Viasat Satellite Internet
For those in the most rural settings, Viasat satellite internet is the best option on the market, despite higher prices and different locations offering differing speeds and data allowances.
For those looking for an internet option that isn’t limited by geography, namely those living in rural areas, Viasat internet is the solution many are seeking. Viasat may not have the same pricing and data options that come with other forms of internet, but cable based internet options often fall short at reaching the more remote locations of the United States. As a satellite internet provider, this is a problem Viasat does not have.
For those looking for a better internet option in rural areas, where cable, DSL, and other wire-based internets fall short or are nowhere to be found, this article will be more than helpful in guiding you through the ins and outs of Viasat internet.
Is Viasat Satellite Internet Worth it?
As already mentioned, in many locations Viasat can provide internet service that can’t be matched by other local options. Let’s look a little more in depth at the pros and cons of Viasat internet:
Viasat internet isn’t without its drawbacks, but for someone who lives in remote areas of the United States, Viasat could be the best option available. With it’s low prices (relative to other options in rural areas), and high speeds (relative to other satellite internet providers), Viasat could be the internet option you’ve been looking for. In the rest of this article, we will walk you through your Viasat options and see how they compare to the competitors.
Starting price per month
Price after 3 months
Max download speeds
Unlimited Bronze 12
Unlimited Silver 25
Unlimited Gold 50
Unlimited Platinum 100
All four Viasat plans - Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum - come with unlimited data. The difference between them lies in price, speed, and amount of data at which you get that speed, after which the speed will slow down. These speeds can also vary by location, with some areas capping the available download speed. But as mentioned before, Viasat is working on improving this in the future. The upload speed across all plans and locations is 3Mbps.
If you find yourself in an area where download speed is capped, an upgrade in your Viasat Plan would increase the data allowance but not the download speed. In that case, the difference between plans is reduced and an upgrade would only buy you more data allowance.
Though not reflected in this chart, there are also variable data allowances for each plan. Bronze can come with 35, 40, or 80 GB of data allowance per month, Silver can come with 45, 60, 100, or 120 GB, Gold can come with 65, 100, or 200 GB, and Platinum can come with 150 or 300 GB. Your data allowance will be determined by which Viasat plan you choose and your location.
Viasat across the United States
While Viasat is available everywhere, some locations will only have certain speeds offered. Users can take advantage of Viasat’s top speeds (100 Mbps) in 48 ZIP codes in 31 states. These areas receiving the fastest Viasat internet speeds can be found in and around Chattanooga, TN; Frankfort, KY; Indianapolis, IN; Milwaukee, WI; Minneapolis, MN; Oklahoma City, OK; and Dallas, TX.
But don’t worry if you don’t live in one of those locations. Viasat has plans in the works to bring their top speeds to more locations by early 2022. At that time they will be launching a new satellite, Viasat-3, which will, according to Viasat, “deliver more data with higher data thresholds, faster speeds (100+ Mbps service speeds), higher quality streaming, enhanced service reliability and service anywhere in the US.”
Other plans offered by Viasat
Viasat’s Unlimited Bronze through Unlimited Platinum are only 4 of the services offered by Viasat, and the launch of the Viasat-3 satellite is only part of Viasat’s expanding services list. Let’s take a look at a couple others.
Much like the plans mentioned above, Viasat Liberty comes with unlimited data. Viasat Liberty offers up to 12Mbps of download speed and 12, 25, or 50 GB of data before speed is reduced by 1-5Mbps, depending on network traffic. While similar in some ways to the Unlimited Bronze plan above, Viasat Liberty comes in at a cheaper price at the cost of less data. Also, for any night owls or early birds, Viasat Liberty offers unlimited data between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m.
The Viasat Flex plan sets out to improve two of Viasat’s cons mentioned above: latency and weather interference. By combining Viasat satellite internet with a DSL connection, Viasat Flex can reduce the wait time for data to arrive at your computer and improve internet performance when skies aren’t clear.
