I pity him, to think how, with no man to care for him, and seeing no companion’s face, suffering, lonely evermore, he is vexed by fierce disease satellite internet service, and bewildered by each want his ire as it arises. – Chorus, Philoctetes The Man With HughesNet, a Greek tragedy

Okay, so maybe not everyone using HughesNet is suffering, always lonely, is stuck on a deserted island and has a bunch of people in the background chanting about his doom. Still, the plight of someone on HughesNet these days can’t be overstated by much. Hence the excerpt from a play that I acted in my sophomore year in high school. Four years later, I had to Google it to make sure I got it word for word, but I was close enough to find the passage.

What does this have to do with my short, albeit rather painful, experience with HughesNet? Not much, other than the painful part. In fact, the rest stop west of Eden, TX, while remote, is quite different than a deserted island. For one thing, the structure on which the internet satellite dish was purched was well-maintained. Second, US-87 runs by said rest stop. Third, the Texas Department of Transportation instituted the free wireless hotspot as a public safety measure, seeing as how some carriers’ cell phones (ahem, Sprint…ever heard of roaming on Five Star Wireless in the Eden area?) just flat out don’t work around those parts. Of course, you can’t use any sort of voice communication technology over HughesNet, but I suppose that’s beside the point. Still better than a deserted island with vipers and no free public WiFi, right?

So enough with the literary references. As is my usual wardriving custom, I did a few traceroutes, speed tests and forays into the wireless access point admin panel while we were stopped at the rest stop. This took a little longer than the family liked due to the length of each hop of the traceroute (five to ten seconds) but I got them to stick around long enough to yield the below results:

Tracing route to google.com [] over a maximum of 30 hops:
 1     3 ms     3 ms     3 ms
 2     *        *        *     Request timed out.
 3  2078 ms  1842 ms  1854 ms  host67142002135.direcway.com []
 4  2555 ms  1842 ms  1944 ms  host6714200158131.direcway.com []
 5  1848 ms  1772 ms  2115 ms  host6714200149131.direcway.com []
 6   913 ms  1820 ms  2031 ms  host671420078131.direcway.com []
 7  1750 ms  1535 ms  2047 ms
 8  1826 ms  2047 ms  2038 ms  cr2.la2ca.ip.att.net []
 9  1838 ms  2057 ms  1842 ms  cr2.dlstx.ip.att.net []
 10  1840 ms  1944 ms  2558 ms  cr1.attga.ip.att.net []
 11  1836 ms   984 ms  1820 ms
 12  1036 ms  2763 ms  1944 ms
 13  2585 ms  2224 ms  1646 ms
 14  2041 ms  3168 ms  1970 ms
 15  1975 ms  1304 ms  1977 ms
 16  1228 ms  1841 ms  1535 ms  yx-in-f100.google.com []

In short, you don’t want to game on HughesNet. It’s bad for your health. No Voice over IP either; the connection is jitterier than a junebug on a caffeine high.

Want a speedtest? I did one of those too…used testmy.net as it seems to be the de facto standard for sat internet speed testing. All the other tests paint Hughes, WIldBLue and their ilk in an even dimmer light…

:::.. testmy.net test results ..:::
Download Connection is:: 812 Kbps about 0.81 Mbps (tested with 1024 kB)
Download Speed is:: 99 kB/s
Upload Connection is:: 40 Kbps about 0 Mbps (tested with 386 kB)
Upload Speed is:: 5 kB/s
Tested From:: http://testmy.net (Main)
Test Time:: 2009/07/19 - 6:44pm
D-Validation Link:: http://testmy.net/stats/id-91E08GPX2
U-Validation Link:: http://testmy.net/stats/id-ZJ9AFBQ43
User Agent:: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 6.1; en-US; rv: Gecko/2009060215 Firefox/3.0.11 [!]

I actually did the test twice. Apparently HughesNet isn’t terribly good at uploading data; I know my computer does fine at it, and I’m supposing the wireless access point (a Colubris model; everything except that and the internet’s public IP address was hidden safely behind a login page) wasn’t falling down on the job.

So, according to the above, HughesNet isn’t very good at what they’re supposed to be doing: providing high-speed internet where cable and DSL can’t reach. Then again, WildBlue doesn’t seem to be that great at the job either lately, but at least WildBlue will give you their internet access package for $50 per month, and have internet plans that top out at a whopping 22 GB of data transfer per month, usable any time the service is available.

Of course, service on HughesNet varies from area to area. I’m just hoping that the above is the lower end of the scale for Hughes, though I have it on good authority that there’s worse out there. It jsut doens’t happen to be on a deserted, snake-infested island minor highway at a rest stop.