Getting your home internet ready for school

In a new age of education, it pays to have reliable connectivity

Mother homeschooling daughter and son at table
Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

The COVID-19 pandemic changed education forever. It forced teachers, parents and students to suddenly adopt online instruction and learning — without warning, and sparing no time for learning curves.

More than two years later, as most schools reopen their doors to in-person learning, the pandemic has forged a permanent bond between education and technology.

Both teachers and students learned new skills and strategies after the abrupt shift to online education. For some students, the absence of classroom distractions was a plus, allowing them more time to focus on studying and review their work.

And most parents, working from home with children attending school from home, became participants in the process. According to Education Week, more than 75% of teachers said parent-school communication increased during the pandemic, and most said that translated to a positive impact on students’ academic performance.

New education tactics born out of the pandemic are now the norm, keeping students and teachers connected regardless of physical location. Many teachers now routinely record or live stream classes, allowing students who are traveling, ill or otherwise not able to attend class to keep up with their studies. Staying connected online also makes it easier for teachers to keep up with individual students’ progress and personalize instruction.

Some students have taken advantage of online options that sprang from the pandemic, and chose a different way of learning. Statistics show the pandemic triggered the largest enrollment declines in the history of American public schools, with many parents instead choosing home schooling or private education.

On the flip side, the number of hybrid and distance-only students at traditional universities grew in 2020 by an astounding 92 percent — most looking to boost their career or fast-track a stalled career search. That huge demand has prompted more investment in online education, including higher standards for quality.

In short, all these trends show that online education is here to stay.

And for families with children or households with adult learners, that means your home internet needs to be up to the task.

Viasat satellite internet is uniquely positioned to keep students connected, including those in unserved and underserved areas.

A back-to-school home internet check list

Here are a few things you can do to help ensure you and your Viasat home internet are both ready to go back to school:

1. Get a good sense of how much data you need.

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 needed.

  • 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.

With students working from home, you may need to upgrade to a plan with more data.

If the increased demand is temporary, you can also buy more data to bridge the gap.

Here’s how it works: Many of Viasat’s plans for residential customers come with a set amount of High-Speed Data and unlimited Standard Data. After you use your High-Speed Data, you continue to have unlimited Standard Data, which may result in slower speeds. If you run out of High-Speed Data before the end of your billing cycle, you have the ability to buy more.

You can buy more High-Speed Data on the MyViasat website, and learn more about adding data in this article.

2. Do a speed test.

If you think you need to make some changes to your home network, establish a base functionality line with a speed test. Never done one? Test designers have made them simple to use. With Speedtest by Ookla, optimized for satellite internet, it’s as easy as pressing “Go.”

Run a test in locations in your house where the internet is most commonly used – your office, the family room, your teenager’s bedroom – to determine if you have any speed gaps.

Download speeds of less than half your internet plan’s advertised speed could indicate some tweaking is in order.

3. Check your router

The router is the device that allows your modem to receive and send information to the internet. So it has a critical role in providing your home with internet service. But if your router’s in a closet or cabinet, its signals likely aren’t dispersing to maximum effect. If possible, bring it out from hiding and place it in an open, ideally central spot in your home – as high as you can get it.

Also, consider whether it’s time to update your router. An outdated router can slow down your Wi-Fi, and leave your home network vulnerable to security risks. Technology changes quickly and if your router is more than five years old, it may be time for a new one.

4. Beef up your security

With more activity on your home system comes more risk of cyberattack.

Viasat Shield is a cybersecurity app provided free to our customers. An even more robust premium service is available for an additional fee.

Viasat Shield provides an easy way to help consumers reduce online risks like malware, phishing attempts, and other cyberattacks that can negatively affect their home networks and devices.

The app also gives customers control of their home network, providing insight into what devices are online and how much data each is consuming. A customer can also use the app to pause their Wi-Fi and block devices from using the home network. That’s ideal for parents who may want to suspend internet access during dinner or homework time, or stop usage on a child’s device if it’s consuming a disproportionate amount of data. With that capability, a parent could also turn off data to their children’s cellphones, but maintain data flow to the television, letting the family watch a Netflix movie together.

No equipment is required — just download the app at Apple or Google Play to add alerts and controls offering automatic, active protection of your home network.

Help is available

Struggling to afford home internet for your student? You’re not alone. Nearly 17 million school children lack internet access at home, but the government — in partnership with companies like Viasat — is working to bridge that national homework gap.

The Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is designed to bring affordable internet service to qualifying households.

ACP can save qualifying customers up to $30 a month on home internet, and those who live on qualifying Tribal lands can save up to $75 a month. You can find more information about ACP here.

If you’re looking to get your home connected to high-speed internet, check out Viasat’s home internet plans available in your area.