A Guide to Viasat Compatible Modems
To take advantage of Viasat internet service, you’ll need both a modem and a router. So when thinking about the best device for your Viasat service, you have to consider both functionalities. A modem is what brings internet service into your home, while a router distributes the internet signal to all of the devices in your house.
In order to help you understand the best possible options, we’ve compiled this in-depth guide on Viasat compatible modem-router combinations along with information on devices that are only modems. If a unit has only a modem, you can still connect to it via an Ethernet cable. Also, you can connect a Wi-Fi router to it and use that to broadcast wireless internet throughout your home.
Do you need a modem to use Viasat internet?
You don’t necessarily need a modem when signing up for Viasat internet service because they provide one for you, and for this, you’ll pay $15/month. The modem that Viasat supplies also has a router inside it, meaning by signing up for the service, you get a modem and router automatically. But for many customers, the device provided by Viasat is less than ideal, so they decide to bring their own modem or modem-router combination. Also, the $15/month fee can add up over time, so buying a modem outright is often more cost-effective.
Why get your own modem with Viasat?
Some people would rather use their own modem—and for various reasons. For one, you may want to buy a modem that you could use with another internet service provider (ISP) in the future. This could be the case because you plan on moving within the next couple of years or you anticipate that another ISP may extend service to the area where you live now. Others are simply more comfortable being able to choose a modem with the specs they want. For these customers, using the modem that Viasat provides could be a limiting factor.
Regardless of why you want to hand-pick your modem for your Viasat, there are a number of options to choose from. Even though they each have their own strong points, every modem in this list can work with Viasat service. As of this writing, Viasat speeds peak out at around 100Mbps. This is primarily because their service comes in via satellite, which doesn’t provide internet as swift as the top speeds you get with cable or fiber connections. But by using the modems in this guide, you get all the throughput you need to enjoy smooth satellite internet service.
Best modem for fast performance
The standout feature of the Motorola MB8611 is that it provides speeds up to 2.5Gbps through its Ethernet port. This means that it can handle up to 2500Mbps of internet without any noticeable latency. If you purchase this modem, you can enjoy everything Viasat has to offer, and you’ll be in an excellent position to connect to future ISPs if you happen to move or change carriers.
With the Motorola MB8611, however, you only get a modem. To get Wi-Fi signal to the rest of your home, you have to hook up a Wi-Fi router. This may be an inconvenience for people who only want one device for both their modem and router needs.
On the other hand, for people who want to use Viasat’s fastest internet plan for laptop or PC gaming, the Motorola MB8611 would be a solid choice. There’s no chance of it causing lag between your internet signal and your computer, and as long as you have an Ethernet cable, you can hook up and enjoy fast internet.
For people who work from home, the Motorola MB8611 may also be a good choice if you don’t mind connecting to it using an Ethernet cable.
The MB8611 receives its signal via a cable connection from your Viasat satellite dish. To get speeds up to 2.5Gbps, such as if you use another provider in the future, the MB8611 uses what’s known as DOCSIS 3.0. The acronym stands for “data over cable service interface specifications.” This not only brings internet service into your home but ensures it’s converted into something your computers and devices can understand. It’s able to do so quickly, making it the current standard for cable modem manufacturers.
Best overall modem/router combination
The Netgear Orbi not only provides high throughput, it also gives you a broad range of coverage. It may even be able to provide speeds faster than the Motorola MB8611, topping out around 3Gbps. Although you won’t be able to access these speeds with Viasat internet service, this modem can be a good choice if you expect to switch to an ISP with faster speeds at some point in the future.
The Netgear Orbi’s standout feature is its ability to provide 5,000 square feet of Wi-Fi coverage. For many homeowners, that means you can get service no matter where you are in the home and even while outside. So, if you have a few gamers in your family and a home office, for example, the Orbi should be able to give you more than ample coverage.
You can also set up multiple networks using an Orbi. For example, you could set up a network that only adults use and another designed for the kids, choosing a different name and password for each one. This is straightforward in the Orbi app, enabling you to implement parental controls, perform speed tests, and more.
