Technology news publisher CNET has named long-time NRTC partner Viasat as the “Best Satellite Provider” for 2021. The company based its decision on several factors, including consumer pricing, availability, speed performance and data capacity.
Low earth orbiting (LEO) satellite systems, such as SpaceX’s Starlink service, are capturing significant media attention, CNET said in its announcement of the award. “That said, in areas where satellite internet is the only practical broadband option, residents will likely have their choice of Viasat or HughesNet. Plan pricing is about the same with both providers, but Viasat plans come with more data and, in some locations, more speed, as well, with up to 100 Mbps available in select areas,” CNET said.
It also called Viasat “one of the more affordable wireless internet providers.”
Alana Pilkington, NRTC’s VP, Broadband Technologies, said that Viasat also has been especially noteworthy for helping to keep rural areas connected during the COVID-19 pandemic. In many parts of the country, people working and learning at home relied on satellite broadband service and Viasat filled that need.
“We are committed to closing the digital divide in the U.S. by offering consumers more reliable and affordable high-speed internet options and we are working hard to bring better broadband connectivity to more unserved and underserved areas nationwide,” said Steven Mesnick, Viasat's VP, Sales and Marketing, Residential and Business Internet Services, in a press release. Mesnick referred to the Viasat-3 series of geostationary-orbiting satellites, which the company hopes eventually will provide global 100 Mbps coverage and expand availability in North America.
Pilkington also noted that NRTC’s partnership with the satellite provider dates back 16 years to days when it was “WildBlue” before being acquired by Viasat. It has been an important relationship for NRTC and many of its members.
“For some NRTC members satellite internet was their entry into the internet service provider world and led them to expand with fixed wireless and eventually into fiber to the home, which benefits NRTC Broadband Solutions and rural communities,” she said.