Viasat Satellite Internet Review 2020
If you’re looking for fast satellite internet that easily reaches remote areas and provides plenty of data, Viasat (formerly Exede) could be perfect for you. The recently launched ViaSat-2 satellite system has the potential to provide unbeatable speeds and unlimited data to rural customers. However, due to low availability of these new plans, most customers will have to settle for industry-standard satellite speeds and typical data limits.
- Variety of plan offerings
- Unlimited Data during Free Zone (3am-6am)
- Speeds up to 100 Mbps (not widely available)
- 2 Year contract
- Early termination fees are very high
- Hit-or-miss customer service
Packages and Pricing
|Packages||Promo Pricing||Regular Price||Download Speed||Upload Speed|
|Liberty 12||$30/month||$50/month||12-25 Mbps||3 Mbps|
|Liberty 25||$50/month||$75/month||12-25 Mbps||3 Mbps|
|Liberty 50||$75/month||$100/month||12-25 Mbps||3 Mbps|
*Prices vary based on location. The majority will have the above plans available to them.
Viasat offers two main sets of internet packages: Liberty Plans and Unlimited Plans. Whether these internet packages are available to you will depend on your location. The Liberty Plans are the most widely available Viasat packages. All of these plans offer the same download speeds of up to 12 Mbps in most areas and 25 Mbps in some areas. Even 12 Mbps is an impressive alternative to DSL internet and 4 G/LTE mobile plans.
New customers can enjoy a discount during their first three months of service. After this, monthly prices increase by at least $20. It sounds tempting to enjoy a discount for three months and move on. However, all Viasat plans require a 24-month commitment and you will be charged substantial fees if you cancel early.
Viasat’s Data Limits
The three Liberty Plans are tiered according to monthly Priority Data limits of 12 GB, 25 GB, and 50 GB. These data limits may not seem like much to someone who is used to cable internet, but they’re typical for satellite internet. In comparison, HughesNet offers similar data plans ranging from 10 GB to 50 GB per month.
Viasat refers to these monthly data allowances as Priority Data. If you reach your limit, you won’t be cut off from using the internet completely. Instead, you can continue to use additional data from the Viasat Liberty Pass at significantly slower speeds. The Liberty Pass’s throttled speeds tend to fall between 1 and 5 Mbps which will limit your internet activities to light browsing and email. You can expect even slower speeds during peak hours (5 pm to 2 am).
If throttled speeds are a concern, you can purchase additional Priority Data for $10 per GB. This will return your regular service speeds immediately. Customers can get a bit of a discount if they buy at least 5 GB at a time. Just keep in mind that this additional data expires at the end of the month. So, don’t buy more than you need! If you find that you’re adding data month after month, we suggest upgrading your plan.
Viasat’s Unlimited Plans
|Packages||Promo Pricing||Regular Price||Download Speed||Upload Speed|
|Unlimited Bronze 12||$50/month||$70/month||12 Mbps||3 Mbps|
|Unlimited Silver 25||$70/month||$100/month||25 Mbps||3 Mbps|
|Unlimited Gold 50||$100/month||$150/month||50 Mbps||3 Mbps|
|Unlimited Platinum 100||$150/month||$200/month||100 Mbps||3 Mbps|
*Prices vary based on location. Viasat’s unlimited plans are only available in a few select markets.
Following the recent launch of their new satellite, Viasat began offering ground-breaking Unlimited Plans. These plans boast unlimited data and some of the fastest download speeds available over satellite internet. Their highest-end tier, the Unlimited Platinum 100, advertises speeds of up to 100 Mbps. However, this comes at a hefty monthly price of $200/month. Along with steep prices, these plans aren’t widely available. Viasat is working on broadening their reach with these offers, and current customers will be able to upgrade in the future.
Like the Liberty Plans, Viasat’s Unlimited Plans are offered at promotional prices for your first 3 months. As usual, unlimited data sounds too good to be true. After reading through the fine print, it’s apparent that Viasat may prioritize other customer’s data over yours once you use 40, 60, 100, and 150 GB of data on each respective plan. This is in an effort to reduce network congestion. So, although your data is unlimited, you may experience slower speeds if you use too much.
Your Modem and Router
All Viasat customers will receive a modem for a monthly equipment fee. This modem may or may not include a built-in router depending on regional availability. If the Viasat WiFi Modem is not available to you and you want to connect your wireless devices, then you will have to purchase a router elsewhere.
Most customers can add the Viasat WiFi Modem to any plan for an additional $5 per month. The modem includes a wireless router, an Ethernet connection, and a Voice adapter which is useful if you’ll also be using it for home phone services. The modem has advanced dual-band frequencies of 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz connections. These signal options let you choose the strongest connection for your devices. The modem also includes wireless security features and a separate guest network, so you can keep your home network secure.
All Viasat customers are required to lease a satellite dish and a modem for a total fee of $9.99 per month. You can alternatively choose to pre-pay $299.99 for the lifetime of the equipment. Either way, the equipment must be returned when you cancel your service.
The position of your satellite is important to consider before you can make use of your equipment. Viasat’s satellite internet service requires a clear view of the southern sky to establish an unobstructed connection with your home satellite dish.
