Viasat (Exede) Satellite Internet Review

Is Viasat the best satellite internet service for rural Americans?

Viasat logo
Overall Rating4 / 5
✔️ Plans starting at $30/mo.

✔️ Speeds up to 100 Mbps

❌ Long-term contract

Viasat satellite internet is the fastest satellite provider with the most generous data allowance. Viasat offers several internet plans for people who live in the outskirts of a city or in remote or rural areas.

Viasat satellite internet for rural Americans

If you live in an area where the cable lines don’t reach, satellite internet might be your best option. Satellite internet is a wireless connection that delivers internet connectivity via satellites orbiting the Earth, so you don’t need to have cables, fibers, or other hard-wiring running out to your home to get internet. With satellite internet, you just need a small satellite dish and a clear view of the southern sky. 

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Viasat internet review

If you’re in a rural area and need internet service, Viasat is a good option. Its speeds and data deprioritization thresholds outshine fellow satellite provider HughesNet, although you do end up paying more than you would with a bargain-buster plan. 

Satellite internet plans are more expensive than internet options in urban areas, since it’s relatively cheap for utility companies to install cable and other infrastructure in a cost-effective way in dense urban areas. But installing cable infrastructure out to sparsely populated farming areas or small towns costs much more per customer, so most companies don’t invest in rural areas. The lack of investment in rural internet infrastructure has created a digital divide between America’s cities and rural areas. 

Viasat satellite internet helps close the digital divide by bringing internet access to small towns, rural areas, and other places overlooked by big internet providers. By beaming internet signals down from the sky, satellite internet provides dependable broadband to rural customers who live in places where the cable doesn’t reach.

In customer satisfaction reviews, Viasat (Exede) is rated higher than HughesNet.1 Overall, we found that Viasat offers a workable internet experience for people who live in rural areas. Just remember that faster Viasat plans with more data (e.g., Unlimited Gold and Platinum plans) are more expensive compared to most other types of internet service plans (cable, DSL, 4G LTE home internet, etc.). We encourage people to check out all rural internet options before getting satellite internet, in case there’s a faster and cheaper way to get service at your address.

How to pick the right Viasat plan

With speeds up to 100 Mbps, Viasat internet service can support video streaming or several people browsing the internet at the same time (although this will eat up your data quickly—so don’t go on a Netflix binge and say we didn’t warn you). If you like video streaming, opt for the plan with the largest data allotment—Viasat’s top tier plan offers 300 GB of data per month, which is six times more data than HughesNet’s top plan (which is the same price). 

As far as unlimited data plans go, keep in mind that most satellite internet plans have some sort of data restrictions. Even plans advertised as unlimited may slow customers speeds periodically, particularly customers who use a lot of data.

Many satellite internet plans have a set allotment of full speed data, with unlimited data at reduced speeds thereafter. So, with this type of plan, you can use a specified amount of data at full speeds. After that, you can keep using the internet without paying anything extra but your speeds may be reduced during times of congestion (which seems to be most of the time).

Other satellite plans have a hard data cap, which means that if you exceed your data limit your service will stop for the rest of the billing period unless you pay for more data. Luckily, most Viasat satellite plans don’t have a hard data cap. 

Satellite internet can provide a reliable connection for most internet activities—with limited streaming and a caveat that many online games do not work well with satellite because of high latency rates (or delay).

Best Viasat plans

Satellite internet plans can look pretty confusing. But with satellite internet, you get what you pay for. Inexpensive plans are initially attractive but may not deliver the speeds you need to work, stream, or learn from home.

Unless you are a world-class budgeter with very slim internet needs, we recommend avoiding the satellite plans with low data allowances because most people on these plans end up frustrated by slow speeds when the data allowance is reached, or paying a lot in extra data fees. The biggest Viasat plan includes 300 GB of full-speed data per month, while the smallest gives you just 30 GB per month. 

