2020 Viasat Satellite Business Internet Review (formerly Exede)
Can’t get traditional landline internet for your business? With the latest and greatest in satellite technology orbiting the planet, Viasat offers stellar speeds and service.
Without access to cable, DSL, or fiber-optic connections, how’s a business owner supposed to get high-speed internet access? In the United States, you have just two options: Viasat (formerly Exede) or HughesNet—and one of these is the better choice.
Viasat is the best satellite internet provider for rural businesses
When we last reviewed HughesNet business internet, Viasat came in second place.
That’s because, at the time, Viasat’s satellite technology lagged behind HughesNet’s, resulting in slower internet speeds. And Viasat tended to be more expensive for similarly fast plans.
So what’s changed?
Thanks to launching the latest in satellite technology, Viasat claimed its spot as the best rural business internet provider.
We explain why in this post.
- Higher satellite speeds than the competition
- Broad range of speeds and data limits
- No hard caps on data usage
- High prices for the fastest and most data-rich plans
- A policy of throttling speeds after reaching data limits
- Data limits that include both daytime and after-hours data
Previously named Exede, Viasat competes with HughesNet as one of the two major US-based satellite internet providers, jockeying for a share of rural residents and businesses needing access to high-speed internet.
Viasat announced in 2018 the debut of its most technologically advanced satellite systems to date.1 Since the satellite’s launch, Viasat’s newer, faster plans have been rolled out across the country, offering businesses a chance at high-speed satellite internet service that comes close to matching the speeds of traditional internet technology like DSL and cable.
Viasat business plans, pricing, and speeds
Viasat has two categories of business plans, named Unlimited and Metered Broadband.
The Unlimited plans are Viasat’s newest and fastest plans, with download speeds ranging from 35 to 100 Mbps. Upload speeds for all plans can reach up to 4 Mbps.
Viasat recommends the Unlimited data plans “for businesses that have significant online activity, especially during daytime hours, and need consistent month-to-month pricing without incremental overage fees.” So if you’re a heavy internet user—doing lots of file-sharing, video streaming, and complicated online software tasks, for example—purchase an Unlimited plan.
|Plan||Starting price per month||Learn more|
|Unlimited 35||$175||View Plans|
|Unlimited 60||$300||View Plans|
|Unlimited 100||$500||View Plans|
The word unlimited in the plan names means Viasat sets no hard limits on the amount of data you can use—but there’s still a catch. Viasat sets “soft” caps on your data usage on the Unlimited plans. If you reach that cap, your internet isn’t cut off, but you will experience a slower connection.
If you continually hit that soft limit, you should consider a faster (i.e., more expensive) plan. Here’s how Viasat describes it: “If this elevated usage becomes consistent, you may upgrade your plan to better accommodate your business needs.”
The good news is that Viasat’s Unlimited plans give you a lot more data than before. The fastest plan available—100 Mbps download speed—offers 200GB of throttle-free data per month.
|Plan||Starting price (per month)||Learn more|
|Metered Broadband 1GB||$50||View Plans|
|Metered Broadband 10GB||$80||View Plans|
|Metered Broadband 20GB||$100||View Plans|
|Metered Broadband 50GB||$150||View Plans|
|Metered Broadband 200GB||$400||View Plans|
Unfortunately, Viasat’s speedy Unlimited plans aren’t available everywhere. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get service from the company.
Viasat rebranded its older plans, now using the name Metered Broadband. These plans all top out at 35 Mbps download and 4 Mbps upload speed, and they include much lower data usage limits. On the plus side, if you need more data at regular speeds, you can purchase additional monthly gigabytes for a few extra bucks per plan.
The Metered Broadband plans tend to be cheaper than the Unlimited plans, and they’re available nearly everywhere across the United States. And if your business doesn’t rely on a lot of data-heavy operations or real-time communications, a metered plan should suit you well.
Here’s another use case for Viasat’s Metered Broadband plans: if your business needs a backup internet connection, they could provide an emergency lifeline to keep things running smoothly.
Viasat internet speeds for business
Viasat offers a range of business internet speeds, ranging from a 35 Mbps to 100 Mbps in download speeds. They can’t match the blazingly fast plans available from fiber-optic internet connections—but they’re the quickest satellite speeds available for businesses.
Here’s a look at how Viasat speeds compare to what HughesNet currently offers.
|Provider||Maximum download speeds||Maximum upload speeds|
|Viasat (Unlimited plans)||35 Mbps to 100 Mbps||4 Mbps|
|Viasat (Metered Broadband plans)||35 Mbps||4 Mbps|
|HughesNet||25 Mbps||4 Mbps|
Note that both companies say their upload speeds are “up to” their displayed maximum. That means you may experience upload speeds even slower than the already measly 4 Mbps. And fast upload speeds are essential for activities that require real-time communication, like videoconferencing.
What’s the right speed for my business?
Because Viasat now offers a range of satellite internet speeds, which one should you choose for your business? Here’s our recommendation based on your business needs and internet use.
|Speed (download)||What it’s best for|
|35 Mbps||A few users for regular web browsing and file downloading and occasional audio and video streaming|
|60 Mbps||Several users for frequent browsing, file downloading, file sharing, and high-definition streaming plus occasional real-time videoconferencing|
|100 Mbps||Many users for constant browsing, file downloading, file sharing, and high-definition streaming plus frequent real-time videoconferencing|
There’s a term in the internet realm that comes up a lot with satellite internet: latency.
