Viasat (formerly Exede) is one of two major providers of satellite internet in the United States (the other being HughesNet).

While it may not provide the same speed as cable or fiber providers, Viasat does have a secret weapon. As of April 2018, the company now offers several unlimited data plans. This is a perk not often seen with satellite internet providers, and it is directly tied to the recent launch of their new Viasat-2 satellites.

The main draw of a satellite connection, in general, is that it allows people in rural areas to get online, even if they’re far away from an established network. With Viasat, almost everyone can get online and enjoy high-speed internet regardless of their location. All you need is a clear view of the southern sky (and willingness to sign a two-year contract).

Pros

  • No fees for overusing data
  • 98% nationwide US coverage
  • 25 Mbps plan upgrade options

Cons

  • Relatively expensive
  • Data is throttled after 150 GB
  • Long contracts

Viasat Internet Plans Overview

Usually, satellite connections are much more limited in their data allowances. Because data has to be sent to a satellite for transmission, there’s a maximum amount of capacity that the network can handle at any given time.

DealsPrice MonthlyInternet SpeedPhone
Liberty 12 $3000 12 Mbps Satellite(855) 713-9640
Liberty 25 $5000 12 Mbps Satellite(855) 713-9640
Liberty 50 $7500 12 Mbps Satellite(855) 713-9640

If you're looking to compare plans, make sure to check out our detailed guide on the latest Viasat Internet (formerly Exede) deals and promotions.

As mentioned above, Viasat does offer several “unlimited data” plans with 12–25 Mbps download speeds. These options also state that “other traffic may be prioritized” if you use over 100 GB a month, however. While this may sound like a solid deal, 100 GB isn’t very much by today’s standards. Yes, you can technically use as much data as you want, but your speeds will be slowed in the process. Use this handy data calculator to help you figure out your data usage needs.

We’ve found that Viasat’s top speeds are reasonably comparable to competitor HughesNet, overall. Still, some customers we spoke to were routinely unable to access the 25 Mbps upgrade due to bandwidth constraints in subscription areas. The effective top speed is often the 12 Mbps plan.

The pricing of Viasat’s plans are generally competitive with other Satellite internet providers, but more expensive when compared to Cable or Fiber. We’ve found them to be more expensive than HughesNet for the speed delivered, but often better in terms of the data allowance. Bundles with DirecTV — one of the top television providers in the nation — are also available with discounts over standalone service.

Viasat Speeds and Network Performance

Satellite connections are generally slower than traditional options like cable or fiber, but Viasat still manages to offer downloads of up to 25 Mbps.

While data with some plans are usually unlimited, expect to see the speed of your connection decrease once you hit 150 GB of usage in each month.

Viasat Internet (formerly Exede) Download Speeds Over Time


CityViasat Internet (formerly Exede) Average SpeedViasat Internet (formerly Exede) Top 10% Speeds
Atlanta, Georgia20 Mbps24 Mbps
Austin, Texas5.6 Mbps14 Mbps
Bronx, New York4.9 Mbps12 Mbps
Brooklyn, New York1.4 Mbps2.2 Mbps
Chicago, Illinois6.0 Mbps10.0 Mbps
Dallas, Texas7.5 Mbps24 Mbps
Denver, Colorado9.6 Mbps17 Mbps
Houston, Texas2.2 Mbps7.1 Mbps
Los Angeles, California8.2 Mbps19 Mbps
Miami, Florida6.4 Mbps8.7 Mbps
Minneapolis, Minnesota6.3 Mbps14 Mbps
New York, New York9.7 Mbps12 Mbps
Orlando, Florida5.5 Mbps11 Mbps
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania4.3 Mbps11 Mbps
Portland, Oregon11 Mbps18 Mbps
Saint Louis, Missouri3.9 Mbps10 Mbps
San Antonio, Texas20 Mbps33 Mbps
San Diego, California8.0 Mbps16 Mbps
San Jose, California12 Mbps26 Mbps
Seattle, Washington3.6 Mbps5.1 Mbps

 

Viasat’s new ViaSat-2 satellite network is changing the game for satellite providers, offering some of the best download speeds ever avaible to consumers. Image Source: Wikipedia Commons

Viasat-2 Launch: The Beginning Of a New Era For Satellite Internet

In 2018, Viasat launched a new satellite network, aptly named ViaSat-2. This new network brings about a slew of changes to the company’s internet plans, some of which are clearly targeted toward their primary competitor, HughesNet. Most importantly, the company is now offering unlimited data on all of their mainline plans. This includes the 12, 30, 50, and 100 Mbps options that are now available to most current and new subscribers. These plans represent a significant step in the right direction for the company, and for satellite internet as a whole.