Although Viasat offers a variety of service plans (ten total), some may not be available in your area—you can check your address to see which plans are available where you live.

 

Viasat (Exede) internet plans and pricing

Swipe left to see all →
Plans Intro Price* Download speed Data caps Regular Price
Basic 12 $40/mo. Up to 12 Mbps 15 GB $50/mo.
Liberty 12 $30/mo. Up to 12 Mbps 12 GB $50/mo.
Liberty 25 $50/mo. UP to 12 Mbps 25 GB $75/mo.
Liberty 50 $75/mo. Up to 12 Mbps 50 GB $100/mo.
Unlimited Bronze 12 $50/mo. Up to 12 Mbps 80 GB $70/mo.
Unlimited Gold 12 $150/mo. Up to 12 Mbps 65 GB $200/mo.
Unlimited Silver 25 $70/mo. Up to 25 Mbps 120 GB $100/mo.
Unlimited Gold 30 $100/mo. Up to 30 Mbps 100 GB $150/mo.
Unlimited Gold 50 $100/mo. Up to 50 Mbps 200 GB $150/mo.
Unlimited Platinum 100 $150/mo. Up to 100 Mbps 300 GB $200/mo.

Data valid as of 8/20/2020. Speeds and pricing vary by area and are subject to change.  *Price listed is for the first three months. Price increases after 3 months. With unlimited plans, after the set amount of high-speed data is used, Viasat may prioritize your data behind other customers during network congestion, which will result in slower speeds.

Viasat Internet Availability

The best thing about Viasat satellite internet is its availability—you can get Viasat almost anywhere in the US. Your home needs to have a clear view of the southern sky because the satellite dish will be pointed in that direction. Homes and cabins located in deep canyons or in densely forested areas may not be able to get satellite internet. According to the FCC, over 99% of the US population can get satellite internet. 

There are many plans but not all are available in every location, due to satellite capacity limitations. Most areas of the country have at least two or three Viasat plans to choose from.

To find out which plans are available in your area, type your address or ZIP code into our internet search page.

How much does Viasat (Exede) cost?

Viasat pricing starts at $30 a month for the Liberty 12 plan (which goes up to $50 per month after the third month), although this isn’t a plan we recommend usually. Viasat’s Liberty plans aren’t quite as free as the name implies—they are low priced plans that offer limited data, with possible slowing during peak times of the day. If you have a Viasat Liberty or Basic plan, Viasat may slow your data during the hours of 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., during peak hours, even if you haven’t reached your data threshold. This can be really frustrating for many people, since this is often when people are home from work or school and want to stream Netflix or do homework.

Your payment will be automatically deducted using the credit card you provided when you signed up. So, you won’t need to remember to pay your bill.

If you want to keep your satellite bill low, we recommend getting the Viasat Unlimited Bronze plan for $50 a month. This plan offers 80 GB of full speed data every month instead of just 12 GB on the Liberty Bronze plan. 

With Viasat’s Unlimited, Basic, and Liberty plans, you do have unlimited data but it doesn’t mean that it’s unlimited full-speed data. Once you reach your data threshold, you can keep using slower data for the rest of the month without paying any overage fees. Data might get slowed down a lot—dropping down to between 1 to 5 Mbps—but at least you won’t be shelling out cash to keep connected.

The Unlimited Silver plan, which Viasat lists as its most popular plan on its website, starts at $70 a month for the introductory period (the regular monthly price is $100 a month). If you want all the bells and whistles that satellite internet can offer, you can opt for the Unlimited Platinum plan for the introductory price of $150 a month, which gives you an impressive 300 GB of data per month. 

The good news is that you can upgrade your Viasat internet to a plan with more data at any time. So, if you decide to start with a small plan and see how much data you really use, you can easily bump up to a bigger plan. It won’t alter your contract or incur any additional fees. 

Higher-priced, faster plans also deliver an increasing allotment of data—for example, the Unlimited Platinum 100 plan gives you 300 GB of data per month, which is six times more high-speed data than you can get on HughesNet’s biggest plan. 

