Viasat WiFi Internet : A Comprehensive Review for 2020
Viasat WiFi Internet : A Comprehensive Review for 2020
So you’ve packed up your things and moved your family away from the hustle and bustle of the BIG City out to the crisp, clean, country air of Rural Town, USA.. but then it hits you...
“What do these country folks do out here for high speed internet?!??”
You start contacting every internet service provider (ISP) you’ve ever been with or heard of from the likes of Comcast Xfinity to Charter Spectrum to AT&T U-Verse to CenturyLink and so on but no ISP seems to service your address.
This realization that fiber optic cables (Fios) and high-speed cable broadband internet connections are all things that you left behind in the Big City along with the traffic lights and fire hydrants can be a HUGE culture shock.
But take a deep breath… There’s no need to stress, satellite internet has got you covered on all your internet WiFi needs. It might not be the highspeed internet option you were looking for but it’s the best option you have.
Today we’re going to take a look at Viasat satellite internet.
A Little About Viasat
Viasat is 1 of 2 major satellite internet providers in the United States. The other one being HughesNet. Headquartered out of Carlsbad, CA, Viasat became a real player in the high-speed internet game after launching their Boeing built Viasat-2 satellite dish into orbit in June of 2017.
This new state of the art technology allows the company to offer customers speeds up to 100Mbps internet speed in select areas which is the highest internet speed via a satellite dish you can find in the US.
Viasat plans to launch a trio of satellites codenamed “Viasat-3” in 2021 and it boasts that it will be a gamechanger for not only Americans in rural areas as far as high speed broadband goes but as well as people all around the globe. They expect to be the world’s first Global ISP. That is not to say that there isn't competition out there, just check out the article on arstechnica.com that speaks about who the competition is and the new space race to provide internet connectivity.
So the future looks bright for all of Viasat’s customers. Let’s now review the broadband plans that they offer.
Viasat Internet Plans
Viasat offers 6 different sets of internet deals. The broadband plans offered to each customer depend on which satellite in orbit your physical location can have a line of sight to (all located in the southern sky). There will never be more than 1 set to choose from.
If you want to quickly check to see which set of Viasat satellite internet plans are available in your area you can click here.
Some key notes:
~ All plans require credit approval and come with a 2-year contract. Breaking the contract is a $15 penalty for every month left remaining on the 2-year agreement. You can enter into a no contract plan if you pay for the equipment upfront costing $300.
~ A credit check will determine any type of startup fees. If you pass the credit check, Installation is typically free but in some areas there will be an install fee up to $150 but can vary.
Failed credit checks doesn’t mean you cannot get the service. It just means that you didn’t qualify for the lease option for the equipment and you will have to pay $300 for the equipment upfront along with any installation fee if there is any.
~ The upload speed of 3Mbps is universal on all plans.
~ Viasat offers a “Lifetime Lease Fee” option that will erase the equipment leasing charge of $10 off of every bill. If you do the math, it’s equivalent of paying $10 for 30 months or 2 ½ years which could add savings in the long run if you plan on being a long-term customer.
~ Plans that do not include Wi-Fi will require you to provide your own router if you want wireless internet. Otherwise you will be provided with just a modem that can ethernet into the back of one device at a time. You can pick up a router at your local Best Buy for as little as $30.
~ “Unlimited” plans come unlimited data along with a set usage data threshold. When you reach your set usage threshold, you can still use the internet, but you may or may not experience slower speeds during network congestion (3-5Mbps); typically the early morning or early evening hours, when Viasat’s network sees the most traffic from people who are home using the internet.
Viasat is very good at regulating the distribution of data which keeps network congestion at a minimum which should also minimize any type of slow down periods for any customers who’ve exceeded their set usage data threshold.
~ “Liberty” plans still come with unlimited data but you’re more likely to see slowdowns with your speed if you are to exceed your plan’s data cap as opposed to the “Unlimited” plans.
“Liberty” plans also come with a “Free Zone” which happens every day between the hours of 3am-6am where you can use as much data as you’d like without pulling from your monthly data allowance.
~ Home Phone with unlimited local and long distance calling with all major calling features (3 way calling, call waiting, caller ID, voicemail, etc.) can be added for $19.99 more a month for the first 6 months and reverts to its regular price of $29.99. There is no contract for the phone, just the internet.
~ All internet packages require a valid form of payment (debit/credit card or banking account) on file that will be set for auto bill pay. You can choose to go without auto bill pay for an additional monthly fee of $5.
~ Customers are also allowed to suspend their account AKA “Vacation Mode” for up to 6 months out of the year and will only be charge the monthly equipment leasing charge ($10) during those months. This comes in handy for 2nd homes or vacation properties.
~ Viasat offers an ongoing $10 monthly bundle discount for all DirecTV satellite TV subscribers.
Viasat Internet vs. DSL Internet
Viasat or satellite internet, in general, will always offer better internet speeds than a DSL (phone line) internet connection. This is particularly true because satellite internet is a dedicated connection to one’s home.
When you’re with a DSL provider (ATT, CenturyLink, Frontier, etc.) you’re on a shared network. Being on a shared network means your speeds/bandwidth are affected by other customers in your neighborhood running off the same internet/telephone line as you and vice versa. DSL speeds are low to begin with so having to share them with other customers can make it very slow to do the most basic of internet functions.
