During our stay at Landa Park in New Braunfels earlier this year, I thought we discovered the headquarters of HughesNet, our mobile satellite internet service provider. But it was just some company with the same name that I have decided to call the team at Hughes: FAPCo
FAP (Fair Access Policy) n: A download threshold assigned by Hughes to each HughesNet service plan that limits the amount of data that may be downloaded during a typical day. A small percentage of subscribers who exceed this limit will experience a temporary reduction of speed.
Ha! Temporary? Reduction? Like I said, Ha! You definitely know when you’ve been FAP’d, because your connection will crawl to a virtual halt. Without warning. And it can stay that way for up to 24 hours.
Our service plan comes with a daily download threshold of 375 MB. Every once in a while, if we don’t pay attention to how much time we spend online – or what we download – in a given day, we may get FAP’d. But during our stay at Landa it happened a number of times. Enough to think someone was piggybacking our network. But we’ve learned to lock it down tight, and one look around made us really question if any of our neighbors were capable of hacking us. So we sought a better method for monitoring our daily HughesNet account usage. Here’s what we discovered …
Our fellow full-time geek friend Sean, of Our Odyssey told us about the HughesNet FAP Monitor. This Windows-only utility displays an icon indicating your current HughesNet usage status and warns of any imminent Fair Access Policy violation. We’re no dummies, but had a terrible time getting this to work on Rene’s machine, but with Sean’s perseverance we got it configured and working. For a while. One day it just stopped working. And we gave up trying to fix it after discovering various discussions about HNFP not working.
The one thing the HughesNet FAP Monitor was good at, while it worked, was making René obsessed about our current FAP status. So I quit trying to make it work after finding a better solution. One that works on my Mac (or any machine) and isn’t always flashing in my face.
This method lets me check our threshold status, when I want to. The script adds a “Remaining (MB)” column to our HughesNet usage page with convenient color-coding to indicate when we should step away from the computers for a while. It was simple to set up, here’s how …
- Use Firefox
- Install Greasemonkey
- Install User Script
- Submit Your HughesNet Site ID
- Bookmark Your HughesNet Usage Page
This isn’t to say we’ll never get FAP’d again, but at least we can easily monitor our usage now without getting all obsessive about it.
Since drafting this post we have discovered an even better way to avoid the FAP. We have gone redundant, and now also have a Verizon Wireless MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot. This allows us to spread our bandwidth usage over two different accounts. It also gives us two methods to connect, in case there is something blocking our satellite, or we have n cell phone coverage. More about this later…