The HughesNet Fair Access Policy (F.A.P.)
Understanding and working within the HughesNet uploading & downloading limits.
Hughes uses a system they call the "Fair Access Policy" (or better known simply as the "F.A.P.") to regulate the uploading and down-
loading capabilities of it's HughesNet subscribers. Unfortunately, this policy can sometimes greatly hinder a subscribers internet access
speeds. As such, Hughes doesn't go out of their way to tell it's HughesNet subscribers about the the existence or finer details of this policy. Even if/when you locate the policy on the Hughes website, it's not very descriptive and goes into as little detail possible to cover
the policy parameters. Since the F.A.P. is basically used to reduce your ability to upload & download, it's really no surprise their description is a bit cryptic. (What company wants to highlight a negative?) This page is devoted to giving you straight-forward information about the policy, and telling you what you can do to avoid hitting the FAP barrier.
First, here's the official HughesNet Fair Access Policy :
So what does all that mean ? :
Well first, it's best to understand a little something simple about how web-surfing works. Here's the basics : When you're surfing the internet, you're actually both uploading and downloading data. ( Most surfing consists of much more downloading than uploading.) When you view a web page, you're actually downloading the contents of that page into your computer so it can be viewed. So while it (usually) doesn't add up to a large amount of data usage, even viewing webpages counts against your download-threshold. Ok .. with that said and understood, let's continue on .. :-)
The FAP simplified :
Your HughesNet system is capable of delivering the internet to you at very high speeds. Web pages pop up fast, pictures load quickly, & files can be downloaded at very high speed. However, Hughes does not want all it's customers to be able to utilize those high speeds continuously. To stop users from using up too much bandwidth & resources on the HughesNet system, they have implemented the "Fair Access Policy". What the FAP does is limit the amount of data HughesNet customers can download in a given time span. When that limit has been reached, Hughes throttles back the speed on customers high-speed satellite connection. When under FAP restrictions your speed will be as slow as, if not slower than a standard 56K dial-up modem. Your online speed will remain (painfully) slow until the FAP restriction is lifted. (Which is what Hughes means when they say "Subscribers who exceed this limit will experience a temporary reduction of speed." ... It's a nice way of saying your connection will come to a crawl.)
So what exactly triggers the FAP ? :
Originally Hughes used a 24hr. clock to calculate their FAP. Basically, at a certain set time every day your FAP download threshold would be reset. Hughes now uses a 'rolling 24hr.' period (an FAP implementation system made popular by WildBlue).
A 'rolling clock' is a little harder to follow, but with regards to the Fair Access Policy it simply means that if you download to the limit of your subscribed package within any 24hr time period, the FAP will kick in.
Example : You have the 'Home Plan' which comes with a 200MB (per 24hr.) download threshold. You've been online one hour, and in that time you've downloaded 100 Megs of stuff. Obviously, you'd have 100MB of high-speed download left available to you for the next 23hrs. Simple enough by itself .. It's the 'rolling' part that makes things a bit confusing. Let's continue with the example .. So in Hr. #1 you downloaded 100MB. You get back online 22hrs later, and you download 99MB in 30 min. .. leaving you with 1MB of high-speed download available to you for the next 1/2 hour. You now get offline for the next 30 min. .. so it's been 24hrs since your initial download of 100MB. When you get back online you'll now have 101MB of high-speed download available to you for the next 23hrs. This is because your initial 100MB. download is over 24hrs old .. so it no longer counts against your download threshold .. but your more recent download of 99MB. is less than 24hrs old .. so it's counted against your download threshold. The date of the downloads don't matter .. just the 24hr. period they occured in. Yeah .. it's confusing.
What types of online activities are more likely to trigger the F.A.P. ? :
Popular file sharing programs like UTorrent, LimeWire, BitTorrent, and the like, are types of programs that can bring HughesNet users quickly to their package FAP limit. If you're into downloading full length movies, large quantities of music files, full software applications (games, productivity software, etc.) then you'll likely meet up with the FAP ... and it won't take long. Also, watching online videos at places like YouTube.com, & watching internet based TV (Hulu.com, etc) can eat up a good deal of bandwidth, fast. Here's a list of some of the more common activities that could trigger the F.A.P. :
How long does it take for the FAP restrictions to be lifted ? :
Hughes says ".. after approximately 24 hours, your download speed will be restored. If you continue to use your service to download in the Recovery Zone, it may take more than 24 hours for your Allowance to be replenished and your speed to return to normal." In practice, that's about right.
