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  • Writer's pictureChandni Rijhwani (Bachelor in computer application)

From Sky to Screen: Viasat's Journey in Providing Satellite Internet



Table of content:

  1. What is Viasat?

  2. How Viasat works?

  3. The key points to keep in mind while purchasing viasat?

  4. What are the advantages and disadvantages of Viasat?

  5. Difference between Viasat and HughesNet?

  6. How to buy services of Viasat?

  7. Conclusion

  8. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


1. What is Viasat?

Viasat is a global communications company that provides satellite-based internet services, among other solutions. Viasat's services are especially relevant for areas that are hard to reach with traditional wired broadband, like rural or remote locations.


2. How Viasat works?


Viasat operates by leveraging satellite technology to provide internet services to users on the ground. Here's a step-by-step breakdown of how the system generally works:


1. Satellites in Geostationary Orbit: Viasat has multiple satellites positioned in geostationary orbit approximately 22,236 miles (35,786 kilometers) above the Earth. Being in geostationary orbit means these satellites remain fixed over one specific location on the Earth's surface.


2. Ground Stations: Viasat operates ground stations, also known as gateway stations or earth stations. These are equipped with large antennas that communicate directly with the satellite.


3. Transmission of Data:

  • When you make a request (like clicking on a website link), the data is sent from your device to a Viasat modem and then to a satellite dish.

  • This dish then transmits the data to one of Viasat's satellites in geostationary orbit.

  • The satellite relays this data down to one of the Viasat ground stations.

  • The ground station connects to the internet backbone, fetches the required data (like the website you want to view), and sends the data back to the satellite.

  • The satellite then beams this data back to your dish, through your modem, and finally to your device, displaying the website you clicked on.

4. User Equipment: Subscribers to Viasat's internet service are provided with a satellite dish and a modem. The dish is usually installed outside with a clear view of the sky, and the modem inside the premises connects devices to the internet.


5. Latency: One of the considerations with satellite internet, especially from geostationary satellites, is latency. Because of the long distance the data has to travel (up to the satellite and back down to a ground station), there is an inherent delay. Viasat's system typically has a latency of around 600-700 milliseconds, which is higher than most ground-based broadband but has been acceptable for many standard online activities.


6. Advanced Technology: Viasat continually invests in technology to improve the user experience. They have developed advanced satellite technology to handle more data, which allows for faster speeds and higher data caps for users.


3. The key points to keep in mind while purchasing viasat?


If you're considering purchasing Viasat as your internet service provider, here are some key points to keep in mind:


1. Coverage: Ensure that Viasat provides service in your area. While satellite internet has a wide coverage, there could be specific geographic or regulatory constraints.


2. Internet Speeds: Review the speeds offered in various packages. Consider how you'll be using the internet — for basic browsing, streaming, gaming, etc. — and select a plan that aligns with your needs.


3. Data Caps: Viasat plans may come with data thresholds. After reaching this threshold, your internet speed may be prioritized behind other users during network congestion.


4. Latency: Satellite internet, especially from geostationary satellites, has higher latency than terrestrial broadband. This could affect real-time online activities like gaming or video conferencing.


5. Contract Length: Viasat often requires a contract commitment. Be sure to understand the terms, including the contract duration and any associated early termination fees.


6. Equipment Costs: Investigate any upfront costs for equipment or installation. Some plans might offer promotional deals, while others might require you to purchase or lease equipment.


7. Monthly Cost: Understand the monthly fee associated with your chosen plan and consider any promotional prices that might increase after a promotional period ends.


8. Reliability: Research user reviews in your area to see if existing customers find the service reliable.


9. Customer Service: Consider the reputation of Viasat's customer service. The responsiveness and efficiency of customer support can be a significant factor in your overall experience.


10. Alternative Providers: Before settling on Viasat, explore other available internet service providers in your area, including other satellite providers like Starlink, to compare services and prices.


11. Fair Access Policy: Like many satellite internet providers, Viasat may have a Fair Access Policy to ensure all users get a share of the bandwidth. Be aware of how this might affect your internet speeds during peak times.


