As more Americans migrate out of densely population cities into more open rural settings in Virginia and elsewhere one major adjustment is that it can be hard to get comparable broadband internet in their new location. Depending on where you are in Virginia it may not be as simple as the local cable TV provider running a cable into a broadband modem they provide for your and instantly giving your connected devices high-speed internet. A few lucky rural residents are near Virginia college campuses where infrastructure has been built to accommodate high speed internet but for most it’s a choice among satellite services weighing the pros, cons and costs. This article will address Viasat satellite offerings in Virginia, both the positives and negatives, and answer common questions. Overall, Viasat is a very solid option in Virginia.What is Satellite Internet in Virginia?
Residential satellite internet uses a small satellite dish antenna with transceiver and modem at your Virginia property to connect online. The signal from your dish passes through a network operations hub on Earth that is connected to the Internet. From the hub center the signal then travels to the satellite in space. Think of your signal going from your dish to the hub then to the satellite then back to the hub and then back to your dish and traveling at the speed of light.
The hub stations here on Earth use radio waves to exchange data with the satellite. The hub center is communicating with the satellite in space 22,300 miles above Earths equator. The satellite is set to geostationary orbit, meaning, it’s moving in sync with Earth’s orbit. If you were able to use the naked eye to see the satellite, you’d always find it in the same spot above you.
Professional providers service and maintain these ground stations to optimize performance. Focused processing can improve transmission efficiency. Keeping all systems “go” is the function of a network operations center.
For optimal performance in Virginia. , the residential dish (usually 2-3 feet in diameter) should be professionally installed on a direct sightline to the southern sky. Obstruction in that southern view, such as trees or chimney or hills, can interfere with a smooth signal so that’s something you’ll want to check.
All connectivity options in Virginia, have vulnerabilities and with satellite internet in Virginia you can experience disruption with bad weather that may not even be near you. The term latency is a little misleading only because it’s not really a matter of faster speeds or slower speeds as much as a longer wait time for the signal transfers at the four points described above to start. There can be delays of a half of a second to potentially longer and that’s why real-time gaming is not compatible with traditional satellite internet. There is a DSL + Satellite flex option in test that can potentially overcome this but more on that later. A VPN, or virtual private network, may also need to reconnect after such disruptions but that’s also true even with broadband cable in cities and suburbs.How Good is Viasat Internet in Virginia?
Viasat satellite internet in Virginia is mostly very good. But there can be locations where service is less good than at other locations. Technically “all you need is a clear view to the southern sky” but on a practical level, not all Virginia homes have a perfect view of the southern sky. The signal can be affected by where your dish is placed on the property.Upside for Virginia
It is available everywhere in Virginia. Viasat satellite sate; is available virtually everywhere in the 50 U.S. states.
You won’t need a land phone line to use Viasat in Virginia.
Unlimited Data for Virginia (but not unlimited speed when burn past your limit): Viasat Internet plans typically include a monthly data allowance that refreshes at the start of each cycle. While you can exceed your limit without incurring extra fees, depending on when you’re online and where you are located, speeds may drag. Heavy internet traffic times in Virginia are 4 p.m. through 9 p.m. and if you’re over your limit and online then expect that faster speeds won’t be possible. Viasat Satellite Internet prefers the term “reprioritized” to “throttled back” but take your pick. You can still use the internet but may be 15% or even 30% slower depending.
In certain Virginia locations, very fast download speeds are available up to 100 megabits per second. For those customers, it’s great. But you may not be in those locations.Downside in Virginia
It’s not cheap. No satellite internet options are cheap and in your location this technology may be your best option. While Viasat is competitively priced for satellite internet in Virginia you typically will pay $50 - $150 per month for internet for the first three months and then $70 - $200 per month after. There will be an installation fee and equipment lease costs. There is a 2-year minimum contact that you can escape but at a cost of $500 up front and non-refundable. Viasat plans offer a tiered assortment of data allowances and download speeds so you do have flexibility in what you choose off the menu but not the chance to rewrite the menu.
Speeds can be quite slow in some Virginia locations. Your location may have downloads speeds only up to 12 Mbps. For surfing the internet and checking email that’s ok but if you were downloading a large file like a movie, or uploading a very large file, you would notice it. And no gaming.
Internet disruptions in Virginia occur. As mentioned above, weather in or near Virginia can impact connectivity, and it’s out of your control. But for most non-game streaming the experience should be acceptable unless you demand lightning speed at all times.Viasat Internet Standard Plan Details in Virginia
Viasat has 4 basic plans but not all plans are available in all areas. For example, the Unlimited Platinum 100 Plan is available only in selected locations. Speed and data allowances can vary by location. Maximum Upload Speed is up to 3Mbps in all locations. This chart gives a general idea but there are differences in the plan parameters based on your location.Plan Price Per Month for First 3 Months Price per Month after 3 Months Maximum
• As noted, the speed and data allowance can vary based upon location. Your location may have 12Mbps, 25Mbps, 50Mbps, or 100Mbps available, but not locations have all of those options.