What exactly is 'The Recovery Zone" ? :
Remember when you were a little kid, and you were given a little 'time-out' session for misbehaving? There's your 'Recovery Zone'. ;-) It's a nice term Hughes came up with to make you sit in the corner & ponder the errors of your downloading gluttony. (Heheh .. Ok, well maybe it's not quite that bad.) Here's the deal : If you EXCEED the download threshold of your subscribed package, your download speeds are then throttled back to near-dialup speeds. They will remain that way for about the next 24hrs. If you decide to use your HughesNet system during your stay in the 'Recovery Zone' , your time there may be extended. What?!? Yep .. your usage during 'Recovery Time' .. even at low speeds .. is still counted against your download threshold.
Is the FAP limit the same for users who subscribe to HughesNet through Earthlink, AOL, ("Powered By' / VAR users) etc.. ? :
Yes. It doesn't matter which company you subscribe to for your HughesNet service, all data is still routed through and regulated by Hughes. As such, the FAP limits/packages are the same for everyone.
How exactly is the FAP restriction lifted ? :
This part of the FAP calculation requires a little math, & a little imagination. :-)
The standard home user package FAP "recharges" (has a 'Recovery Rate') at a rate of about 50 kbps (about the speed of a decent dial-up modem connection). So, if you download 175 Megs over the course of an hour or two, you'll now need about 9 hours to recharge completely. This is because at 50kbps you can download about 16-20 megs per hour. Using the 20 megs per hour number, it would take just under 9 hours to completely recharge. (169(megs) divided by 20(megs) = 8.75 (or just over 8 hours). Confused ? Ok ... let's describe this process a bit differently. (This is where the "imagination" part I mentioned earlier comes in :-) ) For this example we'll use the standard Home User Plan : (200MB. Download / 50kbps Recovery.)
Lets say that you've been offline for a day, so there's no doubt you're under no FAP restrictions. You've now got a full 200 megs of high-speed downloading ready & available to you. Picture that full 200 Megs as a full bucket of water.
Now lets say you start a large file download. Picture the bucket rapidly emptying as you download data at high-speed. Once the bucket is empty it means you've downloaded the full 200 megs, and you'll be under FAP restrictions. Given the buckets rapid rate of emptying, it'll only take about an hour or two before it's completely empty.
However, all the while the bucket is quickly draining, there is a small trickle of water being put back into your bucket from Hughes. The trickle (a 50 kbps refill rate) is better than nothing .. but it doesn't come close to matching the rate at which the water is depleting. Since the water is going out much faster than it's going in, you'll eventually have an empty bucket and only be able to download at the "refill" rate of about 50kbps. (So, you'll then be downloading at a speed comparable to a 56k modem... Which is what it's like while you're in the "Recovery Zone".)
Make a little more sense now ? Hope so . :-)
So why is my plan referred to as "unlimited" if my high-speed access is indeed limited ? :
Hughes guarantees it's customers unlimited internet access ... Not unlimited high-speed access.
Here are a few HughesNet Service Plans :
Note the different recovery rates (the recovery rate equals how fast the "bucket refills") at the bottom of each plan.
Managing the FAP :
Ok .. so now you know how the FAP works .. what it's limitations are .. and what triggers it. So what can you do to try to keep away from the FAP ? Here's a few ideas .
(1) If you're looking to download something especially large .. like something over 200 Megs (or whatever the download threshold for your plan is) .. you could try to start your download at 2:00am Eastern Time. Hughes alters the FAP boundaries between 2:00am - 7:00 am EST. During those hours downloading is unlimited.
(2) If you're downloading large amounts of data, try to stop your downloading before the FAP hits. Once the FAP is imposed it can take quite a long time to be lifted . Even though your "bucket" is refilling, you may not be able to access the internet at high-speed until it's near completely full. Stopping your download before the FAP hits ... then waiting a couple hours and resuming your download ... can keep you going at high speed.
What's the best way to monitor how much I've downloaded ? :
We have some fantastic utilities here at HughesNet Uncensored which are designed specifically to monitor your usage against the various HughesNet service plans. The programs have many functions & features, not the least of which is monitoring how close you are to the FAP.
To ensure fair Internet access for all HughesNet® subscribers, Hughes maintains a Fair Access Policy. This policy establishes an equitable balance in Internet access for all HughesNet subscribers. Hughes assigns a download threshold to each service plan that limits the amount of data that may be continuously downloaded within specified time periods. Subscribers who exceed this limit will experience a temporary reduction of speed.
