out to fix it-- numerous times. Every time they refused.
There are far too many incidents to report on, but my speeds decreased and the service got even worse. Base tech support gave contradictory information to what advanced tech support suggested. In fact, there were times that base tech support told me to do things that advanced tech support said to never do.
Even when my modem was unplugged HN claimed I was downloading 5 to 20Mb every hour so I was constantly getting hit with the FAP. Furthermore, when I called tech support while subject to FAP they actually told me that customers under FAP were not allowed to speak to advanced tech support. That particular employee even refused to let me speak to a supervisor. I had to hang up and call back to get a different employee who was reluctant to let me speak to a supervisor, but then the supervisor gave me the same line of bull about not letting me speak to advanced tech support. (I wanted to verify that the advice given to me by the lower techs matched advice from advanced bc they were telling me to do something advanced techs said to never do).
The HN techies seemed less knowledgeable than the DW ones, and were far less helpful (although some were polite, there were a few rude ones, and most just read from a script and couldn't handle anything off-script). My service was constantly going out and I was given all sorts of excuses including "sun spots". It took me 3 hours to get one of their techs to admit that something had gone awry with one of their satellites and that it wasn't a problem on my end. Several hours later when I called back to check the progress of the repair, the HN employee denied that there had been anything wrong and insisted it was a problem on my end.
I believe it was 2007 when my transmitter died and I was told I would need a brand new satellite (at my expense) because the new transmitters wouldn't work on the old satellites. I also had to "upgrade" from the DW4000 to the HN7000S along the way. In a spectacular display of physics, my cat managed to make a glass of milk fly across the room and land under the desk and soak the DW4000-- which immediately sparked and smoked from shorted circuits-- it took me 2 hours to explain to the HN tech that I was certain my modem was broken. The installer who put in the new satellite had to put in a new pole because the original one was not only too thin/flimsy, but it was improperly installed. He pointed the dish at a different satellite than I had been on before though. My signal went from 80 strength down to 70-60. Over the years the signal strength has decreased and I now average round 45-50 on clear days.
At some point we got conned into taking the plunge and getting the "Pro Plus Plan" for $80 a month. We were told we would get better speeds and not have to worry about the FAP. They were wrong. Our speeds did not improve at all-- we consistently get around 300k down or less when we were told we shouldn't be getting less than 600k down and the modem software miscalculates usage and claims we use more than is even possible.
Initially we had to check the Hughesnet usage page to check to see how much bandwidth we had left, but it was not up-to-date and was very slow to load. Fortunately they added something to the modem which tells us somewhat up-to-date information on our usage. They also made it so we get one free uncap token per month to remove the FAP. The problem was, they made it so we had to load their webpage to use the token. I spent two hours on the phone going around in circles trying to explain to the tech that I could not uncap myself because I could not load ANY webpages-- including their page that had the utility to use the tokens. Finally it dawned on him and he used the token for me. I will say to their credit, they wised up and added the token usage to the modem itself. Unfortunately they did not fix the miscalculating problem.
One day the modem misreported that I downloaded 1500Mb in a single hour-- which even tech support admitted was absolutely impossible on my connection. All of my downloads were being magnified by 10. Tech support did actually uncap us, but the problem with uncapping at that point was that they didn't refill the bucket when they uncapped, they just lifted the cap, so if we loaded anything at all it would reinstate the FAP-- but they did fix that after a few months.
In the case with the 1500Mb incident, I was escalated to advanced tech support. I was hopeful that I would get a resolution. Unfortunately I got a call back from a very snooty and rude woman who told me in a condescending tone that I must have a virus on one or more of my computers that caused me to "upload" that much data. I explained to her that I had virus scanners on all of the computers, had disabled automatic updates, and it was a "download" not an "upload". She said there was obviously something wrong on my end and hung up.
In the past few months I have had multiple issues with the bandwidth miscalculation, the connection goes out for no apparent reason when it is sunny with no wind, and I have been having all sorts of errors about uplink queuing, dns entry errors, web acceleration outages, dns entry outages, and lately something wrong with the transmitter. Every time I call tech support I get the same script and no actual support.
When a power outage caused my modem to somehow unregister the tech support tried to walk me through a fix but the lower level told me to do the wrong things but then advanced couldn't figure it out. I had to drive 20 miles to go to McDonalds to use wifi to look on dslreports for a solution. (The McDonalds option was not viable until I got a laptop in October-- and I can't do it regularly because the seats are too uncomfortable, it costs too much for gas and food, my road cannot always be driven on after heavy rains bc it turns to mud, and McDonalds doesn't stay open all night). Fortunately there was one and I was able to fix the problem myself. It turns out their registration page had expired certificates and my browsers were refusing to load it. I had to find a work-around.