You likely noticed already, but it’s worth repeating: Viasat prices jump by $20–$50 a month after the first three months. (HughesNet, Viasat’s direct competitor, keeps prices locked for the entire two-year contract.)

What does 12 GB of data get me?

If most American households use 344 GB of data per month, you might wonder what you can do with 12 GB of data per month.5 Checking email and browsing the web aren’t heavy data use activities (reading 100,000 emails uses about 1.5 GB of data), but downloading email attachments or loading sites with animation will use extra data. 

Video streaming is the most data-intensive activity—streaming in HD uses 3 GB of data per hour (or 1 GB for low definition). So, with only 12 GB of data every month, you can watch a movie or two, send and receive emails, and do occasional research online. 

We recommend using the Viasat browser, which minimizes data usage by automatically streaming in lower definition, blocking ads and preventing videos from streaming automatically. The Viasat browser can be downloaded and used on all of your devices.

If you’re a conservative internet user, 12 GB may be enough, but if you want more full-speed data, you’ll need to pay more.

Viasat (Exede) internet speeds

Viasat Internet plans can reach up to 100 Mbps in some areas thanks to its newest ViaSat-2 satellite. That speed is fast enough to compete with cable or DSL internet, so pardon us if we seem a little overexcited.

With up to four times the download speed of HughesNet, Viasat offers the fastest satellite internet speeds in the industry. And faster speeds mean more than less buffering—it also means your video streaming picture quality gets better.

But—that said—keep in mind that the fastest speeds aren’t available everywhere. Many rural areas still top out at 12 Mbps or 25 Mbps. Viasat will be launching a new satellite system (the ViaSat-3) in 2021, which will offer faster speeds and greater capacity.1

How fast is Viasat internet?

Viasat plans offer maximum download speeds of 12 Mbps all the way up to 100 Mbps. All Viasat plans advertise 3 Mbps upload speeds.

The plan with download speeds up to 100 Mbps is fast enough to compete with cable or DSL internet, but that speed is only on the Unlimited Platinum 100 plan. Nine of the ten possible Viasat plans (all subject to availability in your area) fall in the 12 to 50 Mbps download speed range (see Viasat plans table above).

How much data do I get?

All Viasat plans technically have unlimited data. We say “technically” because you still have “data thresholds.” All data you use (upload and download) counts toward that threshold. When you hit your monthly data threshold, your speeds can slow down during periods of heavy congestion. (The technical term for this is data deprioritization.) At the start of the next billing period, your data use will reset to zero.

If there are fewer people using the Viasat network, like in the wee hours of the morning, you probably won’t notice the data deprioritization much. Your speed might even stay the same as usual. But when lots of people are online during evenings and weekends, and your partner has maxed out the data binge-watching Netflix or Hulu all month, you’ll experience much slower speeds.

If you exceed your data threshold before the end of the billing cycle on any unlimited Viasat plan, you may experience slow speeds for the rest of the month (with typical speeds ranging from 1 Mbs to 3 Mbps). In addition, customers who have a Liberty or Basic plan, will have even slower speeds every evening from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Viasat tells customers that if there is a lot of internet traffic during these hours, you will experience speeds that could be less than 1 Mbps. Because of the additional slowing that can occur on the Liberty and Basic plans, we recommend avoiding these lower-priced satellite internet plans and opting for the Unlimited Bronze or higher plans instead.4 

*Pro tip: How to keep an eye on data usage

The best way to avoid data deprioritization is to get a package with a high data threshold and keep an eye on your data usage. If you do end up going over and getting deprioritized, try to plan around the high-traffic times by downloading videos or games during off-peak hours when your speeds will be faster. If you keep hitting the data threshold every month, add a DVD plan to your Netflix account for data-free binge-watching.

