Every gamer knows that a fast and reliable internet connection is one of the most important requirements of online gaming. Even if you have a top-of-the-range PC or console, if your internet connection keeps cutting out or can’t handle the number of devices connected to it at one time, you’re going to end up having a terrible experience (cue a rage quit that you wouldn’t want anyone to witness). If this sounds somewhat familiar to you, you may want to consider switching over to satellite internet.
Everything You Need to Know About Satellite Internet
If you’re unfamiliar with satellite internet, it might sound like something out of a sci-fi movie. Basically, your ISP beams a signal up to a satellite in space, which then receives that signal and sends it down to you, giving you an internet connection.
How Does Satellite Internet Transmit Data
Now that we’ve touched on how satellite internet works above, let’s look at the specifics of what you need in order to get satellite internet and how its different devices contribute to a solid internet connection:
- Satellite Dish - Your satellite dish is what receives the data from the satellite itself. Remember we mentioned that your ISP beams a signal to the satellite, which sends it to you? Well, this is the item that “catches” that signal.
- Satellite Modem - You didn’t think it would be as easy as connecting your PC straight to your satellite dish, did you? The data that your satellite dish receives needs to be converted into data that can be read by your computer first (which is how you get your internet). This is the job for the satellite modem.
- Router - Finally, much like any internet connection, you need a router that distributes the internet to the different devices in your home. This can be done either through Wi-Fi or through the use of an ethernet cable - for that extra stable connection that all gamers need.
Debunking the Myths About Satellite Internet
Like with many other lesser-known things in life, there are a few myths out there that we need to clear up when it comes to satellite internet.
Myth #1 - Satellite internet is slow: While this had some truth to it in the past, technology has come a long way, and modern satellites have increased their speeds and capabilities. Nowadays, there are satellite internet options out there that can reach speeds of up to 500 Mbps!
Myth #2 - It takes a long time to receive data: Okay, so this is another point with some truth, but you need to put it into perspective. For most people, the latency experienced when using satellite internet won’t really be noticeable - it’s still a fast connection. But for gamers, and when compared to other internet options, you may still consider it to be “slow.”
If you don’t know what latency is, it’s the time that it takes for data to be sent and received. So, when it comes to satellite internet, it’s the amount of time that it takes for data to go from your device to your satellite dish, to your ISP’s satellite, back down to a satellite dish at your ISP’s location, and then all the way back again.
Since there are a lot of steps involved with this connection, it does, unfortunately, take longer than other types of internet. To give you an example, the average latency of a DSL line sits around the 11-40 ms range, while satellite internet’s latency is usually around 500-600 ms. However, there are instances when it can be lower.
Myth #3 - Satellite internet won’t work when it’s cloudy, raining, or snowing: When you experience interruptions due to the weather, this is something known as “rain fade,” and it’s a real occurrence. With that being said, it’s not as severe as many people seem to think it is. It requires a pretty big storm or a lot of snow to experience severe “rain fade,” and even that will pass as soon as the storm does.
Myth #4 - Satellite internet is too expensive: Yes, satellite internet is often more expensive than other types of internet, but that doesn’t mean that it’s too expensive. And in fact, satellite internet costs have decreased over the years.
Can You Still Be a Gaming God with Satellite Internet
The answer is yes, you can still be a gaming god with satellite internet, but there are a few things that you need to keep in mind.
Firstly, you need to remember how satellite internet works. It relies on the connection to a satellite instead of through cables or phone lines. This means that you may be more prone to delays and high latency issues, which can make your online gaming experience a little more challenging than someone who has, for example, a fiber line.
Secondly, you must also think about the different platforms that might contribute to your gaming experience. If you’re using a PC or a console, you can probably get a more reliable connection by connecting to your router with an ethernet cable. If you’re using a mobile phone, however, or if you simply connect your PC or console through Wi-Fi, you may experience more connection issues - and that’s the case with any internet connection.
Lastly, with more games starting to enter the world of cross-platform play, you might experience players who just seem always to be much faster than you. For example, a person playing a first-person shooter game with a mouse and keyboard might have better tracking abilities than someone using a controller.
Satellite Internet for Gaming Consoles and Mobile Phones (Xbox, PS5, Nintendo Switch, iPhone, Android, etc.)
If you’re the type of person who plays their games on a console or a mobile phone, then these are some things to think about when it comes to using satellite internet:
Some games require high bandwidth in order to run effectively, and satellite internet is a great way to get that high bandwidth. As we mentioned previously, satellite internet has come a long way. And that means that providers now offer large data plans to handle higher bandwidth requirements and keep your games running smoothly.
One of the benefits of using a console specifically is that you can bypass the Wi-Fi router and connect some consoles directly to the modem if you want to. The only thing about doing this is it might mean that you don’t get a Wi-Fi connection for the other devices in your home unless you plug a Wi-Fi router into the modem.
The latest video games use anywhere between 40 MB and 300 MB of data each hour. And on top of that, a lot of data is used for game updates, with many games ranging from 25-50 GB and more to update/download. For this reason, it’s important to get a plan with either a very high data cap or no data cap.
Satellite Internet for PC Gaming (Mac/Windows)
If you’re the type of person who prefers to do their gaming on a PC, then you need to take these things into consideration:
Much like consoles that can be connected directly to your modem, many PCs can do this too. This means that you can maintain a more reliable connection while gaming than if you were to use Wi-Fi and, therefore, can have a better gaming experience.
