Telecom Signaling Featured Article

HughesNet Makes Mark in Telecom Signaling

December 06, 2016

As a former WildBlue subscriber many years ago, before my area finally got a sound broadband connection, I know firsthand that satellite Internet is truly one of the worst options in broadband access. HughesNet, meanwhile, is one of the biggest names in satellite Internet access, and recently, it made something of a name for itself with a new nod from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

The FCC recently handed the nod to HughesNet as part of the FCC's “Measuring Broadband America – 2016” report, in which it noted that HughesNet was actually first among all major Internet service providers (ISPs) in terms of actually living up to its advertised performance.  HughesNet actually met or exceeded advertised speeds, both upload and download, and even during peak use periods, more often than any other provider. It was sufficient to rank first among satellite Internet providers, even as digital subscriber line (DSL) providers frequently failed to meet advertised standards. In four out of six cases, in fact, DSL services were less than advertised.

HughesNet also noted plans to step up its service by launching a new satellite by the end of this month. The EchoStar XIX will more than double current capacity, reports note, and give new telecom signaling options to current and potential future subscribers.

While this sounds terrific, and a new advance in telecom signaling, let's look at the numbers for a second. Here, I'll use Frontier DSL, which I'm also a subscriber of, for easy figuring. Frontier offers me unlimited bandwidth a month for one price. Sure, the speeds aren't always the greatest—it's about three meg down out here—but when the bandwidth's unlimited you can afford to take your time. HughesNet, meanwhile, offers as its lowest-tier package—the “Choice” plan—five meg down, but here's the kicker: you'll only get five gigabytes of access total for the month. Except, of course, for the 50 gigabytes of “bonus bytes” available between the clearly-useful hours of 2:00 and 8:00 every morning. It's a lot easier to meet advertised speeds when, one, you have fewer users—HughesNet pretty much is the plan of last resort—and two, when you're ready to throttle your users into “temporarily lower speeds” after that number is hit, there's going to be plenty of self-limiting on the system.

In the end, it's easier to hit advertised speeds when use is much lower, and though HughesNet has won a major feather in its cap in the telecom signaling market, it's important to note just what that feather represents. DSL may not be matching its advertised speeds at all times, but given the environment it's operating in, that's not much of a surprise. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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