Viasat (formerly known as Exede) is the second-largest residential satellite provider in the United States by coverage area, and is one of the most available service options for homes in rural locations. While they offer service to urban and suburban areas, we normally recommend wired or fixed wireless service for those settings. Where Viasat shines is in providing up to 100 Mbps to more remote locations that are poorly served by other providers.
Viasat Internet Plans and Pricing Summary
|Plan name||Monthly start price||Download & Data Threshold|
|Viasat Unlimited Bronze 12||$50/mo||12 Mbps /Unlimited Data|
|Viasat Unlimited Silver 25||$70/mo||25 Mbps /Unlimited Data|
|Viasat Unlimited Gold 50||$100/mo||50 Mbps /Unlimited Data|
|Viasat Unlimited Platinum 50||$150/mo||50 Mbps /Unlimited Data|
Although Viasat mostly advertises plans with speed up to 30 Mbps, certain areas are able to receive up to 100 Mbps. That may not seem like a lot for those with access to cable or fiber internet, but 100 Mbps is a rarity in the rural areas Viasat services.
Another benefit of Viasat for rural locations is the ability to install multiple reception dishes on multiple buildings. For example, if you have a detached office or another off-grid building, you can install a second dish there and get the same service as you have in the home. Ask about your options for setups like this when you sign up over the phone.
Is Viasat Satellite Internet Good for Streaming?
The general rule of thumb is that satellite is one of the worst internet technologies for streaming due to the data caps that are common with the plans.
However, Viasat stands apart from competitors like HughesNet, because they actually have some plans with generous data capacities.
To put it simply, it’s probably still not possible to stream HD and 4K video throughout the day without reaching the data cap — even on high-tier plans. As far as streaming music on services like Pandora or Spotify, or gaming online, however, Viasat is surprisingly viable.
If you’re a heavy streamer, you’ll generally want to stay away from satellite connections. With that said, as far as satellite providers go, Viasat can work in a pinch, and is currently a better overall option than HughesNet in terms of data allowances.
Viasat Internet Fees
When you see a price advertised for internet service, it’s important to realize that there are often some additional fees that can raise your monthly bill. Before making the decision to buy, you may want to take into account any extra charges that you’ll be responsible for over the course of your contract.
Installation and Equipment Fees
Because Viasat is a satellite provider, you’ll need equipment in order to receive reception and have the internet transmitted into your home.
You have the option to either rent the dish monthly, or enter into a lifetime lease (meaning you can keep the equipment for as long as you have Viasat service, but you must return it upon switching providers).
|Viasat Dish Lifetime Lease||Viasat Dish Monthly Rental|
|$299||$9.99 per month|
It will take around 30 months for you to break even if you decide to lease the dish, which is longer than the standard 24-month contract. If you see yourself staying with the company for a long time, however, the lifetime lease may be worth the purchase as it will save a significant amount of money over the years.
Installation of the dish is usually free when you sign a contract; however, some customers may have to pay Viasat’s $99 professional installation fee. Keep in mind, however, that the installation may cost money should you opt for a different mounting option than the standard pole mount.
Early Termination Fees
The majority of Viasat plans require a 24-month commitment. If you decide to cancel service before the end of your agreement, you will be charged an early termination fee (ETF).
This fee amounts to $15 per month remaining on your contract, so it can quickly get expensive if you cancel early on.
For those who are unsure they can commit to a two-year contract, such as renters or students, you should proceed with caution when purchasing a Viasat plan.
Understanding Data Caps
Data caps put a limitation on the amount of internet activity you can engage in across the month, but how much data would you use in an average browsing session? Different activities consume vastly different amounts of data. Understanding how different usage habits can affect your data cap is an important aspect of deciding which plan works best for you.