Of course, installing twice the amount of equipment has a higher installation cost, but the monthly costs aren’t any higher than the normal Unlimited Plans. Viasat Flex is a new service, so prices could change, but for now the added stability coming at no extra monthly cost is a great deal.
Installation and Equipment Fees
Viasat’s installation and equipment fees are pretty standard for the industry. Let’s take a closer look at your options.
Installation of Viasat internet will cost you a one-time fee of $100. Depending on location and your credit, you could also qualify for free installation. But this is only the installation of the equipment. The equipment itself comes with a fee, either monthly or one-time upfront. If you choose to rent the equipment, it will cost you $13 per month. If you choose to buy it, it will cost you $299. That may sound like a lot, but you will surpass $299 in your 24th month of renting. And seeing that Viasat plans require a 2-year contract, that $299 will definitely save you money in the long run.
Now, there is a way out of that 2-year contract, but it won’t be saving you the money on buying equipment. That’s because opting out of the 2-year contract requires an upfront, nonrefundable payment of $500. But this might be the route you want to take if two years isn’t something you want to commit to.
How does Viasat stack up to the competition?
Viasat’s biggest competitor in the rural internet market is HughesNet. Overall, the pricing between the two companies is the same. HughesNet plans go for $60-150 per month. If you remember the chart above, this is very similar to the Unlimited plans offered by Viasat. Installation and equipment fees are also very comparable with two-year contracts being required.
Where the difference shows up is in Viasat’s download speed and data allowance. HughesNet download speeds are capped at 25Mbps (upload speeds are the same as Viasat’s, being capped at 3Mbps). You’ll remember that depending on location, Viasat is reaching up to 100Mbps download speeds. That’s a big difference. HughesNet’s plans also only provide data allowances in the range of 10-50GB. You’ll remember that Viasat’s Unlimited Platinum plan offers up to 150GB per month. With HughesNet, customers can purchase extra data, which Viasat does not offer, but that’s an extra fee to get what Viasat already includes.
Viasat’s other competitors
Viasat’s biggest competitors in most areas are not satellite internet options. Fixed wireless, cellular, and DSL offer strong alternative options for people living in rural areas. These options may not be available for the most remote of locations, but for those living in areas where these are available, let’s see how they compare to Viasat.
Fixed wireless is another option for some rural internet users. Fixed wireless comes in at a lower price than Viasat and with lower latency than satellite internet providers in general, but many providers can’t match the speed of Viasat’s services. For example, AT&T and Verizon’s fixed wireless plans have max download speeds of only 10-12 Mbps. Rise Broadband is one provider that is able to match Viasat’s speeds, offering plans of up to 50Mbps download speeds. Fixed wireless, like satellite, will also suffer from outages due to weather conditions.
With cellular internet technologies constantly on the rise, this is another popular option for rural internet users. With download speeds up to 25Mbps, unlimited data, and only $40 per month (or $60 for those using a mobile plan from a different provider), Verizon LTE is a popular choice. At around $60 per month, T-Mobile Home Internet is similarly priced for unlimited data and up to 50Mbps download speeds.
DSL can be a good option depending on location. In many places, DSL simply can’t compare with Viasat’s 100 Mbps download speeds. It’s an easy choice if you’re in a location where DSL providers such as CenturyLink, Frontier, and Windstream only offer you 1-10Mbps. But DSL has more to offer if you live in a different area. In the right places, DSL can match Viasat’s 100Mbps, and with lower latency, a lower price, and often with unlimited or very high data allowances.
What do Viasat Customers Say?
Let’s start with the positive. Viasat has a good track record of responding to complaints. Of the 1,511 complaints issued with Viasat to the Better Business Bureau in the last three years, 720 have been resolved in just the last 12 months. That sounds like a lot of complaints, but the issues have been the typical kind complaints received by internet providers across the country. In addition, the way they’ve handled those complaints has led the Better Business Bureau to award them an A+ rating.
That said, Viasat is not reviewed by The American Customer Satisfaction Index or J.D. Power in their customer satisfaction reports. This makes it difficult to say conclusively how customers feel about this company’s service.
