Viasat Satellite Internet Review (2020)

KEY FACTS
Founded: 1986
Other Brands: Exede, Wildblue
Services: Internet, Phone
# Subscribers: >750,000
Our rating: 4.5/5

For nearly two decades now, Viasat satellite internet had been a good option for folks in remote or rural settings with few internet options. Speeds weren't great and service was spotty at times but, hey, at least you had internet. In 2017, all that changed... for the best. After the launch of Viasat 2 into orbit, speeds for residential customers jumped up to 100 mbps (depending on location and line-of-site but nearly everyone saw a big bump in speed). Is Viasat worth switching over to? Let's dive into all the details and find out...

Advantages

  • Best option for rural customers
  • Speeds up to 100 Mbps
  • Improved reliability & coverage

Disadvantages

  • Price hikes after 3 months
  • Occasional data caps
  • Costs more than terrestrial internet
Note: For all sections below, a checkmark denotes our recommendation for that particular plan, feature or category.

Viasat Internet Plans

Pricey but generally the best value in satellite internet

Being the fastest satellite internet company in the world and boasting coverage in nearly all of the country, Viasat's plans are priced slightly higher than traditional cable or DSL internet...and that's exactly what it is: non-traditional. If you're in a major city with plenty of high-speed internet options, you'll probably never land on this page. However, if you're out in the country or just don't have access to the major internet carriers, Viasat is probably one of your best options. Requiring just a suitable line of sight to the southern sky (and the Viasat-2 satellite in orbit), the packages available range from low-use surfing all the way to a snappy 100 Mbps:

Plan
Price
Price after 3 mths
Speed
Data Cap After cap, your speeds will likely be reduced to 1-3 Mbps
$30/mo
$50/mo
12 Mbps
12 Gb
$50/mo
$75/mo
25 Mbps
25 Gb
Liberty 50
$75/mo
$100/mo
50 Mbps
75 Gb
Unlimited Bronze 12
$50/mo
$70/mo
12 Mpbs
40 Gb
Unlimited Silver 25
$70/mo
$100/mo
25 Mpbs
60 Gb
Unlimited Gold 30
$100/mo
$150/mo
30 Mpbs
100 Gb
Unlimited Gold 50
$100/mo
$150/mo
50 Mpbs
100 Gb
Unlimited Platinum 100
$150/mo
$200/mo
100 Mpbs
150 Gb

Price increase after the 3rd month

Within the internet industry, plenty of companies like to offer special introductory pricing to sweeten the deal, especially for customers on the fence. And while the discount usually lasts for a year, Viasat has lower pricing for just 3 months. Not great, but, guess better than no discount at all. And how much will it increase? In general, in your fourth month, prices go up about 50%. Kinda steep, but remember, this is a bit of a niche product. For Viasat, there are a fair amount of costs assoicated with managing the service in each zip or country, especially with managing the data caps and ensuring everyone has fast and reliable service. If you compare it with the other popular rural option, fixed wireless, Viasat is about the same price, if not a bit cheaper. So, while Viasat is definitely more expensive than Spectrum and AT&T, it's all about access and speed. In many places way out in the sticks, dial-up is still alive and well. If satellite was my only other option, I'd happily fork over the extra cash.

Soft data caps

Viasat data cap chart

Similar to how cell phone data plans work, if you exceed your monthly data cap with Viasat, your access won't be denied. Instead, you'll likely be throttled to speeds of 1-3 Mpbs. We use the term "likely" since Viasat doesn't always impose the restriction. Depending on usage in your area and bandwidth available, they may not throttle you at all. Just be aware of the cap and plan accordingly. If you have a good cell signal, a booster might make for a good fallback plan if you ever do get throttled. Viasat's customer service department is quite good as well -- never hurts to give them a call. They may be able to lift the restriction early. Either way, once the new month comes around, all caps are cleared out and you're good to surf unrestrained. As a reference when picking out packages, 1 GB of data roughly translates to the following:

  • 1.5 hrs of streaming a standard definition movie (eg, on Netflix)
  • 12 hours of browing the the internet
  • 200 songs streamed (eg, on Pandora)

Obviously, the biggest data hogs are movies or videos, so be sure to hit pause if you step out for more than a couple minutes. Also probably a good idea to disable "Auto play" on Youtube, especially if you're on a playlist. Adding an adblocker on Chrome or any other browser will also stop the heavy bandwidth associated with interactive ads. If you do get throttled and can't wait until the next month, you can buy 1 GB of extra data for $10. Not cheap, but sometimes there's no other option. To track usage, customers can text JOIN to 20715 or go to a live dashboard at my.viasat.com.