I have been told that people who have the HN9000 modems have better experiences than what I am having with the HN7000S, but every time I checked with Hughesnet I was told that I am not eligible for the upgrade. I have also been informed that since they are phasing out the 7000 I am only going to see my service decline.
I don't know if the web acceleration, dns acceleration, uplink queuing, etc issues have to do with the reduced space on the rented satellites or if it is just poor programming. I have to restart my modem sometimes 50 to 100 times a day. Some days my internet stops working every 2 minutes. When I have the TCP acceleration, DNS, etc errors my internet stops working completely. Sometimes the modem stops sending signal out through the ethernet cord completely and I have to unplug it for a few minutes and plug it back in to get it working again. It is highly frustrating and the techs never know what to do.
I saw a message in the diagnostic saying "if the problem persists, contact technical support", so I made the mistake of doing just that. The tech support guy was rather rude and said "Why did you even call?" when I explained to him why. He also informed me that Hughesnet's Pro Plus plan was not for downloading files. What else would I need it for if not to have heavier usage than the base plan? With all of the new java/flash applications, video ads, etc, just loading webpages can suck a lot of bandwidth away nowadays. They did increase my bucket by 50Mb but its too little too late. Plus I still get miscalculation errors where my bandwidth plummets for no apparent reason.
I am hopeful that with the advances in technology I will be able to get 3G coverage for internet instead. I am sick of Hughesnet and can hardly wait to get a new ISP.
Wish me luck.
Edit: As an addendum, I play online games and let's just say I had more luck playing EverQuest on 40kbs dial-up in Guam. It had less latency and was far more reliable than satellite. (and yes, I do know that satellite inherently has latency). If Dial-up was an option for me, I would go back to it, because at least it would work when it rains.
ps. Sorry for this being so disorganized and my apologies for any typos/misspellings.
pps. After I began posting on the dslreports forums about my problems with Hughesnet, my speed decreased even more and my bandwidth started miscalculating. After I posted this review my bucket mysteriously drained when no one in my family was even using the internet and I was subject to FAP at 0 so I could not load any webpages. According to the usage page I allegedly loaded over 700Mb during the regular hours in a rolling 24 hour period. During some of the hours when it claimed I was loading 20+Mb nobody in my household was even home and the wireless was turned off. Call me paranoid, but I can't help but suspect that Hughesnet is deliberately doing this to get back at me for giving a bad review. I accept that it is possible its just another software issue that I've had in the past where it miscalculates, but its rather convenient that it happened right after a negative review.
Update Dec. 11, 2011: I recently got Millenicom and have been using it for the past couple of days. I am only getting about 2 bars of signal but I don't yet have an antenna/amplifier. With that signal and no amp I am still getting better speeds and lower latency than I ever experienced my entire time with Hughesnet. I do get lag spikes in World of Warcraft and sometimes lose connection, but thus far it is no worse than Hughesnet.
Update May 5, 2014: Millenicom did not pan out because the antenna/amplifier didn't work and I was too far to get decent signal from Sprint. Hughesnet continued to deteriorate and all the customer "service" wanted to do was push Gen4 on me. I told them it was even less bandwidth than the Pro Plus Plan that I was using and they tried to argue with me. I was not happy with the prospect of having to go with Gen4, but they were trying to force me into it by slowly killing my old service. It got to the point where my internet was barely working for the last two months (it pretty much stopped working the last month). I called to have a technician come out and they said everyone was on vacation and it would take 2 to 3 weeks. Later I was in a computer store and people were talking about internet services and someone told me about Exede. I went and looked it up. Same speeds as Gen4, same price, but different limit (at least when you look at how HN advertised it). HN advertised 20Gb per month-- but you had to read the small print to see that you got 10Gb during normal hours and 10Gb during "bonus" hours. Exede advertised 10Gb. Reading the fine print they had 10Gb during normal hours and unlimited bandwidth during the "Late Night Free Zone" (LNFZ). When I called to ask about installation they gave me a date sooner than Hughesnet would be able to send out a tech to try to fix the dying HN service. We did have to bump it back a week due to a death in the family, but we got it all installed. I called Hughesnet to tell them goodbye and to demand money back for my last two months of non-working service. They surprisingly complied with no arguments. I was so gleeful to get away from them. Exede is not perfect and it has some of the same problems as Hughesnet (some outages, bandwidth miscalculation, upload delay, etc) but the customer service is far superior thus far (I think I got Exede in Nov 2012). Instead of getting 200k down, I have clocked my downloads at 20Mb down and 3Mb up. I can actually stream downloads now. I have to do most of my loading in the late night free zone, but I had to do the same with the Pro Plus Plan with Hughesnet-- only at vastly slower speeds.
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