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Internet Access

Hughesnet Internet Access
Direcway Satellite Dish - DW6000 Modem
by
Vaughn Aubuchon

I have recently moved to the deep mountains. In order to get Internet access, I have been experimenting with a local Hughesnet Satellite System. It consists of a Direcway 37" oval dish, a DW6000 Wireless Modem, and a Linksys router. Here is my Hughesnet review - a summary of what I have learned.

Pointing - Not The Issue You May Think It Is
The FAP - Why You Can't Download Anything
System Status - How the FAP Is Imposed
Summary - Hughesnet Is Not A Viable Internet Access option for a webmaster

10-7-07 - Mea Culpa - I feel guilty. You may want to skip this page and go straight to the source at -

http://www.customercare.myhughesnet.com
I wrote this page BEFORE I visited customercare. Consequently, some of the discussion and assumptions below now seem incorrect and naive. I am revising them now.

Mountain Internet Access (off page)

30

100

60

30

80

80

30



Hughesnet Satellite Internet Access Provider Notes
Setup
Fee
*
Equip.
Fee
Monthly
Fee
Min.
Period
"Max"
Down
Speed
"Max"
Upload
Speed
"company sucks"
**
Broadband Reports

  Notes

Positive
Negative
$ 400
$ 0
$ 60
24 months
700 k
128 k
309
134
282

The biggest, therefore the most negative complaints - FAP Issues -
Download Threshold = 6,000 MB/ month
(200 MB/ day)

* = Rebates may be available, or may not
** = Google search
.

50

50

50

50

50

50

50

50

50

250 - 700



..
Hughesnet SERVICE OPTIONS
Service Plan
FAP Threshold
per Day
Price
per Month
MB
per Day per $

Home

200 MB
$ 60
3.33

Pro

375 MB
$ 70
5.36

ProPlus

425 MB
$ 80
5.31

Small Office

500 MB
$ 100
5.00

Business Internet

1,250 MB
$ 180
6.94

160

90

90

90


 

POINTING
My settings for "Satmex 5" -
117 degrees West (longitude - left/ right) (actually, I believe it is 116.8)
75 degrees azimuth (tilt - up/ down)
-7 degrees polarization (twist)

I tried adjusting all the 3 parameters above, while monitoring signal strength with a helper on a laptop. It became apparent that the dish was perfectly pointed to begin with. All settings ended up right where they were when I began. This is how I learned that my signal strength was perfect (72-75) where it was, and that ALL the variation in SS actually resulted in the changing power output of the satellite, which is programmed at the Network Operations Center (NOC). No further need to adjust the dish. The huge redwoods, the big walnut tree branch directly in the line of sight, made no difference at all.

FAP - Fair Access Policy - If you download too many megabytes (~166) in a 24-hour period, your download speed is reduced to ZERO for the next 24 hours. You are PUNISHED for using the service you paid for. You are paying EXPENSIVE satellite prices, and getting ZERO Internet access. Forget about downloading software applications, movies, peer-to-peer file sharing, webcam usage, and ANY OTHER high-bandwidth requirements. "Fair Access Policy" is a misnomer. It should be called "RAP" - Reduced Access Policy.


Update 8-24-07: I just piggybacked on a local Hughes satellite, and got from 500 to 900 kbps download speeds!
Update 9-15-07: I have had a chance to join an existing Hughesnet DW6000 network. It worked for a few days, on and off. After many hours of messing around, I determined that the reason I no longer had INTERNET ACCESS was due to the imposition of the FAP penalty. The literature says that your speed will be "downgraded" to slower than dialup. That is only HALF true, and extremely deceptive. Your download speed will be downgraded to Zero. Nada. Nothing. Zilch. You have no access. That is because the sum of all the DW6000 modem's downloads for ONE DAY exceeded 200 MB.
It is particularly annoying that Hughes WON'T TELL YOU that the problem is FAP. No error message at all. The "System Status" screen now provides your FAP Status. See Screen 2 below.


