Freedom 150 - Where did it go?

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Five months ago, Freedom 150 was available to me as a plan upgrade. I fretted over making the change for a few weeks, finally decided to pull the trigger, but now it's unavailable. What happened?
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Chuck Mayo

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Posted 1 year ago

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briman

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My guess would be that they subscribed enough in your beam so discontinued the Freedom plan?
Just my guess so probably best to call customer service to verify
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Chuck Mayo

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That would be my guess, too, but I'll bet they'd have the bandwidth to sell me three Freedom 50 plans at $110 a pop.
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Michael McDowell

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Same thing happened to me!  As the old saying goes:  "You snooze, you loose"
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briman

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Possibly so
Just depends how the marketing division does promotions and sales (my personal guess)

Nothing against Viasat/Exede as all companies do such advertising/promotions
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briman

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I hope the Freedom plan is there when I make my decision...just a lot to investigate beforehand 
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Old Labs (VS1-329)

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I may be off a bit in my facts and perceptions, but sustained download speeds are only part of the issue.
Nope, you're not off at all and have a firmer grasp on how browsers work than many - the inherent latency (which isn't going away with ViaSat-2) is a larger part of the issue many would say. One can always wait for a download to complete without watching it download. For streaming video as long as it stays ahead of the frame rate and doesn't buffer it really doesn't matter - what difference does it make if the video starts playing 2-3 seconds later due to latency as long as it streams smoothly and doesn't buffer and break up later on.

Note that those thousands of requests are not done in sequential fashion but in parallel but even then there's browser threshold of how many simultaneous connections can be made (mine defaults to 5).
 
ViaSat/Exede attempts to overcome the latency issue and minimize the effects of that latency through its web acceleration technology (it used to be called Accelenet but that's no longer the case apparently and it used to reside at what is now called the your core node or IP layer) - effectively it would bundle those requests though deep packet inspection to deliver what were considered the most important for quickly displaying a page to the modem as a bundle and requests could be satisfied without a round trip through the bird.

Unfortunately, as more and more web sites move to HTTPS (encrypted secure sites), that inspection can't occur and you'll only see the acceleration on non-secure sites if any at all. My observation also suggests that at least some of that acceleration gets disabled during periods of peak congestion in an effort to cut down on overall traffic but that's just speculation. Specifically with HTTPS you can't bundle what you cant see being requested. 

Even today, I can see/observe noticeable differences between HTTP and HTTPS sites so I assume ViaSat is still using some web acceleration of HTTP sites . How bearable that latency is really depends on how much detail the web developer put into making the site functionally responsive before all of the fluff is needed - seems to be a lost art form. And all the fluff is eating into that shared bandwidth.  I come from the "old school" where resources were never as plentiful and we had to make good use of every bit of them - the rule was simply to display what you needed to display and then stop.

That is even the case with simple page refreshes with browser caching - some sites are designed well enough and will become unresponsive while all of the images are reloaded - the handshake for each is often still required to determine if the image has changed even if cached - 500+ ms to determine that the content need not be retrieved and can be used from the browser's cache.

Using an ad blocker, controlling Flash and HTML5 auto play and more important pre- load will not only save data but yield a more responsive browser experience even on a 150 GB plan - you're keeping your own little share of bandwidth less congested - if everyone did practice data conservation there might even be a little bit more to go around for everyone.
(Edited)
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Chuck Mayo

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Labs, I wasn't aware that acceleration wasn't being applied to https requests, but you're correct that https is fast becoming the norm, especially with Google beginning to lower their rankings for non-encrypted sites.

You also make a good point about bloat. Isn't there some adage about technology instantly expanding to the saturation point whenever increased capacities become available?

How does preload come into play? I'm already blocking ads and HTML5 autoplay, as well as running a Chrome extension ("The Great Suspender") to suspend inactive tabs to keep them from sucking up bandwidth, but I wasn't aware of any preload tweaks.
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Old Labs (VS1-329)

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HTML5 preload behavior really varies by browser implementation so you have to investigate it in that context to be certain. Although dated, there's a good (technical) description it over at that remains accurate:

https://www.stevesouders.com/blog/2013/04/12/html5-video-preload/

He used to have a page over there whether you could test various behaviors to determine how handled in your browser, but the link is now dead. The important thing to remember is autoplay and preload are not the same; while autoplay implies preload, the reverse is not true. Suffice to say, I've got one page I go to that consumes 40 MB when HTML5 media is enabled, but only 2K when I disable it. 4 embedded videos that don't auto play but get fully loaded and available withing 15 seconds or so when I push play - might as well watch them in that case, you've alread been burned - this is what I mean when people say "but I don't watch videos" and respond with "you no longer have to watch them to consume data, their simple presence on a page is enough to burn data without you knowledge".           

