There are, at present, THREE different generations of Hughesnet platforms in operation ... soon to be four when J-2 comes online,
There are a range of available plans and service levels within each of those platforms.
The oldest is the HN7000s system that is serviced by numerous satellites not owned by Hughes but having lease transponder space. There are no new 7000 systems being installed other than in Alaska but there are a number of grandfathered users around. If these folks run speed tests their system performance levels will alter the "reported statistics" of speed test sites such as testmy.net to some degree. Most of these plans had a top rated speed of about 1.6 Mbps.
The next platform in use is the now aging Spaceway-3 system. Its users are divided into two broad groups:
The Legacy users having a daily refill. These plans are "grandfathered" and there are some users still on them. Their inherently lower "up to" speeds will skew statistics.
The Gen4 "wannabe" plans with higher "up to" speeds than legacy users but have monthly allowance refills. These plans have much tighter speed and data cap limits that the true ES17/J-1 systems and those limits will also skew statistics.
Spaceway-3 was once cutting edge, offered superior performance at the time. It is/was tasked with covering the entire lower 48 states with its 120 "beams". While SP3 can be viewed as "saturated" not all beams have the same user density as others. Highly saturated will be subject to congestion slow-downs .... it can be only at peak times .. or around the clock depending on level of overload.
Not all slow-downs are the result of overloading. Only a series of speed tests ran under controlled conditions will reveal the root cause. In many cases, once "local" conditions are discounted then the issue is escalated to Engineering. In most cases some improvement can be effected.
In other cases the problem is local .... a bad cable, bad or missing system ground, a poor cable connector.
Only troubleshooting is going to find the issue.
It is always possible that overcrowding on a beam is the case ..
Thus far we are talking in the context of the HN9000 Spaceway-3 platform ... not the ES-17 Gen4 or the upcoming J-2 ES19 system.
At this point I think that most "Engineering Talent" and effort is going into getting the soon to be online ES19/J-2 system up and running. This is going to offer a dramatic increase in performance for those that only had the SP-3 system available.
Lastly we have the present "Gen4" HT1100 Echostar17/J-1 system.
It has 60 beams that cover only a portion of the lower 48. Beam density is not uniform because we as subscribers are not uniformly distributed.
Some beams are at max capacity and suffer peak time slowdowns while others are underused and offer great performance around the clock.
As with the other systems you can't assume the problem is overloading ... local system conditions (installation, impending equipment failure, poor aim) can all contribute
#1: In all honesty there are so many variables involved with two-way satellite communication it is impossible to guaranty speeds in general but to include "and in any set of weather conditions" really goes beyond impossible. There simply are to many atmospheric factors.
We had really heavy rain and thunderstorm activity early this morning. As a result I lost connectivity for periods of time off and on over a three hour period. These were very heavy thunderstorms with a lot of electrical activity.
For speeds, Hughes strives to maintain a floor of 60% of max plan rating. This isn't always possible of course ... but ...... Gateways are having their capacities increased in preparation for Gen5 so I think it likely that gateway congestion issues will be reduced.
#2: Beams: From your description you would either be on Beam 27:
The Gateway for Beam 27 is MID located in Midland TX,
Or Beam 19:
The Gateway for Beam 19 is AMA Located in Amarillo TX.
In the distant past there were a number of community complaints associated with northern California but not so much in the last year or so. The presumption is that upgrades to gateways had been made but again thing are in a state of change with the introduction of Gen5 and that is a change for the better.
#3" Better to wait .....
As long as you are doing a lease I don't see a compelling reason to wait. If you were going to purchase your equipment that would be another matter. If the plans offered under Gen5 are a dramatic improvement you can always upgrade.
I have some concerns however.
A phone, smart or otherwise has two aspects if you will. The Phone and then the Browser and other 'Net related aspects.
If you hope to use your Hughes connection as a VOIP I think you will be very disappointed. The Latency inherent in a satellite connection will make it nearly unusable.
In addition, cellphone just LOVE Internet connections. It is their preferred method of getting updates not only for the phone's OS but ALL of the phone's "smart apps".
Your Prime Plus plan only offers 10 GB Anytime data per month to be used between 8am and 2am. That is 10,000 MB or 333 MB per day. Cell phone can get HUNGRY on data.
My next concern is that Hughes (as yet) is not wireless. You will need to connect a router and for proper setup and administration of the Network a device connected by wire is really essential. Imagine changing the wireless passkey in the router and losing connectivity to the router because of the change.
The other downside to not having a wired is in troubleshooting issues such as speed problems where numerous router setting such as QoS can drastically affect performance.
I know that Gen5 will not change the speed of light. But would the technology component of latency significantly decrease with Gen5 so that overall latency would also significantly decrease?No. It may decrease a small amount, but not enough to really notice. The latency from the satellite distance alone can never drop below about 480ms. With the average latency of the Gen4 system being 600ms, and there being new equipment with Gen5, I still wouldn't expect to see it drop below an average of 550ms or so (that's a generous guess), because on top of the satellite distance, there is also distance of travel once it hits the ground based infrastructure, and the Gen5 equipment can't negate that.
I have to side with Gabe on the subject of latency. Anyway you cut it, it is still going to be 22,300 miles from ground to bird. It doesn't materially matter if you are pointed at 107,1'W. for Echostar17 for J-1 or Echostar19 for J-2.
It still is going to take four of those legs (terminal to Satellite, Satellite to Gateway, Gateway to ground leg to information server, information server back to Gateway, Gateway to satellite, satellite to your terminal). There is no real way around it.
Some "tricks" can be played for a small portion of your data ... DNS can be stored on the satellite cutting DNS query time in half if you opt. to stay with the Hughes DNS system. Some popular webpages may be stored on the bird (or portions thereof) thereby cutting the retrieval time but by and large the speed of light is going to prevail.
For the most part I think the Gen5 system is going to offer you the greatest speeds and the most "stability" but again, all speeds on all systems are listed as "up to" and there are to many variables to even think about any type of guarantee. If you have a very bad electrical storm sitting right over the Gateway ... something is going suffer to one degree or another. While that type of problem is rare and short lived when it does occur .... it cannot be stated that you will have 100% up time.
As to the dates you have been given ... there has been no "official" startup date posted and while there are some Alpha testers online and perhaps even a few Beta's you can bank on there being some phasing in considering that we are talking 138 Beams and at least 17 if not more Gateways being expanded and brought online and debugged.
You never commented on my list of concerns. Did you not understand them or .....?
Your lack of a wired device is Big One. I've made changes to my Routers internal settings and knocked my wireless access out. The only surefire way to regain network control was though a wired device.
Not having a wired device is going to complicate any "support" issues you may have. Router's have a multitude of settings that can effect aspects of your service and the lower support tiers in particular will have a problem providing support without a direct connect to the modem.
GabeU, when downloading something ( a website, music, whatever), would the latency involved in the back and forth communication between the provider and my device add significant time?Normally, no. Once the connection is established to a website or a service, it remains so, and completes whatever it is that you are doing. If the connection were to constantly drop and reestablish, it could add some time, but even still, we are only talking about a half second delay each time, so the connection would have to be constantly dropping and reestablishing to add anything noticeable, and if that's happening there is something going on that shouldn't be.