2019 Viasat Satellite Internet Review

If satellite internet is your best option, Viasat is tops for data hogs.

Trading in your big-city amenities for the quiet life? While life certainly is slower in the country, Viasat (formerly Exede) keeps your internet speed moving fast.

Here’s why this satellite Internet Service Provider (ISP) may be the perfect solution for your cabin in the woods, farmhouse, or RV on the road.

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Viasat (Formerly Exede) Prices and Plans

PlanPrice*Download Speed
Unlimited Bronze 12$50/mo.Up to 12 Mbps
Unlimited Silver 12$65/mo.Up to 12 Mbps
Unlimited Gold 12$95/mo.Up to 12 Mbps
Unlimited Bronze 25$50/mo.Up to 25 Mbps
Unlimited Silver 25$70/mo.Up to 25 Mbps
Unlimited Gold 30$100/mo.Up to 30 Mbps
Unlimited Gold 50$100/mo.Up to 50 Mbps
Unlimited Platinum 100$150/mo.Up to 100 Mbps

*Data current as of 1/17/19. Pricing and availability vary by location. Price for 3 months with a 2-year agreement.

With only two provider options for satellite internet out there, picking between Viasat (formerly Exede) and HughesNet may seem like a toss-up between heads and tails.

But these two ISPs are more different than you may think. Apples to apples, Viasat’s prices and speeds look like the better deal. Here’s the shocker: we’ve got more of an apples to oranges scenario here.

For speed, HughesNet tops out at 25 Mbps no matter which plan you choose—you pay more for a larger data cap, not faster speeds. Viasat, on the other hand, gives you faster speeds if you pay more, and its data is technically unlimited.

Yup, Viasat (formerly Exede) internet can reach up to 100 Mbps thanks to its newest ViaSat-2 satellite that launched in 2018. That speed is on par with most cable ISP offerings, so pardon us if we seem a little overexcited.

Viasat also promises high-definition streaming on its higher-tier plans. Who wouldn’t want to see every detail of Rami Malek’s face as he croons just like Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody?

Here’s a breakdown of the max video streaming quality of each Viasat plan:

Viasat (Formerly Exede) Video Streaming Quality

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

But value-conscious shoppers beware: Viasat’s prices jump by $20–$50 a month after your first three months. (The exact amount depends on the plan.) HughesNet, on the other hand, keeps your prices locked down for your entire two-year contract.

Still, if you need the data and speed to stream the latest Keith Urban music video and watch Venom, Viasat is likely still your best choice for satellite internet. You get what you pay for.

Contract

Unless you have a few hundos to burn, you’ll sign a two-year contract with Viasat. That’s pretty standard as far as contracts go—even HughesNet has a two-year contract.

If you prefer, you can drop $300 and grab the No Long-Term Contract Option instead. That seems pretty steep to us since most other ISPs offer a month-to-month, no-contract option that’s usually only a little more costly than the contract option.

But, hey, if you prefer the freedom of canceling your Viasat service any time, this may not be a bad idea. It’s not you, Viasat, it’s me.

Viasat No Long-Term Contract Option

  • $300 one-time fee

Early Termination Fees (ETF)

If you do sign that two-year contract and say “Bye, Felicia!” before it’s done, you’ll have to pay an early termination fee.

Viasat Early Termination Fee

  • $15 for each month remaining on your agreement (up to $180)

Canceling your Viasat service could cost you up to $180 out of pocket just to swap internet providers, move, or get off the grid. That’s not the most expensive fee we’ve seen, but it’s yet another chunk of change you can’t put toward a new pair of Curry 5 shoes.

Viasat Speeds

Did we mention Viasat is currently the fastest satellite internet provider out there? Its advertised speeds of up to 100 Mbps blow HughesNet’s 25 Mbps out of the water.

But will you actually get those speeds when it really matters? (a.k.a. when we finally find out who’s the next to die in Game of Thrones.)

The 2018 Federal Communications Commission (FCC) data revealed that Viasat’s 12 Mbps plans actually delivered speeds of 10.75 Mbps on average. While that’s not perfect, it’s still an improvement over the ISP’s performance in 2016 and 2017.

Keep in mind, too, that the FCC analyzed only the 12 Mbps plan. Viasat’s performance on its 25, 30, 50, and 100 Mbps plans is probably a lot better. (We’re crossing our fingers.)

Data Caps

It wouldn’t be internet without data caps. Sad but true, right?

Viasat technically has no data caps—it advertises its satellite internet plans as “unlimited.” But if you look closely, it lists data deprioritization thresholds.

That means if you use a certain amount of data in a month, your speed will be slowed whenever there’s a lot of network traffic and until the next billing cycle begins. Ugh.

Here’s the data deprioritization cap for each Viasat plan:

Viasat (Formerly Exede) Data Deprioritization Caps

PlanDownload SpeedData Deprioritized After
Unlimited Bronze 12Up to 12 Mbps40 GB
Unlimited Silver 12Up to 12 Mbps60 GB
Unlimited Gold 12Up to 12 Mbps100 GB
Unlimited Bronze 25Up to 25 Mbps35 GB
Unlimited Silver 25Up to 25 Mbps60 GB
Unlimited Gold 30Up to 30 Mbps100 GB
Unlimited Gold 50Up to 50 Mbps100 GB
Unlimited Platinum 100Up to 100 Mbps100 GB

*Data current as of 1/17/19. Pricing and availability vary by location.

