Gold 50 and Netflix still almost unwatchable... Is Viasat doing anything to address this?

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I currently have DSL that maxes out at about 10mbps but is unstable I average closer to 6mbps - so hearing about unlimited 50mbps speed via satellite souded awesome!  After having it for a few weeks now, I can say that it has been VERY reliable, however - despite getting almost 10x the speed of DSL, Netflix is unwatchable.

I downloaded the Fast.Com app (from Netflix) to see what was going on, I noticed that using the Satellite signal, I was seeing less than 2.0 Mbps --- and when I would switch back to my DSL signal I was getting over 7.0!  

Why is this the case?  Isn't Netflix just a stream of data, why is it being throttled?
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Mike Gleiter

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Posted 3 months ago

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It is being throttled because of the plan you are on. I believe that plan delivers 720p for Netflix. So Viasat cranks down the speed so you dont get higher than that (i.e. 2.0Mbps or less ).

Now that speed should still be good enough to watch Netflix. You might need to change some of your Netflix settings to get better streaming. Try turning it off "auto" if you can.
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Mike Gleiter

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According to Netflix (https://help.netflix.com/en/node/306), you need at least 3 Megabits for SD quality --- I'm not even getting that per my fast.com tests.   And you need 5 Megabits for HD quality (which is what I get from my DSL service) .

I'm already paying $150/mo for what I thought was supposed to be 50... which says it should stream 720p, but it clearly doesn't.  Are you saying I'd need to go to their higher plan to get that?  


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Perhaps. Are you our if priority data? That could be another factor.

And despite what the website says, I have seen 1080p with 1.5Mbps.
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Dustin

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Its called "Latency". try opening up the cmd prompt and ping a website. I use Hughes Net and their forums actually explain "satellite" Internet to people.  heres a link of how it works. https://www.howtogeek.com/138771/htg-explains-how-latency-can-make-even-fast-internet-connections-fe...
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Mike Gleiter

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@VeteranSatUser - I am not out of Priority data - not even close.

@Dustin - I think we are talking about throttling here, not the inherent problems with latency (which I do understand you get with Satellite --- iow - don't use satellite internet for multiplayer action games)...

unless you are saying that latency is tied to the throttling somehow?  
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Dustin

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Ahh i see yes you are correct. I find it funny that they advertise 50mbps even with the best plan I'm sure all he is able to get during peek hours is far much less even if they are not throttling it. Hughes net/ Viastat are all the same. Hughes net even tells people to this day with gen 5 that they can play first person shooter games. Which I find comical
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Old Labs (VS1-329-L12FZ)

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It's throttling "detected video streams" based on whatever plan you have - the consensus around here is that the throttled speeds are just barely sufficient to support the "typically 360p/480p/720p/1080p" marketing claims for Unlimited Bronze, Silver/Gold/Platinum plans respectively.

Under ideal circumstances those throttled speeds are probably sufficient but satellite is far from ideal. 2 Mbps seems to be the consensus here on what the Silver plan is throttled to at a maximum - work down from there on what the content providers will detect current network conditions are like to determine the quality they'll deliver when streaming. Fast.com only provides an indication of what the Netflix video streaming experience will be like, not other activities. Most of the major content providers use adaptive streaming which adjusts the speed/rate based on current network conditions. The 50 Mbps on Silver doesn't apply to "detected video streams".  

The only real way to circumvent the video detection algorithm is through a VPN and make a trade off between video quality and data consumed. You cant throttle that which is undetectable (private) through VPN

Others have resorted to using PlayOn Cloud and downloading (rather than streaming) the recording that Playon saves on their servers for you. The Playon Servers will record at 720p.

Viasat plans other than unlimited have an optional Video Data Extender feature that can be toggled on/off. On HughesNet they call it the Video Data Saver option.  
(Edited)
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Mike Gleiter

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Thanks for everyone's responses on here --- looks like I'll probably just have to keep both, my DSL (for watching Netflix and letting my kids play their multi-player games), and viasat for my job (I work from home and do need reliable internet service)...

But I likely don't need to pay for Gold50... 

