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T-Mobile vs. Hughesnet: Which Internet Provider Is Best for You?

Compare two wireless internet providers with incredible coverage.

  • Best speeds
    • Customer rating: 4.1/5*
    • Price: $40.00-$60.00/mo.†
    • Speed: 72–245Mbps
    • Internet type: 5G Home
    • Data cap: Unlimited
    • Contract: None
  • Best availability
    • Customer rating: 2.9/5*
    • Price: $49.99–$149.99/mo.‡
    • Speed: 15–50Mbps
    • Internet type: GSO Satellite
    • Data cap: 15–200GB
    • Contract: 2 years

Compare T-Mobile and Hughesnet head to head

Although both T-Mobile and Hughesnet provide wireless internet, they have a lot of differences. T-Mobile connections are generally faster and cheaper, and they have much lower latency than Hughesnet plans.

Hughesnet can match T-Mobile in certain aspects, but it’s always a trade off. The cheapest Hughesnet plans can match T-Mobile’s price, but have high latency. Hughesnet Fusion plans can provide low-latency connections, but are considerably more expensive. In other categories, like speed, data caps, and contracts, T-Mobile wins every time. The only definitive advantage that Hughesnet has is its huge coverage, and even then, T-Mobile’s only slightly behind.

Pros and cons: T-Mobile vs. Hughesnet

Pros:

  • Higher speeds
  • Lower cost
  • Low latency

Cons:

  • Limited rural 5G speeds

Pros:

  • Wide coverage
  • Fusion plans

Cons:

  • Higher cost
  • Data caps
  • Long-term contracts

Want to know if T-Mobile or Hughesnet are in your area? Take a look by typing in your zip code below.

Plans and pricing: T-Mobile vs. Hughesnet

T-Mobile has a simple, straightforward pricing method. Hughesnet’s pricing is less so. There are several important things to note when looking at Hughesnet plans. First, prices go up after the first six months. Second, there are additional costs like equipment fees and data overage fees. Be aware of these in order to avoid unpleasant surprises on your bill.

Hughesnet does offer more plan options than T-Mobile, but the main thing you pay for in the more expensive plans is additional data, not speed. T-Mobile’s one plan offers unlimited data, which is hard to beat.

T-Mobile plans and pricing

PackagePrice*SpeedDetails
T-Mobile 5G Home Internet
  • $40.00/mo. with a Go5G Next, Go5G Plus, or Magenta® MAX phone plan*
  • $50.00/mo. with any Voice plan*
  • 72–245MbpsView Plan

    T-Mobile’s 5G Home Internet plan is a great choice for rural areas. Even compared to some wired plans like DSL, it’s still a good value in terms of speed versus cost—plus you get unlimited data, which is a big deal for wireless providers.

    T-Mobile’s 5G network can reach high speeds, but the highest speeds aren’t always available across T-Mobile’s entire coverage area, especially in particularly remote areas where people rely on wireless connections. Customers in larger cities are more likely to get 5G speeds at the high end of that range, but these areas are also more likely to have access to cable and fiber connections, which offer even higher speeds.

    Hughesnet plans and pricing

    PackagePriceSpeedInternetDetails
    Select $49.99/mo.*Up to 50MbpsSatellite
    Elite $64.99/mo.*Up to 100MbpsSatellite
    Fusion $79.99/mo.*Up to 100MbpsSatellite and Wireless

    The Hughesnet Fusion plan provides low latency using a hybrid of its usual satellite connections and terrestrial wireless networks, similar to the ones T-Mobile uses. This means activities like video chat and online games can take advantage of quicker and more responsive connections while the bulk of your data still travels to orbit and back.

    Satellite-only plans differ only in their data allotments, making it easy for you to determine the value. You end up paying less per gig of data with the more expensive plans, so although you don’t want to pay for more data than you’re going to use, you also get more value with higher-tier plans. Of course, this isn’t much of a selling point compared to T-Mobile’s unlimited data.

    In general, we don’t recommend Hughesnet low data plans because 15GB isn’t very much data at all. It’s better than nothing if that’s what fits your budget, but you have to be incredibly frugal with your internet use to stay under that limit. And if you can get unlimited data through T-Mobile for the same price, there’s really no reason to put yourself through all that trouble.

    Deals and promotions: T-Mobile vs. Hughesnet

    T-Mobile Home Internet

     

    Order T-Mobile 5G Home Internet and get a rebate for a $50 Prepaid MasterCard.

    Get the Deal

     

    Order a qualifying internet plan and you’ll save $20 per month for 6 months, or get the 45 GB plan to save $30 per month for 24 months.

    Want to know if T-Mobile or Hughesnet are in your area? Take a look by typing in your zip code below.

    Extra fees: T-Mobile vs. Hughesnet

    Equipment FeeInstallation FeeOther Fees
    T-MobileNoneSelf-installationNone
    Hughesnet
    • $14.99/mo. ($19.99/mo. for Fusion)
    • $449.98 equipment purchase ($549.98 for Fusion)
    Free professional installationData Tokens starting at $9.00/ 3GB

    T-Mobile doesn’t charge you extra fees on top of your monthly bill, which is awesome. New T-Mobile customers have to self-install their equipment, which is fairly easy, even if you’ve never done it before. T-Mobile’s app will walk you through the process from start to finish.

