HughesNet High-speed Satellite Internet System Tips
Many rural residents in our service areas of El Dorado County and Northern California are getting connected to the Internet with a HughesNet Satellite Internet system. When properly installed, HughesNet systems can provide satisfactory performance, equivalent to a DSL or high-speed broadband cable connection. However, many users complain of poor or intermittant performance with their HughesNet system. Here are a few tips and suggestions to try if you're not getting the most out of your HughesNet or DirecWay Satellite Internet System. Please note that some of these tips apply only to the HughesNet DW6000, DW7000 and HN7000S modems. The newer HughesNet HN9000 satellite Internet systems have a slightly different operating systems and may require additional measures to correct service problems. However, many of these tips are shared in common between the two systems:
1. First and foremost, HughesNet does not guarantee its service levels. They advertise only that their service levels can provide "up to" the maximum listed speeds. Most likely, your actual speeds will be 50% to 80% of the maximums shown, and can be lower at times depending upon how many other HughesNet customers are online.
2. The standard 0.74 meter (30") DirectWay or HughesNet dish systems owned by many users throughout Northern California, El Dorado County, Latin America and the Caribbean supports the the first three HughesNet service levels. These levels are generally OK for use by one or two users, but can be slow if you are sharing your system with more than that. It just depends on how and when everyone is using the shared system. You might think of sharing your HughesNet system's capacity like sharing a water supply pipe with your neighbors. If you have a small water pipe serving your neighborhood and no one uses a lot of water at the same time, then everything is fine. But if one or more of your neighbors are "power users" and wash their clothes a lot or leave the hose running all day, then that will affect everyone else's water supply. If they only water at night, you may not notice if you only use the water during the day.
3. In the same way you might be sharing a single HughesNet system with your neighbors, your Hughesnet system is sharing space on the satellite with other HughesNet system owners. When there are a lot of HughesNet users on the same satellite at the same time, usually in the afternoons, then the speed for all of the users on that satellite may slow down.
4. HughesNet has about a dozen satellites than can be seen from the US, and most subscribers are spread out among these satellites. To receive HughesNet service in southern Baja, most of El Dorado County, and Central America however, these smaller 0.74 meter HughesNet satellite antennas are limited to using just a few satellites; usually SatMex 5 or 6. The traffic on these two satellites can be very congested at times because they're the only two satellites being used for just about every HughesNet system throughout much of El Dorado County, parts of the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
5. Each HughesNet satellite has a number of frequencies, or "channels," and users are assigned to a specific channel when their system is provisioned by HughesNet. These channels are shared with other users, and some of these channels are more congested than others. Also, as the satellites age, some of these channels may deliver degraded performance compared to others.
6. Certain uses and applications such as audio or video streaming, downloading large files, or receiving updates through the Internet can seriously slow down a HughesNet system. Modern operating systems and many applications are often running in the background and continuously downloading patches and updates. Other users may be receiving these updates at the same time as you, and all this activity can slow down the entire system.
7. HughesNet maintains a "Fair Access Policy" (also known as a FAP). This policy allows each user to download a certain amount of megabytes within a given period of time (For the Access 100 Plan, it's 375 MB total within 24 hours). Once your downloads exceed your FAP threshold, your bandwidth will be throttled back to something around 56 Kbs, about the speed of a regular telephone dial up modem. You can read more about HughesNet's FAP policy here: http://customercare.myhughesnet.com/fap_faqs.htm
Again, using our water analogy, it might help you to think of your available FAP megabytes like the reserve of water in a water storage tank (called a "tinaco" in El Dorado County). The storage tank may hold 375 gallons when full. But when you empty the tank, the available water coming out of the tank will be limited to no more than the dribble of water going in. Over time, your tank refills and you have more water. In the same way, your FAP allowance recovers over time until you are once again able to use full speed.
OK, so what can you do about any of this?
- If you're using a PC, download and install the HughesNet LAN Client Configuration Utility (LCCU) from http://customercare.myhughesnet.com/downloads/lccu.html. The LCCU will help configure Windows-based computers to obtain optimal performance with the HughesNet system. Please read the LCCU Owner's Manual before using the LCCU. (NOTE: May not be compatible with Windows Vista!)
- Download and install HughesNet's Status Meter widget. The Status Meter will allow you to monitor your data use "Real Time" on your PC or Mac. Download the Status Meter here: http://services.hughesnet.com/service_tools/Status_Meter/index.cfm
- Download and install HughesNet Tools. These tools may help you to solve some of the more common connection problems that might be plaguing your computer (not compatible with Apple Macintosh).
