Internet racing requires low communications latency – the amount of time it takes for information to travel from your computer to our servers and back again. Racing on-line works by everyone's computer transmitting data about their car (including its position) to our servers, and our servers sending the data from the other cars back to them so that each person knows where the other driver's cars are located. The higher the communications latency, the “older” the data is when it arrives, the more “guessing” that the simulation needs to do about where the cars are really located “right now”.
Satellite-based Internet connections inherently have high latency. They operate by ground stations sending data up to a satellite that is in geostationary orbit, around 22,200 miles out in space, and the satellite forwarding that information back to Earth. That's a round-trip of about 44,400 miles. The signals travel at near the speed of light, or around 186,000 miles per second. The minimum one-way latency for this single hop up to and back from a satellite is thus around 44,400 miles / 186,000 miles/second, or around 240 milliseconds.
If your Internet connection uses the satellite for both incoming and outgoing data, then this single round-trip hop would be at least double that, or around 480 milliseconds – almost half a second. If it uses a phone-based analog modem for outgoing data, that typically would replace this extra 240ms with around 30ms to 50ms of latency, for a total minimum latency of around 280ms. This is all in addition to the amount of latency added by the rest of the Internet.
For comparison, the average total round-trip latency of our US-based customers is around 60ms. The average for our customers in much of Europe is around 150ms.
With our software, Internet racing is very good up to latencies of around 150ms. It's pretty good up to latencies of around 250ms.
Thus, because of the high latency that is inherent in satellite-based Internet connections, and because the quality of the experience of Internet racing is highly latency dependent, we do not recommend that those with satellite-based Internet connections join our service.