Latency is a measurement of time delay. In the internet world, this is often called lag. The latency of an internet signal comes from the time it takes for the signal to travel from a computer to its destination and back. This latency increases as the distance grows and as the technology required to respond slows. While Viasat satellite technology is state-of-the-art, the distance traveled by the internet signal is far greater than other types of internet. With Viasat satellites orbiting the earth in space, your internet signal must travel about 22,000 miles up to the satellite, then another 22,000 miles down to the ground network, then forwarded on to the destination server, and then all the way back through the same route. It would take your typical commercial airplane around seven full days of flying to make that trip. But because your internet signal is being sent at the speed of light, your latency will come in at less than a second! Yes, even travelling thousands and thousands of miles, satellite internet pings are only about 638 milliseconds, just over half a second. This is much slower than your typical ping with cable internet, which comes in around 30 milliseconds for a round trip, but satellite internet is improving quickly and latency will only get shorter.

How does this affect your internet experience? For most internet activities, a ping of 638 milliseconds will be unnoticeable. The biggest place it would be a problem is when playing fast-paced games that require split-second reaction speeds, like first-person shooters. In such cases, 638 milliseconds can mean life or death (in the game at least). Other game genres will unlikely see any noticeable difference from the latency. VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) also require quick encrypting and decrypting and can be affected by high latency. But with faster download speeds, many Viasat customers have had success with some VPN software.

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