Is Satellite Internet Good for Gaming? An Ultimate Guide

Is Satellite Internet good for Gaming? It’s a question that has puzzled many gamers.

The answer isn’t as straightforward as you might think.

If you’re a gamer residing in a rural or remote areas, the only available option is satellite internet. So, can satellite Internet handle the high-speed, low-latency demands of online gaming? What’s the best Internet for you? 

Let’s dive into the details.

Satellite Internet for gaming

Introduction to Satellite Internet and Online Gaming

Satellite Internet might not be the dream setup of an avid online gamer. But for many, it’s the only way to access the network. You may only have 1 or 2 options for your Internet service provider. 

Satellite Internet can be difficult for online gaming, but the Internet speed isn’t usually the main problem.

The problem is gaming requires a stable Internet connection, and low latency. Latency is an area where satellite Internet struggles. The flip side, however, single player games can still run well on a satellite connection.

Before we go too far, understand the difference between Geostationary Satellite (GEO) and Low Earth Orbit LEO satellites. GEO satellites are the traditional Xplore, Hughesnet, viasat Internet, or Telesat style satellite, very far from the earth. LEO are the modern SpaceX Starlink and Amazon Oneweb satellites, close to the earth.

Because latency is a measure of how fast data can travel a certain distance, it’s logical that the satellites closer to the earth should have lower (better) latency.

There’s more to it, like base-station location, but distance from the earth is the most important part for now.

Best Satellite Internet Provider for Gaming: Starlink

Starlink, a product of SpaceX, is currently the leading choice for satellite Internet gaming. What sets Starlink apart from traditional satellite providers, as mentioned earlier, is its use of low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites. LEO satellites are faster and have less delay than geostationary satellites, making them better for online gaming.

Despite the improvements brought by Starlink, it is still a satellite-based service. The speed of light has not got faster so latency will still be problematic.

The interesting thing about latency, is light actually does travel faster in space. But if your coming back to a North American datacenter/game server, that fact doesn’t matter too much.

Understanding the Speed Requirements for Online Gaming

Most online games require about 3 Mbps of download speed and 1 Mbps of upload speed. Interestingly, even the most basic satellite Internet plans offer more speed than this.

However, the significant issue with satellite Internet access isn’t speed but latency and stability.

Latency: The Achilles Heel of most Satellite Internet Providers

Latency, or ping, is the time it takes for a signal to go from your device to the game server and back. High latency can cause lag, disrupt the responsiveness of controls, and even lead to disconnections. Satellite Internet has high latency because the data signals have to travel long distances.

This is where Starlink’s LEO satellites come into play. Even though the signals travel a long distance, the delay is much less than with regular wireless Internet. However, it’s crucial to note that even with the advancements Starlink brings, it can’t beat the low latency levels of wired (fibre Internet) connections.

Can satellite Internet access keep up with the needs of modern gamers? What do you think?

Stability: The Key to Smooth Online Gaming

Stability is another crucial factor for a seamless online gaming experience. Although a 5 Mbps connection should suffice for online gaming, fluctuations in speed could disrupt the gaming experience.

Weather conditions affect your satellite Internet service, which leads to unstable connections. Having a connection with a higher speed than what’s required can act as a buffer against speed fluctuations, ensuring a more stable gaming experience.

The Feasibility of Online Gaming with Satellite Internet

Fast-paced multiplayer games like Apex Legends or Call of Duty will struggle on a traditional satellite connection due to high latency. However, with the advent of Starlink, the landscape is shifting, making such games more accessible to satellite internet users.

That said, turn-based games that don’t rely on split-second decisions run reasonably well on traditional satellite networks. These games include classics like Civilization and modern games like Hearthstone and Magic the Gathering: Arena.

For gamers relying on satellite internet, exploring such latency-forgiving options could prove fruitful.

Downloads and Data Caps: The Hidden Hurdles

Data limitations are another major concern with satellite internet. While online gaming doesn’t consume much data, downloading games does. You should watch your data usage, if your satellite Internet plan comes with a data cap.

One way to prevent this problem is to buy physical copies of games instead of downloading them. This saves data and ensures you can play right away without waiting it to download.

Exploring Alternative Rural Gaming Options

If you want to game online you should explore alternatives to satellite Internet. Some of these alternatives include DSL, 4G LTE home Internet, and fixed wireless.

While not as fast or responsive as fiber or cable, these options still provide better gaming.

The Future of Satellite Internet and Gaming

Satellite internet, particularly Starlink, is gradually becoming an option for online gaming. The company seems to keep launching more Starlink Satellites, which is a good thing for current and future customers. 

It cannot rival the performance of wired connections. The advancements in LEO satellite technology are bridging the gap. 

With advancing technology, we can expect satellite internet to get even better.

Photo of author
Michael is the main author and Editor on the InternetAdvice blog. With a decade of experience under his belt, Michael stands at the forefront of the telecommunications industry. As a Senior Telecom Strategist, Michael has witnessed firsthand the rapid advancements in technology and has been an integral part of pioneering efforts in the adoption of cutting-edge telecom solutions across Canada.

Leave a Comment