Latency describes delays that you might experience with your internet connection. Although data moves quickly between connection points, it’s not instantaneous. And the thousands of miles separating your receiver from the space-residing satellite leads to a higher risk of latency problems than with landline connections.
Viasat claims that their newest technology “dramatically speeds up page-load times, minimizing the effect of latency.” But the company admits that even with their advances, you may experience less responsive internet connections than with DSL or cable internet.
The biggest drawback to latency is that it can significantly disrupt virtual private network (VPN) services. Although you can technically run a private network on a satellite connection, Viasat doesn’t recommend it:
“[VPNs] may be very slow [and] may not work at all. Other ‘SSL’-based VPNs may work just fine. A great way to find out is to take your VPN-equipped laptop to a local retailer and test it out.”
No one likes data limits, but even with the latest satellite technology, internet data is a scarce resource. If the satellite internet companies let every customer use as much data as they wanted at all times, it could slow things down for everyone. That’s why they set data caps.
|Provider||Data allowance||Cost to add more data|
|Viasat (Unlimited plans)||75GB to 200GB||N/A|
|Viasat (Metered Broadband plans)||1GB to 200GB||$2 to $10/GB|
|HughesNet||35GB to 250GB (split between Daytime and Anytime data)||$3/GB|
Fortunately, you won’t experience a sudden shut off if you go over your plan’s data cap. Soft limits mean that once you meet the threshold, your provider gives the fast lane to other customers.
Again, here’s how Viasat explains it in their words:
“On the Business Unlimited 35, 60, and 100 service plans, after 75, 150, or 200 GB of data usage, respectively, Viasat may prioritize your data behind other customers only during network congestion. Video streaming quality on the Business Unlimited 35 and 60 plans is typically at 480p, the Business Unlimited 100 plan is typically at 720p.”
So if you find yourself running into that soft limit wall repeatedly, consider upgrading your plan or purchasing additional data.
Satellite internet installation and equipment
Getting satellite internet access is pretty straightforward. Your provider beams internet data down from its satellites that orbit the planet. You just need something to receive that data.
Viasat will install receiver equipment, including a satellite dish, somewhere on your business’s property. The receiver connects to a modem, which in turn connects to your computers via cables or a Wi-Fi modem.
Due to the complex installation process, you can’t install the equipment yourself. And the cost is embedded in the monthly price you pay for service.
Viasat says you can expect installation within three to five business days after you purchase a plan. And the service comes with a 90-day warranty for defective equipment. Beyond that, you’ll need to buy an additional protection plan, called EasyCare, for $8.99 per month—with three months free for new customers.
Here’s how the EasyCare protection plan could save you time and money:
|Service||No extra protection||EasyCare ($8.99/mo.)|
|Customer service||Standard phone line||Special priority hotline|
Contracts, fees, and other fine-print details
Viasat’s plans come with a 24-month contract, so you’re pretty much locked into the provider for two years. Like with most internet service providers, if you want to break the contract early, you’ll likely be subject to early termination fees (ETFs).
Unfortunately, we weren’t able to confirm the exact ETFs Viasat charges its business customers. Residential internet customers pay $15 for every month remaining in their contract, so businesses may be able to expect something around that amount too.
Static IP addresses
Some businesses use static IP addresses, also called persistent IP addresses, and Viasat includes three static IPs with every business plan.
You may want persistent IPs if you host your own web servers or sites or if you use services like FTP for file exchanges. They’re also useful for VPN access, although—as we mention above—VPN isn’t recommended with satellite connections.
FAQs about Viasat and satellite internet
What is satellite internet?
Satellite internet is a type of broadband internet access that uses radio frequency to send data between satellites systems in earth’s orbit and ground-based receiver dishes.
Viasat’s satellites are in geostationary orbit, which means they maintain relatively static positions above the planet to provide internet service to consistent swaths of land.
What is a Ka-band satellite gateway?
A Ka-band satellite gateway is a system equipped to receive a specific range of radio frequency from earth-orbiting satellites. Different frequency ranges, called bands, are assigned to different technology uses.
A super-high frequency range, called the Ku band, has traditionally been used to deliver satellite internet and television services to residential and small-business customers. The Ka band is a slightly lower frequency band that Viasat uses for connecting ground-based terminals and providing internet to larger businesses and government agencies that need access to the highest performing broadband internet.
How is satellite internet different from other internet types?
With traditional internet, often called landline connections, your business is connected to your service provider via a long series of connections such as copper wires and coaxial or fiber-optic cables.
Satellite broadband internet doesn’t require a physical connection to your service provider. Instead, your business gets a receiver dish that points to the sky to collect the data streaming down from the satellite systems. Your computers and other devices connect to the receiver using modems and Wi-Fi routers.
The primary benefit of satellite internet is that it’s available almost everywhere. Stationed so far above the ground, satellite internet providers can beam data across vast areas of the earth. The ubiquitous access is why satellite internet is most often used by rural residents and businesses that don’t have easy access to landline connections.
Satellite internet drawbacks include higher costs, slower speeds, and worse latency. Fortunately, these problems have slowly improved as companies like Viasat have launched new technology.
Viasat used to be the runner-up in the two-challenger race for best satellite internet for businesses. But no more!
With the debut of the most advanced commercially available satellite technology, Viasat beats HughesNet as the better choice. With Viasat, your business can get faster speeds and a more reliable connection.
HughesNet, what’s your next move?
Make sure you’re getting the right internet speed for your business with our guide to internet speed.
At Business.org, our research is meant to offer general product and service recommendations. We don’t guarantee that our suggestions will work best for each individual or business, so consider your unique needs when choosing products and services.