SpaceX's Starlink satellite-based Internet service does not only expands the reach of high-speed broadband to remote and unserviced areas by traditional carriers. Apparently, it also offers enhanced latency to support competitive online gaming, a PC Magazine report revealed.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted the planned improvements to Starlink, which will certainly excite current and prospective users of the service.
Starlink Internet Speed: Lower Latency to Play Competitive FPS Games
Musk said Starlink aims to reduce ping to under 20 milliseconds, which will allow users "to play competitive FPS (first person shooter) games." At present, Starlink latencies would range from more than 20 milliseconds to about 88 milliseconds. While this is acceptable for conventional online gaming, users may encounter significant lag while playing online first-person shooter games.
To reduce the latency to under 20ms, Musk noted that SpaceX is building additional Starlink ground stations around the world. Such ground stations are linked to local fiber networks to beam Internet data to orbiting Starlink satellites. He added that SpaceX would streamline Internet packet routing all over the network.
Musk further stressed that Starlink would just need 10 ms for Internet data routing once obstructions are removed.
Starlink will also utilize built-in lasers on the new orbiting Starlink satellites to transfer data between satellites, all while in orbit, Mashable reported. These lasers, Starlink said, could transmit "hundreds of gigabytes of data" from satellite to satellite.
Furthermore according to Musk, these lasers could slash long distance latency by 50 percent "due to higher speed of light in vacuum and shorter path than undersea fiber." The lasers could also let the satellites offer Internet data without having to fetch information from ground stations.
Musk posited a "terminal -> satellite -> satellite -> terminal" route for data traffic that would "never touch the regular Internet."
This year, SpaceX also aims to increase download speeds to double Starlink's capacity to 300 Mbps. To achieve this, new satellites are being launched to orbit every few weeks.
Elon Musk Sees Starlink Users to Reach 500000 in 12 Months
Meanwhile, Musk expects that the number of Starlink users would reach 500,000 "within 12 months," CNBC reported. This is after Starlink passed a milestone of 70,000 active users projecting immense growth in the coming year.
Starlink is currently the company with the largest satellite constellation, having 1,500 satellites in orbit.
The company revealed that it has received over 500,000 orders and deposits, but realistically it won't convert to actual active users. Its current user base has risen from 10,000 in February to 69,420 active users in June, Musk said.
Lower latency than traditional Internet services is achieved due to the low altitude of SpaceX satellites. Latency refers to the amount of delay in an Internet network for a signal to travel to and from the destination. Latency and download speeds are important metrics for Internet service providers like Starlink.