In order to check the "DW6000 System Control Center" (IP=192.168.0.1), under "System Status", enter the following into your browser address bar -
http://192.168.0.1
and hit enter -

The "System Status" button may turn YELLOW : "Impaired"
The "System Status" button may turn ORANGE : "FAPPED"
TCP Acceleration Status :
"Impaired" (This may be your only hint.), OR
TCP Acceleration Status : "Not Operational"
After too many tries, you will see:
Transmit Status : "Can't communicate with the Network Operations Center (NOC) (TxCode 10)

The "System Status" button may turn RED : "Problem"
Hughesnet disables your ability to send commands (upload) to the Internet server.

Hitting the Hughesnet FAP Limit
There is no "Gas Gauge", or "FAP Usage Monitor" to warn you. You have no idea how much you have downloaded, so you get NO WARNING when you are about to approach your limit. All you get is BANG - you are penalized. There is a milage guage at http://www.customercare.myhughesnet.com , but you have to go there and select "Usage" to see your Usage Amount (in almost real time- 1-hour delayed). If there are other users on your network, it is a crap shoot, as far as who drains the bucket first.

In order to make more money, Hughes continues to add subscribers. But the satellite has a finite capacity. Therefore, it is a given fact that as more subscribers are added, the amount that YOU can download per day will continue to drop. The current Hughes download limit is 6,000 MB per month. Satellite access may be your only option, but it may be a poor option, for the reasons stated here.
One plus - I am told that there is a "FAP-FREE ZONE" from 3 AM until 6 AM Eastern Standard Time. Since I am talking about a western US satellite, the Fap-Free-Zone is from Midnight to 3AM in the Pacific Standard Time zone (California).
One hint - DON'T turn off or reset your modem while trying to make things work - it RESETS the 24-hour penalty timer. A double-whammy punishment. (This fact is disputed - it may not be true.)

SYSTEM STATUS - Signal Strength
Update 9-20-07: Hughesnet has been using another method to deny service. They reduce the power transmitted from the satellite, so that your receiver CANNOT sync up with the satellite. When NOTHING has been changed at the receiver dish, your reception power level will remain fairly constant. This makes it VERY EASY to determine the reduced power levels being transmitted from the satellite (all measured under "clear sky"). Here are the power levels that I have measured, with slight variations of 1 or 2 points.

72 - Has always been this level
60 - A newly observed reduced power level
50 - Another observed reduced power level
30 - The level at which the "red flag" appears, indicating insufficient signal strength (not observed)
10 - The level for the last few days, resulting in NO INTERNET ACCESS - "Denial of Service" signal level.

My conclusion: There are too many subscribers, and too many downloads. Reducing the satellite power transmission levels to individual subscribers is one way to address the problem. They simply cut you off.
Hughesnet satellite is a POOR option for accessing the Internet. EVERY DAY, since it fails for one reason or another. ALL the reasons have NOTHING to do with your equipment. They all have to do with Hughesnet denying you service from the NOC (Network Operations Center). They run on a fixed algorhythm, which apportions available bandwidth. They want your steady , fixed payment, but don't provide you with steady, fixed service.
.



Screen shots of
Working and Non-working "System Status" Codes



Screen 1 - Yellow Yellow button SS Button - No Internet Access
Hughesnet signal strength = 77
Filename:hughes-77-r5t8-wno
Signal Strength=77 (R5T8). Although the Signal Strength is the highest ever, there is NO Internet access. When the "Web Acceleration Status" is "Not Operational", your web access becomes so slow that it DOES NOT exist. This is a way to deny you service when the satellite becomes saturated with traffic. Or perhaps, when you have not paid your bill.
Or, you may get this "Web Acceleration Client Error" (506) message -



Screen 2 - Orange SS Button - VERY SLOOOOW Internet Access
Hughesnet signal strength = 75
Filename:hughes-75-r5t8-fap
Update 10-22-07: Hughesnet has just added a FAP Status line to the "System Status" screen (shown above in yellow).
Signal Strength=75 (R5T8).
Although the Signal Strength is very good, there is NO Internet access, because the NOC has imposed the FAP (drastically reduced the rate at which you can download), because of your recent "bandwidth hogging". ALL users on the system must stay BELOW 8M per hour, over each 24 hour period. When the FAP is imposed, capacity is returned gradually, if the high demand is discontinued.


