What is Network Latency?

Network Latency (Ping) is the time delay between the send and receive of data on an internet system measured in ms (miliseconds), known within gaming, as “lag”, latency is a time interval between the input to a simulation and the visual or auditory response, often occurring because of network delay in online games.

It can be the time from when you click on a certain webpage, to when it responds.

Low-to-none network latency is crucial for the future as more and more systems require complex executions with each action, such as a virtual “sandbox” meeting space.

How to Test Network Latency?

For Windows users, you can test your Ping with a simple command in CMD or use a website such as speedtest.net or tool such as Traceroute for any other operating system.

speedtest results

Run CMD Ping Loopback test

The Ping loopback test will test your computer’s connection to verify that there are no local hardware problems causing the network or internet latency issue.

  • Start by running CMD and Type “Ping -n 20”. This IP address is the same for nearly all built in network connections, the “-n 20” extension will send.
  • 20 packets of data before terminating the test. If you forget to type “-n 20” you can cancel the test by entering Ctrl+C.
  • View the statistics. The time it took for the packet of data to travel locally should be less than 5ms and there should be zero packet loss.

You can also Ping specific website addresses, for example type: Ping xbitlabs.com and you will see your connection quality with us.

If you experience high latency, in a guide below you will find causes and solutions for it.

Ping examples

For the test ping server located in Lowa, USA, the ping times are much lower from locations that are in the United States (16 ms average ping times to Dallas).

As you start to go further out to Europe or Asia, for example Singapore you start to experience a lot higher ping time averages (244 ms average ping times to Singapore).

ping results example

And if we compare the packages or “network hops”, you can see an example of 7 additional network hops are needed to simply travel from Lowa, USA to Frankfurt, Germany (compared to 10 hops from Dallas).

This is why it is important to remember, that network hops are also a factor in network latency.

network hops example

How to improve network latency? Common issues and fixes

Now that we’ve tested our latency, we can look at some of the most common causes of high latency and how to fix them to improve our network latency.

Transmission mediums such as WAN or fiber optic cables are both fragile, and simple step-on or a twist and turn of the cable can cause latency issues. (You should definitely check each cm of those if you have a cat.)

Propagation is the amount of time it takes for a packet to travel from one source to another. You can use the traceroute tool to look at packets and how they move across an IP network, including how many “hops” the packet took, the roundtrip time, as well as the IP addresses and countries the packet traveled through. This can help you pinpoint the places in the network with high latency and troubleshoot those issues if they’re a part of a network under your control.

Routers (Most Common!) take time to analyze the header information of a packet as well as, in some cases, add additional information. They are also commonly loaded with devices and applications but that can be controlled with an option called Dynamic QoS.

Dynamic QoS enables smart automatic bandwidth distribution as well as allows you to manually distribute how much traffic is allowed for each device or app (such a Netflix, Steam, etc.) on a network. This can drastically improve network latency.

If you don’t have the Dynamic QoS option on your router, it may be an old model. Routers tend to be very durable, so you won’t see yourself changing it for a long time, but that can be a huge downside for latency. If you are ready to improve but are on a budget, check this guide on routers under $100.

Integrated Wi-Fi adapters such as a regular laptop Wi-Fi are limited to an average of 60mbps. If you have a 100mbps connection, you can’t take advantage of what you are paying for. This is such a common issue yet no one is aware of the simple fix, just get a USB wi-fi adapter. This can multiply your speed and eliminate latency.

Storage delays can occur when a packet is stored or accessed, resulting in a delay caused by intermediate devices such as switches and bridges, which are also fragile and can easily be compromised.

Hacks and Hijacks can happen to anybody. Say you download a file and a hacker injected his software to use your internet connection, most time along with processing power for mining bitcoins and such. A great antivirus for detecting such Hijacks is Malwarebytes.

Network Latency and 5G

To realize the potential of 5G technology, network latency must be all but eliminated.

This is a challenge for any carrier building a true 5G network. If someone streams a movie in HD, casts an NBA game to their 4K television or collaborates with distant colleagues in a virtual “sandbox,” latency is of critical importance.

High latency is a recipe for frustration, inefficiency and, where immersive digital experiences are involved – even nausea.

As more and more devices connect, the demand for robust, seamless network responses will not go away, it will explode. And it’s not just more phones or tablets that will be trying to connect. Factory machinery, traffic lights, elevator banks and thousands of other massive systems will be clamoring for bandwidth in the very near future.

Gigabits-per-second throughputs and single-millisecond latencies are set to become the new normal. Tomorrow’s innovators will demand and expect robust, reliable network service—not just sometimes, but all the time.

About The Author

Stole Trishanski

Ever since Stole was a kid, when he wasn’t playing video games he was probably in some corner disassembling any gadget he could get his hands on. His curiosity and will to learn made him into a huge tech nerd and enthusiast. Finally, after years of practice, learning, and breaking hundreds of gadgets Stole is helping others learn everything about tech.

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