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Bend Broadband vs. Smithville vs. Viasat Internet plan comparison


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Researched by
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Reviewed by
Bri FieldAssigning Editor
Updated 6/26/24

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Bend Broadband brand
Staff rating
3.8
Customer rating
4.0
(2)

  • Plans starting at $54.99
  • Download speeds up to 1Gbps
Smithville brand
Staff rating
3.8

  • Plans starting at $29.05
  • Download speeds up to 1 Gbps
Viasat
Staff rating
2.2
Customer rating
3.7
(4)

  • Plans starting at $30.00
  • Download speeds up to 100 Mbps
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Bend Broadband brand
Staff rating
3.8

Big speeds and big value from a small-town provider

BendBroadband offers a surprisingly strong internet service to the towns around Bend, Oregon. Despite the occasional customer service issue, we think it’s one of the most compelling options in the area.

What we like

  • Competitive pricing
  • No contracts
  • Unlimited data options
What we dislike

  • Regular price increases
  • No true budget plan
Savings tip: Bend Broadband often has sign-up promotions for first-time customers. Call to ask a rep about current deals and discounts.
Check deals
Smithville brand
Staff rating
3.8

Fast, inexpensive internet for rural Hoosiers

Rural south and central Indianans can get this company’s affordable, high-speed, reliable fiber internet with no contract and no data cap. And if you don’t have access to Smithville yet, you might soon. It’s expanding fast!

What we like

  • High-speed, reliable rural internet
  • Low cost
  • No contract
What we dislike

  • No self-setup option
  • Costly customer support
  • Possible legacy DSL speeds
Savings tip: Smithville often has sign-up promotions for first-time customers. Call to ask a rep about current deals and discounts.
Check deals
Viasat
Staff rating
2.2

Widely available satellite internet with speeds faster than HughesNet

Viasat (formerly also Exede internet) can’t keep up with cable or fiber, but it’s a relatively fast and widely available choice for satellite internet. Viasat offers more speed and data than HughesNet, but can't match Starlink for upload speed and latency.

What we like

  • Fast speeds for satellite
  • Variety of plans
  • Wide availability
What we dislike

  • High prices
  • Caps on high-speed data
Savings tip: Viasat often has sign-up promotions for first-time customers. Call to ask a rep about current deals and discounts.
Check deals
Bend Broadband brand
Value
4.0
Surprisingly strong value for a local provider

BendBroadband looks like a local brand, but it's actually owned by TDS, which services over 1,000 communities across the country(1). Still, it offers a surprisingly strong value proposition. BendBroadband's plans are competitively priced, there are no contracts required, and the installation and equipment fees are reasonable. Taken together, it feels like you get your money’s worth, which is ultimately the most important thing when assessing value.

Our one knock here is that there’s no true budget plan available for those who don’t need 300+ Mbps internet. For single-person households, 100 Mbps is often plenty fast, so this could be a drawback if you live alone—or with a couple of people who don't stream a lot or work from home.

Pricing details vary by location. Visit
Bend Broadband's website
or call 1-844-733-6485 to speak with a rep.
See pricing
Smithville brand
Value
4.0
Uncommonly high speeds and low costs for rural internet

Smithville Communications offers just one fiber internet plan, serving up 1 Gbps and unlimited data for less than about $0.70 per Mbps. Compared to the US benchmark plan for similar service ($134.62) (1), Smithville is a pretty sweet deal. And you won’t have to sign a contract to get it.

This low price is particularly impressive for fiber in rural areas since building infrastructure outside of urban centers can be incredibly costly. Smithville could easily charge higher rates for bringing fiber to rural Indiana, but it doesn’t. And we applaud that.

Pricing details vary by location. Visit
Smithville's website
or call 1-844-719-8071 to speak with a rep.
See pricing
Viasat
Value
1.5
Better value than HughesNet

In remote areas where cable and fiber aren’t available, satellite internet may be your only option. Viasat offers a wide range of satellite internet plans, but only some of them offer good performance and value for your money compared to other satellite internet providers.

The best plans are Viasat’s Unlimited plans. Those with at least 25 Mbps of speed and 100 GB of high-speed data will give you the ability to do basic web browsing. Viasat’s most expensive plan, with 150 Mbps of download speed and 500 GB of high-speed data, is the best plan for larger households. It also gives you the most data for your dollar.

We wouldn’t recommend Viasat’s Liberty plans because the internet speed and data limits are far too restrictive. If you don’t mind sacrificing a bit of speed or data usage to save money, HughesNet’s 25 Mbps plans are less costly than Viasat’s equivalent plans. For a similar price, Starlink can achieve lower latency than Viasat, though Starlink is available only in limited locations and has customer service issues.

It's also important to think about price hikes. With Viasat, all plan prices go up after three months, in the range of $20–$100 depending on your plan. You can't get out of these increases because you'll have to sign a contract. It's a bummer, but we like that prices are guaranteed for two years starting in month four.