Screen 3 - Red SS Button - No Internet Access
Hughesnet signal strength = 72
Filename:hughes-72-r5t10-tno
Signal Strength=72 (R5T10). Although the Signal Strength is very good, there is NO Internet access, because the NOC has turned off the "TCP Acceleration".


Screen 4 - Green Green button SS Button - Internet Access
Hughesnet signal strength = 53
Filename:hughes-53-r5t8-good
Signal Strength= 53 (R5T8). This is what a normally operating "System Status" screen looks like when things are running smoothly on my DW6000 Direcway microwave Internet access system. This time, it was up for 5 hours. Now, I have returned to SS=10, as shown at the bottom of this table. EVEN IF you see a screen like the above, you STILL may not be able to connect to the Internet. The NOC may REFUSE to connect you. Your browser status bar says "Looking up www.google.com ..." until it times out, and gives you the message "Server not found", and "Firefox can't find the server at www.google.com". They "can't find it" because they REFUSE to connect you to the Domain Name Server.
Or, you may get this "Terminal Receive Error" (603) message -Terminal Receive Error (603)
Everything is "fine", but you get NO Internet. In this case, it is NOT the weather, nor a "problem at the NOC". It is "programming" at the NOC. Hughesnet uses various ways to deny you the Internet access you are paying for.


Screen 5 - Red SS Button - No Internet Access
Hughesnet signal strength = 46
Filename:hughes-46-r5t5-no
Signal Strength= 46 (R5T5). In the 40s, the "Transmitter not locked" error appears frequently. This is a "borderline" condition.
Downloads are very slow, and do not occur when the "Transmit Status" Red Flag is present.


Screen 6 - Red SS Button - No Internet Access
Hughesnet signal strength = 44
Filename:hughes-44-r5t5-wno
Signal Strength= 44 (R5T5). In the 40s, the "Transmitter not locked" error appears frequently. When the "Web Acceleration Status" is "Not Operational", your web access becomes so slow that it does NOT exist. Notice that the "TCP Acceleration Status" is "Impaired".


Screen 7 - Red SS Button - No Internet Access
Hughesnet signal strength = 30
Filename:hughes-30-r7t6-tno
Signal Strength= 30 (R7T6). At 30, the Signal Strength "Red Flag" appears. This causes all the other 3 red flags.
There is no Internet access with a Signal Strength of 30, or less.


Screen 8 - Red SS Button - No Internet Access
Hughesnet signal strength = 10
Filename:hughes-10-r3t6-tno
Signal Strength= 10 (R3T6). The Signal Strength "Red Flag" causes all the other 3 red flags. No more Internet when the SS is 10.
This has been the condition that I have observed most frequently.
This is a signal level that the Network Operations Center uses to deny service. The satellite transmitter output power is drastically reduced, so that your receive strength is 5, or 8, or 12, rendering your whole system/ interface inoperable.


Screen 9 - Red SS Button - No Internet Access
Hughesnet signal strength = 9
Filename:hughes-9-r3t6-off
Signal Strength= 9 (R3T6).
At the DW6000 IP Address - http://69.35.xxx.xx: This is the screen observed when a modem programmed for a different bird was substituted.
Note the "Software Download Status" - "Waiting for first heartbeat message."
Note the "TCP Acceleration Status" - "Disabled"

At the NAT IP Address - http://192.168.0.1: The screen says -
Service Unavailable

Service Unavailable

Online Probability vs. Download Activity
Here is my perceived "Accessibility Graph". The numbers are a wild estimate, but you get the idea. They may not be too far off. Denial of Service through intentional satellite output Signal Strength reduction. 25% equates to "1 hour out of 4" uptime. With overselling, they have to do this, to control those 10% of all subscribers who use 90% of all the bandwidth.


