Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Viasat has been working nonstop to manage the increased demands on its network. Now that more people are working and learning from home, Viasat has intelligently implemented systems to make sure that all customers can carry on with their jobs, educate their children, and stay connected to the latest news and their families.
One method currently being used to efficiently distribute the internet service to all users is its network management policy. While network management can be frustrating to some users, its place in satellite internet service is necessary to make sure that all users have the best possible experience.
Network Management Policy Help Ensure Fair Distribution of Bandwidth
Some of Viasat’s internet plans provide unlimited data to its customers, however after reaching a certain usage threshold, users are subject to potentially being slowed down. While Viasat has more bandwidth than any other satellite internet provider, there is a finite amount of capacity that must be shared among subscribers. Unlike some other satellite internet providers where speeds may be reduced to a crawl no matter how busy the network is, Viasat’s unlimited data customers are only slowed down if the network is busy. Therefore, monitoring the amount of data users consume is a way to ensure all users have the best possible experience.
Without this management, heavy internet users would eat up the entire resource and impact the experience of many subscribers. Every user deserves a certain level of service, and the only way to ensure that everyone gets their fair share is by managing data.
Sharing Network Resources is Vital to Experience
There are two ways to approach the sharing of network resources. The first is to let the users fight over bandwidth, which isn’t a fair approach at all. The second is to use intelligent data management, like shaping, to moderate video quality as a means of letting everyone access data.
For example, a user can watch a video at a variety of quality levels, such as HD or Super HD. If the network is reaching capacity, however, the user’s video quality may drop slightly so that other users can use the internet. Further, some Viasat internet plans come with the Video Data Extender, which allows users to reduce their streaming video quality, also known as video shaping, and gives users choices on how to consume their data. For example, if users on the Video Data Extender plan prefer watching less hours of high-definition video instead of more hours at slightly lower resolution, Viasat will give them the option to disable the feature. In many cases, the drop in video quality is often unnoticeable and provides a flexible means of conserving data for all.
While users prefer a higher resolution video, if the network enables you to still access a video without impacting the experience of others, we think it’s a choice most of customers will make. For those with unlimited data plans, there is a set monthly usage threshold for each plan. When users reach that limit, their data usage will be deprioritized behind others when there is network congestion. The drop in download or streaming speed also means that the bandwidth is freed up for other users that have not reached their usage threshold to access the network and stay connected during network congestion.
Regardless of the type of plan that a user has, there are ways that everyone can lower their data usage. Not only does it save customers from reaching their threshold of data, but it also fosters a community of internet users and ensures that there’s enough data for everyone to have a positive experience. Users can limit Super HD streaming, and, if available, they can enable the Video Data Extender. For more ways to make your data stretch further, visit Viasat’s help article.
Proactive Approach: Viasat Exploring Active Management System
In line with the video shaping strategy, Viasat is currently exploring new ways to spread the load across the network to further enhance the experience across all subscribers. Viasat knows that the peak hours for internet consumption are usually around 9 p.m. local time, so we are always implementing ways to actively manage the network during that time.
Other strategies are being researched as well. Similar to electricity rates, there are peak and off-peak hours for internet usage. Viasat is exploring options to provide users with data that will not count towards their data usage during off-peak hours.
Another potential avenue in the future is to use artificial intelligence (AI) to understand users’ preferences when it comes to data usage. This system could automatically analyze data and optimize individual user accounts to meet their specific needs – without a subscriber having to do anything besides use the internet as they normally would. Perhaps a user would rather have a high download speed and would give up some streaming in Super HD in return, watching at standard-definition rather than high-definition, for example. This is another way that Viasat is pushing its innovation to further optimize its network to provide the best service to each user.
Viasat is vertically integrated which means that it develops or has control over the entire infrastructure, including the satellites and network. With complete control over its internet service delivery, Viasat is able to rapidly change and optimize the network. For that reason, home grown innovation is something that can quickly happen and reach subscribers. During the coronavirus pandemic, Viasat has already been able to quickly manage its network to meet the shifting demands of customers who are sheltering in place, working from home, and staying connected with loved ones through video chat.
Supporting Viasat Customers into the Future
Viasat is analyzing the data on their network to determine the current usage model, but it’s also forecasting how that could change in the near future. With many companies extending their work-from-home policies and e-learning becoming more popular, additional usage spikes and increased data demands are expected. With the upcoming launch of the ViaSat-3 constellation, the company is anticipating an increased network capacity, global coverage and an enhanced customer experience.