While it’s not ideal, a “soft” data cap isn’t the end of the world. Chances are you won’t even touch 35 or 40 GB in a month—unless you’re constantly streaming Netflix in 4K.

How much data do I need?

The best way to see how much prioritized data you need is to take a look at how much data you use in an average month. This will help you save money, too, since you’ll know you don’t need to fork over cash for the more expensive plan. If you don’t have a month’s worth of data usage to look at, you can also get an idea of how much data you need just for everyday internet entertainment, like looping cat videos, finding dope Imgur memes, and watching music videos.

How much data does Netflix (and other activities) use?

  • Browsing the web: About 7 GB/mo.
  • Streaming Netflix in SD: 1 GB/hr.
  • Streaming Netflix in HD: 3 GB/hr.
  • Streaming Netflix in 4K: 7 GB/hr.
  • Streaming music: About 120 MB/hr.
  • Checking Facebook: About 2.5 GB/mo.
  • Gaming: Up to 1 GB/hr. (not including downloading patches, etc.)
  • Watching YouTube in 480p: About 240 GB/hr.
  • Watching YouTube in 720p: About 450 MB/hr.
  • Watching YouTube in 1080p: About 750 MB/hr.

Latency

One downside to satellite internet is latency. This is how long it takes for your data to travel to the ISP’s satellite, over to the host server, and back to you.

Because those satellites are sitting 22,300 miles above Earth, it can take a while for your data to travel there and back again. (P.S. We’ve got the full deets on how satellite internet works, if you’re interested.)

Viasat Average Latency600 ms

Measured in milliseconds (ms), latency is often referred to as ping. To put Viasat’s average latency of 600 ms in context, there’s about 15 to 34 ms of latency with cable internet and 25 to 80 ms with DSL, according to the 2018 FCC report.

While it can affect streaming, high latency probably won’t frustrate you much unless you’re gaming. Because high latency means it takes longer for the game to register which skill you’ve used, it can be a real nightmare in first-person shooter games that require split-second reactions.

Can you still game with satellite internet?

You betcha. Check out our guide to gaming with satellite internet—plus a few tips on how to work around any latency.

Viasat Satellite Internet Equipment

Surprise, surprise: your satellite internet plan needs a satellite dish to connect you to the internet.

That means you’ll pay a monthly rental fee and need a technician to stop by and install your new dish. While this costs you extra, it’s probably worth it to avoid clambering up your own roof and wrestling with the satellite dish. That’s a hospital visit waiting to happen.

Here’s what you should know about getting Viasat satellite internet installed at your house.

What to Expect in the Installation Process

First off, we advise taking the day off work or working from home on the day your installation technician is scheduled to arrive. From our experience, technicians never arrive on time, and the installation itself takes about two to three hours to complete.

The installation will run you about $100, but you may get lucky and have the fee waived. It never hurts to ask.

Viasat (Formerly Exede) Installation Fee

  • $99 one-time fee

The technician will likely be contracted from a third-party company. Along with mounting the dish on your roof, wall, or a pole in your yard, they’ll position it so it receives the best possible signal from Viasat’s satellite. They’ll also set up your main computer and the Viasat Wi-Fi modem and gateway.

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.

Leasing Your Equipment

You have two choices when it comes to renting your Viasat equipment: pay monthly or pay for a lifetime lease.

Viasat Equipment Fees

  • Monthly Lease: $9.99/mo.
  • Lifetime Lease: $299.99

If you plan on keeping your Viasat service for more than two years, we recommend the lifetime lease. At thirty months, you’d have paid $299.70 in monthly lease fees, making the lifetime lease cheaper for month thirty-one and beyond.

Keep in mind the lifetime lease applies only if you keep the same equipment that was originally leased to you. So, if you need a new modem or satellite dish because you’ve swapped plans or your old equipment is out of date, you may be out the cash you’ve already put toward that lifetime lease.

Viasat Customer Service

Viasat is no different than most other ISPs when it comes to customer service. The quality can be hit or miss. The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) lumps Viasat in the “all others” category for its 2018 customer service ratings, but the takeaway is still clear: Viasat has mediocre customer service.

Viasat 2018 ACSI Rating (“All Others”)63/100

Though it’s hard to give tips for navigating Viasat’s customer service, we hold true to the mantra that if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. If the first representative you get a hold of isn’t helpful, call back later and chat with someone else.

Also, get any promises in writing (a.k.a. email), especially fee waivers, refunds, and discounts.

Our Verdict

If satellite internet is your best option, Viasat offers the best speeds and data allotments.

viasat internet
Prices:
$50–$150/mo.
Speeds:
12–100 Mbps
Data Cap:
Unlimited (but speeds can be slowed)

If you’re enjoying country life but miss your internet connection, Viasat is a strong contender. Its speeds and data deprioritization thresholds outshine HughesNet, though you do end up paying extra for it. But a higher monthly bill is worth it if you love to stream or game.

Does Viasat sound like a match for you? See which plans are available by entering your address.
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