Important Note: Unlimited still doesn't quite mean unlimited.

Crucially, Viasat mentioned in their initial press release that their new ViaSat-2 plans would be unlimited, up to a certain point. This point varies from plan to plan, but the company mentions that once exceeded, other customer’s traffic may still be prioritized over yours. That said, the new satellite network has a massively-upgraded capacity, so hopefully, this won’t be as large an issue going forward. Time will tell.

Simple internet-based games will probably be just fine on a satellite connection, but anything beyond that may present an issue.

Is Viasat Good For Gaming?

While speeds of around 25 Mbps may be fine for online games due to the low amount of data transmitted, the issue you’ll run into with a satellite connection is some pretty major latency.

Every bit of data you use has to travel around 23,000 miles to a satellite in space and then bounce back, and this results in a minimum latency of 500 ms — a limitation that all satellite providers share.

Viasat may serve just fine for Farmville, but will severely limit your effectiveness if you’re playing a game like Call of Duty or League of Legends. Streaming on Twitch becomes basically unworkable on any satellite connection, and quickly eats up data anyway.

Are There Any Benefits to a Satellite Connection?

Satellite image of the USA.
While Cable delivers Internet over cables, Viasat beams it to a satellite and “bounces” it back down to subscribers throughout the US. Image Source: Unsplash

The main benefit of a satellite connection is the huge range that Viasat covers. You can access their service pretty much anywhere, but you’re going to pay more and get lower speeds overall.

Generally, satellite internet is intended to serve customers that don’t have access to traditional options. It can’t compete in price or speed with regular Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that have an established ground network.

Where is Viasat Internet Available?

As a satellite Provider, Viasat is available throughout 98% of the United States. The only real limitation within the contiguous United States is the need for an unobstructed view of the sky. That said, Viasat mainly focuses on offering service to rural customers who lack access to traditional options.

Viasat Internet (formerly Exede) Coverage & Availability Map

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COVERAGE CENSUS TRACTS

Viasat Installation Options and Installation Fees

Because Viasat requires a satellite dish to operate, you won’t be able to install service on your own. Fortunately, installation is free when you sign a two-year contract. The company doesn’t allow you to buy the equipment outright, so you’ll be stuck paying a rental fee in all cases.

Viasat Internet Equipment & Fees
Installation FeeFree
Internet Equipment Rental Fee$9.99
DirecTV DVR rental fee$15+
Early Termination Fee (ETF) – Internet$15 for each month remaining on contract
Early Termination Fee (ETF) – DirecTV$25 for each month remaining on contract

Viasat Internet Equipment Options

As far as specifications go, Viasat’s “Wi-Fi modem” gateway device is pretty standard in terms of power. It does have some neat extra features under the hood, however. The dual-band device supports both 2.4 and 5 Ghz connections, and includes 5 ethernet ports. Additionally, the modem has support for guest access networks and parental controls, so you can manage your children’s internet access and keep guests off your personal network if you have security concerns.

Viasat comes with a modem/Wi-Fi “gateway” unit with advanced home networking features. Image Source:
Wikimedia Commons

If you’d prefer, you can use your own wireless equipment. You’ll still be stuck paying the monthly rental fee due to the inability to buy your own satellite, but it’s a viable option for those who would rather use equipment they’re already familiar with.

Viasat TV Service: What Are My Options?