Pricing details vary by location. Visit
Viasat's website
or call 1-833-754-1212 to speak with a rep.
See pricing
Bend Broadband brand
Performance
4.5
BendBroadband delivers with excellent performance

Performance-wise, BendBroadband holds its own against competing internet service providers. There are plans available ranging from 300 Mbps to 1 Gbps, and reports indicate that the service is reliable. If we had to knock BendBroadband for anything performance-wise, it would be a lack of speeds above 1 Gbps—some cable competitors are offering up to 2 Gbps speeds, and we’d like to see the same from BendBroadband. These faster speeds can be useful for customers who download a large number of media files or frequently watch multiple concurrent 4K streams, for example. There are also data caps to be aware of, with overage charges up to $30 per month.

Available speeds vary by location. Call 1-844-733-6485 to speak with a Bend Broadband rep or
go to its website.
Smithville brand
Performance
5.0
Get 1 Gbps speeds and unlimited data—unless you’re in a legacy DSL area

Fiber is the fastest and most reliable type of internet available, and download speeds max out around 5 Gbps. Smithville fiber reaches only 1 Gbps, but for most people frustrated by slow or unreliable rural internet, it’ll feel like your browser just got a turbo boost. You’ll also see 1 Gbps upload speeds, which is less common among non-fiber internet types like DSL and cable. Everyone—from heavy streamers and online gamers to remote workers and avid YouTube creators—will have plenty of juice (and unlimited data) when they need it.

Unfortunately, there’s one caveat: In some areas, Smithville is still using legacy DSL infrastructure, so you might not be able to sign up for fiber just yet. Smithville is phasing out this infrastructure as it lays more fiber lines, and it was named one of the Top 100 Fiber-to-the-Home organizations by Broadband Communities magazine for its efforts in helping bring fiber internet to rural communities (2). Luckily, Smithville won’t lock you into a contract, so if you’re not happy with your DSL, you can cancel any time and come back later when you have access to fiber.

Available speeds vary by location. Call 1-844-719-8071 to speak with a Smithville rep or
go to its website.
Viasat
Performance
2.0
Handles everything from browsing to streaming, but data limits will hold you back

Of the two main satellite internet providers in the US, Viasat offers faster speeds (up to 150 Mbps). Viasat delivers good enough performance for basic web browsing and some light video streaming, but even its most expensive plans limit the amount of high-speed data you can use before speeds are throttled.

Additionally, both HughesNet and Viasat have very high latency. This latency, the delay that happens when data is traveling from the satellite to your home, makes even a 150 Mbps connection feel slow. Starlink, a new satellite internet provider, uses satellites closer to the earth, so it is able to offer even faster speeds (up to 100Mbps) and much lower latency than Viasat. For now, Starlink isn’t available in as many locations and performance isn’t as consistent, but it has similar pricing to Viasat and could be a strong alternative for some.

In terms of real-world performance, Viasat slightly outperforms HughesNet in terms of upload speed and latency, according to data from Ookla. (1) Nevertheless, Viasat won’t ever be a better choice than a cable or fiber connection due to the inherent limitations of satellite internet. Viasat also suffers from outages, which can sometimes last days even when the sky is clear, according to user reports from Downdetector. (2)

Available speeds vary by location. Call 1-833-754-1212 to speak with a Viasat rep or
go to its website.
Bend Broadband brand
Equipment and installation
4.0
A fantastic mesh Wi-Fi system and affordable installation

BendBroadband has jumped on the mesh network bandwagon and offers what it calls TDS Wi-Fi+. For those unfamiliar with the term, a mesh network is a system of multiple wireless routers that help spread your network over a larger area without losing signal strength. The result is fuller coverage of your entire home, with no weird dead spots or dropped connections. It’s often a big improvement on traditional single-router setups.

The TDS Wi-Fi+ set up is about $15 per month, plus $5 per month for each additional extender you need (most homes should be fine with the default). Customers can opt for a cheaper, standard equipment setup for $10 per month. However, many customers report problems with this router and opt to get their own(2).

BendBroadband also offers options for installation. You can opt for a free self-install kit. Or you can choose professional installation for around $50, which is one of the lower installation fees we’ve seen. In areas that aren’t eligible for self-install, the professional fee is waived, so it won’t cost you anything to get set up.

Equipment and installation options can vary widely depending on
Bend Broadband plans
available in your area.
View plans
Smithville brand
Equipment and installation
3.5
Free equipment, but you’ll have to pay for activation and possibly installation

Smithville provides a wireless router to all customers with no additional rental fees, which is a good deal. You will pay an activation fee of $25, and if you need any lines run or jacks installed, you’ll pay for those too.

You do have the option of using your own equipment, but you’ll have to contact customer service to find out if your gear is compatible because this info isn’t available on the Smithville website. And if you need help troubleshooting your equipment, you’re on your own.

Equipment and installation options can vary widely depending on
Smithville plans
available in your area.
View plans
Viasat
Equipment and installation
2.5
Lease equipment for a fair price and get started quickly with professional installation

Getting a satellite internet connection up and running is more involved than a traditional wired connection. Viasat requires you to lease its equipment for $14.99 per month and have it installed professionally. The leasing and installation fees are about the same as HughesNet, and Viasat sometimes waives the $99 cost of installation for qualifying new customers. This is in contrast to Starlink, which requires you to pay several hundred dollars for its equipment upfront and install it yourself.