How does the Fair Access Policy work?
The HughesNet Fair Access Policy :
The policy is implemented automatically by monitoring your usage over a rolling 24-hour period. Each HughesNet service plan is assigned a Download Allowance. The Download Allowance is the amount of data (in bytes) which can be downloaded by a subscriber without restriction within a rolling 24-hour period. As you download at a high rate, your allowance will be depleted. During periods of low use, your remaining allowance will slowly recover. When your usage over the past 24 hours exceeds that allowance, you will enter the Recovery Zone, and your download speeds will be reduced. During the Recovery Zone, your Download Allowance is slowly replenished, and after approximately 24 hours, your download speed will be restored. If you continue to use your service to download in the Recovery Zone, it may take more than 24 hours for your Allowance to be replenished and your speed to return to normal.
Who is affected by the Fair Access Policy?
Some users consume much more bandwidth than the average user, and they will experience reduced download speeds as a result of exceeding their Download Allowance. You may be surprised to find that the top 1% of users download 9 times more the average user. By providing a Download Allowance, more of the shared bandwidth is made available for everyone to use. Most users will have a better experience as a result of the Fair Access Policy.
Online activities such as viewing Websites, checking email, watching video clips or similar short streaming media, and automatic software updates are unlikely to cause you to exceed the download threshold.
Typically, on the Home plan, to reach your download limit in a 24-hour period, you would have to download any of the following:
•67 photos (at 3 MB each)
•50 songs (at 4 MB each)
•10 video clips (at 20 MB each)
Does the Fair Access Policy apply to uploads or downloads?
Currently, the Fair Access Policy applies only to downloads – that is, data that you receive from the Internet. Uploads, for example sending photos in your email, are not counted against your Download Allowance.
When does the F.A.P. kick in on your plan?
Check out the chart on the left for the vairous
plans & their download thresholds.
•Full-length movie or video downloads (e.g., Netflix streaming movies)
•Downloading very large files (i.e., file sizes that are close in size to the download threshold of your service plan)
•Peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing programs such as LimeWire, Arez, BearShare, or Kazaa
•Continuous downloading or viewing streaming media content such as audio or video programming
•Hosting of server devices such as email, FTP or Web servers
•Hosting computer applications such as Web-cam feeds
•Internet-based PC backup services that archive your data on a central server
•Extensive downloading of attachments from Usenet Newsgroups (NNTP)
•Use of Torrent applications (UTorrent, BitTorrent, etc.)
To ensure equal Internet access for all HughesNet subscribers, Hughes Network Systems maintains a running average Fair Access Policy (FAP). Fair Access establishes an equitable balance in Internet access across satellite broadband services by service plan for all HughesNet customers regardless of their frequency of use or volume of traffic. To ensure this equity, customers may experience some temporary throughput limitations. HughesNet Internet access is not guaranteed. This policy applies to all service plans including "Unlimited" plans where customers' use of the Service is not limited to a specific number of hours per month.
HughesNet system usage data indicates that approximately 5% of subscribers are responsible for a disproportionate share - often as much as half - of the total HughesNet service traffic. Unfortunately, many of those subscribers are not using HughesNet for its intended purpose.
To ensure that all HughesNet subscribers have fair and equal access to the benefits of the Satellite broadband service, HughesNet has enacted a Fair Access Policy to prevent abusive consumption of bandwidth by a handful of users.
FAP is straightforward: based on an analysis of usage data, Hughes Network Systems has established a HughesNet usage threshold well above the maximum typical usage rates. When a customer exhibits patterns of system usage which exceed that threshold for an extended period of time, the FAP may temporarily limit that subscriber's throughput to ensure the integrity of the system for all HughesNet subscribers. Typically, the restrictions will be lifted within 8-12 hours of the original application of the FAP if the customer's usage in this period stays below the FAP threshold. For example, you may experience FAP if the cumulative requested downloads in a relatively short time period (1-4 hours) exceeds your HughesNet plan download threshold. An example of what can be downloaded within any HughesNet plan would be a software application such as Microsoft Internet Explorer or Adobe Acrobat. And normal Internet surfing generates small downloads for each Web page viewed. For example, an hour of surfing can generate 1-10 MB of download activity depending on the content being surfed - well below the amount required to trigger FAP.
Subscribers are likely to avoid the limitations imposed by the FAP if their use is typical of the majority of Internet users and consists of Web surfing and a reasonable amount of downloading.
Ok .. there you have it. That's the F.A.P. according to Hughes.