SUMMARY
Update -
After visiting http://www.customercare.myhughesnet.com, I realize that some of the above is hogwash. I have never hit the FAP even once (until now). All service interruptions were due to other undetermined factors.

If you want "Internet Access On Demand", forget about Hughesnet. Functioning access is "iffy", at best. Service is interrupted almost every day, for unpredictable periods, at unpredictable times. If you are an active webmaster like I am, Internet access must be immediate, and ever-present. Hughesnet is neither. I need to be where I can get cable modem or DSL, both of which have proved to be far more reliable than satellite. And Sprint Wireles and Verizon Wireless modems, where there is access, are showing good reliability.

Author's opinion: An individual satellite's total traffic ability is limited at a finite amount. But, Hughes is a corporation which seeks to maximize its profits. It therefore oversells its subscriptions. As time goes on, there are way too many subscribers. The "pipe" is too small to deliver all the data requested by subscribers. Somehow, requests must be reduced (denied). So, they conceive of ways of creating DOS (Denial Of Service). This results in your service being "turned off" randomly, at various times.

The author has observed that the probability of his access at any given time, is based upon his bandwidth usage during the last 24 hours. In other words, the more you use, the less you get. I believe that the actual FAP policy may be more restrictive than the stated FAP policy. I believe that there are very tight daily limits.

The only solution I see to this dilemma (suggested by others) is to pass a law requiring "a-la-carte" service - you pay a specified rate for all the bandwidth you USE. While the satellite is nonfunctional, you pay nothing. The current unfair method requires a large prepayment, in spite of poor service being delivered, and even no service being delivered. The satellite industry would fight any such proposal tooth-and-nail - they would lose all the unearned profits they currently enjoy.

"The connection has timed out" - "The connection has timed out" - "The connection has timed out" - The connecti . . .


See
http://www.dand.net/satellite-internet.htm - More commentary on the pitfalls!
.



.
Hughesnet Uptime Log
Sunday
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
Sep. 22

-

-

-

-

Up all day
Up all day
Sep. 30
1PM - SS=30
2PM - SS=10

-

Up for 4 hours
11:50AM- SS=5
Up for 10 min.
7:45AM- SS=7

Up- Down- Up- Down- Down

Screen 1
and
Screen 2
Down all day
Paid bill
Oct. 7
Up all day
Up all day
Up all day
Up all day
Up all day
FAP
Imposed
Up all day
Oct. 14
Up all day
Up all day
Up all day
Slow down
due to
Heavy Use
35M per hour)
10/17/2007

14:00 - 15:00 34.09M

15:00 - 16:00 59.63M

16:00 - 17:00 27.86M

17:00 - 18:00 37.40M
157 M Total
@5PM PST

FAP
Imposed
Normal DL pace resumed (5M per hour)-
No FAP
Up all day
Oct. 21
Someone DL'ed 200M in 3 hours
FAP
Imposed
FAP
All morning
(24 hours)
Down- 6 kbps
Up- 462 kbps

Up afternoon
Down- 710 kbps
Up- 210 kbps

Oct. 28

Note: Paying the overdue bill seems to have done wonders toward increasing uptime.

100 - 700

100

100

100

100

100

100



DISCLAIMER:
I have no special knowledge of the inner workings of Hughesnet. This page is pure speculation, and fanciful deduction. This page is my attempt to analyze a Hughesnet DW6000 Wireless Modem functionality in conjunction with a Direcway 37" satellite dish. I know very little about this system, but I am learning as I go. Most of the above discussion applies also to the DW5000 and DW7000.

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Vaughn Aubuchon
Vaughn's Summaries
©2007 Vaughn Aubuchon
www.vaughns-1-pagers.com
All Rights Reserved
This Vaughns Hughesnet Satellite Internet Access review
was last updated on 2014-08-06.