I’ve written several pieces about the difficulty of obtaining broadband Internet service in rural America. There are few rural residents who have the array of options available to most city dwellers and for myself, my only real option is satellite.
For the past two years I was under contract with Hughesnet to provide satellite based high-speed service. While it worked there were lots of problems. The speeds were often not close to what was promised, there was a daily cap on how much you could download without being penalized, it was overly expensive, and technical support was Asian based and the language barrier would drive even the most tolerant person insane.
A competitor of Hughesnet is Wildblue and while I never experienced it I became aware that it was even slower and more fraught with problems. About a years ago, Wildblue was purchased by a company named ViaSat who introduced a new satellite ISP technology that made promises far beyond anything previously true
about any satellite Internet service. They called the technology Exede and promised download speeds of up to 12 mbps (mega bits per second) which is 12 times what is was promised by Hughesnet.
As my contract with Hughesnet was expiring I took a serious look at Exede. At the Dayton Hamvention I saw a demonstration and talked to several persons who were using it. I contacted a local provider and arranged to visit his home and have a little hands on, real-time, experience. I came away from all this pretty convinced Exede was a better alternative than continuing my Hughesnet service, even though it would require entering into yet another two-year contract.
So, for the past four months now I’ve been and Exede customer and here’s what I can tell you from my experience, it beats Hughesnet all to hell.
- It is much faster. While only promised up to 12 mbps I am actually experiencing consistent speeds averaging 16 mbps and sometimes closer to 18.
- The technical support is US based employing people who speak English as a primary language.
- I have had minimal technical problems and what few have arisen have required mostly a simple reset of the router. That happened with Hughesnet also but with greater frequency. Actually I’ve not had to contact tech support for problems, just to ask general questions about the Exede service I was a little uncertain about.
- The cost for a monthly allotment of 7.5 Gb (giga bytes) is about the same as Hughesnet, $49.95.
- In streaming video I have never experienced buffering with Exede. With Hughesnet I could rarely watch a simple YouTube video without lots of buffering. We can not enjoy a Netflix video without buffering but we have to be careful in how often we do it because of the 7.5 Gb monthly cap.
- If you exceed the cap with either company they “FAP” you. Simply put, if you go over your allotted bandwidth they slow your system down to below dial up. Hughesnet kills you for up to 48 hours and Exede for the remainder of your billing period. Both companies will let you buy more space and immediately get back up to normal speed. With Hughesnet it cost $5 for each occurrence while Exede sells you an additional Gb for $9.99 a clip.
- Both providers also permit a middle of the night free period. With Exede you can upload or download unlimited amounts of data between midnight and 5:00 a.m. without penalty. So, if you’re a night owl or have a means of scheduling your data needs during that period you’ll rarely get FAPed.
- Both providers also offer upgrades that offer higher data caps.
So, after four months I’ve decided I made the right decision to go with Exede but there are things I wish they would consider changing. For example, instead of a monthly cap make it a daily cap. Then allow the customer to roll over any unused capacity for use at another time. If I pay for 300 Mb per day but only use 200 Mb, let me roll over the unused 100 Mb for another day.
In response to Exede, Hughesnet has launched a new satellite and claims to be coming to the market with a new service they call 4G. They have released no information about expected performance, services, costs, and their support will stay in Asia.
If you’re interested in satellite service, whether it be Exede or Hughesnet, I can recommend an installer who has done several jobs for me. He was the person who originally installed my Hughesnet and serviced it on a couple of occasions. He is also the one I sought out to install my Exede system and it has worked perfectly. His name is Charlie Behn from Moscow, OH. Charlie’s company is CB Communications and the phone number is 513-277-1267.