I'd consider simply cancelling (and just make a hotspot with my mobile phone when/if I need to), but not sure I'll be able to get out of their contract?  Anyone ever have luck with that (I just started my service a few weeks ago)?  Or at a minimum, reducing their plan?
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Your phone as a mobile hotspot wont do much. But I do keep a mobile wifi router as backup internet. That combined with your DSL I would think be enough.

If you ate not going to stream with Viasat, I would drop to the cheapest plan (i.e. Bronze). Also, for the kids to play many online games, the latency of satellite wont work. So dont drop the DSL!
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Jim16

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You should be able to reduce your plan whenever you want to with no penalty. Go to your dashboard, portal and change plans. I was always given the option of changing my Freedom Plan to a Liberty Plan at anytime I wanted.
(Edited)
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Never been a fan of these plan designs, but doing a little research and implementation can bypass the streaming restrictions Viasat imposes. Once you get by that, might as well get the cheapest "unlimited" plan you can. I mean it is unlimited data usage right???? So what could possibly go wrong using 200 or 300GBs per month on a Bronze plan :).
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Brad, Viasat Employee

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Latency won't affect the stream. This is more related I think to the plan's resolution settings and/or the amount of data used so far. I know Netflix tends to try to set you at the higher resolution (as a streaming service I fully understand why) so you might want to double check that to see if your on 480p (if on Silver) or 720p (if on Gold) you can just drop the resolution to see if it improves if you haven't surpassed the data point.

Another consideration is that this time of year brings a little bit of woe and misery for us (not because of visiting relatives) but because our Network does get busier during the holidays which could hamper speeds as schools are let out which means sharper increase in traffic and extended peak periods. Typically that doesn't peak until like this weekend. This is our first holiday season with ViaSat-2 so I'm really curious to see how it goes.

Since you do have both Viasat AND DSL, I would recommend that if the DSL streams to use that as there's no resolution or data caps and to utilize our service for your job. 
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Mike Gleiter

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Thanks Brad - I guess I was hoping that I could 'kill 2 birds with 1 stone' and have viasat let me replace my DSL...  but it looks like it cannot.  I'm planning on reducing to the Bronze plan to save a little $$ over Gold.
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Makes sense.
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Ethan F

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Yeah viasat doesn't give a crap. I've had this issue for over a year. Buckle up and enjoy the ride.
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Jab

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RE: "Netflix is unwatchable"

In Netflix's control panel, how is this configured?

Also, see this article
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Jim16

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Just set your Netflix playback rate to AUTO.  It's not rocket science.
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Mike Gleiter

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Excellent article @Jab - what I didn't quite follow from it was if Netflix decides how to encode and stream to you based on your bandwidth, or your device... "To remedy this, we design additional per-title bitrate ladders corresponding to the maximum playable resolution on the device" -- if sounds like it may be device instead of bandwidth (since the latter would mean Netflix would need to somehow do a speedtest before beginning a stream).

As for how to adjust your netflix playback settings, its easiest to do it via your account on a browser - just go into a profile and slick on settings and you should see 'playback settings' where you can adjust it.
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Jab

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RE: "what I didn't quite follow..."

Well, Jim16 said, "Just set your Netflix playback rate to AUTO.  It's not rocket science," so Jim should be able to field this question.

RE: "However, because of hardware constraints, some devices may be limited to resolutions lower than the original resolution..."

Translation - You get what you pay for, when buying a viewing device.

I believe this writer was "jumping" in and out of several reference frames:

1. "For example, given an animation title, we may switch to 1080p at 2000 kbps because it results in better quality than a 2000 kbps 720p stream."

Here, he's not addressing a viewing device (re: tablet limited to 720p decoding), but rather viewing quality on a device that can handle higher resolutions in its hardware decoding.

See: What are the differences of watching a 1080p and a 720p version of the same media on a 720p screen?


2. "However the tablet will not be able to utilize the 1080p encode and would be constrained to a sub-2000 kbps stream even if the bandwidth allows for a better quality 720p encode."

This sentence is tricky to decipher.  I'll let Jim16 field this analysis:-)  Author may implicitly be suggesting Netflix's computer-logic dictates what you get.  A question could be submitted there...
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Jab

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RE: "speedtest before beginning a stream"

Via article, Netflix attempts to flow the stream at a steady rate....which means evaluating an user's stream rate, and shifting gears (speeds).

