Since its beta launch, Starlink satellite internet provides fast internet speeds. Internet speed typically is measured in Megabits per second or Mbps. Speed is assessed by measuring download speed, upload speed, and “ping” or latency. Ping measures the time it takes for a signal or data packet to be sent and returned. While multiple speed test websites are available, not all measure satellite internet accurately. Some satellite internet providers recommend speedtest.net as the best measure of satellite internet speed and ping.
Some online activities aren’t noticeably affected by high ping, or latency – a longer time for a signal or data to be sent and returned. For online activities like video games or video conference calls, most internet customers will notice disruption if ping is high. Online video games require as close to synchronous play as possible. Video conference calls with low ping allow participants to experience seamless interactions; high ping can cause pauses between one participant speaking and another hearing, increasing interruption. For activities like these, how does ping affect user experience?
Starlink satellite internet provides low-latency, or low ping, internet access to most of its covered regions. Starlink ping has been measured as low as 20 ms, which is unusual for satellite internet providers. Low latency, or low ping, isn’t common in satellite internet service because most satellite providers use distant satellites in geostationary orbit. Starlink uses low-orbit satellites, so signals don’t travel as far. Starlink designed a new satellite model equipped with laser linking capabilities to send data between satellites, which will increase speeds even further.
In 2021, Starlink ping was much closer to traditional broadband speeds than it was to other satellite internet carriers, at an estimated 45 ms. The trade-offs for low-latency satellite internet coverage are the number of low-orbit active satellites it requires and the delays in accessing Starlink service as the carrier scales up coverage.
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