17 Nov 2016

Whenever one of our more rural clients is considering a satellite internet service, two things immediately come to his mind: high latency and slow connection speeds. It is true that satellite internet services have been criticized for their rather high network latencies. But is this really an issue? Does high latency make satellite broadband services too unreliable for businesses? In this article we will finally put to rest any and all misconceptions surrounding Satellite broadband services.


Before we get into the issues many people believe satellite connections have with high latency and slow download and upload speeds, it would probably help to briefly describe how data connections work. To do this, we must discuss briefly how internet connections work. Basically, latency refers to how long you have to wait to get the data that you need. Whenever you use the internet, you send packets of data (corresponding to your request) to your ISP. Your ISP, in turn, fetches your request from the server where the data you need is located. Once fetched, your ISP will transmit the data back to you, the download speed and upload speed refers to how long it takes for the data to be completely transferred from the server to your computer, which is why it is measured in Megabits per second.


The first thing that you might notice from this is that latency is primarily affected by distance, which is why connecting to servers that are further away (i.e. servers that are located outside of the UK). The problem is, satellite internet users transmit their data to a satellite located thousands of miles from the earth instead of through a copper (or fibre) line to a local server, this is what causes the high latency in satellite broadband services. However it is important to note that the download and upload speeds of a satellite connection are not affected by the distance of the connection, so once you are connected to a server your connection will be as fast, if not faster, than a standard line based alternative.


So, is high latency really problem for the satellite internet user? The short answer is no. Not always.


The issues surrounding high network latency and satellite internet usage really depend on what you’re using the connection for. If you only use your connection to browse websites, check emails, or any other activity which involves text or picture based websites then the latency will be largely unnoticeable, the most obvious difference will be that pages may take slightly longer to load but only by a second or two at the very most.


The same goes for downloading files from the internet. Satellite internet users are only expected to lose a couple of minutes when downloading files above 500MB. Again, this is an issue which is completely negligible.


However, for online activities that require an almost instantaneous transfer of data, high network latency and satellite internet can cause problems. If you’re using a satellite connection for VoIP or video conferencing services, for example, you may notice a slight delay between you speaking and the other person hearing you, and vice versa. However this is not really a major issue and after making a couple of calls over the service you will become accommodated to the delay (you might not even notice it’s there.)

The only online activities that are really hindered by a satellite broadband connection are those where there needs to be an almost instantaneous transition from the user uploading information and the satellite connection delivering a response. Fortunately the only activity that requires this level of connectivity is online gaming which ,hopefully, won’t be an issue for your business.

Overall a satellite broadband connection is an effective and viable alternative to a line based connection, ideal for businesses that have very poor or no access to a traditional line based connection and contrary to popular belief, a satellite broadband connection can be a huge improvement for businesses that need a connection that can handle everything a modern business needs to do online. For more information on the satellite broadband services SoConnect offer please visit our webpage on it, or you can contact our sales team at sales@soconnect.co.uk, or call us on 0333 240 1824.