I assume this is a dynamic process....ongoing while watching.  I'm on 10gigabyte plan, so I don't watch Netflix.  But, if quality varies while watching a film, then this would suggest a dynamic process, and Viasat's streaming speed was fluctuating.


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Or he can just drop to the Bronze plan and stream with his DSL or utilize the PlayOn cloud.
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Mike Gleiter

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thanks again @jab --- I do see the fluctuations on my Netflix stream, so it must continually look at the speed as well as the device.  Pretty smart actually.  But there looks to be limits on how 'low' it can go and still deliver quality - and viasat can't achieve that.  Oh well.

and thanks @VeteranSatUser --- that's the plan (drop to bronze and use that for work and anything else that doesn't need a low ping, and use DSL for Netflix and games). 

Not ideal $$-wise of course, but it is what it is. 

I suppose I could then deduct the cost of the viasat plan as a job-related expense though...hmmm...need to look into that...  :)
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I would expense it if you can as a business expense.

Unfortuately the video resolution downgrader can and does cause streaming issues for people. I mean it is a way an ISP can throttle your streaming connection. So not surprising it can cause issues at times.
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Jab

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RE: "... But there looks to be limits on how 'low' it can go and still deliver quality"

Cellphone MVNOs (and wireless carriers), satellite ISPs, and any other ISP who use expressions like DVD quality, 480p, 720p, or 1080p, are mostly basing their claims on Netflix's information.  Since government has not mandated standards, these mice will play their word games.  One MVNO says DVD quality...but it only streams at 1.6Mbps.  These quality claims are like "Watered Stocks."

Quality - Fast motions requires higher bitrates than still shots.  With digital screens, nothing changes the pic until new information (bits) is sent.  So, if say railroad tracks are seen by themselves, it takes ZERO bits to display once initial bits displayed it.  When a fast moving train comes, then the bit rate increases greatly.

Router - Some routers allow an user to view actual streaming rate.  It would be interesting to examine this data...then one knows what's happening.

Dynamic Streaming - I assume Netflix does this....but, without data via router, I can't confirm.  Picture quality should always look better when not much is changing on screen....so from your comment, " I do see the fluctuations on my Netflix stream," I can't evaluate if dynamic streaming exists or not.

Netflix Devices - I assume either its embedded in a TV set, or an external device is bought.  If there are buffer size differences in external devices, I'd buy the one with the biggest buffer, and stay away from a TV based device.  Which setup do you have?

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Terry Hill

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I had the same issue with streaming when I had one of the 150gb plans the streaming resolution was not good with the way Viasat throttled the plan. Like others on this forum I jumped to the Liberty 12 plan for $50 a month and used Playon to record my movies and shows. With being able to turn off video extender You are able to watch movie in hd and with the free time from 3am to 6am I would record those shows and not use my 12gb of data. I did that for a while till I started just downloading all my shows to my tablet then using the mirroring on my tablet to my tv. With using my tablet I can download a whole season of a show in just a couple of hours. I now use a cell company with true unlimited to game but the speeds are not as fast as Viasat and I kept Viasat just to download my streaming content. Hope some of this info helps you out and good luck finding what you need.
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Yea that works too. But I have found the mirror option to produce a sub quality picture. Watching on a tablet works just fine because of lower resolution needs.

You can read all the technical mumbo jumbo above or just look for alternatives to bypass Viasat's video resolution downgrader. I use alternatives like Terry here describes and I get along just fine.
(Edited)
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Jab

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RE: "read all the technical mumbo jumbo above"

The relevant issue here, which could be verified via capable router, is if Netflix can deliver a "typically 720p" stream.  In other words, once Viasat's stream rate drops, and then is capable later of higher rates, will Netflix change its stream rate?  If not, then Viasat's "typically 720p" is without an empirical basis.

FWIW, when Vimeo's 720p stream rate is compared to Netflix's, its like comparing apples to oranges. Additionally, AT&T's stream rate on one unlimited plan is 1.6Mbps, which they call SD quality.  Hence, there are speed variations when "720p" is defined by the broadband industry, from about 5Mbps and downward.
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Old Labs (VS1-329-L12FZ)

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RE: " will Netflix change its stream rate?"

