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Those looking for fast download speeds and more than enough data can find it with Viasat, which was previously known as Exede before deciding to change its name. It isn't perfect, especially since its prices are on the high side, and it shares some of the typical drawbacks of satellite internet providers, including data caps that are much lower than cable providers. This in-depth review will cover everything consumers need to know about Viasat so that they can decide if the provider is right for them.
Consumers get what they pay for with Viasat, but in this case, that means they pay more and get higher quality as a result. While Viasat tends to be more per month than other satellite internet providers, it has the speed and the data to back it up.
There isn't one true price for Viasat since there are multiple plans available, and the plans that are available depend on the consumer's area.
The basic plan with Viasat typically has a standard price of $70 per month, although the starting price is $50 per month for the first 3 months. This is definitely more expensive than plans available with HughesNet, but Viasat's plan also has higher speeds for uploading and downloading, along with unlimited data (once the customer goes through their anytime data, then download speeds range from 1 to 5 Mbps.)
On the other end of the spectrum, there's Viasat's most advanced plan, which has a standard price of $150 per month, although if there's a promo, consumers can get it for $100 per month the first three months. Again, HughesNet is the cheaper choice, but it doesn't provide the same performance.
Since Viasat requires that consumers sign up for contracts, there is an early termination fee amounting to $15 for every month the customer had left on their contract. Contracts run for two years.
The usual Viasat equipment is a modem and a satellite dish. Those have a rental fee of $9.99 every month. For consumers who don't mind shelling out more upfront, Viasat also has two prepayment options available.
The first is to prepay for the length of the two-year contract for $199.99, which saves about $40. The other option is to prepay for the life of the equipment, which costs $299.99. That's a good choice if a consumer expects to stick with Viasat for the long haul, as they would break even with what they would have paid on a month-to-month equipment rental after 30 months. If they end up staying with Viasat for four years or longer, they'll end up with a great savings.
There's no difference in max download and upload speeds for Viasat's plans. Everyone gets the same download speeds of up to 12 to 30 Mbps and the same upload speeds of up to 3 Mbps. This means that the most inexpensive Viasat plans provide a solid overall value. What makes this provider's plans different is its anytime data and unlimited data.
With other companies offering satellite internet, speeds can vary depending on the plan. Since Viasat doesn't do this, consumers don't need to compromise between paying more for higher speeds or paying less and accepting lower speeds.
There's no set speed that will work for every user. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has put together a Broadband Speed Guide that can help consumers determine the minimum download speeds required for different types of internet activities. These should still be taken with a grain of salt, though, and it's always best for consumers to get a plan with more speed than they expect they'll need.
Viasat gives consumers a considerable amount of data at its plans standard speeds, and there's unlimited data once the consumer goes past what their plan allows, although this will come at slower speeds.
The plans available through Viasat provide 40, 60 and 100 GB of data. Compared to cable internet providers, this isn't that much, but compared to other satellite providers, it's competitive.
With most satellite providers, once a customer hits their data limit for the month, they can only use their connection during the off-peak hours until the end of that cycle. One big benefit with Viasat is that it still allows everyone to connect to the internet after reaching their data caps. They'll just be slowed down from the 12 to 30 Mbps to a slower 1 to 5 Mbps. And Viasat doesn't cap how much extra data customers can use.
Viasat doesn't disappoint when it comes to speed. On all its plans, customers can expect that solid 12 Mbps or higher download speed, plus a 3 Mbps upload speed that ranks near the top of the industry.
The way Viasat sets up its plans is much different than most of its competitors. Those other providers usually provide higher speeds for customers on higher priced plans, while Viasat does not.
Support is one of those areas where ISPs often fall short by providing poor service or outsourcing their support entirely. Viasat takes its customer support seriously and does an excellent job of it. Customers can reach support staff or find answers to plenty of questions online.
If a customer would like to contact Viasat, they have the standard three options of calling, emailing or chatting online. Viasat provides average wait times with those options on its site. It reports that chats with representatives typically begin within a minute, emails receive responses in 24 hours or less and phone calls usually have a 2-minute wait. Customers who don't mind doing some research on their own can check out Viasat's online help center, which features tutorials and guides. The ISP also has an online forum where customers can assist each other.
Something Viasat does that is rarely seen is provide a mailing address on the bottom of the support page. Anyone who wants to send their feedback by mail to the company's executives can do so, and Viasat guarantees that they'll act on all written feedback quickly.
Tests of Viasat's customer service went well, with assistance coming promptly from polite, professional representatives. Considering ISPs often have poor reputations in terms of customer support, Viasat has certainly raised the bar.
Related: Compare the best satellite internet providers
For satellite internet, Viasat is a strong choice, provided the customer doesn't mind paying a little more.
The highlights of internet service with Viasat are undoubtedly those fast speeds, high data caps and the fact that customers can continue using the internet whenever even after they reach said data caps. There aren't any glaring flaws, although this ISP can get costly, especially when consumers look beyond the base package. Every plan is still a solid value, though, and the increased data caps make those pricier plans worth it.
There are obviously cheaper plans out there than the ones offered by Viasat, but when considering price and performance, Viasat's plans are tough to beat.
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