If your internet service seems slow or slows down with some activities, a speed test can help with troubleshooting. Speed tests measure download speed, upload speed, and “ping” which is sometimes called latency. Ping refers to the time it takes for data to travel to a destination and back again. High ping means it takes a longer time for the sent signal or data to return. Low ping means your data is sent and returned faster. This round-trip is what is meant by ping or latency.
Internet access and speed is very uneven across the U.S., particularly in underserved or remote areas. That means there is a wide range of ping or latency, depending on the kind of internet available.
Typically, customers with fixed broadband like cable internet experience low ping, ranging from 20 to 50 ms or milliseconds. Ping may also be in a moderate range of 50 to 100 ms. If you use a speed test compatible with your internet service and your ping is 150 ms or above, it is considered high ping.
Latency can be higher than that, though. Satellite internet using satellites high in geostationary orbit can measure ping between 500 and 800 ms. A ping of 500 ms is very high compared to 20 ms, but 500 ms is just half a second for data to be sent and returned. Compared to early internet dial-up speeds, it’s still extremely fast.
Most internet users notice if their download speed is slow, but not all internet activity is affected by high or low ping. Viasat estimates that less than 10% of internet activity is noticeably affected by ping. When can high ping matter?
Satellite internet providers like Viasat are constantly working to improve latency for users affected by high ping. Tools like the Viasat browser, AI-informed network configuration, and video “shaping” help optimize speed. Viasat is also assessing the potential benefits of hybrid networks to reduce latency.
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