• Unlimited Platinum is not available in all locations.
Data allowance guidelines depend on your location in Virginia. You could have access to a Silver plan that could include as little as 60 GB of data or as much as 120GB of data. You’ll need to check with Viasat based on your service address.
Some areas have a fixed download speed of 12Mpbs maximum. That means, while you can go up in Data Allowance, you can’t go up in speed. If the accompanying 40GB data allowance at the Bronze level isn’t enough to meet your needs you can increase your spend to the Unlimited Silver 25 or above but you are buying more Data Allowance, not more speed.Fast Locations for Viasat Internet Service in Virginia
Currently the top speeds of up to 100Mbps are available from Viasat in a handful of locations within 48 zip codes across 31 states. Among the lucky rural and suburban areas are multiple locations throughout the state.Viasat -3 on the Way for Virginia
Viasat expects to launch three more satellites, under the initiative Viasat -3, including one for the Americas. Testing is underway and the launch is expected early in 2022. With that, capacity will increase significantly so that reliability, data access and speeds increase significantly throughout the United States.New Liberty Plans in Selected Areas of Virginia
These plans aren’t available in all areas yet but have some cool features and are on balance a bit cheaper. The “Free Zone” means you can use the internet with free, unlimited data from 3:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. in Virginia. They also all include built-in Wi-Fi. All Liberty Plans have a $10 monthly Lease fee.Plan Price Per Month Maximum
• After 100 GB of high-speed data is used, network speeds may be slower at peak traffic times.
• Liberty 50 plan Free Zone is 12:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. daily.Viasat Flex
In some areas of Virginia Viasat offers Viasat Flex, which combines satellite and DSL Digital Subscriber Line service. The satellite and the DSL line take turns carrying the bandwidth so that there are fewer disruptions and latencies. Lower latency means that Viasat Flex could support online gaming. Flex has limited availability because it’s still in Test phase. Bear in mind, you’ll have two modems with this setup and there will be initial equipment and installation fees. As of now, while its in Test, there are no additional monthly costs for the service but that could change after testing is complete. You can also ask your internet installer if this service is available.Satellite Internet Service Plan Have Fixed Costs in Virginia
Regardless of which satellite internet service provider or plan you choose there are fees for installation and a fee to either lease or buy the equipment. The Viasat Internet monthly leasing fee is $13 or you can purchase the equipment for a one-time fee of $299 and you own it. So, if you think you’re going to have the service for longer than two years it may make sense to buy it but do check to see what responsibilities you’d have in the event of an issue should you own the equipment vs. leasing it. Installation fees are typically $100. In certain locations, if the customer has qualifying credit, the installation fee can be waived.A No-Contract Option for Virginia
It’s pricier up front to escape the mandatory two-year minimum contract for Viasat Satellite Internet service plans. You can do it, but it costs $500 up front, non-refundable. It’s a big decision so consider carefully about whether you truly need the flexibility because this is not a fee you can get back if you later decide to opt into a contract. This fee is significant but otherwise Viasat is priced competitively with other rural internet service options.Viasat vs. HughesNet in Virginia
Pricing between HughesNet, another well-known satellite option, and Viasat in Virginia, is competitive. HughesNet plans all come with download speeds of up to 25bps and upload speeds up to 3 Mbps. But the data allowances are lower, ranging from 10-50GB. One nice option with HughesNet is that you can buy more data throughout the month but this does mean that your costs aren’t fixed if you exercise that option and so depending on how you budget (fixed, vs. pay more when you use more) you may not like the option to spend more. HughesNet also has the two-year contract requirement and other fixed costs for equipment and installation are comparable.
Going in its favor, Viasat Satellite Internet service in Virginia offers higher speeds unless your service address is one where the 12Mbps speed is all you can order. Data allowances with Viasat Internet are slightly higher for about the same price. HughesNet pricing ranges from $60 to $150 per month and all plans come with download speeds up to 25Mpbs (higher than some of the Viasat plans) and upload speeds up to 3Mbps (same as Viasat ).What Are my Other Internet Options in Rural Virginia Areas?
You may have access to cellular service, fixed wireless, or DSL internet.
Cellular service in Virginia : Also known as mobile broadband, cellular service is wireless. Internet access can be delivered through cell towers that send data to computers and other devices that contain built-in support for mobile broadband. This can be your laptop, tablet, smartphone or other mobile internet device. Cellular internet uses 4G mobile technology combined with various networks to create what amounts to a private connection to the internet in lieu of a wired connection. Verizon and T-Mobile compete in to offer cellular service. Depending on whether you are a qualified monthly customer, or not, pricing can be approximately $40 - $60 per month for speeds up to 25Mbps or higher and unlimited data.