When you sign up for Viasat, you’ll usually get an appointment for installation within three to five days, and the process itself takes two to three hours. A technician will mount the dish where it can get the clearest view of the southern sky, either on your house or on a pole mount for $75 extra. Since the equipment is leased, when you cancel your service, you’ll be responsible for removing and returning the dish, transceiver, modem, cables, and any other hardware to Viasat.

Equipment and installation options can vary widely depending on
Viasat plans
available in your area.
View plans
Bend Broadband brand
Customer experience
3.0
Occasional customer service hiccups hamper an otherwise excellent ISP

Living with BendBroadband has its ups and downs. The day-to-day experience is solid for most customers, and the speeds seem to be consistent with what’s advertised. However, a few customers complain about regular price hikes and unreliable service that drops occasionally. Some customers also report poor customer service over the phone.

Because BendBroad is now owned by TDS, we would expect some changes in customer service moving forward. However, TDS rates about the same for customer service as Bend, so you may experience different issues and still feel the overall level of satisfaction.

Visit Bend Broadband's website
or call 1-844-733-6485 for more information on contracts and money-back guarantees.
Go to provider
Smithville brand
Customer experience
3.0
Around-the-clock tech support—at a cost

Smithville offers 24/7 tech support to all customers, which is helpful if you have trouble with its router, need wiring repairs or a jack replacement, or your service is otherwise interrupted and it’s the company's fault.

If a visiting technician discovers the problem was out of Smithville’s control, you’ll have to pay a $35 service fee and $90 technician fee for help. Most companies charge you only one of these fees. Smithville will waive these charges if you buy its Connection Protection plan for at least one year, at a cost of $3.95 per month. But technicians still won’t help you with your own equipment.

Visit Smithville's website
or call 1-844-719-8071 for more information on contracts and money-back guarantees.
Go to provider
Viasat
Customer experience
3.0
Decent customer experience, even without paying extra for premium support

Viasat customer service has a dedicated phone number, responsive online chat, and troubleshooting FAQs on its website for all its customers. This is similar to HughesNet’s customer support, and it surpasses Starlink’s lackluster customer service.

Viasat’s best customer service is reserved for those who pay an additional $8.99 per month for EasyCare. EasyCare gives you access to a priority support phone number, free service calls to your address, and discounted annual dish location adjustment. Viasat has additional offerings, including Viasat Voice (VoIP phone service), Viasat Shield (security software), and DISH (satellite TV)–but you won’t save much by bundling.

Visit Viasat's website
or call 1-833-754-1212 for more information on contracts and money-back guarantees.
Go to provider
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Bend Broadband
4.0
(2)
5 Star
50%
4 Star
0%
3 Star
50%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
B
Brittany from West Chester , OH
Bend Broadband Customer for 1+ years
Reviewed on: 8-29-2022
Okay okay I’ll be there in about a minute. I don’t have a phone number on my account so I’m just. Okay okay I’ll let you know when I get home from the.
M
Maryfrom Bend, OR
Bend Broadband Customer for 4+ years
Reviewed on: 6-22-2022
The internet speed has improved,as has connectivity. They need to lower their prices and improve their customer service.
Smithville
0.0
(0)
5 Star
0%
4 Star
0%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Viasat
3.7
(4)
5 Star
50%
4 Star
25%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
25%
E
Elisabethfrom Stockton , CA
Viasat Customer for 1+ years
Reviewed on: 5-7-2023
We've used Via sat for a few years and it's been nice. We have signal issues every once and a while but there really aren't very many options in the area we live. We are outside of town.
T
Terrifrom Knapp Creek, NY
Viasat Customer for 1+ years
Reviewed on: 4-20-2023
Viasat is one of the only providers I can get because we live away from town. We like it and it does what we need. We added a heater to the dish to help melt snow in winter and that has been a good thing.
H
Heribertofrom Newburgh, NY
Viasat Customer for 4+ years
Reviewed on: 3-7-2023
We live just outside of where we can high speed internet and we thought we were going to not be happy with satellite internet. It's been really good for what we do with it. We are older and don't use it as much as some people do I'm sure, but I would recommend it if you can't get one of the big cable brands
J
Jamesfrom Decatur, IN
Viasat Customer for 4+ years
Reviewed on: 8-29-2022
I live in a rural area, and find my internet satisfactory. It is expense when you compare it to urban areas nearby, when you compare it to speed and reliability.
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Endnotes and sources
1. "About Us," TDS. Accessed 15 December 2022.2. "How is BendBroadband?" Reddit. Accessed 15 December 2022.
Endnotes and sources
1. “2022 Urban Rate Survey – Fixed Broadband Service,” FCC. Accessed 9 December 2022.2. “2022 Fiber-To-The-Home Top 100.” Broadband Communities Magazine. Accessed 9 December 2022.
Endnotes and sources
1. “Starlink Hits 100+ Mbps Download Speed in 15 Countries During Q4 2021,” Ookla. Accessed 6 June 2022.2. “Viasat current problems and outages,” Downdetector. Accessed 6 June 2022.