Local internet service providers (ISPs) sometimes lack a certain something. They might be expensive or fail to reach the speeds of national providers. Omni Fiber wants to buck that trend with speedy internet at an affordable price and the promise of local customer service, but can it deliver? Spoiler alert—yes, it seems it can.
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.
Omni Fiber offers excellent value. All three plans are competitively priced—the 1 gig plan is on par with the most affordable options we’ve reviewed, and the 2 gig plan is actually the most affordable plan of this speed we’ve seen from any provider. In addition to the low package prices, you also get equipment included at no extra cost, which further increases the value of the service.
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.
Omni Fiber performance is outstanding. Speeds are fast, with plans ranging from 500 Mbps to 2 Gbps. All three plans feature symmetrical upload speeds, which means the upload speeds are equal to the download speeds—this makes a huge difference for sharing content, particularly large files like videos. For reference, a typical upload speed for a cable provider is one tenth of the download speed (and often quite a bit lower). Finally, all Omni Fiber customers get unlimited data, which is a big thumbs up in our book.
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)
Omni Fiber’s equipment is fairly standard. The provider offers two choices: a standard gateway that’s free of charge, and a Whole Home Wi-Fi gateway you can upgrade to. The standard version, which Omni confusingly calls “premium Wi-Fi,” is a standard Wi-Fi modem and router, while the Whole Home version uses extenders to cover larger areas. It’s recommended for homes larger than about 2,000 square feet.
Mesh networks tend to work a little better than Wi-Fi extenders, but we still think the Omni Fiber system will be adequate for most homes. If you want to use your own equipment, you'll need to make sure it's compatible with a fiber connection but either way, there's no extra charge!
Omni Fiber also gets high marks for installation. There is no installation fee or other cost involved, and the technician will ensure your equipment is properly placed to cover as much of your home as possible. The only potential concern is that Omni Fiber is still building out its infrastructure, so—depending on where you live—there may be some additional construction involved.
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.
If there’s an area to be cautious with Omni Fiber, it’s customer experience. The provider promises personal, local customer support and service to its subscribers. However, remember that this is a relatively small company that is still building and growing. Omni also doesn’t have the same resources as national companies when it comes to providing support—for example, there’s no chat option yet.
On the other hand, local customer service certainly sounds better than the automated and outsourced support many large providers offer. Omni Fiber also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, which is promising.
Finally, it’s important to keep in mind that Omni Fiber is a very new company. While this isn’t inherently a bad thing, there could be growing pains. Issues like billing problems or service outages could crop up as the company gets its infrastructure sorted out.
Omni Fiber will be available first in the Ohio towns of Clyde, Dover, and Shelby. It plans to expand to small and mid-size markets in the Midwest "as quickly as possible," CEO Darrick Zucco said in a press release in August of 2022. (1)
The company, founded in 2022, has not yet been studied by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in either its annual performance tests (2) or its rate study (3).
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.