Features and Benefits
Viasat advertises free installation to new Viasat Internet customers in limited areas. Some customers will have to pay for installation themselves. If you are eligible for this free perk, you will receive an instant rebate for the installation as a credit on your first Viasat bill.
A local technician will come to your home and test the signal strengths around your house. Then, they will suggest the best location for your satellite dish. The satellite dish can be mounted on a wall, roof, or pole near your house as long as it can face the southern sky unobstructed. The technician will also install the modem in your home and get internet set up for you.
Viasat Free Zone
All Viasat customers have access to the Free Zone. This is a time period between 3 am and 6 am when you can use as much data as you like, and it won’t count against your Priority Data usage for the month. For example, if you’re paying for 25 GB of data per month and you use 10 GB during the Free Zone, you will still have 25 GB available on your plan. This is a great way to conduct software updates for your computer or download movies without using up plan data. You can even enjoy the Free Zone after you’ve used up your monthly Priority Data. The Free Zone is not available to customers on Unlimited Data plans.
The Viasat Browser
Viasat customers have the option to minimize their data usage with the Viasat Browser. The browser uses artificial intelligence to load pages faster and more efficiently. It also has an add-block feature which will help cut down on your data usage.
EasyCare is an optional, extra level of support offered to Viasat customers. This comes at a $5.99/month charge after three free months. There are three perks that come with EasyCare:
- Get all required service calls without a charge. These are normally $95 per visit.
- Enjoy shorter wait times with access to priority customer support on a special hotline
- Annual dish relocation to a new location at the same address. This may be useful if you’re remodeling or landscaping.
Video Data Extender
Viasat automatically streams video at DVD quality so videos use less of your monthly Priority Data. This feature optimizes videos at 480p to cut down on data usage. You can choose to enable or disable this in your account settings as often as you like.
If you don’t really care about watching videos in the highest quality possible, we recommend enabling this feature to stretch your monthly data as far as possible. For example, an HD video stream can use 1.3 GB of data in an hour while the same hour-long stream at 480p can use as little 0.5 GB. You likely won’t even notice the difference in video quality on smartphones and tablets.
This feature is not available on Viasat’s Unlimited Plans. Each of these plans comes with a set video streaming quality. For example, videos on the Unlimited Bronze 12 plan will stream at 360p. The video quality for the other Unlimited Plans improve with each plan tier:
- Unlimited Silver 35 at 480p
- Unlimited Gold 50 at 720p
- Unlimited Platinum 100 at 1080p
Viasat also offers a Hibernation Plan which allows customers to suspend their Viasat service for up to 6 months out of the year. This is great for people who use their rural home as a vacation spot and don’t want to pay full price for internet all year long. There are a few things to keep in mind:
- You must suspend your service for at least 2 months.
- When suspended, you will be charged $9.99/month plus your lease fee.
- The Hibernation Plan may not be available to all customers.
- Any discounts from bundling with DirecTV or Voice will be permanently forfeited.
Viasat’s customer service team can be reached by phone, email, or instant chat. If you’re old-fashioned, you can even send a written letter to the Viasat Vice President of Customer Service. The general consensus among Viasat customers is that customer support is polite and knowledgeable. However, some people have felt misled by service agents and state that customer service could use an improvement.
You may be able to find DIY support for your problems on the Viasat help pages. The Viasat website is full of helpful articles and contains a community forum where customers can ask questions and help each other out. You can also sign up for text alerts which will allow you to check data usage, troubleshoot, and get notifications about your service in real time.
Ways to Save on Viasat
Bundle Your TV, Phone, and Internet
Viasat customers have the option of bundling their internet packages with DirecTV or Voice phone plans to save $10 per month. This is a great way to get all of your household telecommunications services in just one place.
Be Careful of Cancellation Charges
Viasat honors a 2-year Price Lock Guarantee, which means that your standard monthly internet fee and equipment lease prices cannot be increased during this time. However, this also means that you’re locked into a 24-month contract. If you cancel your service agreement before this time is up, you will be charged a fee of $15 for each month left in your service term.
Purchase Your Equipment
It may be more economical to pre-pay for the lifetime of your equipment than to pay the monthly lease fee. If you see yourself staying with Viasat for 3 or more years, it is cheaper to pay $299.99 for the equipment outright. However, if you cancel your service after only 24 months then it is cheaper to pay the $9.99 monthly lease.
Upgrade or Downgrade Your Plan
You can change your Viasat plan free of charge at any time after your first 30 days. So, there is no reason to keep paying for a plan that provides more data than you need. You may also save money by upgrading your plan if you’re spending more than $20 purchasing additional data each month.
Viasat offers a great internet alternative to people in rural areas where faster options aren’t available. Their Liberty Plans provide typical satellite speeds and a generous Free Zone to supplement monthly Priority Data.
Furthermore, the company’s new Unlimited Plans have the potential to offer super-fast speeds to people who are willing to pay the expensive price tag. However, these plans are only available in a few select areas. Due to gaps in country-wide coverage and slow congested peak hours, Viasat may not be the ideal choice for people who have other options.
Overall, it’s worth giving Viasat a try if you’re in the market for satellite internet. Especially if you’re in a region where 25 Mbps speeds or higher are available.