The Block Island Times

True high speed internet alternative now available to islanders

By Lars Trodson | May 22, 2013
Photo by: Kari Curtis A technician installs an Exede high speed internet dish at an island residence recently.

Islanders now have an alternative to their slow or stuttering internet service. A new high speed service, called Exede, is now available. Verizon and DirecTV have been the only connections to internet and cable service on the island and Verizon’s coverage has been especially frustrating for island residents.

Mark Gagnon, owner of South County Sound and Video in Wakefield since 1999, is the Exede agent on Block Island.

“I know about Block Island and knew at some point that new service would be feasible and acceptable to the island,” said Gagnon. “I knew we could sell it at the price and speed where we could be in everyone’s home.”

Exede is owned by ViaSat, an aerospace communications and technology company that has commercial, consumer and government clients. ViaSat has launched three satellites, of which the most recent one, ViaSat 1, was called “the game changer of the industry” by ViaSat’s Vice President of Sales Lisa Scalpone.

ViaSat 1 (which was launched from Kazahkstan) has 140 gigabytes of capacity, which was enough to get it mentioned in the Guinness Book of World Records for satellite data capacity. The satellite sits in a geostationary position 22,000 miles above San Diego, which means that when the satellite hits its precise elevation “it moves exactly in rotation with the earth.” ViaSat 1 will operate for about 15 years and is about the size of a small room.

Gagnon said that improved internet service is a boon to not only communications on the island, but also to its economy. Lack of internet service is sometimes cited by real estate agents as a mitigating factor when clients ask about renting homes during the summer.

“This is pretty cool stuff,” said Gagnon.

There is a $49 set-up fee and a monthly equipment rental fee of $9.99. Visit to learn more about Exede’s high speed internet packages.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Rev. Stephen Hollaway | May 26, 2013 17:59

It is indeed a plus for the island that Exede high-speed internet service is available. For users who primarily need web browsing, it will be fine, and in general the service will be fine if price is no object. But there are two caveats to the service offered which may make Exede impractical for many on the island. I used the service for 15 months, then decided to cut it off and pay the early termination fee.
Limitation #1: While the download speed measured close to 8 Mbps, good enough to stream movies, there is another measure called “latency.” This is the “ping” measure, the amount of time it takes the signal to get from your modem to a server on the mainland. With a DSL system, the ping is negligible since the signal is only going 12 miles; to reach Viasat and come back you’re talking about several thousand miles. The result is about a one-second delay from the time you issue a command to the time it gets to the server and back to you. You can get used to this in searching, but it makes voice communication very awkward. Most Voip phone providers say that they require a latency of 80 Mbps or less. Verizon DSL measures at 48; Exede measures at 800.
Limitation #2: The basic plan mentioned in the article for $49.99 a month plus $9.99 for equipment (which in my experience was after a $149 setup fee) only includes downloads of 10 GB per month. You can buy more, but it costs quite a bit extra. 10 GB is adequate if you only do email and Facebook, but not if you stream video at all. If you have a youngster in your house who thinks that now he can stream movies, you’re going to hit your limit in a few days. 10 GB is about 4 HD movies. Even a YouTube addict can eat gigabytes.  Once you hit the limit, your speed gets slowed down to DSL level or worse unless you buy another plan for $79 or $129.
There is nothing wrong with the product as long as you really understand what you are buying. It’s not a substitute for fiber optic via a connection to the mainland.

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