Viasat Internet Review: Plans, Prices, and Deals

Viasat
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    Overall rating: 3.7/5
  • pro
    Speed and latency – 3.0/5
  • pro
    Reliability – 2.7/5
  • pro
    Data – 4.8/5
  • pro
    Value – 4.4/5

Andreas Rivera
May 03, 2024
Icon Time To Read11 min read

Viasat reinvented its residential satellite internet service with a new type of package that takes the pressure off of customers by eliminating contracts and unlocking unlimited data for its users.

In early 2024, Viasat rolled out a completely new business model with a single, streamlined offering called Viasat Unleashed. It now stands out from rival satellite providers Hughesnet and Starlink for its unlimited data and no contract service.

However, it still has drawbacks, particularly high latency. Most customers I interviewed said that it’s better than nothing, but it’s often frustrating to use.

“Viasat speeds were good, but the latency was bad—800ms plus,” former Viasat customer Jason Astel told me in a recent interview. “It was not an ISP to stream anything.”

Astel used Viasat in rural Missouri prior to Viasat’s “Unleashed” rollout, however, and there is optimism now that Viasat’s service can better compete with Hughesnet and Starlink. In this review, I’ll break down the differences between providers, and give you insights from actual Viasat customers to help you decide if Viasat is the best satellite provider for you.

Info
How I wrote this Viasat review

Hi, I’m Andreas Rivera and I’m a technology writer with a nearly decade-long career reviewing products and services. For this Viasat review I communicated with several users to find out how Viasat is meeting its customers’ needs, and I also draw from first-hand testing, proprietary data on speeds and pricing, and research into the satellite internet industry and the technology that drives it.

Viasat plans and pricing

As I was working on this Viasat review, the company announced a major overhaul of its residential internet plans, with a totally new pricing structure. The new, simplified Viasat Unleashed plan now gives Viasat an edge over Hughesnet and Starlink in data and overall value. Still, satellite internet download speeds and latency can’t compete with traditional internet options like fiber, cable, or new wireless 5G options, so customers should temper expectations when shopping for any satellite internet plan.

Viasat
Viasat Unleashed plan
Price
$99.99/mo.
Download Speed
Up to 150 Mbps
High-speed data
Unlimited

*Customers that are on pace to exceed more than 850GB of data per month may be slowed down.

Viasat is available to 99 percent of the U.S., but its full 150Mbps capability isn’t. Specifics around price and download speeds will depend on your address. For example, the Me-Wuk American Indian reservation in Tuolumne, California, can get the full 150Mbps capability, but the remote town of Petaca, New Mexico, can only get the basic speed of 12Mbps.

I entered dozens of zip codes from around the country into Viasat’s site and found that 100Mbps was the most common top speed, with 150Mbps rarely found. With Unleashed, you’ll get the fastest speed available in your area, which will also factor into your monthly rate.

Viasat Unleashed comes with unlimited high-speed data. Other providers like Hughesnet also advertise unlimited high-speed data, but in reality, have priority data caps. Starlink separates its plans into two main tiers, standard data and priority data. Starlink provides unlimited standard data which features download speeds around 100Mbps, with its higher speeds of up to 220Mbps requiring a priority plan with a data allotment. Viasat Unleashed has no priority data caps, with virtually unlimited data.

Overall, Viasat Unleased is a bit more expensive than some Hughesnet plans, but for unlimited data, no contract, and the potential for faster service, Viasat is a better value. It also doesn’t require the high startup costs Starlink has with its equipment purchases.

Enter your zip code to see all the best Viasat plans available in your area.

Viasat for very remote areas

Viasat still offers unlimited plans in very rural locations that can’t access their Unleashed plans. However, given the pricing, Unleashed is almost certainly the better option. Plus, even though these plans are called unlimited, they still have a priority data cap.

Plan
Price
Speed
Data
See more
Unlimited$99.99—$199.99/mo.Up to 12Mbps35GB—65GB

If you’re in an area where you can only get the Viasat plans listed above, we suggest looking at Hughesnet, Starlink, or a satellite internet alternative.