No, Netflix doesn't change the stream rate it changes the quality delivered based on current network conditions and load. Netflix videos are encoded and optimized on a per title basis at various qualities. When streamed they are delivered in "chunks" at the quality Netflix deems appropriate (i.e. video quality is adaptive throughout the playback). Others here have noted and observed the changes in quality that occur as "speed" fluctuates. In two words, it's "rocket science" - the goal is to deliver the highest quality experience when "Auto" is configured by the Netflix subscriber. In fact  Netflix appears to start at lower quality and work it's way up to achieve the optimal quality. More mumbo, more jumbo...

https://medium.com/netflix-techblog/using-machine-learning-to-improve-streaming-quality-at-netflix-9...

Corrected link...

Viasat throttles to an upper limit based on plan, that upper limit is then subject to further degradation based on current network conditions - only during non-peak periods will the "typical" Viasat qualities be seen (when the speed limit can be consistently maintained). As previously noted, only real way around it is to go the VPN route to avoid video stream detection that results in throttling for that content - i.e. the non throttled "up to" speed claimed for your plan and during severe congestion that may not even be enough.      
(Edited)
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Of course Netflix isnt the only streaming service. While it is probably the most popular, there are dozens of different services. Even if you get Netflix to stream right with the downgrader, what about getting Hulu, Amazon, HBO Go, etc. working right?

If you can turn the "video data saver off", I would do it. If you are on an "unlimited" plan, you could bypass it with a VPN or utilize the PlayOn cloud. I am sure there might be other alternatives too.
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Jab

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Old Labs spoke - "In two words, it's "rocket science"

Netflix said - "By employing predictive modeling to prioritize device reliability issues.."

It's not "rocket science," its about  "Murphy's Video Quality Law" where "degraded video quality will happen, if you give them (ISP industry) a chance to reduce streaming speed.

MVNO PagePlus -  "DVD quality" at 1.6 Mbps
AT&T Prepaid Unlimied - "SD quality" at 1.6 Mbps
Viasat's 360p rate was about 1.2 Mbps (2018-Mar-3), so according to this site:

LD 240p 3G Mobile @ H.264 baseline profile 350 kbps (3 MB/minute)
LD 360p 4G Mobile @ H.264 main profile 700 kbps (6 MB/minute)
SD 480p WiFi @ H.264 main profile 1200 kbps (10 MB/minute)
HD 720p @ H.264 high profile 2500 kbps (20 MB/minute)
HD 1080p @ H.264 high profile 5000 kbps (35 MB/minute)

only AT&T's marketing speak is spelled out with quality and bitrate given.  PagePlus and Viasat-as based upon what I know-do not give the bitrate, just video quality.

Tidbit - "...while respecting constraints around resource usage coming from the cache size and available bandwidth."

I believe "cache size" means the bigger a device's buffer, better video quality may be the end result.

 “You pay for what you get, you own what you pay for... and sooner or later whatever you own comes back home to you.”

― Stephen King

Penny wise, pound foolish....
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Old Labs (VS1-329-L12FZ)

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Yeah, whatevers.

"What plan are you on and how much data have you used for the month?"

-- Stephen Rice

Viasat can't guarantee what quality a content provider delivers they only can influence the content providers decision by mucking with the speed (throttling). Each content provider has its own unique algorithms in place to make the determination - even you're original cite shows that Netflix can deliver 720p at different bitrates - much more goes into it than simple bit rates - encoding/codex used, compression, yada, yada, yada - so maybe it's brain science or rocket surgery.

The speeds Viasat's chosen on a plan basis are on the low side and speeds are "up to".
(Edited)
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Old Labs (VS1-329-L12FZ)

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Since you're into the technical mumbo jumbo (or anyone else who may be), understanding how Viasat detects video streams will provide you with some insight on how to effectively combat the throttling (if not given the option to turn it off like some of us have on non-unlimited or limited) - or at least the rationale for the workarounds mentioned here (VPN, PlayOn Cloud, etc).

My guess is Viasat's implementation is just a variation on what T-Mobile started with BingeOn and now nearly all ISPs have adopted by now to control bandwidth utilization for the largest bandwidth consuming activity:

https://mislove.org/publications/BingeOn-InternetQoE.pdf


It also explains how using PlayOn Cloud works around it while using PlayOn Desktop doesn't. At the same time it explains Viasat's disclaimer that not all video streams can be detected.
(Edited)
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Hughesnet has a similar feature.

