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HughesNet Tips & Tricks – Troubleshooting a Slow Connection

We get e-mails and phone calls and see posts all of the time from HughesNet customers complaining about a slow connection! Some are experiencing it “off and on” while others are experiencing slower than normal speeds all of the time! So, we decided to put together a list of possible solutions for you!

First, it’s important to know that HughesNet is a shared bandwidth system which means that the “pipe” connecting you to the satellite is used by 300 – 400 other users besides yourself!  For that reason, speeds are going to vary a lot at different times of the day, and it’s highly unlikely that you will ever see what was advertised as “up to” speeds for the plan you are subscribed to!  In fact, in our experience, we’ve estimated that most customers only see about 60 –  70% of the advertised speeds unless you are on really early or really late!  Unfortunately, HughesNet is often over-sold and your sales rep and installer may not have shared that information with you!

And, although I know it sounds like a lame excuse, it is important to know that many speed tests do not work well and / or are not accurate with HughesNet simply due to the latency and caching methods used by HughesNet in hopes of speeding up your service, that actually shows the opposite in most speed tests!   So, for that reason, we do recommend using the speed test at www.myhughesnet.com for the most accurate measurements!  Please note that some anti-virus products can cause sporadic readings on many speed tests, so we recommend disabling your anti-virus temporarily prior to running a speed test also!

Here are some things that may be affecting your speed and performance:

FAP (Fair Access Policy) Almost every satellite Internet system on the market comes with some type of Fair Access Policy, (aka FAP) that limits your daily or monthly data usage in order to prevent bandwidth hogging!   If you go over your FAP limit, HughesNet will slow you down and you will have limited speeds (usually for 24 – 48 hours) or until you purchase a FAP token (if and when available to do so)! Believe it or not, this is the most common reason for people calling and complaining about slow speeds! Restore tokens are still available for residential plans at www.myhughesnet.com to get your service back up to speed, however FAP tokens ARE NOT AVAILABLE with HughesNet VAR Services.  You can check your FAP status by logging into your HughesNet modem at http://192.168.0.1 and clicking the green button, or by visiting http://customercare.myhughesnet.com and selecting “Tools” then “Check Usage” and so on! (You will need your Site ID to do so!)

Viruses, spyware, adware, malware, etc. are speed killers on any Internet Service!  Make sure your computer not only has current updated anti-virus software, but also spyware and malware utilities as well!  And conduct regular FULL scans to ensure your computers are not infected!

Router and Network / WiFi / Sharing issues can also affect speeds, so we recommend connecting directly to your HughesNet modem to make sure the speed issue isn’t the result of a router or network issue! Most routers need to be reset from time to time, in fact we recommend at least once a month!  Also, many people are using unsecured wireless routers or access points for connecting to the Internet. If your wireless router or access point is not “secure” then other people could be using your connection which will result in poor speeds as well! Poor quality or damaged network cables can also cause speed issues as well! And remember… most HughesNet service plans are not intended to support more than 1 or 2 concurrent connections or users, so if you have more than 2 or 3 concurrent connections or users on your network, it will be slower than normal also!

Cabling and Connections can also affect your speed and performance! If you have loose or corroded connections, or poor quality connectors or cable, or damaged cable between the modem and the antenna, you will experience slow speeds! Make sure your cable(s) have not been damaged and that your connectors are not corroded and are nice and tight at all connection points! Also… your HughesNet system requires high-frequency (3 gig) cable and connectors! If, for some reason, the proper cable, connectors, ground blocks and so on are not being used between your HughesNet modem and antenna, this could easily result in slow speeds! We see this issue often when people are trying to extend a cable to reach a new modem location and use low-frequency couplers to do so! Contact us or visit www.montanasatellitesupply.com to purchase the proper cable, connectors, fittings, couplers, ground blocks and more!

An antenna that is not grounded properly can cause speed issues as well and can also cause damage to your transmitter / LNB assembly as well! While we all know that grounding your antenna and transmitter isn’t REALLY going to protect you from a lightening strike… proper grounding DOES remove static electricity from the transmitter assembly which is important to keep the transmitter performing properly and protect it from static buildup that could damage the transmitter over time!  There should be a bare or coated copper wire running from the ground screw on your transmitter/LNB assembly to the antenna back plate and/or on to a common ground point! If this ground wire is missing or damaged, it should be installed or replaced accordingly!

Antenna Pointing & Peaking can affect your speeds as well!  If your antenna is not pointed and peaked properly, the transmitter will have to struggle when it is sending information to the satellite. If necessary it will slow down transmission rates in order to prevent errors in data transmission!  Having your antenna re-peaked for both receive signal AND, more importantly for crosspole (isolation) can greatly improve both speed and reliability! And once your antenna is properly pointed and peaked and passing the crosspole tests, etc. you should “Force-Range” the system to make sure it is communicating with the satellite at the best possible data rates!  Contact us if you need help with that process!

Rain, Snow and Ice collecting on your satellite dish can also affect your signal quality and create errors which result in slow or even intermittent service!  Make sure your antenna is clear!  It’s hard to get around rainfall affecting your signal as it is actually the rain in the air between your dish and the satellite that causes the problem!   However, we can help you to prevent snow and ice from affecting your signal, as we happen to offer the largest selection of satellite dish antenna covers and satellite dish antenna heaters on the market today simply because snow is often an issue here in Montana!  Check them out at http://www.montanasatellitesupply.com !

Feedhorn, Transmitter/LNB issues can also affect speed and performance! After unplugging your HughesNet modem, check the feed horn on your antenna (the clear lens that faces the dish) for moisture, cracks, etc. If the feedhorn lens shows signs of moisture or damage, you may need to have your feedhorn replaced or the o-ring seal between your feedhorn and LNB assembly replaced! Moisture in the feedhorn means that moisture could have gotten into your LNB assembly as well, which can also cause issues! Unfortunately, feedhorns have been known to crack and split, and HughesNet transmitter/LNB assemblies have been known to fail over time and replacements are available in our online store at www.montanasatellitesupply.com !

HughesNet issues and busy times can also cause slow speeds as well! From time to time HughesNet experiences server issues that can cause slow speeds and even periods of down times. If you are only noticing slow speeds during prime times, chances are that the network is just busy! After all it is a shared network and you will probably only see 60% – 70% of advertised speeds for your monthly service plan during these busy times! However if your system is not communicating at all, you should contact HughesNet Customer Care to see if they are having issues at that time!

Power Source / Surge Protection Issues can also cause slow speeds! Cheap inverters, generators, and other alternative power sources can cause slow speeds as can using cheap surge protectors on your modem! Yes, that $150 inverter or that $29 surge protector could be causing connectivity issues resulting in slow speeds! HughesNet and most other electronic devices do not work well with “modified sine wave” inverters or generators and sometimes do not work at all with the less expensive “surge protectors” or even some of the “power strips” on the market today! We recommend “true” or “pure” sine wave inverters and generators and the use of a good quality battery-backup (UPS) system to help protect your HughesNet modem and computer equipment from low-power or surge protection instead of the typical add-on surge protectors which seem to cause “noisy” power that results in slow speeds!

Force-Ranging!  Your installer should have force-ranged your system at the time of installation!  If he didn’t, then you will never see the speeds your system is capable of achieving!  “Force-ranging” is a simply process that  optimizes the connection between your antenna and the satellite! We have seen improvements of up to 30% in speeds just from Force-Ranging a system!  It is a fairly simple process, and instructions are available here!

I hope this will give you some ideas anyway! Feel free to contact HughesNet Customer Care at 866-347-3292 for more information, or contact us at 888-608-2299 for additional assistance!

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