So if your next door neighbor, who is a fellow DSL subscriber, starts watching a cat video on YouTube, you’ll see that your internet speed has been lowered; conversely, you can return the favor by starting up a movie on Netflix, dropping their speeds and bandwidth as well. That’s neighborly love!
With satellite internet, you’re only competing with the rest of your household members for your internet speeds. With DSL you’re competing with not only your household but also all your neighbors which can make the next neighborhood block party pretty awkward.
Viasat vs. HughesNet
For the longest time, HughesNet was King when it came to satellite broadband internet. When someone living in a rural area searched for internet it almost always ended with a HughesNet technician installing a dish on their property.
But then something happened... The day to day needs of the common internet consumer changed. And it all came down to one main internet practice... STREAMING.
You can rarely find a person nowadays who doesn’t subscribe to a Netflix or Hulu or Amazon Prime or most recently, Disney Plus account or at least borrows one of their family members’ or friend’s login (Don’t worry your secret is safe with me). Heck, even our smartphones nowadays come with these apps preinstalled not to mention YouTube.
HughesNet’s dated satellite technology just can’t handle the amount of data that is required to comfortably stream video throughout a month’s period. They offer 4 plans which all come with the speed of 25Mbps.
The internet speed of 25Mbps is not the issue here because only 5Mbps is required to stream in 1080p on any of these platforms without buffering. The real issue is their extremely low “soft data caps” of 10GB, 20GB, 30GB, and 50GB (50GB will run you about $160 a month). HughesNet’s plans are very similar to Viasat’s “Liberty” plans.
A “soft data cap” means that your internet won’t stop working nor will you pay overages if you go over your plan’s data limit, you’ll just be put down to a lowered speed, typically 3 to 5Mbps, for the remainder of the billing period unless you call in to HughesNet customer service to purchase “Data Tokens” or upgrade to a higher plan. 3-5Mbps could cripple a family’s home when it comes to any internet action. We’re talking speeds similar to the “AOL Days” (America Online). “You’ve Got Mail! It’s just going to take a minute to load...
Viasat saw this need in the market and created a technology alongside Boeing (well-known company that creates aircraft and spacecraft) that could handle streaming and finally give the cordcutters what they’ve been wanting in rural America. This was all launched in June of 2017 and may also be the same month HughesNet was dethroned as King.
Mostly all areas of the country have access to Viasat’s “Unlimited” plans which yeah, they say has a “soft data cap” but you’re not guaranteed a slowdown once you hit the plan’s data allowance. It only would be throttled if the network is being slammed with congestion. Viasat claims that on all their “Unlimited” plans you’re allowed approximately 100hrs of video streaming without risking exceeding your monthly data cap.
Speed is another factor that HughesNet cannot compete with Viasat on. Again, HughesNet can only offer 25Mbps whereas Viasat can offer most customers speeds up to 100Mbps. Granted the 100Mbps plan comes with a hefty price tag of $200/month but to some it’s worth every penny when it comes to having the best possible internet they can have at their home.
Limitations of Viasat Satellite Internet
There’s really 2 main limitations when it comes to Viasat satellite wifi which aren’t just a Viasat issue, they’re a satellite internet issue in general (HughesNet suffers from the same). These 2 limitations are Online Video Gaming and Virtual Private Networking (VPN). Both experience problems due to latency.
Certain video games that require an instant response in online multiplayer arenas will suffer due to lag or latency. Essentially, you’ll hit a button and it will take 0.5-3 seconds for the desired action to happen on screen. It’s enough to make the most hardcore gamer rage and throw their controller through a television screen.
This all stems from the fact that the signal needs to travel from your home to outer space to hit the satellite dish in orbit and then back down to earth to the gaming servers and then back to your home, which in turn, causes this latency. It travels the speed of light but it’s still a long way up and down. Wired internet services do not have to travel to outer space and do not suffer from this latency.
First person shooters, battle royale, and sports games will suffer the most from this.
All other gaming needs will work just fine with Viasat like single player games, casino games, game apps on tablets and phones, as well as downloading new games and updates for your games.
VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) suffer from the same exact issue. Although many times when it comes to VPN’ing, you’ll just be kicked out of the virtual network altogether. Most VPN’s require information to be constantly fed to its server, otherwise it thinks it’s being attacked or hacked into. With satellite’s latency the VPN will consider your connection as a hacking attempt and will boot you from the server.
Many online gamers and people who need to connect to a VPN to work from home remedy these 2 issues by taking advantage of the “mobile hotspot” feature included on most smartphone cell phone plans. Because there's usually a monthly data cap with mobile hotspots, they use the hotspot to game and work and use the satellite internet service for all other online activities. Pro tips!
Viasat’s technology alone sets them apart from the “other options” in rural areas. They can offer much higher internet speeds and bandwidth than DSL and their main satellite competitor, HughesNet.
Their pricing is rather high when comparing to other providers but I guess it comes down to the old adage “You get what you pay for”.
Despite limitations on online gaming and VPN’s they look to be the #1 option for streamers and heavy internet users in rural areas.
An easy way to see what Viasat can offer at your address is to use a reliable site like KonectEaze. One of their professional agents can determine serviceability for your home and go over the speeds and plans available to you.