New To Viasat - Still Learning - Have Questions !

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New to sat internet, the learning curve has been tremendous.

When one has been spoiled with a hard line DSL, 25mbps @ $40 a month (Century Link), and you  go to live in the middle of nowhere (Chiefland Florida 32626), 1⁄2 mile from Manatee State Park, no viable cellular, sat tv and sat internet only, no hard wired cable tv, but there is AT&T landline, you learn to accept certain realities.

So based on customer satisfaction (or really which provider was the lesser of 2 evils) I chose Viasat.

I deliberately chose ( for $$ reasons, my wife and I are retired) the Unlimited Bronze 12mbps for starters. I knew I would run out of data, and did so within 21 days, there was an extra 4 days in the cycle as I didn’t start on the same day the cycle runs. I knew what would happen, and its as bad as the other customers said it was. >.400 mbps at “congested hours”.

I just want to know some things now, based on what I have read in these threads. Some of the info is not clear. So you have all these plans that all have the same  fine print about the “prioritization”.

I am talking about the present one’s being sold, not the legacy one’s, I know there are different one’s in the mix. What effect do the Freedom and Liberty plans have on the system ?

Maybe it’s better to ask this way. Can somebody give me a sort of “pecking order” list from top to bottom on who gets priority data during “peak congestion hours” ? (after data cap reached)

It would be logical that the highest paying customers would get this priority and not have their service throttled. Ie. If you have the Platinum plan, wouldn’t you expect to have higher priority ? And if not, do the platinum people get the same degree of “throttling”, as I do at bronze level ? (after data threshold is reached) ?

I already understand (since my last career before I retired, was computer technology) what I needed to do to reduce data usage where streaming is concerned. My home is fortunate to have a TV library both in my video server at home (Plex) and optical discs, numbering in the dozens of series and thousands of shows. So I can easily augment streaming to reduce the data, and confine the usage to live sports and  TV/Movie stuff we don’t already have. Being that we are baby boomers and stuck in the 50’s and 60’s, most mainstream services don’t have what we do, so what little they do have is what we watch. It was still easy to chew up the 40gb data.

Plus we obviously use the internet for email and shopping at amazon, but that doesn’t use much in the data category. We also learned about the Latency effect on now using the cell phone through wifi calling (btw it is not that good either, which is one reason we have to get a landline, reason 2, wifes’ medic alert , based on cell towers, no longer works here).

This brings me to question 2. I have read about the “sweet spot beams”, can anybody succinctly tell me how I know where my geo location fits into this scheme ? And if where I live is just plain detrimental ?

Lastly, if you have not exceeded your data cap, can you still be throttled during “congestion” ? And if so, why on earth would anyone choose a more expensive plan ?

Was it worth moving from a larger city 280 miles south of here, congested with people, cars and out of control growth, to come to this nowhere place ?  Yes, albeit, we didn’t know about the “communications” problems beforehand. But going back to a simpler and quieter town, is very very nice.

Sorry for the long winded piece.

 

 

Steve
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Steven Bidelman

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Posted 10 months ago

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ExSatUser

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So you are right to go with the Bronze plan.  Pay Viasat the least amount of money you have to, because, depending on location, once you use your priority data you are going to be slowed down no matter what plan you got.


If the Liberty Plan is available to you, you might want to look at that.  The prioritization works a little different (technically you don't have "unlimited" data, but as you have found out, you don't really have "unlimited" data anyhow).  The good thing about the Liberty Plan is there is a free zone for you to use so you are not charged against your priority data.


As far as being in a beam sweet spot (i.e. a magic beam), those are few and far between, and Viasat does not publically share their location.  A beam sweet spot would be a Viasat-2, high density spot beam.  A few people on here have it, but unless a Gold 50 or Platinum 100 plan is available at your location, you are not in one.  Viasat-2 failed to reach its full potential due to an antenna failure.  That failure led to less high-density spot beams than was planned.  Viasat "publically" said the satellite's issues were minor, but an $180 million insurance claim and the failure to deliver a minimum of 25Mbps speed nationwide (as was promised), says otherwise.  So until Viasat-3 launches (now not until 2021 so I wouldn't expect it operational until 2022), no further capacity is coming anytime soon.

My advise is this.  Get PlayOn Cloud.  It is very well worth the money.  Record streaming content on the cloud, then download it via Viasat anytime you want.  You won't be impacted by the video resolution downgrader and won't experience any buffering then when you stream content because you are streaming it locally.  So you get 720p on a Bronze plan with no streaming issues, no matter how much data you use.

