If you are considering satellite internet, you must have asked about Starlink latency vs Geosynchronous Satellites latency comparison.
Latency affects almost every aspect of satellite internet and is worth considering.
In layman’s twerk, latency is simply the delay you experience between requesting data and the response.
Or the time it takes to receive a specific piece of data in your computer in case of one-way communication.
In this article, we will cover comprehensive information about the latency of each service and help you decide the best.
Table of Contents
- What is Starlink?
- What Are Geosynchronous Satellites?
- What Determines Latency?
- How Starlink Compares to Geosynchronous
- What is the Ideal Latency for a Satellite Network?
- Final Thought
What is Starlink?
Starlink is an internet service operated by SpaceX.
The company launched the service some years back but started offering internet service to the public in 2020.
The service uses a low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellation to offer global network coverage soon.
Their main target is offering reliable internet connections in remote areas where you can’t access using other services.
Though it has not reached its targeted 42,000 satellite installations, Starlink is expanding its capacity rapidly with each new satellite launch.
Starlink satellite trains in the low Earth orbit
What Are Geosynchronous Satellites?
These are satellites in geosynchronous orbit, with the same orbital period as the rotation of the Earth.
In addition to this orbital period requirement, the satellite must be geostationary.
They must remain in a fixed position that puts them at an inclined angle over the equator.
Unlike Starlink satellites, ground-based antennas do not need to track geosynchronous satellites to connect but remain fixed in one direction.
That said, a geosynchronous orbit is referred to as geostationary when the satellites are roughly over the equator.
The two terms are somewhat used interchangeably. There are several geostationary operators, including.
What Determines Latency?
The main factor determining the latency of satellite service is the distance the signal travels.
Satellites set far away from the Earth will have to deal with higher latency than those closer to the surface of the Earth.
Another factor that affects the latency of satellite service is network congestion. The latency is low during low traffic and increases during high traffic.
We usually test the latencies during both occasions and find the average to get the value around which most users will be experiencing.
How Starlink Compares to Geosynchronous
Starlink Distance and Latency
Starlink satellites are set in a low Earth orbit, approximately 540 and 570 km above the surface of the Earth.
Their close positioning on the Earth’s surface is the reason behind the lower latency.
The company promises as low as 20-40ms latency for their services.
However, the tested latency average is 48ms with as low as 20 ms during low traffic and as high as 100 ms during high traffic.
The ping can get to 100 ms not only when connecting to a high-traffic scenario but also when connecting to a longer-distance server.
As you can see, we offered a range of values for the Starlink satellite’s distance from the Earth’s surface.
Meaning the satellites are not located in the same position. The Ethernet and the WiFi will also contribute around 10ms to this value.
Geosynchronous Satellites Distance and Latency
Geosynchronous satellites such as Hughesnet and Viasat are well above the Earth’s surface.
They are roughly 22,000 miles ( around 35,405 Km) above the Earth. The higher distance is the reason behind the higher latency.
Viasat latency ranges between 500 ms and 800 ms. Hughesnet latency is even higher, ranging between 600 ms and 900 ms.
Distance is a very important consideration in every bit of data travel.
The distance covered by Starlink data is over 30 times shorter than what the data from geosynchronous satellites will cover, and this gives it a much lower latency.
Hugh telecommunication antennas
Latency has a great impact on the speed of your internet connection. Latency can affect everything about your internet connection.
The higher the latency, the slower the download speed. Web load speed also takes longer with high latency.
High latency causes more lag time, making activities such as gaming and streaming far less enjoyable.
Low latency implies a minimal delay in processing your data over a network connection and the closer it approaches real-time access.
That said, Starlink has a better speed compared to its competitors, such as Hughesnet and Viasat.
Here is the summary in comparison between Starlink and two geostationary satellite services in terms of latency and download speed.
|Satellite Services||Latency (ms)||Download Speed (Mbps)|
What is the Ideal Latency for a Satellite Network?
A latency between 50 ms and 100 ms is a good one. This is fast enough to support fast-paced online activities such as video chats and online gaming.
Beyond 100ms you are likely to start experiencing lags during gaming.
Games like Fortnite, team shooters, and Combat are impossible to play at a latency beyond 150 ms. However, some games can work just fine with such a high latency.
That said, Starlink has lower latency to handle most internet activities than its competitors such as Viasat and Hughesnet.
However, geosynchronous latencies are enough to stream up to 4K resolution.
Does Starlink Use Geosynchronous Orbit?
No. Starlink satellites operate from low earth orbit, approximately 60 times lower than some geosynchronous satellites that operate at a higher altitude.
The satellites move 16,000 mph out in space, unlike geosynchronous satellites that remain in the same position in the sky.
Does Low Latency Means Faster Speed?
Low latency means a minimal delay in processing data over a network connection.
When the processing latency is low, the closer it approaches real-time access.
A lower latency network connection experiences very minimal delay time.
Starlink is a better satellite internet service compared to its geostationary counterparts.
Besides, it offers lower latency and better speed and promises global coverage soon.
However, it is also worth mentioning that it is more expensive compared to most of its competitors.