Image by SatelliteInternet.com

Viasat fees

Fee
Price
Viasat equipment$15/mo. (or a one-time $250 fee)
Viasat installation fee$0—$300 depending on soft credit check
Viasat unreturned equipment fee$50.00—$250.00 depending on equipment type and model
Viasat moving feeFree equipment return, or new $300 upfront fee

Most of Viasat’s fees concern its specialized equipment and installation. Installation costs depend on a soft credit check. Other factors, such as the location of the installation or the need for specialized mounting equipment, can also affect the final price of your installation.

Viasat’s new Unleashed plan comes with no contract, so there are no termination fees if you cancel. However, at cancellation, you’ll need to ship their equipment with the return packaging they provide. Viasat will automatically charge your payment method on file for damaged or unreturned equipment.

Enter your zip code to see all the best Viasat plans available in your area.

How we rate and compare satellite internet providers

We break down our reviews of satellite internet providers into four categories.

Speed

Takes into account the provider’s download/upload speeds and average latency.

Reliability

Rates the consistency of service and access to customer support.

Data

Rates the allotment of high-speed data in a provider’s plans, taking into account priority data and options for purchasing more data.

Value

Looks at the pricing (including fees, discounts and special offers) of services for what you’re getting and compared to competitors.

To keep a fair comparison, we rate satellite internet providers only against other satellite internet competitors.

Our Viasat provider rating by category

Speed and latency

3.0 out of 5

While Viasat and other providers advertise download speeds up to 150Mbps, these are not guaranteed and depend on your location. Still, it should be enough for streaming, surfing the web, email, and voice chat.

So while download speed in some cases surpasses both Hughesnet and Starlink’s standard plan, it’s pretty middle-of-the-road in the best-case scenario. Starlink’s priority plans leave both Viasat and Hughesnet in the dust, but they are prohibitively expensive unless you are wealthy. The metric that’s also important to consider is average latency. Unfortunately, this is a common weakness among satellite providers.

"Zoom works relatively well, although the resolution is not great and it sometimes has to buffer." — Viasat customer Sal Salamone, in rural upstate New York

Similar to Hughesnet, Viasat utilizes geostationary satellites that remain in a high orbit above the Earth, contributing to the higher latency. In contrast, SpaceX’s Starlink and Amazon’s upcoming Project Kuiper use low-earth orbit satellites that are much closer to the planet, allowing for lower latency.

So how bad is Viasat's latency?

While download speeds are decent, it will still appear like your internet is slow basically because the signal has so far to travel.

Average latency from providers like Viasat has been measured in the high hundreds of milliseconds. Customers I spoke with reported latency between 600ms to 800ms (for comparison, average cable latency is 15–35 ms). They told me multitasking on the internet is difficult and especially frustrating when multiple people in the household are using the internet. Even when calling someone over the internet, there is a noticeable delay in conversations.

Is Viasat good for gaming?

Viasat’s higher-tier plans with 100–150Mbps and at least 300GB and up are best suited for gaming. That said, satellite internet generally shouldn’t be your first choice for online gaming, particularly anything multiplayer or competitive, because of its high latency. In fact, even Viasat itself doesn’t recommend satellite internet for fast-paced, multiplayer gaming. Your latency and ping can be the difference between winning and losing like in first-person shooters and other games where fast reactions matter. Games that are turn-based would work better, granted you and your opponents don’t mind a little lag.

Reliability

2.7 out of 5

Customers I’ve spoken with say that while speed can be an issue, it’s rare that it outright stops working—although, some customers told me their service can be spotty. Weather will significantly affect the speed of your Viasat service, but that’s also true with any satellite provider.

Be aware of fees for technicians to come out to make repairs that cost up to $95 and a hefty fee of $200 if you need your dish relocated to a different spot. Viasat offers an EasyCare add-on service that waives most of these service fees and gives you priority support but costs an additional $9.99 per month.

Do I think it would be better if these things were just included in Viasat's normal service? Sure. But since that's not likely to happen, you might consider Viasat EasyCare, particularly if you've been burned by bad customer care or expensive service calls before.

"The install was simple. Customer service was always good and canceling was easy—they even credited me back some money." —  Former Viasat customer Jason Astel, from rural Missouri.

Data

4.8 out of 5

Unlimited data is where Viasat most clearly outshines its competitors. With its updated Unleashed plan, Viasat is the only satellite internet provider to offer its fastest speeds with unlimited high-speed data. While Viasat’s new plan is virtually unlimited, it does let customers know that if they go over the monthly, normal usage of data, which they claim as 850GB, then they will likely slow speeds down to save bandwidth.