- Apply a "Restore Token" to restore high-speed service. Each HughesNet subscriber receives one free Restore Token each month on your billing date. You can use this free Token any time you exceed your Download Allowance. You can purchase additional Tokens throughout the month, priced based on your plan's Download Allowance. You can also set the Status Meter to automatically use any available tokens (Complimentary or Pre-Paid). More information on Restore Tokens here: http://services.hughesnet.com/Service_Tools/tokens/learn_more.cfm
- Make sure your computer(s) is absolutely free of hidden viruses and "spyware." These nasty little programs skulk in the background robbing your computer's power, and they can bring everything to a halt as they send spam mail from your computer, record your passwords and credit card info, and do other creepy things to gum up the works. You are using a current and updated anti-virus program, aren't you? AREN'T YOU???
- Check the coaxial connections. Many are installed very poorly, often with exposed connectors that were never intended for outside use. Water gets into the connectors and cables and impairs the signal.
- Check the feedhorn in front of the dish. They have a little plastic window over the front. Be sure there is no water or fogging inside the plastic. If it has water inside, you have a leak that will impair performance.
- Check that the dish, mount and cables are properly grounded. This step is often omitted and can cause weird, intermittant connection problems.
- Cable runs should be no longer than 150' and they should use really good cable; not cheap stuff. Cheap cable has a higher loss, and can have an unacceptably high internal resistance. We see a lot of this in El Dorado County.
- Expect slowdowns, especially during the afternoons and inclement weather. Also, if there is bad weather in Germantown, Maryland, where the HughesNet Network Operations Center is located, expect slowdowns. Try to pick other times to log on.
- There is not much you can do about exceeding your FAP except to wait until your HughesNet FAP allowance "refills" or apply a "Restore Token." More information on Restore Tokens here: http://services.hughesnet.com/Service_Tools/tokens/learn_more.cfm. If you're a power downloader, or like to watch streaming video then you'll probably hit your FAP limit frequently. Higher HughesNet service levels have a larger FAP limit.
To check your usage history, you will first need your Site ID. You can find your Site ID by clicking here to log into your HughesNet Modem: http://192.168.0.1 and click on the System Info button.
Once you have your Site ID, you can check your usage history here: http://customercare.myhughesnet.com/frm_usage.cfm. Here, you can check you daily usage history and see if and when you're going over your FAP limit.
- Schedule automated downloads for your computer's operating system and programs to occur in the middle of the night when HughesNet provides a "free" downlaod period from 2AM to 7AM Eastern Time. During this period your download megabytes do not count toward your FAP total. To change your download schedule in Windows XP and others, go to Start > Settings > Control Panel > Scheduled Tasks. Double Click on any program entries you find there, click the Schedule tab, and change the download time to start sometime between 12 AM to 2 AM California time. This will help ensure your downloads finish before 5 AM (7 AM Eastern). Then go to Start > Settings > Control Panel > Automatic Updates, and do the same thing there.
- Test your up and down speeds frequently. This will help you to track your system's performance over time so you can spot patterns or notice extended periods of impaired performance. Go to http://satspeedtest.hughesnet.com/cgi/launch2.cgi and start testing your speed. The web site will save a history of your tests so you can track your system over time.
- If you're trying to use Voice Over Internet (also known as VoIP), try using some of the less demanding VoIP applications like Skpye. Vonage, and some other VoIP services, tend to be more demanding and need greater speed, especially the UP speed. Inadequate UP speed will be evident when you can hear your caller but they cannot hear you. Avoid doing other things on your computer when using VoIP, like browsing the web or sending e mail. Better yet, restart your computer and only launch your VoIP application. If you're using a router or other VoIP appliance, try unplugging it to reboot it and then reconnect.
Note that HughesNet does not officially support using their systems for VoIP. If you really need good, reliable telephone service over satellite, then consider using another system that is optimized for VoIP such as Commercial-grade "VSAT" (Very Small Aperture Terminal) Satellite Internet Systems. VSAT Internet systems are "business-class" systems and use a larger dish and more powerful transmitter. There are far fewer VSAT users so service on these systems is far less congested. Also, minimum service levels are guaranteed.
