About 46% of total internet installations in people’s homes fall below download speeds of 25Mbps, leaving almost half of the homes in the United States with substandard internet services in comparison to the rest of the country. Many of these underserved homes fall in rural areas outside of the purview of major landline internet providers, where they have determined the cost to build the infrastructure necessary to bring fiber optic internet into homes is not worth what they would make in return.
Satellite internet company HughesNet is looking to even the playing field a little bit. In December, they launched their EchoStar XIX satellite, which is now safely in orbit with all systems go and ready to provide satellite internet plans featuring 25Mbps download speeds with their Gen5 service.
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With this new expansion of their high-speed internet services, Hughes expects to be able to compete for a lot of people still using DSL, dial-up, and other older internet technologies.
“One are we think is a cause of great frustration is low-speed DSL,” said Hughes EVP Mike Cook. “It’s a copper-based technology that telcos are not investing in. We think for people who are on that, HughestNet Gen V is a tremendous upgrade in service capability.”
The expansion of the satellite network also allows Hughes to help shed data caps. Under its new service, Hughes customers will have “soft” data caps – once they hit their data limit, the service will downgrade their priority in terms of service (meaning things will slow down at certain times of day) rather than cutting off service completely. The latter is a source of some consternation to satellite internet customers. Customers will also get a free 50GB worth of data per month if that data’s used during off-peak hours.
The big perk of this is that DSL and satellite customer who previously weren’t able to use streaming services like Hulu, Netflix or Amazon Prime will now have the opportunity. (Although Cook recommends sticking to standard def in order to avoid capping your data plan.) The plans are cost-competitive, too, with consumer plans starting at $49.99 per month and business plans at $69.99 per month.
While satellite internet does not offer all the benefits that some of the higher-level services in more urban and suburban areas offer, it is improving, and HughesNet is leading the way.