12. Future Upgrades: Viasat, like other providers, is continually working on technology upgrades. It can be beneficial to know if they have plans to launch new satellites soon, which might offer better speeds or terms.


4. What are the advantages and disadvantages of Viasat?


Viasat, as a satellite-based internet service provider, comes with a unique set of advantages and disadvantages are: -

Advantages of Viasat:


1. Wide Coverage: Viasat can provide internet access to remote and underserved regions were laying physical infrastructure, like cables or fiber optics, might not be feasible.


2. High-speed Plans: Depending on the region and the plan chosen, Viasat offers some of the highest speeds available for satellite internet.


3. No Phone Line Required: Unlike DSL, Viasat doesn't require a phone line, so there's no need for a separate landline if it's not needed.


4. Bundling Options: Viasat often has options for bundling internet with other services like phone or TV, which might offer savings for users.


5. Growing Infrastructure: Viasat continues to invest in launching more advanced satellites, which promises to increase data capabilities and potentially bring faster speeds and larger data allowances.


6. In-flight Connectivity: Viasat is also known for providing in-flight connectivity for many airlines, allowing passengers to use the internet while flying.


Disadvantages of Viasat:


1. Data Caps: Many of Viasat's plans come with a data threshold. After reaching this threshold, speeds may be reduced, or you might experience lower prioritization during times of network congestion.


2. Higher Latency: Due to the nature of geostationary satellite internet, Viasat has higher latency than terrestrial broadband. This can affect activities like online gaming or real-time video conferencing.


3. Cost: Satellite internet tends to be pricier than some terrestrial broadband options for the same or similar speeds and data allowances.


4. Contract Requirements: Viasat often requires a contract commitment, and breaking this contract early could result in significant termination fees.


5. Weather Sensitivity: Satellite connections can be affected by severe weather conditions, potentially leading to service interruptions.


6. Equipment: The need for a satellite dish can be cumbersome for some users, especially if they have limitations on installing such equipment on their property.


7. Limited Upgrade Potential: Unlike fiber-optic networks, which have vast potential for speed upgrades without substantial infrastructural changes, satellite networks might require the launch of new satellites or the advent of new technology to achieve significant speed improvements.


5. Difference between Viasat and HughesNet?


Viasat and HughesNet are two of the leading satellite internet providers in the U.S., each with its distinct offerings, technologies, and advantages. While both companies offer satellite-based broadband services, there are differences in their plans, pricing, and other factors.


Viasat:


1. Speeds: Viasat offers a variety of plans with speeds that can reach up to 100 Mbps in some areas.


2. Data Limits: Viasat provides a range of plans with different data limits. After reaching the prescribed data limit, users might experience reduced speeds, but they won't face extra charges for exceeding the limit.


3. Satellite Technology: Viasat leverages its ViaSat-1, ViaSat-2, and in the future, ViaSat-3 satellites, which boast high-capacity capabilities.


4. Contract and Pricing: Typically, Viasat requires a 24-month contract. Prices might vary depending on the chosen plan and promotional offers.


5. Coverage: Viasat offers services in many parts of the U.S. and has a broad global footprint, especially with its in-flight connectivity services.


HughesNet:


1. Speeds: HughesNet offers a standard speed of 25 Mbps download for all its plans. Upload speeds typically max out at 3 Mbps.


2. Data Limits: HughesNet's plans come with data caps, which are often referred to as "Service Plans" with varying amounts of data. If users exceed the monthly allotment, they won't be charged extra, but speeds are reduced significantly (typically to 1-3 Mbps).


3. Satellite Technology: HughesNet operates via its EchoStar XVII and EchoStar XIX satellites.


4. Contract and Pricing: HughesNet generally requires a 24-month contract, similar to Viasat. Their pricing is structured based on data limits rather than speed, as the speed remains consistent across plans.


5. Coverage: HughesNet claims to have coverage in all 50 U.S. states, making it a viable option for those in remote areas.


