Latency is the elephant in the room when it comes to satellite internet. And latency is likely what will make you want to flip your desk in frustration if you’re playing a highly reactive game, like a first-person shooter, on a satellite connection.
(We don’t recommend flipping your desk, though. We have too many gamer friends who’ve ruined keyboards, headsets, and more expensive tech doing that.)
Latency, which is also known as ping, is a measure of the time in milliseconds (ms) it takes for your keyboard taps or mouse clicks to travel from your end of the network to the game’s server, and then back.
With satellite internet, this means that your button presses or mouse clicks have to travel thousands of miles to a satellite orbiting the Earth, then down to the game’s server, back up to the satellite, and then get beamed down to your console or computer. Now it makes sense why your character may not cast its ultimate skill right when you hit that key combo.
To give you some cold, hard data, here’s what typical satellite internet latency looks like compared to the latency of DSL, cable, and fiber internet connections:
With satellite internet, your in-game character will take half a second to complete the action you just commanded it to—at best. That’s not accounting for other issues that might affect your latency, like your router or if you use Wi-Fi.
Start rejoicing because there are ways to lower your latency. Here’s how to reduce your gaming latency:
- Close other programs. You might enjoy some “get hyped!” music while you game, but closing programs like Spotify, Google Chrome, Netflix, and YouTube will free up your internet connection to focus on nailing those skill shots.
- Don’t game on Wi-Fi. A wireless connection can slow down your gaming experience. If you’re able to, hook your computer or console up to your router or modem with an Ethernet cable (also called a wired or hardwired connection).
- Update your router. First, make sure your router has the most current firmware installed. This can help fix bugs and other issues that might slow down your connection. If your problem persists, it’s probably time to upgrade to a new router.
- Pause or cancel downloads. Are you about to charge into a nail-biting boss battle? Make sure you pause those Steam downloads and ask roommates or partners to stop their downloads too. At least until you’ve won the game.