Viasat satellite internet works by sending internet data from its satellites in space to satellite dishes installed at your home or place of work.  By providing high-speed internet via satellite, Viasat internet can be accessed anywhere a satellite dish and modem are installed. Once you sign up for a Viasat internet plan, you will schedule a time for a professional service technician to install the satellite and modem at your location.  The technician will aim the satellite dish toward a geosynchronous Viasat satellite in space.  It is because of this satellite in space that Viasat satellite internet can reach almost any location in the United States.  Other internet providers are limited by the locations of telephone poles, lengths of wires, and other infrastructure, but Viasat internet is available anywhere a satellite dish can see the southern sky.

How does Viasat Work Compared to Cable and DSL?

Cable and DSL internet are landline based services whereas Viasat uses satellite beams between a satellite and a satellite dish.

Here’s how Viasat Works:

A Viasat user clicks on a link.  The website request is sent to the modem installed at the user’s home.

  1. The Viasat modem then sends that request up to the satellite dish installed outside.
  2. The satellite dish then sends a satellite beam to the designated Viasat satellite. 
  3. The satellite then forwards the request to a gateway station on the ground.
  4. The ground network forwards the request on to the designated website.
  5. The website responds with the requested information and sends it to the ground network.
  6. The ground network sends it back to the satellite.
  7. The satellite sends it back to your satellite dish.
  8. The satellite dish sends the information to the installed modem.
  9. The modem sends the information to the computer that made the initial request.

This entire process happens every time a link is clicked or an action is taken on the internet.  Your request and the subsequent response go a long distance to get you what you need. Viasat’s network of satellites, including Via-Sat 1, ViaSat-2, WildBlue-1, and Anik F2, orbit the earth from quite a distance.  ViaSat-2 is Viasat’s newest satellite and it orbits the earth at around 22,000 miles away.  So yes, your data is going a long distance.  Your data is making that 44,000 mile round trip every time you click a link, and that doesn’t include the travel on the ground network!  The data making this journey every time you need something on the internet will create a small amount of lag between the request and the response, but this is a non-issue for regular internet users.  Online gamers - who rely on quick, live interactions - will probably notice the lag affecting their gaming experience.

How Fast is Viasat Internet?

Because satellite internet doesn’t require any nearby infrastructure, Viasat internet can reach almost anywhere in the 50 United States.  The only requirement is that your satellite dish has an open view of the southern sky.  Because of this unparalleled reach, Viasat is a top choice for users whose rural locations have left them without other internet options.
Wherever you are, you are almost certain to have access to Viasat internet, but not necessarily to all Viasat internet plans.  What plans you have access to will be determined by what spot beams can be accessed from your location.  Viasat’s newest satellite, ViaSat-2, serves Viasat customers with plans that can reach up to 100Mbps, but not every location will have access to these. Such areas will have to choose plans that use spot beams from other ViaSat satellites, and usually offer max speeds between 12Mbps and 50Mbps.  Most locations will have access to multiple plans to choose from, each with different download speeds and data thresholds.  No matter what plan you choose, consider bundling Viasat Voice or DIRECTV to your Viasat internet to get a discount on your total monthly bill.

How Can I Get Unlimited Data with Viasat?

The great news is that all Viasat internet plans come with unlimited data!  You may have seen that every plan comes with a specified data allowance.  This is not the same as a data limit. What this means is that accounts that haven’t reached their monthly data threshold receive priority in their download speeds over those that have surpassed their threshold.  This won’t have any noticeable effect during times of light network traffic.  It just means that those that have surpassed their data allowance may notice slower speeds at times when many people are using the internet.  There is also a time late every night (or early every morning depending on your perspective) when all data is free for everyone.  You can take advantage of this free zone to do your major downloading and streaming without adding to your monthly data usage at all.  Viasat’s data truly is unlimited, making this the best option for rural internet users.


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