Hughesnet manages the traffic of its network with a 200GB cap on priority data, so once you go over, your speeds will slow to around 1 to 3Mbps. Starlink’s Priority plans give customers the full speed of up to 220Mbps, depending on your location, but the Standard Starlink plan gives customers unlimited data with speeds around 100Mbps. Viasat Unleashed is going to be better for heavy-data households but it's tough to say how consistent speeds will be with every customer given free rein with unlimited high-speed data.

Is Viasat good for streaming?

Viasat offers up to 150Mbps, which is easily fast enough to run Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, and most streaming services. 

Viasat’s Unleashed plan is ideal for customers who stream a lot because of its unlimited data. Streaming can be a huge drain on allotted high-speed data, but since Viasat virtually got rid of its cap you shouldn’t have to worry about running out even when you watch HD or 4K TV. Use our How Much Internet Data Do I Need? guide to help you pick a plan.

Value

4.4 out of 5

So is Viasat worth it? With plans ranging from about $99.99 to $119.99 and a varying range of bandwidth, it really depends on what’s available to you at your location and what your primary use is for it. Also, be aware that you’ll also need to pay a monthly lease of $15 for your equipment and you’ll likely pay an upfront installation fee of up to $300, pending a soft-credit check.

If you’re a heavy user (i.e. streaming every day, working from home through the web, frequently video conferencing, and sharing large data files) then the promise of unlimited high-speed data should be appealing, especially when compared to Hughesnet which caps customers off at 200GB per month.

Viasat also joins Starlink in ditching a mandatory contract, allowing you to pay month-to-month and end the service whenever you want. Hughesnet is the only major satellite internet provider in the U.S. that requires a two-year commitment and will charge an early termination fee.

Viasat
Overall
3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7

Viasat's provider rating overall

Compared to its two main competitors, Viasat is a viable, middle-of-the-road option for satellite internet. Not as fast as Starlink, but much more affordable. Hughesnet still remains the lowest-cost provider, but Viasat’s advantage comes from no longer having a two-year contract or priority data caps like Hughesnet still does.

How do Viasat’s ratings compare to satellite internet competitors?

Category
Viasat
Hughesnet
Starlink
Speed/Latency
3 out of 5 stars
3
3.4 out of 5 stars
3.4
4.9 out of 5 stars
4.9
Reliability
2.7 out of 5 stars
2.7
3 out of 5 stars
3
3 out of 5 stars
3
Data
4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8
2.6 out of 5 stars
2.6
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
Value
4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4
4 out of 5 stars
4
2.6 out of 5 stars
2.6

Viasat sits in the middle of the pack price-wise. Viasat’s Unleashed plan is more affordable than Starlink’s standard plan but slightly more expensive than Hughesnet’s Elite plan ($89.99 per month plus a one-year discount of $25 per month). The fact that there’s no contract and virtually unlimited data makes the higher cost worth it for allowing you to be more flexible. Hughesnet users need to be ready to have the service for at least two years.

For a deeper dive into these internet services, check out our full Hughesnet vs. Viasat breakdown. Viasat Internet and Starlink Internet are on more even footing when it comes to pricing. Where Starlink wins out is its technology that lowers latency.

Provider
Price
Speed
High-speed data
See more
$99.99–$119.99/mo.12–150MbpsUnlimited
$74.99–$109.99/mo.50–100Mbps100—200GB
$120.00–$500.00/mo.20–220Mbps40GB—2TB+

However, Starlink’s plans are extremely expensive—particularly the mobile options. You’ll need to pay Starlink’s heavy upfront costs of either $599 or $2,500. You’re also on your own when it comes to installing Starlink, but you’ll at least own the equipment and can resell it.

For a deeper breakdown of these data-heavy satellite providers, check out our Viasat vs. Starlink review.

How does Viasat stack up against non-satellite alternatives?

Provider
Price
Data
Download speed
Learn more
$40.00–$50.00/mo.*Unlimited72–245Mbps average
$35.00–$80.00/mo.**UnlimitedUp to 1,000Mbps
$55.00/mo.Unlimited75—225Mbps
$55.00/mo.*UnlimitedUp to 100Mbps
$35.00–$80.00/mo.**UnlimitedUp to 50Mbps

*w/ Auto Pay and qualifying mobile plan. Regulatory fees included in monthly price for qualified accounts. See full terms.

