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It’s important to understand latency in the context of satellite internet as it makes the most noticeable difference between this and traditional broadband.
Latency is measured in milliseconds and most traditional internet connections have latency of around 100ms. Specialist, fibre connections can achieve latency as low as 30ms, which some online gamers would appreciate, but your average user wouldn’t really notice. Satellite internet has a much higher latency.
Why is latency higher for satellite internet?
When using satellite internet your data must travel all the way to a satellite in space and back to you on Earth. This 44,000 mile round trip takes time and so leads to higher latency compared to wired connections where the data doesn’t travel so far. A lot has been done in recent years to speed up these journeys. At Konnect, we use packet acceleration technology to transmit the data more quickly to our satellite and back, which means our connections now have a latency of around 0.6 to 0.7 seconds.
What does higher latency mean for me?
If you are using a connection with higher latency, it means you will experience some lag in your internet use. This can be a web page that takes a few seconds to load or a delay on video calls. When the communication is one-way, you won’t notice the latency much. For example, when streaming, you will select what you want to watch and then the content will be delivered to you. Your program might buffer for longer at the start, but it’ll then play without issue.
Video conferencing meanwhile needs real-time two-way communication. This means you might experience a lag or that you’ll hear the audio before the image moves. This may cause a problem, especially if you rely on video conferencing for work. Occasional users, and those wanting to chat with friends and family, where a slight lag isn’t an issue will probably find it perfectly good enough.
If you are an avid gamer, especially if you play fast-paced, multiplayer games like Fortnite or Call of Duty, you’ll notice the higher latency. Your character might not move when you move the controller and you’ll be beaten by players with lower latency as even if you push the button first, there will be a short lag on your side.
How can I optimise latency?
There are steps you can take to optimise latency on satellite internet:
- Restart and discharge any static from your router by turning it off and unplugging it for a minute, then plugging it back in again.
- Use a wired connection between your main device and your Modem with an Ethernet cable rather than WiFi. If a wired connection isn’t possible, move closer to your Modem.
- Check you don’t have any apps running in the background on your connection.
Whether the higher latency that comes with satellite internet is a problem for you depends on what you want to use it for. If you’re unsure about whether it will be right for you or not, why not give us a call to speak with our specialists.
At Konnect, we use a geostationary satellite positioned above the equator.
These types of satellites orbit the Earth at a rate that’s relative to the Earth’s rotation. That means that relative to us on Earth, the satellite doesn’t move. That’s why we can point our satellite dishes at a fixed position in the sky and they will always be pointed at the satellite.
This is excellent news for keeping you connected, but it requires the long journey for your data to reach the satellite and come back to you.