Unless you live in some of the remotest locations in the United States, you will likely have other - sometimes better - options for your internet service. But where cable and other internet services don’t reach, Viasat is likely your best option. With speeds of up to 100Mbps and data allowances of up to 150GB, Viasat is the best internet available in many locations. This availability does come at the cost of latency, price, and weather outages, so it’s important to weigh all the options.
Why do I need higher data allowances if data is “unlimited”?
Unlimited data and data allowance are talking about two different things. Unlimited data means you will never run out of internet service. As long as all other factors permit, using more internet will not make your internet stop working later in the billing cycle. But it might slow down. That’s because of the data allowance. Data allowance is how much internet you can use at the top speed. After you surpass the allowance, your internet will keep working, but at a slower speed. Thus higher data allowances give you top speed performance for longer.
Can I play games online with Viasat?
Standard satellite internet has very high latency, which would make gaming very difficult, if not impossible. But using the Viasat Flex plan combines DSL with satellite to lower latency and improve connectivity. This could make gaming with Viasat possible.
Are Exede and Viasat the same?
Yes. Exede internet services changed its name to Viasat in 2017 and has been operating under that name ever since.
Satellite internet uses satellite technology to reach locations that can’t connect to cable, fiber, or other wire-based internet types. Satellite internet with unlimited data means anyone, anywhere can do everything they need to do online, without getting cut off or surprised with extra fees.
Traditional internet providers use land-based infrastructures connected entirely by wires all the way from ISP to user. With satellite internet, the space between provider and user is just that, space. Signals travel to and from satellites located 22,000 miles above the earth.
How does this affect the service? The biggest difference is that because these satellites have such a broad view of the earth, they can provide internet to many never-before-reached locations. That’s why satellite internet is the internet of choice for many rural users. But satellite internet is more than just a backup option. It has come a long way in the past decade to provide internet services on par with modern internet needs. This includes internet speeds of up to 100 Mbps, unlimited data plans, and features that make the service more useful and more affordable.
Other internet types send messages through wires from one point to another. Sometimes the last leg of the trip is broadcast wirelessly, for example with fixed wireless internet, but for the most part, the signals travel through cables under the ground. Satellite internet is mostly wireless. This is what it looks like:
If you did the math, that’s almost 100,000 miles of travelling for a single click. This happens every time you open a link, use an app connected to the internet, or watch a video through a streaming service. It seems like it would take forever, but in actuality the whole trip takes less than one second!
If you live in rural America, you may be used to the snail-paced internet speeds of dial-up and rural DSL. In that case you’ll probably be happy with any satellite internet plan. However knowing what you need and what internet speeds are available can help you choose the internet speed that is best for you. Below is a guide of different internet speeds and what they are best for.
12 Mbps - This is a good speed for individuals who at most do light video streaming, or for small families that just want to visit websites, check email, and browse social media.
25 Mbps - This speed can handle 2 to 3 devices. It is good for video chat and light streaming, but not on too many devices at once.
50 Mbps - This speed can handle 3-5 devices. Internet plans with 50 Mbps download speeds can handle video conferences and HD video streaming, but not on many devices at the same time.
100 Mbps - This is currently the highest speed offered by satellite internet plans. It can handle 6 or more devices. It can perform any online activity with multiple devices connected at the same time.
With speeds of up to 100 Mbps, satellite internet is great at streaming. Even 4K Ultra HD only requires around 25 Mbps to stream. The only thing to be careful of is data usage. While data is often unlimited, your max speeds are usually only guaranteed for a set amount of GBs per month. This means that if you go over your usage, your speeds could be slowed down enough that streaming requires a lot of buffering. Reducing your streaming quality is a good way of conserving data to last all month long.
It really depends on where you live. Satellite internet’s greatest strength is its reach. For many rural internet customers, satellite internet is the best way to get high-speed, reliable broadband internet. For those living in cities, cable is usually the better option. Let’s take a closer look at the two.
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