Good luck to you, and don't hesitate to ask more questions.  I had satellite internet for over 20 years.  I had finally had enough of Viasat earlier this year (I was a customer of theirs for 13 years) and canceled my service, finding an alternative form of internet (wireless).  I don't miss satellite internet one bit. 
(Edited)
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Steven Bidelman

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Thanks for your prompt reply. The recording thing might be worth it, however I would use the PC version. I don't use a smart phone although my wife has one, she is legally blind so the process would not benefit her. I still would be the one that would have to set up and do the recordings.
We have both Netflix and Prime, so I know the ropes on which I can record from and how to change the streaming resolution. It is nice to know that we can download (Prime anyway), and retain a 720 if we want to. It's more for me, since my wifes vision makes it such that 360 is no different to her. Overall recording that TV and/or Movie stuff to save data for watching live sports, is the only way to go, no matter what plan one uses.

I noticed today (Sunday Aug 18) when I did a test (I use testmy.net always), my speed was 3.7, 3.7 and 3.1 and the host 13.9, during the span of 15 minutes, from 1 - 1:15 PM.  This is the first time I have had this low speed, during the daytime (again, even though my cap was reached). Most days it has been normal in the 12-15 range. Any reason you can think of ? Again I realize the wording "up to" 12mbps is what I am looking at. But honestly it has been that (at least 12) during the day time up until "congestion" hours. If this is going to be no different, when exceeding data with a more expensive tier, I don't see the benefit, other than having more base data to work with, at each level.

My area does not provide liberty, but does have the other 3 tiers silver, gold and plat. If and when I am in a better position to go to silver or gold, I will do so. Depending on what you have to say about it.

I feel that it won't as long as people think, before Elon Musk puts his LEO system online. It will def be sooner than the already behind ViaSat-3 launch. He doesn't intend on waiting until all of the thousands of satellites are up, to start the service. And frankly I don't care about the 15 per month I would have to give to ViaSat, to jump ship to a better product, which I am certain Starlink will provide.
I also noticed that one of Viasats' birds was going to utilize one of Musks' Space-X's rockets anyway.
That's a riot. Also I will read up on the $180 million claim thing, that is just ridiculous to even have happened. Really shows how this company cares about the end users. However I still maintain they are the lesser of two evils :)

Thanks again,
Steve



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ExSatUser

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I am not sure if they are the lesser of two evils.  I have had service with both.  At one time Viasat was better than Hughestnet.  For a number of reasons, I don't think that is the case anyore.  Viasat has unilaterally changed terms and conditions of plans on people, over promised and underdelivered for many customers, now charges for installation in some areas, has variable priced plans depending on location (not all Silver plans are created equal...anybody want to pay $200 for up to 12Mbps and 60GB of priority data), and outsourced their help desk to a foreign country.  They also air a commercial that is downright misleading at best for many people that view it.


The PC version of PlayOn is not the same thing as the cloud version.  You can run the PC version, but all the data will be coming through Viasat and you will be subject to buffering, video degradation, and it won't even work with some streaming services (I could never get HBO GO to work).  With the PlayOn Cloud, you bypass streaming on the Viasat network (you just need to download a video file ready to play).  If you don't have a mobile device, you can run a shell (Bluestacks for instance) to allow your PC to emulate a mobile device.  Then run the PlayOn Cloud app to queue your recordings.  You need to do this if you intend to stream a lot of content on Viasat, because in many areas of the country, streaming successfully on Viasat can be questionable at best, especially after using your priority data.


As far as why it is slow now?  You are out of priority data.  Once that happens, all bets are off.  It is Sunday.  Who knows.  The network might be seeing more utilization right now.


Just wait until the holidays. You ain't seen nothing yet.
(Edited)
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GabeU, Champion

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It's just a thought, but you could buy a cheap smartphone to use for PlayOn Cloud.  You could get something from Tracfone for probably $20, then buy a $20, 90 day service card.  Or some other cheap pay as you go provider. 

I paid $40 for my TracFone smartphone about a year or so ago, and last month I bought a 30 day service card for $10, then added on 365 days for $45.  I use my phone so little as an actual phone that the bare minimum is enough for me, and $55 plus tax for 395 days of service isn't bad.  Granted, that method didn't give me very many minutes or texts, or much mobile data, but again, I use the phone so little it doesn't really matter, and when I set up PlayOn Cloud recordings I use my WiFi.  

Like ExSatUser mentioned, to use PlayOn Cloud you have to have a smartphone, but it's very much worth it.  And, in addition to the attributes ExSatUser mentioned, you can keep the files you download for as long as you want, watching them over and over again without it ever costing you any further data.  Only the initial file download requires data to be used.  I actually copy the downloaded files to either a USB flash drive or external USB HDD and watch them on my TV (it has a USB port and a built in app that can play MP4s).  I also wrote them to DVDs and Blu Rays for permanent storage.  
(Edited)
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ExSatUser

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You dont even need a smartphone. A cheap $40 Android wifi tablet will do fine.

