Shitty internet, stuck in contract. What to do?

So, I recently posted about our issues with the satellite internet provider Hughesnet. Being in the middle of nowhere we have two options. WildBlue or Hughesnet. We tried WB they sucks. We’ve had HN about a year and everything was fine until about 6 months ago. Then we began to have intermittent problems with the internet. Ridiculously slow load times, long bouts of the internet going out and just general shittiness. Within the past month it’s gotten even worse.

Basically from about 2pm to 10pm (peak usage hours) our internet is basically useless. Pages won’t load, or load only partially. We have to reload a webpage 3-5 times to get it to load. Mostly getting timeout errors and no data received. Yet when we do the speed tests on HN’s website it says we’re getting something like 1.6Mpbs, which is bullshit. I’ve called tech support MULTIPLE times. I posted on their community forum which got me upgraded to executive support (aka not India). She’s been less than helpful, insisting everything is fine on their end and whenever a technician comes on site, they say everything’s fine on our end. I’m getting the damn run around and HN refuses to do anything besides blame us or send out another technician.

We’re paying $60 a month for this service and we can’t even use the damn net during the times we need it the most. But, of course, we’re in a 2 year contract with nearly a year left to go. To break it would cost us about $800, which isn’t even an option. But we’re pissed at paying this much and getting nothing in return. I don’t really know what more to do. Do I contact the BBB? Do I try to go up higher in the chain at customer service? Honestly, I think they’re not upholding their end of the contract, but I’m also sure their lawyers have it worded such that there’s no way out for us on that argument alone. What would you guys do in this situation? I know the squeaky wheel gets the grease, but I’ve been squeaking like crazy and getting nowhere.

I had the same problem with Hughesnet. Well, not quite the same problem, because you said everything was fine for six months. Even though the download speeds were in the general neighborhood of what they promised, I don’t think I ever had latency less than 800ms. Not to mention the times that we’d get “throttled back” to dial-up speed for 24 hours because we loaded an operating system update or something.

What I ended up doing was documenting every single problem and every single call to tech support. Once I had a page-long log, I called tech support and asked for a manager. I asked the manager to pull up my records, and asked if he saw all of the support calls, outages, and so forth. When he said yes I asked whether they’d be rebating my monthly fees for the last few months or letting us out of the contract.

It was a battle, and I ended up getting booted up one more level, but they finally agreed to let us out of the contract.

Speed of light - your minimum latency roundtrip just based on speed of light issues to a geosynchronous satellite is approx 5-600ms, which is to say, not their fault, it is a limitation of choosing satellite service at all.

I don’t know where you are but the law of your jurisdiction almost certainly entitles you to cancel service without penalty (probably with 30 days notice or something like that.) If you’re in the US, your state probably has an ombudsman designated to deal with telecom provider issues like this.

Gary “Wombat” Robson, I’ve started the documentation process. I think at this point, I’m going to have to call nearly everyday to get something done or make them aware of how bad the situation is. They’re sending a technician over today to ‘reassess’ the location of our dish. Which is just ridiculous since it works decently during off-peak hours. And when I say decently, I don’t mean anywhere near the 1Mbps we’re supposed to get. I’ve never downloaded anything faster than 100kps. And that’s usually on an awesome day.

And as for latency, ours hovers around 900-1200ms :expressionless: Which is ridiculous but, of course, to be expected with satellite.

I actually have no idea what you’re talking about :frowning: I’ve never heard of any government entity whose purpose was to take care of situations like this.

And even though I’m pissed with HN, I was thinking last night…if we do manage to get out of the contract, then what? WildBlue isn’t any better. The big and local internet companies don’t come out this far, we’re in a bit of a valley so we’re barely even able to get decent cellphone coverage. I don’t want to be stuck with dialup but dammit I don’t want to keep paying HN for shitty service either.

I use Verizon’s wireless air card. I’m satisfied with it. It’s cellular, not satellite.


The OP being “in the middle of nowhere” probably means they have spotty 3G service at best.

Very true, though it’s slightly better than our normal cellphone reception. But don’t those services have severely limited bandwidth? Right now with HN we get about 7gb a month and we probably use about 80% of that.

I get 5 gb per month. I think an extra 2 gb is available for $10/mo. I don’t do much TV watching/movie downloading.


A good cell booster can usually turn even a glimmer of a cell coverage into a usable connection. But, yeah, the bandwidth is pretty limited/expensive unless you’ve been grandfathered in to one of the unlimited plans.

The expensive bandwidth on cell plans is (at least IMHO) more of an issue of billing practices than a technical limitation like it is on Satellite, so my hope is that cell data will eventually be the solution to rural broadband. It’s generally not quite there yet.

The air-card services used to be limited and expensive, for executive road warriors and programmer-nerds only. They’ve gotten comparatively fast and cheap. Look up the coverage maps for the big four and see if you have good 4G coverage where you’re at, and see if you can get some kind of on-site validation (e.g., a salesween visiting with an air card-equipped laptop).

We are both in the middle of nowhere and in hilly terrain, so while Sprint had served me well for about ten years, their signal here was patchy and weak. I begged out of the (foolishly renewed) contract on good terms and went to Verizon, who for some reason have our little town blanketed like a microwave. 4G service at a home and in all but a few odd locations. (I say odd because one total dead zone is atop a hill in the middle of town with line of sight to two towers…) We do rely on Comcast cable (~20mb) for service, but many here use air cards in their laptops - and the town emergency services use them for both primary and backup communication. So if you’re lucky enough to have solid coverage from a carrier, it’s a valid option.

Is there such a thing?

Yep, although they aren’t cheap. I forget what the exact model is, but I’ve got a Wilson one that cost about $350. I think what’s more important than the booster itself is that it has a remote directional antenna, which I have mounted on a pole on the roof pointed towards the cell tower. I work in some remote locations in the middle of nowhere. Usually unboosted I can only get a spotty 1x connection but provided there’s a 3g tower somewhere in the area I’ve usually been able to get reliable 3g with the booster.

If you have a landline, you should be able to get broadband from your phone company.

Have you considered trying to see if you can move to Gen 4 with Hughesnet instead of cancelling all together?

It’s pretty good for me.

'K, thanks. I was afraid you meant those little foil things you’re supposed to stick in the battery compartments. :smiley:


Not necessarily. You also have to be within a certain distance of the DSL infrastructure. Most places out in the sticks do have phone service (thanks to the Rural Electrification Administration) but probably won’t ever get DSL.

One possibility is that you are getting terrestrial interference, usually from microwave transmission, which is not easily detectable with the equipment their techs are likely to carry.

One solution is to not have the dish on the side of a building. Instead, dig a pit and mount the dish in it. The surrounding earth will help block out the microwave interference.

And the Wilson cell stuff actually works pretty well. I used one in the RV I helped build for a friend.

Or not, if they’re in such a remote area. I live in a fairly populated area on the outskirts of Tucson and Century Link just got around to bringing us DSL last year, 2012. Prior to that, Comcast was our only option for broadband.