General Differences:

  • Speed Variability: Viasat's plans vary primarily based on speed and data limits, whereas HughesNet's plans maintain a consistent speed but vary based on data limits.

  • Technology: Each company uses different satellite technologies. For example, Viasat's ViaSat-2 is one of the highest capacity satellites globally, which enables it to offer higher speeds and larger data plans.

  • Bonus Data: HughesNet offers "Bonus Zone" data, which is 50 GB of additional data each month that customers can use during off-peak hours (2 a.m. to 8 a.m.).

  • Price Lock: HughesNet offers a 24-month price lock guarantee, ensuring the monthly plan price doesn't increase during this period.

6. How to buy services of Viasat?


Purchasing services from Viasat typically involves the following steps:


Visit the Official Website: Start by visiting the official Viasat website.


1. Check Availability: Enter your zip code or address to determine if Viasat services are available in your area. Satellite internet typically has wide coverage, but it's always good to double-check.


2. Choose a Plan: Viasat offers various plans with different speeds and data allowances. Browse the options, consider your internet usage habits, and select a plan that suits your needs.


3. Review Contract Terms: Typically, Viasat requires a 24-month contract for new customers. Ensure you understand the commitment, monthly fees, and any potential termination fees.


4. Equipment: Decide whether you'd like to lease or purchase the necessary equipment, such as the satellite dish and modem. Leasing may involve a monthly fee, while purchasing can be a higher upfront cost but may save money in the long run.


5. Installation: Once you've selected a plan and equipment preference, you'll need to schedule an installation appointment. A professional technician will visit your home, set up the satellite dish, and ensure you have a proper connection. There might be an installation fee unless there's a promotion or special offer.


6. Create an Account: After the installation, you may be prompted to create an account or set up online access to manage your services, pay your bill, and monitor data usage.


7. Customer Support: It's always good practice to have the customer support number handy in case you encounter any issues or have questions about your service.


8. Promotions and Discounts: Keep an eye out for promotions or discounts that may apply to new customers. These could include reduced monthly fees for a set period or discounts on equipment.


9. Additional Services: Viasat might offer additional services, like phone or bundled TV services, which you can choose to add to your package.


10. Finalize Your Purchase: Complete any necessary paperwork, agree to the terms of service, and confirm your order.


7. Conclusion

Viasat, as one of the premier satellite internet providers, stands as a beacon for those in remote or underserved areas where traditional broadband options might be limited or nonexistent. With its high-capacity satellites, the company has made strides in delivering respectable internet speeds, making the online world accessible to a broader audience.


Its offerings are especially significant in the landscape of rural America and other remote locations across the globe, bridging the digital divide. While satellite internet inherently comes with challenges such as latency and data caps, Viasat's continuous investments in technology aim to alleviate some of these concerns.


However, like all services, Viasat isn't without its drawbacks. The need for contracts, potential data throttling after reaching certain limits, and costs relative to the service provided are factors potential users should weigh. Yet, for many, Viasat remains a valuable option, especially when alternatives are scant.


In conclusion, Viasat represents both the progress and challenges of satellite internet. It's a testament to human ingenuity, bringing connectivity to far-flung regions, but it also underscores the ongoing pursuit of more inclusive, faster, and more reliable internet for all.


8. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. How does Viasat internet work?

Ans. Viasat uses high-capacity satellites to provide broadband internet services. Signals are transmitted between a satellite dish at the user's location and the Viasat satellite orbiting Earth.


Q2. What is Viasat?

Ans. Viasat is a global communications company that provides satellite internet services to homes, businesses, and government users.


Q3. Does Viasat have data limits?

Ans. Yes, Viasat plans come with monthly data allowances. If you exceed your plan's data limit, your internet speeds may be reduced.


Q4. Is there a contract?

Ans. Typically, Viasat requires a 24-month service agreement, though terms may vary based on promotions or specific offers.


Q5. Can I use Viasat for streaming and online gaming?

Ans. Yes, you can use Viasat for streaming. However, due to the higher latency of satellite internet, real-time online gaming might not be optimal.

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