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How to troubleshoot a slow connection!

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There are several things that can affect the speeds you experience over any satellite Internet system, but especially over one like HughesNet and ViaSat that cram a ton of people into one pipe to the satellite so that they can offer service plans for less than $100 per month!  If we (Montana Satellite) sold you your HughesNet Gen5 system on our VAR Business Internet Platform that we market as ISPSAT, then we’ve probably already made you well-aware of some of the things that can cause your system to slow down, such as streaming video and more, in fact, we never recommend any satellite internet system for streaming video for several reasons, but we’ll get into that later!  If you are not on our ISPSAT / HughesNet VAR Platform then some of this information may not apply to you, however, the data policies and everything else are very similar regardless of which platform you are on!

First, we always recommend that you visit the home page in your modem at http://192.168.0.1 to see how much, if any full-speed data you have remaining!  You can also click on the green, red, yellow, or orange status button at the top of that page as shown in the screenshot below, to see if your system is having any issues communicating!  We also recommend that you power cycle (unplug from power for 30 seconds or so) your satellite modem and any devices that are connected to it if you are experiencing any problems!  If you still have issues after that, check out the steps below!

This screenshot of the HughesNet modem home page is a sample for our HughesNet Consumer platform.  This platform allocates data differently than our VAR Business Internet Platform, but this will give you an idea of what you should see on your modem home page anyway!  You can see in this example that they have 10GB of anytime data available, and 50GB of Bonus Bytes.  Bonus Bytes are only available from 2am – 8am local time on the HughesNet Consumer Platform, and since there aren’t many people who use their system from 2am – 8am local time, our primary concern is the 10GB of Anytime data that people use from 8am – 2am!    Here’s the issue for many people… when you have a monthly service plan that gives you 10GB of full-speed data per MONTH during those hours, that’s really not much data over a month-long period, especially if you’re trying to stream Netflix or other streaming video apps, which can use up 3GB – 6GB of your monthly full-speed data for ONE MOVIE!  Notice that below the circles at the bottom of that page, it shows when your allowance resets and when the different time periods start!  If you are out of data, you will be slowed down to around 2Mbps speeds which is when we usually start getting complaints!

1. Data:  If you go over the amount of full-speed data that you purchased with your monthly service plan (35gig, 50gig, etc.), your system will slow down to around 2mbps speeds until you reach your monthly anniversary date!  That date is one month from the date you brought your modem online the first time!  So, if you commissioned your modem and got online on the 5th of the month, then your data will refresh on the 5th of next month even though your bill will be paid on the 1st of each month!  2mbps is usually enough to email and surf the internet and some people have even been able to stream Netflix on 2mbps speeds, but whether you can do that or not depends on how many users, devices and apps you have running on the network during that time!  You can check to see how much data is left on your plan by opening a browser and logging into the modem at http://192.168.0.1 .  You will see a data usage summary on the main page!  If you are a customer of Montana Satellite on our ISPSAT platform then you can choose to purchase more data by the gigabyte by filling out and submitting this online form, or you can upgrade your monthly service plan using this online form!  If you are a HughesNet Consumer customer then you can do so via myhughesnet.com !

2. Background Apps:  iPhones and iPads are the worst at running background apps and they will use a ton of bandwidth and data while doing so!  Filesharing and synching apps such as Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive and online backup and photo sync apps are the worst it seems, but there are many other apps that constantly check for updates and use up bandwidth usually without you even knowing it!  There are ways to turn off these apps and features in most computers and smartphones and other devices and we strongly recommend doing so!  Keep in mind that just because you only used 5gig of data per month on your 3G/4G/LTE data… most computers, smartphones, and tablets are typically set to do a lot more online when they are connected to a WiFi network than they do when they are on a 3G/4G/LTE network!  There should be settings for this as well and we recommend looking into it!