Wasnt it a while back that Netflix was threatening to sue AT&T and other providers if they purposely throttled their product and not others? With Directv Now being a "competitor" of Netflix I could see the conflict of interest. Directv streaming? No problem! Netflix? Crank down its speed!
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Mike Gleiter

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Great point @VeteranSatUser --- I found this article which was quite interesting - if I'm reading it right, it states that according to the FCC, its illegal to throttle any legal content or application - and what you can do about it:  https://lifehacker.com/how-to-file-a-complaint-against-your-isp-and-finally-so-1714876357
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Perhaps net neutrality propaganda (and I dont want to get into it), but this is an interesting article on how ISP's can favor one streaming service over another...

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&sourc...
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Jab

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RE: " interesting article"

This freelance author, Karl Bode, is quite knowledgeable

RE: "FCC, its illegal to throttle"

"Verizon's" FCC Chief canned net neutrality: "Without net neutrality rules, telecom-backed streaming services are free to fight dirty."

RE: "https://mislove.org/publications/BingeOn-InternetQoE.pdf"

Good cite...

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Jab

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RE: "Netflix doesn't change the stream rate it changes the quality"

Footnotes - The fluctuating upload speeds displayed in Netflix's Tech Blob  did not reflect what I saw when Video Saver was turned on....I saw a flat line at a fixed speed, like 1.2Mbps (EXEDE 5-10  plan...maybe 360p video).  But, on Viasat's incoming side, a graph may have varying speeds, like what Netflix sees.  IIRC, I used a Vimeo video as a test, and only buffering was experienced at 720p quality locked-in.

Stabilizing stream rate is good for network infrastructure....digesting your comment above, when faster bitrates are required during "action scenes," their AI program "switches" quality level.  A previous blog indicated, "In many cases, padding is even added using null packets to guarantee strict constant bitrate for the fixed channel, " so padding can be used to maintain a "constant" stream rate.

In other words, if an user's stream rate is lower than a film's peak stream rate, the lower quality feed(s) will be deployed at Netflix.  Technically speaking, when marketing speak suggests "480p, 720p, etc" quality, its a falsehood when a film's peak stream rate is above an ISP's throttled stream rate.  Correct speak is just to indicate stream rate, and not expressions like "DVD" quality, or 720p, which are relevant when a fim's stream rate is at or below an ISP's throttled stream rate.

"Typically DVD" quality might be relevant to a film with a lower streaming peak rate, but irrelevant to a fast action movie with a very high streaming peak rate.
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Okay...
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Jim16

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For god's sake, set it to auto...
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Is the technical details in this thread making a sound?
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Jim16

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No, but I watched Water World, with commercials, on auto, faster than it took to read Jabs jibber.
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Setting to auto did nothing but let me see a netflix movie like I was watching it thru a dirty window - grainy as heck - poor resolution.  I already had that even when it wasn't set to auto.

Cutting thru all the tech details - unless they stop throttling, viasat won't work for watching netflix (unless you don't care about video quality).
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I watch Netflix all the time, in 1080P, no buffering and HD quality. I am on a 12 Mbps plan, with the Video degrading gadget turned off. I realize that the video degrading gadget cannot be turned off on those "unlimited" plans, but there are several ways one can work around that as pointed out in other post on this forum.

If your speeds are constantly less than 3 Mbps, even during the daytime hours, you may have an equipment problem, or if you are using a WiFi connection to watch videos, you may need to upgrade to a better router.
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Jab

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RE: "unless they stop "

Downsizing the viewing screen will "hide" the blemishes better.  Smartphone size might be ideal:-)

I'd venture to say your bitrate is mostly constant (flat-line), but the films watched have too much movement.

Another option, maybe....they use to have a router that had two WAN ports...so use DSL's and Viasat's Ethernet to feed your TV set....I don't know if Netflix allows this method.  Issue here may be latency difference between DSL and satellite.

RE: "...this thread making a sound?"

Consumer Reverberations are nothing new under the sun, and represent "white noise" when played back en masse.

