A Guide to Satellite Internet for Gaming

When playing games online, you want to get the best possible experience from your internet connection. A reliable connection is the difference between triumph or defeat, especially for games with intense, fast-paced action.

Thankfully, high-speed internet has gotten more accessible in recent years. While some people use cable internet to play games, others opt for satellite internet, which is just as good if not better.

This guide will talk about satellite internet, how it works, and why it’s ideal for some gamers. We’ll also look at some of the best satellite providers and see how they stack up against each other. So if you’re ready to have a smoother online gaming experience, keep reading!

What is satellite internet and how does it work?

Satellite internet is a type of high-speed internet that uses a satellite to send and receive data. It’s available in many rural and remote areas where other types of internet, like cable or DSL, are not.

A satellite dish is installed on your home or business and connects to a satellite in orbit. The satellite then relays data back and forth between your device and the internet.

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Can you play online games using satellite internet?

Yes, you can play games on satellite internet. However, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Satellite internet relies on connecting to a satellite instead of cables or phone lines. There is usually a slight delay, or latency, in the signal. As a result, this can make some online games a bit more challenging to play.
  2. Satellite internet plans typically have lower data limits than other types of internet service, so you’ll need to be careful about how much you’re downloading and installing.
  3. Some games require a fast internet connection, so you may want to check the requirements before you try to play them using satellite internet.

In general, satellite internet can be an excellent option for gaming. Just be sure to do your research and choose the right plan for you and your gaming needs.

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Pros and cons of gaming with satellite internet

Pros

  • Generally more reliable than terrestrial broadband. Less equipment on the ground means you’re less likely to experience service outages.
  • More likely to be available in rural and remote areas that other types of the internet don’t reach.
  • Can handle high usage. Your internet speed or quality wouldn’t be affected even when there are a lot of users during peak hours.

Cons

  • Can be expensive, so it might not be an option for everyone.
  • Relies on a dish that can be affected by bad weather. So, if you live in an area with extreme weather conditions, satellite internet might not be the best option.
  • Although it varies by carrier, some satellite plans may have high latency and low data limits.

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What is the latency of satellite internet?

Latency is the time it takes for data to travel from your device to the server and back again. It’s measured in milliseconds (ms), and the lower the number, the better.

With satellite internet, there will be some additional latency because of the distance the signal has to travel. But thanks to advances in technology, that distance has been getting smaller and smaller.

The average latency in satellite internet can be between 450 milliseconds and 700 milliseconds. For comparison, the latency on a typical terrestrial broadband connection is 20 to 40 milliseconds. Currently, the lowest satellite internet latency is 20 milliseconds from Starlink.

What is a good latency for online gaming?

The average user won’t notice any difference in latency from one type of internet connection to another. But if you’re a hardcore online gamer, even a tiny amount of extra latency can mean the difference between winning and losing.

So, what is a good latency for online gaming? That depends on the game you’re playing. Some games are more tolerant of latency than others.

For example, first-person shooters tend to be sensitive to latency because timing is critical. On the other hand, real-time strategy and simulation games where precision (the accuracy necessary to complete an action) and deadline (the time required to complete the desired outcome for action) aren’t as important are less sensitive to latency. 

Typically, anything below 100ms is suitable for gaming. The 20ms to 40ms range, on the other hand, is regarded as optimal.

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How much speed do you need for online gaming?

The simple answer is that most broadband connections will work for gaming. However, if you want a seamless online gaming experience with no lag and few interruptions, you’ll need a higher-speed connection.

Satellite internet can offer the high speeds you need for gaming, making it an excellent option for gamers who live in rural or underserved areas.

To figure out how much speed you need for gaming, you first need to take a stock of what kinds of games you’ll be playing.

Games can be divided into three categories: casual, competitive, and hardcore. Each type has different requirements in terms of speed and latency.

Casual games

Casual games can be played without too much planning or investment. They’re generally less demanding on your internet connection and don’t require split-second timing. Any broadband speed will work for casual gaming.

Competitive games

Competitive games require more strategic planning and quick reflexes. They tend to be more demanding on your internet connection, and a higher speed is necessary to avoid lag. You’ll need a minimum download speed of 5Mbps and an upload speed of 3Mbps for most competitive games.

