One thing you can’t get away from on a satellite internet connection is latency. Latency isn’t something most people will even notice, but if you’re doing something requiring precision timing, like some kinds of online gaming, latency can stick out like a sore thumb. HughesNet is no exception with an average latency of about 650ms, compared to most ground-based connections’ latency between 20-80ms.

Why does HughesNet have a higher latency than wired connections?

Even though most people know that satellite internet uses satellites that orbit around Earth, many don’t realize just how far away they are. Satellites for satellite internet are usually placed in geo-stationary orbit, which is the altitude and speed they need to be to appear to someone on that the planet that they aren’t moving at all. The distance required is over 22,000 miles above the Earth’s surface! Luckily, satellite transmissions move at the speed of light, but that doesn’t mean it happens instantly. With satellite internet having a latency of around 650ms, that means that signals can go from your computer, through your satellite dish up to the satellite, back down to a ground-station, from there to the destination you requested, and all the way back again in a little over half a second! That is ridiculously fast!

Does high latency mean a slow connection?

No. Not at all. Latency is just the delay before things get started. If you want to stream a movie over the internet, it will work just fine; it will just start half a second later than it would without the latency. Most people aren’t going to notice or care about it at all. And most people really don’t need to.

What about online gaming?

Many types of online gaming, like turn-based games, puzzle games, or casual competitive games, don’t depend on low-latency. But for those who want to seriously compete in first-person shooters, or other games requiring precision timing, satellite internet will probably leave you feeling frustrated. If competitive online multiplayer is important to you, you’re going to have to find a connection with a low latency to really enjoy it. For almost everyone else though, high latency is really nothing to worry about.

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