DirecTV Dishes on rooftop.
Viasat doesn’t provide TV service directly, but many customers bundle service with DirecTV for a small monthly savings. Image Source:
Unsplash

While Viasat doesn’t offer TV themselves, they do partner with DIRECTV in many areas to offer bundled TV and internet service. The main plan advertised is the “Choice” package, starting at around $45 a month. It offers over 200 channels, a Genie TiVo DVR, and exclusive access to NFL Sunday Ticket. Here are a few of the premium sports channels offered with this plan:

DIRECTV Choice Sports Channels

  • NFL Network
  • ESPN HD
  • ESPN 2 HD
  • Fox Sports 1 HD
  • NFL Sunday Ticket MAX
  • Tennis Channel HD
  • MLB Network HD

DirecTV DVR Options
Genie HD DVR$20/month1 TB
DirecTV HD DVR$15/month500 GB
DirecTV Standard DVR$7/month320 GB

Viasat Internet’s Main Strengths and Weaknesses

The Bad: Streaming Limitations

For heavy streamers and cord-cutters, satellite internet from Viasat is not a viable option. While you can enjoy a decent picture quality using the provider’s higher tier plans, you’re going to quickly run into data cap issues. Viasat’s “unlimited” plan isn’t truly unlimited, in that you’ll end up with slower connections pretty quickly. 150 GB is pretty easy to blow through in a month and you’ll quickly find yourself frustrated with the limitations. Cutting the cord is much easier with a traditional cable or fiber connection.

The Good: Free Zone Data Bonus

If you’re on a plan with a data cap, take a look at your plan’s “free zone”, a range of early morning hours where the connection is not metered. These times, usually ranging from 3 – 6 AM, are periods where the network has a light load and can handle heavier individual usage. Schedule any major downloads for this window to save some precious data!

Conclusion: Viasat Internet Is Best for Rural Customers With a Streaming Habit

There’s no doubt about it: Viasat can’t compete with cable and fiber providers when it comes to price or quality of service.

With that said, they’re one of the best options available when traditional ISPs aren’t around. Their 25 Mbps downloads with a premium plan puts them above competitor HughesNet when it comes to top speeds, and they offer options without data caps (albeit with throttling for heavy usage).

Overall, while Viasat won’t allow you to stream HD content all day, it’s a viable option for high-speed internet in underserved areas of the United States. We reccomend it above HughesNet for most customers, mainly because of the option for higher data caps that are friendly to streaming YouTube and Netflix.

Why Did Exede Internet Change Its Name To Viasat?

Interestingly, Viasat is the name of the satellite network that Exede Internet has been operating on for years now. It is also the parent company behind the service, and in late 2017, they decided to consolidate their branding into the Viasat name. No service changes were announced alongside the name change, and if you have Exede email addresses or logins, they won’t be changing, either (for now).

Viasat Internet (formerly Exede) at a Glance

StatisticViasat Internet (formerly Exede)
Price Range$30.00 - $75.00/mo+
Connection Type(s) Satellite
Customer Recommendation Rating on BroadbandNow.com35.4%
ACSI Customer Service Rating 
Netflix Ranking56th
Population Served302,050,638

Experts

James Webb

James Webb

James Webb is a tech and gadgets expert with a focus on educational content development. He draws on his background in the startup world to make complicated technologies and topics easy to understand for normal folks.

Questions & Answers

2 ANSWERED QUESTIONS

Does ViaSat charge different rates depending on the location? Also, when we've used the Priority Data Cap, do they really offer 1 to 5 Mbps services? I often get speeds lower than 1 Mbps.

ViaSat, like many other ISPs, does have different plans available depending on the address that’s looking for service. The differences you might see in pricing might also be due to promotional rates that are only available for a period of the contract. As far as speeds go, note that Viasat advertises speeds up to 1 to 5 Mbps after you’ve reached your data cap, meaning that speeds can actually be less than 1 Mbps, particularly if you’re using the internet during peak hours. Check out what Viasat has to say about this in their Data Allowance page.

Can satellite Internet handle a live feed video security system?

We usually only recommend satellite if you don’t have any other options in your area. The amount of bandwidth needed for your cameras depends on a few things, such as camera resolution, frame rate per second, the number of devices you set up, the file compression, and the network video records. The needs of a typical security system can vary wildly, but you can consider somewhere between 500 kbps to 10 Mbps per camera. Considering that you can get 25 Mbps satellite plans or even higher, satellite should be a reliable enough choice. As for pricing, you can enter your address in our search box to compare options available in your area.

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