Viasat installation and equipment

Viasat offers free installation, which minimizes the cost of getting started with a new internet service provider and it’s helpful since self-installation is complicated and not recommended. (Viasat recommends having a Viasat certified technician to install the satellite dish—and since installation is free, it’s a win-win.)

As part of the service, you need a Viasat WiFi Modem (a modem/router combo) from Viasat. A typical modem from Amazon or Best Buy won’t work with satellite internet—you need the Viasat WiFi Modem to interpret the satellite internet signal. The modem/router will broadcast a Wi-Fi signal throughout your home, but you can use your own router if you choose (more on that later).

Viasat WiFi Modem capability

The Viasat WiFi Modem includes the following features.

  • Modem (connects to your satellite dish with coaxial cable)
  • 4 Ethernet ports
  • Dual band frequency (2.4 GHz or 5 GHz)
  • Voice adapter (used if you have landline phone service through Viasat)
  • Router for creating a home Wi-Fi network
  • Supports WPS, WEP and WPA security standards
  • Guest network and parental controls

Viasat equipment fees

  • Viasat WiFi Gateway monthly lease: $10/mo.
  • Viasat WiFi Gateway purchase price: $300

 

You’ll have to use the Viasat modem to interpret the satellite signal from your dish, so using your own router won’t save you any money. 

If you want to purchase the Viasat WiFi Gateway rather than rent it, you can buy it for $300. If you’re not sure how long you’ll stay with Viasat, we recommend renting. Plus, at the end of a two-year period, renting is cheaper than buying.

You do not need a phone line or phone line wiring to get Viasat satellite internet in your home or business. You will have a small satellite dish installed on your roof or the side of your house, which needs a clear, unobstructed view of the southern sky. Your installation technician will run some wiring from the dish to a modem and router combination device that you’ll keep somewhere inside your home. 

Remember: Get permission to install your satellite dish.

If you have an HOA or rent your home, make sure you get permission to install a satellite dish first. The last thing you want is to install your dish and get a notice in the mail a week later telling you to take it down.

 

Viasat customer satisfaction

Internet service providers have long struggled with making customers happy, and the same issues that plague big-name ISPs (lack of competition, slower than advertised speeds, and more) are magnified with satellite ISPs. That doesn’t mean you won’t be happy with your service—it just means that internet ratings tend to land in the mediocre range, so keep that context in mind.

Negative Viasat reviews are a dime a dozen, but most can be boiled down to unrealistic expectations around satellite service or choosing a cheaper plan than you really need. 

If your household uses data at the same rate as the typical American household (about 344 GB per month), you will run out of data before the end of the month with all satellite internet plans.5

About 99% of the time, satellite internet is not a good choice if you have other options. If you can get cable internet, or high-speed DSL internet service, or a 4G LTE home internet plan, check those out first because you’ll probably get a better experience with any of these than with satellite internet service.

Still, Viasat beats out HughesNet, the other major satellite internet provider, in just about every service category, which includes actual download/upload speeds, data limits, and customer support. Viasat internet reviews reveal that Viasat customers are happier with their service than HughesNet customers.2

Viasat is the better option for satellite internet service, but it also costs more than HughesNet, the second-place option.

Viasat FAQ

Is Viasat satellite internet any good?

Yes, Viasat satellite internet is a good option for people who live in rural areas and don’t have access to cable, fiber, and other internet options that require infrastructure to be built out to homes and businesses. Viasat satellite internet doesn’t require lines or cables to be installed out to your home—you’ll just need a satellite dish and a clear view of the southern sky. If you have the option of getting cable internet, fixed wireless, or other options, we suggest you check out these internet services first because satellite tends to be more expensive than other internet options.

Does Viasat require a phone line?

No, Viasat does not require a phone line to get satellite internet service. All you need is the right Viasat equipment and a clear view of the southern sky.

Can I stream video with Viasat satellite internet?

