When most people think of internet performance, they think of download and upload speeds. Those are both important, but latency and ping are critical for modern online activities. If you have ever tried to game online or work remotely on an internet connection with high ping, you know what I mean.
Ping is the unit of measurement for latency. Latency and ping are often used interchangeably, although technically incorrect. Latency is the amount of time it takes for a message to reach the destination from the origin. If a message took 70 milliseconds (ms) to reach the destination, you would say your ping was 70. The lower the number, the better.
Starlink is a satellite internet service that was publicly launched in 2021. One of the big advantages of Starlink compared to traditional satellite internet is the low ping. In this article, I’ll cover everything you need to know about Starlink latency and ping.
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Starlink latency specs
According to Starlink.com, customers on most service plans can expect latency between 25-50 ms. Here are the official performance specifications:
Real world Starlink ping times
Starlink advertises latency between 20 and 40 ms, but what about real world results? What are Starlink customers reporting? Fortunately for us, Ookla.com monitors exactly that. Every quarter, they publish a report about broadband internet performance around the globe.
The real world median ping time for Starlink is 48 ms. That’s very close to the official specs. Real world ping is often higher because of server variables and network load. The Starlink specs are advertised under perfect conditions.
How does Starlink compare to others?
Like I mentioned before, Starlink is unique in the satellite internet market. Their satellites orbit in low earth orbit (LEO). Other satellite internet providers, like HughesNet and Viasat, have satellites that are thousands of miles higher. Data signals simply take longer to reach a satellite that is further away. This results in much higher ping times for other satellite internet providers.
According to the Ookla.com report mentioned above:
The median latency for Viasat is 631 ms, and 716 ms for Hughesnet. As you can see, Starlink is a massive improvement in satellite internet technology over traditional offerings.
The median latency for all broadband internet in the US, including fiber, cable, etc., is 14 ms. Starlink is much closer to fiber/cable in terms of ping times than it is to other satellite internet services.
Why is latency such a big deal?
If you have high ping, you won’t be able to game online, video call, or do other tasks that rely on quick communication to and from a web server. Generally, latency above 200 ms is considered high. For online gaming, you’ll notice lagging if you start approaching this level of ping.
Even if you don’t do online gaming, latency still affects other tasks such as video calling, Zoom meetings, or working remotely over a company VPN. When your ping is high, these services don’t work as efficiency. You’ll notice stutters, disconnections, and poor quality if your latency is too high.
Related: Starlink Internet Speeds