General web browsing consumes a negligible amount of data. So if all you’re doing is reading the news or checking your email, you won’t really have to worry about these caps. Where the limitations really start to become apparent is in streaming, especially with high-quality video content.
|Viasat Data Packages||HD Video||Streaming Music||Online Gaming|
|40 GB||16 hrs/mo||280 hrs/mo||200 hrs/mo|
|60 GB||24 hrs/mo||420 hrs/mo||400 hrs/mo|
|100 GB||40 hrs/mo||700 hrs/mo||500 hrs/mo|
|150 GB||60 hrs/mo||1165 hrs/mo||750 hrs/mo|
What Happens If I Exceed My Viasat Data Allowance?
Most people have heard the horror stories of huge fees for exceeding data limits on cell phone plans, but you generally won’t have to worry about that with Viasat. There are different groups of Viasat internet plans, and the way that they handle data overages depends on the type of service you have:
- Data Caps. Viasat’s cheapest plans are best for homes with very low data needs, since 12 GB can be quickly eaten up by just a few streamed films. Most homes should plan on spending at least $100 per month on a plan that’s going to feel comparable to a traditional cable or DSL plan.
- Unlimited Plans. Viasat recently began offering unlimited plans that won’t charge you if you use too much data. Keep in mind, their plans usually have a “soft cap” of 100 GB or so. Once you use 100 GB of data, the plan may slow down to prioritize other users during peak use times. This can be frustrating, but it’s a huge step up from paying extra for small blocks of data. Unlimited plans are only possible because Viasat launched a new satellite in recent years.
- Freedom Plans. Freedom plans function similarly to the Classic and Essential plans in which that data will be severely throttled if you exceed your allowance. In addition to those restrictions, Viasat may ask you to upgrade to a different plan if your usage regularly exceeds the monthly cap.
- Liberty Plans. Liberty Plans are available in select areas, and provide full speeds up to the data cap. Once data usage exceeds that allowance, the “Liberty Pass” kicks in, which allows continued usage at slower speeds of 1-5 Mbps.
It can be difficult to understand how your data allowances work, so make sure you understand the type of plan you’re purchasing and the policies associated with internet usage.
Viasat Internet Plan “Free Zones”
While some of the Viasat internet deals have relatively generous data allowances, it’s very easy to burn through even a big plan by downloading large files. Some video games are well over 50 GB at this point, and HD movies also have very big file sizes.
Fortunately, Viasat offers a “Free Zone,” where customers can download without affecting their data caps during certain low-traffic times of the day.
Since data caps are imposed to reduce stress on a satellite, it’s possible for the company to lift the restrictions during the late night and early morning when regular use is not nearly as high.
Classic plans have access to Free Zones from 12 a.m. to 5 a.m., while Evolution and Essential plans can download freely from 3 a.m. to 8 a.m.
Viasat customers should take liberal advantage of the Free Zone for those big file downloads. By queueing up a file before heading to bed, it’s possible to use a significant amount of data without affecting your allowance.
Viasat “Unlimited” Internet Plans
Viasat has recently introduced “Unlimited Plans” that don’t have a hard data limit. In truth, these plans aren’t truly unlimited.
Each of the unlimited plans will offer the fully advertised speeds until you reach a certain cap, at which point the speeds will be throttled down until the start of the next month.
There are different tiers of plans, and the “soft cap” at which the data will start to be throttled will depend on the type of internet you purchase.
|Viasat Plans||Soft Cap|
|Bronze 12||40 GB|
|Silver 25||60 GB|
|Gold 30||100 GB|
|Gold 50||100 GB|
These plans are relatively affordable, and are good options for those who don’t want to worry about data caps — with the understanding that their speeds will be reduced when they reach the caps mentioned above.
Viasat TV Options
Viasat does not offer their own TV service, although they do partner with DIRECTV to offer discounts to their customers in some areas.
If you’re interested in TV service, make sure you mention it to the Viasat representative when you make the call. If a partnership is not available in your area, you may be forced to purchase TV service separately — in which case Dish Network and DIRECTV are the main options.