Yes, you can stream with Viasat. However, there’s a big difference between trying to stream Mad Max: Fury Road in 4K to your 70-inch TV and watching a how-to cooking video on YouTube via your smartphone. The latter is feasible, but the former is implausible using a basic satellite internet plan.

Viasat does offer streaming quality recommendations for its plans (see below), but keep in mind that they’re not guaranteed.

  • Unlimited Bronze 25: 360p
  • Unlimited Silver 25: 480p
  • Unlimited Gold 30: 720p
  • Unlimited Gold 50: 720p
  • Unlimited Platinum 100: 1080p

How fast is Viasat internet?

Viasat offers five different speed tiers across eight different packages. The top download speeds for these packages range from 12 Mbps up to 100 Mbps. (Internet packages from HughesNet, the other leading satellite internet provider, top out at 25 Mbps.) Viasat’s fastest speeds are not available everywhere.

How do I get TV service with my Viasat (Exede) internet plan?

You can pair your Viasat Internet service with satellite TV from DISH or DIRECTV. Satellite TV requires a separate satellite dish. So, if you get Viasat Internet and DISH or DIRECTV, each company will have to install its own satellite dish.

Can I use a VoIP with my Viasat Internet service?

Yes, you can use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) with Viasat, but it will use up your data unless you use Viasat’s own VoIP, called Viasat Voice (which is $29.99 per month). Like its internet service, Viasat Voice is a monthly subscription service.

Does Viasat work with a VPN?

It’s possible to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) with your Viasat internet service, but it will probably not perform well with one. Satellite internet, even from Viasat, is susceptible to high latency (lag). Because a VPN continually encrypts and decrypts information as it leaves or enters your network, every piece of data is like initiating a new download. This compounds the effects of high latency and can increase your data usage by about 5–15%.

Can I play video games with Viasat Internet?

The short answer is yes, but online gaming with satellite internet can be problematic. Viasat is no exception. While you’ll get plenty of speed from Viasat, the lag associated with satellite internet can be frustrating. It has the biggest impact on real-time activities like online gaming. For some helpful tips about the best ways to play video games online using satellite internet, check out Your Guide to Gaming on Satellite Internet.

What’s the cheapest Viasat internet plan?

The Liberty 12 plan ($30 a month) is the cheapest Viasat plan. After three months, the price will go up on this plan to $50 per month. Viasat plans vary by location, so the Liberty 12 plan may not be available in your area.

Can I get Viasat for my rural business?

Yes, Viasat offers a wide array of business internet solutions that are ideal for anything from small businesses to airlines.

How do I see my monthly Viasat bill?

To see your Viasat bill, just log into your Viasat account.

How do I pay my Viasat bill?

The easiest way to pay your Viasat bill is to log into your account using the link above, following the prompts to make a payment. You can pay your Viasat bill with a credit or debit card. Checks are not accepted.

As a heads up, once your account has been set up, the credit card you have provided Viasat with will be billed automatically, so you won’t usually need to pay it manually.

Who do I contact with Viasat billing questions?

For questions about your Viasat bill, visit its Contact Us page to submit your question by chat or email. Or you can simply call 1-855-810-1308.

Does Viasat charge cancellation fees?

Yes. Viasat Internet services require a two-year agreement. If you cancel your service before the end of that two-year period, Viasat will charge $15 for every month remaining on the contract. For example, if you cancel after the first year, you’ll be charged $180.

Is Viasat available in my area?

Viasat satellite internet is available almost everywhere in the US. All you need is a clear view of the southern sky, so unless you live in a deep canyon or a cave, you can probably get a signal. However, there are some areas where there are too many subscribers and therefore Viasat is not accepting new customers in all locations. If Viasat continued to accept new customers everywhere, speeds would slow for everyone. The launch of the ViaSat-3 satellite system in May 2021 will solve this issue.

Is Exede available in my area?

