Analysing the Performance of Cloud Gaming over a Low-Earth Orbit Satellite Network




Tolouei, Pouria

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Starlink, as it continues to grow, brings the idea of a robust global network coverage one step closer to reality. Even though Starlink's performance has been a breakthrough for satellite internet by utilising low-earth orbit satellites, frequent satellite handovers are required to keep up with the high mobility of the satellites. Starlink performs these handovers every 15 seconds at synchronised 57, 12, 27, and 42 seconds after each minute. While this is effective for maintaining the connection, it leads to fluctuations in the latency which is not efficient for latency-sensitive applications such as cloud gaming. This study investigates the effect of the fast-changing delay of Starlink on cloud gaming. Through automated gameplay and data collection, the quantitative data analysis revealed that the Starlink network experiences higher and faster changing latency, less stable bandwidth, and more packet loss compared to a more traditional network. Furthermore, the satellite handovers cause frequent and predictable performance drops, especially in terms of input latency and packet loss which lead to stutters and input lag. While the fundamental structure of the Starlink network cannot be changed, the satellite handover can be anticipated by applications due to their fixed and synchronised nature. So, working toward a solution for satellite handovers will be the future of this work.



LEO satellites, cloud gaming, network measurement, satellite handover, Starlink, GeForce Now