A few tips on managing data during the COVID-19 crisis

With many people working from home during the COVID-19 emergency, being mindful of data usage can help keep the Viasat network moving well for everyone


As more of our customers shift to working from home during the coronavirus crisis, the daytime demand for bandwidth is rising – and the need is growing more critical.

Customers who are now relying on our service include employees working from home, homebound students doing required coursework, people seeking answers to potentially critical healthcare questions and those who may be home-quarantined and seeking entertainment and distraction.

Viasat constantly adapts its network to meet changes in network demand and performance, and we’re working even harder to meet those demands during this global crisis. But while the company draws bandwidth for its internet service from several powerful satellites, our capacity is not infinite.

Even our unlimited data plans are subject to protocols to help us manage data over the network. If your data usage exceeds your internet plan’ usage threshold, those protocols can occasionally slow your service, allowing us to more evenly distribute bandwidth among all our customers. Conversely, if there is bandwidth available on our network, we allow customers to use that additional bandwidth – and that results in higher speeds.

To help everyone stay connected and successfully manage their daily online needs, here are a few simple tips to help manage your data:

  1. Tune in to your data usage.

First, get a feel for how you use your data. Once you see what activities are tapping your allotment the most, you can take steps to change patterns and slow your data use.

  • If you don’t have it yet, the Viasat App is a great tool for checking data – and comes in handy for paying your bill and troubleshooting common issues, too. Download the Viasat App here for Apple devices and here for Android.
  • You can also access your usage meter through your account, or by texting JOIN to 20715 and signing up for Viasat text alerts. *Note, Business customers can manage their account by visiting this site.
  1. Set family limits

With so many people working and studying from home to help stem the spread of the coronavirus, the entire family needs to be on the same page about sharing data.
Call a family meeting and let everyone know that data is limited, and each person bears responsibility for using it wisely. Consider designating a portion of data to each user, and make sure everyone knows how to track it.

And if you’re working from home and the kids are streaming video, that can impact your work connection. Ask them to do something less bandwidth-intensive while you’re working.

  1. Keep an eye on automatic cloud and software updates

These updates are typically scheduled in the wee hours of the morning, so they can easily go unnoticed until you see your data allotment dwindling. Some are small and use little data, but other major updates can consume a hefty chunk of data. And there can be updates on multiple devices, adding to a big hit. Sometimes you don’t have a choice about when they happen, but with some software, you can schedule and manually prompt the updates.

  1. Watch that camera.

Another cloud service that can use very large amounts of data are security cameras such as the Nest. The Nest Aware service, for example, has the camera uploading video anytime it’s on, so it can use a lot of data. Fortunately, it’s easy to adjust settings to use less by adjusting the video quality. Here’s how.

  1. Watch video use and gaming time and adjust settings to slow the pace of data consumption.

Streaming video, video chat and gaming are among the most fun ways to pass time online, but they’re also typically the most data-intensive online activities. Worse, it sometimes occurs without your consent or awareness. For example, some websites will automatically launch a video immediately upon opening – a data grab you weren’t expecting and didn’t ask for.
But the biggest use of video data by far is on streaming services like Netflix or Hulu. Your Viasat plan may automatically optimize the resolution on these services, but you can also adjust the playback settings in your account. How-To Geek has some good tips on how to do this.

Skip a movie, trade video chat for a phone conversation and try a game that doesn’t require an internet connection; even better, these games are free.

  1. Take a break from the computer to get a breath of fresh air, check in with family or call a distant relative. Dialing back a little of your own time online can help make the next few weeks easier for everyone on our network.