Viasat (formerly Exede) is a major satellite internet service provider. Although satellite broadband is an option for anyone, it was originally started to give high-speed internet access to those who lived in rural areas where traditional broadband services were not available or where the speed was not up to par with urban options.

Since the Viasat has satellites in orbit around Earth, they can provide broadband access virtually anywhere in the US if there is a clear line of sight. These satellites remain in a geostationary orbit meaning they are orbiting the earth at the same speed the earth is rotating at, so it always remains in the same spot. In order to have satellite broadband, a satellite dish and a transmitter must be connected to one of the satellites in orbit.

Airplane WiFi and GPS both operate through a connection to a satellite in a geostationary orbit. Although satellite broadband for consumers is still relatively young, it has a big and bright future as satellite technology continues to evolve (e.g. offering broadband access to almost anywhere in the world).

Who and what is Viasat?

Just like traditional internet service providers (ISPs), there are multiple providers for satellite broadband, one of those being Viasat. (See this comparison of Viasat vs HughesNet for more details about the differences.)

Viasat, formerly Exede, is one of the major satellite broadband providers in the United States and they are a global communications company that believes everyone and everything in the world can be connected. They’re developing a communications network to power high-quality fast connections to impact people’s lives. For the past three decades, they have helped shape how business, militaries, governments, and consumers around the world communicate. Viasat continues to develop new technology today for development of their communications network to power secure, reliable, high-quality, and fast connections to impact people’s lives no matter where they are.

Overview of Viasat’s Internet Plans

Viasat has responded to constant demands for more data, faster downloads, and higher quality video streaming at home. Today, they have the fastest satellite-based home internet service with speeds up to 100 Mbps. Furthermore, Viasat also offers unlimited data plans, giving customers the ease of mind on overage charges. All of this is thanks to their new ViaSat–2 satellite system after it was launched in 2018.

Unlike traditional cable internet providers, satellite broadband has limitations in their data allowances because data that is sent to the satellite and the network can only handle a specific amount at a time. When access to DSL or cable internet is not an option, Viasat is the next best choice for an internet service provider. They offer several plans depending on what internet specifications are needed.

Refer to our post on Viasat’s latest satellite internet plans and packages for more information.

Does Viasat Satellite Internet Have Data Limits?

Most, if not all, internet service providers have data usage caps. Some may be higher than others, but the rationale is all the same: More consumers online at once means more bandwidth is used at once. Without limits, the network would be overloaded, and the internet will not operate at the specified speed. Satellites, unlike wired networks, are more likely to be overloaded with heavy video usage. Thus, these caps may be lower than traditional ISPs.

Even with these data caps, there are options to minimize data usage such as the Free Zones. Free Zones are specific times typically during the night when others are sleeping when data is not counted. This is precisely why Viasat offers a Free Zone. With the recent launch of ViaSat–2, this may no longer be a concern for some users. When ViaSat–2 was launched it was considered a game changer in the satellite broadband industry. Not only did it enable Viasat to offer unlimited data allowance, but it also allowed more consumers to be connected at once.

What has changed with ViaSat–2?

Launched in 2018, the Viasat–2 is a geostationary satellite, at an altitude of just over 22,000 miles, designed to offer wider coverage and high-capacity connectivity with the flexibility to move capacity based on demand.

Consumers can see speeds up to 100 Mbps with tremendous reliability across North America, the Caribbean, and parts of South America. ViaSat–2 has significantly increased speeds, reduced costs and has expanded the footprint of satellite broadband offered by Viasat. Moreover, ViaSat–2 enables reliable internet for boats and airplanes alike.

Gaming with Viasat Satellite Broadband

Can online games be played with Viasat? The short answer is yes but the long answer is it depends on the game desired. Depending on the service plan, the download speed available will vary. At a connection of 25 Mbps, connecting to online games is easy, but the issue will be latency. It is important to note that even with speeds at 100 Mbps from ViaSat–2 latency will still be experienced because it is based on the distance the data is traveling and not the speed at which it travels. Considering that the satellite is in a geostationary orbit around earth over 22,000 miles high, every bit of data must travel from the satellite dish on the ground to the satellite in orbit and back resulting in a minimum latency over 500 ms. This amount of time will vary depending on where the satellite on the ground is in reference to the satellite, specifically, the shorter the distance the data must travel the less latency that will be experienced.

Although a small amount of time for chess or Farmville, in some video games that amount of time can make a huge difference (e.g. Call of Duty). Because of that, some massively multiplayer online games may prevent a consumer from joining based on the latency. A general rule for satellite broadband is that if it is an online sports game or first-person shooter (FPS) game it is not possible to play due to the high latency experienced.

What games can be played then? Generally, a strategy game that typically operates from a turn-based system (e.g. online board games, Civilization, etc.) and a role-playing game (RPG) that does not require split-second decision making (e.g. Farmville, etc.). In these games, latency would not be an issue and would not impact the ability to play the game. However, there are exceptions to that, one factor to consider is where the two satellites are located.

Where can I find Viasat Internet?

Consumers and businesses can find Viasat in all 50 states and in other areas internet companies offer slower service or no service at all. If there is an unobstructed view of the sky in the contiguous United States from the satellite on the ground, Viasat is an option. With the launch of ViaSat–2, Central America, the Caribbean, and parts of South America are now experiencing satellite broadband. Thus, ViaSat–2 was considered a game changer when it launched in 2018.

Pros

  • Fastest satellite broadband internet service
  • Several plans at different prices and speeds
  • Free Zones
  • Speeds up to 10x faster than DSL
  • Unlimited bandwidth offered on some plans

Cons

  • 2-year contract
  • Higher latency than wired broadband
  • High-speed gaming is not possible
  • Slower than wired broadband

With the advances in technology and satellite communications, more consumers can switch their internet service provider to Viasat. Without a doubt, Viasat cannot compete with the likes of cable and fiber providers on speed or quality of service. Therefore, Viasat is the best provider when satellite broadband is the only real option. Although satellite broadband may not