Unfortunately, the latency that comes with satellite internet isn’t the greatest, which means that your gaming experience could be dulled down by slower response times. With that being said, if you don’t have the ability to get a DSL or fiber line in your area, satellite internet can still be a great option to at least allow you to play some top-tier games.
The average speed that you’d need to play most of the famous PC games out there is above 20 Mbps. And, since satellite internet technology has come a long way, it’s more than capable of providing you with those internet speeds (and much higher too).
As we mentioned to the console players above, the latest video games use a lot of data. This means you need to make sure that you get a plan that either has a very high data cap or one that doesn’t have a data cap at all.
Advantages of Gaming Using Satellite Internet
Below are some of the advantages and disadvantages of using satellite internet for online gaming:
- It’s more reliable than terrestrial broadband and requires less equipment to use it.
- It’s more readily available in rural and remote areas. Many other types of internet simply can’t reach these areas.
- It can handle high usage regardless of the amount of time spent on the internet and the number of users connected.
- It often has lower data caps or data limits, whereas many other types of internet have no cap.
- It has higher latency than other types of internet.
The Best Satellite Internet Providers for Gaming
So now that you’ve learned about the pros and cons of satellite internet, you’re probably wondering which provider you should choose and how to pick the right one. You should look at the top four things when making the decision: speed, reliability, data cap, and cost.
- Speed - The recommended speed for gamers is 25 Mbps.
- Reliability - You want to ensure that the satellite internet you choose will be reliable in terms of reaching your location. As we discussed earlier, one of the advantages of satellite internet is it can reach locations that other internet cannot.
- Data Cap - The ideal option for any gamer would be unlimited data simply because games require so much nowadays. But if you can’t find an unlimited option, the more data you have, the better.
- Cost - Of course, the cost of your internet is important (we all have to pay the bills). This website has a dedicated page where you can compare the prices of common satellite internet.
Below are a few satellite internet providers and some information about them:
- Advantage: HughesNet is the biggest satellite ISP in the United States and is available across the entire United States too.
- Disadvantage and Max Speed: Unfortunately, they only have a max download speed of 25 Mbps and an upload speed of 3 Mbps, which might be an issue if you’re a gamer looking for faster speeds.
- Cost: The cost of HughesNet plans depends on your data allowance and ranges from $65 per month for 15 GB to $160 per month for 75 GB.
- Reliability: Since HughesNet is the biggest satellite ISP in the United States, they’re also one of the most trusted options out there. So although they offer lower speeds than other options, they can still be considered reliable.
- Advantage: While not as big as HughesNet, ViaSat still has the advantage of being available across the continental United States.
- Disadvantage: Some of the plans that ViaSat offer can get a bit expensive, but if you’re looking for some higher speeds, you may still want to consider them.
- Max Speed: The max speed that you can get with this ISP is 100 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload.
- Cost: As we mentioned previously, ViaSat packages can get quite expensive, and range from $100 for one of the smaller packages with slower speeds, to $400 per month for the fastest package with the highest data allowance.
- Reliability: Since ViaSat reaches a large area similar to that of HughesNet whilst offering higher speeds, we’d say they’re pretty reliable too.
- Advantages: Starlink's advantages are the speeds they offer and the latency when connected to the internet - both of which outshine the other options we’ve mentioned.
- Disadvantage: With Starlink being a newer option, its reach isn’t as large as that of the other two providers, meaning you may struggle to find them in your area (if they’re there at all).
- Max Speed: One of its advantages, the max speeds you can get with Starlink are 250 Mbps for a residential plan and 500 Mbps for a business plan.
- Cost: The Starlink residential plan costs $110 per month, the business plan costs $500 per month, and the RV plan (which gets the same speeds as the residential plan) is $135 per month.
- Reliability: Although you may not be able to find Starlink in as many locations as the other options, the average latency that you’ll get when using them is 50 ms. This is much lower than most other satellite internet providers, making them an extremely reliable source of internet, especially for gaming purposes.
There are many factors to consider when trying to decide which satellite internet plan is the best option for gaming. From the device you’re using to connect to the internet and play your games to the types of speeds available to actually allow you to play those games in the first place. While finding satellite internet providers that give you lower latency and higher internet speeds might be harder, it’s not impossible. And if you’re in a remote location that doesn’t have many options available, satellite internet might very well be your best option.
So, if you’ve weighed up all of the pros and cons of satellite internet and now want to get that unparalleled experience that all gamers need, here’s a link to the list of internet providers that you can choose from.
Can I stream on satellite internet?
You can definitely stream on satellite internet. Even streaming HD video only requires a speed of between 3 and 5 Mbps, and most satellite internet plans provide higher speeds than that.
Why is my internet slow at night?
Slower internet at night usually indicates that there is network congestion. Basically, when many people use the internet simultaneously, your ISP might struggle to handle the amount of data being transferred. Since most people are at work during the day and at home at night, nighttime is when more people are using their home network.
How to boost satellite internet speed?
To boost your satellite internet speed, you should make sure that your satellite dish is still positioned correctly and remove any debris, snow, or shrubbery from around the dish. This will give it the best chance of receiving a solid connection and giving you the best speeds.
How is satellite internet installed?
Satellite internet is installed by professionals. The professionals will mount the dish in a spot on or near your home to ensure the best chance of a strong signal reaching that dish.
How to lower satellite internet ping?
To lower satellite internet ping, you can connect your device to your router or modem with an ethernet cable. You should also stop using the internet for other tasks such as downloading files, streaming, etc.