Fixed Wireless Internet Service for Virginia: Fixed wireless uses an antenna attached to, or near, your home, to send your internet signal from your computer to what is typically a wireless hub that’s attached to a tower. You ‘ll need the antenna but not a dish. It offers faster speeds than satellite on average and can be cheaper. Some fixed wireless providers are faster than Viasat Satellite Internet but many are not including AT&T and Verizon, which have max download speeds of 10-12Mpbs. Another provider, Rise Broadband, can offer lower pricing than comparable Viasat speed categories. Fixed wireless latency is better than satellite but like satellite internet service there can be service interruption during bad weather in or near Virginia.
Virginia DSL internet Service: A digital subscriber line (DSL) brings an internet connection into your home through telephone lines and let you make phone calls at the same time as being online. DSL separates the telephone signals into different bands of frequencies. It’s difficult to generalize parameters of DSL plans among different providers because you can have download speeds up to 3 Mbps from a smaller provider but up to 1000 Mbps form AT&T and Earthlink where available in Virginia. You may be able to get higher data volume with DSL than with Viasat in Virginia however you will need a phone line.
So overall, Viasat Satellite Internet in Virginia will offer higher speeds and more data than HughesNet in many locations but other types of internet service providers may offer lower costs, more speed, and more data allowances. So, it’s important to do your research.Elon Musk’s Starlink Satellite Internet Project
SpaceX is building a system of tens of thousands of small satellites called Starlink that will ping transceivers on earth. It’s not without controversy in that, that many objects in orbit could literally change the appearance of the night sky from earth, and, there would need to be an end-of-lifecycle plan. Starlink has a Beta program in northern latitudes between 44° and 52° North by request. Where available, the current plan is $499 up front for the kit: router, tripod, and dish plus $99 per month for subscribers. The kit may be yours to set up and install but those questions can be raised.Viasat Internet Reputation with Customers in Virginia
Telecom companies incur a fair number of complaints but one important measure is how many get resolved quickly. A search of the Better Business Bureau records found that Viasat had 1,531 complaints closed in the past three years, of which 748, or 48%, were closed in the past 12 months. Two other companies, HughesNet, and Charter Spectrum, each have resolved 35% - 36% of their customer complaints for the similar period. Both companies had higher complaint counts. Both Viasat and HughesNet have earned a rating of A+ from the BBB.At the End of the Day
Viasat Internet For Virginia is a reputable, well-regarded company and a very strong option in areas where cable internet and fiber optic service aren’t an option. It is investing in, and testing, new technology to improve internet access and usability. Other internet service types described here may offer you more data and faster speeds at a lower price, and you should research those, but in many locations in Virginia Viasat satellite will offer the top value. Eyes wide open, you’ll have upfront installation costs and your rates will go up after the first three months, but after that you know what your costs are. You won’t incur extra fees when you exceed your monthly data allocation but your speeds may drop dramatically toward the end of your cycle if you’ve gone overboard, so carefully think about plans with higher data allowances if your household is a high user.
One note of history about Viasat satellite internet service is that the company used to brand its internet services under the name Viasat but now operates under the Viasat name.What is Broadband in Virginia?
Broadband is high-speed Internet access. The current FCC standards, set in 2015, require download speeds of at least 25Mbps (megabits per second) and upload speeds of at least 3 Mbps. Actual speeds are not uniform in all situations based on the technology and the specifics of the service you order. Typically, broadband will have faster speeds for downloading data from the internet to your computer than for upstream feeds from your computer to the Internet. The transmission technology that sends the data (images, sounds, text) is faster than a traditional phone line, wireless connection, or dial-up Internet access connections.
Broadband signals can be sent over a satellite such as a Viasat satellite in Virginia, or over DSL, cable modem, fiber, and wireless.
Unless you go online mostly just to check email, listen to live stream radio (very different from downloading movies, videos and other large files), and maybe to make VoIP calls, you’re going to want the most capacity and highest speed that is (a) available; (b) affordable based on your budget.Contact us for More Comparisons in Virginia and Beyond
Please contact us to compare Viasat Internet to HughesNet Internet, AT&T Wireless, Cable One Internet, CenturyLink Internet, Charter Spectrum Internet, Comcast Internet, Cox Internet, DIRECTV Satellite Internet, Dish Network Satellite Internet, Fios by Verizon, Frontier Internet, Fusion Connect, Mediacom Internet, MegaPath, Nomad Internet, Sprint, T-Mobile, Suddenlink Internet, Verizon, Wave, Windstream Internet, Wow Wide Open West Internet and XFINITY.Other Areas in Virginia:
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