Internet Speeds

A huge step up vs previous satellite internet

Just a few short years ago, satellite internet was a reliable yet slow process. That all changed in 2017 with the launch of Viasat-2 into orbit. Capable of speeds more than twice as fast as Viasat-1 (and any other satellite out there), it instantly positioned Viasat as the bandwidth leader in satellite internet. Its closest rival, HughesNet, features a max speed of 25 Mbps. So, if you have a large household and/or stream a lot of video, you'll probably need the flexibility and speed assiociated with Viasat's plans. Here's more on the top 2 satellite internet providers...

Viasat vs HughesNet

Both services have data caps and require a 2-year contract, so it really boils down to the caps and speeds for the price...and of course, only Viasat has plans above 25 Mbps. In general, Viasat gives you a bit more cap and speed value for the price. The table below compares some of the more popular plans from each company:

Plan
Price
Speed
Cap
$/GB
HughesNet 10 GB plan
$59.99
25 Mbps
10 GB
$6.0/GB
HughesNet 20 GB plan
$69.99
25 Mbps
20 GB
$3.5/GB
Liberty 25
$50
25 Mbps
25 GB
$2.0/GB
Unlimited Silver 25
$70
25 Mbps
60 GB
$1.2/GB
Unlimited Gold 50
$100
50 Mbps
150 GB
$0.7/GB

So, starting with Viasat's Liberty 25, you'll get about 75% more cap space vs comparable HughesNet plans. And the higher the Viasat plan, the lower your cost per GB. If you need speeds above 25 Mbps, your only option is Viasat and your price/GB drops below $1. Note that these are introductory prices -- as regular prices kick in the relative data costs between the two providers roughly stay the same.

Contracts and Cancellation Fees

They're all 2 years and with standard early termination fees

Viasat requires a 24-month contract. Setup is a bit more involved than with cable or DSL, so to offset their initial costs and lower the monthly fees for each plan (month-to-month fees are always higher), 2-year terms were deemed to be the sweet spot. If you ever decide to change plans, there's never a charge to move up or down. You'll also never pay extra or have your contract reset if you move and need to transfer service to another address.

With respect to cancellations, since the reliability and speed of the service tends to surprise most folks (compared to old school satellite internet), cancellation requests before the 2 years are up are pretty rare. If you do need to switch providers, it'll cost you $15 for every month left on your contract. So, for example, if you're in month 18, cancelling will run you $90. Another option is the hibernation plan for $9/mo...

Put your service on hold with the Hibernation Plan

If you travel a lot or take long vacations, you can easily pause your service via your online dashboard. For 2-6 months of any 12 month period, the Hibernation Plan ($9/mo) disables your internet service but keeps your account active and in good standing. It also counts towards your 24-month contract. There's no fee to get into or remove Hibernation mode and all requests are generally put into effect the same day.

Viasat Customer Support

Solid but sometimes hit and miss

As with most home service providers, Viasat's customer service is mainly routed to contracted call centers... and those can either be good enough or just plain painful. With Viasat, based on the feedback we've received from our visitors and our own personal experience, it's generally acceptable. That is, depending on the type of issue, you're likely to get mixed results. If it's a straightforward plan or scheduling request, no problem. If you have a more technical problem, there may not always be a quick or full resolution. It usually will get resolved, but may take a few escalations or extended periods on hold. Again, it's mostly Ok but as with most providers these days, expect the occasional frustration.

Summary and Recommendations

For most, satellite internet is a fall back option. If there isn't a terrestrial provider available, you gotta look upwards. Luckily, satellite internet, and Viasat in particular, have come a long way in the last few years. From broader coverage across the globe to much faster download speeds, it's now a perfectly viable alternative for most needs. And while costs are a bit higher than terrestrial internet, you're paying for access and speeds in an otherwise inaccessible area for internet. With respect to HughesNet and Viasat, we've generally given the nod to Viasat, especially for folks looking for faster speeds and/or more bandwidth cap. For the average family, there are a few different plans we recommend but if you're unsure and want a solid starter package (you can upgrade later if needed), your best bet is the Unlimited Bronze 12...

Unlimited Bronze 12
VIASAT.com
soon!
  • ONLY $50/mo during intro offer, then $75/mo
  • Download speeds of up to 12 Mbps
  • Unlimited Data (may be throttled above 40 GB/mo)
  • Perfect plan for 1-2 people
  • STREAM up to 4 devices without issue
  • Note(s): this is Viasat's most popular plan 3 yrs running
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