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Viasat working to keep people safe and connected during coronavirus outbreak

Company joins other ISPs in ‘Keep Americans Connected’ effort during the emergency

As people around the world take steps to protect themselves and their loved ones from coronavirus, many are taking their work and social lives home and online. That makes internet connectivity – and the service Viasat provides to rural and remote areas traditionally unserved by terrestrial providers – more important than ever.

In northern New York State, Art and Jenny Campbell have dramatically shifted their daily patterns to avoid risks associated with the virus. Viasat Internet has been key to making those changes. The couple’s two sons are home from schools that have temporarily closed campuses, and both are using Viasat to continue their studies.

“They closed my 23-year-old son’s university last Friday,” said Art, a resident of the small town of Carthage in northern New York State. “And my 16-year-old, Morgan, is home from high school until April 17. They’re both successfully doing school work via the internet.”

The Campbells run a small, family-owned business.

“My wife and I have always used it for business, email, Google, but we’ve used our internet more in the last week since this outbreak has come,” Art said. “I’m listening to the BBC and CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), NPR and other news feeds to get other viewpoints on what’s happening. During times like this, you want to use Google or Google Scholar to understand exactly what the media is talking about.”

For the Campbell family, Art said, internet access is vital – and never more so than now.

“Internet is infrastructure,” he said. “We have no internet other than Viasat, and it’s just as important as electricity and gas.”

A nationwide situation

Stories like that of the Campbells are unfolding across the country as people take steps to protect themselves from the threat of the coronavirus. And Viasat is pledging to keep people connected.

The company Monday announced its commitment to meet the Federal Communications Commission’s “Keep Americans Connected” pledge.

Viasat will work with its residential and small business customers to keep them connected, helping lessen potential health and economic impacts associated with the pandemic.

In alignment with the request the FCC has made to all Internet Service Providers, Viasat pledges for the next 60 days to:

  • Not terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay bills due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic
  • Waive any late fees any residential or small business customers incur because of economic circumstances related to the pandemic; and
  • Open its Wi-Fi hotspots, in conjunction with partners, to any American who needs them.

In addition, Viasat is evaluating other options to give its customers the access they need and the best experience possible during this global crisis. With more people working from home, and the increased need for updated information about the virus, Viasat anticipates an increase in daytime use, and is taking steps to adjust its technology to meet that demand.


Questions answered

Here are answers to a few questions we’ve heard so far from our customers and the media:

Q: Will Viasat make any changes to monthly data limits or to the speed limits that are applied after customers use a set amount of data? 

A: Viasat knows many of its customers are turning to the internet first for information and updates on the coronavirus, so Viasat is looking at various options to ensure customers’ needs are met and the network can provide maximum uptime.

Most of Viasat’s plans don’t have hard data caps. That enables Viasat to operate more like a wireless carrier – optimizing bandwidth and speed across its network to give customers continued access to the internet. That means you can always get online, but the fastest service likely will occur during hours when system-wide usage is low.

Q: Will any changes be the same for all versions of your service, or will they apply differently based on the plan or generation of satellite used?

A: Viasat will continue to ensure maximum network uptime so critical applications including email and web browsing will function as normal across all plans and satellite systems.

Viasat’s primary goal is to ensure our customers have reliable access to the internet. Viasat is closely monitoring the coronavirus situation so it can keep delivering the best internet service possible, and its technology is designed to do just that.

Q: Does the Viasat network have enough capacity for a big surge in data traffic? 

A: Viasat’s satellite and ground technology lets the company make network adjustments to meet changing traffic demands. Viasat engineers are already analyzing and forecasting changing usage demands based on anticipated work-from-home and remote education needs, so we can meet network usage spikes and increased demand.

“We understand this is an extremely unsettling time for many of our customers as the world confronts the threat of COVID-19,” Viasat CEO Mark Dankberg said. “Our goal is to help provide internet continuity to all of our customers who count on us to stay connected—whether at home or at work.

“We are committed to enable our customers to stay informed, productive and connected to friends, family, colleagues and loved ones.”

Stay tuned to the blog, our website and Viasat social media for future updates.

Using Viasat Internet to work from home

If you’re among the many working from home during the coronavirus outbreak, but live outside the cable and fiber zones, Viasat Internet may be a good option.

Here’s why:

  • It’s available almost anywhere. Viasat covers 96% of the U.S. population with broadband internet speeds.
  • If you live in an area with poor or no cell service, our VoIP service is a great solution; you can still have the real-time business conversations you’d typically have in the office.
  • Viasat works great for email, web research, cloud apps and large file downloads. Due to the higher latency inherent in satellite internet, it’s not always a good option for those working over a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or needing remote desktop capabilities.
  • Viasat offers both business and residential plans. What’s the difference? Business plans get higher upload and download speeds, its connections are prioritized over residential and it comes with persistent IP addresses and option to add a multi-line voice service. If you choose residential, you’ll get good speeds, built-in Wi-Fi, and the ability to add home voice service.

Go to Viasat Internet for more information.

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About the Author:

Jane Reuter
Jane Reuter has a long history as a newspaper journalist in Colorado. She works as a corporate communications writer out of Viasat's Denver office.