Laugh of the Day - Overheard at an airport...female suggests its best to set video playback to HD, on her smartphone

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Jab

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RE: "...if you are using a WiFi connection to watch videos, you may need to upgrade to a better router."

Good Point...Penny wise, pound foolish...
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Mike Gleiter

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Hi @Steve - I am using Viasat's all-in-one wifi/router... I can verify that their wifi signal from that device is quite strong - so I don't think that's the issue.  

It was mentioned above - I'm seeing 60+mbps on speedtest, but using Netflix's FAST test, it is showing a little under 2mbps.

What is this 'video degrading gadget turned off' thingee you are referring to - which allows you to see full 1080p HD on Netflix while on a 12mbps plan (vs the Gold 50 I'm on)?  
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Old Labs (VS1-329-L12FZ)

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The "video degrader", as it's been dubbed, is officially called the Video Data Extender (it's called the Video Data Saver option for those who subscriber through NRTC) and is not available on the Unlimited Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum Plans. On other than unlimited plans, it throttles detected video streams to the "typically  480p"' speed. It can be turned on/off as the subscriber desires. Right now for me fast.com with the Video Data Extender enabled I get 1.1 Mbps on Fast.com - sufficient for 480p "typically" but not all 480p depending on specific title. During peak congestion periods that 1.1 Mbps drops significantly to the point where it's barely suitable for 360p.

With it disabled I get 10 Mbps on Fast.com - more than sufficient for 1080p and Closer to what I get on speedtest or testmy.net.

Fast.com is specifically designed to gauge your Netflix video streaming experience  

See the following for the Video Data Extender:

https://help.viasat.com/articles/General/Video-Data-Extender-helps-you-stream-more-video-and-use-les...

The only reliable way to avoid the throttling of detected video streams on the unlimited plans is to utilize a VPN. The tradeoff is that you will utilize more data while streaming, VPN by it's very nature useds more data, and you'll reach your data usage threshold quicker and you'll be subject to prioritization sooner.

(Edited)
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The other bypass option is to utilize the PlayOn Cloud. Use the cloud to record the content, then download the file to your computer for viewing. No interruptions in the streaming, 720p, regardless of plan.
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Old Labs (VS1-329-L12FZ)

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P.S. If you're seeing 60 Mbps on speedtest it's not the WiFi router and everything is working the way Viasat has designed it to work on the approved implementation. Presumably that's Viasat-2 with a Gold 50 plan and the Viasat WiFi Gateway (triangular prism shaped modem/router).

Where's Ricky Dean when you need him? He went through the problem with one of the actual members of the development team - receiving the typical developer response, working as designed or at least as approved by the suits in charge. As a former developer I can tell you that's code for what the suits approved and probably despite developer objections. This has all been covered before here ;)

The Playon Cloud option is a workaround (as is VPN but VPN allows you to stream directly) and works because the videos are recorded on the PlayOn servers and saved in 720p format - you then download the complete video file for watching locally - although it could be detected as a video and be subject to throttling it only impacts the download time not the 720p quality that was recorded.
(Edited)
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Jab

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RE: Netflix

Netflix attempts to predict expected stream rate....if your switching between DSL and Viasat, this might create a quality issue.  I have no idea how long their program "remembers" previous sessions.

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Ricky Dean and Andy! Shout out Andy, hope you are doing well!
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Jab

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Ethernet - If possible, use a direct connection.

On a different note, even Chromecast offers a

1. Chromecast Ethernet Adaptor - The Chromecast is a handy gadget for streaming Netflix, YouTube, and other content from mobile devices to your TV, but it requires a strong Wi-Fi connection to deliver streams that don't buffer.



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VeteranSatUser, Champion

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A Roku is a far superior device (I have both). It doesnt need an ethernet cable connection to work just fine with Viasat. Now granted, I have the video resolution downgrader turned off, which I know not everyone can do. So your results may vary!
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Stephen Rice, Champion

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I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell.
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Jab

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RE: "Roku is a far superior device..."

Interesting what they note on their top model: "Get a connection that stands up to what you want to stream with dual-band wireless—or use the Ethernet port for wired streaming."

Needless to say, RF interference is a problem with WiFi, or even having two routers (say DSL Modem and Viasat's Modem) running concurrently.


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VeteranSatUser, Champion

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Less likely on 5Ghz though.