As satellite internet technology improves, Exede starts boosting its broadband caps


Credit: ViaSat

If you’re living in a rural area and depend on satellite for your internet access, you probably have a more limited definition of broadband than those of us living in cities with access to cable modem or even fiber connections. If you’re in the former category, “broadband” likely means slow speeds and strict limits on the amount of data you can consume each month.

But Exede, the rural broadband service owned by ViaSat(s vsat), is starting to close that gap. On Monday Exede will start testing a new broadband plan with a 150 GB-per month gap in several regions of the U.S. It’s calling the new Freedom Plan a “virtually unlimited” service, though I’m sure many a hard-core video streamer would disagree. But at 150 GBs, the plan is on par with the monthly limits at which many wireline ISPs are capping their lower-tier plans.

ExedeDish_300pxRelatively speaking this isn’t exactly a low-tier plan when it comes to price. The normal price for the Freedom Plan will be $100 a month, though Exede will offer a promotion starting Monday in which the first half-year of service cost $70 a month. The service is also isn’t as fast as cable, topping out at about 12 Mbps.

But compared to other satellite broadband plans, it’s a big step forward. Currently Exede’s most generous plan is capped at 25 GBs and costs a whopping $130 a month. Exede competitor HughesNet’s higher-tier plans max out at 40 GBs a month.

While satellite broadband may never be able to match its wireline counterparts, a new generation of satellite technologies is making the balance less lopsided. Exede taps into the ViaSat-1 satellite, which boasts a total capacity of 140 Gbps. ViaSat-1 has been in orbit for several years, which makes me wonder why the company is now just starting to push up broadband caps.

Perhaps ViaSat realizing it can’t charge $50 to $100 a month for a broadband service that you can’t really use for broadband applications. It may also be paving the way for the 2016 launch of ViaSat-2, its next generation bird that’s projected to have double ViaSat-1’s capacity.

It’s no coincidence, however, that ViaSat is launching the plan in areas where it’s seeing the least demand for its service, according to SpaceNews. In areas like Maine and Alaska its small number of customers mean it has a satellite capacity to spare.

Whatever the reason, Exede’s new tweaked plans just became a lot more attractive for those who can get it. Its footprint is still limited to areas along the Eastern Seaboard, the Gulf Coast, all of Hawaii, Alaska and Florida and parts of California, Arizona and Minnesota. In addition to offering the new Freedom Plan, ViaSat said it would also boost the monthly caps on its lower tier Classic plans.


James Lee Tompkins

The Exede service does not “top out” at 12 Mbps. That is the advertised speed of the service. In reality, most people get much higher. My customers average 17 Mbps, but the lowest I’ve seen is 15.5 Mbps and the highest being 21 Mbps.
This is why Viasat is rated the highest in the nation for delivering what they advertise. Anyone on the newest satellite will get more than 12 Mbps. People on the older satellites (which advertise a 5 Mbps speed) are not so lucky.
When Viasat 1 first became available the usage tracker was not working so I decided to test the capabilities and was able to stream 1080p 3D movies on VUDU (around 9 Mbps required) and then I tried three iPads streaming Netflix at the same time with no stopping for buffering.


I have been an excede customer since Jan 2014 we are on the 15gb plan I would love if they would double that to 30 for the same price as I have read they might.I live in a rural area and they will never run cable here I have directv but it sure would be nice to be able to use Netflix more than a few times a month and to not feel so restricted on time spent online .I feel like we are paying a lot of money and the data caps should be increased for waht we are paying .Otherwise love the service!


i agree that limiting this new plan is not right if are going update plans offer it to everyone. I was really excited that I might be able to use my my internet like normal people use it for. like steaming movies. I have direct tv but i cant use any of the extras because it will eat thru my data and im stuck with slows speeds most of the month

Susan M Kornblut

I hate that too we pay a lot of money fora connection that is better than dsl but not as good as cable I think excede should increase our data caps otherwise I have been pleased with them and their customer service.


I believe that by limiting this to specific geographic areas they are severely restricting the attractiveness of the offering. I just returned from a 3 week vacation and having a satellite I could use @ my home (rural South Dakota) OR on the road (continental U.S.) would be a solid option (in spite of the fact that satellite latency is painful). For now I’ll simply stick w/ Verizon LTE and swallow their expensive pricing/plan. Offer this across the entire U.S. and the newly-nomadic-retiree set might jump all over it. How do you market it? Install “free” internet @ campgrounds (i.e. KOA) to show people how fast it is and build a list of potential customers.


This makes for great backup in rural areas where there is only one landline provider


I hope Exede rolls out this new plan to the areas they serve in California. Right now I average 40 GB per month on unlimited Verizon LTE. I tried HughesNet, but their service was slow and unreliable. Note to Comcast: LTE isn’t comparable to cable modems.

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