- Make sure your dish is pointed dead on the satellite, and the mount is absolutely tight. Also, the "skew," a very finicky adjustment on these dishes, must be dead on. We have seen many HughesNet systems where high winds pushed them off a bit, or the skew or other adjustments were incorrectly set in the first place.
- Get the most modern modem, the HughesNet HNS7000S. It works better than the older modems, even the DW7000S.
- Request a change of satellite or channel. Users with smaller systems may not have much choice when it comes to changing satellites but it is possible that changing channels could help. Changing satellites or channels must be approved by the HughesNet Network Operations Center. You will most likely need the assistance of an experienced technician who can make this request with Hughesnet and reposition your dish. It's also likely your modem will need to be reregistered in order to switch to the new channel or satellite.
- Install a larger HughesNet dish and a 2 watt transmitter. Larger .98, 1.2 and 1.8 meter dishes are available. Most of the smaller systems use 1 watt transmitters. 2 watt transmitters are available, and you will usually have to replace the entire transmitter and receiver assembly if you replace the dish. With a larger antenna and transmitter, you can better maintain service during bad weather conditions.
Of course, contact us if we can help you in any way. We are Satellite TV and Internet professionals, and we know what we're doing. References are available upon request.
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We can assist you remotely by telephone or by E mail with "Do It Yourself" Satellite TV and HughesNet Satellite Internet system installations, system troubshooting or repairs. Please call 530 417 1451, or Contact Us By E mail if we can help you in any way.
About El Dorado Satellite Internet
El Dorado Satellite Internet provides HughesNet satellite Internet systems, installation, parts and service for El Dorado County from Placerville, Pollock Pines, Diamond Springs, Georgetown and Shingle Springs to South Lake Tahoe. a FREE analysis of your Satellite TV System needs, please call 530 417 1451, or contact us today!
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1 - When you connect to the Internet using HughesNet, the upload and download speeds you experience will vary based on a variety of factors including the configuration of your computer, the number of concurrent users, network or Internet congestion, the speed of the Web sites you are accessing, and other factors. Stated speeds and uninterrupted use of service are not guaranteed. During peak hours, actual upload and download speeds will likely be lower than speeds indicated.
2 - Gen4 Plans only available on the EchoStar XVII satellite. Certain geographical areas are not covered by this satellite.
3 - $39.99 is available with the Connect service plan only for the first three months of service, then reverts to $49.99 per month thereafter. $49.99 is available with the Power service plan only for the first three months of service, then reverts to $59.99 per month thereafter. HughesNet service and equipment must be purchased or leased before 09/30/13. New customers only. Restrictions may apply. Offer void
4 - $99 instant rebate applies to the Lease of a new HughesNet system. Not applicable with the Purchase option. New customers only. Offer ends 09/30/13. Other restrictions may apply. Offer void wherever prohibited or restricted by law.
5 - Free standard installation valid on new Lease option only. Not valid with the Purchase option. Limited time offer.
6 - $100.00 Instant rebate valid on new Purchase option only. Not valid with the Lease option. Limited time offer.
Based on an analysis of customer usage data, Hughes has established a download allowance for each of the HughesNet service plans that is well above the typical usage rates. Subscribers who exceed that threshold will experience reduced download speeds for the remainder of the month. During this recovery period, the HughesNet service may still be used, but speeds will be slower.
Optional Express Repair Service – Basic includes 2nd business day contact, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday. – Premium includes next business day contact. $29.95 per onsite repair incident in addition to monthly fee.
General Disclaimers - All HughesNet Service Plans require a 24-month contract to start upon the date of your system activation. Fees for early termination apply. Lease offer requires credit approval. Equipment lease fee of $9.99 per month will be added to monthly service charge. Prices shown do not include applicable local sales tax. Available in the contiguous US. Alaska and Hawaii pricing may vary. Networking equipment is not included. For network setup, support and configuration, contact your network hardware manufacturer and/or operating system software developer (Hughes is not responsible for home network configuration and management). All computers on this network will be sharing a single connection. Simultaneous use of high-bandwidth applications by multiple users may result in degradation of speed. All plan speeds, Monthly data download allowance, pricing and rebates as of 05/01/2013. Subject to change. Minimum term required. Monthly service and termination fees apply. Usage is subject to a Fair Access Policy. Actual speeds may vary. Speed and uninterrupted use of service are not guaranteed. Visit legal.hughesnet.com for details. HughesNet® is a trademark of Hughes Network Systems.