In addition to the Orbi app, you also get Netgear’s anti-theft and anti-virus protection. While this may not give you all the protection you need, it could be a useful extra layer between those in your household and the potential cyber threats on the internet.
One potential drawback of the Orbi is its shape and size. While some modems, like the Motorola MB8611 described above, have a thin, upright profile, the Orbi has a rounded shape. As a result, it may not fit as easily in limited or narrow spaces. That said, some people may find the Orbi’s shape aesthetically pleasing and choose to display it on a desk or shelf.
Another downside of the Orbi is it isn’t as versatile as some other modems, primarily because it doesn’t come with USB ports. This limits the number of different kinds of connections you can make. For example, although you could connect a wireless printer to it via Wi-Fi, you wouldn’t be able to connect a printer directly via USB.
Most versatile modem/router combination
The Netgear Nighthawk has the next generation of DOCSIS technology, the 3.1 release, giving it fast throughput like the Motorola MB8611. And like the Netgear Orbi, it provides you with both a modem and Wi-Fi router so that you can broadcast internet throughout your home.
The most significant advantage of the Netgear Nighthawk is its variety of connection options. It comes with four Ethernet ports, and has two USB ports. This makes it possible to connect storage devices, printers, and more directly to your Nighthawk.
On the downside, the Nighthawk doesn’t have the same amount of coverage as the Orbi, nor the speeds of the Orbi and the Motorola MB8611. It can cover up to 1,800 square feet, which for many homes, is more than enough. While its Wi-Fi speed tops out at 1900Mbps, this is well beyond the speed that Viasat internet service can deliver, so you’ll be well covered if you choose this option.
Best inexpensive modem/router combination
Arris Surfboard SBG10
If you want to save some cash and don’t need many physical connections, your best bet is the Arris Surfboard SBG10 modem/router combo. This device costs around $115 and provides users with the basic connectivity and speed options they need for Viasat internet service.
Why is the Arris Surfboard SBG10 less expensive? It’s lacking some of the features you’ll find in other devices in this list, but most users won’t know the difference. For example, you only get two Ethernet ports instead of four, which means you can’t connect as many devices. You also don’t get as much speed. It can handle around 400Mbps, but that is more than enough for Viasat service.
For some users, however, these could be deal-breakers, especially the limited number of hardwired connections. This is often important when your internet service is on the slower side.
What to look for in a Viasat modem
There are a few things you should prioritize when shopping for a Viasat modem, primarily due to the kind of internet service Viasat provides:
It has to accept a coaxial cable connection
A coaxial cable is what brings cable TV service—and internet—into your home. The cable is round, and it has a small pin in the middle of it. Viasat transmits its internet signal through cable, so a modem that accepts a fiber-optic connection, for example, wouldn’t work.
It should have the ability to connect to your devices directly
Satellite internet, like Viasat provides, isn’t as fast as some other options. So there may be times when it’s best to connect to your modem through a wired connection to ensure you get as much bandwidth as possible. Wi-Fi signals can be unpredictable when it comes to speed because other devices can interfere with your connection, and you can get interference from outside your home.
For this reason, you may want to opt for a modem that has the Ethernet and USB ports you need to connect your internet-capable devices. This way, even if your Wi-Fi signal is less than ideal, you can enjoy a smooth, consistent connection.
You may be able to save on a slower modem
Because Viasat service tops out at 100Mbps, you don’t have to go with an expensive, super-high throughput modem. As long as it can handle the speed of Viasat internet, you should be all set.
That being said, it would be a good idea to make sure your modem can handle a little more speed than what Viasat provides, mainly because they may offer a faster package in the future or you may choose to move or upgrade to a speedier option. If you do expect to switch to a different ISP, you’ll need to ensure that the modem you choose is compatible with both Viasat and the provider you anticipate using in the future.
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Disclosure | Updater articles are based on our own data and research, independent from partner relationships. We are not compensated by partners for information and opinions presented here. Our Editorial Terms of Service can be found here.
*Pricing varies by location and availability. Speeds may vary. All prices subject to change; for current pricing and availability visit our internet service page. Prices as of 3/16/22.