To be fair it's not just Hughes, but the other satellite providers are guilty of high prices for data. I spent a career in satellite communications in the Army and I know that there is no need for that kind of pricing. The satellite is nothing but a repeater. It's 22,000 miles in a geosynchronous orbit, but it's a repeater just the same. The transponders on the birds are constantly balanced to keep the payload stable on each frequency band for all users. Once the download and upload converters are in place, there should be no difference between a cable company and a satellite company for data access. I share the customers annoyance with data caps. And I do not buy the excuse that it takes a lot of people to maintain and monitor the equipment which justifies the high costs because most systems are automated today. I know this first hand because I used to work in Earth Terminals that were completely converted to automation. Make no mistake, there is a lot of greed and gouging going on in the satellite industry. The reason I chose hughes over the other providers is simply because Hughes has the shortest contract plan.
I also worked in satellite operations in the Air Force and much of the peronnel cost is already absorbed by an available workforce 24/7 at no additional cost other than initial training. Also the military doesn't worry near as much about the bottom line as they can rob from one basket to cover another. They don't have to worry at all about profit and shareholders.
The Hughes gateways, NOCs if you want, are manned 24/7 from what I understand. Not automated.
Won't even go into planning, launching and general operational costs in the civilian world versus military. Comparing civilian satellite companies to the military simply doesn't work. Entirely different when it comes to budget, operation, training, employment costs, etc.
You may have worked in Army Sat systems (as have I), but keep in mind their costs don't include what commercial systems require: Real estate, maintenance, technical and logistics personnel at non-Government salaries, taxes, etc.; not to mention recovery of sunk costs and investments and other buisness expenses.
And, as far as usership, Army sat comms are no where near as prolific as commercial systems. Many, many more users on it for more continuous periods of time, not just when comms are required.
Bottom line, there's a massive difference in scale, scope, and focus here.
I share the customers annoyance with data caps.
Data caps are necessary on a system with a throughput that is a fraction of ground based systems. Without data caps people would be trying to do exactly what they do with those ground based systems....streaming. Enough people trying to stream would slow the system to an absolute crawl, whether it be specific beams, gateways or the system as a whole, and on a system with such a restricted throughput it wouldn't take many to do so.
Though people may be annoyed by the data caps, they should be happy that they are in place.