Occasionally, there is a 1-3 second delay between the anchor person in the studio and the reporter on location (other side of the world) which makes it awkward because they'll talk through each other.

If I can have video conversations with people from the other side of the world why is there still a delay with on-site news?

3 Answers 3


Because signals aren't instantaneous. They are very very fast, but there is a delay for the signal to go from the anchor to the on-site reporter, then back again. Since it's a two way communication the time delay between two points is doubled, which is why the delay gets worse the farther away the two points are from each other.

  • 2
    I'll add that, nowadays, there are doing so the video is in very high quality (HD, Full HD, 4K, depending), and that consumes a lot of bandwidth. And even if the bandwidth is increasing with IT breakthrough, the quality is still growing too. If you "Skype" (or something similar) someone, the video is not always good.
    – Larme
    Oct 31, 2015 at 10:01
  • 2
    Note that, unlike your skype conversation, reporters are often using (one or more) satellites, probably in geosynchronous orbit. GSO is some 38,000km above the surface of the earth, so the signal would have to travel at least double that (up + down), and far more if on the other side of the planet (to get around the earth). It's less than a 4th the distance by "land", and supports better data rates too. Oct 31, 2015 at 11:47

It takes roughly 4-5x longer for a signal to reach the other side of the world using satellites than it does using land based fiber. I can call from NY to India and barely notice the delay over fiber.

Geostationary satellites orbit at roughly 22000 miles above the earth. When these are used, there is a minimum travel distance of 44k miles from one location to another, then add in any land based travel for the signal. Then double that when you are waiting for the response. Compare that to land based fiber, the minimum travel distance from one end of the world to the other is roughly 12k miles.

I've used satellite based internet before, and typical ping times are 900ms compared to pings of 20-30ms on fiber to reach google.com.

  • Could you add to your answer why they are using satellites in the first place, i.e., instead of the land-based fiber? Is about getting consistent bandwidth/image quality or?
    – mallwright
    Jan 6, 2021 at 23:00
  • @MichaelAllwright Cost. I had a friend that wanted cable installed at his house, he wasn't far from the line. There's railroad tracks between the line and his house, and they quoted him over $10k to install a cable line because of the tracks. The satellite network I used was a vacation cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the roads weren't even paved, let alone had cable lines around. The house I grew up in was 1/4 mile from the cable line with no other houses, what is the profit for them to run a single line that far for one customer? It comes down to money and who's willing to pay it.
    – rtaft
    Jan 7, 2021 at 0:19

Sometimes it's because of satellite vs transient wave systems but tbh it's most often done intentionally with an analog control station. The sound people will sometimes 'intentionally' put in a slight delay or even bring down the volume of the guest speaker just so they don't talk over the host.

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