**w/ Auto Pay. Available in select areas.

Satellite internet is available nearly everywhere in the U.S., but its speeds and prices make it impossible to recommend to anyone who has other internet options such as cable or wireless 5G internet. T-Mobile and Verizon both offer wireless home internet solutions with high speeds and lower latency than satellite for a much better price. The only caveat is that it’s not as widespread or available everywhere as satellite. You need to be in the range of a provider’s 5G cell tower and in a spot where you can receive a clear signal.

Another great alternative to satellite—and an economical one to boot—is fixed wireless internet. It’s definitely not as widespread as satellite or even 5G, but if you happen to be in an area with a provider like Rise Broadband, you can get decent internet speeds in a rural area for a competitive price.

While I recommend Viasat or other satellite internet providers when there’s no alternative, I always recommend checking to see if there’s a viable provider other than satellite. Enter your zip code to see what providers are available in your area.

Enter your zip code to see all the best Viasat plans available in your area.

What Viasat customers told me about their experience

Customers I got in touch with often struggled to find anything overly positive to say about their Viasat service.

“Viasat speeds were good, but the latency was bad—800ms plus,” former Viasat customer Jason Astel told me in a recent interview. “It was not an ISP to stream anything.”

Astel, who lives in rural Missouri, originally got it for home entertainment and his children’s school. Streaming wasn’t a viable option, so Astel told me he had to supplement with a satellite TV plan, which increased his bill even more. Astel left the service for Starlink, which he says has been a much better experience.

“The actual service has been reliable enough to not have to contact customer service,” said Michael David, network engineer who uses Viasat at his work. In rural locations around the country, David’s work uses Viasat as a backup in case its primary internet connection suffers an outage.

“During typical times it’s not so bad, but when there’s a lot of volume on the network, the congestion can cause packet loss and errors with multiple devices,” he said.

Not everyone had a consistent signal. The online discourse surrounding Viasat was filled with comments about dropped service and slower-than-advertised speeds. One customer I interviewed said his service was constantly spotty, even on clear days.

“Zoom works relatively well, although the resolution is not great and it sometimes has to buffer,” said Viasat customer Sal Salamone, in rural upstate New York. “My work requires I use a VPN, and it’s impossible with Viasat. It slows it down too much.”

Salamone said when he upgraded his plan a few years ago, the service got nominally better, but it was not worth the bigger monthly payment.

“There’s just no comparison,” Salamone said when comparing Viasat to traditional broadband internet.

Viasat in the news: Viasat Unleashed changes the satellite internet landscape

Alongside ongoing deals for commercial and government contracts, Viasat this year restructured its residential internet offering with simpler pricing. Rather than being presented with several different internet packages with varying speeds and data caps, Viasat decided to follow a structure similar to Starlink—ditching its two-year contract and giving customers unlimited data over the highest available speed in the area.

This follows a year when the company’s latest ViaSat-3 satellite malfunctioned and was unable to deliver its full capabilities. While this didn’t affect current Viasat customers, the satellite was a key part of the company’s future plans, so it could impact offerings down the road (and even Viasat’s ability to take on new customers). Viasat insisted that the flexibility of its fleet would still allow for the completion of long-term goals. Over the next few years, Viasat is poised to launch more ViaSat-3 satellites to further support its internet operation across the globe.

Need more information?

For more Viasat internet details, check out our full Viasat FAQ. If you’re specifically interested in moving your Viasat Internet service to a new address, check out the Viasat Internet section of our Transferring Internet Service guide.

Viasat customer service can be reached by phone (866-945-3258). If you have Viasat Easy Shield Premium, you can access Viasat’s dedicated phone line for a shorter, more streamlined experience.

Andreas Rivera
Written by
Andreas Rivera
Andreas Rivera is a lifelong writer with a decade-spanning career in journalism and marketing. He comes to SatelliteInternet.com with several years of experience writing about business and technology. His passion for researching the latest advancements in tech, especially the now essential need for reliable internet access, fuels his goal of educating others about how these innovations affect and improve our everyday lives. When not researching and writing about SatelliteInternet.com, you’ll likely find him buried in a good book or enjoying the great outdoors with a fishing rod.