    Hughesnet comes with free professional installation, which is even better. Its monthly equipment rental fees aren’t too bad, but they do add up, which is a big contrast to T-Mobile’s flat rate. Hughesnet does give you the option to purchase your equipment, but that’s a pretty big upfront cost.

    Customer ratings: T-Mobile vs. Hughesnet

    Overall RatingSpeedPriceReliabilityCustomer service
    T-Mobile4.1/54.0/54.1/53.9/54.1/5
    Hughesnet2.9/52.9/52.6/52.9/53.2/5

    T-Mobile was the highest ranked among nationwide providers in our annual customer satisfaction survey, beating competition in overall satisfaction by a good margin. T-Mobile has been putting a lot of effort into their home internet, and that work seems to be paying off.

    We didn’t receive enough responses from Hughesnet customers to include it in our nationwide rankings. However, those who did respond gave it rather low marks. Again, since there were so few responses, these results should be taken with a grain of salt, but it doesn’t paint the prettiest picture of customer experiences.

    Internet types: T-Mobile vs. Hughesnet

    PackageInternet typeDetails
    T-Mobile5G HomeView Plans
    HughesnetGSO Satellite

    T-Mobile provides 5G home internet, which is one of the newest and fastest wireless internet technologies. 5G is cellular technology, but its high speeds make it a great way to deliver wireless home internet. However, these high speeds are not available across T-Mobile’s entire nationwide footprint.

    To reach into less densely populated areas, 5G providers use multiple bands of radio frequencies to maximize the number of households they can reach. This accounts for the wide range of advertised speeds you see advertised with 5G Home internet. Customers in rural areas will get speeds toward the lower end of that advertised range, while those in urban areas that are closer to 5G infrastructure will get higher speeds.

    Hughesnet operates large satellites in geosynchronous orbit, which is a very long distance from the surface of Earth. The time it takes for your data to travel to geosynchronous orbit and back causes incredibly high latency. Latency can be a big deal for certain kinds of activities, so Hughesnet created a hybrid connection for its Fusion plans. These plans use cellular networks for latency-sensitive tasks to get that data to your device without the lag you’d expect using a satellite connection.

    Data caps: T-Mobile vs. Hughesnet

    ProviderData CapDetails
    T-MobileNoneView Plans
    Hughesnet15–200GB

    T-Mobile has no data caps, and we think that’s great. Hughesnet plans do have caps, and they’re fairly low. Hughesnet’s low speed makes it harder to burn through data as fast as you would on a faster connection like DSL, but it’s still better to buy a plan that covers your needs than to buy additional data (which is much more expensive per gigabyte) on a regular basis.

    Hughesnet plans also come with 50GB of Bonus Zone data, which is data you can only use between 2:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. This isn’t very useful for everyday internet use, but it gives you a time to schedule things like system updates, which could otherwise burn through your entire data cap for the month all at once. You can even download media like games or videos during this time, which you can then play back during daylight hours without using any additional data.

    Contracts: T-Mobile vs. Hughesnet

    ProvidersContract lengthDetails
    T-MobileNoneView Plans
    Hughesnet2 years

    T-Mobile requires no long-term contracts, which is great. Hughesnet plans require a two-year service contract. Two years is a long commitment for an internet provider, but it is pretty standard for satellite providers.

    Installation: T-Mobile vs. Hughesnet

    ProvidersInstallation optionsDetails
    T-Mobile
    • Self-installation
    View Plans
    Hughesnet
    • Free professional installation

    T-Mobile has self-installation, which is free. Its equipment is designed to be easy to set up, so professional installation isn’t really necessary. T-Mobile does provide an app to walk you through the process, so even those who don’t have experience shouldn’t have any difficulty setting up their new connection.

    Hughesnet equipment requires professional installation because it involves mounting a satellite dish on or nearby your house and running a cable inside to the rest of your equipment. The dish also has to be aligned to the satellite by the technician in order to get a good signal.

    Availability: T-Mobile vs. Hughesnet

    Both T-Mobile and Hughesnet are widely available nationwide, though HughesNet can reach even farther than T-Mobile into underserved rural areas, which is why satellite internet is essential, even with so many other internet technologies.

    To see if T-Mobile or Hughesnet is in your area, enter your zip code below:

    Final call: T-Mobile vs. Hughesnet

    If you have to choose between T-Mobile and Hughesnet, T-Mobile is the clear choice. Its cost is as low as the cheapest Hughesnet plan, but you get better speed and more data than even the most expensive Hughesnet plan. Hughesnet Fusion manages to level the playing field in terms of latency (which gives it a leg up on other satellite providers), but T-Mobile still wins out with its lower cost and unlimited data.

    Of course, T-Mobile still doesn’t reach every household in the U.S., so for some households, Hughesnet is still going to be better than nothing.

    Methodology

    Our HighSpeedInternet.com editorial team bases our analyses on customer input from our annual customer satisfaction survey, results from our speed test tool, and proprietary internet provider data on speeds and pricing. To strengthen our research, we look closely at provider contracts to get hard-to-find information on price hikes, data caps, and extra fees, and we keep tabs on the latest news reports and online reviews. When applicable, we also rely on our personal experiences testing these services.

    Author -

    Peter Christiansen writes about satellite internet, rural connectivity, livestreaming, and parental controls for HighSpeedInternet.com. Peter holds a PhD in communication from the University of Utah and has been working in tech for over 15 years as a computer programmer, game developer, filmmaker, and writer. His writing has been praised by outlets like Wired, Digital Humanities Now, and the New Statesman.

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