PlayOn Cloud is great. I download stuff off Netflix or HBO Go before traveling and then watch at airports, on planes etc. You can download Amazon content without PlayOn, but Netflix and other streaming services can be more restrictive.
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Will Seemore

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If the worst you get from Viasat is 3 Mbps download consider yourself lucky. I rarely was getting north of 1 Mbps download and I rarely went over my priority data cap. Thank god Verizon Wireless came along. They are not great, but next to Viasat they are awesome.
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GabeU, Champion

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You dont even need a smartphone. A cheap $40 Android wifi tablet will do fine. 
Good point.  I forgot about the tablets as I've never used one.  
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Old Labs

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You can also try one of the Android emulators for Windows - I had success with the free version of BlueStacks running under Windows. Just wanted to schedule PlayOn Cloud recording and later download to my laptop once the link was provided to the completed recordings.
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aabbcc

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https://www.android-x86.org/ to run Android on a regular computer, not emulated.

Tablet works, also smartphone works, you wouldn't have to activate it. Just use like a tablet. Sometimes less than $20.

Qvc or hsn often have bundles with phones and a year of service.
https://www.qvc.com/Tracfone-LG-Premi...
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mark petrs

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I have suddenly no internet connection in my home and all the usual fixes haven't helped. Is the Viasat system simply overwhelmed by demand due to covid situation?
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Steve Frederick-VS1/Beam314, Champion

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Mark Petrs, you may have an issue with your modem or router. While some of the subscribers have been reporting slower speeds, Viasat is still functioning pretty well. 

Are your devices connecting to your router via wifi or Ethernet? What does your modem status information show, like an RxSNR reading above 3.0? What do the status lights on your modem show?
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Steven Bidelman

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I have a Samsung Galaxy Tab 4, so that will handle the downloading.
I tried several times with Bluestacks in the past unsuccessfully, so I don't want to go that route.
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ExSatUser

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You don't need the tablet for the downloading.  You can download to a PC, USB stick, mobile device, etc.


You just need a tablet or mobile device to run the PlayOn Cloud app, which allows you then to queue up shows to record "in the cloud".


Took me awhile to understand too.  PlayOn Desktop and PlayOn Cloud are two different, distinct products that work completely different. 
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Old Labs

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Like he said... differentiate between scheduling to record in the cloud (using the app) and then downloading when the recording is done. When recording's complete you receive a link that can be used to download to the PC (in your case probably your media server). The point is that you only need Android or iOS to schedule the recording in the cloud and can then download to anything later at a time or place of your choosing. You don't want or even need PlayOn Desktop.

The recordings are available for 7 days unless you buy a separate storage plan. 7 days is sufficient for me to get them downloaded.  In my case, I simply wanted something to schedule recordings and preferably free - my intent wasn't to use Android beyond that with an emulator - if I wanted to do that I'd have gotten a tablet. It's a matter of going whatever route works to overcome the limitations you'll face satellite. Even PlayOn is unfamiliar with those limitations otherwise they'd offer a way to schedule recording in the cloud without relying on Android or iOS - a simple browser interface would suffice for that purpose. 

In your case you've got what you need with the Galaxy Tab, just rethink the logistics as needed. As you noted, you're new to satellite and still learning - you'll need to become imaginative and look at things in a different perspective in overcoming some of its limitations while avoiding more severe peak usage period deprioritization once you've exceeded your data usage threshold.

Only other advice I can offer is look to other data saving techniques beyond simply limiting streaming in order to stretch your priority data - even for "simple" browsing with today's bloated web sites. Trim the fat with an ad blocker, turn off autoplay in your browser, prevent videos preloading without even playing, manage automatic updates, etc. In some extreme case for certain web sites I even disable javascript for the site provided the site remains functional with out it. Disabling javascript for a site can also get you around some sites that prevent you from using unless you disable your ad blocker - that check is typically done using javascript on many sites. Similarly, I'll also switch user agents on my browser to fake web sites into serving up their mobile version which typically has a lower footprint in terms of data usage. I've got sites in my favorites that use 30-40 MB and go to 1-2 MB use when the mobile version is served based on user agent. The strategy is simply to preserve priority data as long as possible. Once exceeding priority data all bets are off once deprioritization kicks in (and your at the mercy of how heavily others in your spot beam having priority data available are utilizing it).         
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