Hardcore games

Games that fall under the “hardcore” category require split-second timing and reactions, making them the most demanding. They’re typically played at a professional level or by enthusiasts. You’ll need a high-speed, reliable connection with low latency for these games. The ideal download speed for hardcore gaming is between 200 and 500Mbps.

You’ll need to take note that the speed mentioned for the various types of games is just for when you’re already playing the game. It’s a different story when you’re still trying to download the game or install updates.

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How much data do you need for online gaming?

Data caps can be a significant concern when it comes to gaming. After all, no one wants to be in the middle of a heated battle only to have their game cut off because they’ve used up their data.

So, how much data do you really need for gaming? The answer may vary depending on the type of game you’re playing.

For example, a game that requires streaming of high-quality video will use more data than a text-based game. Likewise, a multiplayer game will use more data than a single-player game.

The most current video games use between 40MB and 300MB each hour. A lot of data gets used primarily to download and update games. Game updates, especially with new titles, can range from 25 to 50GB or more to download, so getting an internet plan with no data cap might be best.

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How can I make my satellite internet work better?

You know that an internet connection is key if you’re a gamer. No one wants to be in the middle of intensely competitive gameplay only for their connection to lag. So if you’re looking for ways to improve your satellite internet for gaming, we’ve got the following suggestions.

Use an Ethernet cable

Although one of the features of satellite internet is a wireless connection, you still have the option to connect an Ethernet cable to your router/modem to connect your PC or gaming console. This might help you get more reliable speed and lower latency.

Upgrade your equipment

If you have an older satellite modem, it may be time to upgrade. Newer modems are designed to work better with today’s high-speed satellites.

Moving your satellite dish to a different location

Just as satellite signals and Wi-Fi signals can weaken the further they travel, internet signal strength can weaken the farther it travels from your satellite dish to your modem. If possible, move your satellite dish closer to your modem.

Trim down some branches and leaves

Cutting down branches or removing leaves near your satellite can make a big difference. It will give the satellite dish a clear line of sight to the sky, which will likely result in faster speeds.

Check for other satellite internet providers

There are locations where some ISP doesn’t have enough signal to provide reliable internet service. In cases like this, it’s best to find a better satellite internet provider.

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Which satellite internet plan is best for gaming?

Here are some key elements to consider while selecting the best satellite internet plan for gaming to help you narrow down your options and ensure you’re getting what you need:

Speed

25Mbps is recommended for players who don’t like to wait too long to download or update a game. It’s alright to settle for a lower speed if it’s mainly for mobile games.

Data cap

Unlimited internet would be ideal since the worst thing that could happen is suddenly getting cut in the middle of the game. If you’re on a budget, a good alternative is to monitor your data usage. You can accomplish that on Windows by typing “Data Usage Overview” on your search bar. In more settings, click on “Data Usage.” You should see the gigabytes that you’ve used for the last 30 days.

Location

Some internet providers have better signals than others. It’s best to ask around your neighborhood or read reviews to find out what connection is good before committing to a contract.

Latency

Some internet providers deliver less latency than others, so it helps to do your research. Not everyone asks ISPs about latency, but they should, as most ISP are open to advising customers about it.

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Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

How fast is satellite internet speed?

Satellite internet can range from around 12Mbps to over 100Mbps. However, the actual speed you get will depend on several factors, including your location, the type of satellite dish you have, and the internet package you choose.

Can you stream on satellite internet?

Yes, but there are a few things to keep in mind. You’ll want to make sure you have a good connection. Satellite internet can be notoriously spotty, so if you’re going to be streaming, make sure you have a strong signal. Also, consider your data usage. Streaming games can use up a lot of data, so you might want to consider an unlimited plan.

Which gaming consoles work best with satellite internet?

PlayStation, Xbox, or Switch all work the same when playing online games using satellite internet. In terms of experience, it would depend on what game you’ll be playing. Casual games and turn-based ones would work just fine. However, fast-paced games such as Call of Duty, APEX, Overwatch, and other shooting games may experience some delays due to higher latency.

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*Pricing varies by location and availability. Speeds may vary. All prices subject to change; for current pricing and availability visit our internet service page. Prices as of 6/22/22.

Disclosure | Updater articles are based on our own data and research, independent from partner relationships. We are not compensated by partners for information and opinions presented here. Our Editorial Terms of Service can be found here.