I live on a beautiful road in the Beechwoods, with one downside. There's no cable or DSL service to my house for high speed internet access. Satellite and Verizon 3G wireless are my only 'high speed' options. I've had Hughesnet (formerly Direcway) as my satellite internet provider, backed up more recently with a Verizon 3G MiFi hotspot. Hughesnet has been adequate, but still pales to wired cable or DSL connections. The speed, at best, is 1.2Mb to 1.5Mb down, and often far less.
So I was excited when ViaSat (aka Wildblue) launched a new satellite service, Exede, touting download speeds up to 12Mb and uploads as high as 3Mb. Could it really deliver? Well, today I switched.
The installer just left, and I have to say I'm pretty impressed. I ran a testmy.net speed test, and got 10Mb down and 730 up. He said that the firmware will be updating for the next few hours, and speeds will improve, particularly on the upload side.
I just joined a Skype group video call with 2 friends, and it worked. That would have been impossible with Hughesnet, where even a single one-on-one Skype video connection is iffy. Exede, just like Hughesnet, does have the time lag that's a given with satellite internet connections, so Skype isn't quite 'in sync'. But it felt about the same lag as when I Skype from my cable connection in the city to a friend in New Zealand or Peru.
With speeds in the 10Mb/sec download range, it's also possible to download a Netflix movie or tv episode from iTunes in a reasonable amount of time. Exede, like Hughesnet, does have download limits, but they're structured differently than HUghes. With Exede, the plan you buy has a monthly download allotment ($50 for 7.5Gb, $80 for 15 Gb and $130 for 25Gb). With Hughesnet, you get a daily allotment (on their $80 per month plan, you get 350Mb per day, but there's a cap-free period from 2AM to 5AM daily, and you can roll the unused amount from one day to the next day). So with Hughes, there really isn't a good option to download a full length movie within your cap limits unless you do it in the middle of the night.
Exede's monthly bucket (versus Hughes' daily bucket) probably works better for people who split their time between the city and country, too — because when you're in the city, you're not using up your allotment.
Are there downsides to Exede? Sure. There are those caps, which can be irksome if you're a heavy video downloader and are used to the 'all you can eat' buffet of cable or Fios. There is the time lag inherent in satellite, which impacts online gaming and makes VPN (virtual private network) and virutal desktop connections sluggish. Satellite internet connections can be hampered by bad weather, particularly heavy rain (known as 'rain fade'). You also need to have a clear line-of-sight path to the satellite in the southern sky from the location where the dish is installed, and the Exede installer said that the Exede satellite (Via-Sat1) is a little further down in the sky than the Hughes satellites.
Overall, though, it looks like Exede is a big improvement over Hughes. I'll be looking closely to see what happens with speeds during peak hours, and also as Exede brings on more subscribers who are sharing the satellite bandwirth.
If you're thinking of installing Exede, I strongly recommend that you go through the local distributor, Cronk's Electronics in Liberty, 845-795-3231 rather than through the Exede website. The prices for installation and service are the same, the folks at Cronk's are great. I've used them for my satellite tv and internet for years, and they're always responsive and show up on time.