Some two/three years or more ago when HTML5 adoption started to gain steam, I began noticing a steady upward trend in my data usage and on investigating it was in fact HTML5 video and audio being preloaded (often in full since it's dependent on how the web developer specifies attributes). After about a month of trial and error, I finally settled upon Firefox (despite not being my preference) coupled with AdBlock and Flash Control (not to be confused with FlashBlock). Flash Control handles both Flash and HTML5 media well, but FlashBlock doesn't handle the pre-load behavior at last check. Important because Adobe has already announced Flash is being retired. Sites will need to adopt HTML5 or find another solution altogether.

There's also another link prefetching attribute that you may need to be concerned with - best to do a search on Link Prefetch to determine your browser's support and whether it can be disabled. At the same time, there are any number of ways to use javascript to retrieve info for future use on a page. I actually use YScript on some sites to block unruly javascript. With most of these the intent is fine to provide a smoother user experience, but often misused for other purposes and places alot of data usage control in the hands of a web developer who may or may not use your resource wisely. It's also good if it's content I actually intend to use at any rate - but the developer doesn't really know that. 

Some of the web acceleration that goes on with Exede used to be of this prefetch nature, but if encrypted over HTTPS the Exede infrastructure can't see the links in the content to "prefetch". There may be some other minor acceleration going on at a higher level protocol on HTTPS but I doubt it has any significant impact if so. Again I'm basing it on observation so take everything with a grain of salt - but all of this is the only explanation I have for the same site being viewed under HTTP and HTTPS. Images pop on the the page almost simultaneously with HTTP, while they dribble onto the page with HTTPS. Yes I do ensure there's nothing cached during that test and conclusions are based on also looking at the responses with a network inspector.  It's the only logical explanation I have for seeing something along the likes of the same small image at the same location taking 50 ms to loaded under HTTP vs 1700 ms under HTTPS. And we haven't even covered VPN yet ;)

Only ViaSat knows what really occurs with the acceleration thing and they ain't saying.

Yep, bloat is a major concern both now and probably more so in the future -  if there's bandwidth available somebody's going to use it unwisely whether that be a developer or the end user. See:

http://idlewords.com/talks/website_obesity.htm

I get the impression around here that  many are simply upgrading to larger plans having not closely examined how efficiently their using their current plans but are simply too busy or not inclined to take a close look at where it's going - it is hard to do correctly and it's easier to say simply get a bigger plan. Most major web sites today are using content delivery networks - they get paid based on how much data they deliver and have no real incentive to optimize delivery.

Demands for more bandwidth are steadily increasing and higher caps will be the norm - ViaSat-2 will ease the demand but rest assured even that increased caoacity will eventually be exhausted over time. I can remember the days when 20 MB hard drives were the norm ;)

Sorry for the long explanation, but it's complicated...
(Edited)
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Chuck Mayo

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Laughing... I was going to allude in my last post to thinking, twenty years ago, "20 MEGAbyes? I'll never use all of that space!"

I'm hoping ViaSat-2 will bring these obsolete service levels more into the 21st century (seriously, I'm beginning to long for the glory days of DSL), but I don't really expect more than a marginal increase in value or capability unless/until Musk gets his LEO swarm approved and launched.

Thanks for the preload/prefetch tips. I'll be running those down over the next day or two.
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Chuck Mayo

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(I love the website obesity article - it's hilarious. Thanks!) 
(Edited)
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Steve Frederick, Champion

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briman, you should not linger in making your decision. The Freedom 150 plan may now be offered in your area, but as others already on a lesser plan jump to the Freedom plan, and other new subscribers sign up for the Freedom plan, it may not be available for long. ViaSat know how  many they can allow to sign up or switch to the Freedom plan in each beam. Waiting too long may be just not allow you to get the plan in a day, week or whatever.
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Matt B, Viasat Employee

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Hi Chuck,

A new promotion began on the 11th, offered plans in many areas changed.  Keep an eye out over the next few months, as ViaSat - 2 comes online, plans may change again!
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Chuck Mayo

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Thanks, Matt. I'll do that.