How Does Satellite Internet Work?

Step 1 Graphic

Step 1

A request for a Web page is sent from your computer to a satellite about 22,000 miles out in space. At this altitude, the satellite's period of rotation (24 hours) matches the Earth's, and the satellite always remains in the same spot over the Earth (geosynchronous orbit). Because Internet via satellite is so technologically advanced, this distance hardly makes a difference to satellite Internet speeds, even in rural areas. 

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Step 2

The satellite contacts the Hughes Network Operations Center (NOC) which locates the specific Website you have requested.

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Step 3

The Website beams the information back along the same path to the NOC, then to the satellite, and then to your computer through your HughesNet dish and modem. Although the signal travels a great distance, there is only a fraction of a second delay during this transmission. This is similar to delay you may have experienced when using a cell phone. In most cases, latency isn't apparent while surfing online. Once technology is set up in your home connecting to the Internet via satellite is simple.

Satellite Internet Coverage Areas
United States
HughesNet® Gen5 is available where you live, even where fiber and cable Internet are not. HughesNet Gen5 lets you do more of everything you love, wherever you live in the contiguous United States and Alaska! As long as you have a clear view of the Southern sky, you have access to fast satellite Internet speeds, more data, and built-in Wi-Fi. Live where you love and still stay connected!
Alaska and Puerto RIco
HughesNet is available in Alaska and Puerto Rico wherever you have a clear view of the Southern sky!

HughesNet® Gen5 leverages decades of experience in satellite technology and service with SmartTechnologies™, revolutionary enhancements to our satellite Internet service that let customers do more of what they want online without interruptions or running over monthly data allowances. SmartTechnologies are included with every Internet plan.

Features include:

  • Shrinking Web data by up to 30% - so you can do more online and download more content, while using less of your data.

  • Improving your satellite Internet speeds by pre-fetching bits and pieces that make up a Web page, so your Web pages load faster.

  • Tools like the Usage Meter and Data Tokens allow you to monitor data and add more to your plan if needed. 

Advanced Technology

The EchoStar XIX satellite is the world's highest-capacity broadband satellite. It now connects a greater number of households and small businesses with the fastest satellite Internet speeds available from coast to coast. 

Image of EchoStar XIX

Frequently Asked Questions

How quickly will my satellite Internet service be installed?

In most cases, the necessary equipment is installed within five days of purchasing your service. Most customers have the opportunity to schedule an installation date at time of order, or you will be contacted within three days to schedule an appointment.

What is included with a professional installation?

The HughesNet professional technician will install the HughesNet Wi-Fi Modem and satellite dish, and will connect 2 devices, such as a desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. You can ask your technician for a quote to connect more devices. Any non-standard installation extras will be billed on your next HughesNet invoice. The technicians...

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What are the computer system requirements for HughesNet?

HughesNet lets you connect your computer to the Internet whether you are running a Windows or Macintosh operating system. HughesNet supports all version of Windows and Mac OS that are still supported by their respective manufacturers. Android and iOS mobile devices are also compatible with the Wi-Fi connection on your modem.

Can the certified HughesNet installer hook up my home network?

Your installer will connect two devices during your installation appointment. However, you can ask your technician to connect additional devices for an additional cost. Any non-standard installation extras will be billed on your next HughesNet invoice. The technicians do not accept cash or check at the time of install. 

Does HughesNet have data limits?

HughesNet® Gen5 doesn’t have hard data limits. If you exceed the data included with your plan in a given month, you will experience slower speeds, but you will still have Internet access. If you’d like to restore your speeds, you can add more data with Data Tokens, or upgrade to the next plan level immediately.


*Free standard installation applies to new Lease subscribers only. Not valid with Purchase option. Limited-time offer.