Is latency really an issue with Satellite Broadband?

And is it a lower quality data connection?

One of the main concerns many potential customers have with Satellite Broadband is latency – many people who have considered this service have been discouraged by often untrue or exaggerated rumours about its apparent poor quality. For example, we often hear criticisms that satellite broadband isn’t fast enough and cannot transmit as much data as fixed-line broadband services. However, this isn’t true – Satellite broadband speeds are equivalent to most standard broadband services – if not better – with connection speeds of up to 20Mbps Download and 6Mbps Upload. The service can be twice as fast as a regular DSL connection (which can only reach around 12Mbps at the best of times). This article will look at where these rumours come from and how they affect a Sat-DSL service.

How much effect does latency have?

Unlike other broadband services, latency over a satellite connection is not a sign that the connection is somehow faulty or substandard. All Satellite Broadband connections entail a higher level of latency simply due to the immense distances the data packets have to travel between planet earth, the satellite in question and back again.

When a packet of data is transmitted via a satellite data connection, it travels from your location to a satellite that is in a geostationary orbit (meaning that it is at a far enough distance from the earth so that it always remains in the exact location) around the planet. From there, the satellite transmits the signal back down to a receiving device that is connected to the internet. The whole round trip is about 72,000 miles and is completed in roughly 0.25 seconds. As a result, most satellite broadband connections should have an intrinsic latency of about a quarter of a second. This isn’t too bad given the distance the data has to travel. This latency has given rise to bad press about Sat-DSL being poor, although it is a direct result of the laws of physics and not the result of bad service.

You need to also keep in mind that Sat-DSL is mainly chosen as a form of data connectivity in rural or not-spot areas where businesses have no other access to high-speed data connectivity. Satellite broadband would have a significantly positive impact on companies struggling with standard DSL broadband connections and can provide far faster speeds with the added value of opening the door to new cloud-based business applications.

Where could this small degree of latency affect your business?

One of the most noticeable areas where the latency of Sat-DSL can be evident is VoIP telephony. When a VoIP call is made across a Satellite connection, there will be more delay than usual, meaning that when you are using a VoIP service, you will have to wait 1 or 2 seconds between the person on one end speaking the other person hearing. This is much like when news broadcasters interview someone in another country, and there is a pause between the news anchor asking the interviewee a question and them answering the question.

The other main area where the latency is evident is video streaming and online gaming – unless your business requires you to play online games from remote locations, it is unlikely that this would be a problem. Most business users welcome the higher speeds and opportunities that satellite broadband provides.


Is it worth the small degree of latency?

There is a slight impact on some services due to latency, albeit small – where you are in a remote location or where there are no other high-speed connectivity options available like FTTCEFM or EoF Leased Lines. If this is you, Satellite Broadband might be right for you. However, we would suggest exhausting all other options too. 4G & 5G mobile broadband can be the perfect connectivity solution when there is no option for fixed-line, high-speed connectivity

For more information on the perfect internet solution for your business, contact our team at / T. 0333 240 1824

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