Exede Internet was the old brand name for Viasat residential internet services. In 2017, Viasat stopped using the Exede brand name. Now it markets all its residential internet services as Viasat Internet. While existing Exede customers were allowed to keep their service plans, no new Exede plans are available. However, Viasat Internet is available almost everywhere in North America.

How do I install Viasat satellite internet?

Viasat Internet requires professional installation to mount and align the satellite dish that receives the signal. There is no self-installation option. You’ll schedule an installation time when you order your service. Along with installing the dish, the installation technician will help you set up the connection on the main computer you’ll use on the internet. The Viasat installation technician will need an adult (18 or older) to verify the credit card on the account and sign for the installation.

What equipment do I need for Viasat Internet?

Viasat will provide all the equipment you need for a fast internet connection and home network. Most setups include the satellite dish and a modem with a built-in Wi-Fi router. You can also use a third-party router if you prefer, but you must use the modem issued by Viasat. Also, Viasat charges a monthly equipment lease fee of $9.99.

Will Viasat Internet work with a wireless router?

Yes. In fact, the Viasat modem comes with a built-in wireless router. If you prefer a different router, you can use it, but you’ll still need to use Viasat’s modem and pay the monthly equipment fee.

What is Viasat?

Viasat is a satellite communications company. It provides satellite internet and phone services to government, corporate, and residential clients. Its residential internet service was formerly branded as Exede Internet. After purchasing WildBlue, a smaller satellite internet provider, it also provided services in some areas under that brand name.

In 2017, Viasat dropped the brand names Exede and WildBlue and now offers all its residential internet service under the name Viasat Internet.

What happened to Exede Internet?

Viasat used to offer residential satellite internet service under the brand name Exede Internet. It dropped the name Exede in 2017. Now it uses the name Viasat Internet for all its residential internet services. While all new service plans are marketed as Viasat Internet plans, customers who were on existing Exede plans were grandfathered into the new brand, and most could keep their service agreement.

What is ViaSat-2?

ViaSat-2 is the satellite launched by Viasat in 2017 that went live for service in 2018. It has a huge throughput capacity that allows it to provide satellite internet service to airlines and other large corporate clients while still offering up to 100 Mbps download speeds to residential customers.

What is ViaSat-3?

Scheduled to launch sometime in 2021, the ViaSat-3 satellites will add enormous capacity to the current ViaSat system, which is currently overloaded. ViaSat-3 is a trio of satellites that will bring faster speeds to customers and expand internet coverage area across the oceans and throughout the world.3

About Viasat (formerly Exede)

Viasat is a huge satellite communications company, which is why it’s one of the top two providers of residential satellite internet in the United States. In addition to residential, it also provides satellite internet service to corporate and government clients. This includes providing in-flight Wi-Fi on major airlines like JetBlue, United Airlines, Virgin America, and more.

The company has long used the name Viasat for its overall business, but its residential internet service used to go by Exede Internet (and before that, WildBlue). After launching the massive ViaSat-2 satellite in 2018, which can deliver faster speeds to more customers, the company stopped using the name Exede and rebranded its residential satellite internet service as Viasat Internet.

Download speeds will get another upgrade in 2021. Viasat is currently building a new satellite system, called ViaSat-3. The ViaSat-3 will increase customer download speed tremendously, possibly up to 1 gigabit per second (1,000 Mbps). This new system will also expand Viasat’s coverage to include Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

 

1. Henry, Caleb, “Supplier Issue Behind Delays with ViaSat-3 Launch”, June 2019. Accessed August 20, 2020.

2. Dilley, John, “2018’s Best Internet Providers in Customer Satisfaction,” January 2018. Accessed August 20, 2020.

3. Viasat, “Going Global” [undated]. Accessed August 20, 2020.

4. Viasat, “Liberty High-Speed Internet Plans,” [undated]. Accessed November 16, 2020.

5. Toledo, Rob, REPORT: “The Average Household’s Internet Data Usage Has Jumped 38x in 10 Years,” April 2020. Accessed November 17, 2020.

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