3. Multiple Users and/or Devices:  Satellite Internet systems are not like DSL or Cable Internet, and even though you will have access to 25mbps x 3mbps speeds or more, that doesn’t mean you should connect every device in your home to the network!  Every single user or device will slow down this system as it is not meant to support more than maybe 5 or 6 concurrent users and devices without slowing down significantly!  In fact, if you were to tell us that you have a family of 6, with iPhones and iPads, we would have told you ahead of time that unless you limit or restrict access, you are probably not going to be a very happy camper!  And no, it’s not a good idea to connect a SmartTV or SmartDVD player or a Roku, Xbox, PlayStation or anything else like that to your network unless you plan on purchasing a huge data plan!  One Netflix movie can be 3gig – 6gig of data!  Believe it or not, our sales guidelines tell us to tell you that you do not qualify for this system if you even mention that you have more than 10 users or devices that will possibly be connected to this system at once because we know you won’t be happy with the service you receive!  For that, you will either need a second or third system or an entirely different solution!  We do have some access management solutions available to help you limit access if you are interested, just contact us!

4. Unsecured Network:  Speaking of access management solutions!   A lot of the calls we get from people asking about slow speeds is due to unauthorized users on their network!  Whether you have a password or not on your WiFi, you can bet that Jr. is probably going to give the password out to his friend or your neighbor is going to borrow your internet access and then “forget” to stop using it!  We recommend that you keep your network secure and change your password once in awhile to prevent unauthorized access to your network!  There is an article on how to do that here! If you have any doubts, we do offer some access management solutions available to help you limit access if you are interested, contact us!

5. Dish Pointing:  A weak satellite signal can cause slow speeds!  We strongly recommend that whoever is setting up this system, make sure to peak the antenna signal as high as it can get and it’s very important to know that even 2 signal points can make a difference in the quality and performance of the system.  If the modem is struggling to get a good signal, it will slow down in order to prevent errors in data reception and transmission.   We have plenty of customers who get in a hurry, find the satellite, peak it for a moment and call it good!  But even if they have a 100+ signal, it doesn’t mean the modem is connecting at the fastest “rate!”  There is a little summary that shows up called a “Rate Code” at the right of the signal meters in the modem.  If it says anything less than 512 4/5, then your antenna is not pointed as well as it could be, unless you have heavy cloud cover or weather issues going on!  A 512 1/2 score means you are probably getting just that… 1/2 of the speed and performance that you are paying for, so it’s VERY important to peak the signal as high as you can get it and make sure the signal remains as high as you can get it by checking the signal from time to time and re-peaking the dish as needed!

6. Network Congestion:  It happens! Sometimes the network gets very busy and can be very slow for a while!  That will usually fix itself within a few minutes or after an hour or so in a worst-case scenario!  You will probably notice it more during the busier times of the day and/or if you have a lot of users or devices on your network!  If it continues for more than a couple of hours, chances are that HughesNet is experiencing some issues in the beam you are in and hopefully they will have it resolved soon!

7. WiFi issues:  This is a new one that we’ve noticed with this HughesNet system that we didn’t notice as much with other HughesNet systems in the past!  The modem that we use comes with a built-in dual-band A/C wireless access point, however, some people have chosen to use their own wireless router with this system, but they forget or simply don’t know to go into the HughesNet modem and disable the wireless access point in order to prevent the wireless frequencies (channels) from interfering with one another!  If you have chosen to use your own wireless router, be sure to log into the HughesNet Modem at http://192.168.0.1 and go to WiFi settings  (default password is admin) and remove the SSID names from the wireless networks and save your changes!  You can only do one network at a time (2.4g, 5g, etc.). This will turn off the WiFi broadcasting in the modem!  If you are using your own routers or switches in other parts of your home or business, you’ll want to make sure they are set to use different WiFi channels than the ones being used by the HughesNet modem!

8. Hardware or Cabling issues: If you are experiencing slow speeds while hard-wired to the ethernet ports on the modem, we recommend trying a different port or maybe even a different network cable!  It is also possible that the network portion of the HughesNet modem is experiencing issues or failing or failed but so far that has been highly unlikely!  If you have tried all of the above tips and are still having issues, please contact us to go over some more advanced troubleshooting steps!

Feel free to contact us if you have any comments or suggestions!